Con jobs: Ohio’s unemployment system has been beset by fraudulent claims during the coronavirus pandemic. But many Ohioans have been reporting a different kind scam: account takeovers, where thieves gain access to legitimate accounts and change bank routing numbers to obtain victims’ benefits. As Jeremy Pelzer reports, the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services denies accusations that its system has been hacked and says account takeovers have been greatly reduced. The department is moving to set up a system to reimburse Ohioans who had their benefits hijacked.
Back to school: Two Ohio doctors said during a state health department briefing on Wednesday they are concerned about the possibility of rising pediatric COVID-19 cases as kids get ready to go back to school. Dr. Michael Forbes, interim pediatrics chair at Akron Children’s Hospital, said his hospital has seen 64 cases of kids with multisystem inflammatory syndrome due to COVID 19. Dr. Craig Dues, an emergency-room physician in Mercer County, said he hasn’t seen a significant number of cases among kids yet, but said those under age 12 who aren’t eligible to be vaccinated are among the most at-risk groups. Both encouraged parents to have their kids wear masks and to get eligible kids vaccinated.
What we know and don’t know: Inspectors from the Ohio Department of Agriculture have launched an investigation into a horrific accident Sunday at one of Cedar Point’s most popular roller coasters, Top Thrill Dragster. As Susan Glaser reports, there are more questions than answers about the accident, in which a metal object fell off the coaster and struck a woman waiting in line.
On hold: The Ohio Supreme Court has agreed to delay its ruling that the state of Ohio can pursue hundreds of billions of dollars in penalties from Volkswagen for the automaker’s 2015 emissions cheating scandal. The Associated Press reports that the court granted the delay while Volkswagen appeals the ruling to the U.S. Supreme Court.
Next moves: With congressional redistricting imminent, one major storyline to watch will be who is positioning themselves to run for the reconfigured seats. One such candidate could be Sen. Michael Rulli, a Columbiana County Republican whose district includes the Youngstown area. Columbiana County Republican Party Chairman Dave Johnson said Wednesday he’s lobbying for the new map to preserve a Mahoning Valley-centric seat, like the one currently represented by Rep. Tim Ryan, and that he’s supporting Rulli in a possible run if the district ends up working out.
Sticking point: The Ohio Chamber of Commerce reiterated its opposition on Wednesday to House Bill 248, an under-debate bill that would ban all vaccine mandates in Ohio, and not just for coronavirus vaccines. Notably, the organization’s statement included a written comment from Steve Stivers, the former Republican congressman who resigned to take the chamber job. “Businesses continue to do the best they can in responding to the many challenges and consequences of the COVID crisis. They don’t need to be micro-managed by the government telling them how to best manage their business,” Stivers said.
Taking a pass: Ohio House Minority Leader Emilia Sykes tells the Akron Beacon Journal that she won’t be a candidate for U.S. Senate next year. “There are more helpful ways to help Democrats be successful in 2022,” Sykes, an Akron Democrat, said in an interview with Titus Wu and Haley BeMiller.
Step up to the Mike: The race for Cleveland mayor took a dramatic turn Wednesday when former Mayor Michael R. White, after two decades out of the public eye, emerged to endorse nonprofit executive Justin Bibb. Seth Richardson reports that the White endorsement marks a major get for Bibb and pits two City Hall legends against each other as retiring four-term Mayor Frank Jackson, the longest-serving mayor in Cleveland history, has endorsed Council President Kevin Kelley.
Hometown hero: Jason Thomas, a security officer for the Ohio Supreme Court, will be featured in an upcoming television documentary series marking the 20th anniversary of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. Thomas helped save the lives of two police officers that day at the World Trade Center. The six-part series is called “9/11: One Day in America.”
Another step: The Ohio Supreme Court has voted 5-1 not to take up an appeal of a lower court’s ruling that granted a new trial to two men who were imprisoned since 2006, and who say they were wrongfully convicted of shooting a man and then firing at Cleveland police officers. As Cory Shaffer reports, the decision clears the way for Michael Sutton and Kenneth Phillips to try to clear their names of the crime they maintained through 15 years in prison that they never committed.
More restrictive election bill: An elections bill backed by six Ohio House Republicans would bar no-fault mail-in voting and ballot drop boxes in Ohio, forbid the Secretary of State from sending unsolicited absentee ballot applications, limit the types of voter ID accepted at polling places among other new restrictions. As Jessie Balmert reports for the Cincinnati Enquirer, state Rep. Tom Brinkman, an arch-conservative state lawmaker, said he supports the bill and is working on another one of his own. Rep. Bill Seitz, a member of House GOP leadership who’s backing a different, less restrictive bill, said the new proposal is evidence that his proposal is “fairly modest and reasonable in comparison.”
Five things we learned from the May 17, 2021 financial disclosure of state Rep. Adam Miller, a Columbus Democrat:
1. In addition to his legislative salary, he also made more than $100,000 last year from the law firm of Kegler, Brown, Hill + Ritter, where he serves as a director. In addition, he disclosed making $10,000 to $24,999 each from the U.S. Army Reserve (for which he serves as a judge advocate general) and the law firm of Taft Stettinius & Hollister, where he worked until last November.
2. He holds retirement accounts with NBC Securities and Great West Financial. He also has a federal Thrift Savings Plan, the retirement plan for federal employees and military members.
3. At some point in 2020, he owed at least $1,000 on a Capital One car loan and on a PenFed Credit Union VISA.
4. He reported no travel expenses in 2020.
5. Miller also reported receiving no gifts worth more than $75 from a non-family member (or at least $25 from a lobbyist) in 2020. He also reported receiving no food or beverages worth more than $100 for the year.
Ex-state Sen. Sean O’Brien
Hope Strain, Ohio House personnel officer
“You know people of color are preyed upon in these markets, and this will continue if gambling is allowed.”
– Tom Roberts, an Ohio NAACP leader and former state lawmaker, expressing concern that a bill legalizing sports betting in Ohio would hurt minorities.
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