This Week in the CLE
A review and analysis of the week's news in Northeast Ohio
4 years ago

This Week in the CLE - Aug. 29, 2019

We're loaded with outrage over Dave Yost’s cash grab, anti-China baiting, an unprecedented tax giveaway, City Council expenses and a jail guard drug ring

Episode Notes

Outrage is the theme of the day for the latest episode of This Week in the CLE, with the reporting and editing team here at chewing on no end of stories that had our jaws dropping over the past week.

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We begin with some scorn for a proposal backed by Attorney General Dave Yost to deprive local governments of their right to seek damages in court when they are wronged. Cuyahoga County, for example, has sued opioid makers to recover all the foster care and other costs the county has borne because of the drug crisis. Yost wants to take whatever money Cuyahoga has coming and have the state decide how to spend it. Politics Editor Jane Kahoun lays out the facts in a discussion with me and co-host Laura Johnston.

What else is sparking outrage? How about a commercial making the rounds to scare Ohioans into thinking they are under assault from China? It’s an effort to persuade people not to sign a petition to allow Ohio voters to reject a sweet deal that legislators gave First Energy Solutions. The deal forces taxpayers to bail out the utility’s aging nuclear plants.

Next on the list is a story Statehouse reporter Andrew Tobias wrote about a pro-gun group making waves because it thinks Ohio’s existing pro-gun groups are too tame. Jane has the lowdown on who is behind the group and whether its priority is gun rights or raising money.

We also talk about another gun story, the creation of a “Do Something” website by Ohio Democrats. We talk with Jane about whether the Democrats have tapped into something that will resonate with their base.

And we discuss a new proposal by the governor, thwarted thus far in his push for universal background checks, to unilaterally create a statewide database of warrants to be used for background checks.

Another story out of Columbus: the efforts of phone companies to block robocalls. And we close the conversation with Jane with a mildly salacious divorce filing by the wife of an Ohio Supreme Court justice and son of the governor.

From Columbus outrage, we move to Cleveland outrage, in a conversation Laura and I have with City Hall reporter Bob Higgs. Cleveland just learned of a little-known commission that might let the developer of a $175 million city project avoid paying any property taxes for 30 years. Cleveland city and school officials are furious.

Bob also takes us through an auditor’s findings that a bunch of Cleveland City Council members have been failing to properly document their expenses. Council President Kevin Kelley, among the offenders, vows reforms. We ask Bob just how the council members could be getting things so wrong long after Council Member Ken Johnson’s expense reports became a big source of controversy.

Bob also details the latest chapter in Cleveland’s electric scooter story, with the scooters finally having arrived.

We get back to the outrage stories in. a discussion with courts reporter Cory Shaffer and crime reporter Adam Ferrise, who has details on a new indictment about a drug ring in the county jail. The indictment says a bunch of guards, working closely with a violent street gang, were operating the ring.

Adam also talks about a guard, already charged with criminal abuse of an inmate, who now stands charged with trying to extort fellow guards into giving false testimony for him.

Misbehaving guards are an offshoot of a bigger jail story, the inhumane conditions and constant lockdowns of inmates. Adam explains how he found out that dozens of inmates, having had enough of lockdowns, staged a protest inside the jail recently.

Cory has the story about some other people who are fed up with what they see as ineffective law enforcement. He explains how some East Cleveland residents have taken steps to haul a number of city police officers into court to answer for transgressions. They want the officers charged with crimes.

Laura and I close out the podcast with a visit from columnist Leila Atassi. Her column about a Cleveland school’s over-the-top demands of impoverished students for school supplies was among our most-read pieces for days, and most people who offered an opinion did not think highly of the school.

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