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Morning Headlines: DOJ Seeks to Join Opioid Settlement Talks; Lakewood Ends Pit Bull Ban

photo of Department of Justice

Here are your morning headlines for Tuesday, April 3:

  • Canton goes over budget on legal settlements;
  • North Ridgeville approves new mosque;
  • Cleveland to provide electric service through NOPEC;
  • Cuyahoga County places two employees on unpaid leave amid investigation;
  • Lakewood ends pit bull ban;
  • Kasich renews membership in bipartisan National Governors Association;
  • DOJ seeks to join opioid lawsuit settlement talks;
  • Women’s rights attorney to represent three women affected by fertility clinic malfunction;
  • Cleveland Clinic acquires Dover hospital;

Canton goes over budget on legal settlements
Canton has surpassed this year’s budget for legal settlements and refunds. The Repository reports city council has voted to move $60,000 from its general fund to the Law Department. Two settlements involving police have pushed the department past its budget of $116,000 for the year. The most recent settlement involved excessive force during a traffic stop. Another settlement totaling $100,000 involved an officer whose SUV struck another vehicle during a police chase.

North Ridgeville approves new mosque
City officials in North Ridgeville have approved construction of a new mosque. WKYC reports residents raised concerns about traffic and parking at Monday’s city council meeting. Still, council voted in favor of the project. The new mosque will be located on Center Ridge Road on the city’s east side. The West Cleveland Muslim Association is planning a fundraiser to be held later this month.

Cleveland to provide electric service through NOPEC
Cleveland has opted to join the Northeast Ohio Public Energy Council (NOPEC) in an effort to lower residents’ electric bills. City council voted on Monday to join the energy aggregation program. Unless they opt out, Cleveland customers of The Illuminating Co. will automatically get their electricity from NOPEC starting in June. The agreement runs through May of 2020. The city estimates residential customers will save an average of $1.20 each month. Cleveland already provides natural gas through NOPEC, which buys energy in bulk to sell at a lower rate.

Cuyahoga County places two employees on unpaid leave amid investigation
Cuyahoga County has placed two employees on unpaid leave amid a corruption investigation. Scot Rourke and Emily McNeeley were named in grand jury subpoenas in February and were initially placed on paid leave. The administration of County Executive Armond Budish has been served with eight subpoenas so far. The investigation involves a possible conflict of interest between the county and a number of IT contractors. It’s not yet clear what crimes, if any, the county prosecutor’s office is investigating.

Lakewood ends pit bull ban
The city of Lakewood has ended its decade-long ban on pit bulls. City council voted unanimously on Monday to replace the ban with a wide-ranging ordinance. It holds owners responsible for their dogs’ behavior, regardless of the breed. Lakewood had previously banned dogs that are more than half pit bull. The ordinance drew criticism after a pit bull named Charlie was ordered to leave the city last year.

Kasich renews membership in bipartisan National Governors Association
Gov. John Kasich restored Ohio's membership in the National Governors Association as he seeks to shore up credibility for bipartisan deal-making that could bolster a 2020 bid for president. Ohio rejoined the bipartisan policy group in January for the first time in eight years. Kasich withdrew Ohio from the group in 2011, citing budget concerns. The $88,000 membership renewal came after The Associated Press first sought records on Ohio's membership status in the group. It also coincided with efforts by a bipartisan group of governors to propose compromises on a series of divisive policy issues, including health care, immigration and guns.

DOJ seeks to join opioid lawsuit settlement talks
The U.S. Department of Justice wants to join settlement talks in federal court involving hundreds of lawsuits against manufacturers and distributors of opioid painkillers. The government says it can provide information and expertise to parties in the case and facilitate requests to government agencies including the Drug Enforcement Administration and the Food and Drug Administration. The government made a request to join as a "friend of the court" in a filing before U.S. District Judge Dan Polster in Cleveland on Monday. More than 400 cities and counties across the country have sued drug makers and distributors for costs associated with the addiction crisis.

Women’s rights attorney to represent three women affected by fertility clinic malfunction
Women's rights attorney Gloria Allred has agreed to represent three women who lost eggs when a Cleveland fertility clinic storage tank malfunctioned. Allred said Monday her clients are cancer survivors who delayed chemotherapy to undergo fertility treatments at the clinic run by University Hospitals. The clinic said last week that an alarm system was turned off on a storage tank that malfunctioned in early March and ruined more than 4,000 eggs and embryos. Several lawsuits have been filed against University Hospitals.

Cleveland Clinic acquires Dover hospital
One of the nation’s largest hospital systems continues its expansion. The Cleveland Clinic says it’s finalized its acquisition of Union Hospital in Dover, the system’s 11th regional hospital. The century-old Union Hospital had been searching for a partner the last couple of years. It will be renamed Cleveland Clinic Union Hospital.

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