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Morning Headlines: Judge Consolidates Fertility Center Lawsuits; Trump Endorses Renacci for Senate

A photo of the exterior of University Hospitals Ahuja Medical Center.

Here are your morning headlines for Wednesday, April 25:

  • Judge consolidates lawsuits against UH fertility center;
  • Cleveland police add two homicide detectives to address staffing problems;
  • Sinclair plans to divest itself of 23 stations as it seeks regulatory approval to purchase Tribune;
  • Youngstown BOE member calls on CEO Mohip to resign;
  • Massillon food delivery business under investigation for food stamp fraud;
  • Findlay pipeline company fined more than $600,000;
  • Workers' compensation bureau to repay $1.5 billion to private employers;
  • Akron gets $2 million from the state to update water lines;
  • Absentee ballots increase compared to last statewide election;
  • Trump endorses Renacci for U.S. Senate;
  • Mysterious rumblings draw investigation;

Judge consolidates lawsuits against UH fertility center
A judge in Cleveland has consolidated the more than 40 lawsuits against a hospital fertility clinic into a single case. Cleveland.com reports Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Judge John Russo ruled the lawsuits against University Hospitals are substantially the same. Russo stopped short of creating a class action lawsuit, however. More than 70 plaintiffs are suing UH after a malfunction in a freezer unit last month destroyed nearly 4,000 eggs and embryos. In a separate lawsuit, a Broadview Heights couple is seeking a judgment that would give their lost embryos person status which means they should have been treated like patients rather than property.

Cleveland police add two homicide detectives to address staffing problems
Cleveland police have added two new homicide detectives after a study found issues with staffing. The Police Executive Research Foundation report linked a drop in the number of detectives with a drop in the number of solved cases. Between 2009 and 2015, the department’s solve rate dropped from more than 3 in 4 cases to just over half of cases. The addition of two detectives came last Friday, a day after the city released its report.

Sinclair plans to divest itself of 23 stations as it seeks regulatory approval to purchase Tribune
Maryland-based Sinclair Broadcasting Group is thinning its portfolio as it tries to secure regulatory approval to purchase Chicago-based Tribune Media. Sinclair announced plans to sell 23 stations to buyers including Standard Media and Meredith Corp. Sinclair will not acquire Cleveland Fox 8 as part of the $3.9 billion deal to purchase Tribune. Fox Broadcasting appears to be working on its own deal to acquire several Tribune stations, including Channel 8.

Youngstown BOE member calls on CEO Mohip to resign
The embattled CEO of Youngstown City Schools is facing a call for his resignation. Board of Education member Corrine Sanderson asked CEO Krish Mohip to resign at a school board meeting on Tuesday. Mohip was not at the meeting. The call comes as Mohip faces scrutiny from state education officials and allegations of inappropriate behavior. Until this week, Mohip was seeking a job as head of a school district in Jacksonville, Fla. but he was not among the finalists.

Massillon food delivery business under investigation for food stamp fraud
Federal agents are investigating a Massillon food delivery business for food stamp fraud. Court filings show Ohio Direct Distributors received more than $8 million in fraudulent SNAP benefits between 2011 and 2017. The Repository reports the company averaged more than four times the number of transactions at comparable delivery services. Federal investigators say the company illegally operated a credit system that allowed benefit recipients to apply future SNAP credits to current purchases. As of Tuesday, no one has been charged in the case.

Findlay pipeline company fined more than $600,000
A company that processes and transports natural gas and liquids in Ohio's and Pennsylvania's shale fields is agreeing to pay more than $600,000 for violating air pollution laws.  Two subsidiaries of Findlay-based MPLX were accused of building or operating compressor stations and maintenance points without appropriate permits and without keeping emissions records. EPA officials also say the companies will upgrade more than 300 facilities in western Pennsylvania and eastern Ohio.

Workers' compensation bureau to repay $1.5 billion to private employers
Employers in Ohio are set to receive the biggest rebate in decades from the agency that funds workers hurt on the job. The Bureau of Workers’ Comp on Tuesday proposed repaying $1.5 billion to private employers. The bureau’s board must still approve the payout. It’s part of around $8 billion that has been repaid to employers since 2011. Bureau CEO Sarah Morrison says the rebate is the result of healthy returns on the agency’s investments. Around 10 percent of the $1.5 billion rebate will go to Ohio schools and local governments.

Akron gets $2 million from the state to update water lines
The city of Akron has received a $2 million state grant to replace aging water lines. The city says it will also be using a low-interest loan from the EPA to upgrade water mains. Public Service Director John Moore says some of the infrastructure is nearly a century old, including lead pipes. The Ohio Public Works Commission grant will allow the city to replace around 3.5 miles of water mains this year.

Absentee ballots increase compared to last statewide election
The state's elections chief says Ohioans have requested nearly 172,000 absentee ballots so far, ahead of the May 8 primary election. Secretary of State Jon Husted says that's more than the 155,000 absentee ballots requested at this point in 2014, when Ohio last elected statewide officeholders. According to an informal survey of Ohio's 88 county boards of elections, just over 63,000 Ohioans have cast early ballots so far. That's down from the 73,000 people who had voted at this point four years ago. Voters can still request an absentee ballot. Elections boards must receive such applications by noon on May 5.

Trump endorses Renacci for U.S. Senate
President Donald Trump is officially endorsing Republican Congressman Jim Renacci for U.S. Senate. Trump tweeted his endorsement yesterday afternoon during a state visit by French President Emmanuel Macron. Renacci of Wadsworth was previously running for Ohio governor. He switched to the Senate race after assurances he would have Trump’s full support. Rival Republican Mike Gibbons dismissed the endorsement, citing his previous role in the Trump campaign and questioning Renacci’s outsider status.

Mysterious rumblings draw investigation
Authorities are continuing to investigate mysterious booms shaking up some northeast Ohio residents. Girard residents told City Council members on Monday they've heard the rumblings for the past few years. One woman said it sounds like a gas explosion, and the shaking at one point knocked siding from her home. Mayor James Melfi says he has met with various companies and industry officials who say the booms aren't coming from their businesses. Melfi says it will take time and evidence to find the source of the noise.

Amanda Rabinowitz is the host of “All Things Considered” on Ideastream Public Media.