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Morning Headlines: RTA Seeks $1.1 Million from Former President; Amazon to Build Distribution Center

photo of RTA blue line train

Here are your morning headlines for Wednesday, May 16:

  • Cleveland RTA seeks more than $1.1 million in benefits from former board president;
  • Former Cleveland councilman gets probation after ethics violations;
  • Ohio legislators to hear gun reform proposals;
  • ECOT property to be auctioned off;
  • Summit County Jail commission looks into use of force, mental health;
  • Amazon to build a Central Ohio distribution center;
  • Perry Twp. man hospitalized after traffic stop for fake plates;
  • Former VP Biden endorses Cordray for governor;
  • Cavs lose 107-94 to the Celtics in Boston;

Cleveland RTA seeks more than $1.1 million in benefits from former board president
Cleveland RTA says it's seeking more than $1.1 million in healthcare premiums, benefits and phone reimbursement from its former board president. RTA alleges former President George Dixon III persuaded staff members to keep him insured despite overdue premiums. Cleveland.com reports the RTA board voted Tuesday to pass on its findings to the Cuyahoga County Prosecutor, state auditor and the Ohio Ethics Commission. They also voted to stop trustees from using RTA health insurance. Officials have rejected an offer from Dixon to gradually repay $141,000 in overdue premiums. Officials say they will seek reimbursement from former employees who cooperated with Dixon. He served as trustee for 26 years and president for 24.

Former Cleveland councilman gets probation after ethics violations
A former Cleveland city councilman has been sentenced to probation for voting on contracts involving a company he had close ties with. Investigators say Joe Cimperman voted to approve contracts with a company where he had been a board member and where his wife worked as a project manager. He pleaded guilty to 26 misdemeanor ethics charges. At sentencing Tuesday, Cimperman apologized and said he "should have known better." He was ordered to serve one year of probation, pay a $10,000 fine and perform 100 hours of community service. Prosecutors had pushed for jail time. All of the contracts were approved with unanimous council support. Cimperman, a Democrat, was first elected to the council in 1998. He resigned in 2016.

Ohio legislators to hear gun reform proposals
Gun reform proposals unveiled in March will get hearings in the state legislature on Wednesday. After a statehouse event Tuesday, Gov. John Kasich urged Republican legislators not to “weasel around” on the gun control issue and take a position. Kasich is pushing a number of reforms, including a so-called “red flag” bill. It would allow judges to temporarily seize guns from people who pose a threat to themselves or others. The Columbus Dispatch reports Kasich is brushing off claims the gun issue is a way to burnish his legacy at the end of his final term.

ECOT property to be auctioned off
Property that once belonged to an online Ohio charter school is now being sold off in an online auction. The Electronic Classroom of Tomorrow (ECOT) closed in January after the State Department of Education determined the school owed what's become an $80 million tab for failing to document how much time students spent learning during two school years. The Dispatch reports ECOT's refurbished Columbus headquarters are up for bid, along with office furnishings, computers, supplies, equipment and ECOT-branded items.

Summit County Jail commission looks into use of force, mental health
Officials in Summit County are looking into the ways jail deputies use force and treat inmates with mental illness. A working group of the county’s Jail Operation Advisory Commission met Tuesday to discuss use of force, overcrowding, staffing diversity and jail finances. The meeting came a day after the county prosecutor’s office said no charges would be filed against deputies involved in the death of Anthony Jones. Jones died last fall after an altercation with deputies. The advisory group is scheduled to observe a deputy training site in Stark County next week. They’re hoping to learn more about how deputies are trained to react under pressure.

Amazon to build a Central Ohio distribution center
Internet retail giant Amazon says it plans to build another large distribution center in Ohio. The Dispatch reports the newest center will employ 1,500 people in the village of West Jefferson, just west of Columbus in Madison County. Officials say the center is expected to open by the end of next year. It will become Amazon's third distribution center in the Columbus area. Amazon says it employs more than 6,000 people in the state. Columbus remains one of 20 finalists for Amazon's planned second headquarters, which promises 50,000 jobs and a $5 billion investment.

Perry Twp. man hospitalized after traffic stop for fake plates
A Perry Twp. man is in the hospital after a traffic stop in Canton left him with injuries from a police dog. A state trooper pulled over 45-year-old Ronald D. Wagner II of Perry Township on Sunday evening. The trooper repeatedly asked for a driver’s license or Social Security number, but Wagner claimed he didn’t need a license to drive. The Repository reports Wagner was also driving with a fake license plate. Law enforcement broke the car windows and released the police dog. Wagner sustained injuries on his arm. A use-of-force investigation is underway.

Former VP Biden endorses Cordray for governor
Former Vice President Joe Biden has endorsed Democrat Rich Cordray for Ohio governor. In an announcement Tuesday, Biden said he's supporting Cordray because he's "smart, principled, pragmatic, and a fighter." Biden touted Cordray's work at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, where he was appointed director by President Barack Obama. It was not immediately clear whether Biden planned to campaign for Cordray heading into November's election. Cordray and Sutton face a Republican ticket of Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine and running mate Jon Husted, Ohio's secretary of state.

Cavs lose 107-94 to the Celtics in Boston
The Cleveland Cavaliers are in an 0-2 hole after losing Game 2of the Eastern Conference Finals on the road to the Celtics 107 - 94 on Tuesday night. This comes despite a herculean effort by Cavs star LeBron James. James scored 42 points and had 12 assists and 10 rebounds. He scored 21 of Cleveland’s 27 points in the first quarter but strained his neck in a first half collision that briefly sent him to the locker room. Kevin Love finished with 22 points and 15 rebounds. However, it was not enough to stop Boston's second half surge. Game 3 is Saturday in Cleveland as the Cavs try to make it to a fourth straight NBA finals.

Mark Arehart joined the award-winning WKSU news team as its arts/culture reporter in 2017. Before coming to Northeast Ohio, Arehart hosted Morning Edition and covered the arts scene for Delaware Public Media. He previously worked for KNKX in Seattle, Kansas Public Radio, and KYUK in Bethel, Alaska.