Beacon Journal staff
Jackson 44, Green 38
Nine Jackson players scored, led by Jacelyn Litman’s 12 points, as the host Polar Bears (5-5) won their own Holiday Tournament championship game.
Lisa Cornwell and John Seewer
CINCINNATI: Ohio and Indiana have lost out on their joint bid to secure one of the Federal Aviation Administration’s highly coveted test sites for unmanned aircraft.
The FAA on Monday announced six states that will develop test sites for drones, a critical next step for the march of the unmanned aircraft into U.S. skies.
Alaska, Nevada, New York, North Dakota, Texas and Virginia will host the research sites, the agency said.
Ohio and Indiana had hoped to improve their chances by combining forces and setting up the Ohio/Indiana UAS Center & Test Complex based in Springfield, Ohio. The proposal included several test ranges in southwest Ohio and southeast Indiana.
U.S. Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, said Ohio would have been a good choice because of its deep roots in aerospace, noting that it’s home to a U.S. Air Force research lab near Dayton and a NASA research center in Cleveland.
The FAA said its decisions were based on geography, climate, location of ground infrastructure, research needs, airspace use, aviation experience and risk.
The test site selections come as the United States is preparing to open its skies to the unmanned aircraft that industry experts predict will generate thousands of jobs and billions of dollars in economic impact.
States hoped that winning one of the test locations would attract drone-related businesses and help them become a key player in what some market analysts describe as the most dynamic growth sector of the world aerospace industry this decade.
Congress mandated that the FAA develop a plan by 2015 for safely integrating civilian drones into the national airspace, and the test sites are meant to ensure that drones don’t endanger people, planes or property.
U.S. Rep. Mike Turner, R-Ohio, who helped craft the legislation requiring test sites, said southwest Ohio can still ‘‘benefit from being on the cutting edge of innovation and development.’’
Military drones are increasingly being used overseas, and the FAA estimates as many as 7,500 small commercial unmanned aircraft could be operating domestically within the next few years.
Domestic drones, often resembling the remote-controlled model airplanes and helicopters flown by hobbyists, are expected to help monitor floods and other emergencies, survey crops and assist search-and-rescue operations.
An Akron developer recently announced plans to build a 44,000-square-foot outpatient medical office and surgery center for Spectrum Orthopaedics Inc. in Jackson Township.
Signet Development Ltd. will own the facility, at the corner of Frank Avenue and Applegrove Street, and lease the building to the medical practice, according to Mark S. Corr, president and chief operating officer of Signet Enterprises. Affiliates Signet Equity Partners and Signet Capital are arranging funding for the project.
The plans are pending approval from Stark County Regional Planning Comission and issuance of zoning and building permits.
The estimated construction cost was not released and had not been filed with government agencies as of Friday.
The facility will include medical offices, an MRI suite and a physical therapy suite, as well as an outpatient surgery center.
When the project is complete in the fourth quarter of 2014, the orthopedic practice will consolidate its existing offices in Canton, North Canton, Massillon and Hills and Dales.
Spectrum Orthopaedics employs 12 surgeons and a staff of more than 100.
Thinking of finally kicking the smoking habit for the new year?
Akron General Medical Center is offering a free, six-week smoking cessation class from 5:30 to 7 p.m. each Tuesday from Jan. 14 through Feb. 18, with an additional class Feb. 6.
The class, taught by tobacco treatment specialists, uses the American Lung Association’s Freedom From Smoking program.
The classes will take place at the Akron General Medical Center’s Heart & Vascular Center, 1 Akron General Ave. (formerly 400 Wabash Ave.).
The free program also will be offered from 6:30 to 8 p.m. every Wednesday from Jan. 8 through Feb. 12, with an additional class Jan. 31, at Lodi Community Hospital, 225 Elyria St.
To register for the Akron class, call 330-344-2462. For the Lodi class, call 330-948-5532.
A Northeast Ohio hospital ranks among 97 nationwide recently recognized by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) for having among the lowest rate of complications after joint replacement surgery.
Southwest General Health Center in Middleburg Heights had a lower-than-average risk of complications such as heart attack, pneumonia, sepsis, surgical site bleeding, pulmonary embolism, mechanical complication, joint infection or death following surgery, according to a CMS analysis that Kaiser Health News recently reported.
The analysis was based on Medicare data from July 2009 through June 2012, according to Kaiser Health News.
“This is a tremendous validation that the surgical care provided to our orthopedic patients at Southwest General is of the highest quality,” Thomas A. Selden Southwest General’s president and chief executive officer, said in a prepared statement. “Patients play a significant role in choosing their provider of care. This is an important tool to help assist them with choosing the orthopedic surgery program that will provide the optimal outcome for their procedure.”
To see results from individual hospitals on Medicare’s Hospital Compare website, go to http://www.medicare.gov/hospital compare/search.html.
BEREA: Coach Rob Chudzinski is gone, unfairly fired after one year because the Browns were not improving as the season imploded.
Now CEO Joe Banner and General Manager Mike Lombardi are on the hot seat.
Owner Jimmy Haslam put them there Monday when he called the next eight months “THE crucial offseason for the Cleveland Browns.”
The Haslams aren’t going anywhere. Even if the FBI investigation into rebate fraud at Pilot Flying J results in Haslam’s indictment, someone in his family would likely take over the Browns.
But when Chudzinski was relieved of his duties 363 days after the Browns dumped his predecessor Pat Shurmur, they left themselves with a monumental to-do list before the 2014 season begins.
They must find the right coach, which they failed to do a year ago.
They must bring in the quarterback of the future.
They must hit on their 10 draft picks, which include two selections in the first round (one No. 4 overall) and seven in the first four rounds.
They must upgrade the roster, which might include signing free-agent center Alex Mack and strong safety T.J. Ward. They are better prepared than most, armed with $46 million under the 2014 salary cap, according to CBSSports.com.
After all that, if Haslam is back in a year or two discussing the firing of another coach, Banner and Lombardi will also pay with their jobs.
That would mean the end of the “Three Stooges,” which a Channel 19 newsman called Haslam, Banner and Lombardi on Monday. “Can you reassure fans you don’t have the Three Stooges running this operation?” he said, a moment of levity during 30 minutes of unconvincing responses despite the question’s unprofessional nature.
Haslam didn’t mention Lombardi and said he didn’t find it odd to hold such a news conference without the general manager.
“I’ve never really thought about it, to be honest,” Haslam said.
Haslam said he and Banner would accept the responsibility of “THE crucial offseason.”
“If we get that right, we’ll have a lot of really positive press conferences,” Haslam said in reference to the coach, the draft and free agency. “If we get that wrong, [the] responsibility is on us. We understand, we feel a lot of pressure to get this right — for the franchise, for the city of Cleveland, for our fans. We understand how important it is.”
Haslam-Banner was a match made in NFL headquarters. Haslam didn’t know the 19-year Philadelphia Eagles executive before he and his father, Jim, were introduced to him. Nor had Haslam met Lombardi, whose 22 years in the league included two seasons with Banner in Philadelphia.
Haslam has no loyalties to either man. Haslam surrounded himself with a small core of executives at Pilot Flying J that had been with him for years, but he showed by firing Chudzinski he’s not afraid to correct a hiring mistake.
“If you look at how we run our business, it’s not one where we make personnel decisions frequently and we understand the importance of continuity,” Haslam said.
If Haslam has reservations about those who are evaluating and signing personnel, he seems prepared to give them at least one more year, much to the fans’ and my dismay.
“I feel really confident that we have the right people to take this organization where we need to,” Haslam said before launching into a “best fans in the world” soliloquy as a diversionary tactic.
Haslam didn’t seem to mind that no one in the personnel department has been held accountable for the trade that brought in receiver Davone Bess, who finished second in the league in dropped passes with 14 this season, according to ProFootballFocus.com.
When he worked for NFL Network in February 2011, Lombardi said the Browns’ and Baltimore Ravens’ outside receivers were the slowest in the league. Yet after former Browns GM Tom Heckert selected Josh Gordon in the 2012 supplemental draft, Lombardi found no one ready to pair opposite Gordon.
Ted Ginn Jr. was a free agent last March and might have loved to return to his hometown of Cleveland, where father Ted Ginn Sr. is battling pancreatic cancer. Ginn, a seven-year veteran, signed with the Carolina Panthers, where he caught 36 passes for 556 yards and five touchdowns as the Panthers went 12-4 and won the NFC South. Former New York Giant Domenik Hixon, a University of Akron product, also signed with the Panthers, where he languished for 14 weeks until catching perhaps the biggest touchdown of the season, a diving 14-yarder in a victory over New Orleans.
Because he’s failed only once, Haslam might not realize the organizational structure he’s set up won’t allow him to get the kind of coach he wants. Banner and Lombardi wield all the power in personnel decisions, which likely scared off Chip Kelly a year ago.
Banner said he would consider giving the next coach more personnel input, but it’s hard to believe that would be the case unless the Browns try to lure a big-name candidate like Kelly, Jon Gruden and Nick Saban a year ago.
“I think we’re open to whatever structure we need to have to get the right person,” Banner said. “But we work very closely with the coaching staff, mostly through Chud. They were intimately involved in all the decisions we made and had input. That doesn’t mean we agreed on every evaluation, didn’t have some discussions, but our philosophy has been to have a very collaborative approach.”
That sounds good in theory. But unless the Browns make such organizational changes, they will end up with another unheralded assistant like Chudzinski. And that could spell the end for two of the “Three Stooges.”
Marla Ridenour can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Read her blog at https://ohio.com/marla. Follow her on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/MRidenourABJ and on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/sports.abj.
Tonight is the night to party past midnight to celebrate a new year, but the Kent State basketball team hasn’t had time to concern itself with such festivities.
Since Saturday’s 78-70 loss to visiting Cleveland State, the Golden Flashes have been hard at work preparing for a noon game today at Princeton.
The Flashes consider the Tigers among the toughest opponents they will face this season.
“They’re so hard to prepare for because they’re so unique,” KSU coach Rob Senderoff said. “There’s not a bunch of teams or even two or three teams in the [Mid-American Conference] that play a similar style. Nobody plays like Princeton.
“They’re going to shoot 35 threes a game. They only shoot 3-pointers or layups, they don’t shoot any mid-range jumpers. Their [centers] shoot threes. Their two-guard is their best post player. They have different guys who can handle the ball. It’s just a Princeton thing to play that way. It’s been Princeton forever. I was an assistant in the Ivy League 15 years ago and they played like that then. The only difference now is that now they play a little faster.”
It doesn’t help Kent State’s cause that it hasn’t fared well against good 3-point shooting teams this season. The Flashes’ three losses all have come against teams that shot better than 33 percent from behind the arc.
On Nov. 13, Seton Hall was 8-for-20 from 3-point range in a 78-76 win over KSU. Following a six-game winning streak, Bucknell make 9-of-20 3-pointers in a 66-59 win over KSU on Dec. 4. Saturday, Cleveland State made 7-of-14 from behind the 3-point line.
Kent State managed to squeak by USC Upstate 79-78 on Nov. 22, despite the Spartans making 11-of-20 from 3-point range. Princeton is shooting .395 from beyond the arc this season and has been better than 33 percent in eight of 11 games, and the Tigers are 7-1 in those games.
“They’re second in the country in 3-pointers made and they don’t turn the ball over,” said Senderoff, whose Flashes lost to Princeton 62-50 last season, the only other time the teams have faced each other. “We haven’t seen anything like the way Princeton plays and we won’t again the rest of the season.”
“They beat Penn State [in overtime] at Penn State, beat Rutgers and lost to Butler by just three — and we all know how good Butler is. They’re just a good, disciplined team with an RPI in the top 100.”
It shouldn’t be hard for Senderoff to get the Flashes (9-3) to focus on defense against Princeton (9-2), considering a lack of defensive intensity led to KSU dropping its second consecutive home game in front of the best crowd at the M.A.C. Center this season.
“We’re going to have to put a lot of pressure on the ball and stay in help [defense] because Princeton is going to shoot threes and back-door layups,” Senderoff said. “But even though they’re good shooters, we can’t get too hooked up with a guy where the layups are easy. It’s what they do, so we can’t get down when it happens. We just have to move on to the next play and try to limit their effectiveness.”
The Flashes still have Saturday’s demoralizing loss in mind, but the Tigers haven’t played in 10 days. Princeton’s last game could still also serve as a wake-up call. The Tigers committed a season-high 17 turnovers and allowed the most points in three seasons in a 93-79 loss to Portland that snapped an eight-game winning streak.
Stephanie Storm can be reached at email@example.com. Read the Kent State blog at https://ohio.com/flashes. Follow her on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/SStormABJ and on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/sports.abj.
The nine-game, 19-day stretch of the season is almost over for the University of Akron men’s basketball team.
UA coach Keith Dambrot and his players have four wins and three losses during the first seven games, and are hoping to snag two wins in games eight and nine at home against Coppin State at 6 tonight and Marshall at 7 p.m. Thursday.
The two-game homestand at Rhodes Arena comes following a three-game trip to Honolulu, Hawaii, and one game in Columbia, S.C., between Dec. 22 and Saturday.
UA (6-5) enters its game against Coppin State (4-8) with a three-game losing streak. The Zips opened the Hawaiian Airlines Diamond Head Classic with an 83-71 win over Oregon State with President Barack Obama in attendance, but then lost to nationally ranked Iowa State (83-60) and unranked South Carolina (69-59). Another loss at South Carolina (78-45) on Saturday followed on the way back to Akron.
“We are a little tired,” Dambrot said Monday. “I think the problem we have had is we have had practice and then not played, or we have played and not practiced. Once we get back to normalcy we will be fine.
“It has been hard mentally. We made the one trip to California [and played St. Mary’s Nov. 12], came back immediately and went to Tennessee [and played Middle Tennessee on Nov. 16]. Then we don’t play for a while [Nov. 27 against Malone and Dec. 7 at Cleveland State]. If it doesn’t kill us, it will make us stronger. We just have to get through it. We have played some pretty good teams during this stretch.”
UA started the season with a win against visiting Coastal Carolina and losses to St. Mary’s and Middle Tennessee. Then forwards Demetrius Treadwell, Quincy Diggs and Nick Harney led the Zips on a five-game winning streak.
“We have shown in stretches we can play, but we have been inconsistent, too,” Dambrot said. “We need to be smarter and more consistent. We played really well during that five-game stretch against Cleveland State [73-61], Bethune-Cookman [84-56], Oral Roberts [74-64], Detroit [79-60] and Oregon State, and then we kind of died on the vine in the second half during the past three games against Iowa State and South Carolina.
“We played good during stretches in the first half of those three games, but we just need to be more consistent and handle adversity better. We need to make corrections. We need more time in the gym, and what I mean by that is more practice time.”
Treadwell averages 13.8 points and 7.9 rebounds per game. Diggs is averaging 12.3 points and Harney is at 7.6 points. Nyles Evans, Jake Kretzer, Reggie McAdams, Pat Forsythe, Deji Ibitayo and Isaiah Johnson are averaging between 4.7 and 7.2 points per game.
Dambrot said this was his third to trip to Hawaii. There was some time for rest and relaxation with his wife, Donna, and children, UA senior Alysse and UA freshman Robby, but business was his first priority.
“It was better for the players and the families then it was for the coaches,” Dambrot said. “We were basically working. We ate good. I walked around with family . . . but it could have been Alaska for all I care. The first game was good and the president was there, which was a unique experience. The guys enjoyed it. For a lot of the guys, this was their first time there and they had fun on the trip.”
Michael Beaven can be reached at 330-996-3829 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Read the Zips blog at https://ohio.com/zips. Follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/MBeavenABJ and on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/sports.abj.
A Hudson doctor previously indicted on 23 counts of sexual offenses has been charged in a new indictment with one additional count of rape and three other sex-related crimes, Summit County court records show.
James P. Bressi, 59, is on GPS-monitored house arrest as he awaits his scheduled Jan. 27 trial date.
He will be arraigned on the new charges, which were filed in a supplemental indictment earlier this month, during a court appearance this morning before Common Pleas Judge Tom Parker.
Bressi’s attorney, Michael T. Callahan, said Monday that he was continuing to review the government’s allegations.
“With a pending criminal case, it wouldn’t be appropriate for me to comment until such time as we have everything in front of us. Until then, we’re going to continue to prepare an aggressive defense,” Callahan said.
When Bressi’s earlier indictment was announced on Aug. 29, authorities said his victims were female patients at a pain management center, Summit Pain Specialists in Stow. The initials of 10 victims, some in their 70s, were contained in court records.
Authorities said the latest count of rape was investigated after Bressi’s arrest, when a new victim came forward following news coverage of the announcement of the indictment. The State Medical Board of Ohio suspended Bressi’s medical license previously this summer. The county’s supplemental indictment also contains two felony counts of gross sexual imposition and one misdemeanor count of sexual imposition.
Details in the indictment show that many of the offenses allegedly occurred as recently as March, just prior to Bressi’s departure from the clinic. Some of the incidents date back to September 2011.
The indictment states that some of the patients were victims of force or threats of force. Other charges accuse Bressi of preying on patients who were impaired from age or illness.
Summit County court records show Bressi also was named as the principal defendant in four separate civil lawsuits, involving claims of medial malpractice, since May of this year.
Those suits contained the names of as many as nine former patients who joined the cause of action as co-plaintiffs.
Bressi’s attorneys in the civil litigation have said in court papers that the doctor “vehemently denies” the allegations against him. Notably absent in those cases is “any fact” supporting the women’s claims of “non-consensual touching,” the records state.
State medical records show that Bressi, an osteopath specialist, also denied the sexual allegations while being interviewed by the board.
Ed Meyer can be reached at 330-996-3784 or at email@example.com. Phil Trexler contributed to this report.
Netflix testing new prices
Netflix Inc., the largest subscription streaming service, is testing new prices based on the number of people who can use an account.
Netflix is offering some new customers plans that provide access on as many as four screens, letting family members watch different shows at the same time. The monthly prices range from $6.99 to $11.99, according to an offer posted on the company’s website.
If successful, the pricing plans could be expanded to more customers. The test could also provide a way for Netflix, with more than 40 million subscribers, to curb account sharing while providing viewers with more ways to watch, just as cable TV operators rent set-stop boxes for additional rooms.
The standard Netflix streaming service costs $7.99 a month, according to the company. The DVD by mail service starts at $7.99 for one disc at a time.
Label omits peanuts
Giant Eagle has recalled Candy Place Chocolate Santas because they do not list peanuts as an ingredient.
The individual peanut butter-filled candies say “peanut butter” on the label, but don’t list peanuts in the ingredients. It could cause a serious reaction if consumed by someone who is allergic to peanuts.
The product is safe for those who do not have a peanut allergy.
The affected product was sold in 11-ounce packages with the UPC code 3003407341, and included chocolate, caramel and peanut butter varieties. The product was purchased by approximately 1,100 customers in Giant Eagle supermarkets in Pennsylvania, Ohio and Maryland since Oct. 1.
No illnesses have been reported. Consumers may return the product to any Giant Eagle for a full refund. Those with questions may call George J. Howe Co., the manufacturer, at 800-367-4693 from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. weekdays, or may leave a voice mail at other hours.
Giant Eagle also has been contacting consumers who purchased the candy.
Ford eyes 2013 title
Ford has sold more than 2.4 million vehicles in 2013 and expects to retain its best-selling title in North America in 2013 over Toyota.
The automaker expects to widen its lead with record sales of the Fusion, Escape and Fiesta, strong demand for the Focus and a tripling of hybrid sales in 2013. Ford also has the single-best selling vehicle in the U.S. with the F-Series pickup, sales of which will easily exceed 700,000 this year, boosted by an improving economy with more housing starts and increased commercial construction.
In 2012, customers bought 329,677 more Fords than Toyotas. While December sales are not released until Friday, Ford expects a much bigger lead. Through November, the Ford brand had sold 396,041 more vehicles than Toyota.
Cracker Barrel rejects bid
Cracker Barrel says it won’t consider selling itself, rejecting a push from its biggest shareholder.
The company said Monday that it will continue pursuing its own business strategies.
Last week shareholder Sardar Biglari said he was willing to make a bid for the company and urged it to consider selling itself.
Biglari, through his investment firm Biglari Holdings Inc., owns nearly 20 percent of Cracker Barrel Old Country Store Inc.’s shares. He has tried and failed multiple times to win a seat on the board. Shareholders also recently rejected his proposal for a $20-per-share special dividend.
Shares of Cracker Barrel lost $1.06 to $110.20 on Monday. The stock is up 72 percent in 2013.
Home sales stabilize
The number of Americans who signed contracts to buy existing homes in November was essentially unchanged from October, suggesting sales are stabilizing after several months of declines.
Higher mortgage rates and strong price gains over the past two years have slowed sales. The pending home sales index had fallen for five straight months before November. And completed sales of existing homes fell for three straight months, the National Association of Realtors said earlier this month.
Compiled from staff and wire reports.
NEW YORK: The stock market ended a quiet Monday mostly where it began as investors shut their books for what has been an extraordinary year on Wall Street.
Traders had little corporate or economic news to work through. The bond market was quiet as well. The yield on the benchmark 10-year Treasury note continued to hover near 3 percent.
The Dow Jones industrial average moved less than 30 points the entire day, the narrowest range for the index since February 2007. Approximately 2.3 billion shares changed hands on the New York Stock Exchange, 40 percent less than average.
The Dow ended the day up 25.88 points, or 0.2 percent, to 16,504.29.
“The very narrow range reflects that there’s not a lot of news out there and a lot of investors’ positions are closed for the year,” said Alec Young, chief global strategist with S&P Capital IQ.
The Standard & Poor’s 500 index fell less than a point to 1,841.07 and the technology-heavy Nasdaq composite fell 2.39 points, or 0.1 percent, to 4,154.20.
Walt Disney rose $1.88, or 3 percent, to $76.23, the most in the S&P 500. Analysts at Guggenhiem Securities upgraded Disney’s stock to a “buy” from a “hold” on Friday.
With just one trading day left in the year, 2013 is looking to be a memorable one for investors. The S&P 500 is up 29.1 percent so far, on pace for its best year since 1997. The Dow is up 26 percent, the most since 1996.
With 2013 in the books, investors have turned their attention to the beginning of 2014. Few expect next year to be as good to investors as 2013 was.
The next big piece of news investors will have to work through will be the December jobs report, which will be released Jan. 10.
Starting on Dec. 26 and running through Feb. 8, residents may drop off their live Christmas tree and wrapping materials at Stow Community Gardens, at 5070 Stow Road, to be recycled.
Look for green recycle bins for all paper, cardboard, and cards. Christmas trees must have all decorations removed.
Trees will be turned into mulch, which will be available to Stow residents on a first-come, first-serve basis at a future date to be announced. Funds from any wrapping materials recycled will go towards planting new trees in the Stow area.
Stow Community Gardens also helps residents recycle old electronic devices, including cell phones and iPods. Click here to learn more.
The Ohio Lottery soon will unveil a new proposal for placing next-generation electronic gaming at veterans posts and fraternal lodges. The promise is, as reported by the Columbus Dispatch last week, that the arrangement will comply with the state constitution, the proceeds flowing at a sufficient rate to public education.
That plainly isn’t the case with the initial plan. Mike DeWine, the state attorney general, analyzed the proposal and concluded that for every $100,000 in bets, the puny sum of $1,375 would go to public schools. He noted that current lottery games generate roughly 30 percent, or $30,000 for each $100,000 wagered.
So there is the constitutional precedent for the Lottery Commission to meet — that 30 percent. It isn’t good enough to point out, as a spokesman for Gov. John Kasich did, that public schools do not receive anything from the raffle system the posts and lodges have been using, and deemed illegal by the attorney general. The lottery has been pressing the posts and lodges to accept as a substitute the next generation machines.
The posts and lodges have rejected the idea. They argue that the arrangement would not leave them adequate revenue to cover expenses and maintain their current level of charitable contributions. Where would the money go? An outsized chunk would land with Intralot, the primary vendor for the Lottery Commission. Recall, again, that the company counts among its lobbyists, Robert Klaffky and Doug Preisse, two members of the Kasich inner circle, or well placed to peddle influence at the Statehouse.
State lawmakers could settle the matter with legislation making legal the raffle systems, allowing the posts and lodges to proceed as they have in the past. For its part, the lottery has been persistent, even pitching directly to separate posts and lodges, going around the organization that represents their interests statewide.
More, the state already has used the cover of the lottery to expand gambling, setting up video lottery terminals, or electronic slot machines, at horse racetracks. In this case, too, the share going to public education is tiny, inviting similar constitutional questions. At least, with the racetracks, state lawmakers gave their approval.
The governor talked early in his term about Ohio developing an ordered and comprehensive approach to gambling, especially in view of voters saying yes to four casinos, the state wary of saturating the market. Yet this episode involving the veterans posts and the fraternal lodges appears more driven by special interests, the effort at odds so far with what Ohio voters declared as the first purpose of the lottery, the money devoted to public education.
Susie Taylor was deeply disappointed, though not surprised, when she was denied a copy of her birth certificate.
Taylor was born in Akron in 1966 to an 18-year-old girl who had given her up for adoption. By Ohio law, Taylor had no right to the document.
But she will very soon.
This month, Gov. John Kasich signed Substitute Senate Bill 23 into law, giving 400,000 adoptees access to their original birth certificates starting in March 2015.
The law is aimed at people born between 1964 and 1996 — a population that has fallen between the cracks of previous efforts to open records.
Those born prior to 1964 already have access to their original birth certificates. When they reach adulthood, they have full access to their adoption file via request to the Ohio Department of Health for a $20 fee.
And in September 1996, Ohio started allowing adoptees born after that date to receive the document upon reaching the age of 21, unless the biological parents asked that the file be sealed.
Taylor, who lives in Ashland, is among those who will benefit from the new law, which passed the Ohio Senate unanimously on Dec. 4, and the Ohio House by a vote of 91-2 on Dec. 11.
The law has a 90-day enactment period and then a one-year waiting period. That gives birth parents the opportunity to ask that their names be redacted from the document.
If birth parents choose not to be contacted, they must at least provide a detailed medical history.
Based on experience in other states, Betsie Norris expects few, if any, birth parents will seek to remove their names.
As the founder of Adoption Network Cleveland, Norris has been among those working for this issue since her organization launched in 1988.
“We are grateful [Kasich] has decided to act quickly to sign this bill into law. With the stroke of his pen, he is positively impacting the lives of hundreds of thousands of Ohio adoptees,” she said.
Taylor said she’s happy that she will get to see her birth certificate one day. But she might not have to wait that long to solve the mystery of her birth.
In October, after being refused her birth certificate, Taylor enlisted the Facebook community in her search.
She posed with a sign that simply read: “I am looking for my mother/father. I was born August 20, 1966 in Akron, Ohio. My mother was 18 at my birth. My father was 19.”
In two months, the post was shared nearly 60,000 times.
“My goal was 500 shares. I’m just flabbergasted,” she said.
Among the well-wishers who responded to her directly was an Akron woman who offered to do some research at no charge. Very quickly, she found an index of Ohio births that listed only one girl born in Akron on Taylor’s birth date. “Baby girl Burgess.”
“My heart went into my stomach when she said that,” Taylor said. That’s because Taylor already had seen the name “Burgess” scribbled a couple of times by her mom in a file on her adoption.
Further work by Taylor’s “search angel” turned up a pretty good candidate for her birth mom, a woman now living in Tennessee.
On Christmas Eve, Taylor mailed her a letter.
“I wanted her to get it after Christmas but before New Year’s,” Taylor said. “So I’m praying it’s her and I’m praying she’ll answer, but we’ll see.”
Taylor said she was raised by a loving mother, Ruth Taylor. Her adoptive father, Jim Taylor, died when she was 8, but she remembers him fondly.
She also remembers the day they told her she was adopted. She was 5 and getting ready to start school when they laid out five candy bars and asked her to pick her favorite. She chose the Reese’s peanut butter cup.
“You chose your very favorite, and that’s what we did when we chose you. We chose our favorite,” Taylor recalled her mom saying. From that year on, Taylor received a Reese’s for her birthday.
Taylor once asked her mom how she would feel if she searched for her birth parents.
“She said, ‘I’d want to know, too,’ ” Taylor said.
Taylor didn’t really begin her search until her mom died two years ago. That’s when she tried to get her birth certificate.
“When I got that rejection, it upset me. I was thinking, ‘This is my birth certificate. This is my life.’ I’m not out to destroy anyone,” Taylor said.
Then Taylor noticed other adoptees using Facebook to ask for help. So she got her daughter, Jenn, to take the snapshot that might have changed her life.
On a practical level, Taylor would really love to know her family’s medical history.
“I have high blood pressure, and my daughter had been sick a few years ago, and my son had a heart murmur,” she said. “It’s been discouraging because doctors always want to know your medical history and I could never give it.”
But there’s no denying that she also would love to develop a relationship.
“I don’t want to stir up bad memories for her. I don’t want to hurt her,” Taylor said.
During the adoption, an agency had written down that Taylor’s birth mom was young, unmarried and wanted to go to school to become a nurse.
“They said it was a tough decision for her, but at the time she couldn’t provide for me and it was in my best interest for her to give me up,” Taylor said. “I’ve always wanted to ask why she gave me up, but I respect that she did, that she thought enough of me to want to give me a better home.”
And having been raised a single child, she would love to know if she has any half-brothers or half-sisters.
“I’ve never had an extended family,” Taylor said. “That would be really emotional, to learn I have one.”
Return to the start of the NFL season, and recall the cautious optimism about the troubled Cleveland Browns. Oh, not Super Bowl optimism, but there was talk about the club winning half of its games, even with a distant shot at the playoffs. The new owner, Jimmy Haslam, hardly could have been more pleased with his selection of Rob Chudzinski as the head coach.
Yet hire a guy without head coaching experience, and you know he will face a learning curve. Chudzinski had the sense to hire veterans to help on the sidelines, Norv Turner, the offensive coordinator, and Ray Horton, who led the defense. Haslam talked about his coach as one of the brightest young minds in the pro game.
So what did Haslam do to start this week? He did what Browns executives often have done. He dumped the coach. Since 2005, the coaching roster goes: Romeo Crennel, Eric Mangini, Pat Schurmur and now Chudzinski. That isn’t exactly a model for continuity, or for letting someone fulfill the promise you said they possessed.
No question, the Browns performed poorly, losing seven straight games to end the season. Now Haslam wants the Browns faithful to trust he will get it right next time. He is asking much, Browns fans having seen this play often enough to wonder whether the coach is the problem.
Cooper Tire & Rubber Co. is calling off its sale to India’s Apollo Tyres, unraveling a $2.2 billion deal announced just over six months ago.
Cooper said financing no longer is available and it continues to claim, as it has for months, that Apollo breached terms of the agreement.
Apollo said after the announcement Monday, which it called disappointing, that it might pursue legal remedies.
Both companies agreed to the sale in June, but things deteriorated rapidly. Negotiations with the union representing Cooper employees became a sticking point.
Apollo sought a better price, citing labor issues in China and weaker profit, which Cooper said was a stalling tactic.
Cooper, a Findlay, Ohio, company, took its claim to a Delaware court, but a ruling last month found no breach of obligations on Apollo’s part.
Chairman and CEO Roy Armes said during a brief webcast Monday morning that Cooper never received a new offer from Apollo that came with committed financing, and that presented “unreasonable risk” for his company.
Company executives vowed to pursue a reverse termination fee of $112.5 million and other possible damages. They do not believe the company owes Apollo a $50 million termination fee that was part of the initial agreement.
Cooper will return to court with Apollo to resolve some remaining issues, including whether Apollo made an appropriate effort to reach a deal with the union, said Chief Financial Officer Brad Hughes.
Apollo Tyres Ltd. said Monday that it had made “exhaustive efforts to find a sensible way forward over the last several months.”
Shares of Cooper rose $1.24 on Monday, closing at $24.20.
Company shares soared to nearly $35 in June after it announced the buyout, but they had fallen steadily since then.
NEW YORK: Hours after a bomb struck a bus in the city of Volgograd on Monday morning, adding at least 14 deaths to the toll of 17 people killed in an attack the previous night, Russia’s official alert level remained yellow, not red. President Vladimir Putin had yet to address the nation.
Putin has a history of responding slowly and coldly to public tragedies, but Volgograd — once known as Stalingrad — is about half way from Moscow to the site of the Winter Olympics in Sochi, which begin in less than six weeks. One would have expected a swifter response from the top.
A spokesman for investigators on the case said Monday’s attack was carried out by a suicide bomber, using the identical TNT explosives to the night before. Some Kremlin loyalists are indeed drawing the connection to the Olympics, and Putin today called for increased security nationwide and a special regime for Volgograd.
“The explosions are preparation for terrorist attacks on the Olympics and an attempt to provoke other countries to refuse to take part of the Sochi Olympic Games,” political scientist Sergei Markov wrote on the pro-Kremlin site Vzglyad.ru. He added that U.S. Sen. John McCain, “the Russian terrorists and radical opposition have found themselves in the same camp. That is no accident, they are all united by Russo phobia.”
The official response to the bombings was slow, however, appearing to treat them as mundane — which in a way they are. Volgograd has seen a number of terrorist attacks since the 1990s, most recently in October, when a woman named Naida Asiyalova blew up a bus, killing herself and seven others. Later, the authorities said they had killed the mastermind of that attack, Murad Kasumov. Both perpetrators were from troubled Dagestan.
The mainly Muslim North Caucasus regions of Dagestan, Ingushetia and Chechnya supply most of the fanatical suicide bombers, many of them women, who have launched terrorist attacks in Russia over the years. Volgograd, a city of 1 million, is about 400 miles from these regions and accessible by train or road. It is also an easy target, because uncommonly vicious infighting between local businessmen and politicians make for a weak local government.
Sergei Bozhenov is Volgograd’s third governor in four years, his two predecessors, both locally born, were destroyed by the constant struggles for power in the city. Putin sent in Bozhenov, who has a reputation for toughness, from a neighboring region, but now the governor, one of the most unpopular in Russia, appears to be at a loss as to how to deal with the terrorist attacks, promising only to augment the police force with volunteers.
“Does the choice of Volgograd as the scene for terrorist attacks have anything to do with the fact that local law enforcement chiefs are seen as participants of the endless political infighting in the city and surrounding region?” editor Vlad Vlovin, a native of Volgograd, wrote in the daily Izvestia. “The law enforcers there have more important business than ensuring public safety.”
The first explosion, at the entrance to the railroad station, shook the city. Monday’s attack on the trolleybus caused people spontaneously to get off buses and walk to work. Shopping malls closed on Monday, and Volgograd residents avoided public places. The seemingly indifferent silence from Putin and top security officials triggered some angry outbursts on social networks. “One does not even expect the president to look the nation in the eyes and express public condolences,” Elena Panfilova, head of the Russian branch of Transparency International, wrote on Facebook.
Putin may be hesitating to speak out because any alarmist statements from him might indeed cast doubt on the security of the Olympics at Sochi, which is much closer than Volgograd to the terrorist hotbeds of the North Caucasus. Security is already extra tight at the Olympic venue, and law enforcement chiefs know Putin won’t forgive them for allowing anyone to mess with an Olympic showcase that has cost $48 billion to stage.
Putin has allowed the U.S. State Department to overtake him in condemning the Volgograd attacks and sending condolences to the victims’ families. Apart from the president’s customary lack of empathy, this may hide a slow fuse burning. As soon as the mourning period for the victims ends, the hapless governor and the local security chiefs are likely to be replaced. Sochi will be turned into a veritable fortress.
Otherwise, this is business as usual in Russia, where a terrorist underground continues to exist in the North Caucasus, despite the billions of dollars spent to eradicate it.
Bershidsky, an editor and novelist, is a Bloomberg View contributor.
There are six teams currently over the NBA’s luxury tax and in line to pay significant penalties at the end of the season. While the Cavs search for a trade to unload Andrew Bynum, those are likely their best — and perhaps only — potential trade partners between now and Jan. 7.
No team that actually wants Bynum is likely to trade for him because his contract for this season becomes guaranteed for $12 million after Jan. 7. But a team trying to get under the luxury tax threshold of $71.7 million could trade a hefty salary to the Cavs for Bynum and release him prior to Jan. 7, while Bynum’s cap figure can be reduced to $6 million.
Bynum could then clear waivers, become a free agent and sign with another team for the league minimum.
The problem is the Cavs are no longer interested in taking on bad money for contracts that extend beyond this season, so they would either be searching for an expiring contract or it would have to be a player they genuinely like. It’s a narrow window of teams, which is what makes trading Bynum tricky.
The Brooklyn Nets are $30.4 million over the tax threshold and the New York Knicks are $16.5 million over, easily making them the two biggest spending teams this season. But the Miami Heat ($11.8 million over), Chicago Bulls ($7.3 million over), Los Angeles Lakers ($7 million) and Los Angeles Clippers ($2.2 million) are also in line to pay penalties after the season.
Teams must also be concerned with the “repeat offender” status, which hammers teams that are habitual tax payers. There is no repeat offender tax this year, but teams that have paid a luxury tax every summer since 2012 will be saddled with even larger fines beginning in 2015 if they’re again in the tax.
The Lakers and Heat are both in jeopardy of qualifying for the “repeat offender” tax in the summer of 2015, although each can avoid the problem if they get under the tax threshold by this summer.
So who has contracts that make sense? None of the following names should be considered as trade rumors or sourced negotiations involving the Cavs. It is simply a list of names that fit the criteria.
The Knicks’ Tyson Chandler is due $14.1 million this season and $14.5 million guaranteed next year. Chandler is 31 and has battled injuries this year, but is still a productive player.
Trading Chandler for Bynum won’t get the Knicks under the tax threshold, but it would significantly reduce their tax bill from $54 million to $14.9 million. The Knicks began Monday with the league’s second-worst record, yet remain four games out of the final playoff spot in the East and have shown no indication of making a salary dump. Remember, the Knicks have paid more in luxury tax fees (in excess of $205 million) than any other team in the league.
The Bulls paid a luxury tax for the first time last season. They could avoid paying the tax if they traded Luol Deng to the Cavs for Bynum, and while the Cavs would eagerly make that trade, the Bulls have not shopped Deng to this point. He is in the final year of a deal that pays him $14 million this season, and if the Bulls did eventually move him, they could conceivably get quality assets for him rather than making him strictly a salary dump.
The Clippers have never paid a luxury tax, but don’t appear to have any candidates that fit the Cavs’ criteria. Besides, the Clippers reportedly have an interest in bringing Bynum back to Los Angeles as a backup, meaning they’d have to wait for him to be released and clear waivers before offering him a league minimum deal.
The most intriguing match could be the Lakers and Pau Gasol, who isn’t a good fit with Mike D’Antoni’s system. The Cavs were close to acquiring Gasol last summer before Dwight Howard chose to leave for the Houston Rockets, which lessened the need for the Lakers to unload his $19 million expiring contract.
Gasol makes too much to trade straight up for Bynum, but a secondary salary like Alonzo Gee could make a deal work. By trading Gasol now, the Lakers would avoid the luxury tax this season and not worry about repeat offender status next season. The Cavs and Lakers already got together for a previous deal involving Ramon Sessions and draft picks.
All of this would have to be done, of course, by Jan. 7.
If the Cavs don’t find a deal to their liking, they can either release him prior to next week and clear $6 million in cap space leading up to February’s trade deadline or hold onto Bynum, pay him the full $12 million for this season and try again to trade him around the draft. They would have until June 30 to trade him before his $12 million salary for next season becomes guaranteed.
By retaining him and paying him the full $12 million, it would essentially force Bynum to miss the rest of the season and create a $12 million trade chip around the draft.
One more disclaimer, it’s conceivable (though not likely) a non-contender could do the same thing. Another team with cap space could trade for Bynum, slide his $12 million figure into their cap and only have to physically pay him about half of that for the rest of the season. Then they would have a $12 million trade bullet to fire around the draft and until June 30.
There are two teams with at least $5 million in available cap space, which would make a deal for Bynum a little easier: The Phoenix Suns and the … wait for it … Philadelphia 76ers.
Jason Lloyd can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Read the Cavs blog at https://ohio.com/cavs. Follow him on Twitter http://www.twitter.com/JasonLloydABJ. Follow ABJ sports on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/sports.abj.
The Dec. 25 story “First-class stamp to increase in January” was once again reflective of how the media are not telling the truth about the United States Postal Service’s financial state.
That the Postal Service asked for a rate increase of three cents for first-class postage to offset the financial loses this year is true. But people need to know that nearly 85 percent of those loses are attributed to the Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act, which requires the postal service to make 75 years worth of payments into its health-care plan for retirees in less than 10 years.
Congress has dodged any form of postal reform for the past three years, causing the Postal Service to lose $23 million dollars a day. It is using the health-care payments to fund other projects and other retiree health-care plans.
The Postal Service is also not telling the whole story about why mail is rerouted. The reason this is being done is because the postmaster general consolidated and closed nearly 250 processing plants the past two years, among them the processing plant in Canton.
These moves were unnecessary and have not produced the savings the Postal Service predicted.
Customers in the Canton area put their mail in the box, then the mail is sent to Cleveland to be processed. Most of the time, Cleveland’s mail is processed first and Canton’s last.
This is happening all across the country, and the transportation costs are astounding. To make matters worse, the postmaster general wants to stretch delivery times even further, allowing him to close more processing facilities.
The Postal Service stated to the public that these moves would save billions in employee salaries, when, in fact, employees have been forced to move to the processing facilities that remain open.
Just recently the Office of the Inspector General decided to investigate why mail carriers are being shot and killed while delivering mail as late as 8 p.m. You know why? Our representatives to Congress haven’t done a thing about it.
Timothy J. Manning
Branch President Local 304
National Postal Mail Handlers Union
Without the falls
Now that the Cuyahoga Falls dams have been removed, perhaps the name of the city should be changed.
How about: Cuyahoga Fallsless, Cuyahoga Fallsnomore or Cuyahoga Fallsgone?
Charities in need of protection
Individual posts of the Veterans of Foreign Wars distribute money to hospitalized, downsized and hard-luck veterans as well as to the Red Cross and youth programs such as the Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts and Sea Cadets. Money also goes to the sheriff’s mounted and dog units, high school programs, elderly programs and a host of others.
Who will get the money from the Ohio Lottery-backed machines? First would be the Greek company, Intralot, then the company that builds and distributes the machines, then the Lottery. A very small portion would go to veterans’ and fraternal organizations.
This distribution would result in a whole lot less going to charities.
We need to keep the Ohio Lottery and the state out of the money going to charities supported by veterans in local communities.
Robert M. Smith
Not ready to take responsibility
I would like to thank Betty Lin-Fisher for her Dec. 22 follow-up article “ ‘Answer Anywhere’ is not everywhere,” on the fiasco with Time Warner Cable’s proposed digital telephone feature that was supposed to thwart robocalls.
When I read her first article the week before, I was very excited that someone had finally come up with the technology to stop annoying robocalls. But to my complete surprise, I could not get the feature to work even though we just had digital phone service installed in October. I was also not surprised, after calling Time Warner Cable three times, that it tried to place the blame on Nomorobo.com.
It seems that Time Warner Cable has been changing to a different software platform. Not surprisingly, the problem is with the company, but it doesn’t want to take responsibility. Its mantra should be, “We love charging you premium prices, but we never deliver premium service.”
John Higgins Jr., vice president of operations for Time Warner’s Northeast Ohio/Western Pennsylvania region, offered a weak apology, stating, “We are sorry for any confusion customers may have experienced while trying to add the Answer Anywhere feature.”
Aaron Foss, Nomorobo’s developer, stepped up to the plate and said he would email all registered Time Warner Cable users of Nomorobo when the problem is fixed.
Since Time Warner Cable screwed this up, it should contact all customers.
Where savings can be found
The Dec. 24 article “UA cuts holiday spending on cards” stated that the university saved $10,000 this year by eliminating the sending of holiday paper and digital cards to friends and donors.
It also saved $3,000 by not holding its annual party for staff and faculty.
I agree that these cutbacks are needed, but Summit County Republican Party chairman Alex Arshinkoff is paid $10,000 per month to lobby the Kasich administration and lawmakers in Columbus for the University of Akron.
Meaty proposition for the new year
With New Year’s resolutions upon us, consider the popular trend toward a healthy, eco-friendly, compassionate, meat-free diet.
According to Harris Interactive, 47 percent of American consumers are reducing their consumption of animal products.
The Department of Agriculture projects this year’s per capita chicken and beef consumption to drop by 8 percent and 17 percent, respectively, from their 2006 peaks.
Similar dramatic drops are projected for pigs and turkeys. Milk consumption has fallen by a whopping 40 percent since 1970.
A number of celebrities are going vegan. They include Bill Clinton, Al Gore, Oprah Winfrey, Ellen DeGeneres, Jay Z and Beyonce. Microsoft founder Bill Gates, PayPal founder Peter Thiel and Twitter founders Biz Stone and Evan Williams are funding plant-based replacements for meat and eggs.
Fast-food chains like Subway and Chipotle are responding to the growing demand by rolling out vegan options. Taco Bell has found that 43 percent of conversations about meat were negative.
The Baltimore, Los Angeles and San Diego school districts, serving more than a million meals a day, have adopted Meatless Mondays.
How about dropping animals from the menu for this New Year’s resolution? Entering “Meatout Mondays” in a search engine brings tons of useful recipes and transition tips.
Treat marriage as special
Those who say that same-sex marriage should be classified only as a “civil union” must be presumed to regard marriage as a special, sacrosanct relationship.
So be it; we should accept their view, but also insist that it be recognized only once.
Anyone seeking to remarry should be given a civil union, as well. This would include a spouse who has never been married. And to be fair, it should be made retroactive, covering all those previously divorced.
Such a two-tiered system would not be so easily accepted.
Michael W. Bradley
I hope Obamacare fails, and I’m a Democrat. Then, we could get what we really need, voluntary, national health care.
We should roll Medicaid and Medicare together, then open it up to all as a lower-cost, government-run option to private health coverage. You wouldn’t have to enroll in the plan if you didn’t want to.
Most employers would jump at the chance to drop their $300 to $500 a month insurance policies for a $200 a month plan.
The insurance companies could eke out a living by selling supplemental policies.
The last retail holdout at the former Rolling Acres mall is now closed.
Customers looking for one last bargain on the last day of business for JC’s 5 Star Outlet waited in Black Friday-like lines with overflowing shopping carts on Monday.
And they left happy — with bags full of items at 90 percent off original outlet prices and, in some cases, store fixtures too.
Eighteen-year-old Casey White of North Canton accompanied his grandmother, Melinda Kennedy of Canton, to the store, having never been in it. He wasn’t looking for anything in particular.
He left with 13 pairs of dress pants, “tons of shirts” — some for $2.49 apiece and some normally $48 each. He also has a lot of ties for 69 cents. His grand total was $66 with a savings of $560, according to his receipt.
White, who works in an assisted living facility, said the deals were too good to pass up and got him stocked up for work.
Did he need 13 pairs of pants?
“No, but I might as well do it,” he said of the deals.
Alrae Green and her grandmother, Wilma Poole, both of Akron, left with two bags full of items; one was $21 and the other was $26.
“It’s just stuff for summertime for my boys and Christmas presents I didn’t get for someone,” Green said of her purchases. “I got a sheet set for two bucks. Hey, it’s fun.”
Poole, who said she and Green went to the store often, said it served a large area around Akron and would be missed.
Both women said they were impressed there was still “some decent stuff” left on the racks. The store closed at 5 p.m. Monday.
Several areas of the store were bare, but other areas had racks full of clothes.
Shopping carts were sparse and those customers who had carts had them brimming with potential purchases and in some cases were lugging several carts full of items.
Lorie Lenington-Stewart, her 8-year-old daughter, Emmie, and sister Julie Lenington- Ortiz, all of Akron, happened upon a bin of different patterned collapsible storage bins for drawers. Normally $7.99 each for two or one for $9.99, they’d be getting a cart full for 79 cents and 99 cents each.
“They don’t even match, but I don’t care,” said Lenington- Stewart. “It’s just cheap and you can’t pass it up.”
They joked that they could fulfill a New Year’s resolution of getting organized with the new items, but Lenington-Ortiz quipped, “we also said we weren’t going to spend money” as a resolution.
Lenington-Stewart also had a tray full of 24 colorful plastic insulated cups with straws in her cart.
“I’m a co-leader in my Girl Scout troop and I’m going to give these to my girls,” she said. The 24 cups, which retailed for $5.99 each, were 59 cents each, so Lenington-Stewart would get all 24 for $14.16, a savings of $129.60.
The sisters said the store was a great place for bargains and it’s sad that it’s closing.
Mall closed in 2008
The former JCPenney Outlet on Romig Road was the last store at the former Rolling Acres mall, which closed in 2008.
The inside of the central mall property closed when electricity was about to be turned off for nonpayment after several years of decline and retailers moving out. In 2011, a man died when he was electrocuted in an attempt to steal copper wiring. The last departure was Sears, which closed in the spring of 2011 and is now occupied by a private owner who runs a recycling business. The other former department stores attached to the mall are owned separately and operate privately for storage or recycling.
Summit County has begun foreclosure proceedings against the current owner of the mall, Premier Ventures LLC of California. Premier has not paid $674,221 in taxes since it purchased the mall in 2010. Premier also has liens against it for $457,798 from a California trust. Summit County Fiscal Officer Kristen Scalise said if the property does not have a buyer and if the back taxes and liens are not satisfied, then a sheriff’s sale could take place next summer. If after two rounds, the mall is not purchased, the county would erase the delinquent taxes and liens and offer the property to the city.
Akron Mayor Don Plusquellic has said if that happens, the city would likely demolish the common areas of the mall, which have fallen into disrepair, and try to encourage other development.
Outlets end struggle
A public relations contact for SB Capital did not return a call seeking information about what will happen to the leftover inventory in the store after last night’s closing or what will happen to the property.
The JC’s 5 Star Outlet had been purchased in 2011 along with 14 other locations across the country by SB Capital Group LLC, an affiliate of retailer Schottenstein in Columbus. SB Capital announced in October it would close the stores nationwide by the end of the year, citing low sales.
However, the Rolling Acres location was always busy and in a May 2012 interview with the Beacon Journal, CEO Glen Gammons said the location was profitable and performed around the middle of the pack. But stores across the country were struggling since customers thought the outlet stores had closed when SB Capital bought them from JCPenney.
In the wake of the Sandy Hook shooting just more than one year ago, a disturbing national trend emerged: Gun sales surged as many states relaxed gun laws already on the books. In Ohio, the Republican-controlled legislature, often eager to follow the National Rifle Association’s agenda, is looking at a number of ways to roll back gun laws.
One of the most ill-considered would eliminate the requirement to get a license to carry a concealed weapon. The bill, recently introduced by Republican Reps. Ron Hood of Ashville and Matt Lynch of Bainbridge Township, would allow anyone at least 21 years of age to carry a concealed firearm, as long as no other law prohibited the person from doing so.
This wildly expansive view of Second Amendment rights would end the reasonable process put in place for those who wish to get a concealed carry license. Under current law, applicants must take a training course, be fingerprinted and undergo mental competency and criminal background checks.
The action by Hood and Lynch follows House passage of a bill that would weaken training requirements for concealed carry and end the state’s requirement that one has a duty to retreat, if possible, before using deadly force in self-defense. Among other measures awaiting action is a bill that would make it a felony for police to enforce any new federal gun restrictions and one that would allow silencers on hunting rifles.
As Jim Carney, a Beacon Journal staff writer, reported Saturday, the number of concealed carry licenses taken out in Summit County has increased dramatically this year, hardly an indication that the process for getting one is creating an undue burden. If anything, background checks should be expanded and made more thorough as a sensible precaution against future violence.
No rights are absolute, a point that Hood, Lynch and their allies struggle to grasp. They are correct to say that some will carry weapons without a license. But the risk posed by those who willfully ignore the law fails to justify dismantling its pragmatic protections.
Robert J. Samuelson
WASHINGTON: For four and a half years, we have waited for a powerful and self-sustaining economic recovery. More than once it seemed imminent. Then, for various reasons, it vanished, and we returned to a plodding expansion with too much unemployment and too little confidence. Could 2014 be the year when the recovery actually feels like a recovery? Well, it could.
I say this with humility. True, many forecasts have turned optimistic. Economic growth will (finally) accelerate. But similar predictions were made in the past, including by me — and were wrong. The same could happen again. Still, the case for a healthier recovery now seems the most plausible since the recession’s nadir in mid-2009. The reason: Many economic “fundamentals” are improving simultaneously.
Here are four.
(1) The job market has strengthened. In the past four months — August through November — non-farm payrolls have increased an average of 204,000. That’s up from a monthly average of 180,000 for the first seven months of the year. Given how reluctant companies have been to hire, the gains suggest rising confidence. Since employment’s low point in February 2010, the economy has added 7.4 million payroll jobs.
(2) Household debt is down, wealth is up. The recovery’s weakness has reflected many Americans’ need to rebuild their finances. Having over-borrowed, they repaid debt; facing a collapse in housing and stock prices, they increased savings. All this hurt consumer buying, as income shifted away from shopping.
But the drag is now lessening. Since late 2008, household debt has dropped about $800 billion, reports the Federal Reserve. Along with low interest rates, this has cut household debt payments (principal and interest as a share of disposable income) to the levels of the early 1980s, says economist Scott Anderson of Bank of the West. Meanwhile, higher stock and home prices boosted household net worth to $77 trillion in September, well above 2007’s $68 trillion.
(3) The housing recovery isn’t finished. Jason Furman, chairman of President Obama’s Council of Economic Advisers, notes that the underlying demand for new homes totals about 1.5 million units annually. This reflects new household formations of about 1 million along with demolitions and abandonments. Yet, housing starts in 2013 are estimated at only about 900,000. Scarce supply, says economist Lawrence Yun of the National Association of Realtors, has kept inventories of unsold homes at low levels of about five months of sales instead of the more normal six to seven months.
(4) Corporations are awash in cash, meaning they can easily finance new investment in buildings, equipment and software. Until now, the cash hoard signified that companies wouldn’t increase industrial capacity because sluggish sales didn’t justify expansion. Since 2007, corporate cash and short-term securities have doubled from $600 billion to $1.2 trillion, reports Howard Silverblatt of Standard & Poor’s. But companies’ reluctance to invest may be waning.
Consider. In the latest quarter, capital spending at companies in the S&P 500 stock index passed its earlier peak. General Motors will invest $1.3 billion in five U.S. plants; Boeing is seeking a factory site for its redesigned 777 jetliner. Economist Joseph Carson of AllianceBernstein expects business capital spending in 2014 to grow 9.6 percent for buildings and 8.1 percent for machinery and software, sizable gains over 2013’s 1.7 percent and 2.7 percent. With these increases, Carson expects overall economic growth (gross domestic product) to accelerate to between 3 percent and 4 percent annually. That’s a significant jump from the roughly 2 percent rates since 2010.
There are other favorable omens. Global trade is reviving. Closer to home, the federal budget is expected to dampen growth less than in 2013. With all this encouraging news, confidence should be improving — and polls suggest it is. In December, the University of Michigan’s Survey of Consumers rose nearly 10 percent. A weekly survey of business sentiment among managers by Moody’s Analytics found the mood to be the best “since the survey began 11 years ago.”
Now, a caution.
A better recovery presumes that consumers and companies respond to good news as in the past. But they may not. The Great Recession changed attitudes and behavior because it was both unexpected and devastating. Though jobs are up, they remain about 1.3 million below the record. Millions of would-be workers (almost 5.7 million, estimates the Economic Policy Institute, a liberal think tank) have left the labor force. Americans have been sobered. The resulting wariness may be self-fulfilling. Initial reports of holiday shopping were mixed.
All that’s certain is that the economy will (again) be a big story in 2014, affecting America’s politics and psychology. Happy New Year, everyone.
Samuelson is a Washington Post columnist.