Ohio cities settle civil claims related to power plant bailout

FirstEnergy entered into a deferred prosecution agreement with federal prosecutors in July. As of Dec. 12, Energy Harbor had not yet been indicted for any criminal charges in connection with HB 6. Both remain potentially liable to claims by the state of Ohio and others (photo of Perry Nuclear Power Plant courtesy of FirstEnergy YouTube video, “FirstEnergy Takes Pride in Being a Good Neighbor”).

In a consolidated case, the Ohio attorney general’s office wants to move ahead on its civil racketeering case against FirstEnergy, Energy Harbor and others.

By Kathiann M. Kowalski

This article is provided by Eye on Ohio, the nonprofit, nonpartisan Ohio Center for Journalism in partnership with the nonprofit Energy News Network. Please join the free mailing lists for Eye on Ohio or the Energy News Network, as this helps provide more public service reporting for readers of Neighborhood Media Foundation outlets.

The cities of Cincinnati and Columbus have dismissed their state court claims against FirstEnergy and Energy Harbor for the companies’ actions relating to House Bill 6, the nuclear and coal bailout law at the heart of a $60 million corruption case in Ohio.

“The dismissal was the result of negotiations with the defendants, the court’s ruling in our favor, and the partial repeal of HB 6,” said Andrew Garth, city solicitor for Cincinnati.  

The Dec. 2 dismissal does not include any admission of wrongdoing by FirstEnergy or Energy Harbor. The joint filing was made “with prejudice,” meaning the cities cannot bring the same claims against the companies at a later time.

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The Marshall Project to Launch Criminal Justice News Operation in Cleveland

The Marshall Project is a nonpartisan, nonprofit news organization that seeks to create and sustain a sense of national urgency about the U.S. criminal justice system. We have an impact on the system through journalism, rendering it more fair, effective, transparent and humane.

New support from the Gund Foundation to drive expansion of local investigative reporting

The Marshall Project, the Pulitzer prize-winning nonprofit newsroom covering criminal justice, will launch a news operation in Cleveland in 2022 with the support of the George Gund Foundation, among others, which announced a significant grant for the project this week.

The Cleveland news team will report on and expose abuses in Cuyahoga County’s criminal justice system, producing investigative, data and engagement journalism with the support of The Marshall Project’s national newsroom. The Cleveland news operation will serve local audiences — including those directly affected by the criminal justice system — who are often neglected or mischaracterized in media coverage.

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Medworks hosts FREE dental clinics Nov. 20 & 21

CLEVELAND – Medworks, a Cleveland-based, independent nonprofit organization offering 100 percent FREE medical, dental, vision, and mental health services to anyone in need, no qualifications, no question asked is hosting two dental clinics this weekend. 

The clinic takes place:

Saturday November 20 

9a.m – 2 p.m. 

Care Alliance Central Campus

2916 Central Avenue, Cleveland 44115

Extractions only

Saturday & Sunday November 20 & 21 

9a.m – 2 p.m. 

NEON Southeast Health Center

13301 Miles Avenue, Cleveland 44105

Extractions & Cleanings only

Appointments are required and limited. You can make an appointment online at www.medworksusa.org or by calling (216) 201-9325. 

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Local Coalition Raises Over $5.8M to Launch Nonprofit News Organization in Ohio

NEO Collaboration Conference on October 25, 2019 (photo by Stefanie Murray, The Center for Cooperative Media)

Independent newsroom in Cleveland to launch in 2022, producing daily, high-quality, community-oriented journalism as part of a new statewide network of newsrooms across Ohio

CLEVELAND – Nov. 9, 2021 –  A coalition of Cleveland-based organizations and the American Journalism Project are partnering to launch an independent, community-led, nonprofit newsroom serving Cleveland. The newsroom will be the first in a larger network of independent, local newsrooms across Ohio, as part of a new nonprofit effort called the Ohio Local News Initiative, which will aim to launch additional newsrooms across the state over time.

Cleveland’s newsroom, slated for launch in 2022, will produce high-quality journalism on a daily basis that centers community voices and lets residents help set the agenda for newsgathering. The newsroom will dramatically increase the volume of original, in-depth, non-partisan reporting in the region and support the efforts of Cleveland news outlets and community initiatives to make critical information available to all who need it—information will be available in numerous formats across multiple platforms, and will be free to access.

Residents will help set the newsroom’s priorities, through a community reporting model that will train and pay Clevelanders to report for, and gather requests, questions, and ideas from their communities. The program will begin in Central, and grow to serve more communities throughout Cleveland.

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Cleveland Consent Decree Public Meeting on Youth and Policing

By Rich Weiss, for Neighborhood & Community Media Association of Greater Cleveland

The Neighborhood and Community Media Association of Greater Cleveland is providing monthly reports on a series of community conversations about the 2015 Consent Decree negotiated between the US Department of Justice and the City of Cleveland regarding the policies and practices of the Cleveland Police Department.

“This question comes from a fellow student here at Tri-C. He asks in what ways can the policies instated by the Consent Decree be proactive rather than just reactive?”

“Based on research, it was discovered that police officers may hold unconscious biases against minority youth and make assumptions about them based on their age, their race, their dress style, appearance, and other parameters—sometimes Black folks look older than their age. My question is how do we practically reconcile this unhealthy sentiment while ensuring it’s a saner, a safer, and a happy society?”

“Do you believe the Cleveland Consent Decree has prepared police officers to carry out their tasks safely and effectively in such a unique time?”

“What things specifically are being done to have officers engaging and becoming more relatable to the community?”

“Can you file a complaint with the department if they feel like they’re they have an encounter with the officer that was inappropriate?”

“How do Cleveland Police Officers feel about what has been happening, for example last year, and then the overall police brutality, and what steps are you taking to make sure that these things do not happen in the city of Cleveland?”

These were among the questions asked by three Scholars of Cuyahoga Community College (Tri-C) Jack, Joseph and Morton Mandel Scholars Academy during the last conversation held online seeking public input on Cleveland’s Consent Decree. The October meeting focused on “Youth and Policing.”

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Cleveland Consent Decree Public Meeting on Community Involvement

By Rich Weiss, for Neighborhood & Community Media Association of Greater Cleveland

The Neighborhood and Community Media Association of Greater Cleveland (NCMA-CLE) is providing monthly reports on a series of community conversations about the 2015 Consent Decree negotiated between the US Department of Justice and the City of Cleveland regarding the policies and practices of the Cleveland Police Department.

“On a scale of 1 to 10, what percentage of the Consent Decree [is] considered to be completed? 10 percent, 30 percent, 70 percent?”

“Do you think the Community Police Commission (CPC) should play a more significant role with enforcement power? And are there any down sides to shifting disciplinary enforcement power from the Chief of Police?”

“Why should Clevelanders believe that the CPD can police itself and its behavior without significant oversight from citizens, since we’ve had two federal probes and we still are underneath a Consent Decree beyond its five-year deadline?”

These were among the questions being asked and answered during the monthly conversations held online about the workings of Cleveland’s Consent Decree. The September meeting focused on the “Cleveland Police Commission and Citizen Involvement.”

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United Way Greater Cleveland VIRTUAL Annual Community Meeting & Film Premiere: Friday, 9/10 at 4:00 PM

Where do you want to see a change?

This year, at our Annual Community Meeting, we will invite all Clevelanders to have a voice in informing our funding efforts.

This event is complimentary and open to the public.

There is still time to register for this event. Please RSVP to reserve your virtual seat.


FirstEnergy’s admissions feed critics’ call for big-picture regulatory oversight and review

The company’s revelations about Ohio’s largest corruption case raise questions about the integrity of the regulatory process and its piecemeal approach to reviewing utility spending.

By Kathiann M. Kowalski

This story is from the Energy News Network in collaboration with Eye on Ohio, the nonprofit, nonpartisan Ohio Center for Journalism. Please join Eye on Ohio’s  free mailing list or the mailing list for the Energy News Network as this helps Neighborhood Media Foundation provide more public service reporting.

The Public Utilities Commission of Ohio should conduct a big-picture, in-depth review of FirstEnergy’s spending and governance in light of the company’s admissions last month about former PUCO Chair Sam Randazzo, critics say.

“It’s not a debate anymore whether the company engaged in corruption,” said Howard Learner, executive director of the Environmental Law & Policy Center. “The company did so. With this pervasive corruption, the PUCO needs to mind the store in order to protect the public interest and to protect consumers.”

On July 22, FirstEnergy admitted it used nonprofit entities “to conceal payments for the benefit of public officials and in return for official action.” A federal court filing on the same day details multiple interactions with and payments to former House Speaker Larry Householder, who faces criminal charges for an alleged $60 million conspiracy to pass and defend House Bill 6. That nuclear and coal bailout law gutted Ohio’s clean energy standards.

The federal court filing also details FirstEnergy’s dealings with Randazzo. The former PUCO chair helped shape HB 6, and his companies received approximately $22 million from FirstEnergy entities from 2010 through 2019. According to the filing, FirstEnergy increased those payments in 2015 in exchange for Randazzo having his longstanding client, Industrial Energy Users-Ohio, drop opposition to an earlier nuclear and coal bailout plan.

FirstEnergy paid the last $4.3 million shortly before Randazzo became PUCO chair in 2019. “In return, [Randazzo] would perform official action in his capacity as PUCO Chairman to further FirstEnergy Corp.’s interests,” the filing said. That included work on HB 6 and “other specific FirstEnergy Corp. legislative and regulatory priorities, as requested and as opportunities arose.”

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Community meeting on consent decree to focus on CDP search and seizure practices

By Rich Weiss, Neighborhood & Community Media Association of Greater Cleveland

The Cleveland Consent Decree mandates that the City of Cleveland Division of Police conduct all investigatory stops, searches, and arrests fairly and respectfully as part of an effective overall crime prevention strategy that considers community values.

How well they are discharging that mandate is the subject of the next community conversation in the series of discussions jointly sponsored by United Way of Greater Cleveland and the Cleveland NAACP.

The next meeting in the series is this Wednesday, August 11 at 6:00 p. The theme will be Search and Seizure. The public is invited and encouraged to attend these sessions to help in the monitoring process.

To attend, ask questions or voice your concerns, register for any of the four remaining Consent Decree public meetings by visiting unitedwaycleveland.org.

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