April 13, 2021

ACLU lawsuit claims Ohio unconstitutionally garnished inmates’ stimulus money: The Wake Up for Tuesday, April 13, 2021

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Forecasts are calling for a beautiful day, with mostly sunny skies and highs in the mid-60s. Overnight lows will be in the mid-40s with partly cloudy skies. Read more.

Local scores: Chicago White Sox 4, Indians 3

Prisoners’ stimulus: A lawsuit from the American Civil Liberties Union argues Ohio’s prison system has been unconstitutionally garnishing inmates’ COVID-19 relief money to pay for fines, fees, and other debts to courts and state agencies. The suit claims that the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction held inmates’ CARES Act checks for weeks while it “manufactured” a reason to extract part of the money, reports Jeremy Pelzer.

Land bridge: Cleveland is proposing to re-create a pedestrian land bridge that connected the downtown Malls to the Lake Erie lakefront during the 1936-37 Great Lakes Exposition. Steven Litt reports the city has applied for $6.5 million in state funding to design the span from Mall C to North Coast Harbor. The project could ultimately carry a cost of $229 million. The city plans to spend $1.6 million of its own money on the design and would seek $200 million in construction money from the state.

Biden infrastructure plan: The White House gave Ohio’s infrastructure a “C-” grade describing 1,377 bridges in the state and more than 4,925 miles of its highways as being in “poor condition.” Sabrina Eaton reports on a fact sheet for President Biden’s “American Jobs Plan,” which would spend $600 billion on transportation infrastructure, including $115 billion to fix roads and bridges.

This Week in the CLE: Republicans in the Ohio House and Senate have been coordinating as they discuss introducing separate elections bills to codify how and when Ohioans can vote. We’re discussing the possibilities, and the motivation behind them, on This Week in the CLE, cleveland.com’s daily half-hour news podcast.

New numbers: Another 1,934 coronavirus cases were reported Monday in Ohio, bringing the total to 1.04 million cases since the pandemic’s beginning, Laura Hancock reports.

Police discipline: Cleveland police officials issued written discipline for two officers involved in the 2019 police chase that ended in the death of 13-year-old Tamia Chappman in East Cleveland, reports Adam Ferrise. Officers received the disciplinary letters on March 30 for self-dispatching during the December 2019 chase.

The number of coronavirus patients in Ohio hospitals is at its highest level since late February, though well below late fall and winter highs.Rich Exner, cleveland.com

Hospitalizations: Coronavirus hospitalizations have dropped sharply among older Ohioans, the same people who most likely have been vaccinated. Admissions for those at least 70 years old declined 70% over the last 45 days to 858, Rich Exner reports. More than 75% of Ohioans 70 and older have received at least one vaccine. In the same period, the drop in hospitalizations was much smaller for younger age groups – those where vaccinations are not nearly as extensive.

COVID trends: Both newly reported coronavirus cases over the last week and the current patient count in hospitals have edged up to their highest levels since late February as Ohio races to vaccinate enough people to head off a spring surge fueled by variants. Over the last week, Ohio has seen an average of 2,066 cases per day, Rich Exner reports. One-in-11 Ohioans is known to have had the virus.

Lake land: The City of Euclid and 12 Lake County communities recently incorporated Ohio’s first lakefront special-improvement district to help property owners finance expensive and urgently needed erosion control projects along the Lake Erie shoreline. Steven Litt reports that the district could become a vehicle to open new public trails along vast stretches of private lakefront land that limit access to one of Ohio’s greatest natural resources.

Hearing the public: The lack of a public speaking time at City Council meetings sets Cleveland apart from other cities, an advocate who wants that to change says. Jessica Trivisonno, a West Side resident who drafted legislation that would create a comment period, said she drew on practices used in Akron, Cincinnati, Columbus, Pittsburgh and Youngstown, Robert Higgs reports.

Furniture delays: Furniture stores in Northeast Ohio have been managing increased demand since last May, when they re-opened after the state-ordered COVID-19 business shutdown. But winter storms and power outages in Texas and Louisiana are still affecting the furniture industry. Cameron Fields reports customers have had to wait three to six months for furniture to arrive in store showrooms.


The owners of the site of a former Kmart in West Park are proposing a large redevelopment on the site.

Kmart: The owner of the site of a former Kmart store in Cleveland’s West Park neighborhood is planning a full overhaul of the space to accommodate national retailers who want to open new locations. Eric Heisig reports New York City-based TLM Realty plans to create spaces for three retailers and a new building for a possible coffee shop on the northwest corner of the property.

UH embryos: Lawyers on Monday clashed over the filing of a stinging affidavit from the former director of the fertility lab at University Hospitals, where a freezer malfunction rendered 4,000 eggs and embryos nonviable in 2018. Justin Herdman, an attorney representing UH, sharply criticized Subodh Chandra, who represents Dr. Andrew Bhatnager, for becoming “a sideshow” in a lawsuit, reports John Caniglia. The hospital has sought a temporary restraining order to prevent the release of other information that it deems confidential, but the judge decided not to rule on the order until at least April 23.

Cleveland aide: An aide to Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson jailed on charges including rape and sexual battery asked a judge Friday to reduce his bond. Cory Shaffer reports that attorneys for Alexander Lackey said he could not afford the $100,000 cash or property bond imposed the same day.

Statehouse break-in: A man could face charges after he broke into the Ohio Statehouse early Monday while under the influence of drugs and discharged a fire extinguisher inside, Andrew Tobias reports. The man called 911 after breaking into the Statehouse, later telling police he was “attempting to get medical assistance for a reaction related to his use of illegal narcotics.” He then left the building and was found by police on the building’s west lawn.

Murder dismissed: Prosecutors on Friday dismissed murder, involuntary manslaughter and felonious assault charges against a man charged after a fight inside a downtown Cleveland bathhouse led to another man’s death. Cory Shaffer reports the move came just two days after prosecutors took the case to a grand jury.

Vaccine for kids: Pfizer on Friday asked the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to amend its emergency use authorization to allow children aged 12 to 15 to receive the vaccine it developed with BioNTech. Pfizer recently announced that a Phase 3 study showed its vaccine is safe and effective for children in that age range, Evan MacDonald reports.

Accessible housing: Akron’s proposal to bar landlords from discriminating against tenants based on their lawful source of income could make housing accessible for hundreds of Summit County families who have a housing voucher but can’t find a unit, Robin Goist reports.

Microwave game: What if we could play video games while we wait for our food to heat? YouTuber, engineer and maker-extraordinaire Allen Pan puts together a dream appliance, a video game microwave that only cooks while he plays, in this video from cleveland.com’s sister site, Wired.

Immigrant Son: Andrew Revy aims to open Immigrant Son Brewery by June in the former Constantino’s Market in Lakewood. Marc Bona reports the name is autobiographical for Revy, whose parents are Hungarian.

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