Recent Stories

Military “gifts” to Ohio cities total $73 million

Mine-resistant,  ambush-protected military vehicles: not your ordinary community police cars, but equipment several small towns in Ohio now own, thanks to the Unites States military. Local police departments for the past 20 years have been obtaining military equipment under a Pentagon surplus give-away program called 1033. Ohio cities such as Brimfield, Canton, Brunswick and Barberton are among the 600 municipalities across the country that have acquired so-called MRAP’s , designed to detect improved explosive devises,  valued at around $733,000 each, from the U.S. Department of Defense. That’s according to the Marshall Project, a non-profit news organization that has compiled a data base of 1033 recipients from the DOD’s quiet release of the information last month. Ohio cities, county sheriff’s department, campus police departments and local offices of the FBI have received more than $73 million under the 1033 Program.

Pennsylvania’s local fracking powers create tension

Issues similar to Ohio’s battle over home rule
Rich in oil and gas, poor in regulatory powers.  That describes a dilemma faced by many small towns in eastern Ohio as the fracking boom continues. The Marcellus and Utica shale beds span large swaths of Ohio, Pennsylvania, West Virginia and New York. The beds are ripe for drilling and hydraulic fracturing to remove oil and gas deposits and have proved a boon for energy companies – and some residents who have sold or leased their land to oil and gas producers.  According to a Dec. 5 report issued by the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, Ohio’s horizontal shale wells produced 3 million barrels of oil and 132 billion cubic feet of gas in the third quarter of 2014; that’s more than twice as much oil and nearly four times as much gas than during the same period last year.

Gun violence takes its toll on families in the inner city

R.I.P.s are scrawled on the shell of a burned-out brick building, pockmarked by bullet holes. Overgrown with vines, its dilapidated outer walls recall the ruins of a fortress, a monument to a long-finished battle. But a war still courses through the streets of Baton Rouge, Louisiana. In the past decade, it’s claimed the lives of hundreds of people — most of whom were black and barely into adulthood. In Flint, Michigan, swing-sets in Mott Park are empty as drug dealers and gang members claim the turf as their own, guns tucked in their wastebands.

 Evolution of public-carry laws expands gun rights

Number of states that prohibited concealed carry in 1981: 19
States that prohibit it today: 0
Number of states that do not require a concealed carry permit: 5
An open-carry permit : 25 
WICKENBURG, Ariz. — More Americans can carry guns in more places than ever before. In a majority of states, law-abiding gun owners can walk into bars, restaurants and churches with their guns without fear of legal ramifications, a News 21 review of all 50 states found. “It’s a situation just like getting up in the morning and putting your shoes on or your boots on. For me it’s putting (my gun) onto my side,” said Lee Bird, owner of Twin Birds Saddlery in Wickenburg, Arizona, 60 miles northwest of Phoenix.

Children and gun violence: worse than war

Editor’s note: Eye on Ohio is presenting a series of reports on gun violence in the United States produced by News21, which brings together outstanding journalism students from across the country to work with professional journalists on investigative projects. It is based at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at the University of Arizona. Today’s story focuses on the number of children and youth who are killed by guns. Ohio has experienced such tragedy – not just in the well-known school shooting in Chardon in February 2012 – but in every-day street violence, teen suicides and accidental deaths, such as incidents in which a child gets hold of a gun and thinks it’s a toy. In 2009, the Ohio Department of Health, Violence and Injury Prevention received funding to become part of the National Violent Death Reporting System of the National Centers for Disease Control.

Mysterious Ohio nonprofit backs winning campaigns in Illinois and Georgia

Bruce Rauner is a Chicago billionaire who has never held political office, yet this spring he mowed down a crowd of rivals and claimed the GOP nomination to be Illinois’ next governor. David Perdue is a wealthy former executive who also has never been elected to public office, yet he too knocked off a string of far more experienced Republican opponents to win the party’s Senate nomination in Georgia. Read the full story at Opensecrets.org.

Wilberforce University faces loss of accreditation

Wilberforce University, one of the nation’s oldest historically black universities, will lose its accreditation if it is unable to demonstrate within six months its fiscal and administrative fitness to the regional accrediting agency for Midwestern and Southwestern schools. The university, near Xenia, Ohio, has received a “show cause” decision from the Higher Learning Commission which accredits more than 1,000 colleges and universities in 19 states from West Virginia to Arizona. Losing accreditation would make Wilberforce ineligible to receive Pell Grants, Perkins loans and other federal loans and grants that its students use to finance their education. That loss could be devastating to the struggling institution that depends on tuition to make ends meet. In 2011, for example, tuition and fees totaled $9.3 million – about 64 percent of the school’s $14.5 million in revenues.

VA hasn’t followed own rules on narcotic prescriptions, audit says

Editor’s note: In December, Eye on Ohio reporter Anna Duee told the story of Scott McDonald, a Columbus area veteran who died from an overdose of prescription painkillers.  His story echoed that of many others chronicled by the Center for Investigative Reporting. CIR investigated the sharp rise in opiate prescriptions by the United States Veterans Administration nationally from 2001 to 2012. CIR recently followed up its investigation with a story about a VA audit that shows the agency failed to follow its own rules for the prescribing of addictive narcotic painkillers.

A dubious honor: Ohio ranks high in haz-mat spills

In late November 2013, a CSX railroad car carrying the highly flammable chemical styrene monomer derailed near the Main Street overpass in Willard, Ohio, forcing hundreds of residents to be evacuated from their homes in the middle of the night. More than 30,000 gallons of styrene monomer leaked into nearby soil from the tank of a DOT-111 rail car, an older, so-called “legacy” car that has come under scrutiny by the U.S. Department of Transportation because of its safety record. Officials in Willard, about 65 miles southwest of Cleveland, said the town was lucky. Because the temperature was well below the combustible level for styrene monomer,  there was no explosion and no one was injured. According to Brian Humphress, Willard’s city manager, CSX, state and federal agencies and local first responders all reacted quickly to clean up the spill and get residents safely back in their homes.

A case of conflicts

Federal court judges – including one in Akron, Ohio – have heard cases involving parties in which they have financial interests. Read the story from the Center for Public Integrity and see the national map showing court districts where the potential conflicts have occurred.