“It literally consumes everything I do”: Ohioans desperate to reach unemployment hotline as calls dropped, claims languish

Marcia Gassaway was in the first wave of Ohioans put out of work by COVID-19. The single mom from Cleveland went to the emergency room on March 15. Due to her coronavirus-like symptoms, doctors ordered that she be quarantined at a special facility. Now, she’s recovering at home with her children, calling the unemployment help line over and over again. “I call every day, every day,” she said.

‘Unbuilding’: What might happen if dams are removed in the Ohio River watershed

The Ohio River watershed is dotted with thousands of small dams. Many are remnants of bygone days of grain mills and the steel industry, which used dams to pool water needed during production. The dams are no longer needed. And, because they can be a safety hazard to boats and a barrier to fish, there are efforts to remove them and restore free-flowing rivers. But not everyone is ready for it. A mayor’s vision starts with dam removal

After years of pushing for the removal of the old steel industry dam crossing the Mahoning River in his northeastern Ohio village near the Pennsylvania border, Lowellville Mayor Jim Iudiciani said it’s coming down this summer. 

“They call me the dam mayor, and for good reason, finally,” Iudiciani joked.

Bipartisan Group of Representatives Introduce Bill After Eye on Ohio Investigation into Property Tax Loophole

This story was funded by a grant from the Pulitzer Center for Crisis Reporting. 

Ohio lawmakers reached across the aisle to introduce a new bill that would close a property tax loophole on commercial property sales in the state. 

Reps. Mike Skindell (D-13) and Doug Green (R-66) co-sponsored HB449 in late December. The proposed law would not allow businesses to avoid conveyance taxes by spinning off commercial properties into shell companies. 

“We have been seeing a loss of revenue because of companies being placed in these LLCs. So when the property is transferred, it’s in the LLC and that [conveyance] fee is avoided. So what you have is a situation where the counties have less revenue on these, then they have to raise it on other people,” Skindell said.

How Have Deregulation and Extra Fees Affected Your Energy Bill?

This calculator provides cost and/or savings estimates of how much money you may have paid (or saved) each month following retail electric deregulation. It’s based on data shared with Eye on Ohio and the Energy News Network from a study that looked at how extra fees and more competition have impacted utility bills. (Note, however, that it doesn’t account for the expected costs of House Bill 6, passed in July 2019.)

What’s a cross-subsidy effect? A cross-subsidy exists when one group pays a higher cost in order to allow another group to pay less. 

Two types of cross subsidies appear on Ohio electric bills. The first type (Type I) is when residential or commercial customers pay a higher rate (cents/KWh) than industrial customers (e.g., Amazon or Honda). 

The second type (Type II) of cross-subsidy is when non-regulated utility costs are passed through to regulated customers.

Sidebar: Can an officer's perception of you alter your ticket? Biracial man's 'white' tickets dismissed, 'black' tickets sustained

Reporters from the nonprofit newsroom Eye on Ohio, The Cincinnati Enquirer and researchers from Stanford University’s Big Local News program examined police stops to assess how the three largest communities in Ohio use public safety resources and to identify possible bias in policing. Jermiah Miller, a biracial man with self-described pale skin, said he feels like he has a foot in two worlds: one in which cops view him as white, the other as black. He believes he’s treated better when he’s perceived to be white. Miller, 26, was ticketed for driving with a suspended license and other charges four times last year. Twice cops listed his race as white, and twice as black. 

In the two instances in which he was listed as white, Miller’s charges were ultimately dismissed, according to court records.