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Here are today's headlines from around Northeast Ohio, including a science teacher (still) fired for endorsing religion, another attempt to stall a Cleveland man's execution and a lot of court decisions about traffic cams.
GOVERNOR: Hamilton County commissioner Todd Portune has pushed back his decision on whether to run for governor for at least the third time, according to the Northeast Ohio Media Group. Portune said Thursday that he still hasn't found a running mate, but believes he could beat Republican Governor John Kasich in the fall. Portune has 13 days to qualify for the Democratic primary in May, in which time he has to name a running mate and collect 1,000 valid signatures. Click here to read more at Cleveland.com.
TRAFFIC CAMS: The Eighth District Court of Appeals said Thursday that Cleveland's automated traffic camera system is unconstitutional, as drivers who disputed the system's claims had to go before a city hearing officer instead of a municipal court, according to The Plain Dealer. Ohio law states that municipal courts have jurisdiction over traffic violations, but because tickets issued by the traffic cameras were listed as "parking infractions," municipal courts were denied jurisdiction. Cleveland has 65 camera units, and another five were installed this month to begin issuing tickets in February. Click here to read more at Cleveland.com.
CAPITAL PUNISHMENT: Attorneys for Gregory Lott, a Cleveland man on death row set to be executed in March, filed a lawsuit to stop his March 19 execution citing Ohio's new execution process as cruel and unusual punishment, according to The Plain Dealer. The suit cited last week's execution of Dennis McGuire, which took 25 minutes for him to die, saying that the previously unused two-drug method created a "substantial risk of unnecessary pain." Lott's execution has already been rescheduled twice following legal challenges. Click here to read more at Cleveland.com.
MORE TRAFFIC CAMS: A Hamilton County judge ruled Thursday that drivers who received speeding tickets from traffic cameras in Cincinnati village Elmwood Place will receive nearly $1.8 million in refunds from the village, according to the Associated Press. Judge Robert Ruehlman called the cameras a "scam," saying that the system violated Ohio laws by not providing notice that the cameras were starting and that drivers were provided little chance to challenge the tickets. The village plans continuing to appeal Ruehlman's decisions. Click here to read more at Ohio.com.
HOUSING MARKET: While the housing market is still recovering nationally, regional home sales are on the rise, according to the Akron Beacon Journal. Though sales and prices haven't reached their pre-Great Recession levels, both have increased in Northern Ohio. Summit County was up almost 10 percent in home sales from 2012, and the number of units was up 9.1 percent. Statewide, 2013 sales were up 14.7 percent to 132,566, reaching the highest mark since 2007. Click here to read more at Ohio.com.
RELIGION IN THE CLASSROOM: The Ohio Supreme Court voted 4-3 to refuse reconsideration of a November case in which a science teacher was fired after being accused of advancing religion and creationism in his classroom, according to the Northeast Ohio Media Group. John Freshwater, an eighth grade science teacher, kept a box of Bibles and materials endorsing Christianity on display in his classroom. When asked to cease distributing materials and making statements about religion, Freshwater defied those orders and added to the materials on display, and was fired for insubordination. Click here to read more at Cleveland.com.