Though Dennis Kucinich likes to call himself the "workers' president," he's quickly building a new reputation as the lawyers' president. Over the past few weeks, he's filed enough litigation to make Skippy from the yacht club envious.
It began January 5, when ABC excluded him from its New Hampshire debate after deciding he wasn't a legit candidate. It seemed a natural call. In his second run for president, Kucinich had just scored 0 percent in the Iowa caucuses. And he didn't seem to be taking his own campaign seriously, having already announced plans to seek re-election to his West Side congressional seat.
Nonetheless, our hero filed a complaint with the FCC, somehow arguing that Dennis Kucinich had an inalienable right to see Dennis Kucinich on TV. Supporters promptly followed with a class-action suit against ABC, claiming his absence would "cause economic and emotional damages to the claimants, who continue to devote countless hours and great sums of money to Kucinich."
In other words, they thought ABC owed them for betting on a bad horse.
Then Kucinich sued the Texas Democratic Party after refusing to sign a loyalty oath required to run in the state's primaries. Texas Democrats have long insisted that candidates support the party's eventual nominee, and Kucinich happily signed during his last run. But instead of just signing and then reneging — which he's fond of doing on other matters, like bailing on debates with congressional opponents — he filed suit again, claiming his First Amendment rights were being violated. He lost.
Less than two weeks later, Kucinich filed another suit against MSNBC when the network didn't include him in its Nevada debate. Though the state's Supreme Court gave him the Heisman, it appears Denny had developed an addiction to complaining.
Earlier this month, Councilman Joe Cimperman, who is vying for Kucinich's congressional seat, decided to stop by Denny's office for a little political theater. Accompanied by a videographer, Cimperman delivered a missing-person flier featuring the absentee congressman. "In the last two years he's missed 130 days of work," Cimperman says. "That's 130 votes he's missed. Now, you tell me where you can miss that kind of work in a regular job and you can keep your job."
Kucinich, naturally, wasn't in. So Cimperman left the flier with a secretary [See the video on C-Notes, at clevescene.com].
That's when Denny moved to High Sphincter Alert. He filed a complaint with Homeland Security, claiming Cimperman entered a federal building with a cameraman, thus threatening security. Agents soon visited the councilman to ensure he wasn't an Al Qaeda operative.
Cimperman calls the move "totally hypocritical. This is the guy who was pounding away at the Patriot Act because he was worried that it was going to be used against political opponents, and now he is doing it. Just think about all the taxpayer dollars that are being wasted on this silly investigation."
Disrespect for the Dead
It's been three years since Jeanie McCalep's teenage son was murdered.
He was buried in the only city cemetery with available space, the Cleveland Memorial Gardens. She might as well have chained his coffin to a boulder and shoved it into Lake Erie.
The city-owned cemetery is a marshy expanse where the dead are left to drown in a dingy soup of crabgrass, mud, water, and hay ["Burial at Sea," November 8, 2006]. Sheets of plywood are used to help workers keep track of graves because headstones sink into the ground.
Four months after her son was buried, McCalep found plywood covering his grave. She was told she could pick a new spot. But two years passed, and her son was still swimming in crap. His headstone had sunk into the ground, and cemetery workers had done nothing but pile more dirt on his grave. She called constantly to complain, to no avail.
Finally, McCalep called the mayor's office. The cemetery agreed to move her son. It took workers two hours to dig the grave site out from the mud and a foot of standing water. The coffin was rusty and crumbling, with muddy water gushing out. "I could smell my son's body," she says.
Fed up, McCalep filed suit against Cleveland for negligence and abuse of a dead body. "They chose to bury people in that area, knowing it wasn't any good," she says. "All I wanted them to do was move him to a dry place."