Mayor Dennis J. Kucinich's chief adviser, Bob Weissman, was indicted today on a felony charge of disrupting a public service radio broadcast.
Weissman, who is personnel director in the Kucinich cabinet and the principal architect of the mayor's combative political style, is accused of disconnecting a live radio broadcast of a Kucinich news conference Dec. 18, 1978. Under a 1974 law, he faces three to 10 years imprisonment and/or a $5,000 fine.
During the news conference, Kucinich was commenting on the arrest of his younger brother, Perry, for unarmed bank robery. The bank was one of those that refused to refinance $14 million in loans, throwing the city into default Dec. 15.
As Kucinich spoke, Weissman disconnected a radio station WERE telephone hookup for more than two minutes, according to the station's complaint filed with Cuyahoga County prosecutor John T. Corrigan.
Kucinich later apologized for the incident. However, Carl Monday, WERE news director, said the administration retaliated against the station by refusing to allow the installation of a permanent hookup for live broadcasts.
Monday quoted city Law Director Jack Schulman as saying, "You can't expect us to do you any favors when you guys are trying to nail Bob."
Weissman was unavailable for comment.
Kucinich issued a somewhat sarcastic statement as he praised Weissman and said his close friend would remain on the job. The mayor added:
"Meanwhile, I'm instructing members of my administration to make sure not to throw gum on the sidewalks, nor to remove tags from their bedroom mattresses, nor walk outside the crosswalk so that they may avoid being thrown into the same class as murderers, rapists, grafters and thieves."
The mayor said it is incredible that WERE "would pursue such a petty matter to such a far extent. Bob Weissman did not steal anything. He did not murder anybody. What is his crime?"
Weissman is Kucinich's top political strategist. He has, according to other Kucinich lieutenants, repeatedly urged the mayor to assume a hawkish stance in his relations with the city council and business community.
A former United Auto Workers union local president and a close friend of UAW president Douglas Fraser, Weissman has openly criticized the business community and has encouraged the mayor to pursue populist theories in administering city government.
Weissman once reportedly told business executives during a speech that they should just pay their taxes and keep their hands off city hall.
It was Weissman who urged Kucinich to fire Richard D. Hongisto, the former San Francisco sheriff that Kucinich hired as Cleveland police chief. Hongisto's firing triggered a recall attempt against Kucinich that fell short by 236 votes.