James R. Fouts
James "Jim" Richard Fouts
|7th Mayor of Warren, Michigan|
|Assumed office |
November 9, 2007
|Preceded by||Mark Steenbergh|
|Born||August 8, 1942|
Hazel Park, Michigan, U.S.
|Residence||Warren, Michigan, US|
|Alma mater||Central Michigan University|
|Profession||Educator (Retired), City council member, mayor|
Fouts grew up in Hazel Park, Michigan where his father was the city assessor then city manager. He spent his career as a government and psychology teacher in the Warren Consolidated School District. His last approximately ten years of teaching were at Sterling Heights High School.
Early political career
In 1976, James Fouts ran as a Republican for the Michigan state house of representatives in the 70th District. James R. Fouts was elected to the Warren City Council in 1981 where he served for 26 years. During his tenure, he initiated several anti-tobacco proposals.
Near the end of his term on the city council, Fouts was a leading critic of the actions of the Downtown Development Authority.
In 2007, Mark Steenbergh had reached the term limit as mayor of Warren and did not seek re-election. James R. Fouts ran against City Clerk Richard Sulaka for the open seat and won 62% to 38%. In the 2007 campaign, finance reports show that Sulaka outspent Fouts $332,000 to $225,000. Sulaka described James R. Fouts as a "maverick" and attributed his victory to voters seeking an alternative to the previous administration. The election also saw Warren citizens electing a new clerk, new treasurer, and a majority of new council members.
Mayor of Warren
His enforcement of local building codes led to the demolition of dilapidated buildings and the promotion of neighborhood "clean sweeps" by city inspectors and was touted as a model for other mayors.
In response to the challenges facing the automotive industry, an industry which employs many Warren residents, he initiated a "Buy American Products" policy for automotive purchases by heads of city departments.
In early 2009 Fouts was stopped by a police officer for going about five-miles per hour over the speed limit. Even though he was just given a warning, he insisted on paying the ticket and taking two points on his license.
In 2009 Fouts tried to convince General Motors to relocate its headquarters from Detroit to Warren.
His 2011 re-election campaign was endorsed by the Detroit Free Press who said the campaign had become "way too focused on legal battles over Fouts' age" which became an issue when his opponents filed suit to remove him from the ballot because he had refused to place his age on the candidacy form. He won the lawsuit and the election with more than 80% of the vote against City Councilwoman Kathy Vogt.
In 2012, he acted to ban smoking within 100 feet of any city building without legislative approval, but the court said he did not have the authority and had the "No Smoking" signs removed. Fouts brought the measure back to the city council, after they had tabled it in September.
In December 2013, the city settled a whistleblower case for $175,000 in which a former staffer had brought charges that he had been demoted for making recordings that showed Fouts speaking in a threatening manner. The city also paid $47,613 for two private attorneys to defend Fouts. Criminal charges against Fouts were dropped in May because Fouts's statements "violated no statute and do not form a criminal act under Michigan law."
In July 2014, Fouts denied access to the Warren City hall for a group seeking to establish a Reason Booth, in contrast to a long-established Prayer Booth. The American Civil Liberties Union, Americans United for Separation of Church and State and the Freedom From Religion Foundation, have sued Fouts and Warren, alleging a violation of First Amendment rights to free speech and a violation of the Establishment Clause. The lawsuit was filed by Douglas Marshall in the United States District Court.
In August 2014, Fouts initiated a suit against the adoption of 2014 Proposal 1, which eliminated the Michigan Personal Property Tax for businesses, replacing it with an Internet sales tax, alleging the ballot wording was biased. In early December 2014, according to the Macomb Daily, "Court of Claims Judge Deborah Servitto ruled this week Fouts failed to sufficiently make a legal claim that state election law was violated. In doing so, Servitto granted a motion for summary judgment filed in by public relations consultants Truscott Rossman Group and its chief executive officer, Kelly Rossman-McKinney, that they be removed as defendants because they did not have legal standing in the case." Fouts has appealed the ruling.
In March 2016, Mayor Jim Fouts claimed that he was asked by security at the Democratic Presidential Debate in Flint, Michigan to refrain from showing excessive enthusiasm for Bernie Sanders.
In 2017, Mayor Fouts together with the police commissioner created a program called P.A.I.D or People Against Illegal Drugs, which works by offering rewards for confidential tips to residents of the city.
2016–2017 audio controversy
In December 2016 and January 2017, a series of audio recordings were provided by Mark Hackel to the media that he claimed to have received from unidentified sources allegedly of Fouts making derogatory comments about women, African-Americans and the disabled. These lead to calls for Fouts resignation. Fouts stated that the voice on the recordings wasn't his and they were part of a smear campaign by Mark Hackel, but audio forensic experts were able to confirm that the voice was his, and that the recordings were not edited. In a post on Facebook, Fouts declared his intention to remain in office through to the end of his term in 2019.
On March 27, 2017, the Macomb Election Commission rejected the wording of six potential recall petitions all aimed at the removal of Fouts from office.
2018-2019 audio controversy
On December 18, Deadline Detroit released audio recordings of a person whom they claimed to be Fouts referring to homosexuals as "fags" and to media coverage as being like rape. The voice on the recording said
...is personal to me, just like being a ‘fag’ is personal to somebody, being fat is personal to somebody, being a, uh, a dimwit is personal to somebody. That is personal to me. It is very – it’s like I’ve been raped, like I’ve been accosted. Then the goddamn Warren Weekly...
The Warren Mayor denied the authenticity of the recordings calling them "phony, manipulated, manufactured and out-of-context." He blamed political opponents who want to take attention away from "good things" happening in his city for the recordings.
On October 21, a person using the name "Joe Warren" posted a video online that included audio recordings of a person saying he would enjoy shooting Fouts ex-chief of staff Henry Krzystowczyk. Krzystowczyk died in May 2019. Warren attributed the recording to Mayor Jim Fouts. Fouts denied the voice was his.
In November 2019 Fouts was reelected to a 4th term. His opponent Kelley Collegio won the votes cast at the polls, but Fouts won the absentee votes. He won only 57.5% of the total votes cast, his lowest as mayor.
In April 2020 Fouts directed the Warren police to not enforce the provision's of Governor Whitmer's order on Covid-19 control banning commercial lawn services. Fouts argued that many elderly residents of the city did not own lawn mowers and lack of lawn maitenance would lead to higher numbers of mosquitoes and rodents and be a health hazard.
- Frank DeFrank; MDN staff (November 7, 2007). "Fouts in a rout". The Macomb Daily. Retrieved February 2, 2014.
- Fouts’ License Expires, Check Reveals Age Question, Warren Weekly, August 23, 2011
- "City of Warren, MI – Mayor's Office". City of Warren. Retrieved 2 February 2014.
- Mich. Suburb Tries to Woo GM to Leave Detroit. washingtonpost.com. Retrieved on 2011-05-26.
- Fouts, James R. Political Graveyard. Retrieved on 2013-04-10.
- Norb Franz (September 24, 2012). "Warren to revisit proposed smoking ban outside city buildings". Daily Tribune News. Retrieved February 2, 2014.
- Associated Press article on a plane crash in Warren
- article on Warren redevelopment under Fouts
- "Candidate Committee Cover Page" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on July 21, 2011.
- "Candidate Committee Cover Page" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on July 21, 2011.
- "High-profile backers offer message and momentum".
- "McCain: We'll bring Michigan back".
- Mayor's Accomplishments, City of Warren official web site. Retrieved on 2013-04-06
- Christina Hall (May 16, 2013). "Warren's crackdown on blight seen as model for other communities". Detroit Free Press. Retrieved 2 February 2014.
- Buy American or Get Out?, AOL Autos in the New York Times, September 12, 2008. Retrieved on 2013-04-06 Archived February 24, 2015, at the Wayback Machine
- Washington Post article on Fouts
- "Editorial: Warren Mayor Fouts has led city well, deserves re-election". Detroit Free Press. October 28, 2011. Retrieved 2 February 2014.
- "Associated Press, "Appeals Court Rules Fouts Doesn't Have to Disclose His Age to Be on Ballot," ABC Action News, June 10, 2011". Archived from the original on February 24, 2015. Retrieved February 23, 2015.
- Macomb County election results: Jim Fouts' win for the ages, Warren Council President out, MLive, November 9, 2011
- Chad Selweski (2013-12-28). "Macomb County's Top 10 news stories for 2013". Retrieved February 2, 2014.
- "Bills by outside attorneys in Warren whistle-blower case: $47,613".
- Norb Franz (May 3, 2013). "No charges against Warren Mayor James Fouts". Macomb Daily News. Retrieved February 2, 2014.
- "Warren sued for refusing anti-religion display at city hall". Detroit News. 2014-07-23. Archived from the original on 2014-08-05. Retrieved 2014-07-29.
- "Mayor Sued By ACLU Compares Atheist Near Prayer Group To KKK At MLK Event (UPDATE)". Huffington Post. 24 July 2014.
- Detroit News, Aug. 7, 2014 Archived August 8, 2014, at the Wayback Machine
- "Judge tosses out Warren Mayor Fouts' lawsuit seeking to invalidate Proposal 1".
- "Fouts appeals ruling on machinery tax".
- "Michigan Mayor: Security Threatened To Kick Me Out Of Debate For Vocal Bernie Support".
- FOX. "City of Warren will pay $500 for tips on drug dealers".
- "Warren offers $500 to residents who snitch on drug dealers".
- Wang, Amy B. (January 17, 2017). "A mayor denies it's his voice on lewd, racist tapes. His colleagues say 'resign.'". Archived from the original on January 18, 2017.
Numerous public officials are calling on Jim Fouts, the mayor of Warren, Mich., to resign after audio recordings surfaced over the long weekend allegedly catching him making obscene comments about black people and women. In those audio files, first published Monday by Steve Neavling of the Motor City Muckraker, a man can be heard comparing black people with "chimps," calling them the n-word and talking crudely and dismissively about dating older women.
- Neavling, Steve (January 16, 2017). "Audio: Mayor Fouts compares black people to 'chimps,' ridicules women". Motor City Muckracker. Archived from the original on January 18, 2017.
Warren Mayor Jim Fouts used the n-word, compared black people to "chimps" and called old women "dried-up cunts" in new audio recordings obtained exclusively by Motor City Muckraker [...] "Blacks do look like chimpanzees," Fouts said. "I was watching this black woman with her daughter and they looked like two chimps."
- Burns, Gus (January 16, 2017). "Warren mayor accused of comparing blacks to 'chimps' in recorded conversation". MLive.
Warren Mayor James Fouts is calling a new batch of leaked audio recordings that include racist and sexist comments "phony." Fouts claims the audio recordings, which contain the voice of a man who sounds like the mayor comparing blacks to "chimps," using a racial slur and calling women over the age of 60 "dried-up old hags," constitute an engineered attack launched by political foe Macomb County Executive Mark Hackel.
- Hall, Christiana; Helms, Matt (January 17, 2017). "Warren Mayor Jim Fouts balks at calls to quit over alleged comments". Detroit Free Press. Archived from the original on January 18, 2017.
There is tremendous effort to force me out immediately by slander, by character assassination, lies, and by out right condemnation of me. This is an attempt to reverse the 2015 election results when I won with 85% of the vote. I won with 81% in 2011. This is despite solid evidence that I did nothing wrong whatsoever. My actions as mayor have been inclusive and no one can deny that. We are the best run city in the state when it comes to police, fire, and fund balance. I will not resign," according to Fouts' Facebook post. "I will be here through at least 2019 as the people wanted me to. I will not capitulate to a rush to judgement by those who wish to take over city hall and hijack the 2015 election.
- "Warren Mayor Jim Fouts recall try fails, but fight is not over".
- Nov. 5, 2019 article on Fouts reelection
- Detroit News April 16, 2002]