In politics, it’s usually the coverup that gets you, not the crime.
In the case of Warren Mayor Jim Fouts, I’ll take either one.
“Fridays past, I would be going to meet some women. Tonight I’m going to meet a group of retards. Tonight is retard night. … It’s a prelude to the Special Olympics for the retards in the area. You see these people like, I don’t know, what good are they? They’re dysfunctional human beings. They’re not even human beings and I don’t want to be around them. I wish them well in a cage.”
Fouts is still insisting that it’s not him on the tape, but you’d be hard-pressed to find anyone, besides his stable of sycophants, who believes him.
It’s not just the degradation of disabled adults, but the casual cruelty displayed here that’s stunning. Even in an era of endless insults from our president-elect, I suppose we can take some comfort in the fact that Fouts’ alleged remarks have been condemned by so many, from the Michigan Democratic Party to the Down Syndrome Guild of Michigan.
“The comments represent a total lack of regard for our fellow citizens,” the guild said in a statement. “People with special needs are valued members of the community. They are not a punchline, or in the case of this recording, a nuisance.”
Interestingly enough, Fouts defended Donald Trump back in October over the “Access Hollywood” tape in which the Republican bragged about sexually assaulting women with the “grab ‘em by the pussy” comment.
“Should everyone’s private conversation be a public issue?” Fouts sniffed, according to Politics Central.
That’s probably because another tape surfaced in 2013 in which Fouts berated a city employee in a foul-mouthed tirade:
“If I had a baseball bat, I’d beat the f----- down to the f------ ground. I mean, it would take me just a little bit to get a f------ gun and blow his f------ head out. That’s how pissed off I am.”
In spite of his well-documented checkered past, Fouts has managed to push some fanciful stories in the media. He got reporters to bite that he was almost thrown out of the March presidential debate in Flint due to his Bernie Sanders love. And most recently, Fouts been feuding with Macomb County Executive Mark Hackel, alleging he’s covering up an environmental disaster at a landfill. Panicking residents was the inevitable side effect.
Fouts even went to court back in 2011 to fight a Freedom of Information Act request to reveal his age. A Washington Post profile cited in the case (creepily) said the mayor “doesn't like to give his age because he says he tends to date younger women.” (For what it’s worth, Wikipedia says Fouts in 74).
If there’s one thing Fouts seems to crave, it’s attention.
It’s pretty amazing that the mayor of the third-largest city in Michigan has had so many scandals and during his three terms. Warren isn’t a sleepy little hamlet, like Twin Peaks, Washington, where everyone is just delightfully zany. It’s a major economic engine in our state and it deserves a serious, dedicated public servant at the helm.
Warren deserves far better than Jim Fouts. He’s long been considered an institution there, as he’s known for always picking up his phone and attending every senior citizen function.
But his alleged comments on disabled people –– which seem pretty in keeping with his past diatribes –– are beyond the pale. It’s not enough that Fouts was fired from his 910 AM radio show. Station owner Kevin Adell said Fouts’ alleged remarks were “so despicable, repulsive and deplorable that after thinking about it, the only right thing to do was to fire him.”
The only thing Fouts has ever seemed to care about is running Warren. But he clearly doesn’t deserve to mayor. If he has any respect for the people he serves, he’ll apologize and resign as a Christmas gift to all.
Susan J. Demas is Publisher and Editor of Inside Michigan Politics, a nationally acclaimed, biweekly political newsletter. Her political columns can be found at SusanJDemas.com. Follow her on Twitter here.