WARREN, Mich. (WJBK) - The people have not forgotten, weeks after alleged audio tapes of Warren Major Jim Fouts were leaked to the media. Residents are now trying to reduce the number of terms he can remain in office.
The tapes say despicable things about people with special needs, and, if a group of Warren residents and business owners have their way, Fouts will be done in 2019. He wouldn't be able to seek another term as mayor.
Those deplorable comments attributed to him added to a perfect storm of discontent that led to this petition drive.
"You had people coming to me saying we need to do something because of the taxes, we need to do something because of the medical marijuana issue, we need to do something because of the problems businesses are having in this community," said Michael Greiner. "And then of course this (tape controversy) came out."
Fouts's inflammatory remarks are sparking a petition drive that could spell Mayor Jim Fouts's exit sooner rather than later.
Lawyer and former deputy mayor Michael Greiner is leading the charge to put shorter term limits on the 2018 ballot. Thanks to a charter amendment in the 2016 primary, mayors can serve five terms for a total of 20 years, as opposed to three terms for 12 years.
If Greiner has his way it would only be eight.
"A lot of people are simply very unhappy with him," Greiner said. "And I think they really haven't had an opportunity to bring this forward and really a lot of people feel that they were duped."
Fouts is under pressure from the public but seems to be getting cover from some councilmembers. Robert Boccomino refused to add a tabled resolution to the agenda that pressed Fouts to prove he did not make those demeaning comments about women and the disabled.
"Some of these items you're requesting we have no authority to do that," said Boccomino.
"Did any of you read the item?" asked Councilman Scott Stevens. "Did it say we had the authority? It simply asked him. He said it was not him that did it that said those words. I'm asking him to take a polygraph test. I'm asking him to take the voice recognition test."
That didn't happen. Some residents at Tuesday's meeting were fed up with many of their councilmembers and their mayor.
"When you're the head of this city, when you're the one that makes the decisions, but you have to have others come to your defense," said resident Michael Sylvester. "To go ahead and say we have to let this go, no he didn't say that, no we can't have a lie detector, stop it already. That's just wrong."
"They're trying to continue to table the issue," said Pastor Maurice Hardwick, of the Live in Peace Movement. "Table it all you want but it will not be swept under the rug. We're waiting and we're watching. We're not going anywhere sir."
Now back to the petition. Greiner and those behind him need to collect 6,000 signatures to get this on the ballot. They're aiming for the 2018 general election.
FOX 2 reached out to Fouts for comment, but got no response.
Fouts did post on Facebook later Tuesday night. He wrote:
"Sometimes there is a real challenge. I try to be positive and upbeat and a good servant of the public. But tonight was one of those nights when it's a challenge to overcome some negative media with a pretty brutal negative agenda. As well as a former city official attempting to get even with me for our police raiding his illegal drug office several times.
"He was on a local channel deflecting and blaming the police and myself for his greed at wanting to be an attorney with a pot party store. Another channel reporter had to try to indicate that something illegal was taking place in our city. Yet at the same time we have an outstanding police department combating Heroin, elder abuse, and illegal pot establishments. We have a fire department second to none with a gold award (for saving lives) from the American heart association several years in a row. We are the only city to get that award.
"Our fund balance is the strongest in the area and perhaps the state. We have a boom in development in the city with the first new first run theater in 40 years, new Super Krogers at 13 and Schoenherr, Super Meijer at 10 and Schoenherr, new Chrysler investment of 1/2 billion dollars and 2000 new jobs, GM 1 billion dollar investment, two new libraries, new south Warren Civic Center, and a host of other new developments including a solution to the flooding with a detention basin. Plus a new upscale downtown with a destination hotel designed by Gibbs Associates who designed the new downtown Birmingham.
"And my service to Warren residents 24/7. I try to return all calls at home on evenings and on the weekend and I try to find solutions to various residential problems. I have not taken a vacation since elected 9 years ago. I work through many of my lunch hours. And I'm happy to meet with residents with major concerns. Yet for some in the media and for some with an ax to grind it's not enough. I'm appreciative of those who showed up tonight to support me and express satisfaction with how the city is going. Thanks to those who helped to make this day a little less stressful.
"Thanks to the council majority for their support. Thanks to the people whom I serve and believe in me! Despite what appears to be piling on tonight."