WARREN (WWJ) – Macomb County Executive Mark Hackel is calling for Warren Mayor Jim Fouts to step down after releasing alleged audio tapes of the mayor making “disgusting” and “sickening” comments about the mentally challenged community.
Speaking live on WWJ Newsradio Friday morning, Hackel said he was awakened around 3 o’clock in the morning by a phone call alerting him to apparent audio recordings of the mayor, taped during public meetings, in which Fouts allegedly refers to the mentally challenged as “retards” and “not even human beings,” saying they would be better off in cages.
He said the tapes were given to him by someone who works for the Warren mayor.
“I think that he needs to step down or people need to call for his resignation. This is absolutely sickening,” said Hackel. “When I listened to the audio, I couldn’t believe what I had heard. I’ve got to tell you, I was choked up. … I am so deeply disturbed by that language, and that’s not even half of the tape that you just put out there. He’s talking about bringing in Kevorkian. It is the most disgusting thing if you listen to that thing in great detail. ”
Hackel said he turned the audio tapes over to a reporter “for the reason that it needs to be public.” He said the reporter looked into the tapes’ authenticity and “it has been 100 percent independently verified.”
“This guy is a sick individual and I, as a public official I am tired of public officials being afraid to speak out on behalf of the public as a result of what some people are doing behind closed doors or saying about people, especially the most vulnerable in society. I am absolutely disgusted by this man,” said Hackel.
In a Facebook post, Fouts vehemently denied it was his voice heard on the audio tapes, saying Hackel distributed the recordings as political payback to distract people from claims of illegal dumping at Freedom Hill, and a “vicious attempt” to discredit him.
“I question the validity of this AWFUL tape, the context of the tape, and who was also speaking and where this speech was recorded,” he wrote in the post. “This recording was not me! (he has the expertise available to him to electronically engineer it) This is a PHONY tape with more to come.”
Hackel said there’s “absolutely no way” the tapes were electronically altered.
“I can’t even believe he’s saying that. What a disgusting lie,” he said. “You’ve got a mayor of the third largest city in the state of Michigan trying to discredit other public officials by doing what he did, yet knowing this is how he feels about people with special needs is absolutely disgusting. I don’t care if people want to say, ‘I can’t believe you put that tape out.’ That is something the public needs to know about a public official. … And it’s not going to end there because there are other employees that are going to be coming forward because he is not the only one that has reached out to me.”
Warren City Council President Cecil St. Pierre, who is also an attorney, defended Fouts in an interview with WWJ’s Charlie Langton Friday morning.
He said there are a lot of answered questions about these tapes.
“This is just unbelievable that it has come down to this where somebody releases a private tape of somebody without about veracity, or time, circumstance, of the situation,” St. Pierre said.
St. Pierre agreed with Langton that the releasing of the tapes amounts to a new low in dirty politics in the county.
“Yes. There’s no question,” he said. “I’m a little worried about just sticking up for Mayor Fouts and saying this…What are they going to do to me?”
St. Pierre said he does not think the mayor should resign, adding that the business of governing the city will continue despite these distractions.
Hackel said the entire thing is embarrassing to Macomb County, “a black eye.”
“This is setting us back. We are better than this,” he said. “This is not what Macomb County is all about.”
Fouts has not yet commented on Hackel’s interview with WWJ.
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