WARREN, Mich. – Mayor Jim Fouts has been accused of being racially insensitive, but he insists that the alleged tapes of him speaking disparagingly aren't real and have been edited together by political enemies.
Warren's one-time diversity director claims Fouts told him the former police commissioner is racist and that diversity wasn't a priority until after the election, out of fear of backlash from white voters. The director also claims that in the 11 years Fouts has been mayor of Warren, there has never been more than one African American on the police force.
Former Warren police Officer DeShiela Howlett is suing the city for racial discrimination, and her lawyer wants Fouts deposed under oath.
"The deposition would consist of any and all areas of inquiry that would call the mayor to answer why he did not pursue diversity training within the ranks of city government," attorney Leonard Mungo said.
Fouts is fighting tooth and nail through his attorney to not have to testify under oath, claiming that a "deposition would put an undue burden on Mayor Fouts."
The city attorney insists the mayor only met Officer Howlett once and spoke glowingly of her work, while the city's attorney Jim Acho said there's no effort to uncover the truth, but rather a political witch hunt is at play.
"What Leonard Mungo is trying to do is harass and embarrass Mayor Fouss to somehow create problems for him when he runs for reelection," Acho said. "He really had nothing to do with the DeShiela Howlett case, and so we don't think he should be deposed."
Mungo disagrees and said that as the city's top boss, the person who hires and fires department heads, it's Fouts who sets the tone of racial diversity in Warren, and that's why he insists the mayor sit down and answer questions under oath.
"It's plain and simple," Mungo said. "We have lots of questions for the mayor."