Warren City Council says Mayor Jim Fouts’ ally posed as concerned citizen during public comment

The Warren City Council is investigating the appointment of an employee by Mayor Jim Fouts. Audio from a Warren City Council meeting last fall shows a man who said his name is William Benson join public comment.
The Warren City Council is investigating the appointment of an employee by Mayor Jim Fouts. Audio from a Warren City Council meeting last fall shows a man who said his name is William Benson join public comment.

WARREN, Mich. – The Warren City Council is investigating the appointment of an employee by Mayor Jim Fouts.

Audio from a Warren City Council meeting last fall shows a man who said his name is William Benson join public comment.

Warren City Council said he was not a concerned citizen. They said they’ve discovered that he was actually a political consultant named Jamie Roe. He is well known in political circles.

The council said he was appointed by Warren Mayor Jim Fouts and was paid by city taxpayer money in the role of a clerical tech. The council said Fouts didn’t get the hire on an agenda for the council to review.

“They tried to hide him. A shadow employee at City Hall,” Warren City Council Member Pat Green said.

The council said they have found 12 times where they said Roe poses as a citizen to rip council during meetings. Green said there may be big trouble if Roe was doing political consulting on the city’s dime.

Roe has since resigned.

“I am sick and tired of this accidental city council that has brought nothing but dysfunction and legal bills for taxpayers,” Roe said.

Watch the video above for the full report.

READ: Warren City Council to investigate ‘secret’ consultant hiring by Mayor Fouts


View the entire statement from Fouts below (Sent March 25, 2021):

The Warren City Council continues targeted attacks on city employees with another press release against former Warren employee Jamie Roe. Their release has misinformation if not blatant outright lies designed to destroy Jamie and anyone who would dare to speak out against this council. Since being elected as the accidental council after the State Supreme Court removed all the former incumbents and would not allow anyone else to file for the vacated positions, retaliation and reprisals have been a manifestation of what this accidental council has done for the last 1 1/2 years.

They have targeted Ethan Vinson our city attorney for many years. Mr. Vinson was the first African American city attorney in Warren History. He has been targeted so much that he filed an EEOC against the council. They will only allow him to speak under audience. They also have targeted the Executive Administrator of my office without any justification for deleting her from the budget. They have also targeted myself and others. So much so many employees are fearful of retaliation and removal from the budget that they now are fearful of interacting with council.

This is hampering my ability to run the third largest city in Michigan because of the chilling effect it has on free speech. They reduced my mayor employee office budget by 20% while not reducing their office by anything. They continue to engage in costly lawsuits against city officials such as the city clerk and myself. They have illegally hired Plunkett Cooney to be the defacto city attorney even though we have a city attorney!

Their unprecedented lawsuits against the city will cost at least 1/2 million dollars or more. At council meetings they regularly lie and ramble on about my administration and myself. While I’m trying to serve and protect the citizens of Warren with COVID vaccine clinics and help from Forgotten Harvest they have remained silent about doing anything that is designed to help our citizens. Their press release is again designed to further cast a chill on anyone who would speak out against them. This harassment MUST STOP!

Some questions that have not been answered by the city council:

  1. City Council how much are you paying Plunkett Cooney and how do you justify illegally hiring this law firm to replace Ethan Vinson?
  2. What kind of bills have Plunkett Cooney totaled up since replacing the charter mandated city attorney?
  3. Why did you decide to put audience at the bottom of the council agenda this week rather than at the top since apparently you are not satisfied with the many attempts to silence your critics.
  4. When is the city council going to formally vote on the Plunkett Cooney contract and when are we going to see a copy of that contract? Isn’t this a no-bid contract?
  5. Why was a former employee again targeted with another attack via a press release without due process or respect for free speech.
  6. Why selectively choose Jamie Roe and not all others who speak at council meetings?
  7. When does an alleged social media post become worthy of an investigation by the city council?
  8. Why was only Mr. Roe’s social media targeted and not others?
  9. Even when an employee is on a break and decides to post on social media why are you investigating him? How do you know who posted this?
  10. Who are the anonymous supporters of this accidental council that speak during audience?

NOTE: I have many more questions to raise.

Prior statement that I sent out on this same issue is attached below from last week.

Sincerely,

Mayor James R. Fouts

City of Warren

View the previous statement from Fouts below (Sent March 18, 2021):

I have officially accepted the resignation of Jamie Roe a member of this administration. Jamie has been a very hard-working employee regarding organization and planning for the COVID-19 Vaccine Center last week as well as planning on the COVID Testing at city hall and, also the Forgotten Harvest food distribution every Monday. This is another example of a dedicated Warren employee being targeted by the city council. Mr. Roe was denied his due process in several aspects, including the press release against him before an inquiry into the nature of his work, in addition he was mirandized by the city council on Tuesday further denying due process. This has a CHILLING EFFECT on Warren employees including:

  1. Denial of Free Speech
  2. Harassment of city employees
  3. Repeated attempts to intimidate and embarrass
  4. Targeting
  5. Selected attacks on certain employees
  6. Interference with serving and protecting the public

Jamie resigned with class by pleading with the council to work with the mayor to serve and protect our citizens against the COVID virus and other such issues and wished both the mayor and council well in working together not the council engaging in political retaliation.

Jamie is not the first employee to be selectively targeted and we are currently in Macomb Circuit Court over previous targeting of the City Attorney and Executive Administrator. This targeting has resulted in a lawsuit by the council to defend their targeting. This is a costly lawsuit initiated by the council costing an estimated 1/2 million dollars or more of taxpayer dollars.

Many employees are not comfortable in speaking with council for fear of retaliation. With that in mind I’m requesting that council follow the city charter and contact me regarding any further communication rather than contact employees. I plead with the city council to work with me to better serve our citizens and avoid harassing our hard-working employees.

I stand ready to defend both city employees and Warren citizens against the denial of free speech at Warren council meetings.

Sincerely,

Mayor James R. Fouts

City of Warren


About the Authors:

Shawn Ley is an Emmy-Award winning reporter. In more than 20 years covering stories in television news, Shawn’s reporting has taken him from war-torn eastern Europe, to reporting from an F-16 fighter jet and now to the fast and furious breaking news of Detroit.

Kayla is a Web Producer for ClickOnDetroit. Before she joined the team in 2018 she worked at WILX in Lansing as a digital producer.