Fouts gives ‘upbeat’ State of the City speech via video

Mike Martindale, The Detroit News

Warren – In stark contrast to past years, Warren Mayor James Fouts delivered his State of the City address via a video released Wednesday, one day before the speech had been expected to take place.

And there is no debate that it is Fouts talking this time: He had the city communications department record him.

“This is an upbeat address, it’s great news,” Fouts said on the recording, adding that he wanted to do something different from past years, when tickets were sold to the much-anticipated event in Michigan’s third-largest city.

“I wanted it focused on the state of the city and nothing else,” he said. “No charge. The city and all the great things happening here.”

Fouts has been the subject of failed recall efforts and criticism in the wake of controversial statements captured on video that he adamantly claims were made by someone else. The footage included remarks demeaning people with disabilities, African-Americans and older women.

The State of the City address will be aired on TV Warren, the city’s cable TV station, starting at 7:30 p.m. Thursday. The program will air on the government channel, which is Channel 5 on Comcast and Channel 10 on Wide Open West, until May 31 except when city council meetings will air. Daily times: 8 a.m., 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.

Among highlights of Fouts’ speech:

■Warren has the strongest industrial assessed value in Metro Detroit, according to Crain’s Detroit Business.

■The mayor has improved minority representation to key city committees and appointed African-Americans to top posts: city attorney Ethan Vinson and city diversity coordinator Greg Murray.

■He has broadened an “All-Access Warren” project to make the city more accessible to persons with disabilities.

■The mayor said he is leading an effort to clean up mobile home parks of problems due to drugs and prostitution.

■Warren has a fund balance of $60 million, the strongest of any city in the state, he said.

“There is no scandal in city of Warren, like elsewhere,” said Fouts. “You couldn’t find a better-run city.”

“Our fire department got a national American Heart Association gold award,” he said. “... Our police are taking out drug houses, including in Detroit, because of the heroin epidemic.”

He reported sobering news on how heroin-related overdose deaths in Warren spiked to 35 last year, up from seven in 2015 and only three in 2014.

Fouts concluded by thanking citizens for the “words of encouragement” he has received in recent weeks and said he plans to continue to respond to citizen requests and personally return their calls.

“Remember, the best is yet to come,” he said.

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