Fouts on holiday display tiff: 'I am not a Grinch'

Mike Martindale
The Detroit News
Warren Mayor James R. Fouts

Warren — Mayor James Fouts wants the message to be heard loud and clear by all:

“I am not a Grinch who stole Christmas and Warren is not Grinchland.”

Fouts said the confusion about his holiday spirit — or lack of it — percolated out of a dispute one Wagner Street resident had earlier this week with a building department employee over a holiday lawn decoration that arched over the city-owned sidewalk in front of the resident’s dwelling.

“It was a bright colored archway, probably six feet tall or taller, that went over the sidewalk,” said Fouts. “Most neighbors liked it but one called in a complaint and an overzealous inspector came out and gave the resident a warning notice.”

It was not a ticket but a warning, Fouts stressed. The mayor said he personally contacted the person to advise them their decoration — while technically over city land space — does not violate any law nor jeopardize public safety. It can remain.

But news travels fast on social media these days and Fouts soon found himself the target of so much criticism that he felt obligated to put out some public statements on his Facebook page. In his post, he said he planned to encourage holiday displays next winter, make it easier for residents to file applications for anything that might be considered extreme or offensive by other neighbors, and even suggested a contest in which a beautification award be given to the best displays.”

“I’m a big fan of Christmas,” said Fouts. “I have promoted a program to collect toys for children and food for the needy for years — I just sent out 20,000 Christmas cards suggesting people making donations to similar charitable groups.

“Christmas is a time for giving and we want Warren known as a place where Christmas and the holiday are celebrated,” Fouts said.

(248) 338-0319