Rift widens between council, Fouts over former appointee

By: Brian Louwers | Warren Weekly | Published April 7, 2021

 Mayor Jim Fouts

Mayor Jim Fouts

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WARREN — Jamie Roe resigned his appointed position with the city of Warren effective March 18. But City Council members had plenty to say in the days after about Roe’s hiring, his tenure, what he was doing as a member of Mayor Jim Fouts’ team and what he had to say to them at public meetings under his own name and a dozen fake names Roe used when he called in during Zoom video sessions, going as far back as July, to deliver political messages.   

“I didn’t want to be targeted,” Roe said when asked about the use of fictitious names, including “Game of Thrones” hero Jon Snow, on March 31. “The fact of the matter is somebody needed to say things there, but anybody who actually stepped forward would be targeted by this council. They’ve done it repeatedly.”

Roe echoed claims made previously by Fouts that the council had targeted members of the administration, including City Attorney Ethan Vinson, and Amanda Mika, the mayor’s executive administrator in salary if no longer in title after a City Council inquiry over her appointment that, in part, led to a lawsuit filed by the council against the mayor in Macomb County Circuit Court last year.

Council members voted unanimously on March 16 to open an investigation into Roe’s appointment and his role in Warren, citing concerns about his job with the city and his work as a political consultant.

A press release from the City Council on March 25 again claimed the appointment was kept “secret” by the administration and alleged that an inquiry revealed Roe made more than 100 political posts on social media during city work hours.

Roe confirmed he was hired by the city in March 2020 and said he was tasked with helping to manage special projects through the mayor’s office related to the city’s response to the pandemic, including a food distribution outreach, COVID-19 testing and vaccinations, and the ongoing U.S. Census.
In the council’s release, it was also alleged that a “resident tipped off” the City Council about Roe’s comments during audience participation at the council’s meetings, which are held virtually by Zoom videoconference, using fake names.  

“Council members are deeply concerned that Mr. Roe was put on the city payroll to provide political consulting services to the mayor, which would violate federal law,” Warren City Council President Pat Green said. “Mr. Roe has the right to speak out, and he has. But the mayor does not have a right to use tax dollars to pay a political consultant that is working for his own political interests. The mayor’s deception and dishonesty by deploying a city employee to use fake identities to further his political agenda is appalling.”

Administration sources said the allegation that Roe’s appointment was kept secret was inaccurate. Fouts said a list of appointees, including Roe, was provided to the City Council last summer.

Regarding Roe’s use of fictitious names and his comments during the council’s meetings, Fouts said it was the result of a “chilling effect” on city appointees and employees, caused by the council’s “reign of political terror.”

Council Secretary Mindy Moore said the council office was in the process of seeking additional documentation from the administration and that the matter was referred to the office of Michigan’s attorney general for an independent investigation.

“We want to know why this appointment was kept secret and why Mr. Roe was allowed to work on multiple congressional and local campaigns while he was a full-time city employee,” Moore said.  

Roe called the council’s inquiry “absolutely ludicrous” and said he’s not worried about an investigation by them, the state or anyone else.

“What I am worried about is how what they’re doing to me impacts other hardworking people in the city,” Roe said.

Prior to his resignation, council members claimed that Roe had been appointed to a full-time position as a clerical technician in the mayor’s office with an annual salary capped at $44,000 a year with benefits. Administration sources said Roe worked under the supervision of Warren Public Service Director Gus Ghanam on the various projects related to COVID-19.

Roe said he worked as the chief of staff for former Republican U.S. Rep. Candice Miller, who is now Macomb County’s Public Works Commissioner, from 2003 to 2015. Before that, he said he worked for Miller, who was then Michigan’s secretary of state, in Lansing for five years as the director of government affairs.

“I have experience in my previous work with continuation of government issues, and they needed help with how to navigate the pandemic,” Roe said of his work in Warren. “And I did help, and I’m proud of the help I gave.

“What have they (City Council members) done since they took office that impacts one life in a positive way in this city? They’ve accomplished nothing,” Roe said. “They should be ashamed of what they’ve done. They come after me? For what? Because I dared call them out?”

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