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Corruption, scandal, leaked tapes: What the heck is going on in Macomb County?

Jan 17, 2017

Metro Detroit's infamous Macomb County might be "the most politically craziest county in Michigan, if not the planet."

Michigan Radio's senior news analyst Jack Lessenberry wrote that in a column for the Toledo Blade.

The state's third most populous county has produced one outrageous headline after another: from a sheriff who went to prison for rape, to corruption surrounding a waste-hauling company, to the racist and sexist recordings plaguing Warren mayor Jim Fouts, and the list goes on and on.

So what is wrong with Macomb County? 

Lessenberry joined long-time Macomb County reporter Chad Selweski on Stateside to try to make sense of the "weirdness" that goes on in the county.

There is a massive cast of characters involved in the strange, and often corrupt, story of Macomb County that dates back at least 30 years. However, Selweski said it's ramped up in recent years, largely due to Warren Mayor Jim Fouts.

"Jim Fouts, I think, with some degree of confidence, basically believes that he is unbeatable," Selweski said. "He can control the city, and control the council and in that case, he is free to engage in wherever his ego takes him and he's just not able to rein himself in."

Fouts might have good reason to believe that because after his romantic rendezvous in Chicago with his assistant, he still won re-election by roughly 85% of the vote.

There have been calls for Fouts to resign after another batch of recordings was recently released, allegedly of him making racist and sexist comments. But Fouts has been defiant. He recently posted a response on Facebook: "I will not resign." 

Listen to the full interview above to hear how diverse Macomb County voters are, about the county clerk they elected who "might not be qualified to be a greeter at a hardware store" and why corruption seems to be more tolerated in Macomb than in other parts of the state.

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