Fouts mum on using n-word, Heidelberg Project, Detroit towing, Schuette: Your Friday morning briefing

Heidelberg Project is full of murals.

“Morning Briefing” is a new feature in Motor City Muckraker to keep you informed as we add award-winning reporters to our independent newsroom that soon will be a nonprofit watchdog. Your donations are key to our ability to produce more vigorous, meaningful, nonpartisan journalism at a time when news rooms are cutting back on impactful, investigative stories.

These are the top stories you’re waking up to:

Fouts mum on using n-word, calling black people ‘chimps’

Nearly two year after Motor City Muckraker first publicized audio recordings in which Warren Mayor Jim Fouts uses the n-word and compared black people to “chimps,” he declined to deny or admit whether it was his voice in the tapes while under oath in a racial-bias lawsuit. 

Fouts previously insisted the recordings were doctored but did not take that position during an Aug. 23 deposition, the Detroit News reports.

A federal judge ruled last month that Fouts must face a deposition as part of a discrimination and harassment lawsuit filed by DeSheila Howlett, a former Warren cop who is black.

When asked whether it was his voice in the recordings posted on Motor City Muckraker in January 2017, a Warren lawyer conferred with Fouts, who then responded, “I decline to answer the question on the advice of counsel.” 

Heidelberg Project prepares for new arts district

The Heidelberg Projects headquarters in Brush Park is moving to the neighborhood that made the outdoor art installation famous.

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The nonprofit plans to move to the McDougall-Hunt neighborhood in February as organizers create an art district that will include space for artists to live.

The nonprofit purchased additional property and co-owns Spot Lite with Inter State Gallery, a nearby building that is expected to open as an art gallery, cafe, bar and entertainment venue early next year, Crain’s Detroit reports

Detroit police get into towing business

The city of Detroit is getting into the towing business after years of expensive lawsuits and corruption.

The Detroit Board of Police Commissioners voted 7-2 Thursday to enable Detroit police to provide towing service, the Detroit News reports

The city bought six tow trucks at $575,000 and will use four city-owned lots to impound and store cars.

Police officials said public towing will account for half of the towing services in the city.

Some private towing companies said the move will force them out of business.

GOP group forms to support Schuette’s gubernatorial opponent, Whitmer

Republican gubernatorial candidate Bill Schuette is having a hard time winning some important endorsements.

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Attorney General Bill Schuette

Just weeks after Gov. Snyder said he would not endorse Schuette, 13 former lawmakers, executives and business leaders on Thursday announced the formation of “Republicans and Independents for Whitmer,” referring to Schuette’s Democratic opponent, Gretchen Whitmer, the Detroit News reports.

Members of the new group include former U.S. Rep. Joe Schwarz, former Engler and Snyder administration health director Jim Haveman, former Engler transition director Richard McLellan and Milliken administration treasurer Vivian Carpenter.

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“We all kind of felt the Republican Party has left us and began looking at issues of health care, higher education, working with the Legislature, who can continue to move Michigan forward and who’s showing tolerance toward people who are different,” Haveman told The Detroit News. “It just became clear we should support Gretchen Whitmer.”

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Steve Neavling

Steve Neavling lives and works in Detroit as an investigative journalist. His stories have uncovered corruption, led to arrests and reforms and prompted FBI investigations.