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Dear Warren Residents:

Since my election as your mayor eight years ago, I have made it my priority to make our city cleaner and safer.

We have taken positive action to accomplish this objective. Our Neighborhood Clean Sweep Program is a neighborhood-by-neighborhood, street-by-street, and house-by-house inspection effort that targets residential and commercial buildings for blight violations. We began this unique blight-fighting program in 2008, and our anti-blight inspectors have issued over 60,000 warning notices to businesses and residences to clean up their properties or face $1000 fines.

The result: only 900 tickets issued because the vast majority of those who receive 5-day warning notices correct the violations.

One interesting sidelight to this program is the reaction of the residents in targeted neighborhoods. You would think that they would not exactly welcome these anti-blight inspectors, but the comments our inspectors get from residents are all positive. Comments like: “This is a good way to get people to clean up their properties,” “I have noticed that our neighborhood is cleaner,” and “My neighbors feel proud to live here because there is less blight.”

Also, we have demolished over 600 dilapidated homes that I call “neighborhood eyesores,” and we are cutting high grass and weeds on vacant homes – and charging the owner of record that is usually a bank or mortgage company.

The bottom line is that this all-out anti-blight campaign is paying dividends. Our city is cleaner. You can help in this effort by reporting blighted properties to our 24-hour 7-day anti-blight hotline at 586-574-4662.

We are also accomplishing our goal of a safer city. The city’s fine police department has worked hard to bring the violent crime rate down, according to the latest FBI-compiled statistics.

Recently, the Police Department has responded to drug-related violations, including the sale of marijuana, prescription drugs, heroin and cocaine. The narcotics unit averages 20 arrests and 3 search warrants each month, and the police department is conducting “crime sweeps” in high-crime areas.

Our fire department has re-instated city-run EMS transport services that bring in $2.6 million in fees every year, and we now have four new fire engines.

In 2011, Warren voters passed a police-fire millage to keep our public safety services at their present levels. The margin of the approval by voters (2-1) is an indication that Warren people are satisfied with their public safety services. This millage renewal is on the August 2 Primary Election ballot.

So, our goal of making Warren cleaner and safer is being achieved, but it will always be foremost in my mind as long as I am your mayor.

James R. Fouts