Dunedin mayor, officials threatened over fines for resident's uncut grass
DUNEDIN, Fla. (FOX 13) - The Pinellas County Sheriff's Office is now investigating after the mayor of Dunedin and other city officials received multiple threats of violence in response to a viral story about a citizen being fined nearly $30,000 for not cutting his grass, according to Dunedin City Manager Jennifer Bramley.
RELATED: Code violations for uncut grass could mean foreclosure for Dunedin man
People from across the country unleashed their anger on the city of Dunedin by phone and by email this week. Some people are upset the city fined Jim Ficken and then began foreclosure on his house after his grass grew more than 10 inches.
Ficken's grass grew while he was out of town last summer taking care of his late mother's estate. He paid a friend to cut it, but that friend died unexpectedly.
"This is repeat violations. There were 15 of them and we intervened on behalf of the neighborhood. We are not putting him out on the street without a home. He has 4 homes," Bramley said.
Bramley is speaking out on behalf of Mayor Julie Ward Bujalski who has been the target of threatening phone calls to her home. The person on the other end threatened harm to the mayor and her family.
"There have been threats to the code enforcement board, the code enforcement division, to city hall, the city manager's office. Physical threats," Bramley said.
Dozens of emails attacked the city and its officials.
One emailer wrote: "I hope someone burns your city hall to the ground."
"We're going to come down there and visit you, a whole bunch of us," someone said in a voicemail.
Bramley says some workers are concerned.
"A lot of our employees are frightened to come to work," Bramley said.
FOX 13 News reached out to Ficken's attorney Thursday and spoke to him over the phone.
"Threats against anyone are completely inappropriate and we're not okay with that," Attorney Ari Bargil said.
Bargil says they'll continue to fight the city over the fines in court.
"The loss of Jim's home for having tall grass in unconstitutional," Bargil said.
The case has been sent to federal court as the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office opens its own investigation into the threats.
"I'm trying to not think about it, but I'll be booted out of this house and I'll have to find another place to live," Jim Ficken said.