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Downtown Sarasota radio show host Phil Grande has long been critical of the city's response to vagrant activity in Five Points Park.
Sarasota Friday, Nov. 15, 2013 3 years ago

Fournier fires back at Grande

by: Alex Mahadevan News Innovation Editor

Two prominent locals may soon settle their differences over downtown Sarasota vagrancy.

Sarasota City Attorney Bob Fournier hadn't responded to the sporadic emails he received for two years from downtown radio show host Phil Grande until this week.

In what Fournier describes as the "vitriolic tone" of many of Grande's emails that have come in since mid-2011, Fournier said he's ready to sit down and have a civil discussion. Grande has agreed to a meeting, according to Thomas Biggs, producer of Grande's show.

Grande sent two emails to Sarasota city commissioners and Fournier this week criticizing ordinances that affect vagrancy in Five Points Park. The emails accuse Fournier of failure to write strong ordinances to combat lodging out-of-doors and opposing an ordinance to ban homeless feedings in public parks.

Fournier responded with an 800-word email combating those claims and another message requesting a meeting.

"I know that you've done more than just complain and that you've contributed significant amounts of your own money to address the situation," Fournier wrote in a Nov. 10 email. "So, if you feel like talking by phone or in person sometime, then give me a call."

Grande once paid to host a homeless feeding in front of then-Vice Mayor Terry Turner's house in the Cherokee Park neighborhood. Grande had also offered to buy a North Sarasota property for $573,000 and turn it into a combination homeless shelter/gathering place, then sell it back to the city for $1.

"We're finally going to talk personally," Fournier said in a phone interview with the Sarasota Observer. "And I'm sure we're going to agree on a bunch of stuff."

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