On Sept. 20, some 250 people packed into the Dubsdread golf course clubhouse, munching cheese and sipping booze to celebrate Roger Chapin's foray into Orlando politics. His mother Linda's decade of public service made the $50-a-head fundraiser a veritable who's-who, with notables such as former mayor Bob Carr and city commissioners Patty Sheehan and Daisy Lynum on hand to help raise roughly $25,000 for Chapin's city council campaign.
Chapin could mount a sizeable challenge to Vicki Vargo, who took over Bruce Gordy's seat last year when he ran for mayor. Yet, since Dubsdread is city-owned, some insiders -- including Vargo -- thought that hosting a political event there was inappropriate (especially since Mayor Glenda Hood has a much better rapport with Linda Chapin than she does with Vargo).
"I had recommended," Vargo says, "that it was in the best interest for neither of us to have an event [there]."
Chapin, however, compares the facility with Orange County's Cypress Grove Park, where a privately managed building hosts everything from fundraisers to weddings. "The city," he adds, "in no way condoned or endorsed [my candidacy]."
Hood didn't attend the event. Roger Chapin says it's "yet to be determined" what role Hood may play in his campaign.
The city, in fact, told American Golf, the company that manages Dubsdread, it could not keep Chapin out just because he is a politician. But the city didn't tell the facility's general manager, Steve Gunther, that he had to provide space to Chapin free of charge, which he did.
Gunther says he often offers free rent for last-minute bookings to keep business up in the slow season. (Chapin did pay $2,064 for the food and drinks.) And, Gunther says, if Vargo decides she wants it, she'll get the same deal. After all, he adds, "Vicki has been very nice to us."
So will Vargo take him up on the offer? "No," she says. Why not? "I'm not gonna get into [it]."
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