Update April 18, 2019: Today the City issued a statement that it has prepared an apology to all sponsors and attendees of the event and that Chief O'Grady's statement at the event does not reflect the values of the City of Mount Dora. The City characterized the statements as insensitive and inappropriate. O'Grady remains on paid administrative leave pending an investigation.
It started as a beautiful day of golf for a worthy cause, but the outing had an unexpected ending. Last Friday, teams of local residents, city officials and corporations played 18 holes at Mount Dora Country Club to benefit the Mount Dora Heroes Foundation, a nonprofit created to enhance public safety in the community.
All was going well until the City’s public safety director, John O’Grady, who heads the police and fire departments, allegedly made a racially insensitive comment at the event’s podium. The comment purportedly slighted two local Hispanic business owners and a Hispanic Mount Dora Police officer.
Edna and Luis Gonzalez, owners of Las Palmas Cuban Restaurant in downtown Mount Dora, have asked for an apology from the City, but as of publication time, the couple has not received one, according to their attorney Laura Hargrove.
Mount Dora Buzz reached out to the City yesterday afternoon for a response to O’Grady’s alleged slight. “The City Manager is addressing it and more information will be available upon determination,” said the City’s Public Information Officer, Lisa McDonald.
This isn’t the first controversy for O’Grady. Under his leadership, the department came under fire for its code enforcement staff’s igniting the lengthy Van Gogh mural house debacle for which the City was sued resulting in the Mayor publicly apologizing to the homeowners.
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