Ever since she returned to Coral Gables in 2014---- following a tarnished tenure as City Manager of the City of Hollywood----- Coral Gables City Manager Cathy Swanson-Rivenbark has been trying to oust Coral Gables Police Chief Ed Hudak, a respected and admired leader in our community.
Swanson's initial attempt failed in 2015 so instead she made Hudak report to her close ally, Frank Fernandez, who she had brought from Hollywood hoping to replace him. In order to do that she created a new position of Assistant City Manager for Public Safety. Initially, Fernandez had only two employees to supervise: Ed Hudak and the Fire Chief. The position was (and still is) a huge waste of taxpayer dollars. It exists mainly so that Cathy Swanson-Rivenbark and Frank Fernandez can micromanage Chief Hudak and usurp his authority.
Last year, an anonymous source accused Chief Hudak of inappropriate behavior while making an appearance at a summertime pool party organized by 14 female officers from the Department.
The City Commission ordered an independent investigation at a cost of at least $50,000. Six months and numerous sworn depositions later, it was determined that Chief Hudak had not violated any Coral Gables Police Department regulations. Chief Hudak ---and the 14 female officers in attendance--- have consistently denied any wrongdoing.
Hudak's exoneration was not the outcome that Swanson or Fernandez were hoping for. So instead, they crafted a six-page written reprimand placed in his personnel file that accuses Hudak, a highly respected career law enforcement professional (with 28 years of experience) of being "immature" and of "conduct unbecoming" a police officer and criticizes him for not showing any "remorse" for his actions. It is petty and vindictive and yet more evidence of the vendetta that Cathy Swanson-Rivenbark and Frank Fernandez have for Chief Hudak.
Next Tuesday morning, April 24th, the City Commission will meet to discuss the future of Chief Hudak. If you believe in Chief Hudak's honesty and integrity we urge you to arrive early at Coral Gables City Hall, 405 Biltmore Way (at 8:20 AM) to show your support.
Join us April 24th at 8:20 AM at Coral Gables City Hall, 405 Biltmore Way to show your support!
PO Box 145056, Coral Gables, FL 33114
I’ve known Ed Hudak for well over a decade. My interactions with Ed have confirmed the reputation that long proceeded him--- that of an honest and dedicated police professional with a deep love for the Coral Gables community and his beloved alma mater, the University of Miami. Ed’s a straight talking, no-nonsense cop but one that is fair and treats every member of our community with respect. He’s exactly the leader we need protecting the City Beautiful.
Raul Mas Canosa, lifelong Coral Gables resident
I have known Ed Hudak for 38 years and have found him to be a very capable, trustworthy, and honest Police Officer, Supervisor, Commander, and Chief of Police. As a retired Assistant Chief of Police in Coral Gables and Chief of Police in New Hampshire, I am aware of the issues that impact on his success as a Chief of Police. Ed is more than qualified to bring the kind of Police Service the citizens of Coral Gables need and deserve.
Richard Bannon, retired police chief
I have had the distinct pleasure of knowing Chief Hudak for over ten years.
In my dealings with him, within the professional arena, I can attest without hesitation that he demonstrates leadership qualities one seeks to be associated with and emulate. He leaves you with a sense that you’ve dealt with a person who is praiseworthy, yet when accomplishing goals or objectives, would definitely shower others with praise instead of himself.
On a personal level, first and foremost I’ve known him to be a great family man. As a friend he is loyal, considerate and sincere. He encompasses those exceptional traits that make you privileged to know him, and be called a friend by him.
David Calzadilla, Retired Miami-Dade Police Department
I have lived/worked in the City of Coral Gables for 50 years. I write to support Chief Ed Hudak. I have known Chief Hudak for 25 years. He has been a police officer in the City for more than 25 years, essentially spending his entire law enforcement career in the City. He is always there when you need him. He knows the City and its people like few, if any, chiefs of police before him. He treats everyone with dignity and respect and sees the role of police officers and the department as one of service to the City's residents and the community. He is also universally respected among the officers he supervises. He is a true public servant and beloved by the community he serves.
It would be disappointing---even shameful--- to lose someone who loves the City and has served its residents for so long. Not only that: it is time that Chief Hudak is allowed to exercise his duties as all other chiefs before him have been allowed to do--- without having to report to another supervisor and with full authority to hire, promote and fire.
I hope the Commission will do the right thing for the Chief and the City so that the City can put this issue to rest and focus on the many important issues the City faces.
Roberto L. Perdomo III, DMD
I met Ed Hudak over 25 years ago during an emergency call that involved multiple jurisdictions. He showed professionalism, dedication to law enforcement, and a desire to work with other agencies to make the community safer for all. He has never lost those traits as he moved up through the ranks to chief. He is considered a Cop’s Cop.
In 2007, after the Virginia Tech shooting occurred, he developed a training exercise at the University of Miami-- Operation Sandbox-- that included multiple police and fire jurisdictions. In addition, he had first-responders involved in the Virginia Tech incident come to speak and answer questions. This not only strengthened safety at the University of Miami, but for all of Miami-Dade County as a collaborative experience.
Ed attended the FBI National Academy where he was elected by approximately 200 attendees from law enforcement leaders worldwide to be the President of their Session. He is an active member of the FBI Law Enforcement Executive Development Association (LEEDA) and the Police Officer Assistance Trust (POAT) among other groups.
Chief Hudak is a distinguished leader who is highly respected and has positively represented the Coral Gables Police and community for over 25 years.
Retired Miami-Dade Police Officer
I do not agree with Chief Hudak on everything…but my support of him is total. He is a "cop's cop" who has put the safety of Gables residents ahead of everything else, including his own career. What is being done to him by others for pure political purposes proves what Mark Twain wrote: "A lie is halfway around the world before the truth puts its shoes on." We should all, right now, put our shoes on for Chief Hudak and walk into City Hall on Tuesday, April 24th.
Jack Thompson, Coral Gables resident for 37 years
I have known Chief Ed Hudak for approximately ten years, in various capacities of our respective law enforcement careers.
I have had the honor of working with him on numerous events for the City and on major events in Miami-Dade County which have encompassed a myriad of agencies. I can attest, without a doubt, that he is an ethical, honest, trustworthy person and a notable leader. He exemplifies incredible moral character; adheres to a strict code of ethics and possesses leadership qualities that have never vacillated. His leadership skills are undisputable and he operates with integrity! In his professional life, he is well respected and admired by his peers, co-workers and subordinates; and in his personal life, Ed is a dedicated family man.
As Theodore Roosevelt once said “People ask the difference between a leader and a boss. The leader leads, and the boss drives.”
On a personal note, I must say that Ed is one of the finest persons I know. I am blessed to call him a friend.
Elio Gonzalez / Miami-Dade Police Bomb Squad Commander-Retired
Reprinted with permission of the author:
Dear Mayor and Commissioners:
Fairness is a principle that I consider to be among the most important at all levels of society and life. Accordingly, my observation of the City Manager’s treatment of Police Chief Ed Hudak can only be characterized as blatantly unfair and unjust, and compels me to write this letter in anticipation of tomorrow’s Commission meeting.
Since the basis for this debate is an investigation and report into possible policy violations and misdeeds by the Chief that has led to a reprimand, seeks additional punishment and poses the threat of termination, we should then be fair and measure the two principal figures in this dispute with the same stick. If people’s character, professionalism and ethics are defined by the findings of “reports” then let us also take into account the Broward Inspector General’s investigation and report into the City of Hollywood Administration under the leadership of Cathy Swanson Rivenbark - an exhaustive and powerful document that the City Commission surprisingly glossed over during her hiring process.
In the case of Chief Hudak, you have the City of Coral Gables investing time, energy and money to aggressively investigate possible violations by the Chief based on an ANONYMOUS complaint. The rumor mill around this incident devolved into salacious and scandalous innuendo that humiliated the Chief and the other officers present at that event along with their families. In the end, the investigator’s report determined that there were no formal violations and that the allegations regarding sex toys were untrue. To many in our community, including me, this should have closed this unnecessarily embarrassing chapter for Coral Gables. But it appears that to the City Manger the conclusions of the investigator she hired were not enough and she now seeks to further pursue this matter and apply her own brand of arbitrary justice. The Manager is burrowing deep into the city's policy manual to find the strictest possible interpretation that will cause further professional harm to the Chief. Returning to the issue of fairness, she is applying an unfair standard that certainly didn’t guide her when she was investigated by Broward’s Inspector General.
In that case we have a comprehensive 68 page report with an additional 188 pages of supporting documentation that concludes definitively that Ms. Swanson Rivenbark indeed violated city ordinances, policies and procedures in Hollywood. The City Commission was so appalled by the findings that they voted 5 to 2 in favor of filing a complaint against her with the International City Management Association.
Below are the findings of the investigation that directly implicate the City Manager:
• The City Commission was misled by City Staff. As part of this determination, the Inspector General places Ms. Swanson Rivenbark at the heart of this manipulation. • Misrepresentations were made to the City Commission • Staff attempted to mislead the Commission into improper use of an exemption Additionally, the Inspector General documented that the vendor involved in this scandal never had a valid contract, there was no competitive process to procure the contract, there was a failure to budget funds when spending was anticipated and there was a failure to document transfer of budgeted funds. These three determinations about misleading the Commission and misrepresenting information is part of the City Manager’s professional record and should have raised concerns about her judgement and character when she was first hired. And contrary to the Chief’s investigation which, again, concluded that there were no violations, the investigation involving the Manager determines and documents multiple violations.
A copy of the Broward Inspector General’s report can be viewed by clicking on this linkhttps://www.dropbox.com/s/m00l4tjeylhymun/20160302OIG14027FinalReport.pdf?dl=0
The reality that the public knows full well, but the Commission refuses to admit, is that the investigation into Hudak and the subsequent report was merely a Trojan Horse that the Manager is employing to ultimately remove a Chief that she does not want. The erosion of this relationship began the moment the Manager assumed her job and has progressively worsened in a systematic fashion ever since. And for all of my criticisms of the City Manager there is no doubt that ultimate responsibility lies with the City Commission which has failed to exercise its authority under the City Charter and address this controversy.
As this process ultimately comes to a conclusion there are certain rights that the parties involved in this process have at their disposal:
1. The Manager has the right to terminate the Chief.
2. The Chief has the right to resign.
3. The Commission has the right to remove the Manager.
4. The public has the right to vote out the Mayor and Commissioners if they disagree with their decision.
Based on the good will that Ed Hudak has built in the community during his nearly three decades of service, coupled with the visible improvements in safety and security during his tenure as Chief, I can say with confidence that option 4 will be a very likely result if option 1 occurs. Believe me when I say that there will be strong voter backlash if the Chief is fired. Moreover, fabricating accusations, generating investigations and creating a hostile work environment is unfair to a dignified public servant like the Chief and a disservice to the taxpayers.
Instead of continuing to pursue this witch hunt, perhaps more time should be dedicated to investigating why the Coral Gables debris cleanup after Hurricane Irma was among the worst in Miami Dade or why the Miracle Mile and Giralda projects were so severely mismanaged. All of these, by the way, are part of the Manager’s legacy in Coral Gables.
As a person with no interest in this matter beyond being a simple citizen, I implore you to show leadership and do the right thing. Stand up for Chief Hudak and hold the City Manager accountable for orchestrating this Roman circus, even if that includes her removal. Don’t reward her record of violations and mismanagement that include misleading a City Commission; these are actual facts that speak for themselves.
Freddy Balsera BALSERA COMMUNICATIONS P. 305.441.1272 Miami - Washington, DC – Buenos Aires