Gables Police Chief Ed Hudak calls, pressures voters in commission race

People can’t believe it. They don’t want to believe it.

Ladra has had several people cast doubt on Maria Cruz, who said the police chief called her and urged her not to vote for commission candidate Ariel Fernandez in Group 5. Some suggested that because she supports Fernandez, she would lie for him.

Ladra has never know Cruz to lie. Exaggerate? Sure.

Besides, other people have said they got the call from Police Chief Ed Hudak.

“Our home did receive an almost apologetic phone call from our police chief warning us about whom to vote for,” said Gabriel de la Campa, a retired real estate investor who grew up in the Gables. “It was as if he were making the call following someone’s script.”

Everyone thinks the popular Hudak — who threatens to retire if Fernandez is elected — is leaning on folks on the orders of Mayor Vince Lago, who did not return yet another phone call and text message from Ladra.

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“The Chief has been a highly respected and dedicated part of our community,” de la Campa told Political Cortadito, “and it is hard to believe he has been reduced to campaign solicitor.”

Attorney Alex Bucelo, who lost his first bid against Commissioner Kirk Menendez two years ago, is running against Fernandez in the open seat. Lago has not only endorsed Bucelo and raised money for him, but he is making calls and warning people not to vote for Fernandez.

The phone calls and the negative attacks via mail and text message make it seem that Lago and Bucelo’s team are desperate to see Bucelo elected. Voters say they feel the desperation.

Even if it’s legal and his right to free speech — he’s calling “friends” during the Jeopardy hour — Hudak knows it’s improper. He’s the police chief. Thats a lot of power. It’s intimidating.

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And that’s why, again, he chose not to return phone calls and text messages. Ladra told him what it was about. He knows it’s not right.

“If these allegations are true, Chief Hudak’s conduct seems, at a minimum, inappropriate,” said University of Miami law Professor Anthony Alfieri, director of the Center for Ethics and Public Service (and a Gables resident).

“Moreover, if he’s making these calls in his official capacity, or he is implicating his official responsibilities, then the calls may be in violation of federal, state or local laws and ethics regulations,” Alfieri told Ladra. “The allegations are serious enough to warrant the Coral Gables city attorney to open an investigation to determine if he’s violating the ethics code, federal, state or local law — or even his contract.”