Under pressure from residents and police officers, Coral Gables City Manager Cathy Swanson-Rivenbark said Tuesday she is rethinking her proposed reorganization of the police department’s hierarchy and may consider making Interim Chief Ed Hudak permanent.
A public meeting of city commissioners scheduled for Wednesday was canceled hours after Swanson-Rivenbark learned the city code only allows for one police chief, not two.
“The Sunshine Meeting scheduled for [Wednesday] is being canceled by Commissioner Lago because he has met with the City Manager and City Attorney, and believes the topics of the Sunshine meeting are being fully addressed,” Coral Gables City Attorney Craig Leen released in a statement Tuesday night.
“The City Manager plans to meet with Interim Chief Hudak this week to discuss several issues of concern she would need addressed by him. If these issues are resolved in a manner satisfactory to the City Manager, she would appoint Mr. Hudak as Police Chief under her authority in Section 21 of the City Charter. At that point, the City Manager and Police Chief would address staff alignment to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of the department.”
Swanson-Rivenbark did not disclose any details of her concerns.
Last week, Swanson-Rivenbark told commissioners that interim Police Chief Ed Hudak was slated to become chief of operations and that she planned to appoint Major Raul Pedroso as chief of criminal investigations. Assistant Chief Michael Miller would be assistant chief of administration and all three would report to her assistant city manager, Frank Fernandez, who oversees public safety.
Leen said on Tuesday morning that he had reviewed the city code and discovered that Swanson-Rivenbark’s plan might be in violation of it.
“The code calls for one chief of police,” Leen told the Miami Herald, adding that his analysis was done at the request of Coral Gables Mayor Jim Cason.
Hours after Leen released his opinion, Swanson-Rivenbark told the Miami Herald Editorial Board that a Sunshine meeting scheduled for Wednesday afternoon to discuss her proposed reorganization was canceled.
“What we’re going to do is get all the parties to sit down and try to work this out,” Swanson-Rivenbark said.
Many police officers and residents have questioned why Swanson-Rivenbark, newly appointed as city manager, would appoint both Hudak and Pedroso as co-chiefs. Both men have recently filed human-resource complaints against each other, records show.
In December, Pedroso accused Hudak of threatening to fire him. Hudak denied the allegation and said Pedroso took his remarks out of context. An investigation concluded privately with Swanson-Rivenbark.
Recently, Hudak filed a memo with human resources accusing Pedroso of insubordination. That claim is still under review.