1. News
  2. /
  3. Tampa

Tampa City Council member uses anti-Semitic slur

City Council member Orlando Gudes said he isn’t anti-Semitic and only inadvertently used the phrase.
Tampa City Council member Orlando Gudes, right, said he didn't mean to insult Jewish people when he used a derogatory phrase during a conversation with a Tampa Bay Times reporter Wednesday. [OCTAVIO JONES  |  Times]
Tampa City Council member Orlando Gudes, right, said he didn't mean to insult Jewish people when he used a derogatory phrase during a conversation with a Tampa Bay Times reporter Wednesday. [OCTAVIO JONES | Times]
Published Jan. 29

TAMPA — In the midst of describing why he thought the city of Tampa was being charged too much for construction costs, City Council member Orlando Gudes put it this way Wednesday to a Tampa Bay Times reporter:

“We’re getting Jewed.”

Gudes, 52, a first-term council member and retired police officer, immediately retracted his words, saying he shouldn’t have said it. He later said he didn’t want to be misinterpreted as using a slur against Jewish people.

“Sometimes people use the word ‘I got Jewed’ meaning by a Jewish person ... And I thought, someone could take that the wrong way," said Gudes, who is African American . “Let’s not go down that road, okay? I’m not a racist.”

Gudes said he wasn’t referring to Jewish people when he used the phrase to comment on a city estimate of $400 per square foot to build a new East Tampa community center.

“I was just talking in the moment because I was passionate about it,” he said. He said he didn’t think the Times should write a story about what he said.

“There was no intent by me of anything,” Gudes said in an interview in his office a few hours later. “They’re just trying to throw a story out there for some papers.”

Former Mayor Sandy Freedman, who is Jewish, said she considers Gudes a friend, recently had lunch with him and remembers seeing him graduate from the police academy decades ago.

When told what Gudes said, Freedman, who was mayor of Tampa between 1986 and 1995, sighed.

“Oh, god,” she said.

The phrase is “derogatory and disheartening,” she said, adding that she was surprised that Gudes uttered it.

“I’ve never seen that side of him,” Freedman said.

The phrase plays into harmful stereotypes and implies Jewish people practice dishonest or overly aggressive business dealings.

Freedman said it might be a phrase people hear growing up, “but at a certain point in time, you know it’s wrong. You’ve got to consciously purge that from your vocabulary.”

She said she hopes she isn’t disappointed in Gudes moving forward. She said Gudes would have been offended if he learned she used the “n-word” — which she said she has never done.

“It offends me in the same way,” Freedman said.

Gudes mentioned his friendship with council member John Dingfelder, who is Jewish, as evidence he harbors no ill will toward Jewish people.

Informed of Gudes’ comment, Dingfelder said they had been friends since they met when Dingfelder taught at Robinson High School 20 years ago and Gudes was the school resource officer.

'"I am confident that he is not anti-Semitic as he knows that as minorities, blacks and Jews have worked together for decades on important civil rights issues!" Dingfelder wrote in a text.

At Saturday’s Gasparilla parade, Dingfelder said he didn’t have a float to ride on, so Gudes invited him to ride with his Krewe of Libertalia, “which was 90 percent African American ... and they showed me a great time!”

Gudes said he wanted to make clear that his use of the phrase “wasn’t about any people, per se, it wasn’t about any culture.”

“I’m sorry I said it,” he said.


  1. St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman and Tampa Mayor Jane Castor answer questions during a meeting of the Tampa Tiger Bay Club Friday.
  2. Jurors on Friday said they could not reach a unanimous verdict in the case against Michael Keetley, an ice cream man accused of murder. Keetley, right, smirked as the judge instructed the jury to try again to reach a verdict.
  3. Marisol Lopez, 42, sent in an application for a green card when she learned about new federal restrictions on public benefits for many immigrants.
  4. A section of the Robles Park Village public housing complex was built on top the forgotten Zion Cemetery.
  5. Tampa City Council chairman Luis Viera said Mayor Jane Castor's decision to add a second ambulance to Station 13 in North Tampa will improve emergency services for his constituents.
  6. A rendering of the new Ulta created by Hennon Group Architects and included in the permits for the building filed with the City of Tampa.
  7. New Orleans-based Dat Dog offers exotic sausages like alligator, duck and crawfish, along with multiple vegan options and more than 30 toppings. The chain is seeking franchisees to bring a location to Tampa Bay.
  8. James S. Moody III was appointed in January as a Hillsborough County Judge. He is the son of federal judge James S. Moody Jr. and the brother of Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody. [Photo courtesy of the Thirteenth Judicial Circuit Court]
  9. Michael Keetley is brought into the courtroom during his murder trial Thursday, Feb. 20, 2020 in Tampa. Keetley is the former ice cream truck driver who is accused of shooting a group of men in 2010.
  10. The Oaks Estate, a mansion owned by Lazydays RV co-founder Donald Wallace and his wife Erika. The property is a French-Normandy country-style gated manor build on Lake Thonotosassa listed on the market with an asking price of $17.5 million. It includes a main house, 2-story guest house, garage for up to 20 cars, workshop, pool house, gatehouse, horse barn with grazing pasture, indoor and outdoor pools, 2-story boat house, go-cart track, bowling alley and jogging trail pictured on Wednesday, Feb. 19, 2020 in Thonotosassa.
  11. Karen Hamilton (center) is pictured going over information with her students (L-R) Madison Bowers, 17, Ashley Boarders, 18, and Bobby Campamor, 15 after competition. Hamilton runs the 4H program at Riverview High School and for 18 years has run the Sassy Cows for Savvy Kids program, a program to help developmentally disabled students compete at the state fair.
  12. A fire engulfed a Tampa home at 1011 E 23rd Ave. on Wednesday, according to Tampa Fire Rescue.