UPDATE: Interim EMS Chief on leave pending outside investigation of tweets
Recently appointed interim St. Croix EMS Chief Joe Elkin is on paid administrative leave pending an independent investigation of past posts from a Twitter account associated with him.
The council approved the outside investigation in a special meeting Monday night after several tweets from account The Real Joe Elkin, handle @joekuhlshow, were shared with the city and the Star-Observer last week in an email signed "Concerned Citizens" from firstname.lastname@example.org.
The 15 tweets shared make reference to drugs, sexual acts, the Holocaust, JonBenet Ramsey and racial stereotypes. The dates of the tweets range from Nov. 18, 2017, back to July 28, 2014.
Elkin stated in a press release that these tweets did not come from a personal Twitter account, but from an account linked with a podcast he engaged in with friends.
"We were crude and inappropriate ... with each other, which clearly spilled over into social media," Elkin said in the statement.
He issued the statement in response to an earlier version of this story posted at 12:45 p.m. Friday, Aug. 24.
Elkin said he did not know who posted what content to the account.
"I do not believe I personally posted any of the tweets referenced in the HSO story," Elkin said.
Some of the 15 tweets sent to the Star-Observer include:
"She's just playing 'hard to get' Apparently that requires a lot of Duct Tape."
"I like my women like I like my blood alcohol content - under a 20. Also full of bourbon."
"'Hey there famous football player! Oh you're not? Sorry, you're a black guy in Wisconsin. I just assumed.'"
Though the account has since been deleted, tweets by other accounts that use the @joekuhlshow handle can still be viewed. One tweet tagged with the handle has a photo of Elkin attached.
Elkin said he had to contact a third party to get access to the account and disable it.
He said it was his responsibility to be careful with the content placed on an account associated with him, and apologized to anyone offended by the content.
"It was my name on the feed, I was at one time associated with the Joe Kuhl Show and I understand how poorly this may reflect on the City of Hudson and those that may take offense to the comments made on this account," Elkin said.
Mayor Rich O'Connor said the city is taking the matter seriously.
"All I can say is they're abhorrent," O'Connor said about the tweets. "And we're investigating."
The email of the tweets calls for the removal of Elkin.
Elkin said he was honored with his selection as interim chief, and feels he has made strides in just a few short weeks. He said his mission is to provide a "commitment to excellence in service, sustainability and response times to those in need."
"I look forward to continuing this mission and refuse to be sidetracked from it," Elkin said. "As such, there will be no further comment from me about this matter moving forward."
The email containing the tweets also said the mayor, council members and EMS commission members have been emailed the tweets in the past.
O'Connor and all of the council members said they had not previously seen anything regarding the tweets. Working with city Technology Director Bryan Watson, Council Member Bill Alms said he discovered an email regarding the tweets was sent to the council and mayor on Dec.15, but went into the recipients' spam folders. Alms said he was able to confirm that the emails remained unopened, and then were later deleted automatically by spam settings.
Alms said the incident does bring into question how the city's system allocates emails as spam, and that it is something to look into.