A former St. Croix EMS director suing the city of Hudson alleges the city didn’t follow proper procedure or due process when it fired him in 2018.
Joe Elkin, who briefly served as interim director of the EMS service until revelations of offensive tweets emerged in August 2018, is suing the city in St. Croix County Circuit Court for violation of due process. A separate lawsuit against Hudson’s mayor and Common Council members alleges they knowingly attended a meeting that violated the state’s open meetings law. The second suit also seeks to rescind Elkin’s termination, which was decided after a closed-session council meeting.
Elkin, who now lists an Amery residence, was fired Sept. 17, 2018, from St. Croix EMS. Council members reached the decision after the Hudson Star-Observer published a story after receiving an anonymous email outlining the tweets. The tweets, posted under the Twitter profile “The Real Joe Elkin,” made inflammatory reference to issues including racial stereotypes, drugs, sex acts and the Holocaust.
“The council found that your conduct with respect to the tweets violated the standard of conduct established for city officers and employees” in city code, according to a letter from former City Administrator Devin Willi.
Elkin’s suit alleges the Common Council held two closed meetings in August and September 2018 that discussed his discipline without Elkin receiving notice. A civil complaint contends any meeting involving employee discipline is required under Wisconsin statute to notify the employee in question.
“The City Council and mayor provided no such notice to Joe Elkin,” the complaint states, alleging the notification issue constitutes an open meeting violation.
The lawsuit, filed Nov. 20, seeks a monetary penalty against Mayor Rich O’Connor and Council members Randy Morrissette II, Bill Alms, Paul Deziel, Jim Webber, Sarah Hoggatt and Joyce Hall. The penalties can involve a fine between $25-$300 per violation, according to the suit.
The complaint adds that had he been given proper notice, Elkin would have been entitled to request the hearing be held in open session.
The alleged open-meeting violation voids the council’s ensuing termination action at the meeting, according to the complaint.
The suit also takes aim at St. Croix County District Attorney Michael Nieskes, noting Elkin filed a complaint with his office about the alleged open-meeting violation.
“Nieskes failed to take action on the verified complaint within 20 days and this matter is therefore ripe for individual prosecution” through the state, the lawsuit states.
Neither Nieskes nor the DA’s office is named in the suit.
The second suit, naming the city of Hudson as the defendant, alleges it violated due process by not following its own ordinance in the termination process. That suit, which seeks more than $200,000 in wages and damages, states Elkin hasn’t been able to get another job in the field since his termination. It goes on to note he lost his job as a teacher at Chippewa Valley Technical College in the wake of the Hudson firing.
The city had not yet filed a response in court to the allegations as of Thursday, Dec. 19.