Mayor, Council discuss Twitter controversy

By Audrey Wise

Mayor, Council discuss Twitter controversy

April 23, 2014 Updated Apr 23, 2014 at 8:46 AM CDT

PEORIA, Ill. -- Tensions remain high as Peoria City Council members try to get the bottom of fake Twitter account controversy. Councilman Chuck Weaver calls it an embarrassment to the city.

According to Weaver the Twitter account claiming to be the Peoria Mayor started around March 1. About 10 days later is was listed as a parody.

On March 20, city staff asked Twitter to take down the account and that was done soon after the request.

On April 15, a search warrant was executed at the home of the person who officials believe ran the account. During the search, electronics were confiscated and one person was charged with marijuana possession.

During Tuesday night's council meeting, several council members raised concerns about why there was a search warrant and why it included a search for drugs.

"My concerns are it was too much power or force used on these pranksters and that's really all it was. It makes it look like the mayor got preferential treatment," said 4th District Councilman Jim Montelongo.

"Why did we need to know who it was? Why did we need to know what the address was? And furthermore, why did we need to subject these kids to this kind of ransacking?," said At-Large Councilwoman Beth Akeson.

Peoria Mayor Jim Ardis broke his silence on the issue, saying the things that were 'tweeted' went over the line.

"Perhaps I'm guilty of reacting as a man, and a father, and as a husband, rather than as a government official with whom constituents might disagree, but what's done is done," he said.

A state statute indicates it is illegal to impersonate public officials on social media.

City staff have directed questions from council members on the account's legality to the Peoria County State's Attorney.

The investigation is ongoing.

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