UPDATE: POST NOW INCLUDES THE INCRIMINATING PHOTOS / VIDEOS BELOW MY RESPONSE
Sent to Mike Plaisance on 02/01/2016 in response to the story he was drafting which can now be found posted here.
This is all ridiculous, but I do want to thank Councilor Chateauneuf for creating such spectacularly absurd political theater here. Very well done; and I do hope that it may it come back to bite you next election cycle. This all reminds me of another councilor who- when upset with a PhotoShop I created portraying her as “The Joker”- (as you surely have seen many times over with elected officials at all levels) went on a public tirade and abused assets like email lists to smear me for poking fun at her. Well, that only ended up with an at-large councilor that normally won in the top five of eight seats falling off the map that next election. And this really is what this is all about here – not just Councilor Chateauneuf. I heard it once from Councilor Chateauneuf in the courtroom, and again in a conversation with Lt. James Albert, “you harass people” and “he has gone after several councilors”, etc. Yes, I lampoon, poke fun at and have exposed crimes and misdeeds of several local politicians – and this has contributed to at least three of them losing election. This was all via a long tradition of free and political speech in this country – making fun of politicians is as American as apple pie, racism and police brutality. And these pols all should have lost because they were clearly not suited for the post. Public criticism is a concern for people like Councilor Chateauneuf; and it is her lack of understanding of the Bill of Rights and civics that shall be her undoing.
Some may wonder why I went after Councilor Chateauneuf and Nick’s Nest. Well, there are several reasons. First, the long history of Holyoke electing unqualified political hacks that get elected on name recognition only or for their connection to certain cliques in the city. There are several on the City Council at this moment. I heard a number of people say that she won because she “saved Nick’s Nest”. No, she bought an established successful business and did not fundamentally change what was was already a formula that worked. This does not really take any sort of savvy, certainly does not amount to a “saving” and not qualification one for office. Second, she does nothing on council. Often when she does speak she frames it in her experience at Nick’s Nest as if that place is a barometer for all things Holyoke – it is not. In that, she opposed the meals tax – an order that I supported –and similar such revenue programs have been successfully implemented in neighboring cities and towns and will provide our city with much needed tax revenue. Third, she supported an anti-panhandling ordinance in Holyoke. This is another attempt of hers to quell free speech. Any lawmaker that is paying attention should know that anti-panhandling ordinances have been shut down in at least three other Massachusetts cities after costly ACLU lawsuits. Not only that, she suggested that if we could not create an ordinance that we should find a way to shame them. The council, which is mostly white, already does not represent the 48% Latino population – now here we have classist comments like hers while near one third of the population lives below the poverty line. This is not acceptable. Lastly, Nick’s Nest is gross and the describing a restaurant on the website and in commercials as “good for kids”, a restaurant that does not sell a single healthy item on its menu, is indeed false advertising.
As far as her claims of sexual harassment: Councilor Chateauneuf has brought me to court three times. Twice for show of cause hearings and once for a no-contact / no-harass order. She lost in all three. The Honorable Maureen Walsh said it best: “I can think of a lot of things that I could say to describe Mr. Bickford’s work here, but one of them is not harassment.” Not harassment and clearly not sexual harassment. In the show of cause hearings the magistrate compared my creating of memes to those that have flooded review websites like Yelp and Trip Advisor over the political positions made by private businesses. We have all seen this, a wedding cake baker refuses to service gay marriages or a business claims to not serve Muslims and they get thousands of negative reviews in response. Also, I am not alone in targeting Nick’s Nest: there were others that gave Nick’s Nest one star reviews due to her politics. In forums and on Twitter one Holyoke citizen stated that they were going to picket her restaurant (on public property, the sidewalk across the street) over her classist comments – and in Councilor Chateauneuf‘s scorn she sent him a preemptive no-trespass order. Also, Councilor Chateauneuf said it herself, “a hot dog that looked like a penis”. Yes, hot dogs are made with lips and buttholes, do indeed look phallic and jokes are often made about “wieners”. Pointing that out is not “sexual” unless the context is clearly a sex act or the person viewing the image has some sado-sexual fixation. If the fact that you sell hot dogs bothers you that much you are in the wrong business. If political commentary and lampooning related to your political post results in your seeking to suppress free speech then you are again in the wrong business.
As far as your request that I be removed from posts in the city; from unpaid, volunteer positions on understaffed committees where I can provide valuable work (Holyoke Local Cultural Council, Cable Advisory Board and Holyoke Creative Arts Center) – Well, this plays into another one of your political games. We all know you do not support our Mayor and you’d love to put him in a pickle like you are trying to here. The problem is that you are so out of touch. My service on the Holyoke Local Cultural Council ended and while I could have re-upped I decided not to as I am too busy with other projects. The Cable Advisory Board was created to negotiate the new contract with Comcast and technically dissolved after we did so two and a half years ago. The Holyoke Creative Arts Center is a non-profit in the city, is not a municipal entity and the Mayor does not make appointments.
I already have taken the first steps to suing HPD and the city over Councilor Chateauneuf‘s use of the police as an armed enforcement wing of her campaign. I will also be going to the State Ethics Committee with a similar complaint. Your press conference and call for my removal from posts only adds to my case. Thank you.
One thing that I left out, that was mentioned by her was the fact that I did send an email before this all escalated. It was a polite and reasonable email explaining my concerns about the panhandling ordinance and her sending the HPD to my home for what amounted to three images posted to FB, one attached to a negative review of Nick’s Nest. I am her constituent and she failed to respond – which should be her duty to do so. Had she responded this may not have escalated.
Councilor Chateauneuf claims these images / videos to be “sexual” in nature. Please review. In her letter to the Mayor she cites:
This is a video from a Filipino band called “Hot Dog”. That is a tongue coming out of the radio (not a jukebox) on the album cover. Councilor Chateauneuf is the one that sees something else. Yeah, it does kinda look like like a penis now that she mentions it, but it is also clearly not. Hot or not?
Additionally, Western Mass News felt the need to censor this image. Why? Is it indeed lewd or are they trying to make it appear that way for the folks that would only see the edited version? And why censor the text? So that people could not search for the original? It makes no sense, that is clearly an anthropomorphic radio sticking its tongue out.
These images and videos are clearly not sexual… unless, as I stated above, you have some sado-sexual fixation with tube meat. Her accusations are nothing but surreal and the fact that her attorney would come out and make statements like he did on television is absolutely bizarre. Also, Councilor Chateauneuf and her attorney make claims about children viewing such images on Facebook. Hello, forget the fact that these images are not “sexual” as you suggest, please remember that Facebook is 13+.
Lastly, the Mayor’s response to Councilor Chateauneuf’s requests is nothing short of an “FU”:
Important issues in Holyoke? How about protecting free speech Councilor Chateauneuf’? That’s such an important issue that it is #1 in the Bill of Rights. You do not send the police to people’s homes over silly posts on Facebook. Unless you want us to instead embrace fascism? Looking at the dialog in the national election I guess I should not be surprised here. .