Sexually suggestive hot dogs causing controversy

City Councilor Jennifer Chateauneuf says blogger should be removed from city boards

HOLYOKE, Mass. (WWLP) – Sexually explicit photos of hot dogs were posted over the past several months on the Facebook page of Nick’s Nest, a local hot dog restaurant in Holyoke, the business’ owners say.

Holyoke City Councilor Jennifer Chateauneuf runs Nick’s Nest with her husband Jeff, and says it started from her role in politics, “His posts went from absurd to what I believe is sexually explicit photos and posts on our business page.”

Holyoke City Council debated a proposed ordinance for panhandling in September, where Chantaneauf said she was misquoted and taken out of context. There was backlash, and resident James Bickford started posting the hot dogs.

Nick’s Nest started selling hot dogs in 1921 and the Chateauneufs bought it in 2005. They say the most recent controversy with the postings on their Facebook page hasn’t caused a loss of business that they have seen yet, but it has caused emotional distress. Chanteauneuf recently asked Mayor Alex Morse to remove Bickford from any city boards he is on.

Chanteauneuf family Attorney Steve Buoniconti said, “Exposing families, exposing children to those posts speaks of a person’s character, and that character isn’t someone who should be representing the city.”

Mayor Alex Morse released a statement saying Bickford was no longer on any municipal boards. The statement reads:

Dear Councilor Chateauneuf,

This letter is a response to your February 1 letter demanding the removal of James Bickford from governmental positions. James Bickford does not serve on any municipal boards, nor on any position over which I have appointing authority. I look forward to working with you on issues important to the people of Holyoke.

Jennifer Chanteauneuf’s husband Jeff said, “He’s claiming it’s his First Amendment right, what rights does my wife have? What rights do we have of privacy? What rights do we have of someone continuously harassing you? When does that harassment end, when does it stop?”

Bickford’s Attorney, Peter Vickery said the court found no probable cause to issue a criminal complaint. “The idea that someone should be criminally prosecuted for posting- amusing by some standards- coarse and crude by other standards- images on Facebook accompanied by captions about hot dogs and their phallic appearance. The idea that somebody should be criminally prosecuted for making those postings online, criticizing a politicians political stance is ludicrous.”

Bickford said that he has not done anything wrong, and the Chateauneufs are now trying to make him look bad.

Click here to find Bickford’s statement posted on his blog.

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