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Hidy stands by comments he made regarding statement from tattoo shop owner

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MASSENA - Mayor James F. Hidy is standing by comments he made alleging that prior to hosting a rally at her business, Morgan St. Louis, who owns Mojo Rising Tattoos, spoke to him about people on welfare getting tattoos at her shop.

“It was pleasing to me that Morgan came in prior to her gathering and outlined to me her displeasure of knowing certain individuals came to her for her services and her knowing that those services were being paid for on the backs of taxpayers like her and those who were present in her shop yesterday afternoon,” Mr. Hidy said earlier this week about a rally held at the tattoo shop across the street from the town hall. Organizers said the rally was staged in response to concerns raised by the the mayor linking pit bill owners with tattoos to welfare fraud offenders.

Ms. St. Louis and Gabriel “Gabe” Houle both submitted letters to the editor this week claiming that Ms. St. Louis had never made that statement. Mr. Houle was present with her during the meeting with the mayor Monday afternoon.

Ms. St. Louis and Mr. Houle say the purpose of that meeting was to invite the mayor to their event, which was held later that day.

“Gabriel Houle and myself went over Monday afternoon to formally invite the mayor to the meeting so he could address the people who had been offended,” Ms. St. Louis wrote.

He stated that I had gone over to his office to voice my “displeasure of knowing certain individuals came to her for her services and her knowing that those services were being paid for on the backs of taxpayers like her and those who were present in her shop yesterday afternoon. This quote is completely false.’

Ms. St. Louis added, “I went over to invite him to talk to the people he offended, which he did, and we appreciate him taking the time to do so. However, for him to quote me as saying such is a complete lie.”

Mr. Houle agreed.

“Mr. Hidy seems to not have a very good memory of the conversation that took place when myself and Morgan went over to explain our reasons behind why we were upset with his remarks and to invite him over to address us after his remarks about people sending letters to the editor behind false names,” he wrote. “Morgan did not express any displeasure with any of her clients paying for their artwork with benefits or any other manner of money.”

When made aware of the comments made by Mr. Houle and Ms. St. Louis, Mr. Hidy said he was standing by his original statement.

“She is sadly mistaken. That is exactly what she said, and I refuse to get in a character debate with these two individuals,” he said.

Mr. Hidy also said that he finds it unfortunate that Ms. St. Louis and Mr. Houle are continuing to press a matter that he now considers a dead issue.

“I think it is saddening to have these individuals perpetuate further their lumping of individuals with tattoos as a way of deflecting the target issue, which is welfare fraud,” he said.

Mr. Houle, on the other hand, is still seeking an apology.

“An apology for his stereotyping would still be nice to hear instead of, ‘I’m sorry you took it that way.’” he said. “If he wants to use his right to speak his mind, he should make sure it’s engaged in though before speaking.”

Ms. St. Louis said she did tell the mayor she was aware of welfare fraud in the community, but in no way did she connect it to her business.

“He asked me if I was a taxpayer in which I replied yes, and that I understood what he was saying, but was offended and wanted an apology for his stereotyping,” she wrote. “I said that I had seen people take advantage of the system, but the way he handled it and worded it was incorrect. For him to say that I had gone over there to complain about people paying for my services with taxpayer money is outrageous.”

She continued, “I’ve worked hard to build my business, and I stood up for the people who support me. I do thank the mayor for his time, but if he is not going to acknowledge the issue and lie about conversations that were had, than what was the point? This time the stereotype was welfare fraud by tattooed pit bull owners. What will it be next?”

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