Maine Must Return $$$$
Several weeks ago, Maine Governor Paul LePage (R) stirred things up by ordering the removal of a mural in the Maine Labor Department depicting a few scenes from the labor history in the state. Scenes from Rosie the Riveter tat Bath Ironworks to the a shipyard strike. According to Huffington Post:
The governor has said that he wants the mural out of the Department of Labor because it doesn’t fairly depict the perspective of employers: “Were the bosses in the mural? Were the employers in the mural? History is about two sides … I think it’s inappropriate for [the mural] to be in the Department of Labor when everyone comes in, employers and employees, and they’re confronted by one side of the question.”
The mural was erected in 2008, after the Maine Arts Commission chose Taylor’s piece through a jury selection.
There was a hue and cry over the quiet removal of the mural and now the empire strikes back. The U.S. Labor Department has told Maine to put the mural back or pay the price, in today’s Huffpost:
The federal government is stepping into the labor mural controversy in Maine, demanding that the state either put the artwork back up at the Department of Labor or repay the cost of the mural.
In a letter first obtained by the Associated Press, Gay Gilbert, a senior U.S. Labor Department official, writes that the federal government appropriated the funds to Maine for the mural.
“We understand, however, that the mural is no longer on display in your headquarters,” writes Gilbert. “Thus, it is no longer being used for an administrative purpose permitted by the Reed Act. Accordingly [...] the state must [...] return to its UTF [Unemployment Trust Fund] account the amount of the Reed Act funds represented by the mural.”
An alternative, Gilbert adds, would be to simply put the mural back up at the Department of Labor or another state employment security building.
It seems that the good governor is a bully. Why would he arbitrarily decide to remove artwork? Was it up to him?
Over 300 protesters were outside the Maine Department of Labor and were chanting: Put is Back and Recall Paul.