A week or two back I wrote here about the mural depicting the history of labor in the state Of Maine that hung in the Department of Labor building of that state. At that point, Gov. Paul LePage (R) was threatening to remove the mural on the grounds that some anonymous business people had complained that it was too pro-labor and too anti-business, despite the fact that it hung in the Labor Department. Since that time, Gov. LePage kept his word and had the mural removed over the following weekend.
The story does not end there.
Since that time, the fury over this act has really snowballed. It has sparked protests in Maine where there were 350 protesters, many calling for LePage’s recall, at the state capital yesterday ( compare this to a Tea Party protest on the National Mall that drew about 100 protesters) .
LePage has drawn the ire of a wide swath of people including fellow GOPs in Maine and elsewhere. And to top it off, the Federal government is demanding that LePage either reinstall it or pay back the cost of the mural to the federal fund that paid for the mural when it was originally installed. You see, the mural was installed from funds from the Department of Labor, paid into the state’s unemployment fund for this express purpose. Since LePage removed it, the mural is no longer serving its intended purpose and the cost ( about 63% of its fair market value of $60,000 at the time of installation) must be repaid to the state’s unemployment fund.
I am heartened that the people of Maine took this act of political bullying and censorship seriously and that it has drawn national attention. It’s a classic example of the hubris being displayed around this country by political leaders who mistakenly interpreted the results of recent elections as some sort of vindication for their personal agendas. I think they may have thought that general public was asleep or just didn’t care enough to respond. Glad to see we’re waking up a bit.