Maine murals caught in political tug-of-war

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Battles between organized labor and Republicans are not unexpected these days but last week in Augusta, Maine, the disputes took an unusual turn. Maine’s (Republican) governor Paul LePage has ordered the removal of a three-year-old mural in the Department of Labor building, arguing that the murals, which depict Maine workers in various eras and professions, are not neutral but are in fact pro-union. In a fax to LePage, one anonymous individual argued that the murals were akin to “communist North Korea where they use these murals to brainwash the masses.” Judy Taylor, the painter awarded the contract by the Maine Art Commission, maintains that the murals are “based on historical fact. I’m not sure how you can say history is one-sided.” [New York Times, 3/23/11] One day ago, the U. S. Department of Labor got involved when the department sent a request for reimbursement to LePage. They argued that LePage violated the terms of a federal grant that paid for the bulk of the mural’s contract and that the federal government should be refunded. The murals are currently in storage until a new home can be found. You can read Judy Taylor’s statement here and more on the the mural controversy:
New York Times, March 23, 2011, Portland Press Herald, April 5, 2011, and AP News, April 4, 2011.

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