Department of Labor To Maine Governor: Put Back The Mural Or Pay Us!

The federal government has over the years taken a vested interest in promoting the arts, seeding various projects and grants throughout the country.  Some of the displays are a tribute to the history of the country, such as a mural that was until a month ago prominently on display in the Maine Department of Labor’s state headquarters. 

That was before Governor Paul LaPage demanded the mural be removed.

LaPage’s order, which was made at the height of the labor protests in Wisconsin over collective bargaining rights, embodied the GOP’s feelings about unions — break them primarily by breaking their spirits, and damn the long-term ramifications.  The mural in question, which depicted moments in labor ranging from union strikes to Rosie the Riveter, was deemed too biased towards workers according to the Governor, who ordered it be taken off display.  Now, the federal department responsible for providing funding for the work is asking for their money back.

Via Politico:

The [Labor Department] grant funded a public project, but “we understand, however, that the mural is no longer on display in your headquarters,” said Gay Gilbert, administrator of the U.S. Office of Unemployment Insurance, in a Monday letter to Maine’s acting labor commissioner. “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.”

In all, that might end up amounting to far more than $60,000. The state would have to repay the 63.8 percent contribution that came from the federal government — $38,280 — as well as 63.8 percent of the fair-market value of the mural.

The only other option, Gilbert said, would be that the state department “could again display the mural in its headquarters or in another state employment security building.”

In some ways, it’s the perfect symbol of the struggle between the labor movement and the Tea Party leaders — governors are so interested in scoring points trying to crush labor that they don’t even consider the long term financial ramification of their actions.


Photo By Jason Savage (The Paul LePage for Governor campaign) [CC-BY-3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons


Deborah L.
Deborah L6 years ago

And when the announcement for the fines for taking this artwork down, where was this coward / bully? Why off on his well earned and deserves vacation in Jamaica.

Perhaps he is going to update the picture of what he and the GOP / Repukes / T.P.ers, have planned for all of the 98% of us, that of the role of slave, where they will work us for no wages and a starvation diet so they can still take all the profits from our labors and keep their wars expanding all over the world so they can make their one world order we have heard about. And if we die while being worked to death for the oligarchy there are plenty more to take our pace, that is another reason they want to deny women the right to control their our reproduction.

Robert B.
Robert B6 years ago

This is what arrogant Tin Horn dictators do, they rewrite history by removing the artifacts. Just like the Taliban did to the ancient statues and temples in Afghanistan. LaPage is no better, he is a cheap crass politician who is just out to get votes with a total disregard for history, art or other people not like him. His kind are a disgrace to this country and it's democracy.

Vaughn A.
Vaughn Anderson6 years ago

LaPage removed the murals now it's time to remove LaPage!

Elizabeth Conant
Elizabeth Conant6 years ago

He is an embarrassment to 61% of Mainers who did NOT vote for him!

Laura E.
Laura E6 years ago

Charlene R: As a Mainer, I just want to make the record clear: the majority of Mainers did NOT vote for this thug! He won with just a little over 30% of the vote, since we had many candidates running who were representing at least 4 different parties. It was very close between him and the Independant candidate, and the Independant would have won easily if not for the vote being split so much between the Independant, Green and Democrat parties. If Maine had run-off elections, this ignorant buffoon would not be in office (the real question is why did Maine's Republicans vote for this guy?? Couldn't they come up with anyone better?). There is now a federal lawsuit being brought against him due to the removal of the mural, and there is also a growing movement in Maine to institute recalls (which Maine does not presently have) due to LePage's actions, which also include eliminating most of Maine's environmental regulations, most of which have been in effect for 50 years. Hopefully, he will be impeached before he does any more damage!

Lynn C.
Lynn C6 years ago

Well that's one way to get his attention.

Charlene Rush
Charlene Rush6 years ago

What arrogance, this nincompoop has.
To blantantly flaunt his disregard for the working class, is a genuine insult.

Without meaning to ridicule, what type of person would vote for this BUFFOON?
I, honestly, thought the majority of people from Maine, were more intelligent than that.

Thank god, he is required to either pay the $38,000 , or have the mural put on another appropriate wall. If he refuses to have it painted on another wall, and has to make payment to the Labor Dept., YOU taxpapers are the ones, actually paying, for sure.
Now, aren't you glad you voted for him?

This clearly is a perfect example of,
Does anyone, in their right mind, think that this action would be taken, with the Bush Administration in charge?

Sonia R.
Sonia R6 years ago

This is Gov. LePage's karma! Perhaps this may serve to help him gain a true sense of the concept of "servant leadership". One can hope... .

Mark M.
Mark M6 years ago

And this is the same governor -- then a candidate for it -- who got in the face of a journalist (or his beefy security dudes did) when the questions (perhaps about his wife?) were less than genteel? He tried to intimidate or boot a member of the press who wasn't kissing is ass. So what, exactly, did Mainers expect his default setting to be? Republican'ts, by their nature or conditioning, appear to be a condescending, arrogant, disdainful bunch. I think it's in their playbook, or they catch it by osmosis, or the party only takes into its fold those who have that trait to begin with or are willing to demonstrate same. WalkerBachmannKasichPence et al, and BushCheneyRumsfeld before them, don't seem to possess any humility gene. Any self-effacement or any shred of doubt seems to have been bleached out of them. Intellectually tepid and banal, they have all the answers to questions it is so often clear that they haven't examined or just don't understand. I don't know what's worse as I contemplate how close they are to power: their nearly complete lack of intellectual honesty, their ideologic-could-be-fascist policies, their robotic response to the demands of whomever (the Koch suckers, for instance) controls their message and those policies...or the millions who would overlook the first three "qualities" and vote for them!

Mick R.
Mick R6 years ago

Charles Temm JR - I'd rather the government was involved in the arts than in corporate welfare. Obviously you have no respect for the history of the working men and women of middle-class America. Maybe history or school for that matter, was not your 'thing'.