Skip to comments.UPDATE: Lawsuit Filed Against LePage Over Mural ["Just like Christie, he makes them all pissy"]
Posted on 04/01/2011 9:07:54 PM PDT by fight_truth_decay
AUGUSTA, Maine -- Gov. Paul LePage is facing more opposition to the removal of murals from the Maine Department of Labor, this time in the form of a lawsuit.
It was filed late Friday afternoon. Attorney Jeff Young filing the lawsuit against LePage; Laura Boyette, acting commissioner, Maine Department of Labor and Joseph Phillips, director of the Maine State Museum.
The mural was removed from the Maine Department of Labor's Augusta office in late March. It is being stored in a building off Route 27 in Augusta that is being rented by the state. LePage had ordered the mural be removed, saying the mural was too one-sided and contrary to his administration's attempts to make the state more business friendly.
The 36-foot mural depicts several moments in Maine labor history, including a 1937 shoe mill strike in Auburn and Lewiston and "Rosie the Riveter."
The complaint in the lawsuit alleged state government officials acted in violation of the First and 14th Amendments.
"The removal of the mural is clearly in violation of the First Amendment, protecting Freedom of Speech; the Maine government removed the mural because it didn't agree with the message in the mural," Young said in a statement. "The mural portrays important moments in Maine's labor history, and Plaintiffs and the People of Maine are being denied the opportunity to learn about history due to the mural's removal from the lobby of the Maine Department of Labor."
Dan Demeritt, communications director for the governor's office, released a statement saying, "The Governors office cannot comment on the lawsuit because we have only seen the press release issued by a law firm that represents the AFL-CIO and employs the chairman of the Maine Democratic Party. The mural remains safe and secure, awaiting transfer to a suitable venue for public display.
(Excerpt) Read more at wmtw.com ...
A few complaints from business owners had come in over the murals which depicted unions -strikes, solidarity and not, they felt, welcoming to all business, unless union. LePage had a sign added to the Welcome to Maine sign in the southern part along Rt. 95 saying Maine is Open for Business.
LePage was treating his "new job as governor", he said, "as a business". LePage had been a successful general manager of the Mardens, growing a chain of profitable stores [jobs] in Maine over the years, as well as a popular mayor reducing taxes in the city of Waterville while placing an emphasis on the quality of education; prior to being elected governor. LePage had been abused, homeless and lived on the streets at age 11.
Before the mural controversy there was the poet laureate controversy. The newly elected Republican governor chose not to invite a poet laureate which had been included by past administrations to his inauguration ceremony.
There had been a week of reported "simmering controversy" over the selection of Belfasts next poet laureate. At a City Council meeting, one person accused a council member of going rogue over the matter and called for his censure [ "going rogue"  tag words so uncreative, so cliché']. Angered poets, artists and others then held a protest in Portland after a poet laureate was not invited to the shorter inaugural ceremony.
LePage had chosen not to include the traditional governor's ball with only a congratulatory party of supporters held after the swearing in. It would hold down costs, he said.
Then to much brouhaha, the Governor chose not to attend two Martin Luther King day lunches in Portland over another commitment-a State Trooper's funeral. He did attend a Martin Luther King Jr. breakfast in his mayoral city of Waterville. LePage was then called racist and another protest was held by multicultural/ multiethnic groups in Portland.
LePage responded in a recent interview by Boston's WRKO talk show host, Howie Carr, that his office had tried to set up meetings with the NAACP group many times, but it was never convenient for the group. LePage responded to reporters critical of his absence quote, "kiss his butt."
The unions and the Democrats are suing over the murals. A Democratic lawmaker is proposing a process be created for Maine citizens to recall the governor, legislators and constitutional officers. However, Democrats claim it has nothing to do with LePage. [...and I have a picturesque frog pond in Maine, I will sell you real cheap]
LePage's voice rings forth like a bell
Sending liberals hiding in shells
Just like Christie
He makes them all pissy
By telling them all "Go to Hell!"
Anything we can do to help? Any websites out there where we can show our support?
AsMaineGoes is a popular forum.
The Plaintiffs are Don Berry, head of the Joint Apprenticeship and Training Committee of International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, Local 567; John Newton, an industrial hygienist with the United States Department of Labor, Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), and three Maine artists: Robert Shetterly, Natasha Mayers, and Joan Braun. The sixth plaintiff is attorney Jonathan Beal, who requested a public hearing prior to the removal of the mural?
U Got It !!!!!!!! Boycott all business that Support LePage!!! Boycott!!!!!!!!!! & comments
Illuminate me. When a business thinks of coming to Maine, is it customary for it to visit the Department of Labor? That’s the only way they’d see the mural.
Obama hides depictions of Christianity every chance that’s not immediately under scrutiny of public view.
The Department of Labor is only the largest tenant in the 311,000-square-foot building. A small lobby held the gigantic murals is also a reception area. The Commerce Center is to right side of the building to the Department of Labor Entrance. One goes down the hall, past the Department of Labor reception area. The Frances Perkins Room is also on your right right after the Department of Labor. There are 7-8 conference rooms leading from that lobby which are named after pro-labor union icons like Cesar Chavez, so LePage is said to be considering renaming some of those as well by contest vote.
Labor does not just bear only the definition of labor as in unions, all hard work is considered labor aka union or non-union.
LePage said some business owners complained that the mural presented a one-sided view of labor history. This is nothing new in comment on the murals, many have remarked on them for some time..even to call them socialistic and Soviet Unionesque
Supposedly an 'anynomous' fax or letter was sent to the governor regarding the murals and the governor was spied meeting with Tea Party people--this inspired all this, if you are to believe some of the ongoing agitators anti-Lepage people. Another bigger protest is in the next few days.
Remember Maine has been run under the control of the Democrats,the legistature, for over 40 years. They were not going down without kicking and screaming!!
This 1st Amendment argument is ridiculously specious. Under that line of reasoning, the government couldn’t remove grafitti without violating the Constitution.
Thanks! I’ve been a member of AsMaineGoes for quite some time.
It looks like one of those old Soviet or Chinese labor murals.
Take the mural out of storage, soak it in kerosene, and burn it. No cameras. At night. “We don’t know or care what happened to it, apparently it was stolen by left-wingers or other anarchists.” Thanks fight_truth_decay.
On the other hand did the government only borrow, lease or license it from the artist? In that case the contract might have some requirements for how it is displayed. This should be handled by the courts as a breach of contract case, not a first amendment case.
A follow on, is there any law which limits the ability of the governor to determine the decoration of the department of labor building? Just as a law could be passed mandating that all department of labor offices be painted blue, so the governor couldn't decide that he likes green better and just ignore the law when he has the building painted, there might be a law mandating how art is handled.
It’s the usual baseless, hyper-hysterical overreaction of the leftists. It’s about time for them to be ignored for being repetitively one-note, yawnable, passé, and boring.
The moonbats are arguing that the "artwork" is owned by the Museum Commission.
According to the coalition's Jon Beal, a Portland lawyer, the governor doesn't have the authority to remove the mural without approval from the Museum Commission, the artwork's current owner
The moonbats appear to be wrong:
However, Museum Director Joseph R. Phillips said Maine State Museum law assigns museum responsibility for historical materials housed in state-owned buildings, not contemporary art.
"The Maine State Museum has never had responsibility for contemporary art in these buildings," Phillips said in a written statement. "The Maine State Museum does not collect contemporary art. There are excellent art museums in Maine that do this work."
LePage spokeswoman Adrienne Bennett said the $60,000 project was funded with $38,364 in federal Reed Act Funds and several smaller contributions from sources she listed as Rehabilitation Services, Labor Standards, Workforce Research and Information and Commissioner's Office."
While funds for the commission came from several state and federal sources, the contract for the commission was the same one used for projects paid for under Maine's Percent for Art law:
The contract describes the mural and states that it would consist of "10 panels depicting selected episodes in the history of Maine labor." The contract recognizes that "the shift in scale from model to full scale required artistic adjustments," and gave the artist the right to make minor aesthetic or structural changes.
In addition to stating the artist reserves all rights under federal copyright law, the contract says the following about altering or moving the mural:
"The contracting agency agrees that it will not intentionally destroy or alter the work in any way whatsoever without prior consultation with the [Maine Arts] Commission and the artist."....... "The work will be placed in the location for which it was selected. The contracting agency [The Department of Labor] agrees that the artist and the Commission will be notified if, for any reason, the work has to be removed or moved to a new location. The artist and the Commission have the right to advise or consult with the contracting agency or its designee regarding this treatment of the work."....... "All communications and notices required or permitted under this agreement shall be in writing and shall be deemed sufficiently served if hand delivered or sent by certified First Class Mail to the Commission".....
The agreement can only be modified if done so in writing and signed by all parties. The Mural[s] were thus put away for safe keeping until a new home was decided upon, for instance Portland City Hall, museums, etc.
Judy Taylor's [according to the Bangor Daily News] statement.
The Maine Arts Commission provides grant support for artists, school districts, community organizations and art institutions through a variety of specialized grant programs. The Maine Arts Commission draws on its state appropriation and federal funds through the National Endowment for the Arts [NEA], in addition to tapping into other public and private resources. The agency bows out of any opportunity that would compete with a constituent but rather leverages funds in order to work collaboratively with Maines cultural community. The NEA is a primary partner of the Maine Arts Commission. There are certain NEA funds that only State agencies can apply for and the Maine Arts Commission is Maine's conduit to that support.
There is great interest, on the part of many artists, in fostering community involvement and civic collaboration during the process of creating public art. Sometimes public art is installed permanently. More often than not, art created for public spaces is temporarily on view, much like it would be if it were on display in a museum or gallery. Frequently, the art itself is deliberately made to be ephemeral[therefore the many sections to the mural in question].-- Maine Arts Commission public Arts program
Private and public organizations (including the Portland, Maine City Council), and several colleges and universities, have offered to buy and/or exhibit the mural.
A similar controversy occurred over a mural by the great American painter (and former union organizer) Ralph Fasanella (1914-1997). Fasanella spent three years living in the Lawrence, Massachusetts YMCA, in order to paint scenes of New England mill towns, including his now-iconic 5-foot by 10-foot painting, "Lawrence 1912: The Great Strike" (also titled "Bread and Roses -- Lawrence, 1912"). The painting was purchased by donations from 15 unions and given to Congress, where it hung for years in the Rayburn Office Building hearing room of the House Subcommittee on Labor and Education.Following the 1994 elections, the new Republican majority in Congress eliminated "labor" from the committee's name and evicted Fasanella's painting from the committee's hearing room. It now hangs at the Lawrence Heritage State Park, not far from the Maine border.
The mural movement in this country was inspired in the 1930s by the great Mexican muralists Jose Clemente Orozco, David Alfaro Siqueiros, and Diego Rivera, who supported the Mexican revolution and leftist causes. In 1932, Siqueiros lived for seven months in Los Angeles, where he painted the incendiary mural "América Tropical," that was so controversial it was painted over soon after he finished it. Rivera's mural, "Man at the Crossroads," commissioned for Rockefeller Center in 1933, was destroyed in the middle of the night because of its depiction of revolutionary figures and events. Not surprisingly, right-wing broadcaster Beck has devoted several shows to attacking progressive murals on New York buildings, including Rivera's "Man at the Crossroads".
Origins of the WPA and Federal Art Project under Roosevelt:
December 1943, the government auctioned off thousands of WPA-funded New Deal Art During the Great Depression-paintings in a warehouse in Queens. Paintings weren't sold individually, but by the pound. Reportedly, a local plumber purchased a large number of paintings in bulk for the purposes of insulating pipes with used canvases, but he discovered that when the pipes got too hot, the melting paints produced an odd smell...200,000 artworks were created under the Federal Art Project, yet many of those works have since become lost or were destroyed after the WPA auctioned off thousands of paintings in 1943, when all federally-funded art programs were dissolved. [theartstory]
Privately held works of WPA art have come to the attention of the GSA [Government Services Administration]. Articles for Collectors They want the art back when possible, the agency has informed the owners that they are in possession of Government property and are politely asked to contact the GSA in order to resolve the issue. So far, they have been given the options of either returning their art to the Federal Government or donating it to public institutions. The GSA was informed that two WPA prints had been appraised on the PBS network's hit series Antiques Roadshow. They contacted the show, got the name of the appraiser, and informed him that those prints and all works of art with WPA identification stamps or tags are Government property. The owner of the prints was never located.
One owner was notified after the GSA found out that she had placed a piece of WPA art up for sale on the online auction eBay. She settled by donating it. Another owner who wishes not to be identified was also contacted after placing a piece up for sale on eBay. He says that not only did the GSA contact him, but they also notified all bidders that he did not have clear title to the art. The auction was stopped and the high bidder was informed that he could not buy the art.
Bulletin Public Works of Art Project: Legal Title to Works Produced under the Public Works of Art Project
"The fact sheet does not mince words about who owns the art-- the United States Government. Citing the Constitution as well as relevant court rulings, it reads:
"Federal property can only be disposed by an act of Congress, either by general or enabling legislation (such as GSA's authority under the Federal Property and Administrative Services Act of 1949) or by specific legislation." Furthermore, "the courts have held that the Federal Government cannot abandon property." Those still hazy on this point can read on to see that "It is well settled that title to property of the United States cannot be divested by negligence, delay, laches (whatever those are), mistake, or unauthorized actions by subordinate officials"...inactivity, neglect or unauthorized intentional conduct on the part of government officials will not divest the United States of ownership interest in property."
Again fell under the WPA artist work program which was ended by presidential proclamation in 1942. These are comments from the prominent Left -the NYTimes, Wonkette's Ken Layne, Former Labor Secretary Robert Re-ich writing in Salon.com:
Are we still in America".
"However, Museum Director Joseph R. Phillips said Maine State Museum law assigns museum responsibility for historical materials housed in state-owned buildings, not contemporary art..."The Maine State Museum has never had responsibility for contemporary art in these buildings," Phillips said in a written statement. "The Maine State Museum does not collect contemporary art. There are excellent art museums in Maine that do this work.":
Yes, in my lengthy research into WPA produced New Deal Art which falls under the historical criteria and could even be taken by the govt from a private owner to be "enjoyed" by all.
Off topic a little bit: I know you cannot bring up an "historical" cannon, for instance, from off our rock bound coast and keep it privately--has to go to the govt of Maine into their museum. Therefore, much will remain below the ocean surface of any size until they should change salvage laws. Maine Scallop divers have said they have seen relics.
Also wrote a "history book" in my researching below your post:
Put it in a barrel of urine and see if they complain.
I love the auctioning off by the pound of the crappy WPA art and the subsequent backpedaling by the government claiming that they still owned it after accepting payment for it. I'm sure their newfound touching attachment to the "art" had nothing to do with the sudden increase in value. It illustrates the worth of a contract with the government, which would pretty much amount to zero.
If it benefits the government, they'll tear the thing up, throw the pieces in your face and say, "What are you gonna do about it?"
The piece about the Bread and Roses painting struck a personal note for me.
My grandmother was working in one of the textile mills in Lawrence as a bobbin girl when the Bread and Roses strike occurred. She always spoke with disgust of the Commies who started it ("It was the Eye-Talians who did it" - LOL).
Boy, it's going to take a powerful amount of energy and resolve to undo the long-standing mess we've inherited in what remains of America.