By Carol McCracken (Post # 744)
A fully engaged crowd of about 400 people were stunned this afternoon when the rally emcee, artist Rob Shetterly, announced to the crowd: “The Labor Department said that if Maine doesn’t return the mural, the State will owe the federal government $60,000.” That’s the cost contracted to painter Judy Taylor for painting the 36 ft., 11 panel labor mural that has made national news across the country because Governor Paul LePage had it secretly removed from a reception area in the Department of Labor building two weekends ago. The issue has made national news – ad naseum.
Toward the end of the almost 3 hour rally in the Hall of Flags at the State House, Shetterly made the announcement which left many perplexed and wondering just what was the implication of this announcement. Attorney Jon Beal, said to mhn.com: “I’d like to see the statement first, but it sounds like a good development.” He and attorney Jeff Young filed a lawsuit in the U. S. District Court last Friday evening against LePage for removing the mural without the proper authority. Beal said: “We will be asking the court for a preliminary injunction next week – asking that the mural be restored to its rightful place – now – rather than having to wait for lengthy litigation.” Despite the announcement the request for an injunction will go forward, said Young following the rally.
Adam Fisher, spokesperson, Maine Department of Labor, Augusta, told MHN.com late this afternoon that he received the letter from the US Department of Labor shortly after the noon rally began. His boss decided to put it “right out there” because it would become public soon enough. Fisher said that an attorney in the AGs office will be reviewing the one page letter tomorrow when he’s back in the office.
Late this afternoon, Congrsswoman Chellie Pingree said in a press release: “The best solution at this point would be to put the mural back up so Maine taxpayers won’t have to cover the original grant. Public art belongs to all of us and I don’t think the governor should have acted so hastily in taking it down. It wasn’t a decision for one person to make.”
Please see Post # 741, dated 3/28 herein for more background information.