Friday, May 20, 2011


Sunday, May 15, 2011

Maine Sunday Telegram: Kany review visits Judy Taylor's show at Thomas Moser

Daniel Kany's review of Judy Taylor's show at Thomas Moser in Freeport that includes the studies for the History of Maine Labor mural and the group show at Frost Gully Gallery down the street which is owned by Tom Crotty - Taylor's most outspoken critic as well as the Chair of the Freeport Republican Town Council.

MURAL activist Robert Shetterly awarded honorary Doctorate

'A Doctor of Humane Letters honorary degree was also awarded to Robert Shetterly, who was recognized by Provost Allen Berger for his “remarkable accomplishments as a painter, as an educator, and as an unfailing and articulate voice for social justice in America.”'

Wednesday, May 11, 2011


Check out 'Hard Work to Make Ends Meet, Sunday, May 15, 7 - 8 p.m. in Augusta!

Notice of event: “Hard Work to Make Ends Meet,” Sunday, May 15, 2011, 7 – 8 p.m., at the Unitarian Universalist Community Church, 69 Winthrop St., Augusta. This readers theater performance of the words of late nineteenth century Maine working women is drawn from an 1888 report of the Maine Bureau of Industrial and Labor Statistics and based on a survey done by the bureau. Poetry and songs are incorporated. Open to all. Donations graciously accepted.

Friday, May 6, 2011

The Madness of Art - Director's Cut (Maine Version) Make sure to watch it all the way to the end...

LePage links in the news

The headlines of this collection of articles are a reminder of the troubles LePage has and is inflicting on the people of Maine. Of course, the mural is a big part of that since Americans don't like having their First Amendment rights ground into the dirt.

Robert Shetterly's op-ed published in this week's Ellsworth American

The Court, the Mural, the Governor, the Law

In court today, April 22, 2011, Judge John Woodcock defended the right of an ideologically mean spirited man, Maine’s governor, to suppress the truth of Maine’s labor history depicted in Judy Taylor’s mural, ruling against the plaintiffs who sought a Temporary Restraining Order to have the mural re-hung in the Department of Labor. Often a strange relationship exists between rights and justice. They can be terribly out of sync. Frequently, in the courts, rights trump justice. The governor can now exult in his right to replace truth with propaganda. What good can come of this? How is democracy served by this outcome? What does it say of a nation of laws? And how can it be remedied?

The kind of right that protected the governor’s action is not included in any idea of unalienable rights. Unalienable rights flow from a philosophical notion about the dignity of all human beings and their equal claim for decent lives. That’s what the labor movement was all about. The governor’s right flows from a political system making laws to protect the right of people in power to insist on formulations of history and policy that are convenient to them regardless of the truth. This right has the same relationship to justice as a law that allows a multi-billion dollar US corporation to register in the Cayman Islands and pay no US taxes. Or, a law that allows a coal company to blow up the Appalachian Mountains. How do laws like these serve the people and serve justice.

They don’t.

I think any fair minded person would view Judge Woodcock’s decision as a triumph of rights and a travesty of justice. Are we a better, a more honest, a more free society now? Hardly. It’s a curious thing to be in a courtroom and listen to a smart judge sift through precedents that bear on his case. One would hope that the previous cases accumulate over time in a process of adding wisdom and justice to complicated situations. Instead, we often find layers of loopholes, exceptions and Orwellian logic meant to obfuscate justice and bewilder wisdom. Such is the law that protects “government speech.” Just to say those words makes one cringe with cynicism.

When a simple, accurate portrayal of history is determined to be partisan speech and is removed, we are in dangerous territory. When a court bolsters this prejudice with its legal prestige, we are in worse trouble. The remedy for us as citizens of Maine is not in the courts. Rarely, in situations like this, has the law been helpful. The people must insist on what is right because of its relation to justice, not its convenience for power. Sadly, the court has spoken. It’s time for the people to speak --- powerfully. That’s the only speech that would serve democracy. I urge you all to not let this issue disappear. It’s not just another embarrassing insult from our loose cannon of a governor. His action was another crucial step in the ideological process of making democracy into plutocracy.

Robert Shetterly

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

PRESS RELEASE FROM M.U.R.A.L. Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Press Release from M.U.R.A.L. Wednesday, May 4, 2011
For Immediate Press Release--

Contact: M.U.R.A.L. (Mainers United for the Rights of Arts & Labor)
Julieanne Reed, (207)239-7292

Judge Woodcock schedules the next step in the ongoing legal battle over the Maine Labor
History mural

(May 4, 2011, Bangor, Maine) Federal Judge Woodcock convened a conference call with both
parties in the continuing legal case regarding the disposition of History of Maine Labor mural
case yesterday.

Judge Woodcock allowed the plaintiffs until May 24 to submit a proposed stipulation (a list of
facts and statements for the record). The State will have until June 2 to respond and then the
plaintiff’s lawyers will have another week to reply. The State must then file an answer by mid-

Plaintiff attorney Jeff Young noted, "The case is ongoing - not lost. To date, all Judge Woodcock
did was deny our injunction seeking a Temporary Restraining Order. The TRO could have put a
quick end to this case but it requires a very high level of certainty that Plaintiffs will prevail. We
remain confident that we ultimately will prevail. Of course, the matter could be resolved quickly
if the Governor simply restored the mural to the Department of Labor."

Julieanne Reed of Mainers United for the Rights of Arts and Labor (MURAL) questioned the
governor’s priorities: “Governor LePage has chosen to put Attorney General Schneider and
Assistant Attorney General Stern on this case. Obviously, we don’t agree defending censorship
should be the State’s priority, but apparently this is a very important goal for Governor LePage
at this point in his term.”

MURAL’s Robert Shetterly summed up the situation: “We’re in court to defend democratic public
process and free speech from censorship. We’ll defend the First Amendment for as long as it
takes even if our Governor has forsaken it. Justice doesn’t take early vacations in Jamaica.”

Also currently at issue is the disposition of the mural (the distinction between where it is and
where it should be). According to the Administrator of the federal Office of Unemployment
Insurance Gay Gilbert in an April 4 letter to Laura Boyett, then the acting Commissioner of the
Maine Department of Labor, because 63.39% of the mural’s funding came from Reed Act
funds: “Federal UC laws govern the disposition of this property.” The letter states that Maine
must either return the mural to the Depart of Labor or repay to the Unemployment Trust Fund
63.39% of the current fair market value of the mural “as a condition of continued participation in
the Federal-State UC program.” According to documents acquired under the Freedom of
Access Act by MURAL from the Maine Department of Labor, as of April 25th the LePage
administration had not responded and so is potentially putting Maine’s federal unemployment
compensation funding in jeopardy.

MURAL’s Lee Sharkey comments that “It’s particularly disturbing to me in light of our FOAA
correspondence with the Maine Department of Labor that Governor LePage is misrepresenting
the funding of the mural. Various federal government agencies were the source of 81.5% of the
total, and none of the remaining 18.5% appears to have come from state Unemployment Compensation funds. The Governor is currying political favor with untruths when he says the
money came from employers’ contributions to Unemployment Compensation funds that would
otherwise go to Mainers. In fact, the Governor’s actions are putting our federal Unemployment
Compensation funds at risk.”

Press Release from Lawyers Jeff Young and Jonathan Beal regarding next steps in Mural Lawsuit...

For Immediate Release
Attorney Jeff Young, McTeague Higbee
207-725-5581 office
207-841-1881 cell

Attorney Jonathan Beal 207-879-1556

Gillian Britt, gBritt PR
207-450-9060 cell

Next Steps in Mural Lawsuit Determined

BANGOR, Maine (May 4, 2011) –Attorneys for the plaintiffs and the State held a status
conference yesterday with U.S. District Judge Woodcock to determine the next steps in the
lawsuit filed on April 1 to compel Governor LePage to return the labor history mural to the
walls of the Maine Department of Labor. Contrary to remarks by the Governor, the State has
not “won” the dispute and the case is far from over.

At the conference, the plaintiffs agreed that they will provide a proposed stipulation of facts
by May 24. The stipulation of facts will be a statement of undisputed facts in the case, such as
that Governor LePage had the mural removed from the Department of Labor walls on March
26. Once the plaintiffs provide these facts, the State must respond by June 2 and propose any
additional facts. Plaintiffs will then have until June 9 to respond to the proposed additional facts.
The State will then file an answer to the Complaint on June 13 and file a motion for summary
judgment seeking to dismiss the case by June 17.

“If the governor continues to refuse to listen to the will of the people and does not put the mural
back in its place, this case will most likely continue until at least August,” notes the plaintiff’s
counsel, Jeffrey Neil Young of the law firm McTeague Higbee. “The fact is, this fight over the
mural is over more than a work of art - it’s a fight to retain the history of Maine workers and it’s
a fight to demand respect for our workers from our government.” Young further stated that if the
summary judgment motion is denied, a trial in the case could take place later this year.

The plaintiffs filed the lawsuit against the state on April 1 and filed a temporary restraining order
(TRO) on April 8 to compel Governor LePage to return the mural, to order Governor LePage to
reveal the location of the mural, and ensure it is in good condition and protected.

The U.S. District Court denied the TRO on April 22 reasoning that the removal of the mural
constituted “government speech” and thus did not violate the Free Speech Clause of the First

The Plaintiffs are Don Berry of Sumner; John Newton, an industrial hygienist of Portland; and
three Maine artists: Robert Shetterly of Brooksville, Natasha Mayers of Whitefield, and Joan
Braun of Weld. The sixth original plaintiff , Jonathan Beal of Portland, who requested a public
hearing prior to removal of the mural, has withdrawn as a plaintiff so that he can continue to

serve as co-counsel in the case.

About McTeague Higbee:|
McTeague Higbee, founded in 1976, is a plaintiffs-only firm dedicated to giving voice to
people who often don’t have one. With experience in both state and federal courts including
national litigation, McTeague Higbee has particular prominence in asbestos litigation, workplace
discrimination, workers’ compensation, construction accidents, and personal injury. McTeague
Higbee and Jeffrey Neil Young, the lead counsel in this case, have brought a number of
successful class, collective, and mass actions on behalf of workers for violation of the ADEA,
the WARN Act, ERISA, and wage and hour laws, as well as individual civil rights actions. For
more information about McTeague Higbee, visit

About Jonathan Beal:
Jon Beal is an attorney practicing in Portland, Maine and focusing on representing Maine
workers and their unions, as well as disabled workers. Jon is licensed to practice in both Maine
and New Hampshire, and has extensive experience in litigating before the National Labor
Relations Board and other state and federal agencies, as well as in arbitrating on behalf of
Unions in both states.


The whereabouts and condition of the mural remain a secret - undaunted, We're still here! - - - - FREE OUR MURAL!!!

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Letter in Kennebec Journal: LePage hasn't won battle over mural yet

From the May 3rd edition of the Kennebec Journal:

Judge John Woodcock's decision to deny a temporary restraining order in the mural case came as no surprise, noting during oral arguments that federal courts are reluctant to interfere in state affairs and inclined "to allow the status quo to exist while a more ordered and thorough process is completed."

Though Gov. Paul LePage said, "We won," his claim of victory is as premature as President Bush's "Mission Accomplished" speech in 2003.

Mural supporter Edgar Beem said, "We won the moment the U.S. Department of Labor wrote that LePage was out of order with the terms of the federal funding when he seized the mural. We won when (artist Judy) Taylor said LePage had not consulted her -- as required by her business contract -- when he seized the mural. The injunctions are simply about the disposition of the mural and what happens next."

Woodcock did not dismiss the case. He predictably denied a temporary restraining order seeking to restore the mural. The legal and moral fight for justice in the mural case will continue.

Still to be answered are the Labor Department's demand for the mural to be re-hung (or funds returned), the issue of LePage's breaching the artist contract and whether the administration violated the Visual Artists Rights Act of 1990.

There will be serious consequences if Woodcock orders LePage to allow members of the public to check on the mural and either LePage refuses or the mural is damaged.

As Woodcock noted, "Maine's political leaders are ultimately responsible to the electorate."

Who ultimately wins the mural battle may not be decided until the next gubernatorial election. Mural supporter Joan Braun said, "We have already been proven right in the court of public opinion, but we do not intend to wait four years for justice."

MURAL (Mainers United for the Rights of Art & Labor):

Natasha Mayers, Lee Sharkey

Joan Braun, Julieanne Reed,

Edgar Beem, Dan Kany

Robert Shetterly