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

1 comment:

Cheryl said...

Glad to hear your long term, organized, detailed strategy. Keep up the good work!