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.”

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