Paul LePage, the recently elected Tea Party governor of Maine, decided a few weeks ago that a mural in the state’s Labor Department had to go. The mural’s large panels depict different aspects of Maine’s labor history and LePage determined that they lacked a pro-business counterbalance. Although he maintained that the business community had complained about Judy Taylor’s work, he was ultimately only able to produce one unsigned “Your Admirer” email to support his position. Over the course of one weekend, the panels were removed and stored off-site. In addition he directed that the conference rooms named after labor leaders be renamed after “mountains, counties or something.”
In the few months since his election, LePage has managed to step in big piles of stuff which he created in the first place. Back in January he rejected an invitation from the NAACP to attend a Martin Luther King Day event, and subsequently told the group to “kiss my butt.” And with that opening salvo to the good people of Maine he has gone on to support legislation to roll back child labor laws, tax breaks for the wealthy, and a greater tax burden for working people and poor. He is serving up the usual right wing agenda with a twist of weird- he dismissed the dangers of the chemical BPA in the environment with the comment “So the worst case is some women may have little beards.”
There has been considerable pushback from the citizens and he even garnered a public rebuke from eight of his own Republican cohorts who are tired of him “picking fights that are not worth picking.” I have to admit that I am relishing the fact that LePage has picked a fight that has now made that mural nationally known. There are some great youtube responses. This one is a biting modification that makes the mural more “business friendly.” This one is a wonderfully creative re-installation of the mural.
And no, that’s not the end of it. Federal funds were used to create the mural, and the Feds want that money back if it is no longer on display. LePage has stepped in it again. And this time he’s up against the wall.