U.S. Labor Dept. to Maine Gov.: Put That Mural Back Up, Or You'll Have to Pay For It

The federal Department of Labor has a message for Maine Governor Paul LePage, who has become infamous in recent weeks for tearing down a pro-labor mural from the walls of the state's Labor Department building: "you break dismantle it, you buy it."

The Huffington Post has the story:

In a letter first obtained by the Associated Press, Gay Gilbert, a senior U.S. Labor Department official, writes that the federal government appropriated the funds to Maine for the mural.

"We understand, however, that the mural is no longer on display in your headquarters," writes Gilbert. "Thus, it is no longer being used for an administrative purpose permitted by the Reed Act. Accordingly [...] the state must [...] return to its UTF [Unemployment Trust Fund] account the amount of the Reed Act funds represented by the mural."

An alternative, Gilbert adds, would be to simply put the mural back up at the Department of Labor or another state employment security building.

In case you don't recall the details of the original story, the LePage administration argued that the mural, which depicts Maine workers throughout history, is "not in keeping with the [Labor Department's] pro-business goals." Pro-business goals at the Labor Department! Awesome. (Not.) At the same time, the administration announced that it would re-name several of the building's conference rooms, which had been named after American labor leaders.

As the inimitable Robert Reich, a former U.S. Labor Department Secretary, wrote last week in response to mural-gate, "Are we still in America?"

AlterNet / By Lauren Kelley

Posted at April 5, 2011, 6:44am

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