January 22, 2013

Letters to the Editor: Lawsuit plaintiffs laud mural decision

We are pleased for the people of Maine that Gov. LePage relented and has allowed the History of Maine Labor mural by Judy Taylor to be put back on display in a Maine state building.

click image to enlarge

This mural depicting the history of labor in Maine, which was removed from a state office building in 2011, is now displayed in the state museum.

Imbrogno Photography photo courtesy of Judy Taylor Studio

This is a clear and decisive victory not only for the First Amendment, the artist and the people of Maine, but also for the people who rightly opposed the governor's seizing the mural from where it hung in the Maine Department of Labor until 2011.

We were very pleased to see that the state acknowledged the mural was primarily paid for by Reed Act funds and that the terms of the act must be respected. The federal government was very clear that it did not approve of the LePage administration's removing and hiding the mural. The mural's disposition now complies with the terms of the U.S. Department of Labor's firm but generously moderate 2011 letter on the matter.

After the last round of litigation, our lead attorney, Jeff Young, suggested the Maine State Museum would be an appropriate site for displaying the mural.

We are grateful to new museum director Bernard Fishman and his staff for making the overture to show the mural and to new Maine Department of Labor Commissioner Jeanne Pacquette for making this possible.

On behalf of all the plaintiffs in this suit, we would like to thank everyone who stood up against the seizing of the mural and stood with us until the ethical, moral and governmental violation was remedied.

There is still more to be done, but this victory marks a great moment for the people of Maine and free speech in America.

John Newton


Rob Shetterly



Alternate-side parking way to address snow ban blues


As a concerned Portlander affected by the parking restrictions under the "snow ban," I feel compelled to reach out to fellow citizens also affected by this punitive rule.

According to the ban, the only way the streets can be cleared is when there are no cars parked on them, forcing those of us who have no off-street option to figure one out in a hurry, which often involves walking far distances in inclement weather and paying for overnight parking when free options are not viable.

Many cities that deal routinely with heavy snowfall, including Buffalo, N.Y., Duluth, Minn., and Madison, Wis., offer their citizens a reasonable, fair solution to clearing the streets, which is alternate-side parking.

In fact, Portland effectively employs this very solution for street cleaning, and we can do exactly the same thing for snow removal. It is as simple as alerting city residents on which side of the street they can park during a snowstorm and switching to the opposite side the following day.

This way, we can continue to park on the street and we can have our streets cleared in a timely manner.

We won't have to be inconvenienced by having to move our cars to a faraway lot; we won't have to drive on dangerous roads in the middle of a snowstorm; and we won't have to figure out how to get home at night and back again early the following morning during these episodes of inclement weather when no one should be out in the snow.

This is a simple solution that will make winter living in Portland appreciably better. It makes sense. Now it's time for the mayor and the City Council to act out of fairness and safety for its citizens and end this unfair, discriminatory and disruptive policy.

Ben Schmidt



Charter school panel merits kudos for its high standards

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