January 21, 2013

Letters to the Editor: Mural now apparently safe for all eyes

In March 2011, Gov. LePage, following a tip from an anonymous fax, had Judy Taylor's mural celebrating Maine labor history moved from the Labor Department and placed in a secret hiding place because he asserted it was anti-business, too pro-labor and similar to communist propaganda in North Korea. State funds were consumed to fend off public opposition and a lawsuit.

click image to enlarge

Richard and Pat Bamforth look at a mural depicting Maine’s labor history Jan. 14 at the Maine State Museum in Augusta. A reader wonders what has happened to make the mural – which was removed from a state office building in 2011 – suitable for public display once again.

2013 File Photo/The Associated Press

Now, almost two years later, following another midnight operation, the mural has surfaced in the Maine State Museum ("Labor mural gets a new home in Augusta," Jan. 14).

A Labor Department representative points out, with apparent satisfaction, that many more people will see it there than in its former place in their lobby.

And the governor, according to his director of communications, Adrienne Bennett, "is supportive of this. The governor has always said it needs to be in a more accessible location. Just think of all the schoolchildren who go to the museum. It's in a place where it is going to be viewed by a lot of people on a regular basis."

What could have happened to the mural while it was hidden away? Was all that communist propaganda scientifically purged from it so that it is now suitable for schoolchildren to see? Or is this just one more instance of the governor's talent for wasting the state's money while making Maine look foolish to the rest of the world?

Neil Gallagher


City must take lead role in rejecting tar sands oil 

On Wednesday, the Portland City Council will decide whether or not to keep the fuel oil for Portland's city-owned vehicles tar sands-free, and it's a big deal.

Tar sands oil is the dirtiest on earth. Mined in Alberta, Canada, from an oil field the size of England, tar sands extraction is destroying the pristine boreal forest. Mining, burning, transporting and refining the oil pollutes our air, water and land, fuels global warming, and harms people's health.

Tar sands oil now poses a major threat to our drinking water here in Portland and in the other 10 communities served by the Portland Water District. ExxonMobil and Canadian oil giant Enbridge are seriously contemplating pumping tar sands oil through the 62-year-old Portland-Montreal pipeline, which is almost certainly unable to withstand the fuel's high temperatures and corrosiveness.

The pipeline passes within 1,000 feet of Sebago Lake, Portland's drinking water source. It also crosses the Crooked River six times as well as the Androscoggin. Pipelines carrying tar sands oil are three times more likely to spill than pipelines carrying conventional oil.

On Jan. 12, residents of Casco passed a municipal resolution opposing the flow of tar sands oil through the Portland-Montreal pipeline ("Casco says no to plan for tar sands oil," Jan. 13). The Burlington, Vt., City Council passed two anti-tar sands pipeline resolutions last month.

Fifty other communities along the pipeline route are considering similar resolutions. Portland needs to show its leadership on this issue by taking a critical first step to keeping tar sands oil out of city vehicles.

You can inform the Portland city councilors of your views by contacting them and attending the City Council meeting where the tar sand-free vehicle issue will be discussed, on Wednesday at 7 p.m. in City Hall.

Helen F. Anderson


Let communities pay for 'Cadillac-quality' services 

The two-year budget for state revenue collection and spending recently proposed by the LePage administration is a solid dose of plain hard truth: Augusta simply cannot afford to fund Cadillac-quality social services on a statewide basis anymore.

If local communities like the city of Portland feel that it's important for their communities to provide expensive levels of social services, then those communities should also accept the responsibilities of raising the local tax revenues from their residents and businesses to fund those preferences.

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