Friday, March 25, 2011

You Can't Get There From Here

Let's begin with a few mission statements/definitions.

The mission of the US Department of Commerce is defined as such:
The historic mission of the Department is "to foster, promote, and develop the foreign and domestic commerce" of the United States. This has evolved, as a result of legislative and administrative additions, to encompass broadly the responsibility to foster, serve, and promote the Nation's economic development and technological advancement.
The state of Maine's Department of Economic and Community Development (DECD) defines its mission as such:
DECD is the umbrella organization for business development, community development, tourism & film, innovation, and international trade for the state of Maine.
The US Department of Labor defines its mission as such:
To foster, promote, and develop the welfare of the wage earners, job seekers, and retirees of the United States; improve working conditions; advance opportunities for profitable employment; and assure work-related benefits and rights.
And the state of Maine's Department of Labor defines its mission as:
The Maine Department of Labor promotes the safety and economic well being of all individuals and businesses in Maine by promoting independence and life long learning, by fostering economic stability and by ensuring the safe and fair treatment of all people on the job.
What you can see via a comparison is that while the US Department of Labor focuses on workers, the state of Maine's Department of Labor concerns itself also with the needs of businesses. Despite having another department that also concerns itself with the needs of businesses, comparable to the US Department of Commerce.

Now, I'm no expert in Maine's government, but I do think this overlap of focus explains why the Governor of our most northern eastcoast state had insisted that a mural in the state's Department of Labor be taken down because it's not, in his opinion, fair to business.

The Portland Press Herald explains:
Labor leaders and the state's biggest Latino group expressed outrage Wednesday at Gov. Paul LePage's decision to remove a mural depicting workers from the Department of Labor's headquarters and rename conference rooms in the building.

Matt Schlobohm, executive director of the Maine AFL-CIO, called the decision "insulting to working people, petty and shortsighted."

"It seems the governor is much more interested in picking fights with labor than creating jobs that people so desperately want," he said. "We believe their story deserves to be told on the walls of the Department of Labor."

The 36-foot-long, 11-panel mural depicts the state's labor history, including a shoe worker strike in Lewiston, female shipbuilders and striking papermakers in Jay.

It also highlights dangerous working conditions, long work hours and child labor, according to a 2008 memo from the Department of Labor.

LePage explained his decision on the Boston-based Howie Carr radio show late in the day.

"I'm trying to send a message to everyone in the state that the state of Maine looks at employees and employers equally, neutrally and on balance," he said. "The mural sends a message that we're one-sided, and I don't want to send that message."
I have a simple solution, then, Governor. Since your focus is on sending the message that everyone in Maine looks at employees and employers equally, why not just move the mural to your Department of Economic and Community Development offices? That way the business leaders who visit there will understand how much you care about the history and needs of laborers.

Labels: Art and politics, politics


Anonymous Anonymous said...

That mediocre mural also cost tax payers $60000 in a state that was already having employement problems in 2008. It was a waste of money. We need our economy boosted. Hanging art on the wall does not create job. The money spent could have helped to create jobs.

3/27/2011 08:38:00 PM  
Anonymous Bernard Klevickas said...

Hey Anon,
That mural created at the very least one job for the artist, but likely an internship or moderate paying job(s) for her assist(s) too. 60 grand is not much for a mural of that scale and considering the response and News articles from those who want it to remain it is not mediocre or a waste of time.

What would you want grey walls with chains attached to bind lazy workers? How many jobs can $60,000 create?

3/28/2011 09:08:00 AM  

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