On Monday morning, the Cultural Alliance of Maine, a group purporting to represent “culture workers” in Maine, had a Zoom call with Democratic Gov. Janet Mills that did not go as planned.
“We had the opportunity to talk state cultural policy with Governor Mills LIVE at a special CAM Convening on Monday, March 20th,” the group cheerily writes on its website.
The meeting coincided with Mills and Secretary of State Shenna Bellows proclaiming a week in March as “Maine Cultural Heritage Week”. But other than the symbolic proclamation, Mills didn’t appear very enthusiastic about supporting CAM and the 71 “culture workers” on the call.
CAM was looking for support for Maine’s artists, actors, and poets via a number of policy changes and bond proposals, but Mills wasn’t in the mood for it.
In LePagesque style, Mills rejected almost every request made by CAM leadership, often in gruff terms, including their requests for her to support bond proposals, new tax increases, and tax credits for artistic instutitions.
In one poignant moment, CAM leader Mollie Cashwell tells the harrowing tale of the Penobscot Theater Company, which is struggling to pay its $20,000 per year sales tax. She asks whether the theater company can get special consideration for its tax burden.
“I don’t have any suggestions for how to survive in the economy,” said Mills.
“I don’t think there would be any appetite for increasing sales tax exemptions,” she said.
Request after request, Mills shoots down in similar fashion.
The one bone Mills tossed to CAM on the call was Mills’ claim that she has stacked the Maine Library Commission with progressive activists.
“Speaking of libraries, I just, a few months ago, appointed a number of people to the Library, State Library Commission, who I hope will be, um, making that body a solid engine, uh, progressive engine for, um, enhancing our libraries across the State of Maine,” she said.
Then the governor pulls the oldest trick in the book to duck out of a time-waste meeting: having a staffer interrupt with urgent business.
You can view a lightly edited version of the meeting here, or you can watch the Maine Wire super cut below: