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September 18, 2016
What started out as a good idea several years ago, a museum dedicated to children’s art is beginning to look like nothing more than a scam on the taxpayers of Broward County.
The Broward Young At Art Museum, YAA, located at 751 SW 121st ave. Davie Florida, has been drawing a lot of online attention the past few days over a couple of very controversial issues.
The first is that it seems that they haven’t been paying their rent to the county for nearly a decade.
We understand that anything involving the arts may need a little help getting started, but a decade? If you go there and look at what is being called art, you’ll see for yourself this crap looks like something acquired at a flea market.
Okay, maybe we don’t know art, we believe we do, however it’s the second part that has everyone up in arms and asking a lot of questions.
The second part is who is running this place.
Chairman of the Board David Di Pietro, Esquire whose wife is Broward County Court Judge, Nina W. Di Pietro, and Broward County Commissioner Mindy Shrago, married to former Broward Judge Jay Spechler. She is the Executive Director/CEO of the museum.
It turns out that Mindy Shrago has had several of her family members employed at the museum, collecting pay checks while the museum has not been paying it's debts.
Public records show Shrago's salary has increased since the museum defaulted on its county payments.
Her salary went from $125,000 in 2012, to $140,387 in 2013, to $152,407 last year, to $160,680 today.
Shrago's 32-year-old son, Zach Spechler, is being paid by the museum to act as a curator, without the knowledge of county officials, who said it might violate the terms of their agreement.
Last year, for example, he was paid $17,636. A group he formed solicits artists and decides what art gets displayed in the museum.
The county has $20 million invested in the museum. The museum still owes the county millions but is current on its $350,000 annual payments, county officials said.
This got our attention while reading posts on a popular Broward court house blog, the J.A.A.B Blog.
The post was directed to us:
Save Young at Art Museum
September 13, 2016 at 2:50 pm
South Florida Corruption.com and others who appreciate the arts read the article below and help save Young at Art Museum.
In the upcoming months, a restructuring of the YAA debt will come before the Broward County Commission. We need to let the Commission and specifically County Administrators, Bertha Henry and Gretchen Cassini know we will not be fooled by their games as outlined in the Red Broward article to shut down the museum.
South Florida Corruption.com
September 13, 2016 at 3:09 pm
We read the article.
Looking at it the first thought that comes to mind is that there may be some theft involved. Especially when it comes to the County having to purchase some very large insurance policies? We would really like to see those documents. If you have anything of interest please contact us at our website.
Then this one:
Young at Art Questions
September 14, 2016 at 2:49 pm
Are Broward County Commissioners smelling a rat at Young for Art or just stumbling around looking where they’re going to point the finger next?
Why don’t they just investigate and see how or if it’s been mismanaged. Audit the books and come to a decision. Hiring family members is perhaps troubling. I mean, what kind of qualifications does Zack Spechler have to be the curator of any museum? Obvious financial problems continue to plague this particular museum. Publish the names of the Board of Directors.
It’s this readers opinion that before you start talking above saving a failing enterprise by pumping more money into it, you have to know exactly what you’re talking about. Broward Commissioners should be very concerned with where public money is going, especially under the circumstances I’ve read in this Young at Art article.
After that the Blog blew up with comments about this matter.
For the past five days it’s most of what the comments have been.
See for yourself:
Commissioner Lois Wexler, asked Broward County Inspector General John Scott, to investigate.
The county considered a takeover, but instead spread the museum's debt over 37 years, until 2051.
They also hired a consultant to look into its practices and write a plan to help ensure it would not default again.
Louise Stevens, founder of ArtsMarket, Inc was the consultant.
Stevens was about to learn how things go in Broward County.
The consultant's report came in, and the news was apparently so bad, that the consultant felt intimidated and threatened. According to Redbroward.com- https://redbroward.com/2015/11/09/yaa/
Stevens stated her experience with Broward County was unlike anything in many years dealing with local governments.
“Heaven knows in our 32 years we have NEVER been put through a legal examination wringer like this,” she wrote.
“Including having to purchase so much extra insurance for the law suits the county expects will be filed against us for our work on this project. (That’s what they told us!)”