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Broward Commissioner Wants County To Take Control Of Young At Art Children’s Museum

After two weeks of scandal involving financial issues and hyper-sexualized content at the Young At Art children’s museum, Broward County Commissioner Lois Wexler has had enough. Wexler has put the troubled children’s museum on next week’s commission meeting agenda. Wexler wants the County to cease all negotiations with Young At Art (YAA). More importantly, Wexler wants her fellow commissioners to discuss putting YAA and its pricey preschool under the control of the Broward County Cultural Division.

If successful, this would mark the end of co-founder Mindy Shrago’s reign at Young At Art.

After intimidation games failed, REDBROWARD exposed sexualized exhibits sponsored by YAA curators and artists. These included a Naughty By Nature exhibit which apparently exposed children to pornographic imagery. This exhibit was curated by Shrago’s son Zack Spechler, a paid employee of YAA.

REDBROWARD presented videos of Shrago attending a political party hosted by her daughter, Ali Spechler. In the video, a laughing Shrago whacks a Donald Trump pinata, while her topless daughter rants about Bernie Sanders.

In another video, Ali Spechler hosted a party which vilified the political enemies of her father, Jay Spechler. At the end of the video attacking Judges Victor Tobin and Lee Seidman, Ali Spechler participates in a wet t-shirt contest.

Earlier this week, REDBROWARD revealed Shrago and YAA fundraisers continued to received pay increases even as they begged the County to renegotiate their financial deals.

Federal income tax forms filed by YAA in 2012 show Mindy Shrago’s salary jumped from $125,000 to $141,000 after Broward taxpayers built the new facility in Davie. Shrago received hefty raises in 2013 and 2014. She currently receives a $157,000 paycheck as executive director

Last month, Wexler asked Broward County Administrator Bertha Henry why Young At Art (YAA) had failed to submit their latest proposal for financial relief. Some believed YAA was “playing games” to avoid dealing with the term-limited Wexler. Others wondered if YAA chairman David Di Pietro hoped to avoid the matter while his wife, Judge Nina Weatherly Di Pietro, is facing re-election.

There is no more avoiding the issues facing Young At Art. Broward taxpayers deserve answers. On Tuesday, Shrago, Spechler and Di Pietro will have to answer to the Broward County Commission.


Young At Art Director’s Salary Made Huge Jump After Broward Taxpayers Paid For New Museum

Young At Art (YAA) executive director Mindy Shrago took home a bigger paycheck after Broward taxpayers built a new home for her children’s museum in Davie. Despite YAA losing nearly $600,000 dollars in revenue over the last five years, Shrago continues to collect her six-figure salary. According to public records, Shrago has received big salary raises even while she desperately tried to restructure the Davie museum’s financial deal with Broward County. But Federal tax records show, Shrago’s first big jump in salary came after her new “Taj Mahal” opened in 2012.

A review of YAA tax forms dating as far back as 2005 show Mindy Shrago always collected a six-figure paycheck. In 2005 and 2006, Shrago took home $100,000 dollars from her non-profit organization. The 2007 Form 990 shows Shrago’s pay increased to $121, 153 dollars, reflecting a $21,153 raise. From 2008 to 2011, records show Mindy Shrago was paid $125,000 per year for running the museum.

In May 2012, YAA moved from a modest strip mall in Davie to a new building County Commissioner Sue Gunzburger called the “Taj Mahal.” Shrago convinced Broward County Commissioners to purchase land in Davie and build a fancy new home for the museum. In exchange, YAA was to pay the County $1 million dollars a year over eleven years.

One year later, when YAA failed to pay, the County agreed to spread the payments over thirty-one years.

Young at Art’s 2013 Federal IRS Form 990 shows Shrago received a $140,387 yearly salary. A $15,387 increase from the year before. Shrago received this hefty raise even while claiming YAA could not pay taxpayers.

Even though YAA was still in the middle of a serious financial crisis, the 2014 tax form shows Shrago received another sizable salary increase. Shrago was paid $152,407 for a fifty hour work week. This was a $12,020 increase for the executive director of an ailing institution funded by Broward taxapayers.

A year later, Shrago’s take home pay jumped to $157,828 dollars. While still seeking relief from the County, Shrago received a $5,421 raise.

It’s unclear if the YAA Board recommended these increases each year or whether they were part of Shrago’s contract.

One wonders if YAA chairman David Di Pietro has the courage to ask Mindy Shrago why she kept taking home more money even as revenues fell.