NO DEAL? Broward County Moves To Dismiss Young At Art Museum Lawsuit

Lawyers representing Broward County want a judge to dismiss most of the claims made in a lawsuit filed by the taxpayer-supported Young At Art (YAA) Children’s Museum in Davie. Last October, the controversial museum filed the lawsuit fearing an imminent takeover by Broward County government. Founded by Mindy Shrago, YAA was trying to negotiate another new payment deal with County officials. Broward County Commissioners hired an independent consultant to investigate Young At Art.

Numerous documents obtained by REDBROWARD show Young At Art officials and Broward County leaders were aware of problems with controversial exhibits two years ago. Last November, REDBROWARD detailed issues surrounding a report from Louise Stevens, an independent consultant hired by the County to examine the financial situation at YAA. One of the main issues uncovered by the consultant was the Bedlam Lorenz Assembly (BLA) program operated under the guidance of Zack Spechler, the son of of YAA executive director Mindy Shrago.

REDBROWARD exposed controversial exhibits displayed under the YAA/BLA banner. One exhibit, entitled “Naughty By Nature,” featured nude men and women and pornographic images. Video and photographs show children at the event. While this raunchy exhibit was not held at the children’s museum in Davie, it was clearly sponsored by Young At Art.

Another exhibit curated by Zack Spechler featured men and women branding themselves with a “Pen15” stamp. If one looks closely, “Pen15” looks like the word “penis.” Patrons were encouraged to join Zack Spechler’s “Pen15 Club.”

In 2012, it appears Zack Spechler played a key role in morphing the Young At Art children’s museum into an adult art museum. According to numerous published reports, the Young At Art (YAA) Children’s Museum has catered to more adult tastes since its new taxpayer-funded building opened in Davie. On multiple occasions, Young At Art curator Zack Spechler has boasted of the museum’s focus on more adult art.

An April 2013 New Times article declared,” Bedlam Lorenz Assembly Upgrades Young At Art.”  The New Times story documented how YAA changed from, “a children’s museum cast away on the outskirts of suburbia” under the direction of Zack Spechler. “And now, with the involvement of young professionals, this formerly dinky kids’ museum is turning into Broward’s most exciting new focal point for arts and culture,” the New Times reported.

New Times wrote, “One way that Young At Art has made strides toward an elevated, ‘adult’ museum experience has been through a core group of young innovators who originally came together to help raise funds for the new museum.” This group of friends was led by Zack Spechler. A New Times article from November 2013 highlighted how Young At Art’s content had become more “adult-friendly.” The “Counting Backwards” exhibit was an experimental media show which ponders, “the world’s demise and our own.” Even the New Times questioned if the apocalypse was an appropriate Young At Art exhibit.

WHAT IS ZACK SPECHLER’S ROLE AT YOUNG AT ART?

Zack Spechler and Bedlam Lorenz Assembly’s role at Young At Art was a major focus of the independent consultant’s review of the museum. In a slide show presentation, consultant Louise Stevens wrote Young At Art had, “not properly disclosed relationship” with the Bedlam Lorenz Assembly. She wrote the YAABLA relationship had been, “extensively publicized…, but not disclosed in County agreements nor IRS form 990s.” Stevens believed the YAABLA relationship constituted a breach of the museum’s deal with the County.

Stevens found other problems with the YAABLA relationship. She believed BLA commissioned exhibits and held classes at Young At Art without any formal relationship. Stevens believed BLA had been given curatorial authority over YAA. Stevens noted that Mindy Shrago was listed as a member of the BLA and its “key members” included her children Zack Spechler and Ali Shrago Spechler.

YAA PAID SPECHLER MORE THAN $40,000

Despite claiming the museum incurred no costs from its relationship with the Bedlam Lorenz Assembly, IRS forms show YAA paid Zack Spechler more than $40,000 over two years. The 2013 Form 990 shows Spechler was paid $17,636 for “services as an artistic/exhibit consultant.” The 2014 form shows Spechler received $24,000 for services as an artistic consultant.

While management stated BLA was not an “in-residence group,” an April 2014 SouthFlorida.com story stated an exhibit was “from Young At Art’s in-house contemporary art collective the Bedlam Lorenz Assembly.” The story even quoted “exhibit curator and BLA founder” Zack Spechler.

“WAR” OR NEW DEAL?

In October, County Commissioners blasted YAA Chairman David Di Pietro for filing a lawsuit against the County while trying to negotiate another deal for the troubled taxpayer-funded museum. County Attorney Joni Coffey called it “ridiculous” while Commissioner Mark Bogen signaled the County was ready to “go to war” if YAA did not come back to the table in good faith.

Di Pietro tried to blame the County for the hastily filed lawsuit. He claimed the museum had no choice because the County was ready to take control of Young At Art. However, REDBROWARD showed YAA insiders laid the groundwork for the lawsuit late last year.

One week later, Di Pietro told County Attorneys the board voted to stay its lawsuit against the County while it negotiates a new deal. The Young At Art item has not appeared on the agenda since late last year.

OUT OF TIME?

In February, YAA asked a Broward County Judge to stay the proceedings for another ninety days. Judge William Haury gave them just forty-five days to finalize a deal. The stay was set to expire on March 23rd.

On that very day, Broward County lawyers filed a motion to dimiss three key counts of the YAA complaint. As of Friday, YAA has no responded to the motion.

Earlier this month, key representatives from Young At Art visited Broward County Commissioners to discuss the matter. Representatives included Mindy Shrago, David Di Pietro, Dana McLean and attorney Bruce Green. It’s unclear if Shrago’s spouse, the tempermental former judge Jay Spechler is active in negotiations.

Also unclear, how much is the lawsuit costing Broward County taxpayers? Salaries for Broward County lawyers and officials are paid with tax dollars. Who is paying the YAA legal team?

Young At Art is not on the May 5th Broward County Commission agenda.

Broward Children’s Museum Makes Bogus Call To Cops To Intimidate Local Reporter

On February 15th, 2017 an unidentified male from the Young At Art (YAA) Children’s Museum called the Davie Police Department to report, “A man out front bothering our guests, taking video.” The male told the Broward County Regional operator, “He’s not coming in, he’s not joining. He’s just out front videoing and bothering our guests during a special event and we would like to see if he would leave.” When the operator asked for a description of the man, the YAA caller said he could no longer see him. On the call, you can hear another unidentified male providing a description to the original caller

The man outside Young At Art was this reporter.

As previously reported, REDBROWARD attempted to question former Judge Jay Spechler, the husband of YAA co-founder Mindy Shrago. Spechler was attending a $1,000 per plate luncheon at the museum. Because of the fancy luncheon, the museum was closed to Broward taxpayers.

Jay Spechler did not want to talk about his alleged remarks regarding Broward County Commissioner Chip LaMarca. According to multiple sources, Spechler, the attorney for former Broward Health chairman David Di Pietro, allegedly told several lawyers that “Chip LaMarca was going down.” Published reports say Federal and State investigators are looking into issues at Broward Health involving LaMarca and Di Pietro, his former attorney and political adviser.

Spechler represented David Di Pietro in his March 2016 lawsuit against Florida Governor Rick Scott. Following complaints from State investigators that Di Pietro was interfering in their work, Governor Scott removed him from the board. Spechler, Brian Silber and Bruce Green represented Di Pietro against Governor Scott.

Spechler is currently listed as a partner at David Di Pietro and Associates. It is unclear whether Spechler represents David Di Pietro in any ongoing matter regarding Broward Health.

Which is exactly why REDBROWARD wanted to ask Jay Spechler whether his alleged comments about Chip LaMarca were related to his representation of David Di Pietro.

RUN & HIDE AT YOUNG AT ART MUSEUM

When asked about his alleged comments about Chip LaMarca, Jay Spechler ran into the museum through a backdoor. Spechler also avoided questions about nude artwork created by his adult children.

Spechler was under no obligation to answer our questions about LaMarca, the artwork, his representation of Hallandale Beach commissioners and the hiring of private investigators.

COWARDLY ACT OR SIMPLE INTIMIDATION?

After Spechler ran into the building, REDBROWARD spotted the former judge peering out a museum window. Once again, we invited Spechler to come speak on the record. Shortly thereafter, the call was placed to the police. When two Davie police cruisers arrived, the officers were met by Young At Art finance director Dana McLean.

After McLean retreated to the museum, this reporter approached the officers. REDBROWARD provided identification and explained the reasons behind the bogus phone call. One of the officers said YAA was concerned a “pervert was taking pictures of kids.” Did Dana McLean provide this false information to police? (We attempted to contact Ms. McLean but all calls to YAA appear to go directly to voicemail.)

REDBROWARD explained we did not speak to any guests other than Jay Spechler. REDBROWARD stated we did not take any pictures or video of any children. REDBROWARD stated we were sitting on bench awaiting the arrival of YAA chairman David Di Pietro.

Satisfied with the explantation, the professional officers of the Davie Police Department left the scene.

WASTING TIME AND MONEY?

Jay Spechler knows exactly who questioned him on February 15th. That’s why he chose the cowardly option of running in the backdoor. So why did he waste taxpayer dollars and police officers’ time on a bogus phone call? Guess the YAA folks are used to financing their whims on the backs of Broward taxpayers.

This appears to have been the latest intimidation tactic meant to keep Broward residents in the dark about the financial issues at the museum and the hyper-sexualized art featuring Jay Spechler and his family.

Earlier this month, Dana McLean, Mindy Shrago and David Di Pietro met with Broward County Commissioners about another taxpayer bailout of the museum. The trio came hats in hand while their lawsuit against the County remains on hold.

Who is paying the legal bills for Young At Art? What happened to the big bucks raised at the $1,000 per plate luncheon in February?

Broward residents deserve answers before YAA gets another dime.

 

 

“Happy” Young At Art CEO Mindy Shrago Asked About X-Rated Art Tied To Children’s Museum

Following last week’s Broward County Commission meeting, REDBROWARD asked Young At Art CEO/founder Mindy Shrago about the racy x-rated art tied to the controversial Children’s Museum in Davie. Before walking away with YAA Chairman David Di Pietro, Ms. Shrago said she was “happy” with everything going on. Di Pietro and Shrago are desperately trying to work out another financial deal with the County Commission.

REDBROWARD has reported on hyper sexualized exhibits produced by Shrago’s children. According to an independent consultant, her children, Ali and Zack Spechler, have been paid by the museum to curate exhibits. Some exhibits featured naked men and women and peep shows. One series of videos shows a topless Ali Spechler cheering as Mindy Shrago hits a Donald Trump piñata.

Yesterday, REDBROWARD revealed Zack Spechler, a substitute high school teacher, posted a picture of a controversial sculpture on his Instagram page. The photograph of Jeff Koons’ “Naked” sculpture was posted days after the County Commission meeting. Koons’ sculpture depicts two nude prepubescent children.

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