Scoop: Update on Fine Arts Museums’ ‘improper’ payment

Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco board members approved a new title for Dede Wilsey earlier this year. {Drew Altizer/SF Examiner/2011)

On Thursday, the San Francisco Office of the Controller issued a statement calling a $450,773 payment by the Corporation of the Fine Arts Museums to a former Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco employee “unsupported” and “improper under federal guidance,” although not illegal.

The announcement was the result of a investigation prompted by a whistleblower, who was among a number of folks not pleased by the way philanthropist Dede Wilsey (credited with raising $190 million to rebuild the earthquake-damaged de Young Museum) has been running the show at the de Young and Legion of Honor in recent years.

Nonprofit Quarterly reported that even though the museums’ private and public board of trustees paid a settlement to the whistleblower (who was fired after reporting the payment), and even though some board members resigned to protest Wilsey’s top spot in the organization, nothing has changed significantly.

In September, the board amended some bylaws and gave Wilsey a new title — chair of the board rather than president — in a move, according to NPQ, that means essentially nothing.

Max Hollein, director of the Fine Arts Museums since June (following Colin Bailey’s brief directorship) has not commented publicly on the matter.

HOLIDAYS AT THE WHARF

Just in time for Halloween, “Escape Alcatraz,” a new drop ride and show located below sea level on Fisherman’s Wharf, debuts this weekend at the San Francisco Dungeon. Promoters call it “a thrilling finale to the 60-minute Dungeon experience … that culminates in a heart-pounding drop ride simulating a jump from the infamous island prison into the frigid and choppy waters of the San Francisco Bay.” Whew!

If that description doesn’t entice you, how about checking out the attraction, at 145 Jefferson St., for free between noon and 7 p.m. on Election Day? Visitors wearing a 2016 “I Voted” sticker get complimentary admission (and the ride) as a “thank you for rocking the vote.”

QUICK TAKE

NBC/KNTV’s Emmy Award-winning “Bay Area Revelations” series premieres a new installment, “The Musicians,” after NBC Sunday Night Football on Oct. 30. Local luminaries in the documentary include Carlos Santana, Lars Ulrich, Too Short, Huey Lewis and Kehlani, as well as commentary by Joel Selvin, Ben Fong-Torres, Rosalie Howarth, Big Von, Bonnie Simmons and Tim Westergren.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY

Singer-rapper Frank Ocean is 29. … Actor Joaquin Phoenix is 42. … Singer Brad Paisley is 44. … Actress Julia Roberts is 49. …
Actor-comedian Andy Richter is 50. … Entrepreneur Bill Gates is 61. … Reality star Caitlyn Jenner is 67. … Actor Dennis Franz is 72. … Actress Jane Alexander is 77. … Musician Charlie Daniels is 80. … Actress Joan Plowright is 87. … Singer Cleo Laine is 89.

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