The drama continues at the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco i.e. the joint board that oversees the deYoung and Legion of Honor as ongoing infighting persists over a "disability severance" payment that Board Chair Dede Wilsey authorized to a retired museum employee. The scandal over the $450,000 check, which was cut back in May 2014, but was called to the public's attention by a whistle-blower last year, former Museums CFO Michele Gutierrez. Wilsey has maintained she did not need the board's approval to make the payment, but a subsequent investigation by the state Attorney General's office appears to have concluded otherwise, and as the Chronicle reports, a tentative settlement was reached in April in which anonymous donors would reimburse the Museums' coffers out of their pockets. When board members Dan Johnson and former SF City Attorney Louise Renne each received letters asking if they'd like to donate toward the reimbursement, that was the last straw, and they've both now resigned.
Renne tells the paper, "I just felt that the governance at the museum made it virtually impossible for any board member to fulfill their fiduciary duty."
It's unclear whether the money has been repaid yet, but Johnson said he felt he had to resign because the "underlying problem" of Wilsey cutting the check in the first place had not been resolved.
In March, Renne was vocally calling for Wilsey to do "the right thing" and reimburse the sum out of her own pocket. Clearly Wilsey was unwilling to do that.
As reported earlier, part of the reason for the calls of impropriety around the payment is that it was made to the ailing husband of a longtime ersatz assistant to Wilsey, Therese Chen also a museum staffer, who died suddenly in March at the age of 65. Her husband, Bill Huggins, had suffered a heart attack while in the employ of the museums as a stationary engineer, and Chen subsequently had to stay home to care for him. Chen had been known among museum staffers to often do favors for Wilsey.
Wilsey's spokesperson only would say to the Chronicle, "We are not going to comment on anything related to the AG [attorney general] matter."