City Hall not for sale – but when is it OK to take the money?

    A few weeks ago, Mayor Nutter publicly condoned a plan for the School Reform Commission to buy out Arlene Ackerman’s contract partly with money raised from anonymous private donors. Then, last week, the Inquirer reported the Nutter administration had refused millions of dollars from the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, because the money came from a grant from the American Beverage Association.  The money would have gone to fund anti-obesity programs.

    On Twitter, Nutter said:

    Taking money from Big Soda to fight obesity is like taking money from the NRA to fight guns. You can’t buy this City Hall.

    But wait – which is it? Can the government take money from private sources, or does that constitute “buying City Hall”?

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    On this week’s It’s Our Money podcast, Doron Taussig and Daily News Editorial Page Editor Sandra Shea discuss whether it’s appropriate for the government to accept private donations – and if so, when. Certainly the city doesn’t want to reject all such offers: It can use the money. But these arrangements also raise the the question of what the donor expects in return.


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