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Local Foundation Halts Grants to City of Philadelphia

By Mike Dunn

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) -- The William Penn Foundation, has placed a hold on grants to the city while it awaits clarification of lobbying restrictions.

The William Penn Foundation would not answer our questions about withholding of grant money, but issued a statement saying that it is waiting for clarification on the new lobbying registration regulations of the city code.

The City Paper reported this week that the issue is over the Foundation's payment to a consulting group for its study on the School District's restructuring.

That payment resulted in a complaint to the Board of Ethics from the group "Parents United."

Shane Creamer, executive director of the Board of Ethics, said he could neither confirm nor deny that the Board is looking into the complaint.

The mayor's top attorney, City Solicitor Shelley Smith, said she believes the grant was fine, and "Without expressing a formal opinion or anything with respect to Foundations generally, I'll say that we have received the letter from the Foundation.  We're going to have to talk to them about it, and try to see exactly what the concern.  But I think we don't believe that direct grants to the city are implicated by the lobbying law."

A spokesman for the mayor said the immediate impact of the decision appears to be limited to Foundation funding for a Schuylkill River bike trail that is now in the planning stages.

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