Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Philly Nonprofit Under Scrutiny

The other big story in Philadelphia today is that former State Senator Vince Fumo will be sentenced today on corruption charges.  A side story, but an important one, is that part of Fumo's political empire, when there was an empire, was a nonprofit he created called Citizens Alliance for Better Neighborhoods. Created in 1991 to address trash removal problems, the nonprofit received $17 million from Peco Energy Corp. as part of a settlement of a case heard by the Public Utility Commission.  The nonprofit began investing in real estate and now owns a lot. The organization's IRS statement listed its 2007 assets as nearly $18 million, including $7 million in a for-profit holding company.  

In April, the Attorney General filed a suit to require an accounting, to surcharge Fumo and board members for any waste and mismanagement, to revoke the organization's corporate status, and to sell or distribute the assets.  Just last week, the organization responded, arguing that "the attorney general has no right to inspect its records or demand an accounting, no legal basis for a surcharge, no authority to seek the board's removal and offers no evidence to prove any fraud to revoke its corporate status."  The Attorney General's office has pointed out that the original mission of the organization was to help neighborhoods and it's now more of a real estate management company.  Indeed, the new acting executive director is quoted as describing the mission as "mostly 'managing real estate.'"



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