“As an American citizen, I don’t want the Statue of Liberty co-opted by Wal-Mart,” says Rep. Maurice Hinchey as quoted in the April 4 edition of the New York Times in an article on the role of private funding for national parks and monuments.  The article, focusing on questionable practices by the nonprofit foundation that raises money to support the Statue of Liberty, raises an issue of rising importance in public-private relationships:  Where is the proper line drawn between the influence of private money and decision-making, on the one side, and agenda-setting by public agencies, on the other?  As public agencies of all sorts—parks, schools, historical sites, hospitals, among others—ever more eagerly solicit private donations (“public-private parnterships”), are they becoming increasingly vulnerable to private influence as well?

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