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Funding Cut May Be Fatal, CalPIRG Says

Times Staff Writer

A local consumer advocacy group may cease to exist by the end of June due to a reduction in federal block grant money and heavy competition for remaining funds, a spokesman for the organization said Wednesday.

Without the $40,000 annual grant that it receives from the city’s community development block grant funds, the San Diego branch of the California Public Interest Research Group (CalPIRG) will fold, said Nancy Rader, consumer program director for the group.

Rader claimed that City Manager Sylvester Murray recommended to the City Council that the organization’s funding be terminated.

“Honestly, I don’t know what the motive is,” she said.

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Libby Watson, the city’s financial management director, said Murray “has not made any recommendations to anyone,” but that members of her staff made the recommendation to Murray based on a $625,000 cut in federal block grant money available to the city.

“He (Murray) will not be making recommendations to the City Council until the second or third week in May,” she said.

However, a March 14 letter addressed to Rader from Ross McCollum, community program administrator, said that Murray had indeed made the recommendation. Murray could not be reached for comment, but Watson said that the letter was in error.

Though Watson refused to speculate on what CalPIRG’s chances were of receiving city funds after June, she agreed with her staff’s recommendation. She also said Murray contacted CalPIRG in order to alert the group to the potential problem.

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