Thursday, April 28, 2005

Is the River City Bid Underwater?

Can the city that is the home to virtually every state department win the bid for the HQ of the California stem cell agency?

Reporter Laura Mecoy weighed that question in a story on the competition for the site. She wrote that Sacramento “is closest to state government and has the lowest cost of living.

“Problem is, neither point is getting much attention from the site selection panel that will visit Sacramento and the three other finalists over the next four days.

“The panel plans to use the site visits to help advise the full stem cell board when it picks the headquarters city on May 6.

"'We are working against the notion that the Legislature should have no role in the stem cell program,' said Sen. Deborah Ortiz, D-Sacramento.

“Tom Zeidner, Sacramento's senior economic development project manager, said the stem cell agency's chairman also told him 'rather curtly' that cost of living didn't matter.

“Most of the employees at the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine are expected to earn more than $100,000 a year. Its board is considering paying up to $600,000 to hire a president.”

The Sacramento News and Review offered up an editorial touting the Big Tomato's bid. But the editorial may have actually been a disincentive. “What better location than Sacramento--with its taxpayer attentiveness, watchdog organizations and capital press corp--to keep this agency above reproach in its role to safeguard the public's interest in all things stem-cell?” the newspaper wrote. Given the agency's sketchy relations with Capitol denizens, it may not want to be any closer than San Francisco, at the very least.

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