Wednesday, April 20, 2005

The Stem Cell Agency Just Says No

The California stem cell agency has yanked one of its Oversight Committee members from a public panel on implementation of Prop. 71, reportedly because it did not want to share the same platform with one of its critics.

As a result the conference, sponsored by Political Pulse in Sacramento, was cancelled.

CIRM's withdrawal left some in Sacramento bemused, given the agency's pledge of openness. One insider said the action was “very unfortunate, and does not bode well for the ICOC creating an open dialogue with the public, much less maintaining public confidence in the institute.”

Political Pulse is an independent source of Capitol items and has been around for 20 years. It scheduled the teleconference for April 27, promising that it would explore issues and information about the agency and its startup progress.

Scheduled to be heard at the teleconference event were State Sen. Deborah Ortiz, D-Sacramento; Dr. David Gollaher, president of the California Healthcare Institute of La Jolla; Marcy Darnovsky, associate executive director of the Center for Genetics and Society in Oakland, and Dr. Phyllis Preciado of Fresno, a member of the Oversight Committee.

It was Darnovsky's presence that apparently triggered the withdrawal of Preciado. Darnovsky's organization has been a vociferous critic of the stem cell agency on issues ranging from the stem cell medical questions to conflicts of interest.

Political Pulse did not respond to questions about the cancellation nor did CIRM, including whether this was a onetime action or reflected an agency policy.

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