Sunday, May 29, 2005

The Bee: No Compromise on Ballot Measure

The Sacramento Bee on Sunday said in an editorial that Sen. Deborah Ortiz is giving up too much with changes in her proposed ballot measure to tighten oversight of the California stem cell agency.

The Democratic lawmaker from Sacramento has said she will modify her conflict of interest provisions regarding, in The Bee's terms, the "out-of-state scientists who will hold huge sway in how multimillion-dollar grants are dispersed."

"This peer review group, already appointed, includes distinguished academics from Harvard and other top-flight institutions. But even distinguished academics may have conflicts. Do they hold consulting jobs with biomedical firms who might seek grants? What are their stock holdings?" The Bee editorial said.

"We don't know. Neither does the public. Under a policy (stem cell chairman Robert) Klein has promoted, grant reviewers are only required to disclose potential conflicts to the institute's internal staff. Klein says these employees will aggressively police any conflicts. This is the same short-staffed group that hasn't set up an organization chart, hasn't devised a budget and has trouble responding to records requests.

"The proper policy - required of all appointed public officials in California - is for grant reviewers to fill out a Form 700 disclosure, listing their investments, income, gifts and property. Only then will the public feel comfortable that grant reviewers are making decisions free of any financial entanglements." Sphere: Related Content

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