Wednesday, June 01, 2005

Californians Need Information Not Ballyhoo

Are Californians going to have a chance to genuinely see what the California stem cell agency is going to deal with at its meeting this month in Sacramento?

With three business days left before the meeting on Monday, the agency has posted only a laundry list of items on its web site. The subjects on the list are certainly important, but the information about them is limited to a word or two or a phrase.

We do know the following. Changes are being considered on the agency's conflict of interest code. The Oversight Committee is scheduled to discuss temporary financing measures that will prevent it from running out of money this fall. A proposed ballot measure that would create an electoral donnybrook, also this fall, is up for consideration. Appointment of real estate specialists to a stem cell working group is another topic. Also on the table is a six-month review of the agency. Actually this preceding summary of the agenda contains more information than the actual agenda items themselves.

In past months, the agency has posted background material – usually quite late -- on a few items scheduled to be brought up at the monthly meeting – not a lot but some. However, in May, the agenda for the Oversight Committee was nothing more than a list. The public was out of luck if it wanted to have any reasonable idea of the nature of the issues to be discussed.

As we have noted in the past, even the lowliest school district in California does a better job of informing the public in advance about its meetings.

The stem cell agency has ballyhooed its commitment to openness and transparency. But its actions tell a different story.

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