Monday, June 06, 2005

Cash Rolls In, Contracts Roll Out

The California stem cell agency has some good news today – a $5 million grant from the man responsible for Dolby sound on recordings.

Both The Sacramento Bee and the San Francisco Chronicle reported the donation this morning. Stem cell chairman Robert Klein
told reporter Carl Hall of the Chronicle that "the $5 million will be used to hire the legal, scientific and intellectual-property staff needed to proceed with the first grant programs, while the institute also pursues a $100 million short-term bridge financing plan."

"In a news release planned for today, Klein said, 'The Dolbys are fascinated by the possibility of a significant advancement of medical science through regenerative medicine research,'" Hall reported. The grant comes from both Ray Dolby and his wife, Dagmar.

The agency has run through about half of its $3 million startup loan from the state and will run out of money in November if it does not receive additional funds.

Reporter Laura Mecoy of The Bee wrote that the agency has signed contracts worth $1.1 million with private firms, including lobbyists and lawyers, and has more in the works. She said that Klein could recall only one that was competitively bid: an executive search firm's contract.

Mecoy continued, "While most other state agencies must solicit bids on contracts worth $4,999 or more, Klein said the institute doesn't have to go through the bidding process for its personal-services contracts.

"He cited a little-known provision of Prop. 71, the initiative that created the institute, that exempts the stem cell institute from competitive bidding requirements for such contracts.

"He said it's based on a University of California exemption that gives health-related agencies the leeway to contract with those with specialized knowledge.

"He contended that each of the contracts, including one being negotiated for the Edelman public relations firm, required such specialized knowledge."

Chronicle reporter Hall said that the University of California has loaned the stem cell agency staff assistance in human resources and hiring. It was not clear whether the agency would repay UC, which has its own financial problems, for the help.

For more on Edelman, see the "Hello to Edelman" and "Edelman Blog" items on April 22. For more on the contracts, see "$10,000 Lobbyist" May 5. Sphere: Related Content

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