Friday, August 22, 2008

Consumer Watchdog: Some CIRM Directors Missing Work and Should Resign

Five directors of the $3 billion California stem cell agency have missed 60 percent or more of its board meetings this year, the Consumer Watchdog group reported today, declaring that there is "no excuse for flagrant absenteeism."

John M. Simpson
, stem cell project director for the Santa Monica, Ca., group, said directors who cannot attend meetings should resign.

Simpson disclosed the attendance performance in a news release after doing an analysis of meeting records since 2006 of the board of directors, which is known as the ICOC.

Here is key paragraph on this year's attendance, which includes names, affiliation and designated slot occupied on the board.
"The worst attendance records for the five meetings this year, according to ICOC minutes, are: Marsha Chandler, executive vice president and chief operating officer, Salk Institute, an executive from a California Research Institute (20 percent); Jonathan Shestack, founder & vice president, Cure Autism Now, patient advocate mental health (20 percent); Tina S. Nova, president and CEO of Genoptix, executive officer of a commercial life science entity (40 percent) and Marcy Feit, president and CEO Valley Care Health Systems, patient advocate Type II Diabetes, (40 percent)."
Also absent from 100 percent of meetings this year is John Reed of the Burnham Institute, who has recused himself during a state investigation into conflict of interest violations involving Reed's attempt to influence CIRM staff on a grant application.

CIRM has been plagued since its inception by attendance and quorum problems, making it difficult to complete its official business. Part of the problem exists because of Prop. 71 language that requires a two-thirds quorum instead a simple majority of the 29-member board. Simpson said his analysis understates the attendance problem because a member is marked present if he or she attends only part of a session. On occasion, some directors seem to be fleeing for the exits in the waning hours of two-day meetings as they try catch planes, we have observed. Simpson wrote:
"At this month’s ICOC meeting Chairman Bob Klein was urging members to act quickly because the board would lose a quorum in 25 minutes. That’s no way to make substantive decisions affecting a $6 billion (including interest) program."
Simpson said,
"Patients hoping for stem cell cures rightly expect 100 percent commitment by board members.  If they can’t do that, the fair thing for everyone is to step aside."
Here is Simpson's complete attendance tally by member or alternate beginning in 2006:
"Ricardo Azziz — 14 of 14 — 100 percent
"David Baltimore — 10 of 10 — 100 percent
"Robert Birgeneau — 16 of 18 — 89 percent
"Keith L. Black — 2 of 2 — 100 percent
"Floyd Bloom — 6  of 6 — 100 percent
"David Brenner — 11 of 11 — 100 percent
"Susan Bryant — 17 of 18 — 94 percent
"Marsha Chandler — 3 of 7 — 43 percent
"Marcy Feit — 12 of 18 — 67 percent
"Michael Friedman — 15 of 18 — 83 percent
"Leeza Gibbons — 5 of 6 — 83 percent
"Michael Goldberg — 13 of 18 — 72 percent
"Brian E. Henderson — 14 of 15 — 93 percent
"Edward Holmes — 4 of 6 — 67 percent
"David Kessler — 10 of 13 — 77 percent
"Robert Klein — 18 of 18 — 100 percent
"Sherry Lansing — 16 of 18 — 89 percent
"Gerald Levey — 11 of 18 — 61 percent
"Ted Love — 15 of 18 — 83 percent
"Richard Murphy — 5 of 10 — 50 percent
"Tina Nova — 10 of 18 — 56 percent
"Ed Penhoet — 16 of 18 — 89 percent

"Philip Pizzo — 17 of 18 --- 94 percent
"Claire Pomeroy — 17 of 18 — 94 percent
"Francisco Prieto — 15 of 18 — 83 percent
"John Reed — 9 of 18 — 50 percent (Recused himself during ethics probe)
"Duane Roth — 16 of 16 — 100 percent
"Joan Samuelson — 12 of 18 — 67 percent
"David Serrano Sewell — 15 of 18 — 83 percent
"Jeff Sheehy — 15 of 18 — 83 percent
"Jonathan Shestack — 5 of 18 — 28 percent
"Oswald Steward — 16 of 18 — 89 percent
"Leon Thal — 6 of 6 — 100 percent
"Janet Wright — 15 of 15 — 100 percent."
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