Thursday, October 30, 2008

Sunday Afternoon with CIRM: A Personnel Matter

The Governance Subcommittee of the $3 billion California stem cell agency has an interesting little meeting scheduled for this weekend.

Interesting in the sense that the meeting of the group of CIRM directors poses more questions than answers.

Only one substantive item is on the agenda, a closed-door personnel session. Both the narrow scope of the meeting and the unusual Sunday afternoon timing made us wonder what exactly was going on.

We asked Don Gibbons, chief communications officer for CIRM, to illuminate the subject matter further and explain the Sunday timing. His one-sentence response:
"It is because of the chair of the subcommittee’s busy schedule."
The chair is Sherry Lansing(see photo), a former Hollywood studio head (think "Titanic"and "Forrest Gump")and now head of the charitable foundation bearing her name. She is indeed a busy woman and has her fingers in several major pies, including the board of regents of the University of California.

The responsibilities of the eight-member, directors' governance committee include such things as CIRM internal controls, ethics, outside contracting as well as monitoring management goals. One could speculate that the meeting's timing reflects a certain urgency and importance, although its recommendations generally must be approved by the full board of directors. That 29-member group meets on Monday.

Closed-door personnel sessions are permitted under state law. If the committee takes any action, it must be reported following the private session. However, the public will have a chance to speak out during the meeting at six different locations in California, if they choose to do so. The teleconference sites include San Francisco, Los Angeles, La Jolla, Palo Alto, Sacramento and Laguna Beach. The street addresses can be found on the agenda.

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