Monday, November 24, 2008

The Bee Assails the CIRM 'Club'

The Sacramento Bee said today that the board of directors of the $3 billion California stem cell agency is "is rife with potential conflicts," "overly large and unwieldy" and "awards multimillion-dollar grants in a manner that favors secrecy over accountability."

The comment came in an editorial on last week's hearing by the state's good-government agency, the Little Hoover Commission, into the stem cell research program.

The editorial said,
"The most striking testimony came from Kenneth Taymor(see photo), executive director of the UC Berkeley Center for Law, Business and the Economy.

"Taymor, who has been watching the institute's operations for three years, noted that nearly everyone on the institute's governing board – medical school deans, university officials – has some sort of financial interest in the grants being awarded.

"Even with officials recusing themselves, the board's deliberations, he said, have the feel of 'a club that was allocating money among themselves' based on preordained decisions."
According to The Bee,
"The hearing revealed, once again, that this institute's 29-member governing board is rife with potential conflicts; that it is overly large and unwieldy; and that it awards multimillion-dollar grants in a manner that favors secrecy over accountability."
The Bee concluded:
"This is troublesome stuff, yet it doesn't appear the Little Hoover Commission will recommend sweeping structural changes, even though the institute still has more than $2 billion left to spend.

"Downsizing its governing board, eliminating conflicts and stripping the institute's chair of operational authority would require a constitutional amendment to Prop. 71. Based on their discussion Thursday, members of the Little Hoover Commission don't want to go that far.

"That's too bad. Without real reforms, Klein and his board will continue to operate like a club, spending taxpayer dollars without the normal safeguards of other public agencies."
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