Sunday, December 07, 2008

Klein Says He Can't Afford to Work for Free

California stem cell Chairman Robert Klein, a multimillionaire real estate investment banker, says he can no longer afford to donate his time to the state, according to the San Diego Union-Tribune.

His comments came Saturday in a story by reporter Terri Somers that said "market conditions" have led Klein to seek a state salary after working without pay as the chairman of CIRM since December 2004. The salary could range as high as a half-million dollars a year.

Somers wrote:
"He (Klein) said that in consideration of the current economic climate, he would continue to provide at least 15 percent of his time to the institute for free. He said his institute workweek has always surpassed 40 hours and will continue that way.

"Meanwhile, his financial firm has become 'my night job,' with daily responsibilities handled by its staff.

"Klein's salary has already been discussed by the institute's governance committee, but that figure has not been made public."
CIRM's directors will hold meetings Tuesday and Wednesday in Irvine during which the question of Klein's compensation will come up. Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger late last week wrote directors, expressing "deep concern" about the Klein salary plan.

The bottom end of the salary range for chairman stands at $275,000 and the top at $508,750. CIRM President Alan Trounson, who does not sit on the 29-member board of directors, receives $490,000.

Another member of the board of directors, the vice chairman, is entitled to a salary ranging from $180,000 to $332,000. That post is vacant after Ed Penhoet, another multimillionaire who did not accept a salary, resigned to take a non-paying membership on the CIRM board.

Somers wrote,
"Reportedly, Schwarzenegger will nominate a candidate who does not need to take a salary, while the lieutenant governor, treasurer and controller are expected to nominate a candidate who would need a salary, said Robert Klein, chairman of the state stem cell institute."
Somers is the only mainstream media reporter to write about the Klein salary issue. Meanwhile, Wesley Smith, a bioethicist at the Discovery Institute, commented about the proposal on his blog, saying,
"This smacks of the sense of entitlement and hubris among the big shots and well connected that is utterly ruining the country.

"Well, the CIRM shouldn't be Klein's personal fiefdom. Rather than pay Klein a half million, let's show him the door instead."
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