Wednesday, March 18, 2009

The Bee: Dual Vice Chairs at CIRM Enhance Klein's Power

The Sacramento Bee today said the election of two vice chairs on the board of the California stem cell agency gives its chairman, Robert Klein, "more power than ever."

The Bee made the comment in an editorial that also said that the CIRM board of directors – formally and fancifully known as Independent Citizens Oversight Committee -- is far from independent.

The editorial said splitting the vice chair position between Art Torres and Duane Roth meant that it would be difficult for the vice chair to serve as a check on Klein's broad authority and power. The Bee noted,

"If the stem cell institute had a normal structure, with a strong president handling administrative duties, the selection of the institute vice chair would be less consequential."

The Bee concluded,

"It's a further demonstration that the Independent Citizens Oversight Committee is neither independent, nor a group of citizens, nor much of an overseer of $3 billion in public monies."

Early this morning, only one Bee reader had commented on the editorial. The anonymous reader said,

"What are we to expect? It is only government money and does not belong to anyone, so why not use it to feather the nest of termed out favorites of the ruling class? "

The reader appeared to be referring to a running flap in California over the appointment by the governor and others of termed-out legislators to paid positions on various state boards.

For the record, the print version of The Bee, the only daily newspaper in the state Capitol, has not carried a story on the election of Roth and Torres. A brief mention did appear on one of The Bee's blogs.

The lack of coverage probably had something to do with the paper's shrinking staff. Ten days ago, The Bee laid off 128 employees, 11 percent of its staff. Like other newspapers in both the McClatchy chain and around the country, this was only the latest. Since June, The Bee has eliminated positions for 301 men and women, 26 percent of its staff. Sixty-five jobs have been lost in the newsroom, which now numbers 190 persons.

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