Thursday, June 25, 2009

CIRM Rips Hoover-recommended Reforms as Disruptive

The California stem cell agency has fired off a legal memo to the state's good government commission, declaring that its proposed changes in CIRM would impose illegal and “drastic and disruptive” alterations in the stem cell research effort.

The memo from CIRM's outside attorneys came as the Little Hoover Commission today approved its wide-ranging report, which is expected to be released in full tomorrow.

Among other things, the Hoover proposals call on the legislature to reduce the size of the CIRM board, reduce the super-majority quorum requirement, eliminate salaries for the chairman and vice chairman and eliminate the dual executive situation created by Prop. 71.

All of those provisions, in one form or another, hamper the operations of CIRM. Even the salary matter has diverted the board from its primary mission of funding research. Today, nearly five years after CIRM was created, the board is still struggling with an incomplete evaluation process for the chairman and vice chairman. Those positions are filled by a vote of the board.

Nonetheless, James Harrison and Kari Krogseng of Remcho, Johansen and Purcell of San Leandro, wrote on Tuesday (June 23),
“The Little Hoover Commission’s proposals would effect drastic and disruptive changes to CIRM’s governance and operating systems. Such changes run counter to the voters’ intent, and do not further Proposition 71’s purposes.”
The 10-page legal memo hung most of its arguments on a provision in Prop. 71 that states that it can only be amended by the legislature if the changes “enhance the ability of the institute to further the purposes of the grant and loan programs.”

Harrison's memo said the Hoover proposals could only be enacted through another ballot measure, a move that a subcommittee of Hoover commissioners clearly opposed earlier this month.

Americans for Cures, the private stem cell lobbying group of CIRM Chairman Robert Klein, also produced a 14-page legal memo that the reached the same conclusion as Harrison.

The memo was written, also on Tuesday, by Richard Martland and Kurt Oneto of the Nielsen, Merksamer, Parrinello, Mueller & Naylor law firm of Sacramento, Ca. The firm has a lobbying contract with CIRM but we presume no state funds were used for the Martland memo.

The document had this interesting tidbit in it:
“The (Hoover Commission) proposal would effectively permit the ICOC (the CIRM board) decision-making process to be captured by a small minority and would deprive ICOC decisions of the benefit of input from the broad spectrum of views currently represented on the committee. It is inconceivable that voters who approved an organization with 29 members would have imagined that 5 members would ultimately be able to make binding decisions on its behalf.”
However, that is exactly what happens. We pointed out a good example last week in which only six of the board members were permitted to vote. All the rest in attendance were excluded not only from voting but from participating in the debate.

(Editor's note: The copies of the memos were supplied by the Little Hoover Commission to John M. Simpson of Consumer Watchdog of Santa Monica, Ca., who relayed them to us. The Merksamer memo contains a confidentiality warning. However, when it was submitted to the Hoover Commission the memo became a public record.) Sphere: Related Content

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