Monday, July 13, 2009

CIRM Made Last Minute Bid to Delay Hoover Report

The California stem cell agency made a last-ditch effort to stall release of the results of an investigation into the agency by California’s good government commission despite the fact it had been underway for seven months

The attempt came in the form of a letter signed by four members of the CIRM board of directors, including Chairman Robert Klein, and its president, Alan Trounson. One anonymous critic suggested the letter was a violation of the state open meeting laws because “it was prepared and approved outside any public process” and involved the four board members.

In response to a query from the California Stem Cell Report, James Harrison of Remcho, Johansen & Purcell of San Leandro, Ca, CIRM’s outside counsel, said,
“The letter was not intended to be a statement on behalf of the Board with
respect to the draft proposals. Rather, it was intended to reflect, and
did reflect, only the views of the individuals who signed it. The Board
has not taken any action with respect to the Little Hoover Commission

The June 8 letter was directed to the Little Hoover Commission, which last month recommended an overhaul of the operations of the California stem cell agency. The commission said changes were needed in CIRM's structure because it is "is not adequate to protect taxpayers’ interests or serve its own ambitious goals."

The letter urged the commission to postpone consideration of the draft recommendations “to allow us time to engage in a meaningful dialogue.” The Hoover Commission began its investigation last November. CIRM knew months earlier that the inquiry would be forthcoming. The commission released its report on June 26.

In addition to Klein and Trounson, Art Torres and Duane Roth, co-vice chairmen of the agency, and Sherry Lansing, chair of the CIRM board’s Goverance Subcommittee signed the letter.

Our comment: It is not uncommon for enterprises under public fire to engage in dilatory tactics. The reasoning is that prolonging an inquiry weakens it, exhausts the investigators and could likely be outdated by the time it is concluded.

Below is the full text of Harrison’s response concerning the legality of the process leading to the June 8 letter. Sphere: Related Content


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