Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Klein's Collateral Damage: Delay Needed in CIRM Chair Election

Fans of the editorial pages of the leading newspaper in California's capital this morning read a piece denouncing the “shenanigans” of the chair of the state's $3 billion stem cell agency, Robert Klein, and urging him to step aside.

The op-ed article in The Sacramento Bee was written by John M. Simpson, stem cell project director for Consumer Watchdog of Santa Monica, Ca., a longtime observer of and participant in CIRM affairs. He said,
“As his six-year term comes to an end, Bob Klein should be high-fiving his way around a victory lap, basking in accolades for his substantial accomplishments as the first chair of the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine.

“Instead, unable to transcend a propensity to micromanage, he tried to pull strings behind the scene to anoint his successor. Inevitably the effort blew up in his face embarrassing him and his choice for the job, and causing collateral damage to the image of the agency’s governing board, the Independent Citizens Oversight Committee(ICOC).”
Simpson said that Klein's conduct and the election of a new chair are not minor matters to be shunted into a convenient closet at CIRM headquarters in San Francisco. He wrote,
“Indeed, how CIRM is governed and whether the board steps up and exercises appropriate oversight could spell the difference between CIRM’s successfully funding $3 billion in cutting edge research or becoming a boondoggle that is a monument to wasteful spending.”
Simpson continued,
“So what should the ICOC do to restore a modicum of reason to the succession process?

“Do not take Klein at his word. When Proposition 71 was passed he vowed to serve only a couple of years as chairman, without pay. Six years later, he is in the job, now officially defined as a half-time position, drawing $150,000 and re-nominated to a second term.

“There is no reason for the ICOC to act now; Wednesday’s vote should be canceled. All pending nominations should be withdrawn. If the board doesn’t elect a successor, Klein continues until a successor is selected. If he is elected to a second term, based on past history, he’ll likely be around in six years.

“The ICOC and its governance committee must have a serious public discussion about the sort of candidate required; it’s clear the constitutional officers would welcome the input. New nominations can be made and an election held by March.”
Simpson concluded,
“There are two eminently qualified candidates: Current vice chairs Art Torres and Duane Roth. Bob Klein needs to get out of the way so one of them can ultimately be elected.”
Simpson's article followed a letter to CIRM directors by the state's top fiscal officer calling for cancellation of tomorrow's election of a new CIRM chairman. Controller John Chiang, who heads a CIRM financial oversight committee, said the current process is fundamentally flawed. Sphere: Related Content

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