Friday, February 11, 2011

The "Challenges" in a New Multibillion Dollar Stem Cell Bond Election

The California stem cell agency recently trotted out a rosy report that it commissioned about the beneficial impact of its $1.1 billion in spending so far.

CIRM's spin, however, is somewhat different than the perspective from the Pacific Research Institute.

K. Lloyd Billingsley, editorial director of the San Francisco "free market" organization, said the CIRM report is "a confession that CIRM is a bust at its original mission."

In an op-ed piece Wednesday in the San Francisco Examiner, Billingsley wrote,
"CIRM is an insiders’ club essentially accountable to no one, and its job and revenue claims remain dubious. The federal government now funds embryonic stem cell research, calling into question CIRM’s reason for existence. Adult stem cell research also continues at many institutions, delivering cures and therapies CIRM has failed to produce and remains unlikely to deliver."
Folks like Billingsley are unlikely to be ever persuaded that CIRM will produce results that justify its existence. Few of them are speaking out now, but they will surface in a major way once a ballot campaign for a $3 billion to $5 billion CIRM bond measure is underway.

It's a "challenge," as they say, for the agency. Billingsley and his sympathizers will be not back off even if the results of a proposed Institute of Medicine study and a performance audit handily endorse CIRM. Both will be commissioned by CIRM. That means their independence will always be questioned.

To be successful with a bond issue, given California's parlous financial condition, the stem cell agency will have to generate over the next year or so a drumbeat in the news that is both largely favorable and credible. That will be no mean task.

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