Monday, April 21, 2014
In less than 10 days, the $3 billion California stem cell agency could well have a new president to oversee what could be the last years of its life.
Directors of the unprecedented state enterprise have scheduled a full-day meeting April 30 in Burlingame to make a decision on a candidate and decide what he or she is worth. As usual, compensation will be touchy, at least in terms of how it is perceived by the public.
Most of the governing board's session will be behind closed doors. However, the actual vote on the president and the compensation package will occur in open session. The public will have a chance to comment on both matters.
The current president of the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine(CIRM) , Alan Trounson, has a salary of $490,008. He has not had a pay raise since 2008, when he began work. Salaries of the public officials, however, are one of those visceral issues with large numbers of the public, which is incensed by anything that they perceive as excessive. Predictably, Trounson's salary and others at CIRM triggered outrage. (See here, here and here.) The salary of the new president is also likely to be greeted with less than enthusiasm, regardless of how the agency dresses it up.
The task of the new CIRM CEO will be far different than his or her predecessors. In 2005, the first year of the agency's operation, the president faced legal and organizational challenges and had to devise a plan for spending $3 billion in a nascent field. Today, the agency is down to its last $600 million and is scheduled to run out of funds for new awards in less than three years. It has embarked on a “sustainability” effort focusing on the possibility of some sort of public-private financing. That effort so far has failed to generate any public result.
The agency currently subsists on cash from state bonds, money borrowed by the state. The possibility of asking California voters for more state borrowing is still on the table. However, California political realities suggest that it would be difficult, to say the least, to mount another successful bond election to provide more billions for the agency.Sphere: Related Content