“The relationship already reeked of cronyism.”
“Trounson's move comes as CIRM must begin looking to the future, but any discussions about extending the agency's life span will have to address the flaws created by Proposition 71 (the ballot initiative that created the agency in 2004). Among them is the program's very structure, and even its scientific goals.”
“How bad are the conflicts? When the board considered a proposal earlier this year to spend $16 million to attract three star scientists to California, so many members had to recuse themselves that only nine were left to vote. (Six ended up voting in favor.)
“When conflicts of interest are so rife that only one-third of your board can weigh in on a major policy issue, that's tantamount to not having any board at all.”
“Programs like CIRM are always susceptible to inflated expectations.
"”Since Big Science needs great public support it thrives on publicity,’ the physicist Alvin Weinberg, a veteran of the Manhattan Project, wrote in a famous 1961 article in "Science" about the drawbacks of big-money scientific research. He added: ‘The inevitable result is the injection of a journalistic flavor into Big Science which is fundamentally in conflict with the scientific method.... The spectacular rather than the perceptive becomes the scientific standard.’"
“CIRM-funded labs have produced genuine achievements. But the agency tends to delineate its progress in buildings built, papers published, and big-name scientists lured to California. But the specific cures promised by the Proposition 71 campaign haven't materialized, which doesn't surprise anyone steeped in the realities of the scientific method.”
“Even if one believes the need for California to devote $3 billion to a narrow, extremely speculative field of science, the Trounson case and other CIRM administrative missteps have made clear that Proposition 71 created the wrong framework to manage a complex research effort. The initiative left the public with no way to tell if its money has been well spent, and no accountability if it hasn't.
“Moreover, the program deprived potentially more promising research efforts of resources and contributed to the general impoverishment of California's entire higher-education system. If its sponsors have the audacity to ask taxpayers for even more money under the same terms as Proposition 71, the reply should be a resounding ‘no.’ If the voters are gullible enough to repeat the same mistake they made in 2004, there's no cure for them.”