Wednesday, December 15, 2010

CIRM Board Attorney Challenges Assessment of Klein's Financial Warning

James Harrison, outside counsel to the CIRM board of directors, this afternoon took issue with our item yesterday that reported that CIRM Chairman Robert Klein issued an “urgent, financial alarm” concerning the agency's bond funding as part of his bid for re-election.

We are carrying the message from Harrison, of Remcho, Johansen & Purcell of San Leandro, Ca., verbatim. Our assessment of it follows his remarks. For the original items, see here and here.

Harrision's remarks:
“I write in response to your recent blog postings regarding CIRM’s financial condition and in appreciation for the additional information provided by the Treasurer’s Office.

“First, Bob Klein did not issue 'an urgent, financial alarm' in his candidate statement as you suggest.  Rather, he made the Board aware of an issue that he intends to “immediately focus” on if the Board were to re-elect him as Chair.  Currently, CIRM has no authority for the Treasurer to issue additional bonds on CIRM’s behalf.  Given CIRM’s expectation that the disbursement of funds will accelerate in 2011, it important that this authorization occur in the first quarter while CIRM’s existing Board members and staff who are familiar with the process are in place.

“In an email communication to CIRM on December 2, 2010, the Treasurer’s Office informed CIRM that the Treasurer’s Office only had “December and January available for finance committee meetings since we could issue bonds as early as February 2011.”  Based on this exchange, staff believed that it was a priority for Bob to work with them to prepare the internal projections that are essential for the meeting.  It is important to obtain an additional authorization even though Bob believes that it is not necessary to obtain bond funds in the immediate future.  We welcome the additional information from Tom Dresslar, the Treasurer’s spokesperson, but don’t perceive a significant difference between what the Treasurer’s Office has said and what Bob Klein said in his statement.  Furthermore, even if the California Stem Cell Research and Cures Finance Committee meeting were to occur in February or March, Bob would like to ensure that all of the background work that is necessary to provide additional authority to issue bonds on CIRM’s behalf is completed in the first quarter of 2011, including updated projections for 2011 and 2012 that are generally required by the Department of Finance.  Given that Bob has stated that he only has 90 to 180 days available to serve as Chair, he would like to focus on this immediately.”
Obviously our characterization of Klein's remarks is our opinion. But given the nature of his choice of words – such as “just informed,” “immediate,” “essential” and “there may not be another opportunity” – plus the election-eve timing of the statement, ample evidence exists to conclude that Klein was sounding an urgent alarm aimed at generating concern among CIRM board members. And the point of the concern was to demonstrate Klein's indispensability to directors. Sphere: Related Content

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