Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Oversight Panel of California Stem Cell Agency Schedules First Meeting in 21 Months

The only governmental body specifically charged with oversight of the $3 billion California stem cell agency, an enterprise that operates beyond normal state controls, announced yesterday that it would meet in just three days.

The session of the oversight panel comes 21 months after the last meeting of the Citizens Financial and Accountability Oversight Committee(CFOAC). The panel is required by state law to meet annually. Its last meeting in January 2014 saw the agency criticized harshly by one of the members of the oversight panel.

The committee is chaired by the state controller, who currently is Betty Yee. At the time of the last meeting, the controller was John Chiang, who is now state treasurer.

The agenda for this Thursday's meeting contains no items that would seem to be controversial, only a review of a routine audit and a presentation by the agency itself.

In January of 2014, Jim Lott, one of the members of CFAOC, made it clear at some length that he was not pleased with the agency's performance. He said in part:
“What can we say we've done to advance to a cure or to cures? It's fine that we've got all -- we've contributed to all. What can you say that we've actually done? We don't really have any -- I'm going to just say this because it's a bias and I know it's a bias. We don't have any tangible specific and measurable results that I can point to.”
The $3 billion state stem cell agency is exempt from the usual state budgetary controls. It receives its funds directly from bond proceeds without intervention by the governor or the legislature. The agency’s independence was authorized by voters when they created the agency in 2004 through a ballot initiative that altered the state constitution.

Two sites are available for the public to observe and participate. One is in Emeryville in the San Francisco area and the other is in Los Angles. Addresses can be found on the agenda. The public can also listen to an audiocast of the proceedings. Directions are also on the agenda. 

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