Thursday, October 29, 2020

Prop. 14 News Coverage: Campaign Chicken Feed and Editorials

The Biopolitical Times this week briefly explored campaign spending on Proposition 14, newspaper editorials and opposition to the $5.5 billion stem cell research measure on this fall's California ballot.

The piece by Pete Shanks, who has followed the state stem cell agency for a number of years and opposes the measure, called the $18 million spent on behalf of Proposition 14 "almost modest." It is actually chicken feed compared to the more than $700 million spent so far on California on all ballot propositions.

Indeed, the $18 million is smaller than many grants from California's stem cell agency, which would be refinanced and significantly expanded under Proposition 14. A substantial number of the agency's grants run about $20 million. 

Several years ago, Robert Klein, the Palo Alto real estate developer heading the campaign, told the California Stem Cell Report that the effort would cost $50 million. However, the more modest $18 million may be the product of a difficult fundraising environment this year rather than reflecting what is needed to win approval of the measure. Or it could be a lack of enthusiasm among potential major donors.  

Known officially as the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine (CIRM), the agency is scheduled to begin closing its doors this winter without a substantial infusion of cash.

Shanks also tallied up newspaper editorials on Proposition 14 and said, "Overall, the  'NO' publications seem far more impressive." Many of the major newspapers in the state oppose the measure, including the Los Angeles Times, the state's largest circulation newspaper. The San Francisco Chronicle, which spent months in 2018 analyzing the operations of the stem cell agency, also opposed Proposition 14. 

Shanks noted that Zach Hall, the first president of the agency, says the agency has served its purpose and no longer is needed. The California Stem Cell Report on Monday first reported Hall's position. 

The Biopolitical Times is produced by the Center for Genetics and Society in Berkeley, Ca., which opposed creation of the stem cell agency in 2004.  
Read all about California's stem cell agency, including Proposition 14,  in David Jensen's new book. Download it from Amazon:  California's Great Stem Cell Experiment: Inside a $3 Billion Search for Stem Cell Cures. Click here for more information on the author.

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