Heating up

Dec 7, 2012

California's voter-approved stem cell agency, the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine that has doled out some $1.3 billion in grants, is in need of some serious restructuring to address problems of conflict of interest and mismanagement, according to an outside review.


From the Chronicle's Arin Allday: "The stem cell agency is run by a 29-member governing board that includes scientists, industry leaders and patient advocates - and most of those members are on the payroll of academic or biotech institutions that have won state funding."


"The review report did not address whether there had been any conflict-of-interest problems at the stem cell agency. But it noted that concerns about conflicts of interest are valid, and that if the agency doesn't address those concerns, it could lose credibility among scientists and the public at large."


"It's so important to have more independent members of the board - members that will not directly benefit from funding," said Harold Shapiro, a professor emeritus from Princeton University who chaired the 13-member committee that put together the review. "They don't all have to be independent. But right now almost none of them are."


A group of rural counties want a greater share of money under the state-local realignment program, arguing that they are sharing the brunt of the load of incarcerating prisoners.


From the LAT's Paige St. John: "How that money gets carved up is the question. In a letter hand-delivered today to Brown, 13 rural lawmakers contend urban counties such as San Francisco and Marin are receiving more than $25,000 per new offender, while Kern and Fresno receive less than $8,000 per felon."


"They claim one Central Valley county, Kern, has nearly twice the expected number of paroled felons to supervise, and local crime rates are beginning to rise. "If the current allocation formula continues, counties with higher numbers of AB 109 offenders will have great difficulty maintaining public safety," the lawmakers wrote."


“One thing is clear: Funding must follow the offender." said Sen. Michael Rubio (D-Shafter), one of the co-signers."


Global warming has cost more than $1 billion and caused the losses of some 27,000 jobs in California and dozens of other states because of the sparse snowfall and other factors, according to a study commissioned by environmental groups.


From the Bee's Mark Glover: "The study – titled "Climate Impacts on the Winter Tourism Economy in the United States" and written by two University of New Hampshire researchers – said California and 37 other states have lost an estimated $1 billion and up to 27,000 jobs over the last decade alone due to less snowfall and shorter winters that research indicates are linked to global climate change."


"The report warned that a continuation of the global warming trend could result in the loss of thousands more jobs at ski resorts and create numerous related economic setbacks, costing billions in lost revenue and tax dollars..."


"Without intervention, winter temperatures are projected to warm an additional 4 to 10 degrees Fahrenheit by the end of the century, with subsequent decreases in snow cover area, snowfall and (a) shorter snow season. Snow depths could decline in the West by 25 to 100 percent … ."

From the Bay Citizen's Joanna Lin: "Under proposals the state's teacher credentialing agency is set to consider today, school districts would need to show on a case-by-case basis that no fully credentialed teachers are available before they resort to less-qualified educators, and under-prepared teachers could serve a maximum of three years instead of five."

"The Commission on Teacher Credentialing is weighing the changes after expressing concern that under-prepared teachers disproportionately serve students who are living in poverty and learning English."


"Until that changes, we need to tighten up our process a little bit," Commissioner Kathleen Harris said at a September commission meeting, where possible regulatory changes for under-prepared teachers were first discussed."


California's political watcdog is looking into whether former GOP Minority Leader Bob Dutton improperly used campaign funds to buy his SUV.


From the AP's Don Thompson: "The Fair Political Practices Commission has sent a letter to Republican Bob Dutton, the former minority leader from Rancho Cucamonga, questioning why the title for the 2005 Chevrolet Tahoe is in his name if it was for campaign use."


"Depending on the response, the commission could open a formal investigation as early as next week, said Gary Winuk, chief of the commission's Enforcement Division. Dutton said he believed he was following the law...."


"The inquiry is based on a report published Wednesday by The Associated Press on at least a dozen lawmakers, including Dutton, who had their vehicles repaired at taxpayers' expense shortly before they bought them from independent dealers who purchased the vehicles from the state. Dutton's vehicle had nearly $6,000 worth of repairs, including a dent repair and a detailed cleaning, in the weeks before he bought it last year."

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