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Stem Cell Board Members Should Attend Meetings or Resign, Consumer Group Says
Date:8/22/2008

SANTA MONICA, Calif., Aug. 22 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Frequently facing difficulties mustering a quorum for meetings, California's stem cell oversight board has five members who showed up for 40 percent or fewer of regular board meetings so far this year, an analysis of attendance records by Consumer Watchdog found. The nonpartisan, nonprofit consumer group said members unable to attend regular sessions should step aside to allow people who can participate in deliberations to be appointed.

"Being a member of the Independent Citizens Oversight Committee (ICOC) is hard work and requires a serious commitment," said John M. Simpson, Consumer Watchdog's Stem Cell Project director. "Patients hoping for stem cell cures rightly expect 100 percent commitment by board members. If they can't do that, the fair thing for everyone is to step aside."

The meeting minutes analyzed actually understate the attendance problem because a member is marked present if they are only at part of a session.

"At this month's ICOC meeting Chairman Bob Klein was urging members to act quickly because the board would lose a quorum in 25 minutes. That's no way to make substantive decisions affecting a $6 billion program," said Simpson.

Complicating the task of mustering a quorum is the supermajority required under Proposition 71. Instead of a simple majority, two-thirds, or 19 members, of the 29-person board are required.

This year seven ICOC meetings are scheduled. Six of them are two-day sessions. Five have been held. To help planning for next year, a schedule of the ICOC's regular meetings was posted on the CIRM website Wednesday. It also calls for seven meetings, six of them two-day sessions. This year's meeting schedule was also available far in advance.

"When you know what's expected this far ahead," said Simpson, "there really is no excuse for flagrant absenteeism."

The worst attendance records for the five meetings this year, accordin
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SOURCE Consumer Watchdog
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