Bulletproof Legislation

By Chris Nolan  |  Posted 2004-12-09 Print this article Print

Although Klein has said his goal is to take politics out of the research grant-making process, he and Prop. 71s other backers clearly know thats almost impossible. Theyve formed an adjunct organization, the California Research and Cures Coalition, to do their political work, which they describe as "educating opinion leaders, elected officials and policy makers, medical professionals, media and the general public." Of course, it doesnt hurt that the initiative contains wording effectively banning changes in how it operates for at least three years. Ortiz can drop all the bills she wants, but the legislation is unlikely to go anywhere. Klein, surprisingly, has criticized Ortizs legislation. And to make matters worse, the oversight committee and the coalition formed to support its work have shown signs of giving short shrift to the political nominees by not including them in some scheduled meetings. The groups willingness to have closed-door meetings isnt going down well. And, getting phone calls returned isnt easy, either.
The best course here is the one that pours oil on troubled waters. Committee appointees might not like having their financial records open to scrutiny but some sort of disclosure is probably in order. Making meetings—or records of meetings—open to the public might be a safer strategy than shutting the door and letting critics rely on disgruntled or dissatisfied grant applicants for accounts of what goes on. If Prop. 71 comes to be seen, rightly or wrongly, as a private industry boondoggle it wont just hurt the research efforts the measures backers hope to fund, it will give the measures critics—in California and across the nation—legitimate grounds for complaint. Check out eWEEK.coms for the latest news, views and analysis of technologys impact on government and politics.

Standalone journalist Chris Nolan runs 'Politics from Left to Right,' a political Web site at www.chrisnolan.com that focuses on the intersection of politics, technology and business issues in San Francisco, in California and on the national scene.

Nolan's work is well-known to tech-savvy readers. Her weekly syndicated column, 'Talk is Cheap,' appeared in The New York Post, Upside, Wired.com and other publications. Debuting in 1997 at the beginnings of the Internet stock boom, it covered a wide variety of topics and was well regarded for its humor, insight and news value.

Nolan has led her peers in breaking important stories. Her reporting on Silicon Valley banker Frank Quattrone was the first to uncover the now infamous 'friend of Frank' accounts and led, eventually, to Quattrone's conviction on obstruction of justice charges.

In addition to columns and Weblogging, Nolan's work has appeared in The Washington Post, The New Republic, Fortune, Business 2.0 and Condé, Nast Traveler, and she has spoken frequently on the impact of Weblogging on politics and journalism.

Before moving to San Francisco, Nolan, who has more than 20 years of reporting experience, wrote about politics and technology in Washington, D.C., for a series of television trade magazines. She holds a B.A. from Barnard College, Columbia University.


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