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When voters swallowed the Proposition 71 snake oil and went billions into debt in a state already drowning in red ink to chase the rainbow of human cloning, they had no idea that the California Institute of Regenerative Medicine would find itself in continual turmoil. The latest is a threat by the CIRM to sue its landlord for free operating expenses such as electricity and garbage pickup.

At the time, San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom kowtowed to the CIRM just like other government leaders have throughout the country to Big Biotech and arranged free rent if it would locate in SF. But now, the CIRM says it is owed an expense free domicile and may sue to get it. From the story:

A highly touted agreement that won San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom bragging rights for landing the headquarters of California’s stem cell institute in his city three years ago has run into a snag—a dispute over how to pay potentially millions of dollars in operating expenses...

At a closed session in Sacramento on Wednesday, however, the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine’s governing board voted to authorize legal action against Stockbridge Capital Partners, the owner of the building, to assure reimbursement for the operating expenses...

At issue is approximately $425,000 in annual operating costs for items as diverse as electricity, janitors, parking privileges and fees similar to those paid by condominium owners. Part of the deal, according to stem cell board Chairman Robert Klein, was that the state-funded institute would not have to pay those costs...Adam Alberti, spokesman for Stockbridge, said Wednesday that the company remains committed to keeping the institute headquarters in San Francisco. “We are in year two of a 10-year rent-free deal,” he said. “We will continue to meet that obligation.”

Alberti said that so far the firm also has covered about $1 million of operating expenses - costs that were to be covered by “private fundraisers and other parties” who have yet to come through with the money. “We are working with the city and other folks involved to find ways to cover this,” he said. “Ultimately, the guarantor of the deal is Stockbridge.”

Whether San Francisco itself may end up footing part of the bill remains uncertain.

Is there any other industry in which government leaders and private enterprise go so, to put it politely, supine? And all of these billions to be thrown at an area of biotechnology that might not even pan out. Unbelievable.

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