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In its fight to muster a quorum for regular stem cell board meetings, a board subcommittee has signed off on a plan that would let some members take part by telephone.

Under its bylaws the 29-member stem cell agency board, the Independent Citizens Oversight Committee, requires a supermajority of 65 percent to conduct business.  Increasingly, as I've chronicled, that has been a challenge.

And even when there has been a quorum present there has all too often be a mad rush to take votes before members left for the day.  It's not the sort of atmosphere which is conducive to sound deliberation and good policy making.

The proposed rules would allow up to five members to take part in ICOC meetings by teleconference, but would give the chairman the discretion to limit the number based on "his or her assessment of the importance of in-person attendance at the ICOC meeting for which a teleconference participation request was made."

The rules also limit the number of times a member could phone in to twice a year and offer the teleconference option to ICOC members with significant medical needs.

A couple of thoughts:

  • First, of course, folks who cannot maintain the substantial commitment to the ICOC ought to quit. There's nothing wrong with that. There is somethng very wrong with holding a seat and never showing up.
  • Second,  a better solution would be to reduce quorum requirements to a simple majority and to adopt a procedure to remove or otherwise sanction members who are chronically absent. Perhaps such suggestions will come from the state's efficiency panel, The Little Hoover Commission, as a result of its planned study.

      Meanwhile, the ICOC will hold a special meeting -- special meetings can be done with a conference call so long as the public has access -- to adopt the new rules so they'll be in place for the two-day meeting Dec. 9 and 10.