Sunday, August 2, 2009

Pandemic alert

Loren Steffy takes shots at A&M again in the Houston Chronicle
Texas A&M's plan to develop a world-class medical research facility could use an injection of integrity.

In January, the state awarded A&M $50 million from the Emerging Technology Fund, which purports to benefit private-sector technology startups, for the National Center for Therapeutics Manufacturing, which plans to develop new vaccines.

Unfortunately, the infusion of taxpayer money is showing some disturbing symptoms that have been found in other state economic development deals: a web of political relationships and arrangements with financially shaky companies with ties to key decision makers in the process.
Steffy reviews material that will mostly be familiar to readers of the Vision 1920 blog. There are a few things we've missed here, though:
Bob Pearson, an Introgen director at the time of the grant and a Perry campaign contributor, is also a member of the 17-member advisory board that reviews the tech fund grants.

Introgen was founded by David Nance, a major Perry supporter who's currently on the statewide finance committee for the governor's re-election campaign. Nance, who quit Introgen just before the bankruptcy, donated $50,000 to Perry's campaign in 2005 and 2006, records show, and Perry has appointed him to three different technology committees — including the tech fund advisory panel — dating to Perry's stint as lieutenant governor.
Steffy has been a potbanger over A&M's tech vision before. He loses credibility, though with this:
“There's not a single dollar I've gotten off of any patents,” he [Giroir]said. “I never took a single dime from Xoma.”

Maybe not, but the A&M System has taken five million dimes from taxpayers, and they deserve better. The public may benefit from the NCTM's vaccine research, but it's the sort of deal that leaves taxpayers feeling sick.
5 million dimes is only $500K. The NCTM got five hundred million taxpayer dimes.

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