Reiner Resigns From State Commission
Film director Rob Reiner on Wednesday resigned as chair of the First 5 California Children and Families Commission, which administers proceeds of a state tax to fund children's health care and education programs, the Sacramento Bee reports. Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) named Hector Ramirez, vice president of the low-income children's group Para Los Ninos, as chair of the commission (Benson, Sacramento Bee, 3/30).
Critics allege that First 5 improperly funded a campaign to promote a universal preschool ballot measure supported by Reiner.
Schwarzenegger (R) last week said he would not replace Reiner as director of First 5, after the 14 Republican state senators called for Reiner's replacement earlier this month. Reiner's term as chair had expired, but he said he would continue to serve unless Schwarzenegger appointed a replacement (California Healthline, 3/22).
In a letter released Wednesday, Reiner wrote that the resignation was spurred by "personal political attacks."
Mark Fabiani, a spokesperson for Reiner, said the former chair was concerned that the controversy was distracting attention from the Proposition 82 campaign, a ballot measure to fund preschool for all California children (Sacramento Bee, 3/30).
Also on Wednesday, Assembly member Dario Frommer (D-Glendale) said he would ask state auditors to expand their investigation of First 5 advertising spending to include past ad campaigns funded by the commission. Frommer said there are some campaigns that could suggest an overlap between public expenses and a political campaign (Martin, San Francisco Chronicle, 3/30).
Reiner's resignation as chair of the First 5 commission "couldn't be more welcome," but his departure "is unlikely to do anything to change the culture at First 5," a San Diego Union-Tribune editorial states. "Fortunately," there is "still a chance" that the Legislature could "take away First 5's independence and place the agency under the state health department," the Union-Tribune writes. However, it is unknown whether Schwarzenegger would veto such a move "given his baffling performance to date on this issue," the editorial concludes (San Diego Union-Tribune, 3/30).
The following newspapers also reported on Reiner's resignation:
- "Rob Reiner Steps Down From California Preschool Commission" (Blood, AP/Contra Costa Times, 3/30).
- "Reiner Quits First 5 Panel" (Morain, Los Angeles Times, 3/30).
- "Rob Reiner Resigns From Children's Commission" (Joseph/Nelson, Orange County Register, 3/29).
- "Reiner Quits Commission for Toddlers" (Hull, San Jose Mercury News, 3/30).
In addition, KCRW's "Which Way, L.A.?" on Wednesday included an interview with Dan Weintraub, author of the "California Insider" column for the Sacramento Bee, about Reiner's resignation (Olney, "Which Way, L.A.?" KCRW, 3/29). The complete segment is available online in RealPlayer. This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.