Reiner Takes Leave of Absence as First 5 Chair
Producer Rob Reiner on Friday announced that he would take a leave of absence from his position as chair of the First 5 California Children and Families Commission because of controversy over an advertising campaign for a universal preschool ballot measure that Reiner supports, the Los Angeles Times reports (Morain, Los Angeles Times, 2/25).
State residents in 1998 approved Proposition 10, which Reiner backed, to create First 5 (Mecoy, Sacramento Bee, 2/26). The program provides funds for health care, preschool and other services for children ages five and younger, using proceeds from a 50 cent-per-pack tobacco tax.
The First 5 Commission from November 2005 to January spent $23 million on advertisements advocating preschool (Los Angeles Times, 2/25). At the time, Reiner was supporting efforts to qualify a measure to fund universal preschool for California children for the June ballot. The measure has qualified for the ballot.
Kris Perry, executive director of First 5, in December 2005 said Reiner did not participate in decisions about First 5's ad campaign.
Senate Minority Leader Dick Ackerman (R-Tustin) and Assembly Member Dario Frommer (D-Glendale) on Friday asked Controller Steve Westly (D) to audit First 5 (Sacramento Bee, 2/26).
Westly declined the audit requests (Los Angeles Times, 2/25).
According to Reiner, the state controller already audits First 5 (Sacramento Bee, 2/26).
Reiner's leave of absence took effect immediately and will run until June 7, the day after the election including the universal preschool measure (Los Angeles Times, 2/25). Reiner's four-year term as chair of the commission expired in 2003. He has continued to serve because Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) has not appointed a replacement (Sacramento Bee, 2/26).