Op-Ed

Mark Twain said it best when he commented: "There are lies, damn lies and ballot initiatives."
Actually, Twain didn't say that, but he might have, had he lived longer. Almost every year, California voters are deluged with mistruths and untruths about measures on the ballot. Tomorrow, voters will engage in another exercise of "direct democracy," even as the deceptions from last year's initiatives are still coming to light.

One of these deceptions involves Proposition 71, the measure that created California's $3 billion stem cell research agency in 2004. In marketing this initiative, proponents said the state would receive not only miracle cures and reduced medical costs, but also up to $1.1 billion in royalties from new stem cell innovations.

Now we are learning that this promise, at best, was misleading. At worst, it was a cynical ruse.

As was entirely predictable, biotech leaders and many university leaders - key supporters of Proposition 71 - are now opposing any return of royalties to California. They want to retain such payments at their own institutions, even though taxpayers are the ones who...