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Political Interference in Program Management
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Trying to Control TEROC

As TEROC became an advocate for the media campaign, the political appointees at DHS started to investigate how they could increase their control over this nominally independent oversight committee. In addition to replacing outspoken members, DHS also tried to exercise control over the meeting minutes, the Master Plan that TEROC was required to prepare for the Legislature, and the meeting agendas.

In 1997 Jennie Cook, chair of TEROC, became aware that the DHS administration had issued instructions for it to edit the TEROC minutes. Cook explained, “I mean, when they got to the point where they were reviewing the minutes before I ever saw them and taking stuff out, I really blew my stack. Those are our minutes, they're not the department's minutes, those are our minutes. I want everything in it.”[52] The review process affected more than just the minutes. On March 4, 1997, Genest

sent an e-mail to TCS specifying, “In no event, should TCS TEROC staff simply distribute an agenda or other materials to TEROC without first consulting with TCS management.”[69] Bill Ruppert, the TCS member who staffed TEROC, wrote to Bal to inquire about the procedure for approving minutes:

In the past, we FAXed the draft minutes to the chairperson of TEROC, made any corrections requested by the chair, and then mailed the final out to the members.…

For the December 10 [1996] and February 10 [1997] TEROC meetings, there was [a] great deal of confusion and delay over approval of the minutes. There were requests from the Deputy Director level and Division level for review of drafts even before these drafts went to the Chairperson. It is unclear what the role of these levels was at the time, whether it was approval or not. The chairperson told me that she did not want anyone changing the minutes.[70] [emphasis added]

Bal forwarded the note on to Lyman, who responded, “The rule is, `no surprises.' If the minutes are acerbic the front office wants to know before they appear in front of them from some other source.” He claimed that otherwise the review was just for quality control purposes.[71]

The agenda for the June 17, 1997, meeting also caused controversy when Stratton demanded that Pierce be removed from the agenda, probably anticipating that Pierce would present results from the California Tobacco Survey showing that the program was being compromised by the funding diversions and the hindrances to the media campaign. According to Lyman, Stratton “does not want to see his face!…Tell them Pierce is in San Diego busilly [sic] working away to get data for September.”[72] Lyman also said that Stratton wanted the report from the University of California to be longer and for the university to be put on the “hot seat.” He also wanted the report from CDE to “talk longer and invite more questions on their productivity.”[72] Cook was furious when Ruppert conveyed these suggested changes, especially the order that she “un-invite” Pierce.[73]

The political leadership at DHS was particularly worried that a presentation by Pierce at TEROC could put embarrassing results on the program's loss of effectiveness before the public. Stratton responded on May 30 that “with respect to Dr. Pierce, it has always been our policy to share data when it is ready for release. In the case of his contract, that means after he had conducted the analysis, put it in writing, and shared with the contract management and technical staff in TCS for approval and release. At the last TEROC meeting, this process was not followed.

I expect our usual procedures to be followed this time.”[74] Pierce could come to the meeting, but only after DHS reviewed his presentation. Michael Johnson, the head of evaluation at TCS, wrote to Bal to assure him that he would get advance data from Pierce: “I will forward to you and up through the appropriate channels.”[75] Lyman also noted, “We will `read him the riot act' and place a `heavy' on each side of him at TEROC to assure he does not open a new bag of unexpected tricks for them.”[76]

The administration had succeeded in purging TEROC before the February 10 meeting, leaving no strong voices on the committee beyond Cook's. She was joined on May 19, however, by Professor Stanton Glantz of the University of California, San Francisco, when Senator Bill Lockyer (D-Hayward) appointed Glantz to TEROC. Given Glantz's strong opposition to the tobacco industry and politicians who supported industry interests, many observers were surprised to see Lockyer—author of the 1987 Napkin Deal, which gave the tobacco industry immunity from product liability in California—appoint Glantz to TEROC.[77] Lockyer's decision seemed to reflect the continuing shift in overall Democratic policy away from its staunch pro-tobacco position during Willie Brown's tenure as speaker. Glantz provided Cook with an important ally on the committee.

At the time Glantz joined TEROC, he found it in the process of finalizing its Master Plan for the next two years of the California Tobacco Control Program. He considered the recommendations diffuse and not clearly focused on program implementation, and he worked with Cook to strengthen and focus them. In July TEROC issued its new Master Plan, with the following recommendations for future program direction:

  1. Vigorously expose tobacco industry tactics.
  2. Press for smoke-free workplaces and homes.
  3. Accelerate cessation of smoking in persons between the ages of 20 and 39.
  4. Strengthen school-based tobacco use prevention education programs consistent with emerging research.
  5. Implement more effective control of tobacco sales to minors.
  6. Generate and adopt additional smoking prevention and cessation strategies that are relevant to the many racial and ethnic populations in California.
  7. Link Proposition 99-financed research and evaluation efforts closely with Tobacco Control Program activities.
  8. Increase the surtax on tobacco products by at least $1.00 per pack.

  9. 357
  10. Oppose any settlement of tobacco litigation that benefits the tobacco industry.
  11. Coordinate Proposition 99-financed programs with other State and Federal tobacco control initiatives.[23]

Lyman described Stratton's reaction to the final draft: “The good Dr. Stratton is unhappy.…Stratton sees stuff in the recommendations that he still has trouble with and other TEROC members had trouble with too. He also remembers that this was to be referred to the writers to come back next time with another try at language. So, how come the rush-rush?”[78] TEROC had actually agreed to let Cook make corrections in accordance with feedback from members and then send the final version to the printer. DHS took its time printing the report and quietly released it during the doldrums of late August when most people were more interested in finishing up their summer vacation than debating tobacco control policy. While the University of California and CDE took steps to implement the TEROC Master Plan, DHS ignored them.

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