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The People's Choice Award Finalists

Dumb ideas under $1 million

City of San Diego — Business Tax Processing Fee

A tax ... to process a tax? A $25 processing fee was labeled a “cost recovery fee” for processing business tax applications, business tax renewals and rental unit business tax billing statements. A small business with fewer than 13 employees, which already pays $34 in business tax, now has to pay almost as much to process the tax, as the tax itself.

City of Chula Vista — Bodyguard Contract

“You’re fired!” Or maybe not... Chula Vista Mayor Steve Padilla’s bodyguard was hired in September only to be dismissed in January after questions were raised about the cost and necessity for the service. Because the city manager signed the employment contract without a “termination for convenience clause” against the advice of the city attorney, the city was obligated to continuing paying the bodyguard $10,000 a month, plus perks, after he was fired. It wasn’t until March 22 that payment was suspended...but only after the city bought out the bodyguard’s contract for $40,000.

University of California, San Diego — UCSD Chancellor Sabbatical

And tuition costs keep rising: In addition to an annual salary of $350,000, an $87,500 relocation allowance and numerous other perks, UCSD Chancellor Marye Anne Fox received $248,000 for a sabbatical she earned at North Carolina State University but did not take. UC President Bob Dynes quietly authorized the payment for the sabbatical without the knowledge of the Legislature, the Board of Regents or the public at a time when student fees were being raised. Not such a smart move by the head of the UC system.

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