Family jewels (2)

In November, UCSD announced that 56-year-old Judith L. Swain had been named the first director of the College of Integrated Life Sciences (COILS) at a reported starting salary of $275,000. According to a university news release, the new college features "an innovative multidisciplinary program designed to facilitate the translation of biomedical research into new drugs and technologies." Loosely translated, that means molecular cardiologist Swain, who has an identical twin, Julie -- also a physician and college prof -- is in charge of helping university researchers collect big bucks by licensing their patents to drug companies. Critics are concerned that all that emphasis on making money may hurt pure research efforts and tempt the university to go easy on violators of scientific ethics, but UCSD says not to worry. "All the research and discovery happening in the labs at UCSD doesn't do any good if it can't get out to the public," Ed Holmes, the university's health sciences vice chancellor and dean of medicine, told the Union-Tribune when COILS was first unveiled back in September 2003. "It isn't enough to just cure cancer in the mouse anymore. We want to move the science into the clinic and cure it in humans."

Swain, a 1974 UCSD med-school grad, is a former professor and chair of the department of medicine at Stanford and is expected to use her connections to land lucrative grants from the state's $3 billion taxpayer-financed stem-cell research operation. The stem-cell ballot measure passed by voters in November has already triggered a gold rush of researchers heading for UCSD and other California campuses. But Swain's arrival here, which went unheralded in the Union-Tribune, has already prompted some in-house grumbling at UCSD. Though the university release didn't say so in its announcement, it turns out Swain has been married for 25 years to vice chancellor Holmes, who arrived at UCSD in the summer of 2000. (At that time, a UCSD press release about Holmes noted his marriage to Swain.) When he first came aboard, Holmes was given a base salary of $300,000, along with another $135,000 as a member of the school's "health science compensation plan" for a total of $450,000. He was also provided with a $75,000 relocation allowance and made eligible for "additional non-base building incentive pay of up to 20 percent of annual base salary to be awarded annually based on meeting performance objectives." And shortly after his wife took her new post, Holmes was named to the "Independent Citizens Oversight Committee" that will oversee how the state's stem-cell research money will be spent.

Overtime pay A recent public records act request to the City of San Diego by the Performance Institute's Carl DeMaio has unearthed a wealth of information on what city workers are really getting paid versus what the city budget says they are supposed to make. Ex-city manager Mike Uberuaga topped the list at $225,734, followed close behind by an unidentified fire captain who made $111,189 plus another $81,288 in overtime for a total of $192,478. Though the city salary schedule lists outgoing mayoral honcho John Kern as making $169,225, the records, dated June 9 of last year, have him in third place, picking up a whopping $191,592. An unidentified fire battalion chief combined $121,000 in salary with $66,234 in overtime to place fourth with a total of $187,252. Fifth came another soon-to-leave worker, the ever-loyal deputy city manager Bruce Herring, at $183,269. Ex-city attorney Casey Gwinn was next with $180,365 ... Watch for DeMaio to sponsor a series of ballot measures in the coming months designed to force the city council into cleaning up its financial act. They could appear on an October special-election ballot that may also feature those reapportionment and budget-reform measures being pushed by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger. Chamber of commerce political operatives are also said to be mulling their own ballot options, and recall talk is in the wind, no matter who ultimately winds up as mayor ... San Diego has shown up on a long Brookings Institution list of cities with convention centers that "have been effectively insulated from the vagaries of city politics and much public input."

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