Help us find the worst footnote of 2011!

It’s that time of year again, and we’re not talking about tips for the countless number of people who seem to have their hands out at this time of year. (Failing to tip the garbagemen here at footnoted world headquarters, for example, practically ensures that the plastic tubs will need to be replaced from repeatedly being thrown with great force against the sidewalk instead of being gently placed curbside, so best to just tip instead).

Indeed, we’re talking about a different kind of handout: the one where top executives of major corporations ask shareholders, who, in theory at least, are their bosses, to shell out vast sums of money for all sorts of things — from corporate jets to super-sized severance packages to iPads.

Here at footnoted, we’ve been running this annual contest since 2005. For the first few years, I would pick the winner. But several years ago, possibly before the term “social media” became so ubiquitous, we began turning it over to you, our readers. We’ve had some real winners over the years, including the jet-setting high school student at Qwest (Q) and the CEO map collection at Chesapeake Energy (CHK).

This year, there’s an equally impressive crop, including two that we didn’t write about here on footnoted because they were so widely reported in other media outlets. Here’s a quick run-down of our nominees for the worst footnote of the year (in no particular order):

  • MF Global (old ticker: MF) agreeing to pay then-CEO Jon Corzine a $1.5 million retention bonus months before the company imploded
  • Clear Channel Media Holdings (CCMO) paying $3 million a year to a company controlled by Bob Pittman so that Pittman can fly in a Mystere Falcon 900 that Pittman owns for both business and personal use
  • Leo Apotheker collecting around $25 million in severance and other benefits, including relocation back to France or Belgium after less than a year on the job (we didn’t write about this one on footnoted only because it was so widely reported. Still, we felt it deserved to be a nominee)
  • IBM’s outgoing CEO Samuel Palmisano becoming eligible for as much as $170 million in retirement benefits, just by waiting until he was past 60 to announce his retirement
  • Nabors Industries agreeing to pay outgoing CEO Eugene Isenberg $100 million in severance on his way out the door (another one that we didn’t write about because it was widely reported)

Voting is now open here. We’ll announce the winner (or loser, depending on your view of the world) next Friday, Dec. 30. We’ll also be giving away a free month of footnotedPro to one winner selected at random. Just remember, in order to win, you need to fill in enough information so that we can contact you.

Let the voting begin.