To Barlett Sher, Intiman artistic director, who won a Tony Award Sunday of his direction of the New York Lincoln Center revival of the 1950s Rogers-Hammerstein musical, "South Pacific." The revival won six additional Tonys. Sher's award brought new recognition both to himself and to Intiman. He already has moved to New York but has one year remaining on his Intiman contract, during which time he says a "big Disney musical" will be produced there.
To, surprise, Seattle Mariners senior management, for belatedly firing general manager Bill Bavasi, who set records during his tenure for payroll dollars spent per team victory. This year's payroll, for an underperforming roster with the major leagues' worst win-loss record, is about $117 million. Management got its firing sequence right by dumping Bavasi before he could make things worse by making more bad player transactions over the next several weeks as the team retools for next year. Several non-performing veteran players are likely to depart shortly. Others will be traded to pennant contenders for young players likely to help in the future.
To Washington high school graduates, who sharply improved their rate of success in passing WASL requirements for their graduation. They put added pressure on teachers' union leaders who keep campaigning against performance standards either for teachers or for students, as per the WASL or in the federal No Child Left Behind program.
To Washington Mutual CEO Kerry Killinger, the third-highest-paid executive in the Northwest (at $14.4 million in 2007, down 20.6 percent from 2006), roasted in Gretchen Morgenson's Sunday New York Times business column for putting his own financial interests above shareholders' in pressing a $7 billion capital infusion by TPG and other investors over a competitive JPMorgan Chase takeover offer that would have left the company and shareholders in better shape. Shareholders will vote next Tuesday, June 24, on the TPG deal. It is structured in such a way that penalties would be incurred if it is not approved. Killinger steps down as WaMu chair shortly thereafter, though not as CEO. That may follow shortly, if angry asset managers quoted in Morgenson's story have their way.
To Mayor Greg Nickels and his lawsuit to keep the Sonics in Seattle. City taxpayers thus far have paid $1 million in legal fees to former Sen. Slade Gorton and his law firm colleagues in an effort to hold the Sonics in KeyArena until the end of their lease two years from now. The suit, against Oklahoma City buyers of the team, may or may not succeed. In a best case, it will succeed and, over the next two years, local buyers will rescue the Sonics from their Oklahoma owners. Then the truly bad news will be revealed: We still will have a National Basketball Association franchise locally. The NBA is in particularly foul odor these days because of new revelations and rumors dealing with league and referee misconduct compromising the game's integrity. Fact is, the NBA during commissioner David Stern's tenure has moved steadily toward World Wrestling Federation status — a good show for those who enjoy it but not a true sport. Let the Okies have 'em.
To horse racing regulators and racetrack operators in Washington state. Horse-racing-related equine fatalities over the past five years were incurred at a rate twice as high as in the next highest state nationally (California). The death rate was 0.427 percent. The Association of Racing Commissioners International, a non-profit trade association, released the report over the weekend in response to congressional, media, and public inquiries following the fatal injury at the Kentucky Derby of the runnerup, Eight Belles. The national death average was .125 percent. Nearly 9 percent of horse trainers nationally, the report disclosed, had been disciplined for medication or performance-enhancing drug violations over the five-year period. That seems an exceptionally high percentage, and you wonder what percentage were not caught and penalized.