Midday scan: Thursday's top stories around the region

Get the scoop on BART's new Seattle-fleeing director, Steve Jobs' aversion to giving, Hanford National Park, a Costco legend's retirement, and Portland's rudderless mayor.

Crosscut archive image.

BART director Grace Crunican with former Seattle Mayor Greg Nickels.

Get the scoop on BART's new Seattle-fleeing director, Steve Jobs' aversion to giving, Hanford National Park, a Costco legend's retirement, and Portland's rudderless mayor.

In the recovery-movement lexicon it's called a "geographic cure" — skedaddle out of Dodge to sidestep reminders of the past. For Grace Crunican, Seattle's transportation director for eight years, the narrative is more complicated. As the San Jose Mercury News reports, Crunican was hired as the new director of the Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) District by an 8-1 vote. The Mercury News underlines the administrative colossus that awaits her: "Crunican faces a challenge in working with an often divided board, outspoken employee unions, community members upset with transit police shootings, and a public that expects on-time trains even as cars and equipment age." In Seattle the 2008 snow storm was Crunican's political crucible and, ultimately, her challenge revolved as much around communication as it did peformance. Hopefully Crunican will thrive in her new role. In the meantime, we all might noodle George Orwell's seminal essay, Politics and the English Language. It's instructive.  

The nexus of philanthropy and high tech is the focus of a New York Times piece this week that examines Apple's Steve Jobs's giving singularity (read: Jobs singularly doesn't appear to care about giving and philanthropy). He has avoided the Gates/Buffett "Giving Pledge" to donate half of his fortune either now or posthumously, and his foundation was shuttered after just one year. Andrew Ross Sorkin writes that "the lack of public philanthropy by Mr. Jobs — long whispered about, but rarely said aloud — raises some important questions about the way the public views business and business people at a time when some 'millionaires and billionaires' are criticized for not giving back enough while others like Mr. Jobs are lionized." Before we vilify Jobs, it's worth remembering that Bill Gates used to punt on the philanthropy question, vaguely referencing his hope that he might one day emulate the example of civic icon Eddie Carlson. There is still time for Jobs.  

Westerners don't naturally associate the Tri-Cities with the National Park Service. That could change this fall, the Tri-City Herald reports, with the inclusion of Hanford's historic B Reactor as a unit of a proposed Manhattan Project National Historical Park. Rep. Doc Hastings and Sen. Maria Cantwell (another association that sounds unusual) have paired to introduce the enabling legislation. Rara avis with bipartisanship on display.

Today's big business news — worth a triple underline — is Costco Wholesale co-founder and Chief Executive Officer Jim Sinegal's retirement. The Seattle Times Melissa Anderson writes, "One of the most colorful personalities in retailing, Sinegal is known for his integrity, his unwillingness to squeeze customers or employees to please Wall Street, and his abiding love of $1.50 hot dogs." At Costco it's more a Sinegal culture of personality than a personality cult (reassuring news for shareholders and consumers alike).

Lastly, picayune mayoral politics really does extend beyond Seattle: As the Willamette Week notes, Portland Mayor Sam Adams's celebrated "Office of Equity" brainstorm is falling apart. For those in city government, the office has become a metaphor for rudderless administration. Too bad that Jim Sinegal didn't go into politics.   

Link summary

San Jose Mercury News, "BART board hires former Seattle official as new general manager"

New York Times, "The Mystery of Steve Jobs Public Giving"

Tri-City Herald, "B Reactor moves toward being a museum"

Seattle Times, "Costco's colorful CEO Jim Sinegal to retire"

Willamette Week, "Commissioner Fritz may pay the price for Mayor Adams' office of equity mistakes"


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About the Authors & Contributors

Peter Jackson

Peter Jackson

Peter Jackson is the former editorial-page editor of the Everett Herald. Follow him on Twitter @phardinjackson