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News you need to know for Thursday, May 24


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      Eaton Corp. exec Craig Arnold is a hot commodity among recruiters

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      It must be a bit of an awkward honor for The Wall Street Journal to tell the world that you're among “the hottest candidates for plum C-suite positions,” but Craig Arnold of Eaton Corp. is in just that position today.
      Mr. Arnold, 50, one of two chief operating officers at Eaton, is one of 12 such executives profiled today in The Journal. The newspaper says the lineup was compiled from an informal poll of 21 recruiters at 10 big and small U.S. search firms. Each of the 12 top picks was endorsed by at least three of these firms.
      Here's why Mr. Arnold made the cut: “As operating chief of Eaton's industrial sector, he oversaw 53% of the diversified manufacturer's total 2010 revenue of $13.7 billion,” The Journal says. “He also is one of three vice chairmen. Revenue surged 22% to nearly $7.3 billion in the industrial sector, compared with 16% for all of Eaton. The company has had a streak of double-digit profit and sales gains. He has done much of the heavy lifting as the company expands into new product areas and countries, one of the recruiters said.”
      Mr. Arnold declined to comment. So did almost all the rest of the bashful bunch; only one of the 12 — Eric Wiseman, CEO of apparel company VF Corp. — talked in any fashion, and he did it in a colorful way.
      “Some of the recruiters said they have tried to interest him in leading a larger business outside of the apparel industry, but Mr. Wiseman likes his current outfit,” The Journal reports. “He reinforced that message recently when he grabbed a Journal reporter's recording device and declared, ‘To my board of directors, I love all of you and am really happy to be here.'"

      This and that

      Performance problems: ProPublica, the nonprofit investigative journalism organization, takes a look at the growing role of private management companies in publicly funded charter schools, focusing most prominently on White Hat Management of Akron.
      “Government data suggest that schools with for-profit managers have somewhat worse academic results than charters without management companies, and a number of boards have clashed with managers over a lack of transparency in how they are using public funds,” ProPublica reports.
      White Hat “has achieved particularly poor results, with only 2% of its students making the progress expected under federal education law,” according to ProPublica.
      The company declined comment on the performance of its schools.
      He knows what he likes: John Dorfman, chairman of Thunderstorm Capital in Boston who writes a column for Bloomberg News, sings the praises of Cliffs Natural Resources Inc. in this piece about the 30-30 club — companies that “achieve a 30% return on stockholders' equity in its latest fiscal year and show 30% average annual earnings growth over the past five years.”
      There are a lot of familiar names on the list — Coca-Cola, Apple and the like — but Mr. Dorfman says Cliffs, the Cleveland-based iron ore producer, is one of the more exciting picks.
      “In addition to benefiting from an economic recovery in the U.S., I figure Cliffs will continue to export heavily to Asia, especially China,” Mr. Dorfman writes. “In 2010 it sold $1.3 billion of its commodities to China and $311 million to Japan, which faces extensive rebuilding needs.”
      Around the block: This story in The New York Times examines how Hearst Corp. and Forest City Enterprises Inc. are remaking a nearly five-acre site around the San Francisco Chronicle building in San Francisco.
      “With The Chronicle literally shrinking, Hearst and its Cleveland-based developer, Forest City Enterprises, are embarking on a plan to turn a 4.5-acre block around the newspaper — including idled printing facilities — into a commercial and residential campus for innovation,” according to the story.
      The developers envision replacing the parking lots and warehouses around the Chronicle building with buildings housing startups, all connected by spruced-up alleys and open-air plazas.
      “A lot of people just assume it's only one building, but we're creating an ecosystem that lives and breathes art and entrepreneurship,” says Alexa Arena, the Forest City vice president who is leading the project.
      Irony alert: The story notes that Square, a mobile payment firm headed by Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey, now has 100 employees packed into what used to be The Chronicle's human resources department. It is “thriving alongside a social entrepreneurship collective, a digital art gallery and other startups that signed leases over the past 18 months.”

      Only one way to go: It gets better.
      That's the message of this Wall Street Journal op-ed piece by Stephen F. Hayes, which asks a simple question: Can John Kasich win back Ohio's voters?
      The piece notes the polls show Mr. Kasich with an approval rating in the 30% range after making massive, and controversial, changes early in his term.
      “Do these numbers reflect genuine buyer's remorse or something more ephemeral,” Mr. Hayes asks.
      He writes, “Some of this erosion was inevitable. The ‘tough choices' are tough not simply because the math is difficult: They involve taking steps certain to upset special interests. ‘It's hard because the tough decisions have been put off and put off and put off,' says Kevin DeWine, chairman of the Ohio Republican Party. ‘That couldn't continue. There's just nowhere else to go.'"
      Mr. Hayes says Gov. Kasich can take heart in the patterns exhibited in New Jersey and Indiana, where Republican governors Chris Christie and Mitch Daniels have seen their popularity dip when introducing big reforms, then rebound when those reforms show results.

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