‘O’Keefed’ in Scott County (5×8 – 2/8/12)

In search of a voting crime, supporting our signs in Little Falls, Boomtown Girls in Williston, how many computer monitors are on your desk, and why athletes speak in cliches.

Now, really, you know interesting people. It’s time for you to contribute to News Cut’s “The People You Should Meet” series before the series wraps up.If you’re new to News Cut — and even if you’re not — here’s the explanation of what we’re doing:

We’re looking for your nominees! Don’t be shy.


James O’Keefe, the activist who’s made a name for himself bringing down ACORN and an NPR executive with his hidden camera, is focusing on Minnesota this time. O’Keefe went to Scott County on Monday to register Tim Tebow and Tom Brady — they’re quarterbacks in the NFL (don’t tell Scott County officials who didn’t recognize the names).

If O’Keefe had actually filed for absentee ballots with the intent to cast an illegal vote, that would be a crime under Minnesota law (described here). The clerks lament that voter fraud in Minnesota is prosecuted after the crime is committed, but what crime isn’t?

In an MPR commentary today, an election judge sees some areas where an actual ID would help, though he says he’s not yet sure what the problem is the proposed law is to solve.

Meanwhile, in South Carolina, NPR reports, the initial claim of voter fraud that ushered in that state’s voter ID law has turned out to be without merit, at least so far.


It had to happen sooner or later. Reality TV is coming to North Dakota’s Oil Patch. “Boomtown Girls” will follow five sisters from Williston. One met her husband working in the oil field, the Fargo Forum says. Two others chase their dream of driving septic trucks, another sister is a bartender at a strip club; and one is a welder.

Boomtown Girls from Lucky Dog Filmworks on Vimeo.

Williston is where dreams come true.


Now that a woman in Little Falls has been forced to remove her signs from the lawn at her house, attention is focusing on a “We Support Our Troops” sign on a building in the city. Robin Hensel has to take her “Occupy” signs down. City officials said the “request” had nothing to do with what was on the signs, but she said the banner downtown violates a city ordinance, too. At a city council hearing this week, several residents said the banner should stay up.

Says the Brainerd Dispatch today:

Hensel said the issue is not the contents of what is written on her signs or the banner. It’s about the city following its own ordinance. Hensel said she can’t have signs in her yard because it’s against city ordinance, and she said the banner on the bank building also is against the sign ordinance regarding historic buildings. Hensel said the banner should have a permit from the city and it doesn’t; and it also is bigger than what the ordinance allows. Hensel said there also is a requirement that the sign can only be up for a month and it has to be renewed for one or two months if it stays up longer.

When asked if the banner is against city ordinance, Kasella said yes and no. Kasella said the city doesn’t allow banners in historical areas. However, the city’s Heritage Preservation Commission has the right to deviate from the policy. Kasella said the commission is recommending board to the city council and that the city has the ultimate say on what actions would be brought on issues.


How many computer monitors are on your desk? If there’s more than one, do you have a problem? “There is ‘thought-killing’ going on,” Professor David Meyer at the University of Michigan tells the New York Times today. “Rome crashed and burned because it got too big. Go past that scale and you’re going to wind up like Rome.”

Like Rome?


Why do pro athletes talk in cliches? Because they can’t remember what just happened in the game, a Chicago researcher says. Stan Beilock at the University of Chicago tells the Sun Times…

”To be able to recall something and talk about it, you have to have been paying attention at the time when it happened. What we think is going on in these elite athletes is that, in the moment and especially when they’re performing at a high level, they’re not focusing on how their skill is unfolding. They might be focusing on the outcome. They might be focusing on one key thing they need to achieve.”

It’s why Giants linebacker Michael Boley wouldn’t have been mistaken for Winston Churchill when he talked about how his team was able to overcome the Patriots on Sunday.

”We play with a lot of poise, and we were able to stay focused and bounce back,” he said.

Added safety Kenny Phillips: ”Our backs have been against the wall [before].”


Taken this morning. Uploaded by NASA.



The Republican presidential race focused briefly on Minnesota in the days leading up to Tuesday’s caucuses. Now that the caucuses are over, what are your three most important issues?


Midmorning (9-11 a.m.) – First hour: Amid escalating violence, the United States has closed its embassy in Damascus, Syria. Global leaders continue to call for the ouster of President Assad, after a double veto at the UN by China and Russia. As the death toll continues to rise, how might this uprising end?

Plus: Yesterday’s court decision on California’s Proposition 8.

Second hour: The number of Americans living in poverty is the highest it’s been in 35 years. In the wake of the recession, Republican candidates have not shied away from telling us their views on the very poor. What is the current state of poverty beyond the rhetoric?

Midday (11 a.m. – 1 p.m.) – First hour: Stephen Smith and Kate Ellis on Black History Month.

Second hour: American Radioworks documentary: Remembering Jim Crow.

Talk of the Nation (1-3 p.m.) – First hour: Political Junkie. Following up on yesterday’s caucus and primary results.

Second hour: TBA

  • Kevin Watterson

    With the exception of the bar tender, I wonder if any of those women needed 4-year college degrees for their jobs.

  • JackU

    I watched the first minute or so of the O’Keefe video. The assumption he’s making is that there wouldn’t be anyone with the name Thomas Brady or Timothy Tebow in Minnesota. A simple search at whitepages.com shows 13 results for Thomas Brady (some appear to be duplicates) and 10 results for the last name Tebow (no Timothy on the list).

    So the election official didn’t question the names. To me that says they weren’t assuming anything. Which is what I would want them to do.

  • Hillary

    I have two widescreen monitors and can’t imagine going back to one. It’s worth it just to be able to compare two documents side by side or look at an application and write up what I’m seeing.

  • Kassie

    Two monitors, which is standard throughout my agency. It is especially needed for people who work with our mainframes, since we have two of them. I use them all the time when working with multiple documents. Or at least to have my email up in one and the document I’m working on in the other. I’ve had two monitors for at least 10 years.

  • Jennifer

    The problem with O’Keefe’s video (apart from what JackU already points out) is there is a verification process once those forms are turned in. Simply turning in a form in no way ensures that he will get a false person registered to vote. I once heard a presentation from a staff member of the Secretary of State’s office explaining the post registration verification process that explained a lot. I don’t remember all the ins and outs, so I don’t want to misspeak here, but I encourage you to ask them about the process.

  • Josh

    I went back to a single monitor recently, and haven’t really noticed a decrease in productivity. My desk is a lot less cluttered with just a laptop rather than multiple monitors, a keyboard and a docking station.

    Everyone in my office thinks I am crazy.

  • http://www.farces.com/ Michael Fraase

    The NYT monitor story referenced cites a source as saying, “… more monitors cut down on toggling time among windows on a single screen, which can save about 10 seconds for every five minutes of work.”

    If you’re working on something in only five minute bits, what are you really getting done? Is this a generational thing? I’ll cop to being an old, but I need much more than five minutes just to reflect on something I’ve just read.

    I remember being ecstatic when I added a large monitor to my Mac SE, but I’ve been working productively on a 15-inch laptop for years.

  • Jim Shapiro

    Like Rome?

    Perhaps he’s referencing the orgies, bacchanals, invasions from the north, eventual Renaissance, really cool sports cars, and finally a series of chaotic governments that inevitably come from using more than one monitor.

  • Kassie

    I work on lots of things in 2-5 minute bits. I send off emails, direct people to documents, set up meetings, re-organize folders, etc. But I think his point was if you work on something for ten minutes you save 20 seconds, if you work on something for 20 minutes you save 40 seconds, etc, not that people only work on five minute bits of work.