What happened in the basement? (5×8 – 5/22/13)

Minneapolis and police department transparency, the people who go to work when a tornado hits, Timberwolves math, the new voice of NPR, and coffins the old-fashioned way.


It’s been 11 days since police shot and killed an intruder in the home of an MPR News producer in Minneapolis and the police officers involved still have not been interviewed by investigators to explain how two of them got shot by the man who reportedly didn’t have a gun.

The Star Tribune editorial board today challenges police chief Janee Harteau for not being more transparent about what happened.

During a Tuesday interview with an editorial writer, Harteau said accuracy — not speed — is her goal with investigations. She said the timing of each case is different but that officers involved in such incidents are often the last to be interviewed after other witnesses.

That may be standard protocol. But it is especially critical for police to be forthcoming when citizens are killed or injured. In the Franklin shooting, the only known living witnesses are the officers who were in the basement, and the only weapons believed to have been fired were police-issue.

Harteau says she has confidence that her investigators and the county attorney will review all available evidence — not just the accounts from officers — but if necessary she will seek an outside review.

The questions being raised in the Franklin case should not be interpreted as allegations that police did something wrong. But because officers are public servants who can use deadly force to enforce the law, they must be held to higher standards when asked to explain their choices.


You may not recognize the name Sue Ogrocki, but if you’ve followed Oklahoma tornado coverage, you’ve seen her work. She’s the Associated Press photographer who took all of the pictures of kids being rescued from the Plaza Towers elementary school.

She told her own story yesterday.

A lot of people go to work when disaster strikes. Sometimes it’s the photographer; sometimes it’s the insurance specialist. Two years ago today, a tornado struck Minneapolis. And a few days after that, I got to spend a day with one such person. The piece remains one of my top five favorite NewsCut posts.

Related: Why we pray for tornado victims.


The Minnesota Timberwolves sent star Kevin Love to the NBA draft lottery last night, hoping to move up from the 9th spot in the rookie draft. It’s a weighted lottery, so the worse your team is, the better chance it has of getting a high draft pick. The team had only a 1.7% chance of getting the number-one pick.

Sometimes teams are able to improve their record in the draft but Minnesota is not one of those teams. It has never moved up a spot in the last 15 years. The streak continues; they finished 9th.

The streak prompted a recent college graduate to consider the math:

Do your thing, NewsCut math experts. What are the odds? Post your response and explain how it was solved below. Maybe I’ll give you my seats for a game next season.


NPR is looking for a new voice for its underwriting and ID announcements. The ad says a voice that “makes the complex look simple” and gets “a bit tingly at the thought that your voice will be part of public radio’s daily connective tissue all across the country” will do.

No clue what happened to the guy who does the job now. He is, for the record, not really this guy.

So, The Atlantic considers several possibilities .


The Coffinmaker from Dan McComb on Vimeo.

Bonus I: The Boston Globe described it as “part college dance, part video game, part Simon Says, part high-tech experiment.” More than 250 Massachusetts Institute of Technology students and others jumped around, holding umbrellas lit from beneath by battery-powered LEDs.

Bonus II: Is your state bird a stupid state bird? A 50-state review of state birds. Don’t worry; Minnesota got it right, it says. Wisconsin did not.


Daily Circuit (9-12 p.m.) – First hour: When journalists get the story wrong.

Second hour: What happened to gun control legislation?

Third hour: Iraq war veteran Kevin Powers’ new novel follows two young American soldiers as they try to stay alive in Al Tafar, Iraq. He’ll talk about his experiences in war and writing ‘The Yellow Birds’ as a way of processing and coping with his time in the Middle East.

MPR News Presents (12-1 pm): Futurist Jamais Cascio, speaking at the University of Minnesota Institute on the Environment’s ENSIA series about planet Earth in 50 years.

Talk of the Nation (1-2 p.m.) – The Political Junkie.

All Things Considered (3-6:30 p.m.) – MPR’s Sasha Aslanian profilesRichard Carlbom, the campaign manager for Minnesotans United for all Families. He was the strategist behind last week’s successful passage of a bill legalizing same-sex marriage in Minnesota.

In the days leading up to the federal sequester, Meals on Wheels directors throughout the country expressed concern that the across-the-board budget cuts would force them to deny homebound seniors the meals they need. Despite all the hand-wringing, three months into sequester Minnesota programs haven’t cut any clients or reduced any meals. MPR’s Julie Siple explains how they were able to avoid that.

George Plimpton played quarterback for the Detroit Lions. Then he played percussion for the New York Philharmonic. He acted in Lawrence of Arabia and boxed with Archie Moore. So what was Plimptons job title? He was a ground- breaking, participatory journalist. NPR remembers Plimpton.