Off Beat

Dewey Defeats Truman!

WE COULDN'T HELP but rub our bloodshot Off Beat eyes last Wednesday morning as we scoped out the primary election results on the Secretary of State's Web site (www.sos.state.mn.us). Of Minnesota's 4,076 precincts, 64 had yet to report in. The principal offender was the vast but sparsely populated St. Louis County up north. Janezich Country! For a brief time, Off Beat was left to fantasize that the state senator from Chisholm might manage to pull out a late upset of the Dayton-Ciresi moneybags quinella, thanks to a strong showing on his home turf. Of course, that was not to be; by early Thursday, when all the votes were finally in, Ciresi hung on to his single-percentage-point lead over Janezich. Still, Off Beat wondered when all was said and done, why the delay? Enter Kent Kaiser, communications director for the Secretary of State's office. For years, says Kaiser, voting districts in St. Louis County have collected all their results and phoned them in from one main precinct on Election Day. Then, throughout the following day, individual precinct counts are broken down. "It's a little quirky," Kaiser concedes with an uneasy chuckle. "We would prefer that they give us the results precinct by precinct." St. Louis County seemed even further behind last week, Kaiser adds, because in the past final election results weren't updated online until everyone had reported. This year the information was streamed direct from a statewide database. And why is St. Louis County so slow? According to the county's director of elections, Paul Tynjala, it boils down to technology, money, and a vast, sparsely populated region. Since 1988 more and more electronic voting booths have popped up in the Twin Cities, as well as in larger towns around the state. But St. Louis County--which, Tynjala notes, stretches 150 miles from north to south--is still dominated by precincts that use paper ballots and hand-counting. Some of the smaller precincts and townships find the $3,500 price tag for upgrading to be a bit steep. "Any township with more than 300 voters, we ask them to at least consider getting one. But for precincts with 11 voters, we concede that it's just not worth it," Tynjala explains. The antiquated methods are a tad irksome to Kaiser, who says his boss, Secretary of State Mary Kiffmeyer, is looking into sending a truckload of new voting booths up I-35 come 2002. "This just isn't what we want our Web site to show on Election Day," he concludes.

Soul Man

HAVING SAVED THE reading public from snotty, bitter, gloomy correspondents like Off Beat, Eric Utne is now looking to save our children. Or at least the children who can afford to shell out the $6,395 per year necessary to attend the crunchy-granola utopia of the City of Lakes Waldorf School. In the September-October issue of the Utne Reader, he explains his reasons for taking over seventh-grade teaching duties at the school: Since he left his 16-year-old magazine three years ago, Utne relates, he has been on a spiritual journey of self-discovery. He has taken up meditation, volunteered at a health-crisis center, and (God help us) joined a gospel choir. And after spending a year and a half playing Mr. Mom while his wife ran the magazine, the Waldorf School felt right in Utne's "gut and heart." The school, located at the corner of 24th Street and Nicollet Avenue South, is guided by the teaching philosophy of the late Rudolf Steiner, an Austrian educator who believed in a holistic method that emphasizes the arts, spirituality, and hands-on work, in addition to traditional academic practices. "Waldorf education is soul work," writes Utne. "The teachers see their work as a spiritual calling."

Fax of the Month

FROM BAKER'S SUGAR:

We recently sent you a Baker's Sugar recipe entitled, "Tip of Alaska." Please note that there is an error in the description of the Crisp Meringue. There is no espresso in this recipe.

The last sentence of the first paragraph should say: Add the salt and vanilla bean scrapings and whip until incorporated.

We regret the error. Please contact me at (415) 956-1791 should you have any questions.

Sincerely,

Lisa Henry for C&H Sugar Company

 
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