Wisconsin Daily's Monstrous Idea

By: Mark Fitzgerald Until a 1990 referendum banned the so-called "Vanna White" veto, Wisconsin governors could literally strike out individual letters in legislation that reached their desks ? and instantly sign into law their own altered version. But they still have a "Frankenstein" veto that allows them to stitch together entirely new laws by erasing whole words.

At the Wisconsin State Journal in Madison, frustration over the veto power peaked when state Sen. Fred Risser blocked a chance to put the issue to a voters referendum in April. Editorial Page Editor Scott Milfred decided to ratchet up the pressure on Risser ? and have a little fun doing it. "Our cartoonist, Phil Hands, said Frankenstein's monster has stitches on his head, so we can add a new stitch for every day Risser doesn't release the joint resolution," Milfred says. "And I said, 'Well, what if he just keeps refusing?' And Phil showed how he can just keep the forehead growing."

The cartoon, always accompanied by a short jab at Risser, has been a reader favorite since its April 4 introduction. The senator, first elected in 1956, says he's taking it in stride. "I'm not losing any sleep over it," Risser tells E&P. "If I did, I'd be in the wrong business."

Risser shouldn't count on out-waiting the State Journal, Milfred says: "We think we can go about a year before the forehead gets a column long."


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