News: Wisconsin





Doyle flips decision, puts cow on quarter

He overturns council's 12-8 vote for explorer theme


Madison - Gov. Jim Doyle Tuesday overruled an advisory panel and told the U.S. Mint to put a cow, wheel of cheese and ear of corn on Wisconsin's commemorative quarter, despite fears that it won't reflect the state's cities or its rich ethnic heritage.

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Graphic/David Arbanas
The Wisconsin Quarter
I'm going with the (online) vote. I don't know why they had a vote, if they weren't going to follow it.
- Gov. Jim Doyle
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Ending a Capitol mini-drama, Doyle met a 5 p.m. deadline for federal officials to be told what Wisconsin wants on its quarter, and he backed the agricultural theme because it won an online advisory poll with 40% of the 347,662 votes cast.

Doyle spokesman Dan Leistikow said the governor did not personally vote in the online poll because "this is not the governor's quarter; this is Wisconsin's quarter."

Officials said Wisconsin - home of the "America's Dairyland" slogan and the trademark Cheesehead hats for Packers fans - will be the first state to showcase agriculture on its quarter, which will be circulated next year.

Doyle quickly overturned a recommendation of the Commemorative Quarter Council, which met twice Tuesday before finally voting, 12-8, to put the design of a pioneer trapper and American Indian on the quarter.

That explorer design finished second, with 32.5% of the vote, in the online poll that ended Sunday. A third design, showing a deer and a lake, was discarded Tuesday after getting 28% of the vote.

In overturning the council's recommendation, Doyle said: "I'm going with the (online) vote. I don't know why they had a vote, if they weren't going to follow it."

Debate on designs

State Treasurer Jack Voight, a member of the council who voted for the agricultural design Tuesday, also said the public vote should be followed.

"The political wind sometimes prevails," added Voight, who - like Doyle - relies on Wisconsin voters to keep his job.

But opponents of the final design called it outdated and over-the-top cheesy.

The cow, cheese and corn design "represents such a narrow slice of who we are as a state," said Dean Amhaus, who ran the state's 150th birthday party in 1998 and who now works for an organization that promotes Milwaukee. Amhaus joined 11 other council members who voted for the pioneer trapper and American Indian design.

Amhaus said he works to promote the "greater sense of possibilities" offered by the metropolitan Milwaukee - a goal that will be harmed by an quarter with a cow.

Reuben Harpole, another Milwaukee-area member of the advisory council, said he was sorry agriculture was chosen instead of some image that depicts Wisconsin's citizens.

"I would have preferred something that gave indication that there are cities in Wisconsin," he said.

But Quarter Council member Gloria Cobb, a member of the Lac du Flambeau Chippewa, said she was "appalled" and "embarrassed" by the governor's decision to send a national and international signal that Wisconsin wants to be known for cows, cheese and corn.

Council members deserve an explanation for why their choice was ignored, she added.

Cobb, who had backed the trapper theme, said the quarter's design "gave Wisconsin a chance to educate" others about the state's ethnic diversity. Wisconsin has more Americans Indians than any other state east of the Mississippi River, for example, she added.

Cobb doubted that the online poll results were "entirely accurate" because there was no way to make sure only Wisconsin residents voted, and "any one person could have voted any number of times."

"I'm all for listening to the public, but the way this one was done, I'm not happy with it," Cobb said.

Some who voted in the online poll said they had expected that their votes would count, so the final tally should design the coin. "I'm pleased (Doyle) took the public into consideration," said Mary Jablonski of Milwaukee.

Although some farmers undoubtedly voted in the online poll, there was no concerted effort by farmers to influence the vote, said Tom Thieding, communications director of the Wisconsin Farm Bureau Federation.

He said while other states recognize historical events on the back of their quarters, highlighting agriculture focuses on something that's of current significance in Wisconsin.

"To some extent, the dairy cow is the state capital of Wisconsin's economy. It's a big part of our heritage," said Thieding.

Meg Jones of the Journal Sentinel staff, reporting from Milwaukee, and correspondent Kevin Murphy, reporting from Madison, contributed to this report.


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