To Join Wisconsin?
MADISON, Wis. (News Service) -- A proposal tucked away in Governor Jim Doyle's state budget aims to annex Michigan's Upper Peninsula. Should the item survive the budget process - there is no apparent legislative opposition at this time - the people of Escanaba, Ishpeming and other communities across the Upper Peninsula (U.P.) would become Badger State residents when the governor signs the budget bill this summer.
The brief annexation item, found near the end of the lengthy 2003-05 biennial budget proposal, reads: The State of Wisconsin shall annex the 14 counties previously ceded to the State of Michigan and known collectively as the Upper Peninsula.
News of the potential annexation triggered celebrations from Bessemer to Sault Ste. Marie.
"Annexation? I call it liberation," said one man as he handed venison jerky and Rhinelander Beer to friends gathered outside his Alger County trailer home near the town of Wetmore.
"Wisconsin, man, they got roads and Shopko and the poach...the hunting is really good," said the celebrant, who refused to give his name to reporters. "Call him Eino Finn," chuckled one person as members of the group dressed rabbits for a barbeque. Others were involved in a high-speed game of "shacking," a local sport in which participants cling to the rear bumper of vehicles and are pulled along the icy roads until somersaulting into drainage ditches.
A Doyle administration official called annexation a "win-win" for the state. "It'll provide a much needed boost in property tax levies without the cost of schools and infrastructure because the U.P. doesn't have schools and
infrastructure." The official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity,
added, "We'll give them some pit toilets and accordions and they'll think Doyle is God. It worked in Florence County.
"And with all those new voters, we could be around longer than the Thompson administration. That's a long time."
The U.P. was part of the Wisconsin Territory until the 1830s. More than a century later - in 1959 - the Mackinac Bridge finally provided a narrow link between the U.P. and lower Michigan. Culturally and geographically, however, residents of the U.P. and Wisconsin have remained united.
Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm's office did not respond at press time. Wisconsin officials believe Michigan would not fight the annexation, since halting the land transfer could incite residents of the U.P., who are heavily armed.
Becoming part of Wisconsin's high tax burden mattered little to its potential future residents. Many indicated that they have no income to report anyway. Affectionately known as "Yoopers," the locals reaffirmed their bond with Wisconsin.
"Ever been a bastard stepchild? I have, and that's how the mitten treats us," said Sali "Squeakers" Pisciolo, referring to lower Michigan.
Pisciolo was sipping Point beer Monday morning at the Ore House tavern in Ironwood, Mich. "Try to find a good pasty in Lansing. Try to sleep off a good bender inside your truck in Grosse Point. You can't even break wind in Petosky without getting thrown in the tank, not even squeakers.
"Oh hell yeah, we go Wisconsin all the time, shop at the outlet mall, maybe look for Packers tickets. It'll be great. It's the home of Shopko, you know."
Pisciolo's wife, Bonafemina, known as "Boom Boom Bonnie Bon Bon," makes regular trips to the Badger State with her girlfriends. She sports a well-worn jersey of her favorite Green Bay Packer player, former quarterback Don Majkowski.
"The autograph has faded, but Majik signed it one night at Nicky's Bar in De Pere," said Bonafemina, whose 1980s-era hairstyle defies both fashion and gravity. "The Majik Man autographed me, too, but I can't talk about that right now," she whispered, discreetly pointing to her husband sitting a few bar stools away.
"Like my friends and me always says, we always says, 'what happens in Wisconsin, stays in Wisconsin.'"
With a proposal for annexation sailing through the state Legislature, staying in Wisconsin may soon become a permanent condition for residents of Michigan's Upper Peninsula.
a "Win-Win" for WI
A Doyle administration official called annexation a
"win-win" for the state. "It'll provide a much
needed boost in property tax levies without the cost of schools
and infrastructure because the U.P. doesn't have schools and
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