Marquette County Commissioner Mike Quayle raised the issue of starting all over with a new state at a board of commissioners meeting recently and the news traveled fast. It's not a new concept — the Legislature nearly voted in favor of the idea back in the '70s.
It wouldn't be an easy task to slice off the UP from the rest of the state. The state Legislature would have to approve it and Congress would also have to weigh in on creating a 51st state. Both seem like major longshots.
But the long-standing gripes of Yoopers probably won't go away any time soon.
The Upper Peninsula has always been a part of the state where the "extractive" industries — notably timber and mining — have held sway and held the economy captive. When the mines closed and the timber demand dropped, there went the economy.
The recent thoughts about secession center on a couple of things according to a recent Detroit Free Press article — both having to do with mining. One was legislation that basically made it easy to mine anywhere; local control over that process steamrolled. The second was the way mining is taxed, whether through property tax that stays local or a severance tax that many feel will end up in Lansing.
For the most part, Yoopers feel they give out more than they get back and they'd like a little better control of that.
Back in an earlier go-around of the issue, the News-Review took first place in an editorial page contest with a should we or shouldn't we look at the issue of the state of Superior.
Paula Holmes-Greeley and I worked up the two sides for the editorial board and we split the page with the map of the state well-separated.
I don't recall all of our arguments then but I can guess what we said then fits into the arguments today.
It would certainly be easy to separate — start the border in the middle of the Mighty Mac and keep the western boundary as is. Make Marquette the state capitol -- you have Northern Michigan University there as well as medical facilities and a thriving economy.
Freed of the attachment to the trolls below, everyone could finally break out their cheesehead wear because let's face it, more Yoopers root for the Green Bay Packers than they do the Lions.
But I think the other facets of what we commented on back then still exist. Only about 312,000 souls live in the UP (250,000 less than the least populous state currently, Wyoming) and about 15 percent live in poverty. Recreating a state government — a state police force, highway department, social service agencies — would all take money, a lot of money.
Certainly if you're familiar with the UP you realize that having their own Department of Natural Resources would be a welcome part of becoming a new state — but in the long view conserving the resources of Superior would still be a difficult job.
Expanding the economy of the new Superior would also be very very difficult. There are some stunningly beautiful and magical places in the UP, places where if you believe God is in nature then you've certainly found heaven.
But there is the old line used against the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore when residents opposed that years ago about the role backpackers would play in the local economy:
"They come in here with one pair of jeans and a $5 bill and don't change either one."
In other words it all sounds like a good idea until the reality settles in. Far away from the automotive industry and the tech sectors around Ann Arbor, Detroit and Lansing or the medical powerhouses of Grand Rapids, only the extractive industries hold any major economic future — with their boom and bust cycles.
Look — if Dominic Jacobetti, the late Negaunee Democrat referred to as the Godfather and the longest serving state House representative ever — couldn't get the secession bill past the state House, nobody can. There aren't any Jacobettis anymore thanks to term limits (which were instituted in part because of the power he compiled over the years), no one with the clout or the connections to make it happen.
Sure it'd be nice to contemplate a new state of Superior to our north. But it's just as nice to think there's a superior place to our north that's part of the greatest state among the states — Michigan.
It's a good idea — just not a superior one.
Kendall P. Stanley is retired editor of the Petoskey News-Review. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.