David Cassleman

Morning Edition Host, Reporter

David Cassleman is a reporter and Morning Edition host for IPR News Radio. He got his start in public radio at WDET in Detroit, and joined Interlochen Public Radio in June 2014. He’s a graduate of the University of Michigan.

David Cassleman

State Republicans want to reform the retirement system for public school teachers by eliminating pensions.

Since 2012, new teachers have received a hybrid retirement plan that blends a traditional pension with a 401(k). But legislation being debated during the lame-duck session would close the traditional pension system for future new hires and would offer them a 401(k)-style plan only. 

Republican lawmakers say the goal is to create a more reliable retirement system. The old pension system has unfunded liabilities totaling $26.7 billion, according to the Michigan Senate Fiscal Agency. 

 


NASA

Environmental leaders are asking for federal help to fight pollution in Lake Erie. 

The National Wildlife Federation, along with U.S. Reps. Debbie Dingell and Marcy Kaptur, wants the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to list the western part of the lake as ‘impaired.’ Officials in Michigan already consider that section of the lake to be impaired.

The problem is algal blooms.

Tomas Sienicki

The number of women who smoke while pregnant is way up in Michigan. A new report from the Michigan League for Public Policy says the rate increased by 18 percent between 2008 and 2014.

Smoking while pregnant can lead to a number of bad health outcomes for infants, including early birth.

The report also says that the number of preterm births increased by 20 percent in Michigan during the same time period. 

Cheyna Roth, a reporter for the Michigan Public Radio Network, says advocates are asking for more resources to attack the issue:

 


Ben Thorp

Republican Jack Bergman, who won Michigan’s 1st Congressional District by taking 55 percent of the vote yesterday, says his number one legislative priority is revving up the economy. 

He spoke with IPR News Radio’s David Cassleman on Wednesday morning. Listen to the conversation below.

 


Republican Jack Bergman has won in the sprawling 1st Congressional District. Bergman collected 55 percent of the vote. Bergman is a retired Marine Corps general who lives in the Upper Peninsula town of Watersmeet.

Got questions before heading to the polls November 8? IPR News Radio hosted hour-long discussions with the candidates for northern Michigan’s seat in U.S. Congress. The race is expected to be one of the most competitive in the nation this year. Listen to the call-in shows below.

Voters in rural areas have been some of the strongest supporters of Donald Trump this presidential election. In Michigan, Trump dominated the entire Upper Peninsula and most of the northern part of the Lower Peninsula during the primary election.

This political development has puzzled many. How did a New York billionaire become a populist firebrand for rural voters?

In Michigan, Bridge Magazine went searching for an answer. Correspondent Ted Roelofs came back with a portrait of rural Michigan counties suffering from high rates of poverty and unemployment.

He spoke to IPR News Radio about what he learned:

 


Washington political groups are targeting northern Michigan airwaves this election season, spending millions of dollars in the race for the 1st Congressional District. Independent political groups representing Democrats and Republicans have spent $1.4 million on TV advertisements alone, the Michigan Campaign Finance Network reports.

“These are groups that do not locate their headquarters anywhere close to northern Michigan,” says Craig Mauger, the executive director of the Michigan Campaign Finance Network.

Independent groups have spent around $2.1 million total on the campaign, Mauger says. 

Michigan’s 1st District, which spans the northern third of the Lower Peninsula and the entire Upper Peninsula, is expected to be one of the more competitive races in the nation this November 8. 

 

 


Paul Maritinez/Flickr

The state legislature is scheduled to meet briefly next week, right in the heart of election season. But don't expect much to get done until after the election. 

There are plenty of key legislative issues unresolved in Lansing, including energy reform. That could be one of the main questions tackled by lawmakers when they come back to Lansing in the lame-duck session following the November 8 election.

“I’m trying to get in all of my sleep now,” says Michigan Public Radio reporter Cheyna Roth, “because once they do come back … I have a feeling we’re going to see a lot of activity on quite a few things.”

Cheyna Roth spoke with IPR News Radio about what to expect in the coming months:

 


For more than an hour, the four candidates talked about issues like affordable healthcare, social security, Line 5, U.S. involvement in Syria and care for military veterans.

Republican Jack Bergman, Democrat Lon Johnson, Green Party candidate Ellis Boal and Libertarian Diane Bostow were all present.

The forum was moderated by IPR's David Cassleman and Jack Segal of the International Affairs Forum. The League of Women Voters Grand Traverse Area and Leelanau County and UpNorth Media Center also co-sponsored the event. 

David Cassleman

In case you missed it, Hillary Clinton's daughter spoke with IPR News Radio following an event in Traverse City last week. She discussed economic opportunity and her mom’s plans to lower the cost of health care. 

 

Chelsea Clinton made the stop in northern Michigan last Friday to speak at a rally and answer audience questions at Kirkbride Hall. 

“I always admittedly struggle … when anyone accuses [my mother] of being part of the status quo because I’ve watched her obliterate the status quo my whole life,” Clinton said. 

David Cassleman

U.S. House Speaker Paul Ryan of Wisconsin spent time on this side of Lake Michigan on Monday morning, campaigning for Republican congressional candidate Jack Bergman.

Ryan spoke briefly at the headquarters of the Grand Traverse County Republican Party in Traverse City. He endorsed Bergman in the 1st District race and touted the Republican agenda in the U.S. House before a crowd of party members and elected officials, including state Rep. Larry Inman and state Sen. Wayne Schmidt. 

Classic rock will soon sound different on northern Michigan radios: WKLT has a new owner.

Blarney Stone Broadcasting, which operates rock station WQON (Q 100.3) in Grayling, has bought several stations from Northern Broadcast, Inc., including WKLT.

Blarney Stone intends to simulcast WQON on WKLT. 

“We believe that listeners in northern Michigan have a vast musical desire to hear more than just the same 300 songs over and over again,” says Sheryl Coyne, the president of Blarney Stone Broadcasting. “So we are going to transition [WKLT] … into a larger music library focused on listener requests.”

David Cassleman

There’s a good chance that the car you’re driving is made from American steel.

Steel comes from iron ore, and American car companies rely almost exclusively on the kind that’s mined in Minnesota and Michigan called taconite. It’s carried down the Great Lakes in 1,000-foot-long iron boats to the steel mills.

That supply chain relies on a critical piece of infrastructure at Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan: the Soo Locks.  

If there was a major problem there, the effects could send the entire nation into recession. And that has advocates saying it’s time to build a new lock – but they’ve been saying that for decades. 

 

  

Grand Traverse Road Commission

The new Cass Road Bridge is set to open south of Traverse City next week. It will eventually cross the Boardman River when the stream is rerouted next year. 

Grand Traverse County is demolishing the Boardman Dam and the old Cass Road Bridge and moving the river to its original location. It will be the second dam to be removed as part of a comprehensive plan to restore the river to what supporters say is a more natural state. In 2013, Brown Bridge Dam was taken out. 

The northern Michigan lawmaker who sponsored the bill to repeal Michigan’s mandatory helmet law has died in a motorcycle crash. It’s not known if state Rep. Peter Pettalia (R-Presque Isle) was wearing a helmet when he died.

Authorities are releasing few details. Pettalia was riding on  M-33 in Montmorency County. The Michigan State Police and the Montmorency County Sheriff say they will release more information in the morning. 

Pettalia's district included much of the northeast part of the Lower Peninsula, including Alpena. He chaired the state House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee. He was serving his third and final state House term, and briefly considered a run for Congress earlier this year. Pettalia was 61 years old.

Ellis Boal

Congressional candidate Ellis Boal has lived a life of political activism. The labor attorney was arrested while protesting at the 1968 Democratic National Convention. At the time he was a cab driver living in Chicago. 

“I spent the night in jail,” Boal says, “and heard the acceptance speech of Hubert Humphrey, the Democratic candidate for the presidency, from jail.”

 

Boal once posed for a photo with former Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat. He even played in a band that was the warm up act for Bernie Sanders 30 years ago. 

Boal, who has lived in Charlevoix since 2000, has also been a mainstay on ballots in northern Michigan. He is running as the Green Party candidate for the 1st Congressional District for the fourth time in a row.

Western Michigan University

College athletics are not moneymakers for most public institutions in Michigan. 

A new report from MLive called ‘The Price to Play’ shows that most universities are losing money on sports. Western Michigan University, for example, spends tens of millions of dollars to keep its athletic department afloat, the report says. 

Paula Gardner, an MLive reporter who worked on the series, says students and taxpayers are footing the bill. She spoke with IPR News Radio's David Cassleman about the price of big-time college athletics: 

 


Michigan Department of Natural Resources

Off roaders have used state forest roads in the Upper Peninsula as trails for years. Now they might have the same opportunity to use those types of roads below the Mackinac Bridge.

House Bill 5275 would permit Off Road Vehicles (ORVs) to use any state forest road across the state, unless it has been closed. Most of these roads are already open to motorized traffic from vehicles with license plates, but not to machines like all-terrain vehicles (ATVs) or side-by-side vehicles. The legislation, which was introduced by state Rep. Triston Cole (R-Mancelona), is currently sitting in the state Senate.

“Right now we have limited use and sporadic accessibility for our ORVs and side-by-side machines,” Triston Cole says. “And this is the next step in increasing tourism and improving our economy here in northern Lower Michigan.”

Cole says many off roaders in the Lower Peninsula are heading north to the Upper Peninsula to use its more numerous ORV trails. He wants to keep them below the Mackinac Bridge.
 

But some are concerned about potential environmental impacts if the roads are opened up to ORVs with aggressive tire treads. 

State of Michigan

Grand Traverse County Republicans have voted to no longer recognize Gov. William Milliken as a Republican. Party delegates passed the resolution at a convention in Grand Traverse County on Thursday night.

Milliken, a longtime Traverse City resident who is the longest serving governor in Michigan history, announced that he was endorsing Democrat Hillary Clinton for president last week.

“It’s just the final straw,” says Jason Gillman, a county delegate and former Grand Traverse County Commissioner who wrote the resolution.

Bill Marsh Automotive Group

Bill Marsh Sr., the founder of Bill Marsh Automotive Group in Traverse City, has died. He was 80. His family confirmed that he died in Leelanau County on Wednesday from Alzheimer’s disease.

Marsh Sr. built a single dealership with 12 employees into an automotive group with multiple dealerships and 250 employees in northern Michigan. He sold the company to three of his sons when he retired in 2006.

Kelly Clark

Libertarians want to make government smaller, which usually means reducing spending and cutting programs. But Libertarian Kelly Clark, a Traverse City Area Public Schools board member, says he would vote to spend more on early childhood development.

Clark is a retired teacher who is running for the state’s 104th District. He also owns a Traverse City-based restoration business.

“I think probably if there is an area where we really need to spend more resources, it’s in early childhood development,” Clark says. “And all of the data and research supports that.”
 


Lon Johnson for Congress

Northern Michigan Democrats have picked Lon Johnson to run for U.S. Congress. Johnson, the former chair of the state Democratic Party, took 72 percent of the vote in Tuesday’s primary election against former Kalkaska County Sheriff Jerry Cannon.

“In my candidacy, you will see a future member of Congress willing to make investments to get things done,” Johnson told IPR News Radio in an interview on Wednesday morning.
 


Betsy Coffia for State Representative

Democrat Betsy Coffia is again rejecting fundraising contributions from political action committees and the Democratic Party during her campaign to become Grand Traverse County’s next state representative. Coffia is an outspoken advocate for campaign finance reform.

“This is an easy talking point,” Coffia told IPR News Radio in an interview earlier this month, “ … but it’s a very different thing to walk the walk.”

An extended interview with Coffia is available at the bottom of the story.

Coffia, who won 47 percent of the district’s vote in 2014, is only accepting fundraising dollars from individual donors. She says Michigan is in a state of severe political crisis because of the influence of large political spenders.

“What it really comes down to is a state government where we have elected officials who are more accountable to their special interest donors and their party bosses … than they are to the voters,” Coffia says.

Candidates for northern Michigan’s seat in U.S. Congress have raised more than $2.3 million so far in a race that is expected to be one of the most competitive in the nation this November.

Campaigns across the nation filed financial statements with the Federal Election Commission last week.

Former Michigan Democratic Party chair Lon Johnson leads all candidates in the 1st Congressional District with more than $1.2 million raised through June 30. Fellow Democrat Jerry Cannon has raised $46,169.

Republican Jack Bergman, a retired Marine Corps general from Watersmeet, has more cash on hand than any other Republican. He has raised $336,275 total and spent more than $94,000.

Most of that money comes from Bergman’s own pocketbook, says Craig Mauger with the Michigan Campaign Finance Network.
 


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