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.

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.
 


David Cassleman

Republican Jason Gillman sees many problems with the way Lansing works these days. Gillman, a former Grand Traverse County Commissioner, is taking on incumbent Rep. Larry Inman in the 104th District’s Republican primary.

He says lawmakers made a mistake last year with the roads funding package by throwing money at the problem irresponsibly. Gillman is also targeting the recent $617 million bailout of Detroit Public Schools, which he says was a misstep.

“[The district] should have gone to bankruptcy,” Gillman says.

He favored a plan that along with bankruptcy would have offered more charter school options to Detroit students.

Gillman has run for the 104th district seat before. In 2012, he took on incumbent Wayne Schmidt in the Republican primary — he lost.

Gillman sat down to talk with IPR News Radio earlier this month:


Grand Traverse County’s state representative said he was somebody who could help end gridlock in Lansing when he was elected two years ago. It was a time when voters wanted lawmakers to find a way to fix Michigan’s roads.

Two years later, state Rep. Larry Inman has a roads funding package to tout as he runs for re-election. The billion dollar plan passed last fall after a bitter debate.

Inman says he deserves another two years representing the 104th district.

“Overall I think for a freshman just learning the system … I think I did pretty good,” Inman told IPR News Radio in an interview.
 

Inman has a Republican challenger on the primary ballot this August, Jason Gillman. Gillman is a former colleague of Inman’s on the Grand Traverse County Board of Commissioners.

On the Democratic side, Betsy Coffia is running in the primary unopposed after Megan Crandall dropped out of the race. Coffia, who has run twice before, won 47 percent of the district’s vote in 2014.

Kelly Clark, a Libertarian candidate and  a Traverse City Area Public Schools board member, is also running.

David Cassleman

When you think about car towns, you might not picture Traverse City. But the town used to be home to an automobile manufacturer. A company called Napoleon Motors briefly made cars and trucks in downtown Traverse City during the late 1910s and 1920s.

Napoleon was originally located in Ohio, but Traverse City officials were able to lure the company to northern Michigan with tax incentives, says Jonathan Klinger. He’s the vice president of public relations at Hagerty Insurance — a company that insures classic cars.

“It was a very exciting time for what was a new automotive industry,” Klinger says.


Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

The state legislature is on summer break for the next couple months but expect lawmakers to take on significant legislative questions when they return in September, says Rick Pluta.

Pluta is Capitol bureau chief for the Michigan Public Radio Network.

One of the those questions is energy reform — a topic that legislators have been debating for months in Lansing.

“There are a lot of disparate entities who have different ideas about how [energy reform] ought to look,” Pluta says in an interview with IPR News Radio.
 


Fred Harrington

Fred Harrington had almost reached Beaver Island across 30 miles of choppy Lake Michigan water, when he decided to turn back.

“With only one good paddler left, I made a decision to go back rather than go the rest of the way to the island,” Harrington says.

Five of his six paddlers had gotten "violently" seasick early Monday morning, while on their way to Beaver Island in a 34-foot canoe. The U.S. Coast Guard picked up the sick paddlers.

They were headed to a traditional Native American ceremony celebrating the summer solstice on the island.


In case you missed it, Republicans Jason Allen, Jack Bergman and Tom Casperson debated the issues on IPR News Radio on Friday, June 17.

The three are candidates for Michigan's 1st Congressional District.

Listen below to a recording of the entire call-in show, and click this link for a forum with the Democratic candidates recorded earlier this month.


Want to know where northern Michigan Republicans stand on Donald Trump? On Line Five? On the economy?

Now is your chance to question the Republicans running for U.S. Congress in northern Michigan. Leave your question in the comments below, and we just might ask it on air on Friday, June 17 at 1 p.m.

You can also call in during the hour with your question for Jason Allen, Jack Bergman and Tom Casperson. The number is 231-276-4432.

Diane Bostow

Michigan Libertarians have picked a former schoolteacher to run for U.S. Congress in northern Michigan.

“This is a district that is frugal, hard-working people and they kind of like to be left alone,” says Diane Bostow, who is a former teacher and entrepreneur from the Upper Peninsula town of Gwinn.  

Michigan Libertarians selected Bostow at the state party’s convention last month.
 


In case you missed it, Democrats Lon Johnson and Jerry Cannon debated the issues on IPR News Radio on Friday, June 10. Johnson and Cannon are both candidates for Michigan's 1st Congressional District.

Listen below to a recording of the entire call-in show, and be sure to join us next Friday -- June 17 -- when the Republicans convene for a live call-in show at 1pm.


Worried about Line 5 at the Straits? Wondering about the northern Michigan economy?

Now is your chance to question the Democrats running for U.S. Congress in northern Michigan. Leave your question in the comments below, and we just might ask it on air on Friday, June 10 at 1 p.m.

It’s a live forum and call-in show with the Democratic candidates for U.S. Congress in the 1st Congressional District — Jerry Cannon and Lon Johnson.

Call in during the forum at 800-681-5929.

David Cassleman

U.S. Sen. Gary Peters is pushing a federal agency to speed up a report that could lead to a new lock built at Sault Ste. Marie.

A 2015 analysis from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security warns of a scenario where a six month closure at the largest lock at the Soo, Poe Lock, leads to the nation’s automobile industry grinding to a halt. That could send the economy spiraling into a deep recession.

“It is a critical piece of infrastructure not just for Michigan but for the whole country,” U.S. Sen. Gary Peters says in an interview with IPR News Radio. Sen. Peters along with Sen. Debbie Stabenow have been advocating for a new lock at the Soo.


National Park Service

Steve Yancho has deep ties to Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. He retired several years ago as chief of natural resources after a decades long career with the park.

“I came here with the intention of being, maybe here for a year … but instead it lasted a lifetime because I fell in love with this place,” Yancho says.

And beyond his own career, Steve has another connection to Sleeping Bear Dunes: his son Sam works as a park ranger there, too.

The Yanchos recorded a conversation about the park for the storytelling initiative StoryCorps last year. The National Park Service is celebrating its centennial this year, and StoryCorps visited Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore as part of that celebration.

“It's hard to put into words how much this area means to me now that I grew up with it.  It's a part of who I am today,” Sam Yancho says.


David Cassleman

An environmental group has more money to clean up a polluted Traverse City waterway.

The Watershed Center Grand Traverse Bay has picked up a state grant worth nearly $600,000 to pay for ongoing work on Kids Creek, a tributary of the Boardman River that meanders along U.S. 31 in Traverse City. The group has been restoring stretches of Kids Creek for longer than a decade.

Detroit Public Schools

Governor Rick Snyder’s call for a bailout for Detroit Public Schools has been unanswered so far by the state legislature. DPS is more than $500 million in debt, and school officials have warned that they won’t be able to pay teachers after June 30 without a cash infusion from the state.


U.S. Geological Survey

An environmental group is testing a new weapon in the war on invasive, aquatic species in northern Michigan.

It’s a pesticide called Zequanox that kills zebra and quagga mussels, and is approved for use in open water by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

Tip of the Mitt Watershed Council of Emmet County will test it on zebra mussels in inland lakes in the area next year.

Pages