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.

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.

From Elk Rapids to Beaver Island, voters have approved tax millages and bonds to pay for school expenses.

Tuesday’s election was one of four dates this year when schools can ask for money.

A bond proposal for Elk Rapids Schools passed by a margin better than two-to-one, according to unofficial results. The bond will pay for technology and safety upgrades over four years.

David Cassleman

Dozens of school districts across Michigan are asking voters to approve tax proposals on Tuesday.

In northern Michigan, Elk Rapids Public Schools has a technology and safety bond on the ballot. Leland Public Schools has a similar bond proposal.

DTE Energy

Ten years ago, Michigan’s residential electricity rates were below the national average. That is not true anymore.

Today, Michigan’s ratepayers have the highest rates in the Midwest, and the price per kilowatt hour could get even higher this year.   

Last month, we heard from an advocate for customers in Michigan, but today we hear from one of the state’s largest utilities about why prices go up.

David Mengebier is vice president of governmental, regulatory and public affairs for Consumers Energy.


Congressional candidates in northern Michigan have raised hundreds of thousands of dollars so far in 2016. Candidates in the 1st Congressional District have combined to raise $561,218 since January 1, according to data filed with the Federal Election Commission last week.

“When it comes to purely candidate fundraising, the 1st District led the way in the … first three months of 2016,” says Craig Mauger, the executive director of the Michigan Campaign Finance Network.

Mauger says there were other congressional districts with higher fundraising totals, but those totals were skewed by candidates loaning themselves large sums of money.

Mauger discussed the political fundraising battle in northern Michigan with IPR News Radio earlier this week:
 


Megan Crandall has filed to run as a Democrat in the race for Grand Traverse County’s state House seat. In 2010, the Traverse City school board member ran for the 104th state House District as an independent.

“I’m running as a [Democrat] because there is no place for me in this Republican party,” Crandall says. “I’m a Milliken Republican. I’m concerned about the environment. I support education. I support responsible government.”

Michigan has a bad reputation when it comes to government openness. Last year, the nonprofit Center for Public Integrity gave the state an ‘F’ in government transparency and accountability.

The governor’s office is exempt from Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests, and so is the state legislature. That means emails and other records are often out of reach for reporters and other government watchdogs.

But a group of Michigan lawmakers wants to end those exemptions to FOIA that have shielded the executive and legislative branches since the 1970s . They’ve unveiled a package of bills that would reform the state’s FOIA laws, by creating the Legislative Open Records Act.

“Any elected official who is not in favor of transparency … really is not qualified to hold public office under our system of government,” says Rep. Lee Chatfield of Emmet County.

IPR News Radio spoke to Chatfield, who is a co-sponsor of the legislation:


An environmental group opposed to an oil pipeline beneath the Great Lakes has requested that state leaders shut down the pipe due to alleged safety violations.

The group Oil & Water Don’t Mix says the company operating Line 5 — Enbridge — is violating an easement granted by the state more than 60 years ago. The easement allows Enbridge to move oil and natural gas under the Straits of Mackinac.

A letter sent to the governor and attorney general's offices alleges several violations of the easement, including corrosion on the pipeline walls and failure to meet thickness requirements.

Enbridge says the group is making false assumptions, but environmental leaders say the evidence is clear.

Electricity rates have skyrocketed for Michigan residents in the past decade. The average price per kilowatt hour has increased by nearly 40 percent since 2008. Rates could go even higher, if the state’s biggest utilities have their way this year.

But ratepayers do have some advocates working on their behalf to try to keep prices down. They are a group called the Michigan Utility Consumer Participation Board.

The UCPB says poor funding restrains them from doing more on behalf of ratepayers. Jim MacInnes, the chair of the UCPB, wants to increase the group's funding from around $600,000 to $1.5 million per year.

Jim MacInnes — who is also the president of Crystal Mountain Resort — spoke with IPR News Radio last week:


Jack Bergman, a former three-star Marine Corps general running for Congress in northern Michigan, wants to “get the budget under control” on day one if elected.

The Republican recently entered the race in Michigan’s competitive 1st Congressional District. The district includes the northern third of lower Michigan and all of the Upper Peninsula.

“Congress needs to start working together, negotiating the tough decisions,” Bergman told IPR News Radio in an interview last week.


Supporters of transgender rights are responding to Republican attacks on proposed  guidelines for school districts in Michigan.

“[The guidelines are] really all about creating a safe and supporting learning environment for all Michigan students,” says attorney Jay Kaplan of the ACLU of Michigan. Kaplan worked on writing the recommendations.

Kaplan spoke to IPR News Radio about the policy statement the state Board of Education will soon be asked to vote on:


A group of Republican lawmakers is attacking recommendations from the Michigan Department of Education on how schools should treat transgender students. State officials say the guidelines are meant to protect a group of students who often face assaults and threats on campus.

One recommendation is that schools allow transgender students to use the bathroom “in accordance with their gender identity.” Another would allow students to be called a name other than the one on their birth certificate.

Each of the 17 guidelines are recommendations — not mandates for schools. The elected state Board of Education will vote on them in May.

State Rep. Triston Cole of Antrim County says he is particularly opposed to a guideline advising that school officials ask students if they want their parents to know they are transgender.

“Parents have got to be involved in this,” Cole told IPR News Radio in an interview last week. “This cannot be something kept secret from a parent.”

 


There’s a new Republican in the race for northern Michigan’s seat in U.S. Congress — a former three-star general named Jack Bergman. The retired Marine Corps officer says he will soon officially register to run in the competitive 1st Congressional District.

“Marines don’t come to just kind of finish second,” Bergman says. “Marines come to win.”

Bergman is a political unknown, but he’s running in a district - and in an election year - when an outsider could have success.


Jack Bergman, a retired Marine Corps general from the western Upper Peninsula, is entering the race for northern Michigan’s seat in U.S. Congress. The republican says he plans to file paperwork with the Federal Election Commission sometime in the next two weeks.

“Marines don’t come to just kind of finish second,” Bergman says. “Marines come to win.”

A yooper has represented northern Michigan in U.S. Congress for decades — a tradition that state Sen. Tom Casperson (R-Escanaba) wants to continue. Casperson is running to fill the seat that Rep. Dan Benishek is vacating in the 1st Congressional District. Casperson sat down with IPR News Radio for an interview last week.

“The overreach from the federal government has caused problems we’re faced with here in northern Michigan,” Casperson says. “I’m one that’s convinced that most of the governing should take place at the state level.”


Michigan State Police

A joint effort has led to the arrest of nine people who law enforcement say conspired to bring heroin and cocaine to northern Michigan.

Michigan State Police allege drugs flowed from the Detroit-area to Traverse City and Cadillac for years.

“They are thinking maybe seven million dollars worth of heroin was brought up into northern Michigan during that five year process,” says First Lieutenant Michael Shaw with MSP. “So we’ve shut down a major, major source into both Traverse City and Cadillac.”

Grand Rapids Home for Veterans

State legislators are preparing to investigate a Grand Rapids nursing home for veterans that was sharply criticized in an audit released last month by the state’s Auditor General.

Governor Rick Snyder called the findings ‘deeply troubling,’ and the director of the Michigan Veterans Affairs Agency, Jeff Barnes, resigned last month.

According to the report, some allegations of abuse at the Grand Rapids Home for Veterans went uninvestigated by nursing home staff. There were other problems, too, including staff who falsely reported checking in on patients.

Michigan Public Radio reporter Jake Neher says the report also found that the privately-run center was ‘grossly’ understaffed:


David Cassleman

Former Grand Traverse County commissioner Jason Gillman is running for the state House of Representatives again. He has announced he intends to challenge incumbent Larry Inman in the Republican primary of the 104th state House district.

Gillman ran for the seat in 2012, losing to now state Sen. Wayne Schmidt in the primary.

“I feel like I have to run this year,” Gillman says.

Detroit Public Schools

Two different plans to bailout the massively indebted Detroit Public Schools have emerged from Lansing in recent weeks. The price tag could be upwards of $700 million.

DPS could run out of money as soon as April, according to officials from the state’s largest school system, and state leaders are rushing to find a fix.

State Capitol reporter Jake Neher explains plans in the Senate and House.

 


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