First Day of Spring, Michigan Policymakers Discuss Transparency (Again), Michigan Weed Prices, Mackinac Island Ferry Sells, and Chatfield Probe Continues


This Week in Rural Insights

On Wednesday we will be publishing an article by Clay Postlewaite about NMU Veteran Services Coordinator Michael Rutledge and his success story as a veteran in the U.S. Army.

And on Friday we will be publishing an article by Erika Sauter about Dr. Anne C. Miller, the first female doctor in the Upper Peninsula.

Join thousands of other Rural Insights readers and follow us on Twitter (@RuralInsightsUP), Facebook and LinkedIn. We have Rural Insights postings there as well as on our website.

Happy First Day of Spring!!!!!

Only seven weeks until Mother’s Day and our annual Mother’s Day snowstorm.

Michigan Policymakers Discussing Transparency in State Government–Again

National Sunshine Week has come and gone in Michigan. It was last week. Once again the Michigan legislature did not pass any reform bills on the Freedom of Information or Open Meetings Act. 

Michigan is one of two states that exempts the Governor and the Legislature from the Freedom of Information Act. The Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) sets requirements for retention and disclosure of records of public bodies, local governments and state departments.

The Upper Peninsula’s Senator Ed McBroom (R) has been a leader in the state’s efforts for more transparency in Michigan. He has joined with Senator Jeremy Moss (D) to make this a bipartisan effort.

McBroom was recently quoted as saying: “Michiganders should not feel they are in the dark when it comes to what the government is working on, which is why voting on legislation to create paths for open communications and government transparency is such a priority.” (mLive).

The package of bills currently before the legislature also includes transparency bills that would require ethics and financial reforms for elected officials. 

Michigan nonprofit corporations like the labor and business organizations, United Way, university foundations and other types of non-government organizations are exempt from the Freedom of Information Act and the Open Meetings Act.

Many feel they should also be included in the transparency reform bills before the legislature.

The Highs and Lows of Michigan Weed

Observers tell us that inflation is increasing the cost of consumer products–meat, eggs, and other food products. Fuel has been increasing as we all have seen when we will fill up our automobiles.

However, we hear inflation has not increased the cost of weed in the Upper Peninsula and around the state. Looking for data on this and individual experience. Let us know if you want to share data on either.

Mackinac Island Ferry Sells to New Owners After 77 Years of One Family Ownership

For 77 years, the Shepler family has owned and operated the ferry line to Mackinac Island. Thousands of vacationers have used this wonderful ferry to begin their vacations on the island.

The Shepler family used a mergers and acquisitions company named Greenwich Capital Group in Birmingham to handle the sale to a billionaire named David Hoffman of Naples, Florida. He owns the Hoffman Family of Companies that has holdings worldwide, including Europe, China, Latin America and in the United States.

He is the largest real estate owner in Naples, Florida. It is a family-run company.. They say the guest experience will not change and the new owners will keep the name…

Probe Into Former Upper Peninsula State Rep/House Speaker Continues

The Michigan House of Representatives is hearing more calls for them to investigate former Republican Speaker Lee Chatfield who represented the eastern Upper Peninsula and counties below the bridge.

There is a current criminal probe going on into accusations that Chatfield sexually abused his sister-in-law beginning when she was 15. There are also allegations that he used his political accounts of more than $900,000 to hire family members, legislative staffers for consulting outside of their House of Representatives jobs. 

Lansing ethics experts and other political ethics experts are saying that the Chatfield accusations are more reasons for the legislature to toughen up their ethics rules and for there to be more transparency in how legislators use their various political/campaign funds and other nonprofits that they create for political/policy uses. 

During last week’s Sunshine Week activities the various ethics and transparency proposals were not considered by the legislature.

More and more voices are calling for the legislature to get these legislative proposals debated, amended and passed.

Next Innovation Around the UP


“Man’s capacity for justice makes democracy possible, but man’s inclination to injustice makes democracy necessary.” Rheinhold Niebhur.

“Never trust anyone whose television is bigger than their bookshelves.” E. Clark.

Books Recommended By Readers

“Ruthie Fear”. Maxim Loskutoff. From Snowbound Book Store Book Club.

“Bloodlands”. Timothy Snyder. (About Stalin’s genocide against Ukrainians and Hitler’s total war against the Soviet Union).

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Rural Insights connects policy, information, news and culture to raise topics and stories/information you might have not seen or overlooked. We bring you original writing from Rural Insights and other researchers, change makers, and storytellers, as well as our latest research and analysis.

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David Haynes

David Haynes has served as a professor of public administration and public policy. He previously has served as President of Northern Michigan University. David has been involved in the public administration and political science field for over 45 years.


  1. Jim Katakowski on March 21, 2022 at 4:01 pm

    We need more transparency across the board from Governor on down. Honesty breeds the best of us. Mr. Chatfield and his little war chest of money used quite possibly in an inappropriate manner for family or whatever should not ever happen. We need more rigid monitoring of all funds around government/political activities. Our system demands it. The exploitation by the former president through lies and misinforming the public makes our democracy looks like it it is crumbling. We need more checks and balances with total honesty and the media needs to address political parties and hold them accountable every time they speak and most especially when they lie. May our democracy live on.

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