Michael Leland

News Director

Michael comes to IPR from Wisconsin Public Radio, where he led an award-winning news staff for nine years.  He has also worked as a News Director at Michigan Radio in Ann Arbor.  Before getting into management, Michael’s reporting career took him to a variety of places, from Chicago City Hall, to a former coal mine 600 feet under southern Illinois, to an Inuit community in far northern Canada.

Michael is a New Englander who came to the Midwest for graduate school  in the mid '80s and decided to call this part of the country home.  He has a master’s in Journalism and Mass Communication from Kansas State University.  His undergraduate degree is in Communications and Business Administration from Curry College in Milton, Massachusetts.

Michael’s favorite public radio program is On the Media.

Natalie Krebs / IPR

Large gatherings are allowed to resume starting this week. There's a primary on Tuesday, and the Iowa Legislature is returning to session Wednesday. As the state grapples with reopening, protests over the death of George Floyd have turned violent in Des Moines. 

Continue to follow the latest Iowa news here for the week of May 31-June 6.

Amy O'Shaughnessy / IPR

Iowa schools are closed for the rest of the school year, and many businesses remain closed through April 30 by order of the governor as the state works to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus. We'll be posting updates from Gov. Kim Reynolds and the Iowa Department of Public Health and other news as it becomes available here for the week of April 26 - May 2.

Matt Rourke / AP Photo

Iowa businesses, school districts and citizens continue to respond to the escalating COVID-19 pandemic. Updates and news regarding the spread of the virus in Iowa for the week of March 15-21 are available here. 

John Pemble / IPR

The head of the Iowa Democratic Party says the party is manually verifying the results of Monday night’s first-in-the-nation Iowa caucuses. 

Michael Leland / IPR

Several hundred people gathered at Drake University Monday morning for the annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr Day prayer breakfast.  The annual event honors the life and message of the slain civil rights leader. 

Courtesy of University of Iowa Athletics

The University of Iowa football team had had 17 straight non-winning seasons when Hayden Fry was hired as coach in 1978. Fry, who turned the UI into a perennial winner, died at his home in Dallas Tuesday after a long battle with cancer.  He was 90 years old.

The Texas native had never been to Iowa but said he liked athletic director Bump Elliot and was impressed with fan support for the team. Fry coached the Hawkeyes to three Big Ten conference championships, three Rose Bowl appearances and 10 AP Top 25 finishes over 20 years in Iowa City.

Michael Leland/ IPR file

The entire staff of RAGBRAI, the annual bike ride across Iowa, has resigned over the Des Moines Register’s handling of the Carson King story.

AP Photo/Susan Walsh

President Trump will address the U.N. General Assembly on Tuesday, as his administration confronts foreign policy challenges in the Middle East and a growing political scandal in Washington.

This will be Trump's third address to the General Assembly. In the past, he has used his remarks to world leaders to put U.S. foes on notice, as well as to promote his "America first" style of diplomacy.

AP/Ian Langsdon

President Trump and French President Emmanuel Macron are holding a press conference from the G-7 summit of world economic leaders in France. He had meetings with multiple heads of state over the weekend. The summit comes ahead of a looming recession and amid an ongoing trade war with China.

John Pemble / IPR

The final presidential candidate to speak at the Iowa State Fair says it won’t be easy to defeat President Donald Trump in 2020.  Massachusetts Democratic U.S. Rep. Seth Moulton said Democrats will need a remarkably diverse coalition behind the eventual nominee.

John Pemble / IPR

Democratic billionaire Tom Steyer of California has big plans for his first day as president.

“I will declare a state of emergency on day one,” he said, referring to the need to take on the effects of climate change. “We are faced with something that will affect the health and safety of every single American, and every single American in the future.”

John Pemble / IPR

One Republican joined more than a dozen Democratic presidential candidates in speaking at the Iowa State Fair this weekend.  Former Massachusetts Gov. William Weld took his 20 minutes of time at the Des Moines Register’s Political Soapbox, and said he’s running for president because he’s troubled by Donald Trump’s presidency, and thinks Trump is a Republican in name only.

John Pemble / IPR

New Jersey U.S. Sen. Corey Booker says this is a moral moment in America.

In a speech on the Des Moines Register Political Soapbox at the Iowa State Fair Saturday, the Democratic presidential candidate said the nation has never been free of bigotry and hate, or of violence, but it has managed to come together to achieve great things. 

John Pemble / IPR

U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan of Ohio says the country needs to move beyond political discussions that focus on left vs. right, and work toward making the United States new and better.

Ryan told a crowd at the Des Moines Register’s Political Soap Box at the State Fair that, in his administration, that transformation would include the appointment of a chief manufacturing officer.  That person would help develop strategies on how the U.S. can dominate industries, like building the cars of the future.

John Pemble/IPR

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee says if climate change can’t be defeated, everything else is moot.  Inslee spoke Saturday at the Des Moines Register’s Political Soapbox at the Iowa State Fair, and promised to work to do just that.

“I will make defeating the climate crisis the Number One priority in the United States.  That is what we have to do to get this job done,” he said.

John Pemble / IPR

A long weekend of political speeches got underway Thursday afternoon at the Iowa State Fair, as Montana Gov. Steve Bullock delivered the first speech at the Des Moines Register’s Political Soapbox.  Candidates get 20 minutes to talk to whoever shows up to listen at a stage along the Grand Concourse.  The crowd for Bullock was pretty thick, though some attendees said they had arrived early to hear former Vice President Joe Biden, who was scheduled to speak about 20 minutes after Bullock concluded.

AP Photo/Andrew Harnik

Trump on shootings: The president is speaking from the White House about the mass shootings that took place over the weekend in Ohio in Texas. Watch his remarks live.

AP Photo/Patrick Semansky

The House of Representatives is debating a civil contempt resolution against Attorney General William Barr and former White House Counsel Don McGahn. House Democrats want access to materials related to special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election.

Grant Gerlock/IPR

Many Democratic presidential candidates have offered their reaction to Thursday’s release with redactions of the Mueller report investigating Russian involvement in the 2016 election. 

Campaigning in Des Moines, Sen. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota said she feels the special counsel should testify before Congress.

“The most important thing is that Bob Mueller come before Congress so that we can get to the bottom of why there’s this difference between his interpretation of the law and the Attorney General of the United States,” Klobuchar said.

Clare Roth / IPR file

Iowa’s 2nd District Congressman Dave Loebsack says this will be his last term in office.  Loebsack, a Democrat, published a statement on his website Friday saying he will not run for reelection in 2020 to represent the district in the southeast quarter of the state. 

Iowa DOT website

Floodwaters in western Iowa are affecting a big section of I-29 in the southwest part of the state.  The road has multiple closures between the Missouri state line and I-680 in Loveland, north of Council Bluffs.  The Iowa DOT is recommending long-distance travelers get around the closed section by using I-35 between Kansas City and Des Moines, and I-80 and 680 between Des Moines and Loveland.  I-29 is open north of that point.

Michael Leland/IPR

A bill that would have cut the use of state dollars to help acquire public lands ran into a roomful of opposition at the Statehouse Monday.  People representing various conservation groups, as well as private citizens, spoke out against the bill, which was filed last week by Rep. David Sieck, R-Glenwood.

Iowa DOT

After being closed by a blizzard for more than 24 hours, the northbound lanes of I-35 between Ames and the Minnesota border reopened at 5pm Monday.  The southbound lanes reopened at noon Monday.  I-35 had been closed all the way north to Owatonna, Minnesota, about 40 miles north of the border.

Even with the roadway open, officials are warning the conditions that forced the closing Sunday will continue to cause traffic headaches.

John Pemble / IPR

Representatives of Iowa’s lottery, casino, and horse-racing industries were among those making a case to lawmakers to let them handle sports betting in the state.  Pro sports leagues are also making a bid to run sports betting.

A Senate subcommittee Wednesday took testimony on four sports betting bills that favor different stakeholders.  Casino representatives say they have a long and successful track record handing betting in Iowa, and they’re already regulated by the state’s racing and gaming commission.

National Weather Service, Johnston, Ia.

Iowa’s coldest air in more than 20 years moves into the state Tuesday night. The National Weather Service says wind chill values by Wednesday morning will range from -30 in southern Iowa to -50 in the northern part of the state.  Wednesday morning will see the coldest temperatures and wind chills of this winter blast.

Michael Leland/IPR

If you don’t mind the cold, tomorrow could be a good day for a hike.  More than two dozen Iowa state parks are hosting so-called First Day Hikes New Year's Day -- free hikes guided by park staff. Hikers will get the chance to experience the quiet beauty of nature in winter, spectacular views, and a host of cultural treasures offered by Iowa’s state parks.

Iowa DOT map

One of Iowa’s 14 Sears stores will close in late March, as part of the company’s latest round of reductions announced Friday.  Sears Holdings says the store at the Southern Hills Mall in Sioux City is among 80 Sears and K-Mart stores throughout the country that will close, as the company fights to stay in business. 

The company has told its employees liquidation sales will begin in about two weeks. 

The Sioux City location includes an auto center, which will close in late January.

Michael Leland/IPR

Iowa’s legislative leaders say they’re not expecting to have to make mid-year budget cuts in the legislative session that gets underway in January.  But Senate Majority Leader Jack Whitver, R-Ankeny, says there won’t likely be a big increase in spending, either.  He told a forum at the Iowa Taxpayers Association conference in Altoona Friday that’s because of tax cuts lawmakers passed in the last session.

Michael Leland/IPR

The Iowa secretary of state’s office says voter turnout has been robust so far today, and it’s possible Iowa could top its record of 1.13 million votes cast in a midterm election, set in 2014.  The state did set an early voting record for a midterm election: 529,000 votes cast. That’s about 57,000 more than in the 2014 midterm.  Secretary of State Paul Pate, who is running for reelection against Democrat Deidre DeJear, says both Republicans and Democrats had more early votes this year than in 2014.

AP Photo/Alex Brandon

Supreme Court nominee Judge Brett Kavanaugh and the woman who has accused him of sexually assaulting her in high school, Christine Blasey Ford, are testifying before the Senate Judiciary Committee. Watch the proceeding live.