Sarah Cwiek

Sarah Cwiek - Detroit Reporter/Producer

Sarah Cwiek joined Michigan Radio in October, 2009. As our Detroit reporter, she is helping us expand our coverage of the economy, politics, and culture in and around the city of Detroit. Before her arrival at Michigan Radio, Sarah worked at WDET-FM as a reporter and producer.

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Education
5:53 pm
Fri November 22, 2013

Enrollment plummets in state-run Education Achievement Authority schools

Michigan’s attempt at a state-run “turnaround district” for the lowest-performing schools is bleeding students.

The Educational Achievement Authority is one of Governor Snyder’s signature policy initiatives. It launched in the last school year, with 15 former Detroit Public Schools.

State data now show the EAA lost more than 2,000 students since last school year. That’s nearly a 25% decline.

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Politics & Government
9:50 pm
Thu November 21, 2013

Report questions assumptions behind Detroit bankruptcy

 A new report says declining revenues and bad Wall Street deals—not out-of-control spending or generous pension benefits--contributed the most to Detroit’s bankruptcy.

The report from the left-leaning think tank Demos also accuses Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr of attacking the problem in “inappropriate” ways that are “not rooted in fact.”

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Politics & Government
12:15 pm
Thu November 21, 2013

Michigan Congressman calls for extending federal unemployment benefits

Sander Levin

Detroit-area Congressman Sander Levin says the federal government must extend federal unemployment benefits.

Levin,  the ranking Democrat on the House Ways and Means Committee, and other Democrats introduced bills Wednesday that would renew the Emergency Unemployment Compensation program for another year.

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Offbeat
12:12 pm
Tue November 19, 2013

Are diverse, friendly neighborhoods possible? MSU research suggests the answer is "No"

Credit wikipedia

New research from Michigan State University suggests the less diverse a  neighborhood is, the more likely it will be neighborly.

Researchers looked at the relationship between neighborhood segregation, and the strength of social networks in a community.

They found that the more segregated a community, the more likely it is to be tight-knit.

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Education
10:58 pm
Mon November 18, 2013

Detroit Public Schools leave federal oversight, gain 'incremental independence'

Jack Martin

After five years, the Detroit Public Schools has been removed from “high-risk status.”

The Michigan Department of Education gave Detroit federal high-risk status in 2008, after a federal audit revealed some serious financial discrepancies amounting to about $53 million.

But the state says the district has put enough safeguards in place now to relax its monitoring.

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Politics & Government
7:00 am
Fri November 15, 2013

In 'a big surprise' to Detroit leaders, state to pay little for city's restructuring consultants

Detroit’s elected leaders are shocked that the state has put a strict limit on how much it will pay for the city’s many restructuring consultants.

Under a memorandum of understanding signed last year, the state agreed to reimburse Detroit for half the cost of those outside contractors.

But Detroit’s finance director told the City Council Wednesday those reimbursements would be capped at $5 million.

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Law
7:00 am
Fri November 15, 2013

Detroit bankruptcy judge rejects bid to keep loan terms secret

The judge in Detroit’s bankruptcy case has denied a bid to keep some details of a controversial loan agreement secret.

Judge Steven Rhodes ruled Thursday that the city must disclose all the terms of a proposed loan from the British financial giant Barclays. That loan deal is as complex as it is controversial.

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Politics & Government
7:00 am
Thu November 14, 2013

Duggan looks for smooth transition in Detroit

Mike Duggan
Credit Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

Detroit’s next mayor says he’s making plans to hit the ground running—but it’s unclear what powers he’ll have to implement them.

Mike Duggan named former Detroit State Representative Lisa Howze and former Detroit Police Chief Ike McKinnon to co-chair his transition team Wednesday.

They’re looking for volunteers with expertise in various parts of city government to fill out the team.

Duggan says this team will come up with an operational plan—but whether he can implement it is another matter.

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Arts & Culture
7:00 am
Wed November 13, 2013

Fire strikes Detroit's famous Heidelberg Project, again

At The Heidelberg Project
user: doug_coombe Instagram

Update:

The Heidelberg Project's Executive Director Jenenne Whitfield told the Detroit Free Press that security cameras and extra lighting will be added to the project.

Fire has destroyed another home that’s part of the Heidelberg Project, a world-famous Detroit public art installation.

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Education
11:55 pm
Tue November 12, 2013

Detroit schools issue 'child safety ID cards' to some students

A child is fingerprinted for an ID card at Detroit's Chrysler Elementary School.
Credit Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

The Detroit Public Schools will start issuing “child safety ID cards” in some elementary schools.

The ID card will contain a child’s picture, fingerprint, and other identifying information. Participation is voluntary.

District officials say the cards could help find and identify missing children more quickly.

The district will give one card to parents, and keep the information on file. They say the district will only share the card’s information with law enforcement in the event of an emergency.

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Law
7:22 am
Fri November 8, 2013

Closing arguments set to begin in Detroit bankruptcy trial

Closing arguments start Friday in Detroit’s bankruptcy eligibility trial.

Witness testimony wrapped up this week, with former State Treasurer Andy Dillon and one of Governor Snyder’s top aides, Rich Baird, both taking the stand.

Dillon testified that he was “skeptical” after seeing Detroit emergency manager Kevyn Orr’s June proposal to city creditors, which included steep cuts to unsecured creditors, including pensions.

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Law
7:20 am
Fri November 8, 2013

Protesters call for answers, justice in Renisha McBride's death

Renisha McBride
Credit Family photo

Questions persist - and outrage is growing - over the death of a young unarmed Detroit woman in a suburban community.

Renisha McBride was shot to death on the porch of a Dearborn Heights home last weekend.

The circumstances surrounding her death remain murky. The man who killed her reportedly told police he thought McBride was breaking into his home, and he shot her accidentally.

The man has not been arrested or even identified.

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Politics & Government
8:47 am
Wed November 6, 2013

Voter turnout tops expectations in Detroit

Credit Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

With emergency manager Kevyn Orr running Detroit, the city’s elected officials have very few real powers. So Detroiters could be forgiven for asking: Why bother to vote at all?

But for some Detroiters, there was no question about exercising the right to vote.

And turnout for this election was higher than expected, at upwards of 25%.

Detroit city clerk Janice Winfrey had projected that less than 25% of voters would participate.

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Politics & Government
2:06 am
Wed November 6, 2013

Mike Duggan is Detroit's next mayor

Mike Duggan greets a supporter
Credit Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

Get used to saying "Mayor Duggan," because former Detroit Medical Center CEO Mike Duggan is the new mayor-elect of Detroit.

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Politics & Government
10:28 pm
Mon November 4, 2013

Levin, Rogers: Washington dysfunction reflects "fundamental rift"

Two Michigan Congressmen say Washington has some serious problems—and things aren’t likely to get better any time soon.

Democrat Sander Levin and Republican Mike Rogers talked about the current state of national politics at the Detroit Economic Club Monday.

Rogers said stark ideological divides and constant pressure from “third party outside political groups” to toe a hard line amount to “a recipe for bad governance in the next few years.”

But Rogers said it isn’t just Congress. He thinks there’s a “fundamental rift in America today.”

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Politics & Government
9:02 pm
Mon November 4, 2013

Bing, Snyder team up to expand Detroit public safety initiative

A successful program that utilizes volunteers to fight crime is growing in Detroit.

Governor Snyder and Mayor Dave Bing announced Monday that the Americorps Urban Safety Corps program will extend into five Detroit neighborhoods.

The program empowers Americorps members to recruit and mobilize community volunteers for public safety efforts.

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Politics & Government
7:33 am
Mon November 4, 2013

Duggan vs. Napoleon: In Detroit mayor's race, one candidate has big cash and a big lead

Mike Duggan, left, and Benny Napoleon during the final Detroit mayoral debate.
Credit via WXYZ TV

Detroiters elect a new mayor on Tuesday.

If the polls are to be believed, the race between Mike Duggan and Benny Napoleon isn’t even close.

But that hasn’t stopped the race from getting expensive—or nasty.

The frontrunner, Duggan, wasn’t even on the primary ballot.

He was thrown off over a technicality because he hadn’t lived in Detroit for a full year before filing his ballot petitions.

But Duggan surprised many by winning handily as a write-in candidate. Since then his campaign has seemingly been on cruise control.

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Politics & Government
12:45 pm
Thu October 31, 2013

Wayne County ponders offer for botched jail site

Credit Wayne County

Downtown Detroit real estate mogul Dan Gilbert wants to buy the site of Wayne County’s botched jail project.

Rock Ventures has offered a total of $50 million to build an entertainment district where the half-built jail and other county facilities now sit. Wayne County abandoned the jail project in August because it was hugely over-budget.

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Politics & Government
9:14 pm
Tue October 29, 2013

Highlights from Governor Snyder's, Kevyn Orr's testimony in Detroit bankruptcy trial

LiveStream

Both Detroit Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr and Governor Snyder testified this week in the trial that will decide whether Detroit is eligible for Chapter 9 bankruptcy protection.

Facing hours of pointed questions from lawyers for city unions, retirees, and pension funds, both Snyder and Orr said that bankruptcy wasn’t a foregone conclusion for Detroit.

But both also insisted the city was clearly insolvent, creditor talks had broken down into multiple lawsuits, and Orr had to move quickly.

“It was somewhat shocking how dire it was,” Orr testified.

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Politics & Government
4:25 pm
Fri October 25, 2013

Day 3 in the Detroit bankruptcy case could bring Orr and police chief to the stand

Gerri Trager Flickr

Update 4:25 p.m.

Emergency manager Kevyn Orr has taken the stand in Detroit bankruptcy eligibility trial, for what's likely to be a brief bit of testimony before court breaks for the weekend.

The court confirmed that Governor Snyder will take the stand at 1 p.m. on Monday, regardless of whether Orr is finished testifying.

Orr follows Detroit Police Chief James Craig, who testified about the poor state of police service in Detroit when he took over the job in July 2013.

He called Detroit "the most violent city I've ever worked in" (he's also worked for police departments in Los Angeles and Cincinnati).

He said the city needs to take "bold action" to rectify its fiscal problems, but acknowledged he was "concerned" about "hiring and retention issues" if Detroit is allowed to slash pension benefits in bankruptcy.

1:11 p.m.

At issue is whether the state (mostly Gov. Rick Snyder) and city​ leaders (mostly Kevyn Orr) truly negotiated "in good faith" with Detroit's creditors.

Those who stand to lose a lot (city union workers and retired pensioners, among many others) are arguing that bankruptcy was the goal all along - that there was no "good faith" bargaining going on.

We're in Day 3 of hearings in front of the man who will ultimately decide whether Detroit will become the largest city in U.S. history to go bankrupt.

We're not expected to get a ruling from U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Steven Rhodes until mid-November.

This morning there was testimony from Kenneth Buckfire, an investment banker who worked with the city of Detroit. Buckfire was questioned about the timing of his negotiations with Gov. Snyder and the city over the city's insolvency.

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