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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Developing
4:00 pm
Sat March 22, 2014

Same-sex couples flock to clerks' offices to wed ahead of temporary stay

Jere Clausen and Bruce Walters were the first gay couple to be married in Muskegon County this morning.
Lindsey Smith Michigan Radio

Update 5:05 p.m.

In a reversal from what it signaled earlier in the day, the U.S. Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals has issued a temporary stay on the decision to strike down Michigan's ban on same-sex marriage. 

The court said it issued the stay to allow a "more reasoned consideration" of Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette's request for a hold on Friday's decision.

3:43 p.m.

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Politics & Government
2:17 pm
Sat March 22, 2014

Snyder touts benefits of foreign investment for Michigan

Governor Rick Snyder

Governor Snyder says a new survey shows his efforts to attract more international investment in Michigan is paying off.

The “insourcing” survey cites Michigan for adding more than 250,000 private sector jobs since 2010, and 32,000 from foreign investment in 2011 alone –more than twice as many as any other state.

The survey found that the heads of multinational firms are cautiously bullish about doing business in the U.S., but things could be better.

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Politics & Government
6:00 am
Fri March 21, 2014

Orr looks to private sector for help with Detroit water department mess

Credit wikimedia commons

Detroit emergency manager Kevyn Orr is looking at potential private operators for the city’s water system.

Orr says the city has been forced to consider leasing the water system to a private operator because talks to create a regional authority with suburban customers broke down.

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Environment & Science
6:00 am
Fri March 21, 2014

Dearborn steel mill wants state to loosen emission limits, neighbors worry

A Dearborn steel plant wants the state to let it legally emit more air pollution, a prospect that doesn’t sit well with many of the people who live nearby.

The massive, 350-acre Severstal steel complex sits in a heavily industrial area along the Dearborn-Detroit border. It’s been cited 37 times for violating its current state air quality permit.

But Severstal thinks that permit was too strict. In its new permit application, the company wants the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality to raise the emissions cap for a number of pollutants, including lead and carbon monoxide.

That angers many south Dearborn residents, like Norieah Ahmed. Speaking at a packed public hearing on the proposed new rules this week, Ahmed said her community already suffers from too much pollution.

“We cannot allow for an increase in permitted levels simply because Severstal once again can’t meet those standards,” Ahmed said.

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Politics & Government
5:00 am
Wed March 19, 2014

Lease proposal: Joe Louis Arena to be darkened, demolished after Red Wings leave

The Detroit Red Wings’ owners will keep renting Joe Louis arena through at least 2015, according to a proposed lease presented to the Detroit City Council Tuesday.

City officials have already cleared the way for the Red Wings’ owners, Mike and Marian Ilitch, to build a new arena complex for the hockey team.

But the question remains about what to do with Joe Louis Arena, which the city of Detroit owns. Right now, the two sides are retroactively negotiating a lease agreement that expired in 2010.

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Politics & Government
5:00 am
Tue March 11, 2014

Detroit's historic Brewster-Douglass housing projects will soon be gone

Former Brewster projects resident Colbert Prince at the demolition site, with a picture of himself and a childhood friend. Prince remembers the housing complex as a warm, tight-knit community.
Credit Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

Detroit’s historic Brewster-Douglass housing projects will finally come all the way down sometime this spring.

The final stage of the ongoing demolition effort at the 18.5 acre site started Monday. Officials say it will last for another two months, while land restoration will continue throughout the summer.

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Law
5:00 am
Sun March 9, 2014

Detroit bankruptcy judge delays reorganization plan trial, as city scrambles for creditor support

 

The judge overseeing Detroit’s bankruptcy case has pushed a scheduled trial on the city’s reorganization plan back by at least a month.

Judge Steven Rhodes had set a mid-June date trial date on the city’s proposed plan of adjustment. That plan is emergency manager Kevyn Orr’s basic road map for getting the city out of bankruptcy, and a key document in any municipal bankruptcy.

City lawyers had asked for the extension, reportedly to them more time to solicit votes for the plan.

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Environment & Science
7:37 pm
Thu March 6, 2014

Forest Service grant will help Belle Isle forestry

Detroit kids learn about the ecology on Belle Isle in 2012.
Credit Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

The federal government is offering some help to restore the forest on Detroit’s Belle Isle.

Michigan Senator Debbie Stabenow announced the $300,000 grant from the US Forest Service Thursday.

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources has been cutting down a lot of dead and damaged trees on Belle Isle lately, as the island makes its transition to a state park.

The grant will help carry on that effort. It will also help the DNR and community groups reforest the island.

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Business
5:00 am
Wed March 5, 2014

No, Chinese investors aren't 'buying up Detroit' – but they do have an eye on the Motor City

Since Detroit filed for bankruptcy last summer, there have been lots of stories going around about major Chinese money pouring into city real estate.The headlines tend to read something like: “China is buying up Detroit.”

In truth, there’s not much hard evidence to support that kind of dramatic claim.

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Law
6:00 am
Tue March 4, 2014

Protesters from both sides descend on Detroit court in landmark gay marriage case

Same-sex marriage opponents protesting outside Detroit's federal courthouse.
Credit Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

Activists on both sides of the marriage equality issue protested outside Detroit’s federal courthouse Monday, site of an ongoing court case that will decide the legality of Michigan’s same-sex marriage ban.

The case involves a Detroit area lesbian couple, Jayne Rowse and April DeBoer. They’re seeking the right to jointly adopt the three children they’ve been raising together.

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Politics & Government
9:32 pm
Mon March 3, 2014

Detroit's "plan of adjustment" on fast track as creditors line up to object

People who oppose Detroit’s plan to reorganize in bankruptcy have until the start of next month to file objections.

One group of about 20 residents, retirees and activists picked up the paperwork to do just that at federal offices in downtown Detroit Monday.

Reverend Charles Williams II and representatives from the National Action Network led the group of people looking to file individual objections to the city’s plan of adjustment.

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Breaking
11:34 am
Fri February 21, 2014

Detroit leaders submit bankruptcy restructuring plan to court

From the first page of the plan of adjustment filed in court today.

The city's blueprint for how to shed billions of dollars in debt while providing basic city services to residents was filed in federal bankruptcy court today.

Your can read it here.

The plan spells out how the city plans to repay the more than 100,000 creditors – those receiving city pensions, retirees, banks, bond insurers and other creditors – can look through the plan to see how they will fare.

The bankruptcy court will now go over the plan and will likely make adjustments.

Among other things, the plan proposes what’s called a "cram down" that will force city bondholders to take big losses.

It also lays out proposed formulas to "modify" – meaning cut – city pensions.

The level of cuts will depend on a number of factors, but the plan assumes a $350 million state contribution to supplement private funds. Officials say the cuts shouldn't go beyond about 30%.

The plan also proposes transferring assets from the Detroit Institute of Arts to a private entity to avoid a possible art sale.

Again, that depends on state and private funds coming through.

Gov. Rick Snyder issued the following statement regarding the plan:

"Detroit’s comeback is underway. Emergency manager Kevyn Orr has submitted a thoughtful, comprehensive blueprint directing the city back to solid financial ground, a crucial step toward a fully revitalized Detroit.  There will be difficult decisions and challenges for all sides as this process moves forward.

The state’s focus is on protecting and minimizing the impact on retirees, especially those on fixed, limited incomes, restoring and improving essential services for all 700,000 Detroit residents and building a foundation for the city’s long-term financial stability and economic growth.

This plan of adjustment is a critical step forward as we look to resolve problems decades in the making.

Let’s use this plan as a call to action for a voluntary settlement as part of the mediation process to resolve the bankruptcy more quickly and soften the tough but necessary changes. We already have witnessed some strong collaboration around innovative ideas. We hope there can be more and that these efforts come to fruition.

Detroit’s long-term viability is not just essential for its residents -- but to all Michiganders."

We'll have more as the story develops today.

*This post is being updated.

Politics & Government
6:00 am
Fri February 21, 2014

Detroit leaders promise ambitious 'Future City' plan will become reality

Detroit Future City will focus heavily on stabilizing Detroit neighborhoods, in part through blight eradication.
Credit Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

Detroit officials say they’re committed to making the Detroit Future City plan a reality.

The comprehensive –and controversial – plan has been years in the making. It’s meant to serve as a long-term guide for city leaders and policy-makers.

Detroit Future City started with a more modest goal –finding a better way to deal with Detroit’s abundant vacant land.

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Politics & Government
1:36 pm
Tue February 18, 2014

Fate of Detroit's water department a big question mark in city's plan to shed debts

Credit Kate Boicourt / IAN

What does the future hold for Detroit’s water and sewerage department?

We should have a better idea later this week, when the city’s emergency manager, Kevyn Orr, submits a landmark plan in bankruptcy court this week.

Orr must submit a plan of adjustment for how to deal with Detroit’s estimated $18 billion in long-term debt, and one major sticking point has been what to do with the water department.

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Politics & Government
11:26 am
Sat February 8, 2014

Snyder urges feds to act on new bridge, immigration proposal

Governor says plans to build a new bridge connecting Detroit and Canada have hit a snag—and he’s getting frustrated with the federal government.

The Governor spoke to the Detroit Regional Chamber while President Obama signed the new farm bill in Lansing Friday.

In 2012, Governor Snyder went around the state legislature and signed an agreement with Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper to build the New International Trade Crossing between Detroit and Windsor, Ontario.

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Politics & Government
6:00 am
Wed February 5, 2014

Detroit gets a new sports and entertainment district, but not without controversy

Governor Snyder signed legislation to create the arena district in late 2012. The Detroit City Council sealed the deal Tuesday.
Credit Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

The Detroit City Council has approved a major land deal to create a new hockey arena and entertainment district.

The Council transferred all city-owned land within the 45-block entertainment district’s borders to Detroit’s Downtown Development Authority Tuesday – for just $1.

That Authority will manage the mega-development, along with Olympia Development of Michigan.

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Politics & Government
6:00 am
Fri January 31, 2014

Detroit's Belle Isle on the cusp of becoming Michigan's newest state park

The Scott Fountain on Belle Isle

As Detroit’s Belle Isle is about to become Michigan’s newest state park, the island’s state park advisory committee met for the first time Thursday.

That committee is meant to add a measure of transparency to the island’s new governing scheme, members said they would work to earn Detroiters' trust.

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Auto
6:00 am
Tue January 28, 2014

100 years ago, Henry Ford doubled factory wages – and changed history

Henry Ford in 1919
Credit via Wikipedia

The home of the Ford Model T is now an abandoned factory complex along busy Woodward Avenue in Highland Park, Michigan – and there's not much to distinguish this place from Detroit's other industrial ruins.

But if you stop and walk up to the front of the building, you'll find a historical marker telling us that by 1925, this place churned out more than 9,000 Ford Model Ts a day.

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Law
2:00 pm
Mon January 27, 2014

More options, protections against heat shutoffs this winter – but no guarantees

Michigan customers who struggle to pay heating bills have some additional legal protections from heat shutoffs this winter.

But with the ongoing brutal cold, this will prove a painful winter for people already struggling to pay utility bills. And some households still face the very real prospect of going without heat.

In 2013, the state implemented a variety of new rules outlining how and when utilities can shut off service to residential customers.

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Law
6:00 am
Thu January 23, 2014

New report details 'abusive' surveillance of former Detroit police commissioner

Credit Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

The former chairman of Detroit’s Police Board of Commissioners was the target of inappropriate surveillance, according to a new report.

The report, from Detroit’s Office of Inspector General, confirms that Jerome Warfield was the subject of police surveillance on “multiple occasions” in early 2013.

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