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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Eastern Michigan University
krossbow / Flickr - http://bit.ly/1rFrzRK

Gov. Snyder’s controversial Education Achievement Authority faces a key test at an Eastern Michigan University board of regents meeting Tuesday.

The EAA is Snyder’s signature education initiative. It was meant to be a statewide district for the lowest-performing 5% of schools, but has never expanded beyond 15 schools in Detroit.

The EAA never got legislative approval. It only exists because of a 2011 inter-local agreement between EMU, and the state-run Detroit Public Schools.

EMU’s involvement with the EAA has been condemned by many faculty and students.

Paul Hitzelberger / UPW

The Great Lakes Water Authority is now more or less a done deal.

The final big hurdle was to get current Detroit Water and Sewerage Department bondholders to agree to transfer more than $5 billion in debt to the new Authority.

A majority did agree to that this week.

via d-rem.org

In an unusual move, a Wayne County judge has stepped in to halt a trial in progress in a lower court.

Two Detroit activists are on trial for disorderly conduct, a criminal misdemeanor, in 36th District Court.

They were part of a group of people arrested in July 2014 for protesting Detroit’s mass water shutoffs.

The case was about to go to the jury, but city lawyers, unhappy with the proceedings, wanted a mistrial. District Court Judge Ruth Garrett denied the request.

Longtime Detroit community and civil rights activist Ron Scott has died of cancer.

Scott headed the Detroit Coalition Against Police Brutality.

He left a big mark on the city’s police department, with his decades of activism against police misconduct and for increased transparency.

He was instrumental in securing a U.S. Justice Department consent decree against the DPD in 2003, at a time when Detroit police led the nation in civilian shootings. 

Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

Detroit police officers should get a pay bump starting in 2016.

City officials announced Monday that officers will get  a 4% raise January 1.

It’s part of a deal that will extend the city’s three police unions’ contracts through 2020. That contract was negotiated and approved in 2014, during the city’s bankruptcy.

Police Chief James Craig says a pay boost is crucial to attracting and retaining officers, something the department is struggling with right now.

Physicians say button batteries are a potential hazard for small kids.
user Ubcule / wikimedia commons

An annual report from the Public Interest Research Group on potentially hazardous toys highlights some big safety improvements—and new dangers.

PIRG’s annual survey examined hundreds of toys for a number of potential hazards.

None of the toys this year tested positive for lead, but three did test positive for another restricted metal—chromium.

Dr. Jaime Hope, an emergency medicine specialist at Beaumont Hospital, says regulations are making some toy makers more creative.

Paul Hitzelberger / UPW

Detroit’s water and sewerage department is about to do its last financing deal ever.

As of January 1, the DWSD will transfer operations of its treatment plants and infrastructure outside to the new, regional Great Lakes Water Authority, which emerged from Detroit's bankruptcy process.

At least, that’s the plan.

A majority of the current water and sewer bondholders still need to sign off on it.

Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

Two of Detroit’s self-proclaimed “water warriors” are speaking up about their court case.

The activists are on trial for alleged disorderly conduct during a July 2014 protest, when nine people attempted to blockade trucks belonging to Homrich, the company that does water shutoffs in Detroit.

Those mass water shutoffs are central to their defense, according to attorney Julie Hurwitz.

Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

The city of Detroit is paying to clean up the Delray neighborhood, the community that will host the U.S. side of a new bridge to Canada.

The money comes from the $1.4 million the city received when the state purchased Delray land for the Gordie Howe International Bridge project.

Residents hope it’s just the first of a number of investments in Delray as that project moves forward.

Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

Longtime Detroit Congressman John Conyers quashed any speculation that he’s planning to retire.

On Monday, the 86-year-old announced he’ll seek a 27th term in the U.S. House.

Conyers is now the longest-serving member of Congress, a civil rights icon, and the ranking Democrat on the House Judiciary Committee.

Detroit Land Bank Authority

The city of Detroit has announced yet another partnership to rehab blighted homes.

Now it’s with the AFL-CIO’s Housing Investment Trust, which uses labor pension fund money to finance a variety of housing projects.

Executive Vice President Eric Price says the HIT’s first priority is to get a good return on investment, and it now sees Detroit as a good bet.

Windsor Homes Coalition / via Facebook

A Windsor food bank is re-opening Monday, after it had an “amazing” change of fortune in just 24 hours last week.

The Windsor Homes Coalition food bank had never shut its doors in 45 years, until last Thursday.

“All we had left in our food bank was a loaf of bread and a can of tomato juice,” says Windsor Homes tenant advocate Shirley Beaton.

But after word got out, donations started pouring in—starting Friday morning.

Beaton says that’s when members of the Windsor Muslim Community Association showed up with a “truck full of food” and a $5,000 check.

via d-rem.org

Two Detroit activists went on trial Friday for protesting the city’s controversial water shut-off policies.

The case stems from a July 2014 protest, when nine people blocked trucks belonging to Homrich, the contractor that performs shutoffs for the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department.

Wikipedia

Some Michigan county law enforcement agencies must return surplus military gear to the US government, and they’re not happy about it.

Macomb County is one of three in Michigan to get an armored personnel carrier through a former federal program that transferred unneeded war gear from federal to state and local agencies.

William Melendez in court.
Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

A jury is now considering the fate of former Inkster police officer William Melendez.

Melendez faces assault and misconduct charges for beating motorist Floyd Dent during a traffic stop in January.

Melendez is accused of “abusing his power” when he put Dent in a chokehold and struck him 16 times during a violent arrest, which was captured on police dashcam video.

Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

Michigan’s Syrian American community and its supporters are urging Governor Snyder to resume efforts to re-settle refugees in the state.

Snyder had taken a welcoming stance toward Syrian refugees.

But he’s withdrawing that welcome, at least temporarily, in light of last week’s terrorist attacks overseas.

via loopnet.com

Plans are in motion to build a Syrian refugee haven around an abandoned Pontiac elementary school.

The project is the brainchild of some Metro Detroit Syrian-American refugee advocates.

Local businessman Ismael Basha is one of the project’s organizers.

Basha says he and a partner have purchased the former Franklin Elementary School, along with about 120 vacant lots surrounding the school.

A federal judge is allowing the bulk of a lawsuit filed on behalf of a man who died in the Macomb County jail to go forward.

David Stojcevski died in June 2014, after being arrested for failing to pay fines stemming from traffic infractions. His cause of death was determined to be prescription drug withdrawal.

His family’s lawsuit accused county officials, jail staff, and the private contractor who provides medical services at the jail, of not acting to prevent Stojcevski’s  death, even as his health clearly deteriorated and he lost 50 pounds in about two weeks.

When it launched in 1958, the 729-foot SS Edmund Fitzgerald was the largest ship sailing the Great Lakes.
user Greenmars / Wikimedia Commons

Of the thousands of shipwrecks that fill the Great Lakes, most people can name only one: the Edmund Fitzgerald.

It’s the last and the largest ship ever lost on the lakes.

This week marks 40 years since the Fitzgerald and its 29 crew members went down in Lake Superior.

But even this many years later, the story still captivates the public’s imagination.


Wikipedia

The US Environmental Protection Agency has pledged almost $20 million dollars to help clean up the Clinton River in southeast Michigan.

The river, which flows largely through Macomb County into Lake Saint Clair, has been designated a Great Lakes Area of Concern for many years.

EPA officials announced Monday that more federal money is coming through the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative.

Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

Gov. Snyder paid a visit to Hamtramck’s BanglaTown Friday, to officially open the Bangladeshi American Public Affairs Committee’s new headquarters there.

That Bangladeshi community is aiming for a higher profile among Metro Detroit’s immigrant enclaves.

Snyder again proclaimed himself “the most pro-immigrant Governor in the country.” And he says Bangladeshi-Americans are exactly the kind of immigrants Michigan needs.

The trial of former Inkster police officer William Melendez got underway in Wayne County Circuit Court Wednesday.

Melendez faces charges, including assault and misconduct in office, for beating motorist Floyd Dent during a violent arrest that was captured on dashcam video.

Inkster voters are deciding a millage renewal this Election Day — for a school district that no longer exists.

The state dissolved Inkster schools in July 2013.

But the district still exists on paper to pay off debts — including a $12.5 million emergency loan from the state in the spring of 2013.

A Macomb County judge found himself at the center of a court hearing Monday.

Eastpointe district judge Carl Gerds III has come under scrutiny for sentencing defendants to jail time for failing to pay fines stemming from civil infractions.

Two of the better-known cases to come out of Gerds’ court include a woman who faced jail time for failing to pay dog licensing fines, and a man who did jail time for failing to pay $1500 worth of traffic tickets.

Hallway in Huron High School in Ann Arbor.
user rosefirerising / Flickr

The Ann Arbor Public Schools is trying new tactics to deal with a “chronic” lack of enough substitute teachers.

Starting this month, the district will up sub pay from $75 to $100 a day. Officials also plan to raise pay rates for classroom assistants, though those rates haven’t been set yet.

The district will also try and assemble a team of “premier” substitutes, says Ann Arbor schools’ spokesman Andrew Cluley.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Detroit’s planning commission got an earful from residents about medical pot dispensaries Thursday night.

The city is considering an ordinance outlining new zoning and spacing restrictions for marijuana dispensaries.

Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

The Obama administration is letting Michigan divert almost $33 million from foreclosure prevention to demolition projects.

Detroit and Flint will benefit from the additional funds, which come from Michigan’s share of the federal Hardest Hit Fund.

That program was originally meant to help homeowners facing foreclosure. But as the result of lobbying from state and local officials, the Obama administration has allowed Michigan to divert money from HHF funds toward blight removal three times since 2013.

wikimedia commons

It’s national lead poisoning prevention week, and Metro Detroit county health officials are zeroing in on the problem with an event Tuesday.

The event at Sterling Heights’ Freedom Hill is focused mostly on education and awareness.

But there’s also an opportunity to test kids’ toys and other products for lead.

City of Detroit

Another large-scale, commercial urban agriculture project is set to take root over 22 square blocks of Detroit’s east side.

RecoveryPark Farms will lease 35 acres of blighted, city-owned land to launch the effort.

Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

Wayne County auctions off tens of thousands of tax-foreclosed properties every year.

The county’s latest annual property auction wrapped up last week.

It’s a major event for budding Detroit real estate investors. Yet their wins can also be devastating losses for people living in those homes.

That's why a growing movement is trying to help some of them become winners, too.


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