WUOMFM

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.

Ways to Connect

Richard Phillips with attorney Gabi Silver just after his release.
Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

Richard Phillips spent 45 years in prison for a murder he says he didn’t commit. But on Thursday, he emerged a free man--at least for the time being.

An artist's rendering of the as-yet-unnamed planned development on the former Hudson's site.
Bedrock

Detroit is “going vertical.”

That’s what developer Dan Gilbert said Thursday at the groundbreaking for a project set to transform the city's skyline.

The $1 billion dollar project is going up on the former site of Hudson’s Department Store. The store closed in 1983, and the building was imploded in 1998.

Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

This week, Vice News released the results of a thorough, nine-month investigation into police shootings nationwide.

If you look at it in map form, you’ll see an empty gray box near the top-center, signifying “unknown.” That’s Detroit.

University of Michigan

University of Michigan President Mark Schlissel says the school is in good shape for the next century.

Speaking Monday at the Detroit Economic Club to celebrate U-M’s bicentennial, Schlissel addressed topics ranging from its research budget and financial aid, to sexual harassment policies and a pending on-campus speaking request from well-known white supremacist Richard Spencer.

Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

Detroit’s partial recount of the November 7 general election is over.

The recount didn’t change the results of any races, but it did highlight some issues that continue to plague the city’s elections.

City clerk candidate Garlin Gilchrist requested a partial recount of that race, which he narrowly lost to incumbent Janice Winfrey.

The recount confirmed Winfrey’s win. But 33 precincts representing more than 7,000 votes couldn’t be re-tallied at all.

House Foreclosure
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

new lawsuit says Michigan’s property tax foreclosure laws are unconstitutional and amount to “government sanctioned theft.”

The case was filed this week on behalf of two men who lost Oakland County properties to foreclosure.

One of the men, Uri Rafaeli, lost a rental property in Southfield when he miscalculated the amount of interest he owed on 2011 property taxes by $8.41. Oakland County foreclosed, then sold the home for $24,500.

A diver inspects Enbridge's Line 5 pipeline under the Straits of Mackinac for a possible dent.
Enbridge inspection video shared with the state of Michigan

The state is getting public feedback on the future of Enbridge’s Line 5.

State environmental officials held the first of three public meetings on the subject in the Detroit suburb of Taylor Wednesday night.

The state released an alternatives analysis for the pipeline that runs through the Straits of Mackinac earlier this year. It’s also commissioning a risk analysis.

voting booths
user eyspahn / Flickr http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

Detroit’s election re-count carried on through a second day Wednesday.

Election workers are recounting just over 41,000 ballots cast in the November 7th election. That includes all absentee ballots, as well as results from 60 Election Day precincts with “documented issues at the polls.”

Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

Retiring Detroit Congressman John Conyers leaves behind a “rich legacy” with some “significant blemishes.”

And that entire legacy will likely be an important mold for whoever replaces him, according to Detroit historian and author Ken Coleman.

But that successor will also represent a very different district than the one Conyers represented for most of his nearly 53 years in office.

Michigan State University sign
MSU

So far, Michigan State University has refused to release findings of an internal review into how Dr. Larry Nassar was able to sexually abuse young gymnasts for years.

But that could change now that Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette has formally asked to see them.

Schuette sent a letter making that request to MSU President Lou Anna Simon Monday.

Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

Due process.

That was the rallying cry of U.S. Rep. John Conyers’ supporters, as they gathered at Detroit’s Hartford Memorial Baptist Church to mount a full-throated defense of the 88-year-old congressman and civil rights icon Monday.

Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

A judge has found Macomb County clerk Karen Spranger in contempt of court.

Circuit Court Judge Richard Caretti ruled Spranger violated a court order. Among other things, the preliminary injunction and a subsequent temporary restraining order prevent her from harassing or retaliating against employees who file grievances, or engage in union activities.

Rep. Conyers
John Conyers Jr. for Congress / www.johnconyers.com/

Congressman John Conyers will make an announcement about his future “in coming days,” his attorney announced Friday.

The 88-year-old Detroit Democrat remained hospitalized for a second day for “stress-related” illness. He faces several sexual harassment allegations from former female staffers, and pressure to resign from fellow Democrats.

Conyers’ attorney Arnold Reed says that in addition to his health, a main concern is likely to be whether the Congressman can still “serve effectively.”

Conyers attorney Arnold Reed.
Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

Detroit Congressman John Conyers faces a growing number of sexual harassment allegations, and is currently in the hospital.

But his lawyer says we shouldn’t expect him to resign anytime soon.

Fellow politicians are "not going to decide his fate," attorney Arnold Reed told reporters outside the Conyers family's Detroit home Thursday. "It’s the people, the good people where we’re standing now, in this district, that said 'Yeah, we want John Conyers to represent us.'”

Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

A court hearing Wednesday highlighted ongoing dysfunction in the Macomb County clerk’s office.

Clerk Karen Spranger represented herself in a case brought by her employees who are members of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees.

Spranger is accused of violating a court order preventing her from harassing or retaliating against union employees who file grievances or engage in union business.

YouTube screengrab

Michigan State University faces another federal lawsuit stemming from sexual assault allegations, this time over its handling of a 2015 incident involving a former football player.

A nurse administers a vaccine.
Rhoda Baer / Flickr - http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

Michigan is having a hepatitis A outbreak, and state health officials are encouraging those most at risk of getting it to get vaccinated. But the state also faces dwindling supplies of the hepatitis A vaccine.

Detroit Alumni chapter of Kappa Alpha Psi / via Facebook

Members of a national fraternity have plans for today’s Detroit Lions-Minnesota Vikings game at Ford Field, where they’ll stage a protest to support their fellow fraternity brother, NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick.

This is the second time the Detroit alumni chapter of Kappa Alpha Psi will gather to show support for Kaepernick outside a Lions game. The group held a similar protest in September.

Detroit city clerk candidate Garlin Gilchrist II.
Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

The candidate who narrowly lost his bid to become Detroit city clerk says he’ll ask for a recount of some votes cast in this month’s election.

Garlin Gilchrist II lost to incumbent clerk Janice Winfrey by about 1,400 votes. He easily won votes cast at polling precincts, but Winfrey dominated absentee votes by an even bigger margin.

The Flint water treatment plant
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Flint is on the verge of moving ahead with a 30-year drinking water contract with the Great Lakes Water Authority, under an agreement hashed out in federal court Monday.

The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality says Flint needs to choose a long-term water supplier to move ahead with a lawsuit settlement reached earlier this year. The $97 million settlement lays out a series of measures to mitigate lasting effects of Flint’s water crisis, such as removing the city’s lead service lines.

Detroit brought in new voting equipment for 2017 elections after rampant problems with 2016 vote.
Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

The Wayne County Board of Canvassers will meet on Tuesday to review Detroit’s election tallies.

The board must certify the results that day to meet a state deadline.

Detroit elections officials say they’re confident the November 7 election results will be made official, despite some reported irregularities with absentee ballots, and lingering doubts over the city clerk's botched handling of the 2016 general election.

Detroit city clerk Janice Winfrey
Michigan Municipal League / Flickr

A Wayne County judge has thrown out a lawsuit against Detroit city clerk Janice Winfrey, saying there’s “no evidence” her office mishandled absentee ballots or violated state law in last week’s general election.

The lawsuit was brought by election challengers who said Winfrey’s office used copies of absentee vote envelopes, rather than original envelopes with ballots, to verify voter information for about 1200 absentee votes dropped off at the clerk’s office on Election Day.

Ann Arbor's Skyline High School. Ann Arbor Public Schools has been on the state's "significant disproportionality" list for over-suspending black students for five years, but says it's taken aggressive steps to correct that disparity.
Wikimedia Commons

Twelve Michigan school districts made the state’s 2017 list of schools that disproportionately suspend students of color.

The Michigan Department of Education puts out an annual “significant disproportionality list” in three areas: student discipline, students with identified disabilities, and educational environment.

Congresswoman Brenda Lawrence
Congresswoman Brenda Lawrence's website

Michigan Congresswoman Brenda Lawrence’s Chief of Staff, Dwayne Marshall resigned today following multiple sexual harassment allegations.

Congresswoman Lawrence says her office will “move forward with an investigation focused on the current and future climate of our workplace.”

Dino Bucci
Macomb Township Board of Trustees

The federal government has dropped its biggest, highest-profile indictment yet in the sprawling Macomb County corruption investigation.

Dino Bucci, 58, was a Macomb Township trustee for 16 years until this past December. He was also a manager with the county’s Department of Public Works, and well-known as longtime former Public Works Commissioner Anthony Marrocco’s close associate.

The incomplete Wayne County jail.
Wayne County

The Detroit City Council on Tuesday put a short-term hold on plans to start a land swap that could provide a new location for the Wayne County jail.

The three-party property exchange would set that plan in motion.

Right now, a half-finished jail is sitting on a piece of downtown Detroit real estate that developer Dan Gilbert wants. The project has been sitting idle since 2013, when Wayne County abandoned initial plans because of cost overruns.

user jdurham / MorgueFile.com

A Detroit activist has filed a lawsuit, asking a Wayne County judge to throw out absentee ballot results from Detroit’s election last week.

Anita Belle is co-chair of the Committee for Voter Justice and a gubernatorial candidate for the Michigan Green Party. She was an election challenger at Detroit’s Cobo Center last Tuesday.

Belle says per state election law and its manual for election officials, election workers are supposed to check ballot envelopes against absentee voter applications and precinct lists from the state’s Qualified Voter File before counting the votes.

young kids playing with toys on floor
Jennifer Guerra / Michigan Radio

There are new guidelines for boosting early childhood development efforts in Detroit, and they come with a $50 million investment.

“Hope Starts Here: Detroit’s Community Framework for Brighter Futures” emerged from a year’s worth of planning efforts.

It has a variety of suggested strategies, some more concrete than others. But one thing is concrete: it comes with a $50 million pledge from the Michigan-based Kresge and Kellogg Foundations.

The former Hudson's site, prime real estate along Woodward in the heart of downtown Detroit, has been a city-owned underground parking garage since the Hudson's building was demolished in 1998.
Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

Detroit has a city ordinance that requires most big project developers to negotiate benefits packages with neighborhood groups.

But some members of those groups say the process has been a sham so far. They’re calling on the Detroit City Council to give the ordinance more teeth.

Detroit voters approved one of two competing community benefits agreement last year.

scales of justice
North Charleston / Flickr Creative Commons http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

The former head of a garbage hauling company pleaded guilty Thursday to playing a central role in Macomb County’s widespread corruption scandal.

Chuck Rizzo was the CEO of Rizzo Environmental Services, which had garbage service contracts with a number of Macomb County communities.

Rizzo admitted in federal court that he conspired to bribe two local officials, in Clinton and Macomb Townships, to get and maintain favorable contracts for the company.

Pages