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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

A Flint water meeting in January 2015.
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

The Michigan Civil Rights Commission wants the U.S. Supreme Court to take up a case against Gov. Snyder.

That’s what commissioners decided with a 5-0 vote Tuesday. They ordered the Michigan Department of Civil Rights to file an amicus brief urging the high court to review the issues raised in the case Bellant v. Snyder.

Supporters of Jose Luise Sanchez-Ronquillo rally in front of ICE offices in Detroit.
Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

Supporters of Jose Luis Sanchez Ranquillo say they expect to know as early as Tuesday if he faces imminent deportation, or has a chance of remaining in the U.S.

The Ann Arbor father of two is fighting to say in the country. 

Family members say Sanchez was detained after what he thought was a routine immigration check-in last week.

That’s not a new thing. But anecdotally, immigration attorneys say it seems to have picked up steam in the early days of the Trump administration.

test with bubble answers
User Alberto G. / Creative Commons / http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

The Detroit Public Schools Community District starts giving students the M-STEP test this week. That’s the annual statewide test used to measure student achievement.

But more than 400 Detroit parents have opted for their kids to sit out the test, because they’re upset that the state uses that data to justify closing schools.

The unusually large number of opt-outs comes mostly as a result of a campaign organized by the Detroit Parent Network.

CEO Sharlonda Buckman says Detroit parents have come to feel “extremely disrespected” by state education officials.

Menominee River
Wikimedia Commons

Michigan’s first potential new gold mine since the late 1800s now has three of four permits it needs to open.

The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality issued a surface water permit for the Back Forty Project this month.

That proposal is an open-pit sulfide mine located along the Menominee River in the Upper Peninsula. A group of investors, led by the Canadian mining company Aquila, plans to mine the site for gold, copper and zinc.

Kevin Kellon, right, with his grandson and the family's lawyer Nabih Ayad.
Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

A federal agent had “no justifiable excuse or reason to shoot 20-year-old Terrance Kellom” at his father’s Detroit home in April 2015.

That’s what Kellom’s family said in a civil wrongful death lawsuit filed in federal court Thursday.

The suit names Immigration and Customs Enforcement officer Mitchell Quinn, and two Detroit police officers as defendants. Quinn is the officer who shot and killed Terrance Kellom.

The officers say Kellom dropped through a hole in the ceiling, and advanced on them with a hammer.

Smokestacks spewing pollution
mdprovost ~ Prosper in 2011 / Flickr http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

Detroit suffers from unhealthy levels of air pollution nearly half the year.

That’s according to new EPA data, and a national report from the group Environment America, including its Michigan chapter.

The report found that Detroit had 161 “dirty air days” in 2015, “increasing the risk of premature death, asthma attacks and other adverse health impacts.”

A demolition in Detroit.
City of Detroit / via Facebook

The agency in charge of most of Detroit’s demolition program is hitting back at a recent city auditor general’s report.

That report, issued late last month, accused the Detroit Land Bank Authority of poor management and dubious practices.

The DLBA has run most of Detroit’s aggressive anti-blight program under Mayor Mike Duggan, helping demolish almost 11,000 structures during his term.

Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

Detroit’s school board interviewed the district’s second and final superintendent candidate Monday evening.

Derrick Coleman is the current superintendent of River Rouge Community Schools. He’s a Detroit Public Schools alumnus, and started his career as a teacher and administrator in the district.

He touted his success in a district that’s much smaller than Detroit’s, but has similar demographics.

United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement

A father who went to court hoping to gain custody of his children Wednesday found himself getting arrested by immigration agents instead.

Melissa Mays, foreground, with members of Concerned Pastors for Social Action, speaks outside federal court in Detroit.
Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

One lawsuit filed over the Flint water crisis has ended with a landmark settlement.

Federal Judge David Lawson officially signed off on a four-year deal that lays out a series of remedies for Flint’s lead-tainted tap water, and its lingering impacts.

In the short term, that includes keeping bottled water distribution centers open, and expanding efforts to make sure residents have properly installed water filters.

In the longer run, there are strict requirements for frequent water testing, detailed reporting, and water treatment protocols.

Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly, with Michigan Sen. Gary Peters, discuss Kelly's visit near Detroit's Ambassador Bridge.
Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

A handful of people representing some of Metro Detroit’s immigrant and religious communities met privately with U.S. Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly Monday.

That was one reason for Kelly’s brief visit to Detroit, which also included talk on security and infrastructure along the country’s northern border.

Kelly held small, private meetings with hand-picked members of the Arab, Muslim, and Latino communities. The idea was to air concerns about the Trump Administration’s immigration policies.

Detroit Public School Distric sign
Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

Finalists vying for the job of Detroit schools’ superintendent will start the public interview process this week, but some people think the best candidate isn’t in the running.

Choosing a new superintendent is the first major task for Detroit’s newly-elected school board, which just took power in January after years of state control. But the process has already become messy and controversial.

pbs.org

President Trump’s proposed budget threatens the “very existence” of public television, and would “result in tremendous loss for our country,” PBS CEO Paula Kerger told a Detroit Economic Club audience Friday.

Cutting all federal funds for public broadcasting would have devastating consequences, especially in underserved areas, Kerger said.

A demolition on Detroit's east side.
Sarah Hulett / Michigan Radio

A special report from Detroit’s auditor general says the city’s sweeping demolition program is still riddled with problems.

But the Detroit Land Bank Authority, the agency that runs program, calls that report “full of errors and misinformation.”

Photo courtesy of Birmingham Public Schools

The state has proposed an agreement to fix some ongoing problems at Detroit’s wastewater treatment plant.

The consent order from the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality cites the Great Lakes Water Authority, which runs the plant, for a number of environmental violations over the past year.

The plant was supposed to stop operating five outdated sewage sludge incinerators in March, 2016. But the GLWA kept using them after a fire seriously damaged new, cleaner replacement equipment that same month.

DPSCD Superintendent Alycia Meriweather and district staff announce new schools programs in March 2016.
Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

The Detroit Public Schools Community District is following through on its threat to sue the state School Reform Office, even after the state has largely backed off plans to close some of the state’s lowest-performing schools this year.

DPSCD had 16 schools on the SSRO’s “next level accountability” list, which also included eight schools in the state-run Education Achievement Authority. EAA schools will join DPSCD after the EAA winds down in June.

East Detroit school and community officials blasted Jensen's appointment in June. They eventually settled on a power-sharing arrangment that limited Jensen's authority.
Kate Wells / Michigan Radio

An experimental and contentious turnaround effort in the East Detroit Public Schools is coming to an end, as state-appointed CEO Gary Jensen announced Monday he will step down early next month.

The state school reform office appointed Jensen, a former Michigan Principal of the Year, as CEO of four low-performing East Detroit schools last June. The school system is located in Eastpointe, a small suburb just north of Detroit.

He was supposed to have broad powers to make sweeping changes to boost academic performance.

Patti Kunkel, a Canadian nurse practitioner in Henry Ford Hospital's cardiac intensive care unit, worries that her TN visa may not be renewed.
Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

It appears some Canadian nurses who work in southeast Michigan hospitals may not be able to do so for much longer.

That’s  because some U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents seem to have changed their longstanding interpretation of a NAFTA provision allowing those nurses special work visas—though it’s apparently not an agency-wide change in policy.

The NAFTA treaty allows Canadian and Mexican citizens in certain occupations, including registered nurses, specific work visas called TN visas.

Detroit's Central United Methodist Church is already sheltering a family seeking political asylum.
via Wikipedia

At least eight Michigan houses of worship announced plans to form a “sanctuary network” on Tuesday.

Nehru Littleton awaits Judge Vonda Evans' ruling in Wayne County Circuit Court.
Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

A Detroit man will go to trial on terrorism charges for making threatening comments toward police officers on Facebook.

Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette charged Nehru Littleton, 40, with two felonies after he posted last July: “F   them racist a     white cops!!! Kill them ALL!!! Black Lives Matter!!! Black people should start killing all white cops just like they are killing us!!!”

Schuette announced the charges in October, after Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy declined to prosecute, saying there wasn’t enough evidence.

Christoper Sessums / Flickr http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

Michigan’s major utilities have restored power to the vast majority of those who lost it after last Wednesday’s unprecedented windstorm.

Jennifer Guerra / Michigan Radio

Michigan needs to “invest with urgency” in some “high-yield” education strategies, or risk falling even further behind other states.

That’s the gist of a new report from Gov. Snyder’s 21st Century Education Commission, which lays out a “blueprint” for that effort.

Those recommendations run the gamut. Among the most prominent or controversial:

tEdGuY49 / Flickr - http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

Detroit’s incinerator is in hot water with state regulators again, but many people think the proposed punishment lets it off the hook too easily.

The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality cited the state’s largest incinerator for a number of violations in 2015 and 2016. The “waste-to-energy” facility provides power to sections of the city’s core.

Those violations included violating emissions limits for sulfur dioxide, carbon dioxide, and particulate matter. The agency says the incinerator also failed to monitor emissions properly.

Protesters against the initial travel ban at Detroit Metro Airport, Jan. 30.
Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

Two Michigan civil rights groups say they’re ready pick up a lawsuit filed against President Trump’s first travel ban.

The Michigan ACLU and the Arab-American Civil Rights League sued in federal court to overturn Trump’s first executive order. The groups now say they’ll amend that lawsuit to fight the new order issued Monday.

Trump’s new executive order targets migrants from six majority-Muslim countries, not seven — Iraq is now off the list. It also exempts permanent U.S. residents and people with valid pre-existing visas.

The sinkhole in Macomb County.
Bryce Huffman / Michigan Radio

Macomb County will inspect the entire pipe system surrounding a collapsed sewer line that turned into a massive sinkhole Christmas Eve.

The inspection will use cameras and other technologies to examine 17 miles of pipe in the Macomb Interceptor Drainage District.

Macomb County Public Works Commissioner Candice Miller says doing a full inspection is the only way to know if there’s additional damage, and what the fixes might look like.

Supporters rally for Yousef Ajin and family ahead of his deportation hearing in Detroit.
Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

Cheers of joy and relief erupted outside a Detroit immigration courtroom Tuesday, when a judge granted a waiver sparing an Ann Arbor man from deportation.

Yousef Ajin is a Jordanian national, and has been a legal permanent U.S. resident since 1999. He lives in Ann Arbor with his wife, a naturalized U.S. citizen, and four U.S.-born children

DPOA President Mark Diaz
via Twitter

The head of the Detroit Police Officer’s Association is facing criminal charges himself.

Mark Diaz is charged with malicious destruction of property, a felony, and reckless driving. He was arraigned at a district court in Clarkston Friday afternoon, and released on $10,000 bond.

The charges apparently stem from a December incident at Holly Academy in Holly. Diaz allegedly drove into school property, causing serious damage.

From left: Mark Young, head of the Detroit Police Lieutenants and Sergeants Association; Mayor Mike Duggan; and Detroit Firefighters Association President Mike Nevin.
Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

The Detroit mayor’s race is barely underway, but incumbent Mike Duggan is already picking up some key support.

Leaders of Detroit’s police and firefighter’s unions endorsed Duggan Thursday morning.

They say under Duggan’s leadership, their departments are gradually re-building from the devastation following years of cutbacks and the city’s bankruptcy.

Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan
City of Detroit

Detroit is still on track to exit state financial oversight next year, despite having to make unexpected pension payouts out of its annual budgets.

That’s what Mayor Mike Duggan told the City Council at a preview of his proposed 2017-18 budget on Thursday.

The pension liabilities are not included in the city’s bankruptcy-court mandated plan of adjustment—something Duggan says was “concealed” from him by former emergency manager Kevyn Orr during the bankruptcy.

A protest against the AICC's proposed Sterling Heights mosque in 2015.
Chaldean Nation / via Facebook

The city of Sterling Heights has agreed to settle two federal religious discrimination lawsuits, and allow the American Islamic Community Center to build a mosque in the city.

The Sterling Heights City Planning Commission denied the AICC’s application for a permit in 2015. The Commission cited traffic, parking and height concerns about the proposed mosque.

But the project also faced heated opposition from some residents, much of it fueled by anti-Muslim rhetoric. The AICC, and later the federal government, said it was a case of religious discrimination.

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