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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Transportation
9:55 am
Mon September 15, 2014

Ceremony planned this morning for the M-1 rail project

Preparing track for the M-1 rail project in Detroit.
M-1 Rail Facebook

Dignitaries including Michigan Gov. Snyder, Senators Carl Levin and Debbie Stabenow, Representatives John Dingell and John Conyers, Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan, U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx, and business leaders Roger Penske and Dan Gilbert were on hand for a "track signing" ceremony this morning in Detroit.

The M-1 rail project is streetcar line planned for a 3.3. mile stretch along Woodward Ave. in Detroit. The project has received more than $35 million in federal funds, but the majority of its financing comes from private backers.

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Politics & Government
8:00 am
Mon September 15, 2014

Orr, Duggan want more properties to go to Detroit land bank

Credit Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

The Detroit City Council is slated to vote this week on a plan that would speed big city property transfers to the Detroit land bank.

Detroit emergency manager Kevyn Orr proposed the measure last week, allowing the city to transfer some city-owned properties directly to the land bank without Council approval.

It would move up to 45,000 tax-reverted properties to the Detroit land bank’s control, and convey any such land the city acquires in the future directly to the land bank.

Currently, the City Council has some say in how the city disposes of those properties.

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Law
9:47 pm
Tue September 9, 2014

In bankruptcy breakthrough, Detroit reaches deal with its fiercest creditor foe

Detroit has hammered out a deal with its fiercest foe in bankruptcy court, possibly smoothing the way for the city to leave bankruptcy quickly.

Bond insurer Syncora Guarantee, Inc. had fought the city’s proposed plan of adjustment at every turn.

That restructuring plan would have forced the company to take hundreds of millions of dollars in losses.

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Law
9:21 pm
Tue September 9, 2014

Detroit, suburbs reach breakthrough deal on regional water authority

Credit Kate Boicourt / IAN

After months of tense mediation in bankruptcy court, Detroit and suburban leaders have finally reached a deal on the city’s water system.

The 40-year agreement between the city and Wayne, Oakland, and Macomb counties will create the Great Lakes Water Authority.

Under the deal, Detroit will retain ownership of the whole system, and control over city operations.

The GLWA will lease and operate Detroit water system assets outside city limits. And it will pay Detroit $50 million a year to improve water infrastructure inside the city.

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Politics & Government
6:00 am
Tue September 9, 2014

Detroit City Council will vote on land transfer for bridge--but it might not matter

Homes in Delray
Credit Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

The Detroit City Council is poised to vote today on a land deal that makes way for a new bridge to Canada—but their decision might not matter.

The proposal would transfer 301 parcels of mostly unoccupied, city-owned land to the Michigan land bank for $1.4 million.

It’s just the start of the US-based land acquisition process for the proposed new bridge between Detroit and Windsor. Canada is footing the bill for the project.

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Politics & Government
5:58 pm
Thu September 4, 2014

Michigan Dems introduce online absentee ballot application statewide

The Michigan Democratic Party is expanding its effort to kickstart the absentee voting process online.

Party officials announced Thursday that voters statewide can now apply for absentee ballots online, through the website miabsentee.com.

The site is designed for mobile internet devices. MDP chair Lon Johnson said this is about merging two trends: more people choosing absentee voting, and the growing use of mobile devices.

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Law
1:15 pm
Fri August 29, 2014

Detroit bankruptcy judge will hear more arguments about water shutoffs

Credit Ross Kuhn / via Facebook

Some Detroit residents and activists are trying to put water shutoffs on hold—again.

The Detroit water department resumed its residential water shut-off program for delinquent customers this week. It’s trying to collect more than $80 million in back payments.

The city had put the controversial program on hold for about a month, while holding water assistance fairs and giving those who struggle to pay their bills time to get on payment plans.

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Politics & Government
11:52 am
Fri August 29, 2014

Detroit seeks proposals to re-develop iconic Brewster recreation center

Credit Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

The city of Detroit is looking for plans to re-develop the former Brewster-Wheeler recreation center.

The center is best known as the place where Detroit boxing legends Joe Louis got their start in the sport.

It also served as an important community hub for generations of Detroiters who lived in and around the recently-demolished Brewster-Douglass housing projects.

But it’s fallen into disrepair since it closed in 2006, and was recently added to the city’s demolition list.

Now Mayor Mike Duggan is making a final push to re-develop it instead.

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Education
6:00 am
Wed August 27, 2014

After public backlash, Detroit Public Schools changes budget cut tactics

DPS emergency manager Jack Martin
Credit Detroit Public Schools

After a public outcry, the Detroit Public Schools is walking back plans to cut teacher pay and boost class sizes.

The district is battling a $127 million deficit, and the Michigan Department of Education approved its revised deficit elimination plan last week.

It called for cutting teachers’ pay by 10% (on top of another 10% pay cut imposed in 2011), and putting up to 43 students in some classrooms.

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Law
7:59 pm
Mon August 25, 2014

Judge dismisses longstanding court orders against Detroit police

Credit Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

A federal judge has dismissed two federal consent decrees against the Detroit Police Department, freeing it from strict federal oversight.

The department has been monitored for compliance with the decrees since 2003, after a US Justice Department investigation found a “pattern and practice of unconstitutional policing.”

The problems included unlawfully detaining witnesses, “deplorable” holding cell conditions, and chronic use of excessive force.

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Education
5:37 pm
Wed August 20, 2014

State approves loan for Detroit Public Schools requested by emergency manager

Credit Mercedes Mejia / Michigan Radio

A state emergency loan board  agreed to lend the Detroit Public Schools $111 million to make up for a funding shortfall, on the same day state schools superintendent Mike Flanagan approved the district's new deficit elimination plan.

The state expects to lend about 200 school districts money to help them start the school year. That is normal in Michigan, which doesn’t send its first school aid payments until October.

But in Detroit, the process has pitted the school board in the state’s largest district against its emergency manager.

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Environment & Science
8:22 pm
Tue August 19, 2014

Report: Toxic algae just one way climate shifts are changing the American outdoors

A cyanobacterial bloom at Grand Lake St. Mary's, Ohio
Credit EPA

An environmental group’s report says climate change is already affecting how Americans experience the outdoors.

The National Wildlife Federation’s report “Ticked Off: America’s outdoor experience and climate change” cites this summer’s toxic algal blooms in Western Lake Erie as a prime example of the phenomenon.

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Politics & Government
7:45 pm
Mon August 18, 2014

Duggan announces $200,000 donation for water assistance fund; shutoffs resume next week

Detroit officials are trying to boost aid programs for people who struggle to pay their water bills--before the city starts shutting off residential customers again.

The United Way and the philanthropic arms of Ford and General Motors announced a combined $200,000 in donations to the Detroit Water Fund Monday.

That fund is designed to help eligible Detroiters pay up to 25% of their delinquent water bill.

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Law
12:03 am
Fri August 15, 2014

5 Metro Detroit Muslims sue the federal government over placement on terror watchlist

A Muslim civil rights group is suing the federal government on behalf of five Michigan plaintiffs who are challenging their placement on the government’s “terror watchlist.”

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Politics & Government
6:00 am
Thu August 14, 2014

Snyder declares state of emergency in southeast Michigan, requests federal help

Cars abandoned on I-75 during the flooding
Credit MDOT / via Facebook

Governor Snyder declared parts of southeast Michigan a “disaster area” Wednesday after this week’s widespread flooding.

The Governor issued an official declaration of disaster for Wayne, Oakland and Macomb counties. In a statement accompanying it he called the flood damage in southeast Michigan “a disaster in every sense of the word.”

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Weather
11:03 pm
Wed August 13, 2014

Sorting through the mess after Metro Detroit's "floodpocalypse"

The flooded I-75/696 interchange
Credit MDOT / via Facebook

Metro Detroit got hit with a record-breaking burst of rain Monday night—up to six inches in some spots.

The deluge left highways flooded, motorists stranded and thousands of basements swamped.

As the waters receded, it was time to clean up and assess the damage. Here’s a report from one of the hardest-hit areas: southeast Oakland County.

The state's busiest interchange, underwater

The I-75/696 interchange is the right at the heart of Metro Detroit’s freeway system—the busiest interchange in the state.

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Weather
6:00 am
Tue August 12, 2014

Metro Detroit slammed by historic rainfall, flooding

A half-submerged truck on I-94 near Allen Park
Credit Lex Dodson / via Instagram

Late yesterday afternoon, it started raining hard over much of southeast Michigan.

When it finally let up over 3 hours later, a record-breaking 4.57 inches of rain had fallen at Detroit Metro Airport. Some spots got even more.

According to WDIV meteorologist Paul Gross, it was “one of the heaviest single rainfall totals in Detroit weather history.”

The National Weather Service had anticipated heavy afternoon showers, and warned of possible flooding in some areas.

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Politics & Government
7:00 am
Sat August 9, 2014

Muslim, community leaders challenge leaked documents that label Dearborn a terrorist hotspot

The Dearborn Mosque
Credit Wikipedia

Civil rights groups, Muslim community and Dearborn city leaders are denouncing that city’s apparent designation as a terrorist hotspot.

The Intercept, an online magazine, obtained secret documents from the National Counterterrorism Center listing “known or suspected terrorists.”

They contain a graphic showing the top 5 locations for “known and suspected terrorists” in the US.

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Crime
3:52 pm
Thu August 7, 2014

Wafer convicted in shooting of unarmed teenager

Credit Dearborn Heights Police

A Wayne County jury has convicted suburban Detroit homeowner Theodore Wafer of second-degree murder for shooting Renisha McBride on his front porch last November. 

Wafer claimed he shot McBride on his Dearborn Heights front porch in self-defense. He said he feared for his life after the young woman came “pounding violently” on his front door in the middle of the night.

It’s never been clear how McBride got to Wafer’s front door. She was unarmed, but had been drinking and smoking marijuana. Hours earlier, she’d been in a car accident and may have also suffered a concussion.

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Law
6:00 am
Wed August 6, 2014

Theodore Wafer wraps up testifying in his own defense; closing arguments in McBride trial today

Theodore Wafer
Credit Dearborn Heights Police

Theodore Wafer took the stand to testify in his own defense for a second straight day Tuesday.

Wafer is on trial for second-degree murder in the November shooting death of 19-year-old Renisha McBride.

Wafer said he shot McBride on his Dearborn Heights front porch in self-defense, claiming he feared for his life after the young woman came “pounding violently” on his front door in the middle of the night.

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