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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.

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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.

The sign posted at Rep. David Trott's Troy office.
Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

A group of Detroit-area Congressman Dave Trott’s (R-11th district) constituents tried again to meet with him on Tuesday.

And once again, they weren’t successful.

Some constituents accuse Trott of ducking meetings and public appearances since Donald Trump was elected.

Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

Energy costs can be a huge burden on low-income communities.

That’s especially true in Highland Park. The tiny enclave within Detroit was literally left in the dark after it ran up a big street lighting bill.

But there are some small bright spots popping up—thanks to solar power, and the efforts of one community group.

(Support trusted journalism like this in Michigan. Give what you can here.)

FLICKR USER 401(K) / Flickr - http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

Macomb County officials are sounding the alarm about scheduled budget cuts for its mental health programs.

A changed state formula for distributing Medicaid funds has hit the county disproportionately hard. Medicaid “rebasing” has cut money for mental health services there by about $30 million in the past year.

John Kinch, director of Macomb County Community Mental Health, said those cuts to Macomb’s budget are staggered, with the final one kicking in April 1.

“And then starting April 1, it will be another $12.4 million,” Kinch said. “I can’t absorb $12.4 million.”

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Detroit Police Chief James Craig has signaled his support for President Trump’s law enforcement policies, raising some eyebrows around Detroit.

Craig spoke about Trump’s recent pro-police executive orders with Neil Cavuto on Fox News last week.

Flickr user Frank Juarez/Flickr / http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

One of Governor Snyder’s key advisors says “there’s no way in the world” the state will close 38 “failing” schools this year.

That’s what Rich Baird told the crowd at a Detroit meeting about potential school closures Monday night.

The State School Reform Office has sent letters to parents at 38 schools across the state, warning they could be shut down because of persistently low test scores. 25 of those schools are in Detroit.

The three high schools that make up the Osborn campus could all close at the end of this school year.
Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

Lansing spent $617 million last year to keep the Detroit Public Schools alive. That solved the district’s massive debt problem, but it didn’t start to touch some of the district’s other chronic issues.

A year ago, Detroit schools were in genuine crisis. The district was cycling through state-appointed emergency managers, and faced the prospect of going bankrupt before the end of the school year.

And that was just some of the turmoil.


Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

The Detroit Public Schools Community District is prepared to sue the state if it moves ahead on its threat to shut down some low-performing schools.

The district’s school board approved the potential lawsuit at a meeting Wednesday night.

DPSCD has 16 schools that the State School Reform Office has named persistently low-performing, and at risk for closure after this school year.

But the district says the state shouldn’t shut those schools down. And it’s prepared to go to court to stop it.

Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

Michigan’s largest skilled trades union has agreed to train more Detroit residents in construction work.

The Michigan Regional Council of Carpenters and Millwrights says three of its local units will commit to new targets.

Those include making sure that Detroiters make up at least 25% of new apprentices, and tripling their Detroit membership in the next 10 years.

Newly-arrived Syrian refugees in Oakland County
Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

Is there a link between crime rates and refugee resettlement in the U.S.?

One group’s research suggests there is--a beneficial one, and that one Michigan city has benefited the most.

The research is from a group called Partnership for a New American Economy. It’s a nationwide group of mayors and businesspeople who tout the benefits of immigration.

There are three smaller high schools on the larger Osborn High School campus. All three face potential closure because of low test scores.
Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

As the state decides which schools it’s deemed “failing” will close, students, parents and staff at some Detroit schools on the chopping block are rallying for them to stay open.

That includes Osborn High School, which is actually three smaller schools on one campus. All three could be shut down at the end of this school year because of persistently low test scores.

But many in the Osborn community say that’s a bad idea for a whole variety of reasons. Some of them explained as they rallied outside the school on a brutally cold Friday.

Protesters and police inside Detroit Metro Airport.
Courtesy of Carey Swanson

A federal judge in Detroit has struck down a portion of President Trump’s temporary ban on some immigrants, but it only applies to some of those affected by the ban.

Judge Victoria Roberts’ permanent injunction only applies to “lawful permanent residents”—greencard holders—from the seven countries named in Mr. Trump’s executive order.

(Read the injunction here.)

Refugee children play in Warren, MI in 2015.
Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

Some of the people most directly affected by President Trump’s immigration order spoke about their hopes and fears Thursday.

Trump’s executive order has caused “generalized panic” among refugees and some immigrant communities. That’s according to the head of the state’s largest refugee resettlement agency.

Sean De Four is vice president of that agency, Samaritas, until recently an arm of Lutheran Social Services. De Four says the group is proceeding as if Trump’s order halting refugee re-settlement is temporary, but some of their clients don’t share that hope.

Lamarr Monson and his mother, Delores, just after his release from jail.
Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

A Detroit man convicted of murder more than 20 years ago walked free on Wednesday.

A Wayne County judge overturned Lamarr Monson’s conviction for killing a 12-year-old girl earlier this week.

That was after years of legal and investigative work unearthed new eyewitness testimony and fingerprint evidence pointing to another killer.

Monson confessed to killing Christina Brown. But he later insisted he was tricked into confessing by Detroit police, and fought for years to have his conviction overturned.

Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

Chanting slogans like “No ban, no wall!” and “Refugees are welcome here,” thousands of protesters jammed parts of Detroit Metro Airport Sunday evening.

It was yet another demonstration against President Trump’s executive order that bars arrivals of immigrants from seven majority-Muslim countries.

people in voting booths
Paulette Parker / Michigan Radio

Detroit city clerk Janice Winfrey has broken her public silence about irregularities in the city’s November’s election results.

Michigan’s presidential recount was halted mid-process. But the partial recount revealed that more than half of Detroit precincts were legally ineligible to be recounted, because reported vote counts didn’t match the actual number of ballots.

That prompted the state to launch an audit, which is still wrapping up. Winfrey has said very little during that time.

Detroit health department employee Mariah Allen says the EITC will be a "great relief" for her family.
Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

Tens of thousands of Detroit households who qualify for the federal Earned Income Tax Credit don’t claim it, leaving tens of millions of dollars on the table.

Now, the city is expanding services to help eligible residents get that money.

The Earned Income Tax Credit helps lower-income working families, and it’s a substantial boost for many. The average EITC refund is $2400.

United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement

According to Mayor Mike Duggan, Detroit has nothing to fear from President Trump’s executive order on so-called “sanctuary cities”—because Detroit is not one.

Detroit is sometimes called a sanctuary city because of a 2007 anti-profiling ordinance that bans police from asking about immigration status during traffic stops, while interviewing witnesses, and in most other cases.

Warren Mayor Jim Fouts
Jim Fouts Facebook page

Warren residents and their elected officials are sharply divided in their opinions about the fate of the city’s longtime mayor, Jim Fouts.

That was on display at heated and sometimes wild city council meeting Tuesday night.

Leaked audio tapes seem to show Fouts mocking and degrading African Americans, disabled people, and others.

But many people defended Fouts, who claims the tapes are fakes concocted by his political enemies.

Flint Water Study / Facebook

A federal lawsuit over the state’s response to the Flint water crisis was back in court Tuesday, for arguments over whether the state has ignored a judge’s order to ensure Flint residents have access to safe drinking water.

In November, Judge David Lawson issued an injunction ordering the state to do two things: verify that all Flint households have properly-installed water filters; or, in cases where that’s not possible, deliver bottled water. The state wants that order dismissed.

A neighborhood in Detroit.
Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

Detroit homeowners should start seeing property tax bills that better reflect the true value of their home.

That’s because the city just finished its first city-wide residential property re-assessment in six decades.

The city says these new assessments are based on actual property sales from October 2014-September 2016, and other property-specific data.

Detroit school leaders point to Coleman A. Young Elementary School as a successful turnarond effort led from within the district.
Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

Detroit school leaders say they’re ready to take on the task of transforming some of the state’s lowest-performing schools.

But first, they’re inviting counterparts from around the country to a “learning summit” next week, to discuss and formulate a broader school turnaround strategy.

flickr.com

The city of Detroit is signing onto a federal lawsuit that claims many Detroit students are being denied a fundamental “right to read.”

Activists and pro bono legal groups filed the suit last September, with support from groups like the American Federation of Teachers.

But now the city of Detroit is also jumping on board. City lawyers filed an amicus brief this week.

DetroitMI.gov

Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan says he wants to speed up the process of acquiring blighted homes through the Detroit Land Bank Authority, an agency under federal investigation.

The current city treasurer, David Szymanski, will step down from that role and move over to the land bank to lead a “litigation team” that will focus on seizing more blighted properties under nuisance abatement laws, Duggan said Thursday.

Western Union sign.
user Metropolico.org / Flickr - http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

The American Arab Civil Rights League says it’s resolved a discrimination complaint against Western Union.

The ACRL filed a complaint with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, after the money-transfer service had cut off service to Haidar Abdallah, an Arab-American man from Metro Detroit.

ACRL director Rula Aoun said Western Union refused to continue doing business with Abdallah after asking for information about his employment and financial background. And the company never explained its actions.

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