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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Politics & Government
9:53 pm
Fri September 28, 2012

Bing staying mum re-election plans

Dave Bing

Detroit Mayor Dave Bing is still being coy about whether he’s running for a second term.

Even though the primary election is still just under a year away, the field is already getting crowded. Detroit Medical Center CEO Mike Duggan announced he’s strongly considering a run this week.

But Bing is still keeping mum on his plans—at least publicly.

“All I’m interested in right now is getting work done,” Bing said Thursday. “I’m focusing on several things. And you know that our city is…under siege. My focus has to be on the next 15 months.”

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Politics & Government
11:34 pm
Thu September 27, 2012

Detroit town hall meeting ends abruptly amidst outbursts

A community meeting with Detroit Mayor Dave Bing came to an abrupt and early end last night.

Bing and members of his administration were booed and heckled offstage after about 20 minutes.

Before the meeting broke down, Bing took questions from a few people. Most were angry questions, about issues ranging from the city’s lagging bus system, to a proposal to let the state lease Belle Isle.

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Politics & Government
8:47 pm
Wed September 26, 2012

Game on: Mike Duggan all-but-officially in Detroit mayor's race

Mike Dugga
Mike Duggan

Detroit Medical Center chief Mike Duggan has all-but-officially thrown his hat into the Detroit mayor’s race.

Duggan filed papers Wednesday to create a campaign committee to raise money while he explores that possibility.

"I've never seen things this bad," Duggan said in a statement explaining his run. "This month we had 32 murders in 15 days, the city's plan to replace streetlights collapsed in Lansing, and the city just ran up another $40 million deficit in the last quarter despite the consent agreement.

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Politics & Government
4:51 pm
Tue September 25, 2012

Detroit City Council still skeptical of state's Belle Isle plan

The James Scott Memorial Fountain on Belle Isle Park.
Mike Russell wikimedia commons

Members of the Detroit City Council are still deeply skeptical of a plan to turn Belle Isle into a state park.

That’s despite efforts by Mayor Dave Bing’s office and state officials to persuade them it's a good idea.

At a meeting today, Council members continued to express concern about a lack of specifics in the plan—including how much money the state plans to invest in improvements.

They also questioned why the state wants a long-term, 30-year lease.

Council member Saunteel Jenkins says there need to be more guarantees.

“If you’re saying to us ‘We want to trust us, give us 30 years and we’ll go out and get the money to make these improvements…’ I just want to see it in writing,” said Jenkins.

State officials said it's tough to be specific about those improvements because there’s no master plan for the island.

But they indicated the state could issue $20 million in bonds to upgrade Belle Isle.

Education
1:39 pm
Tue September 25, 2012

Detroit schools find new way to buy school supplies

Detroit Public Schools' officials have found a new way to buy school supplies.
MyTudut flickr

The Detroit Public School district has turned to an online site used mostly by federal contractors to get its school supplies.

Officials credit “FedBid” with helping the district save hundreds of thousands of dollars in just a few months.

Bidders announce their intent to buy a product. Suppliers then compete to offer the best price.

District spokesman Steve Wasko said it has helped fix some problems with getting supplies to classrooms.

“This has been, not only from a supply standpoint but from all standpoints, a very smooth start to the school year—at least by way of comparison with previous years,” said Wasko.

Wasko said it's also a good way to save money without compromising the quality of education.

The district’s current budget calls for cutting five million dollars from its procurement budget.

District officials estimate using FedBid alone could save up to three million.

Politics & Government
10:56 pm
Mon September 24, 2012

Shuttered Detroit fire station hit by vandals

A broken window at Engine 10 headquarters.
Sarah Cwiek Michigan Radio

Another shuttered fire station in Detroit has been vandalized.

City officials confirmed Monday night that the former Engine 10 quarters in southwest Detroit was hit by vandals, and that some copper piping was stolen.

A fire department spokesman would not release further details about the extent of the vandalism Tuesday, saying the department was still looking into it.

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Detroit
10:42 am
Mon September 24, 2012

"World's largest property auction," Wayne County finishes first round

Dilapidated homes in Delray near Detroit.
Lester Graham Michigan Radio

Wayne County has finished the first round of what’s been called the "world's largest property auction."

The county is trying to get rid of more than 22,000 tax-foreclosed properties by auction. More than 20,000 of them are in Detroit.

But despite the glut of vacant properties, housing prices are headed up in certain areas of the city. Bob Dorsey is chief analytics-officer with F.N.C., which tracks housing prices nationwide every month.

"We've noticed that there are certain neighborhoods that have done extremely well, and others that have are still very flat or even declining," said Dorsey.

Dorsey said many investors see money in an expanding rental market in Detroit, and nationwide. Leaders in Detroit’s downtown and midtown areas say housing demand now out-paces supply there.

Politics & Government
10:58 pm
Fri September 21, 2012

Government: Kilpatrick government rife with "extortion, bribery, fraud"

Day one of former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick’s federal public corruption trial wrapped up Friday.

The government says Kilpatrick and his three co-defendants were part of a conspiracy to commit “extortion, bribery, and fraud.”

US Attorney Mark Chutkow began opening arguments with excerpts of text messages between Kwame Kilpatrick and his co-defendant, longtime friend Bobby Ferguson.

Some of those messages read: “It’s my time to get paid” and “No deal without me.” Federal prosecutors say that sums up the so-called “Kilpatrick Enterprise.”

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Politics & Government
12:29 am
Fri September 21, 2012

Opening arguments in Kwame Kilpatrick's federal corruption case Friday

A jury will hear opening arguments Friday in former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick’s public corruption trial.

Kilpatrick is on trial with his father, Bernard; longtime friend and former city contractor Bobby Ferguson; and former Detroit water department chief Victor Mercado.

The federal government alleges the four men formed a kind of criminal gang—the so-called “Kilpatrick Enterprise.”

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Politics & Government
8:52 pm
Wed September 19, 2012

Jury seated for Kwame Kilpatrick's corruption trial

Kwame Kilpatrick

A jury has been seated in the upcoming corruption trial of former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick and his three co-defendants.

The jury’s racial make-up was a major point of contention during jury selection.

Kilpatrick’s lawyers have argued that a lack of African Americans in the jury pool hurts the ex-Mayor’s chances of a fair trial.

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Politics & Government
7:45 pm
Tue September 18, 2012

Detroit Council seeks restraining order against Bing

For the second time in as many weeks, the Detroit City Council is taking legal action to force the hand of Mayor Dave Bing.

During a Tuesday meeting, the Council voted to seek a temporary restraining order to stop proposed changes in the city’s health department.

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Politics & Government
6:51 pm
Tue September 18, 2012

Council warns Bing: Belle Isle plan dead without major changes

A sign on Belle Isle.
Sarah Cwiek Michigan Radio

Without major changes, it looks like the proposal to turn Detroit’s Belle Isle into a state park doesn’t have a shot with the Detroit City Council.

City Council members blasted the proposal at a meeting Tuesday, calling it, among other things, “ridiculous” and “terrible.”

Mayor Dave Bing and Governor Snyder outlined the plan last week. It calls for the city to lease Belle Isle to the state for 30 years. In return, the Michigan Department of Natural Resources would maintain the island. The state would also make some as-yet-unspecified major upgrades.

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Politics & Government
6:18 pm
Fri September 14, 2012

After 7 years, Belle Isle Aquarium re-opens to the public

Belle Isle Aquarium
via belleisleconservancy.org

The nation’s oldest aquarium is up and running once again.

Detroit’s Belle Isle Aquarium will be open to visitors Saturday for the first time since 2005, when the city shut it down due to a lack of funds.

That’s thanks to the efforts of volunteers, who’ve worked to restore the 108-year-old building and its aquatic population for the past seven years.

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Economy
7:45 pm
Thu September 13, 2012

Study: Metro Detroit has nation's third-highest rate of "youth disconnection"

A new report says Metro Detroit has a serious problem with “disconnected” youth.

The Measure of America study shows 17%, or more than 85,000, of the region’s 16-to-24-year olds aren’t working or in school.

Using that definition of “disconnection,” the study looked at census data from the nation’s 25 biggest metro areas. Metro Detroit had the third-highest rate of youth disconnection.

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Politics & Government
7:17 pm
Wed September 12, 2012

Looking for information, Detroit Council subpoenas Mayor Bing

The Detroit City Council wants information from Mayor Dave Bing, and they say issuing a subpoena is the only way to get it.

The Council voted Wednesday to issue the subpoena.

Council member Saunteel Jenkin said it came to this because Bing has ignored repeated requests for documents.

“And this isn’t just [a case of] we asked last week, and we didn’t get it this week,” Jenkins said.

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Politics & Government
6:40 pm
Tue September 11, 2012

Detroit honors September 11th victims, first responders

The city of Detroit held its annual memorial service to commemorate the September 11th terrorist attacks Tuesday.

A mournful bagpipe solo captured the somber spirit at the event in downtown Campus Martius Park. With speeches, music and prayer, it remembered victims of the tragedy, and honored the first responders who saved lives that day.

Robert Foley, special-agent-in-charge of the FBI in Detroit, said the 11th anniversary should “renew our resolve” to prevent future attacks. But he says it’s tricky to figure out just how much success we’ve had.

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Politics & Government
9:18 pm
Fri September 7, 2012

Lesbian couple challenges Michigan's same-sex marriage ban

April DeBoer, left, Jayne Rowse, and their children.
DeBoer Rowse Adoption Legal Fund

A lesbian couple from the Detroit suburb of Hazel Park is using an ongoing lawsuit to challenge Michigan’s ban on same-sex marriages.

April DeBoer and Jayne Rowse are jointly raising three special-needs children, who initially came to them through the foster care system, since birth. They’ve already filed suit in federal court, challenging the state code that forbids unmarried couples from adopting.

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Politics & Government
7:59 pm
Fri September 7, 2012

Detroit Council ignores Snyder, approves proposed charter amendments for the ballot

Despite opposition from Governor Snyder, the Detroit City Council voted to put four proposed charter amendments on the November ballot.

Detroit and Lansing went through a long, contentious process before the two sides reached a consent agreement to keep the city from going broke.

But that agreement has faced resistance from some Council members.

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Education
9:04 pm
Thu September 6, 2012

Detroit schools officials tout start-of-year-attendance numbers

Roy Roberts

Detroit Public Schools officials are happy with the district’s attendance figures so far this year.

Emergency Financial Manager Roy Roberts says the district averaged 85% attendance Wednesday, the second day of school for Detroit students.

Roberts says that’s much better than the past two years. The district didn’t reach a 75% attendance rate until later weeks, jeopardizing state funds.

“We think this is proof that Detroit Public Schools is making great strides to meet the needs of the students,” Roberts said.

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Politics & Government
6:57 pm
Thu September 6, 2012

Kwame Kilpatrick's federal corruption trial underway in Detroit

Kwame Kilpatrick

Former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick’s public corruption trial officially started in federal court Thursday.

Kilpatrick, his father Bernard Kilpatrick, longtime friend and former city contractor Bobby Ferguson, and former water department head Victor Mercado are on trial together.

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