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
6:09 pm
Fri July 13, 2012

Nation's first-ever satellite patent office opens in Detroit

Acting US Commerce Secretary Rebecca Blank cuts the ribbon at the new Detroit patent office.
US Department of Commerce

Detroit is home to the first-ever U.S. Patent and Trademark office outside Washington, DC—and it opened to much fanfare with a ribbon-cutting ceremony Friday.

Officials from all levels of government touted the opening of Detroit’s Elijah McCoy satellite patent office as a genuinely big deal.

They say it will make it easier for inventors going through the patenting process and help chip away at a persistent backlog.

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Education
4:32 pm
Thu July 12, 2012

ACLU sues state, Highland Park schools over 'right to read'

The Michigan ACLU has filed what it calls a “groundbreaking” lawsuit against the Highland Park school district, and state education officials.

At issue: The state’s responsibility to make sure every child can read.

State law says school districts must provide any special assistance “reasonably necessary” to bring a child up to grade level in reading.

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Politics & Government
8:11 pm
Wed July 11, 2012

McCotter resignation, special election create a 'nightmare' scenario for city clerks

Thaddeus McCotter

City clerks in Thaddeus McCotter’s former Congressional district say his resignation has created a “nightmare” scenario for them.

McCotter’s resignation last week means clerks in suburban Detroit’s 11th Congressional district have to do a lot more work in very little time.

Livonia city clerk Terry Marecki says she was surprised when state officials called the special election to fill what will amount to just a few weeks of McCotter’s remaining term.

“I kept thinking, ‘There is no way they can dump this on us,’” Marecki said.

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Politics & Government
7:47 pm
Wed July 11, 2012

Detroit city lawyer loses legal battle over consent agreement--but could continue war

Krystal Crittendon

A court has once again rebuffed a Detroit city lawyer's attempts to have the city’s consent agreement with the state overturned.

Detroit’s corporation counsel, Krystal Crittendon, has pushed forward with a legal action that could un-do the consent agreement.

Crittendon maintains that legally, the city can’t enter into any contracts with the state because the state owes the city money.

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Politics & Government
7:06 pm
Tue July 10, 2012

Allen Park one step closer to emergency manager

City of Allen Park

The state is moving ahead with the process that could result in an emergency manager for Allen Park.

Allen Park is a Detroit suburb with about 28,000 people. City officials there actually requested a preliminary review under the state's emergency manager law.

In addition to suffering declining property tax revenue, the city was also on the hook for millions due to a botched movie studio deal made by the city's former mayor.

Unsurprisingly, the preliminary state review found “probable fiscal stress” there. So Lt. Gov. Brian Calley took the next step, appointing a review board to take a deeper dive into the city’s finances.

The preliminary review found chronic cash flow problems, and says city officials haven’t come up with an effective deficit-elimination plan.

If the review team confirms those findings as expected, then Allen Park will almost certainly face some type of state intervention. It would be the eighth Michigan city where the state has intervened.

Flint, Pontiac, Benton Harbor, and Ecorse all have emergency managers. Three more cities, including Detroit, are under consent agreements.

Politics & Government
5:24 pm
Mon July 9, 2012

Anti-foreclosure activists target Fannie Mae, federal lawmakers

Jennifer Britt talks to supporters outside the McNamara Federal Building in Detroit.
Sarah Cwiek Michigan Radio

A Detroit-based group of activists is working through the summer to help people facing foreclosure stay in their homes.

The Detroit Eviction Defense Coalition is affiliated with the Occupy Detroit movement. They held a rally Monday at the McNamara federal building to support Detroit homeowner Jennifer Britt, who faces eviction after a lengthy legal battle.

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Politics & Government
5:45 pm
Fri July 6, 2012

McCotter abruptly resigns Michigan congressional seat

Thaddeus McCotter
McCotter congressional office

Five-term Michigan Republican Congressman Thaddeus McCotter has resigned his office.

McCotter wasn’t up for re-election because his campaign failed to submit enough valid signatures to get him on the ballot.

McCotter represents a district in suburban Detroit.

Things started to unravel for him in May. That’s when McCotter’s campaign submitted the petition signatures required to get his name on the ballot.

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Politics & Government
5:20 pm
Fri July 6, 2012

Detroit city lawyer continues consent agreement challenge

Krystal Crittendon

Detroit’s top lawyer has apparently decided to fight on in her effort to challenge the city’s consent agreement with the state.

State officials warn the ongoing court battle threatens Detroit’s ability to “get back on track and move forward.”

Detroit corporation counsel Krystal Crittendon maintains the consent agreement is illegal because the state owes Detroit money, and the city can’t have a valid contract with a debtor.

But Ingham County Circuit Court Judge William Collette threw the case out, saying Crittendon had no authority to bring it.

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Politics & Government
2:58 pm
Fri July 6, 2012

Union chief: Detroit Fire Department in 'utter chaos'

Detroit Fire Department headquarters.
Wikipedia

The head of Detroit’s firefighters union says the department is in “utter chaos” after new overtime restrictions came down this week.

City officials acknowledge the situation is difficult, but say it’s under control.

Union chief Dan McNamara says the drastic overtime restrictions—announced by memo to firefighters earlier this week--will basically cripple a fire department that’s already understaffed.

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Politics & Government
6:50 pm
Wed July 4, 2012

43 years later, a Vietnam veteran gets his Purple Heart

Senator Carl Levin, left, awards Arnold Spencer the Purple Heart.
Sarah Cwiek Michigan Radio

A Vietnam veteran finally received one of the nation's highest military honors on this Independence Day.

Arnold Spencer got his Purple Heart more than four decades after he was wounded in the leg and refused medical evacuation.

Spencer was only 19 years old when he served as an artillery forward observer in an infantry unit in Vietnam.   

He was wounded in a firefight, but turned down a medical evacuation, allowing a more seriously-injured soldier to go in his place, and returned to his unit.

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Economy
6:15 pm
Wed July 4, 2012

Newly-expansive fireworks law lets some businesses, landowners cash in

Sarah Cwiek Michigan Radio

Michigan’s newly-loosened fireworks law has meant an extra boon for some local businesses and landowners this summer.

It’s hard to tell just how much that law has really boosted fireworks sales. But its impact is visible along Woodward Avenue just north of Detroit, where outdoor fireworks stands have popped up alongside the road.

At one site in Royal Oak, a bright-yellow container shell advertises things like Roman candles and artillery in huge letters.

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Politics & Government
10:17 am
Wed July 4, 2012

Detroit Congressman Clarke calls race allegations a "sickening" distraction; says he won't debate

Hansen Clarke

Detroit Congressman Hansen Clarke says his political opponents are trying to smear him by raising questions about his racial heritage.

And on Tuesday, he made it clear he’s had enough.

Clarke is in a tough primary fight against three other Democrats in Michigan’s newly-redrawn 14th district.

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Politics & Government
10:06 am
Wed July 4, 2012

Endorsements come down in heated Detroit Congressional primaries

Congressmen John Conyers, left, and Hansen Clarke flank Rev. Wendell Anthony as he announces Fannie Lou Hamer PAC endorsements Tuesday.
Sarah Cwiek Michigan Radio

An influential, Detroit-based Political Action Committee has made its endorsements for the August primary elections.

The Fannie Lou Hamer PAC is led by the Reverend Wendell Anthony, who also heads the Detroit branch of the NAACP.

Anthony decried the latest round of state and federal re-districting. He said it’s diluted Detroit’s voting power and caused “political havoc” in the city.

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Politics & Government
6:37 pm
Tue July 3, 2012

Ficano calls for 20% budget cuts; department heads rebel

Robert Ficano

Wayne County Executive Robert Ficano says department heads will have to implement deep cuts.

But department heads are rebelling, and one has already threatened to sue.

In a 2-year budget plan, Ficano says all county departments will have to absorb a 20% budget cut if the Wayne County is to avoid fiscal disaster.

He says property tax revenues have plummeted, and the county faces a $155 million dollar accumulated deficit.

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Health
8:22 pm
Mon July 2, 2012

"Dying before their time" in Detroit

Detroit residents over 50 are hospitalized more often and die earlier than people in other parts of the state.

That’s according to a new report, “Dying Before Their Time II: The Startling Truth of Senior Mortality in Detroit and Other Urban Michigan Communities.”

The difference between those two groups is starkest in the 50-59 age bracket.

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Education
7:12 pm
Mon July 2, 2012

Still no details on Detroit teachers' contract; war of words escalates

A day after the Detroit Public Schools’ Emergency Manager imposed a new contract on the district’s teachers, both sides are staying mum on its terms.

But teacher’s union officials are escalating their war of words against the district.

Detroit Public Schools officials won’t divulge details of the new, imposed contract terms. Emergency manager Roy Roberts is empowered to impose contract terms under the state's emergency manager law.

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Education
1:31 pm
Mon July 2, 2012

Learning through food: The Detroit Youth Food Brigade

Members of the Detroit Youth Food Brigade at the Windmill Market in Northwest Detroit.
Sarah Cwiek Michigan Radio

Some Detroit high school students are learning about food, nutrition, and entrepreneurship this summer.

They’re with a group called the Detroit Youth Food Brigade, which pairs high school students with local food-based businesses.

The kids then spread out to different farmers markets around the city to sell those products.

But organizers say the program is about more than just business. They want the kids to learn about nutrition, the bigger food system, and how it works locally in Detroit.

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Education
11:54 pm
Sun July 1, 2012

Detroit Public Schools Emergency Manager imposes new teacher contract

DPS Emergency Manager Roy Roberts
Detroit Public Schools

The state-appointed emergency manager for the Detroit Public Schools has imposed a new contract on the district’s teachers.

Roy Roberts is empowered to impose new contract terms on teachers under the state’s emergency manager law.

The district’s previous contract with the Detroit Federation of Teachers expired June 30.

In a written statement, Roberts says the decision to impose a new contract came after “a series of meet and confer sessions” with union leadership prior to June 30.

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Politics & Government
7:03 pm
Fri June 29, 2012

Contract showdown looms between Bing, unions

Detroit Mayor Dave Bing and city union representatives appear to be headed for a showdown over contract negotiations.

The heart of this disagreement is Detroit’s consent agreement with the state.

There’s language in there that allows the mayor to impose union contracts after previous contracts expire. Most city workers’ contracts expired June 1.

But in a scathing letter to Bing, union officials say it doesn’t exempt the city from bargaining with unions—something they haven’t done since the two sides reached tentative agreements in February.

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Politics & Government
9:58 pm
Thu June 28, 2012

Emergency manager law opponents: Referendum question needs to go on the ballot--now

Protesters at state government offices in Detroit Thursday.
Sarah Cwiek Michigan Radio

Organizers behind the bid to get Michigan’s emergency manager law on the November ballot say they’re getting tired of waiting for the courts to act.

So they’re taking their case directly to the streets—and judges.

After a complicated legal battle, the Michigan Court of Appeals effectively ruled earlier this month that a referendum on Public Act 4 must go on the November ballot.

Last week, referendum proponents filed a motion with the court, asking them to order the state Board of Canvassers to do just that.

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