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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Education
9:15 pm
Thu June 28, 2012

Detroit Public Schools Emergency Manager lays out "draconian" budget

The Detroit Public Schools budget is taking a huge hit next year. But the district’s emergency manager says it’s part of a painful, but necessary restructuring to get the system back on track.

Roy Roberts presented what he admits is a “draconian” budget at a community meeting Wednesday night.

It shaves about 25%, or $250 million, off the previous year’s budget.

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Politics & Government
7:26 pm
Wed June 27, 2012

Detroit expo connects veterans with jobs, support

A shuttle picks up attendees at a week-long veterans expo at Cobo Center.
Sarah Cwiek Michigan Radio

Thousands are expected at Detroit’s Cobo Center this week for events meant to help veterans gain a foothold in the job market.

The National Veterans Small Business Conference and Expo, as well as an accompanying job fair and veterans open house, is being touted as a major event to connect veterans with job opportunities.

It comes at a time when there’s increasing awareness of veterans’ struggles returning to a tough job market.

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Education
5:24 pm
Mon June 25, 2012

Michigan higher education construction projects at a glance

University of Michigan Flint will receive $16.6 million for renovations to the Murchie Science Laboratory Building
User acrylicartist MorgueFile.com

Gov. Rick Snyder signed a bill today that calls for investment in infrastructure projects at Michigan's colleges and universities.

The bills funnel more than $300 million into 18 projects on college campuses across the state.

Snyder approved the bills at Wayne State University in Detroit. That school will get $30 million for a new bio-medical research facility.

Wayne State President Allan Gilmour says that will involve refurbishing a now-defunct Cadillac dealership, and construction for at least one brand-new building.

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Politics & Government
6:19 pm
Sun June 24, 2012

30 years later, remembering Vincent Chin

Vincent Chin

Asian-American and civil rights activists commemorated the 30-year anniversary of Vincent Chin’s death this weekend.

Chin’s murder outside a Highland Park strip club in 1982—just days before his wedding--is widely credited with galvanizing a national Asian-American civil rights movement.

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Politics & Government
7:15 pm
Fri June 22, 2012

Bing decries Council "sideshow," says he 'll no longer deal with city lawyers

Detroit Mayor Dave Bing went to the Detroit City Council Friday to formally tell them he wants to get rid of the city’s top lawyer.

Instead, he walked out of an abruptly-recessed meeting he later called a “sideshow.”

Bing has been at odds with Detroit’s corporation counsel, Krystal Crittendon, for weeks now.

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Politics & Government
7:13 pm
Thu June 21, 2012

Bridge foes say referendum on New International Trade Crossing will be on the November ballot

Jim Wallace flickr.com

A group that opposes efforts to build a new bridge connecting Detroit and Windsor says it’s well on its way to putting that question on the November ballot.

“The People Should Decide Ballot committee” says it’s collected more than 420,000 petition signatures in favor of a voter referendum.

If passed, the measure would implement a constitutional amendment requiring Michigan voters to approve any new international crossings.

Governor Snyder and Canadian officials signed an agreement to build a new crossing just last week. That's after Snyder's efforts to get the project through the state legislature failed last year.

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Politics & Government
6:10 pm
Wed June 20, 2012

Emergency manager law opponents move to put referendum question on the ballot

Supporters of a referendum to overturn Michigan’s emergency manager law want to make sure that question is on the November ballot.

They filed an emergency motion with the Michigan Court of Appeals Wednesday to speed that process along.

After a complicated legal process, the Court of Appeals ruled the question should go on the ballot last week, but without specifying it could take “immediate effect.” So the order could sit for as long as 42 days.

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Politics & Government
6:35 pm
Tue June 19, 2012

Top Detroit lawyer refuses request to resign; Bing will take case to City Council

Krystal Crittendon
City of Detroit

Detroit Mayor Dave Bing has asked the city’s top lawyer, Krystal Crittendon, to resign—and she’s refused.

Now, Bing says he’ll make a case for removing her to the Detroit City Council.

Crittendon recently went against Bing’s wishes by pressing a legal challenge to the city’s consent agreement with the state.

Crittendon said she was obligated to do that because she believed the consent agreement violated the city charter. And she insisted the charter allowed her to act independently of Bing.

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Transportation
6:22 pm
Tue June 19, 2012

It's official: no federal money for Detroit light rail--again

A proposed light rail project on Detroit’s Woodward Avenue won’t be getting millions in federal transit dollars—for now.

U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood awarded the so-called M-1 project a $25 million TIGER grant in 2010. But late last year, LaHood, Governor Snyder, and Detroit Mayor Dave Bing decided that money would be better spent on a regional rapid bus system.

Since then, M-1’s private backers—who have pledged millions toward the 3.4-mile span connecting downtown Detroit and the New Center area—have rallied to re-gain government support for the project.

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Education
6:58 pm
Mon June 18, 2012

Highland Park to charter all its schools in the fall--only way to save the district?

Another Michigan school district in deep financial trouble will be turned over to a charter operator for the coming school year.

The emergency manager of the Highland Park Public Schools announced the plan Monday.

Joyce Parker says the district  will likely start the next school year with a roughly $15 million deficit, and only about 800 students.

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Politics & Government
6:32 pm
Mon June 18, 2012

Detroit will pay for extra cops at fireworks, asks for 'regional' support in the future

Detroit fireworks
The Parade Company via theparade.org

Suburban law enforcement officers will help Detroit Police keep the peace at this year’s riverfront fireworks.

But city officials warn it’s the last time the city will pick up the security tab for a major “regional” event.

“We can’t continue this way, with the financial condition that the city’s in," Deputy Mayor Kirk Lewis said Monday. "Nor does it really make sense, in particular, for regional events…to not have the region help support those.”

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Politics
7:12 pm
Thu June 14, 2012

Detroit City Council approves financial board picks, moves ahead with consent agreement

The Detroit City Council is moving ahead to implement the city’s consent agreement with the state.

The Council had delayed appointing its two members to a nine-member financial advisory board while the city’s corporation counsel challenged the consent deal in court.

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Transportation
5:47 pm
Thu June 14, 2012

Study: New Detroit-Windsor bridge will boost Michigan economy by $2.2 billion

The Ambassador Bridge.
Jim Wallace flickr.com

A new bridge crossing connecting Detroit and Windsor, Ontario will create more than 8,000 permanent jobs, according to a new study.

The study comes from the Ann Arbor-based Center for Automotive Research, an industry-sponsored group.

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Politics
5:05 pm
Wed June 13, 2012

Judge dismisses lawsuit challenging Detroit consent agreement

Judge William Collette of Ingham County Circuit Court dismissed a lawsuit by Detroit's top lawyer, Krystal Crittendon, this morning. She was challenging the city's consent agreement with the state. The judge ruled she didn't have standing to bring the case. We've been updating this post today.

Update 5:05 p.m.

Governor Rick Snyder said he’s also happy the judge threw out a legal challenge to the consent agreement the state made with the City of Detroit. The agreement was made to avoid the appointment of an emergency manager and to prevent the city from running out of money.  

"We’ve been continuing to work forward on our projects from the state perceptive while all this has gone on because we want to make sure we’re fulfilling our part of this," said Snyder. "It was a Detroit internal issue. I hope they continue to work hard to resolve their issue so they can continue to work hard to resolve their issues so they can work better between the mayor city council and corporate counsel."

Detroit's top lawyer argued the consent agreement was null and void because the state owes Detroit money. The state treasury denies that.

3:04 p.m.

Detroit Mayor Dave Bing says he’s happy a “distracting” court case brought by his own city attorney was dismissed Wednesday and the city can now follow through on its consent agreement with the state.

Bing said he was “not happy with” his corporation counsel’s decision to push the legal challenge—but insists that’s all in the past now.

“We need to get on with running the city," Bing said. "The city is still in a crisis. And we can’t have all of these distractions and think we’re going to bring the city back.”

The first steps: convening the city’s nine-member financial advisory board. That’s a key provision of the consent agreement. Bing says they’ll meet for the first time Friday.

11:59 a.m.

MPRN's Rick Pluta spoke with Michael Hodge, the lawyer who argued the case on Mayor Bing's behalf. Hodge said if the case went forward, it could have forced the city into bankruptcy this week.

From Pluta's report:

“The judge understood that financially, the stabilization agreement between the city and the state was an essential agreement to go forward and to continue to address the financial issues involving the city,” said Hodge.

Detroit Corporate Counsel Krystal Crittendon argued the agreement is not valid because the state owes the city millions of dollars. The judge’s decision does not address the question. The state Treasury says Detroit is not owed any money.

10:40 a.m.

Judge William Collette of Ingham County Circuit Court dismissed the lawsuit by Detroit's top lawyer Krystal Crittendon challenging the city's consent agreement with the state of Michigan this morning.

MPRN's Rick Pluta reports Judge William Collette said it was obvious Crittendon could not go forward with her lawsuit without the support of Mayor Bing or city council. He said Crittendon did not have the authority to file the lawsuit on her own.

Collette also said Detroit's consent agreement with the state of Michigan is in place and people will just have to live with it.

Mayor Dave Bing is holding a press conference at 11:15 a.m. Michigan Radio's Sarah Cwiek will be there.

And Gov. Risk Snyder will meet with members of the media at noon today. Michigan Radio's Lindsey Smith will bring us reaction from Mr. Snyder

Politics
3:04 pm
Wed June 13, 2012

Bing responds to court decision validating Detroit-Lansing consent agreement

Mayor Dave Bing and Governor Rick Snyder at a groundbreaking in Detroit last month.
Sarah Cwiek Michigan Radio

Detroit Mayor Dave Bing says he’s happy a “distracting” court case brought by his own city attorney was dismissed Wednesday, and the city can now follow through on its consent agreement with the state.

Bing said he was “not happy with” his corporation counsel’s decision to push the legal challenge—but insists that’s all in the past now.

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Politics
11:45 pm
Tue June 12, 2012

Lots of action, uncertainty as Detroit-Lansing standoff continues

The standoff between Lansing and some Detroit city officials over a lawsuit showed little sign of fizzling out Tuesday.

But it also appears the state might be looking for ways to give the city some leeway if the contentious situation continues much longer.

The standoff began last week when Detroit’s corporation counsel, Krystal Crittendon, went to court asking for a judge’s opinion about whether the consent agreement between the city and state should be voided.

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Politics
3:50 pm
Mon June 11, 2012

Not much support in effort to get Detroit's top lawyer to drop lawsuit

Outside Detroit City Hall
Steve Carmody Michigan Radio

Detroit Mayor Dave Bing says the city will run out of money this week if a city lawyer doesn’t back off from a lawsuit challenging a consent agreement with the state.

Bing was hoping to unite City Council members behind his efforts to get that lawyer, Krystal Crittendon, to drop her legal action.

But at a contentious appearance before the Council this morning, Bing found little support.

And the mayor says that leaves the city vulnerable to going broke.

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Politics
12:55 pm
Mon June 11, 2012

Detroit Mayor to council, back off legal challenge

Today, Detroit Mayor Dave Bing asked the city Council to pass a resolution asking the city’s top lawyer to back off a legal challenge to Detroit’s consent agreement with the state.

State officials say that litigation compromises a complex bond transaction, and say until the legal challenge is dropped, they’ll withhold about $80-million promised in the consent agreement.

But most City Council members say lawyer Krystal Crittendon is only following the law, and they’d like a judge to rule on the consent agreement’s validity.

Council President Charles Pugh, who voted for the consent agreement, says he hopes Lansing “does the right thing.”

“And that’s not allowing the city to run out of money," said Pugh. "That would be so irresponsible, just because they don’t agree with the court action. Her opinion does not prevent the state from living up to its responsibilities.”

Mayor Bing says he doesn’t think the state is bluffing about letting the city go broke. He left the Council meeting to attend ongoing discussions with state officials.

Politics
10:28 am
Mon June 11, 2012

Detroit officials count city money in the face of consent agreement legal challenge

Detroit City Council chamber
City of Detroit Facebook page

Detroit Mayor Dave Bing and the City Council are sitting down this morning to discuss keeping the city afloat financially.

Bing and Detroit’s Chief Financial Officer have warned the city might run out of money by the end of this week.

When Detroit signed a consent agreement with the state more than two months ago, it was supposed to keep the city out of just this position.

But the city’s top lawyer, Krystal Crittendon, is challenging the deal’s validity in court.

She has support from several City Council members—and at one point, got encouragement from Bing.

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Arts & Culture
8:20 pm
Fri June 8, 2012

Meet me at the DIA: A journey into art, and memory

DIA docent Andrea Simons with "The Merrymakers."
Sarah Cwiek Michigan Radio

If you’ve ever watched a love one suffer through memory loss, you know they lose more than just their ability to remember even the most basic things.

They can lose their ability to relate—and become strangers to themselves, and the people who care for them.

But a new program at the Detroit Institute of Arts tries to ease that experience with what might seem like an unorthodox treatment: talking about art.

One Saturday morning: “Meet me at the DIA”

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