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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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via City of Detroit

Detroit City Council member and former Detroit mayor Kenneth Cockrel Jr. says he won’t seek re-election this year.

Cockrel is serving his fourth term on the City Council. He also served briefly as mayor after Kwame Kilpatrick resigned in 2008—but lost the follow-up election to Dave Bing.

In a statement released Tuesday, Cockrel says he’s decided that “now is the time” to leave the Council.

via flickr

Oakland County is helping neighboring Macomb County get back online after a fire last week.

That suspected electrical fire seriously damaged Macomb’s IT department—shutting down phones and computer networks.

So Oakland County is offering Macomb staff, equipment and space to start re-building.

“Oakland County has opened up its data center to host Macomb County’s equipment and personnel on a temporary basis in order to get Macomb County back online,” says a press release from Oakland County Executive L. Brooks Patterson’s office.

Business leaders and others share their thoughts on the future of Michigan’s education system Monday.

The Governor’s Education Summit comes just on the heels of revelations about a secret education reform work group in Lansing—and questions about how much the Governor’s vision for public education jibes with theirs.

via University of Michigan/MLibrary

Detroit has the most “job sprawl” of any metropolitan area in the country, according to a new Brookings Institution report that looks at how jobs are distributed throughout metro regions.

The report found that 77 percent of metro Detroit’s jobs are more than 10 miles outside the city’s central business district. The nationwide average is 43 percent.

Hamtramck could be the next Michigan city to get an emergency manager.

Governor Snyder appointed a state review team to examine the city’s finances Wednesday.

Hamtramck city officials actually asked for the state review. The tiny enclave within Detroit has struggled financially for many years.

via Downtown Detroit Partnership

Exciting things are happening in downtown Detroit, and there’s a plan to keep up the positive momentum.

That’s the scenario the Downtown Detroit Partnership laid out at its annual lunch Wednesday.

The DDP outlined its vision for a dense, vibrant downtown Detroit of 2016.

The group is made up some of Detroit’s biggest business leaders. They’re putting money behind incentive programs and other projects to draw more residents and employees downtown.

Several people were arrested after protests broke out at a Detroit City Council meeting Tuesday.

Singing, chanting and linking arms, the protesters forced Council President Pugh to recess the meeting for more than an hour.

They were upset that Council was about to take a vote on a restructuring contract with the Jones Day law firm. That’s emergency manager Kevyn Orr’s former firm.

Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

The Education Achievement Authority is up and running right now in 15 Detroit schools.

Michigan’s state-run “reform district” for the lowest-performing schools is already controversial.

In the eyes of Governor Snyder and its champions, the EAA is the best way to assure that schools don’t linger in failure for years on end.

In the eyes of critics, it’s already a failed experiment that threatens the very heart of public education in Michigan.

Royal Oak voters will decide whether to approve the city’s human rights ordinance in November.

That ordinance extends civil rights protections to some people not covered by state or federal law—including gays and lesbians.

A citizen group had gathered enough signatures to either force the commission to rescind the ordinance, or put it on the ballot.

Royal Oak resident David Sims says voters should have the final say on the law, which he calls “ridiculous.”

If there’s a school near you that’s been deemed “persistently low-achieving,” it could soon come under the control of a new regime.

Governor Snyder is leading a controversial effort to create a statewide district for those struggling schools. Right now, that district—formally known as the Education Achievement Authority, or EAA--is doing a kind of pilot year in Detroit.

How well is that working out?  The answer to that question depends very much on who you ask.

Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

Residents of one Detroit neighborhood hope a new bridge connecting Detroit and Windsor will provide tangible benefits for them.

Southwest Detroit’s Delray area will host the American side of the new bridge. The span received a Presidential permit last week.

Some residents there are pushing for a legally-binding community benefits agreement.

Debate is underway in Lansing on bills that would expand on an educational experiment now underway in Detroit.

It's called the Education Achievement Authority, and its aim is to turn the lowest-performing schools—with changes like a longer school year, and more online learning.

In this first of a three-part series, Michigan Radio takes a look at the Education Achievement Authority - which could be coming soon to a school near you.

Detroiters can expect increased fees and reduced services—and the city’s deficit will still keep growing.

At least that’s the scenario Mayor Dave Bing outlines in his proposed budget for the 2013-14 fiscal year.

This proposal actually cuts much less from the budget—about $36 million—than the prior year. It focuses on more or less stabilizing “essential city services,” like public safety and transportation.

A new plan outlines a path for the Detroit Public Schools to grow again.

The “Neighborhood-Centered, Quality Schools” plan centers around the idea of “community schools” that offer a wide array of services to the community.

Sarah Hulett / Michigan Radio

Transit advocates in southeast Michigan heralded the start of a “new era in public transportation," as a Regional Transit Authority’s board met for the first time Wednesday.

The RTA board consists of representatives from Wayne, Macomb, Oakland, and Washtenaw counties, and the city of Detroit.

Its mission is to coordinate the region’s historically fragmented transit agencies--and pave the way for truly regional rapid transit.

Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

The Detroit City Council is reviewing a $3 million-plus contract with emergency manager’s Kevyn Orr’s former law firm.

Jones Day would assist the city through its restructuring. Some Council members suggest there are conflicts of interest because Jones Day also represents several Detroit creditors.

Paul Hitzelberger / United Photo Works

Consultants are working on all kinds of plans to re-shape Detroit city departments, and two such plans were previewed at a Detroit Financial Advisory Board meeting Monday.

One is to drastically downsize the Detroit City Council, and make its members part-time, with just one staff member each

Council member Saunteel Jenkins says that would completely change the Council’s role in city government.

Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

The Detroit Tigers beat the New York Yankees 8-3 at their home opener Friday.

More than 45,000 fans jammed Comerica Park to see the game—an opening day record.

But tens of thousands more came to downtown Detroit just to enjoy the festival atmosphere, in what has become a semi-official holiday in southeast Michigan.

Detroit and its downriver suburbs have some serious pollution problems.

And according to a new Sierra Club report, the greatest effects fall on poor, largely non-white communities.

The report deals with environmental justice in southeast Michigan—the idea that poor, minority communities tend to shoulder the burdens of pollution.

It details toxic emissions from six major sources in and around Detroit—five of which are clustered in the downriver area.

via dugganfordetroit.com

The Detroit mayor’s race has been unofficially underway for months.

But former Detroit Medical Center CEO Mike Duggan was the first to file the paperwork to get his name on the August primary ballot Tuesday.

Candidates need at least 500 petition signatures to get on the ballot.

via city of Romulus

Romulus Police Chief Robert Dickerson has resigned his job.

He did so in a scathing letter in which he also called on Romulus’s mayor, Alan Lambert, to resign.

via wikipedia

The Reverend Al Sharpton and his National Action Network are the latest activists to jump behind the fight to Michigan’s emergency manager law.

Sharpton was in Detroit as opponents filed a federal lawsuit today.

Critics maintain that Michigan’s emergency manager law violates both state and federal law by stripping local voting rights in cities and school districts with emergency managers.

And they also argue it’s a racial issue, with black voters disproportionately affected.

Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

Governor Snyder says Detroit and Michigan can’t afford to “look in the rear view mirror” when it comes to tackling problems.

The Governor spoke in Detroit Thursday, just just as two controversial laws he signed take effect.

Speaking at the Detroit Athletic Club’s “Pancakes and Politics” breakfast, Snyder addressed a crowd that included much of Detroit’s business and political elite—including the city’s new emergency manager, Kevyn Orr.

The new state law that gives Orr sweeping powers kicks in today. So does Michigan's right to work law.

Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

The US Department of Education is now investigating the state of Michigan over alleged civil rights violations.

The department’s civil rights office was already investigating two civil rights cases against the Detroit Public Schools.

steve carmody

DETROIT (AP) - A number businesses plan to donate $8 million to help Detroit get 23 EMS units and 100 police cars to boost public safety and reduce response times.

Mayor Dave Bing announced the effort Monday along with racing team owner Roger Penske, who leads Penske Automotive Group.

“As local business leaders, we appreciate this opportunity to work with the mayor, and police and fire departments, to help improve safety in the neighborhoods, and our downtown," said Penske.

“We can work together to provide and drive positive momentum in our city.”

Other donors involved include Quicken Loans Inc., General Motors Co., Ford Motor Co., Chrysler Group LLC and Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan.

Mayor Bing calls this an “unprecedented collaboration” with the city’s business community.

The money will actually go Detroit’s Downtown Development Partnership, which will lease the vehicles for the city and pay for maintenance.

But mayor Dave Bing says this isn’t about downtown.

“This is about the neighborhoods," Bing said. "So we can go out into our neighborhoods to let people know that we support them, and we have not forgotten about them.”

Violent crime in Detroit spiked last year. The city recorded 387 criminal homicides. And department cutbacks have slowed response times.

Detroiters should see the new police cars on patrol by early summer, but the EMS vehicles will take a little bit longer to arrive.

The announcement came on the same day bankruptcy attorney and turnaround specialist Kevyn Orr arrived at Detroit City Hall for his first day on the job as emergency manager. Orr takes over the finances of the largest city in the country to come under state oversight.

Bing said the timing of the announcement was a coincidence.

via marchedunainrouge.com

This past Sunday was the first after the vernal equinox.

That’s the day Detroiters gather to banish a little red imp that’s bedeviled the city for more than 300 years.

In other words, it was time for the fourth annual Marche du Nain Rouge—a Mardi Gras-like celebration that’s about welcoming spring, and battling Detroit’s demons.

A quick history lesson about the Marche du Nain Rouge

Opponents of Michigan’s emergency manager law are gearing up for a long, hard fight against it.

The Reverend Jesse Jackson joined Congressman John Conyers and others in Detroit Friday to outline some of their plans.

Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

Detroit Mayor Dave Bing joined federal, state and local law enforcement to unveil the “Detroit One” crime-fighting initiative Thursday.

The idea underpinning the effort is that a large portion of Detroit’s violent crime is committed by a relatively small number of people.

Kym Worthy (file photo).
waynecounty.com

The war of words between Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy and County Executive Robert Ficano is intensifying.

Worthy held a press conference Wednesday to blast Ficano. She spoke in front of a televised slideshow with media clips detailing the Ficano administration’s ongoing corruption issues.

Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

An Arab American civil rights group says it’s hearing from a surge of people in southeast Michigan whose bank accounts were closed down without explanation.

The Arab American Civil Rights League says it’s received about a dozen complaints in the past month.

In each case, the bank notified the client that their account would be shut down. But they refused to provide an explanation.

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