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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Crime
7:00 pm
Fri January 13, 2012

Chief says crime is down in Detroit, but murders up

Ralph Godbee

Detroit Police Chief Ralph Godbee says the number of serious crimes in Detroit fell last year—but the number of killings climbed.

Preliminary statistics show Detroit recorded 344 homicides in 2011. That’s up about 12 percent from 2010, but roughly in line with the longer-term average.

“We promised that we would reduce violent crime. Are we satisfied with homicide numbers? Absolutely not," Godbee says. "But promises made, promises kept. We’ve delivered on reducing violent crime.”

Godbee credited his officers’ “Herculean efforts” to combat crime as department resources continue to shrink. He says the department is re-organizing to deal with that—including eliminating some desk jobs to put more officers on the streets.

Godbee also notes that Detroit Police have improved outreach and coordination with community, and the DPD is now about 80 percent compliant with a federal consent decree.

The department has been under federal oversight since 2003, for issues related to excessive force and prisoner treatment.

Breaking
5:51 pm
Fri January 13, 2012

Appeals court frees billionaire bridge owner

The Michigan Court of Appeals has freed Ambassador Bridge owner Matty Moroun and his top aide, Dan Stamper from the Wayne County jail.

Thursday morning, Wayne County Judge Prentis Edwards sent Moroun and Stamper to jail for civil contempt of court.

That night, the Court of Appeals denied Moroun and Stamper’s emergency motions to get out of jail.

But their lawyers tweaked their argument today, and again asked that the two be freed while their clients’ appeal is pending. The court has now agreed to that.

Politics
4:55 pm
Wed January 11, 2012

New deal lets Pontiac keep federal money

Pontiac’s emergency manager says the federal government has agreed to a proposal that lets the city keep some grant money it was expected to lose.

Pontiac has a history mismanaging federal grant money.  So when federal officials from the Department of Housing and Urban Development asked the city to hand administration of Community Development Block Grants over to Oakland County, its emergency manager, Lou Schimmel, agreed.

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Auto/Economy
4:42 pm
Tue January 10, 2012

Snyder pitches Michigan, economic development strategy at Detroit Auto Show

The Hyundai-Kia America Technical Center
hatci.com

Governor Snyder announced that Hyundai will expand its Hyundai-Kia America Technical Center in Superior Township, just south of Ann Arbor.

Speaking just after touring the Detroit Auto Show Tuesday, the Governor said the project is a “good model” for the state’s revamped economic development strategy.

The Korean automaker plans to put more than $15 million into expanding its technical center. The new “environmental chamber” will test vehicle emissions at extreme temperatures, helping it meet new fuel efficiency standards.

But do that, the company needed a bigger power supply than DTE Energy could reliably provide. So, the Michigan Economic Development Corporation is chipping in $2.5 million to build a new power substation.

Snyder says that’s a departure from the tax incentive-based strategy the state has used in the past. “Our goal here is to be an enabler, in terms of letting companies in the private sector be successful, because that’s how you lead to true long term viable job creation,” Snyder said.

The idea is that Hyundai will eventually repay the state through tax revenues it pays to Superior Township. The state can then use that money to finance other economic development projects.

Auto/Economy
4:26 pm
Tue January 10, 2012

Buick aims for younger, "luxury SUV" customers with newest model

The 2013 Buick Encore

GM unveiled the Buick Encore, the latest all-new Buick, at the Detroit Auto Show Tuesday.

The Encore rounds out Buick’s revamped line-up, which also includes the Verano, LaCrosse, and Enclave.

GM is trying hard to ditch Buick’s “older” image and market the brand to younger customers.

GM Vice President for design Ed Wellburn said the Encore will increase Buick’s appeal to younger buyers—and women—because it’s part of a trend toward what he calls “premium small SUVs.”

“This is really on the leading edge of that trend,” Wellburn said. “We firmly believe there are great opportunities there, and it expands the Buick portfolio.”

The Encore will go on sale in early 2013. The car will be manufactured in South Korea—a nod to the fact that GM plans to market the car heavily in China—where Buick is a popular brand--as well as North America.

“We’re a global company with a global footprint,” said Roger McCormack, Buick’s product marketing director. “When you look at the picture in total, this was the right [manufacturing] decision for us.”

Auto/Economy
4:33 pm
Mon January 9, 2012

CEO Marchionne "delighted" with Chrysler's performance, but big tests still ahead

Sergio Marchionne
AP Photo

Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne is striking an upbeat note about the US auto industry—and Detroit—at this year’s Detroit Auto Show.

Detroit’s smallest automaker posted the biggest gains in 2011, with sales soaring 26 percent.

In fact, Chrysler is now doing better than Fiat, the Italian automaker that helped rescue Chrysler from the brink of collapse in 2009.

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Detroit Auto Show
11:05 am
Mon January 9, 2012

Chrysler unveils 2013 Dodge Dart, company says it gets 40+ mpg

The unveiling of the new 2013 Dodge Dart at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit.
Mark Brush Michigan Radio

Chrysler is using this year’s Detroit auto show to debut something pretty novel for that company: a compact car.

The Dodge Dart represents Chrysler’s first real foray into the compact market since its effective merger with the Italian automaker Fiat.

Reid Bigland is President of the Dodge brand. He says the Dart represents a true blend of Fiat and Chrysler’s traditional strengths.

“Quite simply, it is groundbreaking. It has a world-class architecture, the DNA of an Alpha-Romeo, with the unmistakable presence of a Dodge,” said Bigland.

Bigland says the Dart will make its debut in showrooms this spring with a price tag of just under $16,000.

Transportation
6:42 pm
Fri January 6, 2012

Hope still alive for Detroit light rail project

An artist's rendering of light rail on Woodward Ave.

There’s a chance light rail might still be a part of Detroit’s transportation future.

But backers of a proposed rail line on Woodward Avenue face a deadline to prove they have a viable plan.

In December, federal transportation officials, Governor Snyder and Detroit Mayor Dave Bing decided the M-1 light rail project should be scrapped.

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Politics
8:36 pm
Thu January 5, 2012

ACLU sues Governor Snyder over benefits ban

The American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan is suing Governor Snyder over the state’s new law banning domestic partner benefits.

Snyder signed the controversial law just before Christmas.

It prohibits school districts, counties and other public employers from extending health insurance coverage to employees’ unmarried domestic partners. State universities are exempted.

The ACLU filed suit on behalf of four couples. One plaintiff is Doak Bloss of East Lansing, whose partner of 18 years stands to lose his benefits under the new law.

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Politics
8:11 pm
Thu January 5, 2012

Detroit Police moves put fewer officers in precincts, more on the streets

Detroit Police Chief Ralph Godbee is reorganizing his department to try and put more officers on the streets.

To do that, Godbee is eliminating some desk positions and moving those officers out on patrol.

That means citizens will now report what police call “non-emergency crimes” to a Telephone Crime Reporting Unit—rather than directly to an officer.

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Politics
5:16 pm
Wed January 4, 2012

Oakland County Democrats sue Governor over re-districting rules

Democrats in Oakland County are suing Governor Snyder over a new law that gives county commissioners the power to draw their own districts.

Historically, a group of five county officials created the map. During the most recent process, Democrats dominated the group for the first time in recent history.

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Energy
5:04 pm
Wed January 4, 2012

Planned power outage leaves thousands without light, heat in Detroit

Households and businesses in one section of Detroit lost power for a few hours Wednesday morning.

That’s because DTE Energy was performing what it calls “routine maintenance” on some underground power lines.

Mid-morning, generators were still humming at Holbrook Auto Repair in  Highland Park. Manager Jeff Worthy bought them this week, when he found out DTE planned the temporary power outage.

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Politics
5:31 pm
Tue January 3, 2012

Protesters make last-ditch effort to save one Detroit library

Yuba College Public Space / Flickr

Protesters in Detroit hope that staking out a recently-shuttered library branch will convince officials to re-open it.

Four Detroit library branches--Lincoln, Monteith, Mark Twain, and Richard--closed their doors for good just before Christmas.

But library defenders say they’ll stake out the Lincoln branch library, and try to stop any efforts to remove the library’s inventory.

Shanta Driver is with the activist group By Any Means Necessary, which organized the effort. She says neighbors are watching the library, and they’ve organized a phone tree to bring in enough people to surround the library if and when moving trucks show up.

 “There’s so many people in the neighborhood who have been watching, and just keeping tabs on what’s going on here, that I think we can be here,” Driver says.

BAMN and other library advocates say the branches are a vital resource in their neighborhoods, and closing them would deal a devastating blow.

Detroit Public Library officials say it’s a necessary move to cut costs in the face of declining revenues, and cover staff shortages.

Arts/Culture
9:32 pm
Sun January 1, 2012

More art pops up in Detroit's vacant spaces

One mural by artist Marianne Burrows features a pheasant, a common sight in Detroit's vacant lots.
via Facebook

In Detroit, massive population loss has forced people to envision new ways of using space.

Urban gardens have gotten a lot of attention. But there’s also a movement afoot to use art in a similar way.

One group of people has done just that this year with a vacant lot in an industrial corner just north of Detroit’s Midtown area. It’s called the Lincoln Street Art Park.

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Politics
9:01 pm
Sun January 1, 2012

Detroit's Chaldean community fears for Middle East Christians

Iraqi Christians mourn following a 2010 attack on a Baghdad church that killed dozens
AP Photo

The withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq and Arab Spring revolutions have meant a year of anxiety for Metro Detroit’s Arab Christian community.

Most members of that community are Chaldean, mostly Iraqi Catholics. Southeast Michigan is home to the largest Chaldean population outside Iraq.

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Offbeat
2:08 am
Sat December 31, 2011

Detroit dogs get a big gift to start the new year

Detroit Dog Rescue via Facebook

The Detroit Dog Rescue, an organization devoted to Detroit’s estimated 50,000 stray dogs got a huge boost to start the New Year.

Detroit Dog Rescue received more than $1.5 million from an anonymous donor.

Early this year, Detroit officials quashed an effort to make a TV documentary about the city’s stray dog population.

But out of that effort, the Detroit Dog Rescue was born. The group rescues abandoned dogs from the streets, then works to place them in permanent homes.

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Education
6:38 pm
Thu December 29, 2011

Program keeps Detroit students well-fed through the holidays

A father and daughter pick up a food basket in Detroit
Detroit Public Schools

Some Detroit Public Schools are open part-time over the two-week holiday break.

The district’s Holiday Learning Fest program tries to keep kids engaged in fun academic activities. But it also aims to keep them well-fed.

On Thursday, volunteers handed out food baskets to parents as they picked up their kids. Gleaners and the United Way donated the fresh food baskets.

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Education
5:02 pm
Tue December 27, 2011

DPS program aims to keep kids learning over the holidays

Mercedes Mejia Michigan Radio

The Detroit Public Schools is trying to make sure students stay up-to-date on their academics over the two-week holiday break.                                                              

The idea behind the Holiday Learning Fest is to keep kids learning part-time over the break.

18 schools have opted to participate in the program. One is Beard Elementary in southwest Detroit, which focuses on young kids from pre-K through first grade.

Teacher Ann Crowley says once her school found out about the program, they clamored to get on board.

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Politics
7:04 pm
Fri December 23, 2011

Democrats seize on Romney Volt comment

Mitt Romney
Associated Press

Michigan native and GOP Presidential candidate Mitt Romney is drawing fire from Michigan Democrats for remarks he made on a radio program this week.

At the very end of a radio interview Romney called the Chevy Volt “an idea whose time has not come.”

There was little context for the remark, but Democrats seized on it. They say it’s part of a pattern of Romney “rooting for the US auto industry to fail.”

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Religion
6:53 pm
Fri December 23, 2011

Group reports uptick in anti-Muslim discrimination complaints

A scene from the show All-American Muslim
TLC

One national civil rights group says it’s seen an uptick in discrimination complaints from Muslims—especially in the past month.

The American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee says it’s received triple the number of complaints this December, compared with the same month last year.

Read more

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