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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Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

The  Consumer Financial Protection Bureau will start keeping close tabs on credit reporting companies, the Bureau's President announced Monday.

Richard Cordray told a field hearing in Detroit that CFPB—a relatively new federal agency created in the wake of the 2007-8 financial crisis--will start monitoring the largest credit reporting companies “just like we examine big banks” in September.

He says there’s still a lot we don’t know about the credit reporting industry, because no federal agency has had access to all the relevant information.

The race is on to impose new contracts on Detroit’s city unions, and city officials made the case for doing that before the Detroit City Council on Monday.

Detroit’s consent agreement with the state essentially allows it to get around the collective bargaining process.

Mayor Dave Bing has proposed new contract terms that will cut wages by 10 percent and drastically change work rules for most city workers.

But that’s not all. City officials also want the power to alter contract terms at almost any point.

Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

Governor Snyder is ready to send bulldozers, cops and social welfare workers into Detroit.

Detroit Mayor Dave Bing confirmed reports Friday that the state is sending money and resources Detroit’s way.

The goal is to focus intensely on stabilizing several city neighborhoods, with an emphasis on demolishing vacant homes.

Bing says state and city officials chose the target neighborhoods jointly.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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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