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
6:59 pm
Wed February 1, 2012

Detroit seeks to prevent fire deaths, cut costs

User RickM2007 flickriver.com

The Detroit Fire Department is aiming to save lives—and money—by preventing heating-related home fires.

Fire officials say there’s a “noticeable peak” in fire-related deaths in the winter months--largely due to people improperly using space heaters and other heat sources, like propane tanks.  19 people died in the winter months last year.

Detroit fire captain Christopher Dixon says that’s a tough but unfortunate calculation many Detroiters make each month.

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Politics
5:55 pm
Tue January 31, 2012

Deadline passes, and still no plan to keep an emergency manager out of Detroit

Detroit’s elected officials had hoped to resolve some big questions about the city’s financial future Tuesday.

But that didn’t happen.

Both Governor Snyder and Detroit Mayor Dave Bing say the only way for the city to avoid an emergency manager is to get big union concessions.

Bing had hoped to get those concessions by the end of January. But the self-imposed deadline came and went without a deal.

In the meantime, the Detroit City Council met to discuss drastic actions the city might have to take if no agreement materializes soon.

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Politics
6:39 pm
Fri January 27, 2012

Wayne State symposium looks at reforming marijuana laws

Panelists offered a variety of perspectives on marijuana laws at the annual Wayne State University law review symposium Friday.

The largely civil conversation ranged widely, from the potential benefits of legalizing and taxing marijuana, to the perils of legalizing a drug that many think would be hard to regulate.

One symposium panelist was Kevin Sabet, a former advisor to the National Office of Drug Control Policy.

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Politics
6:09 pm
Wed January 25, 2012

Federal government to end oversight of Detroit Housing Commission

The federal government says it’s confident the Detroit Housing Commission is on the right path—and ready to revert back to local control.

The quasi-governmental authority manages the city’s public housing. It’s been under federal oversight since 2005 because of misspending and management problems.

But U-S Housing and Urban Development assistant secretary Sandra Henriquez says there’s been a vast improvement.

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Education
6:03 pm
Wed January 25, 2012

Uncertainty in Highland Park schools as parents look for answers

Mercedes Mejia / Michigan Radio

Highland Park school officials are battling to keep their school district from a state takeover.

But many parents there say they just want to know whether the district will last through the next month.

An audit shows the Highland Park school district is running an $11.2 million deficit—mostly because it’s lost more than two-thirds of its students.

In 2008, the district had 3419 students. Today, they have fewer than 1000.

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Auto/Economy
3:35 pm
Tue January 24, 2012

Business leaders release updated "Michigan Turnaround Plan"

A group of influential Michigan business leaders says Governor Snyder and the state legislature have advanced their plan to revive the state’s economy.a

Business Leaders for Michigan released its updated Michigan Turnaround Plan Tuesday.  Their goal is to make Michigan a top-ten state for job, economic and personal income growth.

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Politics
7:57 pm
Mon January 23, 2012

Drawing district lines for a changed Detroit City Council

Detroit officials are fast-tracking a process to change the way Council members represent the city.

Detroit voters approved a plan in November to elect seven of nine City Council members by district, when they approved a new city charter. Currently, all nine members represent the city at-large.

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Politics
9:12 pm
Sun January 22, 2012

Facing emergency manager threat, Detroit officials struggle for a plan

Detroit’s elected leaders are still struggling to come up with a unified plan to avoid a state takeover—even as a state review team continues work in the city.

The Detroit City Council has been critical of Mayor Dave Bing’s proposal to save more than $100 million this fiscal year to prevent the city from running out of cash.

Members suggest it contains too many optimistic revenue projections and unrealistic assumptions.

The Council has its own list of suggestions. But in the end, they can do little more than offer them to the Mayor.

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Politics
7:32 pm
Wed January 18, 2012

New report: 3 Michigan companies among "Dirty 30" tax avoiders

wikimedia commons

A new report says three Michigan companies spent more on lobbying than they did in corporate income taxes between 2008 and 2010.

Those companies include Michigan’s two biggest utilities, DTE and Consumers Energy. It also includes Ann Arbor-based freight hauler Con-way.

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Politics
8:06 pm
Tue January 17, 2012

Metro Detroit's "Big 4" talk Wayne County scandals, emergency managers

The Detroit Economic Club hosts a public forum with Metro Detroit’s so-called “Big Four” at the Detroit Auto Show each year.

And Tuesday’s session with the Detroit Mayor and Wayne, Oakland, and Macomb County executives proved a bit livelier than usual.

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Auto/Economy
7:54 pm
Tue January 17, 2012

Praise for proposed fuel economy rules at Detroit EPA hearing

Ian Britton freefoto.com

Union leaders, environmental groups and some auto industry representatives are applauding new fuel efficiency standards proposed by President Obama.

The Environmental Protection Agency held a public hearing on the new rules in Detroit Tuesday.

The Obama administration’s proposed rule actually measures greenhouse gas emissions. But when translated into the usual lingo, that’s about 54 miles per gallon—roughly double the current standard.

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Politics
6:36 pm
Mon January 16, 2012

Detroiters honor civil rights past, present on MLK Day

People line up for the MLK Legacy march outside Detroit's Martin Luther King high school
Sarah Cwiek Michigan Radio

Hundreds of people descended on Detroit’s Martin Luther King, Junior high school Monday morning for a march honoring the civil rights leader.

It was just one of many events honoring Dr. King that took place around Metro Detroit.

Hundreds of people came out for the third annual Detroit Public Schools-sponsored march, many of them students. But some adults, like Alicia Gassiamo, came to honor a figure whose sacrifices they say made a real difference in their lives.

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Politics
6:15 pm
Mon January 16, 2012

Detroit tests one solution to car crimes: a street parking ban

Sarah Cwiek Michigan Radio

Detroit Police say car break-ins are up in the city’s entertainment district. So they’re trying a new approach to prevent crime: banning street parking in the area.

A lot of people—Detroit Police won’t yet say how many—got their cars towed last weekend as a result of the parking ban.

Police officially issued the ban late on Friday:

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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.

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