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 head of President Obama’s Auto Task Force paid a visit to the North American International Auto show.
 
Ron Bloom is also the President’s top advisor on manufacturing policy. Bloom and Michigan Senator Debbie Stabenow toured Detroit automakers’ exhibits at the auto show.
 
Bloom says the Obama administration is “cautiously optimistic” about the U.S. auto industry’s recovery.
 
He says automakers’ profits are “better than expected," but admits that job growth is slower than he’d like. Still, he’s optimistic.
 

Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

The 2011 North American International Auto Show is in a decidedly upbeat mood.

After two years of somber shows, automakers are rolling out new products and showcasing an unusual level of variety and innovation. And they're bullish about how consumers will respond to all those new choices.

Chrysler might be the poster child for the resurgent feeling at this year’s show.

Last year, the automaker barely had a presence, and Chrysler Brand President Olivier Francois remembered how that felt.

user dgtmedia-simone / wikimedia commons

Chrysler made the case for its self-proclaimed "resurrection" at the North American International Auto Show.

The company put on an optimistic show as it debuted 16 new Chrysler products. The automaker had only a bare-bones presence at the auto-show last year.

Sergio Marchionne is Chrysler's CEO. He said the display shows the company is once again a viable competitor in the North American car market:

Detroit Public Schools classrooms will be getting almost $50 million worth of technological upgrades through federal stimulus funds.

 

The district’s Emergency Financial Manager, Robert Bobb, calls the effort an “unprecedented” technological “infusion.”

 

Every Detroit middle and high school-student will get netbooks to use in the classroom.

 

District spokeswoman Kisha Verdusco says teachers will also get netbooks, and an array of other technologies to facilitate learning.

 

Detroit Mayor Dave Bing has managed to fulfill one major promise: the city has submitted its comprehensive annual financial report to the state on time.

 

Detroit had submitted its audit late for the past five years. That caused the state to withhold millions in much-needed revenue-sharing funds.

 

Detroit may see its most sweeping political reforms in decades in 2011.


 The city’s Charter Commission will really get down to work next year.


 Detroiters voted to open the city charter up for change in mid-2009.


 Now, the charter’s fate lies in the hands of the nine elected Charter Commission members. Their work will come under intense scrutiny.


Both Mayor Dave Bing’s office and the Detroit City Council have offered their suggestions for revisions.

A small group of striking musicians from the Detroit Symphony Orchestra brought holiday music to three area homeless shelters Wednesday.

 

The musicians’ made their final stop at the Ruth Ellis Center in Highland Park, which provides shelter and other services for homeless and other at-risk gay and lesbian teens.

 

But the free concert attracted more than just the shelter’s clients.

 

New FBI crime figures show Detroit’s violent crime rate dropped significantly in the first half of this year.

 

FBI statistics show violent crimes in Detroit fell by about 8-percent from the first half of 2009.

 

The biggest reduction was in homicides (28%), which fell from 202 to 146. Robberies were also down about 9%.

 

The city did see jumps in rapes and arsons.

 

Detroit Police Chief Ralph Godbee attributes the crime drop to a "data-based approach” to police deployment, and building partnerships with the community.

 

Robert Bobb with a student
Sarah Hulett / Michigan Radio

Detroit Public Schools Emergency Financial Manager Robert Bobb “has a busy few months” ahead.
 
Bobb’s contract with the schools expires in March. Governor-elect Rick Snyder has said he’ll extend it through June.
 
Bobb was dealt a defeat last month when a Wayne County Circuit Court Judge ruled Bobb overstepped his duties by implementing academic plans.
 

Update 6:54 p.m.:


Here's some video of the release of the indictments from the Detroit News:



Update 4:28 p.m.:


Barbara McQuade, the U.S. Attorney in Detroit, had this to say of the new indictment:


“The indictment charges all of them with working together to abuse Kwame Kilpatrick’s public offices. Both his position as state representative, as well as his position of mayor of Detroit, to unjustly enrich themselves, through a pattern of extortion, bribery and fraud.”


Update 4:18 p.m.:


Here's an excerpt of the indictment (info in parens added):


"(Former Detroit Mayor) Kwame Kilpatrick, (Kilpatrick’s long-time friend) Bobby Ferguson, (Kilpatrick’s father) Bernard Kilpatrick, (former director of the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department) Victor Mercado and (Chief Administrative Officer then Chief Information Officer to Kilpatrick) Derrick Miller… extorted municipal contractors by coercing them to include Ferguson in public contracts, and/or by rigging the award of contracts to ensure Ferguson got a portion of the revenue from those contracts…. Ferguson got tens of millions of dollars in work and revenues from municipal contractors."


Update 3:39 p.m.:


Federal Prosecutors in Detroit are announcing more corruption charges against former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick.


The indictments also include Kilpatrick’s father, Bernard Kilpatrick; former city contractor Bobby Ferguson; former Detroit Water Department head Victor Mercado; and former city official Derrick Miller.


Representatives from the FBI, IRS,  U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Department of Housing and Urban Development are also on hand for the announcement.


The new charges are a sign the years-long investigation into Detroit municipal corruption is approaching an apex.


Peter Henning is a Wayne State University law professor. He says this investigation has been typical of public corruption probes that slowly “work from the outside in.”



“The government’s committed a lot of resources. When that happens then it’s much more likely to see charges brought, simply because the government wants to see some return on its investment.”


Kwame Kilpatrick already faces federal tax evasion and other charges for allegedly using a non-profit civic fund as a personal slush fund.


Ferguson also already faces federal charges in an alleged city bid-rigging scheme.


3:27 p.m.:


The other shoe is finally dropping on former Detroit mayor Kwame Kilpatrick.   The US Attorney in Detroit is holding a news conference at 4pm to announce indictments against Kilpatrick, his father Bernard, and others allegedly involved in city hall corruption in Detroit.


The Detroit News is reporting:



The U.S. Attorney's Office is considering prosecuting the mayor under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations statute, among other federal criminal laws, according to a source. The Department of Justice's Organized Crime and Racketeering Section reviews and approves each proposed federal prosecution under the RICO statute. 


So far, 14 people have pleaded guilty to felonies and one person has pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor in connection with the Detroit investigation and a spinoff probe in the city of Southfield. Those convicted include former Detroit City Councilwoman Monica Conyers.


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