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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Law
11:43 am
Wed April 9, 2014

Breakthrough settlement announced in Detroit bankruptcy case

Kevyn Orr
Credit Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

Mediators in Detroit’s bankruptcy case have made a potentially huge breakthrough with some of the city’s bondholders.

Bondholders are one of the city’s biggest groups of unsecured creditors.

That means they’re also one of the most important groups for emergency manager Kevyn Orr to get on board with his plan of adjustment, and avoid a protracted legal battle that could bog the city down in bankruptcy court for months or years.

Now, negotiators for the city and three major bond insurers have announced a settlement deal.

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Politics & Government
7:00 am
Mon April 7, 2014

Local governments are hopeful, cautious about state road-funding plan

Credit wikipedia

The organization championing the interests of Michigan’s local governments is withholding judgment on a proposal to fix the state’s roads.

Officials with the Michigan Municipal League say they’re cautiously hopeful about the plan Republican State House leader Jase Bolger unveiled last week.

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Law
5:30 am
Mon April 7, 2014

Key ruling expected this week in Detroit bankruptcy

Judge Steven Rhodes will make a major ruling in Detroit’s ongoing bankruptcy case this week.

Rhodes will decide whether the city can settle an interest-rate swaps deal with two major banks for $85 million.

Detroit had hoped to hedge against interest rates rising when it entered into the swaps deal on some city pension debt in 2006.

But interest rates fell to nearly 0, and Detroit has been forced to shell out about $200 million to UBS and Bank of America since 2009.

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Politics & Government
4:00 pm
Sat April 5, 2014

"Financial emergency" declared in yet another Michigan city

A state review team has officially concluded that a “financial emergency” exists in the city of Lincoln Park.

The small suburb in the downriver area just south of Detroit is running a slight deficit right now, despite having a $4.5 million general fund balance in 2010.

According to the review team’s findings, city officials estimate that deficit will grow by at least $1 million by the middle of this year—more if the city can’t get concessions from its police unions.

Governor Snyder has 10 days to confirm the review team’s findings.

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Law
6:00 am
Fri April 4, 2014

Man accused of using fake religious organization to run foreclosure rescue scam

Anthony Carta
Credit Michigan Attorney General's office

Michigan’s Attorney General says a Detroit man defrauded more than 100 people in southeast Michigan with a fake mortgage rescue scam.

Bill Schuette says Anthony Carta ran the scam through a phony religious organization called Freedom by Faith Ministries.

Carta promised homeowners facing foreclosure he’d settle up with their mortgage lenders, for a fee. But he would pocket that money instead.

Carta is accused of stealing more than $300,000 this way. He’s being charged with conducting a criminal enterprise and two other felonies.

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Politics & Government
10:04 pm
Tue April 1, 2014

Orr turns up the heat on Detroit pensioners; they push back

Retirees protest outside federal court in Detroit.
Credit Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

Detroit pensioners are trying to turn up the heat on emergency manager Kevyn Orr Tuesday – just as he’s doing the same thing to them.

Protesters filled the street in front of Detroit’s federal courthouse on Tuesday to slam Orr’s proposed cuts to city pensions.

Orr filed a revised version of his bankruptcy restructuring plan there Monday. An earlier version, known formally as a plan of adjustment, was filed in February.

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Politics & Government
6:00 am
Tue April 1, 2014

Detroit City Council approves lease deal that closes the book on Joe Louis Arena

Credit Wikipedia

With a 5-4 vote, the Detroit City Council has narrowly approved a controversial lease deal for the Detroit Red Wings at Joe Louis Arena.

The lease is retroactive to 2010, and runs through 2015. It has five one-year extension options.

The deal will cover the Wings’ remaining playing days at the Joe. The city has already cleared the way for the team’s owners to build a new, $450-million arena complex elsewhere in Detroit.

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Education
9:00 am
Mon March 31, 2014

Some former Education Achievement Authority teachers, parents, paint a troubling picture

An EAA slogan outside Nolan Elementary-Middle School.
Credit Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

The state legislature is considering bills that would expand a state-led effort to turn around Michigan’s lowest performing schools.

Right now, the Education Achievement Authority is in charge of 15 schools, all of them in Detroit.

In this second half of a two-part series, we’ll hear from some people who’ve been inside the current EAA—and paint a less-than-rosy picture.

“Disrupting” traditional education?

Governor Snyder has long urged state lawmakers to create more policy options for turning around historically low-performing schools.

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Education
10:39 am
Thu March 27, 2014

Education Achievement Authority still faces uphill fight

U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan and Gov. Snyder read to schoolkids during a tour of Detroit schools last year. Duncan called the EAA "the future of education."
Credit Jake Neher / MPRN

The state Legislature could soon give Gov. Snyder something he’s wanted for a long time: a bill that would clear the way for the controversial Education Achievement Authority to expand.

The Senate is now considering a bill passed by the House that would, among other things, allow the EAA to expand beyond Detroit. The state-run district for the lowest-performing schools is the governor’s signature education initiative.

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Developing
4:00 pm
Sat March 22, 2014

Same-sex couples flock to clerks' offices to wed ahead of temporary stay

Jere Clausen and Bruce Walters were the first gay couple to be married in Muskegon County this morning.
Lindsey Smith Michigan Radio

Update 5:05 p.m.

In a reversal from what it signaled earlier in the day, the U.S. Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals has issued a temporary stay on the decision to strike down Michigan's ban on same-sex marriage. 

The court said it issued the stay to allow a "more reasoned consideration" of Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette's request for a hold on Friday's decision.

3:43 p.m.

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Politics & Government
2:17 pm
Sat March 22, 2014

Snyder touts benefits of foreign investment for Michigan

Governor Rick Snyder

Governor Snyder says a new survey shows his efforts to attract more international investment in Michigan is paying off.

The “insourcing” survey cites Michigan for adding more than 250,000 private sector jobs since 2010, and 32,000 from foreign investment in 2011 alone –more than twice as many as any other state.

The survey found that the heads of multinational firms are cautiously bullish about doing business in the U.S., but things could be better.

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Politics & Government
6:00 am
Fri March 21, 2014

Orr looks to private sector for help with Detroit water department mess

Credit wikimedia commons

Detroit emergency manager Kevyn Orr is looking at potential private operators for the city’s water system.

Orr says the city has been forced to consider leasing the water system to a private operator because talks to create a regional authority with suburban customers broke down.

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Environment & Science
6:00 am
Fri March 21, 2014

Dearborn steel mill wants state to loosen emission limits, neighbors worry

A Dearborn steel plant wants the state to let it legally emit more air pollution, a prospect that doesn’t sit well with many of the people who live nearby.

The massive, 350-acre Severstal steel complex sits in a heavily industrial area along the Dearborn-Detroit border. It’s been cited 37 times for violating its current state air quality permit.

But Severstal thinks that permit was too strict. In its new permit application, the company wants the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality to raise the emissions cap for a number of pollutants, including lead and carbon monoxide.

That angers many south Dearborn residents, like Norieah Ahmed. Speaking at a packed public hearing on the proposed new rules this week, Ahmed said her community already suffers from too much pollution.

“We cannot allow for an increase in permitted levels simply because Severstal once again can’t meet those standards,” Ahmed said.

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Politics & Government
5:00 am
Wed March 19, 2014

Lease proposal: Joe Louis Arena to be darkened, demolished after Red Wings leave

The Detroit Red Wings’ owners will keep renting Joe Louis arena through at least 2015, according to a proposed lease presented to the Detroit City Council Tuesday.

City officials have already cleared the way for the Red Wings’ owners, Mike and Marian Ilitch, to build a new arena complex for the hockey team.

But the question remains about what to do with Joe Louis Arena, which the city of Detroit owns. Right now, the two sides are retroactively negotiating a lease agreement that expired in 2010.

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Politics & Government
5:00 am
Tue March 11, 2014

Detroit's historic Brewster-Douglass housing projects will soon be gone

Former Brewster projects resident Colbert Prince at the demolition site, with a picture of himself and a childhood friend. Prince remembers the housing complex as a warm, tight-knit community.
Credit Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

Detroit’s historic Brewster-Douglass housing projects will finally come all the way down sometime this spring.

The final stage of the ongoing demolition effort at the 18.5 acre site started Monday. Officials say it will last for another two months, while land restoration will continue throughout the summer.

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Law
5:00 am
Sun March 9, 2014

Detroit bankruptcy judge delays reorganization plan trial, as city scrambles for creditor support

 

The judge overseeing Detroit’s bankruptcy case has pushed a scheduled trial on the city’s reorganization plan back by at least a month.

Judge Steven Rhodes had set a mid-June date trial date on the city’s proposed plan of adjustment. That plan is emergency manager Kevyn Orr’s basic road map for getting the city out of bankruptcy, and a key document in any municipal bankruptcy.

City lawyers had asked for the extension, reportedly to them more time to solicit votes for the plan.

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Environment & Science
7:37 pm
Thu March 6, 2014

Forest Service grant will help Belle Isle forestry

Detroit kids learn about the ecology on Belle Isle in 2012.
Credit Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

The federal government is offering some help to restore the forest on Detroit’s Belle Isle.

Michigan Senator Debbie Stabenow announced the $300,000 grant from the US Forest Service Thursday.

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources has been cutting down a lot of dead and damaged trees on Belle Isle lately, as the island makes its transition to a state park.

The grant will help carry on that effort. It will also help the DNR and community groups reforest the island.

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Business
5:00 am
Wed March 5, 2014

No, Chinese investors aren't 'buying up Detroit' – but they do have an eye on the Motor City

Since Detroit filed for bankruptcy last summer, there have been lots of stories going around about major Chinese money pouring into city real estate.The headlines tend to read something like: “China is buying up Detroit.”

In truth, there’s not much hard evidence to support that kind of dramatic claim.

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Law
6:00 am
Tue March 4, 2014

Protesters from both sides descend on Detroit court in landmark gay marriage case

Same-sex marriage opponents protesting outside Detroit's federal courthouse.
Credit Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

Activists on both sides of the marriage equality issue protested outside Detroit’s federal courthouse Monday, site of an ongoing court case that will decide the legality of Michigan’s same-sex marriage ban.

The case involves a Detroit area lesbian couple, Jayne Rowse and April DeBoer. They’re seeking the right to jointly adopt the three children they’ve been raising together.

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Politics & Government
9:32 pm
Mon March 3, 2014

Detroit's "plan of adjustment" on fast track as creditors line up to object

People who oppose Detroit’s plan to reorganize in bankruptcy have until the start of next month to file objections.

One group of about 20 residents, retirees and activists picked up the paperwork to do just that at federal offices in downtown Detroit Monday.

Reverend Charles Williams II and representatives from the National Action Network led the group of people looking to file individual objections to the city’s plan of adjustment.

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