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 & Government
9:02 pm
Mon November 4, 2013

Bing, Snyder team up to expand Detroit public safety initiative

A successful program that utilizes volunteers to fight crime is growing in Detroit.

Governor Snyder and Mayor Dave Bing announced Monday that the Americorps Urban Safety Corps program will extend into five Detroit neighborhoods.

The program empowers Americorps members to recruit and mobilize community volunteers for public safety efforts.

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Politics & Government
7:33 am
Mon November 4, 2013

Duggan vs. Napoleon: In Detroit mayor's race, one candidate has big cash and a big lead

Mike Duggan, left, and Benny Napoleon during the final Detroit mayoral debate.
Credit via WXYZ TV

Detroiters elect a new mayor on Tuesday.

If the polls are to be believed, the race between Mike Duggan and Benny Napoleon isn’t even close.

But that hasn’t stopped the race from getting expensive—or nasty.

The frontrunner, Duggan, wasn’t even on the primary ballot.

He was thrown off over a technicality because he hadn’t lived in Detroit for a full year before filing his ballot petitions.

But Duggan surprised many by winning handily as a write-in candidate. Since then his campaign has seemingly been on cruise control.

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Politics & Government
12:45 pm
Thu October 31, 2013

Wayne County ponders offer for botched jail site

Credit Wayne County

Downtown Detroit real estate mogul Dan Gilbert wants to buy the site of Wayne County’s botched jail project.

Rock Ventures has offered a total of $50 million to build an entertainment district where the half-built jail and other county facilities now sit. Wayne County abandoned the jail project in August because it was hugely over-budget.

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Politics & Government
9:14 pm
Tue October 29, 2013

Highlights from Governor Snyder's, Kevyn Orr's testimony in Detroit bankruptcy trial

LiveStream

Both Detroit Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr and Governor Snyder testified this week in the trial that will decide whether Detroit is eligible for Chapter 9 bankruptcy protection.

Facing hours of pointed questions from lawyers for city unions, retirees, and pension funds, both Snyder and Orr said that bankruptcy wasn’t a foregone conclusion for Detroit.

But both also insisted the city was clearly insolvent, creditor talks had broken down into multiple lawsuits, and Orr had to move quickly.

“It was somewhat shocking how dire it was,” Orr testified.

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Politics & Government
4:25 pm
Fri October 25, 2013

Day 3 in the Detroit bankruptcy case could bring Orr and police chief to the stand

Gerri Trager Flickr

Update 4:25 p.m.

Emergency manager Kevyn Orr has taken the stand in Detroit bankruptcy eligibility trial, for what's likely to be a brief bit of testimony before court breaks for the weekend.

The court confirmed that Governor Snyder will take the stand at 1 p.m. on Monday, regardless of whether Orr is finished testifying.

Orr follows Detroit Police Chief James Craig, who testified about the poor state of police service in Detroit when he took over the job in July 2013.

He called Detroit "the most violent city I've ever worked in" (he's also worked for police departments in Los Angeles and Cincinnati).

He said the city needs to take "bold action" to rectify its fiscal problems, but acknowledged he was "concerned" about "hiring and retention issues" if Detroit is allowed to slash pension benefits in bankruptcy.

1:11 p.m.

At issue is whether the state (mostly Gov. Rick Snyder) and city​ leaders (mostly Kevyn Orr) truly negotiated "in good faith" with Detroit's creditors.

Those who stand to lose a lot (city union workers and retired pensioners, among many others) are arguing that bankruptcy was the goal all along - that there was no "good faith" bargaining going on.

We're in Day 3 of hearings in front of the man who will ultimately decide whether Detroit will become the largest city in U.S. history to go bankrupt.

We're not expected to get a ruling from U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Steven Rhodes until mid-November.

This morning there was testimony from Kenneth Buckfire, an investment banker who worked with the city of Detroit. Buckfire was questioned about the timing of his negotiations with Gov. Snyder and the city over the city's insolvency.

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Politics & Government
9:34 pm
Wed October 23, 2013

Debate reveals little as Detroit's mayoral election draws near

 Detroiters will elect a new mayor in less than two weeks—but the candidates are being pretty tame.

Former Detroit Medical Center CEO Mike Duggan and Wayne County Sheriff Benny Napoleon found little to disagree about during a Detroit Economic Club forum Wednesday.

Both agreed that Detroit shouldn’t look to sell or regionalize city assets—although Detroit emergency manager, Kevyn Orr, could make those moves anyway.

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Law
8:00 am
Wed October 23, 2013

Is Detroit eligible for bankruptcy? Crucial trial starts today

A trial to determine Detroit’s fate in municipal bankruptcy starts Wednesday.

Judge Steven Rhodes will hear arguments from city lawyers about why Detroit qualifies for Chapter 9 protection.

University of Michigan law professor and bankruptcy expert John Pottow says some city creditors will argue that Detroit’s bankruptcy filing was pre-determined--and there was no good-faith bargaining process, as the federal bankruptcy code requires.

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Politics & Government
9:51 pm
Tue October 22, 2013

State must release names of candidates considered for Detroit emergency manager job

State officials must turn over the names of all candidates considered for Detroit’s emergency manager job.

A Wayne County Circuit judge court ordered that information be made public Tuesday.

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Politics & Government
9:14 pm
Mon October 21, 2013

Detroit Council hopes to send message by rejecting loan proposal

The Detroit City Council has rejected a $350 million loan deal secured by Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr.

Orr announced the deal with the British financial giant Barclays earlier this month.

The plan was to use most of the money—about $230 million—to pay off two banks who profited from a bad interest rate swaps deal Detroit made on some pension debt years ago.

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Politics & Government
5:10 pm
Fri October 18, 2013

Hantz Farms finally gets green light for massive Detroit farm

Mike Score is the president of Hantz Farms, which plans to plant 15,000 hardwoods on the east side of Detroit.
Sarah Hulett Michigan Radio

One of the country’s largest-ever urban farming projects got the green light from Detroit and state officials Friday.

Both Governor Snyder and Detroit Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr signed off on a development agreement that lets Hantz Farms acquire about 140 acres of land on Detroit’s east side.

Hantz Farms is the brainchild of John Hantz, CEO of the Hantz Group, primarily a financial services company.

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Politics & Government
5:48 pm
Thu October 17, 2013

Detroit group: City needs to spread development efforts to neighborhoods

A blighted home in Detroit.
Credit Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

A group of grassroots Detroit activists says the city needs to broaden its vision of re-development beyond downtown.

The group Michigan United has proposed a plan it calls “restoring our communities.”

It proposes a city ordinance with concrete measures to control blight and revitalize Detroit’s suffering residential neighborhoods.

Measures include:

·        Requiring banks to post a $10,000 bond for each foreclosure. Groups leaders say this has worked well and raised revenue in other cities.

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Education
11:27 pm
Tue October 15, 2013

New state consultant to work with struggling Pontiac Schools

The former emergency manager of two Michigan school districts is moving onto help Pontiac schools.

Donald Weatherspoon was the emergency manager of the Highland Park and Muskegon Heights schools.

Now, he’s a consent agreement consultant for the Pontiac schools. The Pontiac school board chose to enter a consent agreement after a state review found the district was in "fiscal stress."

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Politics & Government
11:15 pm
Tue October 15, 2013

Detroit CFO resigns over controversial comments

Kevyn Orr
Credit Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

Detroit’s chief financial officer, Jim Bonsall, has resigned.

Bonsall had only been on the job since mid-July. He was brought in by Detroit emergency manager Kevyn Orr, after lobbying for the job through Governor Snyder’s office.

But Bonsall’s management style alienated some. And he came under investigation after a recently-demoted city employee reported racially-charged comments he made at a meeting.

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Politics & Government
8:32 pm
Mon October 14, 2013

Detroit City Council rejects Belle Isle lease, offers its own proposal

Belle Isle beach in July
Credit Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

The Detroit City Council has rejected a proposal to lease Belle Isle to the state. But the Council is also putting forth its own, alternative lease deal.

Governor Snyder and emergency manager Kevyn Orr already signed a 30-year lease deal last month.

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Politics & Government
10:32 pm
Fri October 11, 2013

Detroit will borrow $350 million to pay off debts, boost services

Kevyn Orr
Credit Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

The city of Detroit will borrow $350 million to help it through bankruptcy and restructuring.

Emergency manager Kevyn Orr announced the deal with the British financial giant Barclays Friday.

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Politics & Government
10:28 pm
Fri October 11, 2013

Detroit CFO suspended over "hostile and abusive" comments

Detroit’s new chief financial officer has been suspended.

The city’s former finance director, Cheryl Johnson, has accused Jim Bonsall of creating a hostile work environment, particularly for black women.

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Law
8:45 am
Thu October 10, 2013

Kwame Kilpatrick learns his fate today

 After years of legal, political and tabloid drama, former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick finally learns his fate Thursday.

Kilpatrick faces up to life in prison after being convicted of two dozen federal corruption charges, including racketeering, bribery and extortion in March.

Federal prosecutors call the scale of Kilpatrick’s corruption “astonishing” and “devastating,” and argue he should get at least 28 years in prison for his crimes.

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Politics & Government
4:28 pm
Thu October 3, 2013

Kevyn Orr talks privatization, pensions, DIA art at forum

Kevyn Orr
Credit Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

Kevyn Orr talks frequently with Governor Snyder, considers himself a “technocrat,” and says everything  — including the Detroit Institute of Arts — is “on the table” in Detroit’s bankruptcy.

Orr addressed questions about the bankruptcy, city pensions, and the city’s progression through Chapter 9 municipal bankruptcy at a Detroit Economic Club forum Thursday.

Some of the highlights:

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Politics & Government
5:58 pm
Tue October 1, 2013

Napoleon earns law enforcement approval in Detroit mayor's race

Benny Napoleon

Law enforcement officials are choosing sides in the Detroit mayor’s race.

And perhaps not surprisingly, Wayne County Sheriff Benny Napoleon has earned their support.

Some major Detroit Police and Wayne County Sheriffs union officials endorsed Napoleon Tuesday, as did Wayne County prosecutor Kym Worthy.

Worthy says that when it comes to tackling Detroit’s crime problem, Napoleon “gets it,” unlike current leaders.

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Politics & Government
3:54 pm
Tue October 1, 2013

State and Detroit officials strike tentative deal to lease Belle Isle

Beach-goers at Belle Isle in July.
Credit Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

The state of Michigan has signed a deal to lease Detroit’s Belle Isle.

Governor Snyder and emergency manager Kevyn Orr have both approved the plan.

The state won’t pay anything for the 30-year deal, which has two 15-year renewal options.

But the Michigan Department of Natural Resources will run Belle Isle as a state park, saving Detroit an estimated $4 million a year in maintenance costs.

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