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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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Andrey Belenko / Flickr

A Michigan advocacy group is suing U.S. government officials on behalf of people who found themselves on a government terror watch list.

The two lawsuits, filed in a federal district court in Virginia Tuesday, say the designation process for the terror watch list is arbitrary, secretive, and unconstitutional.

Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

After 13 years, the Detroit police department is now officially free of U.S. Justice Department oversight.

The department had been under two federal consent decrees since 2003.

Those decrees stemmed from a host of unconstitutional policing practices, ranging from excessive use of force, to illegally detaining witnesses.

Federal judge Avern Cohn signed off on a full return to local control this week, after an 18-month transition period.

Police Chief James Craig says 13 years of federal oversight helped create a “constitutional” police department.

markbwavy / Flickr - http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality is moving forward on a new rule to cut air pollution in part of Wayne County.

The rule will limit sulfur dioxide emissions from two US Steel facilities. They’re in southwest Detroit and two downriver suburbs deemed in “non-attainment” of National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS).

Barb Rosenbaum is with the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality’s Air Quality division.

She says the agency is still working on a larger sulfur dioxide attainment plan for that area, after getting feedback on an initial draft.

Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

Employees at Detroit’s two major newspapers are working without a contract.

Detroit News and Free Press staffers held an “informational picket” near the papers’ downtown headquarters Wednesday.

The Newspaper Guild of Detroit is trying to negotiate a new contract with Gannett Media Company on behalf of both News and Free Press employees.

Gov. Rick Snyder
gophouse.com

The Detroit Public Schools now officially has enough money to stay open through the end of the current school year.

Gov. Snyder signed a $48.7 million dollar supplemental budget bill into law Tuesday.

DPS officials had said that without state aid, the district likely faced payless paydays by early April.

flickr user Motown31 / http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

Fourteen people face federal charges for defrauding the Detroit Public Schools in an alleged bribery-and-kickback scheme.

Those charged include 12 current and former principals, one district administrator, and a school supplies vendor.

Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

Detroit State Senator Virgil Smith started a ten-month jail sentence Monday, as part of a plea deal he struck after violent domestic dispute with his ex-wife.

The democratic lawmaker pleaded guilty to one count of malicious destruction of property, for shooting up his ex-wife’s car. He had initially faced four counts, including a firearms charge that carried a mandatory prison sentence.

But Smith is still a state legislator, and Wayne County prosecutors are now unhappy with that deal.

Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

After months of highly unusual legal maneuvers, two Detroit protesters still don’t know if a jury will ever decide their case.

They were part of a group, dubbed the “Homrich 9,” arrested for protesting Detroit’s mass water shutoffs in the summer of 2014. They had tried to block trucks that were charged with carrying out the shutoffs.

Two defendants, Reverend Bill Wylie-Kellerman and Marian Kramer, had a two-week trial on misdemeanor disorderly conduct charges in November.

Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan with students at the Detroit Promise Zone scholarship announcement.
Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

Detroit is joining the list of Michigan communities offering “promise zone” college scholarships.

The program, enacted by state lawmakers years ago, but never implemented in Detroit until now, guarantees any Detroit high school graduate two years' tuition at five Metro Detroit community colleges.

Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

As the clock ticks down toward possible payless paydays in the Detroit Public Schools, the Detroit Federation of Teachers is trying turn up the pressure on state lawmakers.

DFT leaders are also trying to tamp down on a faction within the union that is pushing for more radical action to force Lansing’s hand.

The district needs state money in the short term to avoid running out of cash early next month. It also needs a longer-term rescue package to help shed crippling debt and reorganize as a new district.

Dohn Hoyle, the director of public policy of The Arc: "There's not been anything that we've seen ... that leads us to believe that the governor's original [mental health funding] plan makes any sense."
Matthileo/Flickr / http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

The water crisis in Flint and the financial crisis in Detroit Public Schools appear to be taking a toll on Michigan’s credit outlook.

Standard and Poor’s, one of the three major credit ratings agencies, revised Michigan’s outlook for general obligation debt down a notch, from “positive” to “stable” this week.

Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

A federal religious freedom lawsuit filed against the Dearborn Police Department has been resolved.

But the two sides give different versions of how and why the case was settled.

Maha Aldhalimi  sued the city of Dearborn and its police department last year. She claimed that after police arrested her for unpaid parking tickets in 2014, officers forced her to remove her headscarf, known as hijab, for a booking photo.

Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

Some metro Detroit families and faith leaders are headed to the U.S. Supreme Court next month, to take part in a national rally supporting President Obama’s immigration policy.

The Court is set to hear arguments on the Deferred Action for Parents of Americans (DAPA) plan, which Obama created via a 2014 executive order.

It would protect many undocumented immigrants with U.S. citizen children from deportation.

Last night, the Farmington School Board voted to close or consolidate three district schools, including Harrison High School, over the next four years.

Board members in the suburban Detroit district called that a tough decision, but a necessary one in light of declining enrollment – a common situation statewide.

screengrab/YouTube

A U.S. House committee held a second hearing on the Flint water crisis Tuesday, taking testimony from some key players in that disaster.

Former Flint emergency manager Darnell Earley, former mayor Dayne Walling, former EPA official Susan Hedman, and Virginia Tech engineering professor Marc Edwards – whose independent research team helped reveal the high levels of lead in Flint water late last year – all testified.

But the hearing was defined largely by blistering criticism leveled at the U.S. EPA for failing to step in sooner.

A Wayne County judge sentenced Detroit state Senator Virgil Smith to ten months in jail Monday – but the court saga isn’t over just yet.

Smith had initially been charged with several felonies, after a violent domestic dispute with his ex-wife in May 2015.

But Smith cut a plea deal with prosecutors. He ended up pleading guilty to just one count, malicious destruction of property, for shooting up his ex-wife’s Mercedes.

Gov. Snyder speaks at a Flint news conference.
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Some high-level decision-makers behind the Flint water crisis will answer to Congress this week.

The House Oversight and Government Reform committee has hearings scheduled on Tuesday and Thursday.

SpecialKRB / flickr

A new study suggests when it comes to childhood obesity, kids benefit from having a younger sibling.

And that link is surprisingly strong, according to an analysis of data from nearly 700 U.S. children.

Dr. Julie Lumeng, associate professor of pediatrics and public health at the University of Michigan’s Mott Children’s Hospital, was the study’s lead author.

Arab American Institute

Arab American voters seem to have played a vital role in handing Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders an upset victory in Tuesday’s Democratic presidential primary.

The results show Sanders won in handily in many precincts with large Arab-American populations, particularly in the city of Dearborn.

via Detroit Lions

The rumors have been circulating for months, but now it’s official: Detroit Lions wide receiver Calvin “Megatron” Johnson is retiring from the NFL at age 30.

“After much prayer, thought and discussion with loved ones, I have made the difficult decision to retire from the Lions and pro football. I have played my last game of football,” Johnson said, in a statement released Tuesday by the Lions.

Michigan State University

The person in charge of charting a new academic course for the Detroit Public Schools is a familiar face in the district.

Former federal judge Steven Rhodes, the district’s emergency manager, has named Alycia Meriweather as the new interim superintendent

Merriweather is a lifelong Detroiter and DPS graduate who “started with the Detroit Public Schools as a four-year-old with Head Start,” Meriweather said during a sometimes-emotional press conference Monday.

Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

Stumping for votes in Michigan ahead of next week’s primary, Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary Clinton called for a “new bargain for a new economy” at a campaign stop Friday.

Speaking from a factory floor in Detroit, Clinton said that “creating good-paying jobs and raising incomes is the defining economic challenge of our time.”

Clinton outlined a vision to meet that challenge.

She said U.S. corporations should practice “economic patriotism,” and treat workers as assets, not costs.

Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

Chanting everything from “Flint lives matter!” to “Nazi scum, off our streets!”, a range of protesters confronted Republican presidential debate-goers in the snow outside Detroit’s Fox Theater Thursday night.

Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

Ohio Governor John Kasich talked strategy in Detroit before the GOP presidential debate there Thursday—though he hardly talked about Michigan at all.

Kasich did say Michigan is “important.” The state holds its primary next Tuesday, and Kasich has campaigned here through the week.

But Kasich said the way things are shaking out, the Republican presidential race is “all coming down to Florida and Ohio.”

Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

The presidential candidates campaigning in Michigan Wednesday included Republican Marco Rubio, who made a stop at a Macomb County banquet hall.

The Florida Senator accused Republican front-runner Donald Trump of pulling an “elaborate con job” on voters.

He says this is no time to elect someone who “thinks the nuclear triad is a rock band from the eighties.”

“The world is a dangerous place. This is no time for irresponsibility or recklessness,” said Rubio, promising a “Reagan-style re-building of our military” if he’s elected.

Dominic Simpson / flickr

The clock is now ticking on Detroit’s medical marijuana dispensaries, as new city regulations kick into effect March 1.

Detroit’s medical marijuana industry has exploded in just the past couple of years.

Now, many of the city’s commercial strips are lined with pot dispensaries’ trademark green lights — more than 200 by some estimates.

But new rules going into effect this month should dim those lights to some degree.

DPS emergency manager Steven Rhodes.
John Meiu / Detroit Legal News Publishing LLC

Gov. Snyder has made it official: Judge Steven Rhodes is the Detroit Public Schools’ fifth emergency manager since 2009.

Rhodes is the retired federal judge who managed Detroit’s bankruptcy case.

Skillman Foundation

The next superintendent of the Detroit Public Schools should come from the district’s current ranks, according to a non-profit leader who turned the job down.

Tonya Allen leads the Skillman Foundation, which has been deeply involved in Detroit education reform efforts for years. She had been widely considered a front-runner for a leadership post

Allen said Friday that she was offered the job of DPS interim superintendent, but declined.

Kate Wells / Michigan Radio

A state judge has dismissed the Detroit Federation of Teachers and its president from a lawsuit brought by the Detroit Public Schools.

The lawsuit is over the numerous “sickout” protests DPS teachers staged early this year to highlight deteriorating conditions in the schools.

The district sued, calling them illegal wildcat strikes.

But on Thursday, Michigan Court of Claims Judge Cynthia Stephens dismissed the charges against the DFT and union president Ivy Bailey from the suit.

City of Detroit

Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan says the city’s budget is balanced for a third straight year.

Duggan laid that budget out for the Detroit City Council Thursday.

Right now, Detroit must stick within strict limits laid out in its post-bankruptcy financial plan when it comes to the just-over-$1 billion general fund budget.

But Duggan says if it can stay true to this next budget, state oversight should ease up.

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