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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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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Breaking
11:34 am
Fri February 21, 2014

Detroit leaders submit bankruptcy restructuring plan to court

From the first page of the plan of adjustment filed in court today.

The city's blueprint for how to shed billions of dollars in debt while providing basic city services to residents was filed in federal bankruptcy court today.

Your can read it here.

The plan spells out how the city plans to repay the more than 100,000 creditors – those receiving city pensions, retirees, banks, bond insurers and other creditors – can look through the plan to see how they will fare.

The bankruptcy court will now go over the plan and will likely make adjustments.

Among other things, the plan proposes what’s called a "cram down" that will force city bondholders to take big losses.

It also lays out proposed formulas to "modify" – meaning cut – city pensions.

The level of cuts will depend on a number of factors, but the plan assumes a $350 million state contribution to supplement private funds. Officials say the cuts shouldn't go beyond about 30%.

The plan also proposes transferring assets from the Detroit Institute of Arts to a private entity to avoid a possible art sale.

Again, that depends on state and private funds coming through.

Gov. Rick Snyder issued the following statement regarding the plan:

"Detroit’s comeback is underway. Emergency manager Kevyn Orr has submitted a thoughtful, comprehensive blueprint directing the city back to solid financial ground, a crucial step toward a fully revitalized Detroit.  There will be difficult decisions and challenges for all sides as this process moves forward.

The state’s focus is on protecting and minimizing the impact on retirees, especially those on fixed, limited incomes, restoring and improving essential services for all 700,000 Detroit residents and building a foundation for the city’s long-term financial stability and economic growth.

This plan of adjustment is a critical step forward as we look to resolve problems decades in the making.

Let’s use this plan as a call to action for a voluntary settlement as part of the mediation process to resolve the bankruptcy more quickly and soften the tough but necessary changes. We already have witnessed some strong collaboration around innovative ideas. We hope there can be more and that these efforts come to fruition.

Detroit’s long-term viability is not just essential for its residents -- but to all Michiganders."

We'll have more as the story develops today.

*This post is being updated.

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

Detroit leaders promise ambitious 'Future City' plan will become reality

Detroit Future City will focus heavily on stabilizing Detroit neighborhoods, in part through blight eradication.
Credit Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

Detroit officials say they’re committed to making the Detroit Future City plan a reality.

The comprehensive –and controversial – plan has been years in the making. It’s meant to serve as a long-term guide for city leaders and policy-makers.

Detroit Future City started with a more modest goal –finding a better way to deal with Detroit’s abundant vacant land.

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Politics & Government
1:36 pm
Tue February 18, 2014

Fate of Detroit's water department a big question mark in city's plan to shed debts

Credit Kate Boicourt / IAN

What does the future hold for Detroit’s water and sewerage department?

We should have a better idea later this week, when the city’s emergency manager, Kevyn Orr, submits a landmark plan in bankruptcy court this week.

Orr must submit a plan of adjustment for how to deal with Detroit’s estimated $18 billion in long-term debt, and one major sticking point has been what to do with the water department.

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Politics & Government
11:26 am
Sat February 8, 2014

Snyder urges feds to act on new bridge, immigration proposal

Governor says plans to build a new bridge connecting Detroit and Canada have hit a snag—and he’s getting frustrated with the federal government.

The Governor spoke to the Detroit Regional Chamber while President Obama signed the new farm bill in Lansing Friday.

In 2012, Governor Snyder went around the state legislature and signed an agreement with Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper to build the New International Trade Crossing between Detroit and Windsor, Ontario.

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Politics & Government
6:00 am
Wed February 5, 2014

Detroit gets a new sports and entertainment district, but not without controversy

Governor Snyder signed legislation to create the arena district in late 2012. The Detroit City Council sealed the deal Tuesday.
Credit Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

The Detroit City Council has approved a major land deal to create a new hockey arena and entertainment district.

The Council transferred all city-owned land within the 45-block entertainment district’s borders to Detroit’s Downtown Development Authority Tuesday – for just $1.

That Authority will manage the mega-development, along with Olympia Development of Michigan.

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Politics & Government
6:00 am
Fri January 31, 2014

Detroit's Belle Isle on the cusp of becoming Michigan's newest state park

The Scott Fountain on Belle Isle

As Detroit’s Belle Isle is about to become Michigan’s newest state park, the island’s state park advisory committee met for the first time Thursday.

That committee is meant to add a measure of transparency to the island’s new governing scheme, members said they would work to earn Detroiters' trust.

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Auto
6:00 am
Tue January 28, 2014

100 years ago, Henry Ford doubled factory wages – and changed history

Henry Ford in 1919
Credit via Wikipedia

The home of the Ford Model T is now an abandoned factory complex along busy Woodward Avenue in Highland Park, Michigan – and there's not much to distinguish this place from Detroit's other industrial ruins.

But if you stop and walk up to the front of the building, you'll find a historical marker telling us that by 1925, this place churned out more than 9,000 Ford Model Ts a day.

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Law
2:00 pm
Mon January 27, 2014

More options, protections against heat shutoffs this winter – but no guarantees

Michigan customers who struggle to pay heating bills have some additional legal protections from heat shutoffs this winter.

But with the ongoing brutal cold, this will prove a painful winter for people already struggling to pay utility bills. And some households still face the very real prospect of going without heat.

In 2013, the state implemented a variety of new rules outlining how and when utilities can shut off service to residential customers.

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Law
6:00 am
Thu January 23, 2014

New report details 'abusive' surveillance of former Detroit police commissioner

Credit Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

The former chairman of Detroit’s Police Board of Commissioners was the target of inappropriate surveillance, according to a new report.

The report, from Detroit’s Office of Inspector General, confirms that Jerome Warfield was the subject of police surveillance on “multiple occasions” in early 2013.

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Politics & Government
10:24 pm
Tue January 21, 2014

A crucial week in talks to decide fate of Detroit's water system

Credit Kate Boicourt / IAN

Intense negotiations regarding the future of Detroit’s Water and Sewerage Department continued behind closed doors in federal court Tuesday.

Detroit emergency manager Kevyn Orr is pushing hard for a deal that would largely transfer control of the water department to a regional water authority.

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Offbeat
10:30 am
Tue January 21, 2014

New study: Nowhere close to 50,000 stray dogs in Detroit

Reporter Sarah Cwiek's excellent guard dog, Mencken, hails from the streets of Detroit. While strays are a big problem in the city, new data suggest previous "wild dog" estimates were hugely inflated.
Credit Sarah Cwiek / Personal photo

An animal welfare group says there are far fewer “wild dogs” running Detroit streets than many have suggested.

Detroit has captured national headlines in recent months for its stray dog problem, with some reports estimating the city was home to at least 50,000 dogs roaming the streets.

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Law
12:01 pm
Mon January 20, 2014

Canadian trucking company slammed with $75,000 Asian carp fine

Asian carp
Credit DNR

A Canadian court has slammed a trucking company and one of its drivers with a combined $75,000 fine for trying to haul live Asian carp across the U.S.-Canadian border.

Driver Yong-Sheng Zhang is with the Edmonton, Alberta-based Alltheway Trucking Inc.

Twice in early 2012, Zhang crossed the Ambassador Bridge connecting Detroit and Windsor, Ontario, with a truckload of fish from Arkansas. The fish were packed in ice, and included two species of Asian carp.

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Politics & Government
6:00 am
Fri January 17, 2014

Biden at Detroit Auto Show: 'We bet on you, and we won'

Vice President Joe Biden at the 2014 NAIAS.
Sonari Glinton NPR

Vice President Joe Biden says the US government bet on American automakers—and won.

Biden touted the auto industry’s comeback during a stop at Detroit’s North American International Auto Show Thursday.

Biden said Detroit’s automakers have come a long way since GM and Chrysler went bankrupt in 2009.

And he said that resurgence proves the government-backed restructuring worked—and saved the country from a much deeper recession.

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Auto
9:47 am
Thu January 16, 2014

Meet the workers who power Detroit's Auto Show

A Fiat product specialist at the auto show
Credit Mercedes Mejia / Michigan Radio

At Detroit’s North American International Auto Show, the focus is naturally on the cars.

But behind the scenes, more than 2,000 people labor to make sure visitors are impressed by what they see.

Detroit has hosted an auto show for over a century now. And in a place known as the Motor City, it’s always been a pretty big deal.

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Auto
12:37 pm
Tue January 14, 2014

With the Chrysler 200, automaker is looking to "redefine" a changing brand

The Chrysler 200

Chrysler introduced the car it’s promising will “redefine the brand” at Detroit’s auto show Monday.

The “flagship” 2015 Chrysler 200 is the Auburn Hills-based automaker’s first venture into the highly competitive mid-size sedan market in more than a decade.

Chrysler officials say the model will go “head-to-head” with its competitors in terms of quality, design and – at just under $22,000 – price.

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Politics & Government
5:00 am
Tue January 7, 2014

Detroit emergency manager "freezes" pension benefits, then backs off -- temporarily

Detroit emergency manager Kevyn Orr moved to “freeze” pension benefits for some city retirees — then suspended that action as the city and pension fund representatives talk in mediation.

Orr quietly issued that order late last month. It affects members of Detroit’s General Retirement System—not police officers or firefighters, who have their own, separate pension fund.

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Politics & Government
6:00 am
Mon January 6, 2014

Democrats urge extension of emergency unemployment benefits

Sander Levin

Some top members of the US House—including one from Michigan—say Congress should act on unemployment insurance this week.

Emergency federal benefits for the long-term unemployed expired in late December. 1.3 million people lost unemployment benefits immediately—including more than 43,000 in Michigan.

Michigan Congressman Sander Levin is one of the Democrats who argue it’s counter-productive to cut off the long-term unemployed.

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