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.


9:00 am
Tue October 1, 2013

A tale of two households, and the complicated reality of living in Detroit

Jen Janke and kids.
Credit Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

It’s no secret that Detroit is much smaller than it used to be.

The city’s population peaked at a little under two million people in the 1950s. It’s declined steeply since then, to about 700,000.

People are still leaving the city. But the rate is slowing, as some people discover new reasons to move in.

Here’s a story about two Detroit households moving in opposite directions — and the different forces tugging on the city’s population.

“We really felt led to live here”

At Jen Janke’s house, conversations can get a little sidetracked.

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Politics & Government
8:51 pm
Fri September 27, 2013

Feds promise to "unlock" millions in Detroit grant money, complement private efforts

The White House is doing what it can to help Detroit—but don’t look for much financial aid to flow from Washington.

Some top administration officials told state and local leaders in Detroit Friday that the White House will “unlock” millions in federal funds for the city.

That’s largely money the city had already been granted, but couldn’t use because it didn’t meet certain federal guidelines.

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Politics & Government
8:06 pm
Thu September 26, 2013

White House officials head to Detroit meeting, with aid package in the works

Some top White House officials are headed to Detroit for a big meeting Friday.

And they're expected to announce $300 million in aid for the city.

It’s the first such meeting between federal and local leaders in Detroit since the city filed for bankruptcy in July.

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Politics & Government
8:15 pm
Wed September 25, 2013

Snyder touts business-friendly efforts at Michigan Automotive Summit

Credit Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

Governor Snyder says Michigan has become a more business-friendly place since he took office—and that’s good news for the automotive industry.

The Governor addressed industry leaders at the Michigan Automotive Summit in Detroit Wednesday.

Snyder says that in the emerging global economy, there will be a “go-to place” to on each continent to make things. And he thinks Michigan is poised to be that place in North America—but the state needs to embrace, not reject, its manufacturing past.

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Politics & Government
4:57 pm
Mon September 23, 2013

GM criticized for seeking Detroit tax abatement

General Motors wants tax incentives to help offset an investment in its Detroit assembly plant.

But some Detroiters say the bankrupt city shouldn’t be handing out subsidies to profitable carmakers.

A small group of protesters circled in front of GM headquarters in downtown Detroit Monday, demanding that the corporation “pay its taxes.”

The Reverend Charles Williams II, who led the protest, said it's not right for GM to look for tax abatements while the city is in federal bankruptcy court, and pensioners face possible cuts.

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8:07 pm
Wed September 18, 2013

Black business leaders want "a seat at the table" in Detroit re-development

The Michigan Black Chamber of Commerce says minority-owned businesses are "locked out" of Detroit development deals.
Credit Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

 There are a number of multi-million dollar development projects happening in and around downtown Detroit these days.

But according to the Michigan Black Chamber of Commerce, black-owned businesses feel left out of the boom.

Black and other minority-owned businesses have effectively been locked out of the process of re-developing Detroit, says Chamber CEO Ken Harris.

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Environment & Science
7:35 pm
Wed September 18, 2013

Biggest-ever gift to Detroit Zoo is a big deal for penguins

The Detroit Zoo announced the largest single private gift in its history Wednesday—and it’s all about penguins.

The $10 million gift from the Polk Family Fund will go toward building the Polk Family Penguin Conservation Center.

Zoo officials say the Center has been in the “planning and design” phase for two years now.

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Politics & Government
7:11 pm
Mon September 16, 2013

Crucial mediation process starts in Detroit bankruptcy case

Credit wikimedia commons

Detroit officials and some of the city’s creditors will sit down for their first official mediation session Tuesday.

The mediation was ordered by Judge Steven Rhodes, who’s in charge of Detroit’s Chapter 9 bankruptcy case. Rhodes has appointed chief federal district court judge Gerald Rosen as mediator.

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Arts & Culture
7:40 pm
Fri September 13, 2013

A flame-breathing dragon says 'Save the art' in Detroit

Flaming protest art, through the mouth of the dragon
Credit Erica Stromberg / via Facebook

What’s a good way to draw attention to the Detroit Institute of Arts’ plight?

One way might be to drive a mobile, 20 feet-tall, 60-feet-long, fire-breathing dragon to the museum.

The dragon isn’t a real dragon, of course. It’s a co-production of Detroit artist Ryan Doyle, and Hong Kong-based artist Teddy Lo.

They made the monster, named Gon KiRin, out of sheet metal, tires and other discarded materials found around Detroit.

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3:11 pm
Fri September 13, 2013

Michigan Syrians find vast resources, hard limits to helping in crisis

Syrians protesting Bashar al-Assad and chemical weapons attacks in Birmingham
Credit Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

How best to deal with the extremely messy situation in Syria?

That’s the question the U.S. government and the international community are wrestling with right now. But it’s one that Syrian expatriates have wrestled with in a different, more intimate way for more than two years.

Metro Detroit has one of the nation’s largest and oldest Syrian communities. How have they dealt with the crisis? How are they using the community’s social and economic resources to help?  

A long history, but strong ties

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Politics & Government
11:30 pm
Thu September 12, 2013

Duggan wins Detroit retirees' endorsement

Mike Duggan won the endorsement of Detroit retirees
Credit Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

A group representing more than 12,000 city retirees has endorsed Mike Duggan for Detroit mayor.

The Detroit Retired City Employee Organization is throwing its weight behind Duggan because, according to member John Eddings, “The city needs to get it right this time.”

“And looking at the candidates, there’s only one person who has the demonstrated ability to take care of the problems that we have,” Eddings said. “And that person is Mike Duggan.”

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Politics & Government
11:15 pm
Thu September 12, 2013

Some Detroit retirees might lose health care, move to insurance exchanges

Kevyn Orr
Credit Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

Detroit could end health care coverage for retired employees younger than 65.

Retiree health care costs make up about $6 billion of Detroit’s roughly $11 billion in unsecured debt.

City officials told Detroit pension trustees Wednesday that emergency manager Kevyn Orr is considering the plan. The idea isn’t new, though—Orr floated it as early as June, in his proposal to Detroit’s creditors before the city filed for bankruptcy.

Orr’s plan calls for the younger retirees to shifted onto the new insurance exchanges coming online with the Affordable Care Act.

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Politics & Government
6:39 pm
Mon September 9, 2013

Bond market cool to Michigan after Detroit bankruptcy

It looks like Michigan municipalities are finding the bond market a tough go after Detroit’s historic bankruptcy filing.

Michigan cities and school districts sold just $71.5 million worth of municipal bonds in August.

That’s the lowest amount of monthly bond issues for the state since 2003. And it’s a sign that Detroit’s bankruptcy is hurting municipalities’ ability to borrow money.

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Politics & Government
3:09 pm
Sat September 7, 2013

Detroit's Syrians show support for President Obama, US military strike

Credit Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

As Congress prepares to debate a plan of action in Syria—and President Obama tries to build support for a US military strike--Metro Detroit’s Syrian community is showing their support for American intervention.

Dozens of Syrian-Americans protested President Bashar Al-Assad’s regime in suburban Detroit Friday.

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2:48 pm
Sat September 7, 2013

New attendance policy in Detroit Public Schools

The Detroit Public Schools is tightening up its district-wide attendance policy this school year.

The policy is centered around what the district calls a “3-6-9 approach

Superintendent of academics Karen Ridgeway says the idea is pretty simple.

“There’s a reason for absences. Our whole initiative around 3-6-9 is to find out what that reason is, and to deal with that reason.”

Ridgeway says interventions begin when a child has a third unexcused absence from school.

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5:48 pm
Thu September 5, 2013

Civil rights groups "wave the red flag" about stop-and-frisk in Detroit

Credit Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

A coalition of civil rights groups is concerned about the Detroit Police adopting some controversial tactics.

The department is training officers to perform “stop and frisk” procedures during routine traffic stops.

Police officials call it “proactive policing.” But civil rights groups like the American Civil Liberties Union worry it could cross a constitutional line.

A federal judge recently found a New York City version of that program used racial profiling, and ruled it unconstitutional.

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Politics & Government
6:28 pm
Wed September 4, 2013

Detroit's historic--but troubled--Brewster-Douglass homes meet the wrecking ball

The first Brewster-Douglass low-rises coming down
Credit Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

 Detroit’s historic Brewster Douglass housing projects are coming down.

Bulldozers started with some of the low-rise complexes that dot the 18.5 acre site Wednesday. The gutted high-rises that have almost become part of the downtown Detroit skyline are slated to come down within a few months.

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Politics & Government
8:14 pm
Tue September 3, 2013

Detroit primary finally certified; now for the recount

State elections workers re-canvassing ballots in Detroit.
Credit Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

The Michigan board of state canvassers has declared Mike Duggan the winner of Detroit’s mayoral primary.

The Wayne County Board of Canvassers had Wayne County Sheriff Benny Napoleon winning the race. But they declined to certify the election, passing it up to the state.

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Politics & Government
3:06 pm
Mon September 2, 2013

Despite major setbacks, 'The Dream Continues' at Detroit Labor Day parade

Credit Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

 Machinists, teachers, police were among the many unionized workers to hit the streets of downtown Detroit Monday morning.

The city’s annual Labor Day parade draws thousands of union members from across southeast Michigan each year.

It’s typically a time for union workers to flex some muscle. But this year’s parade was as much about re-grouping after a year of setbacks.

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6:34 pm
Fri August 30, 2013

Birmingham settles ACLU lawsuit with new First Amendment policy

The city of Birmingham has settled a federal lawsuit by adopting a new free speech policy.

The Michigan ACLU sued the city after animal rights protesters were arrested last year.

Protesters with the Southwest Michigan Animal Rights Team (SMART) were holding signs and passing out literature outside a Birmingham fur store in December 2012.

Police told the protesters they had to “keep moving” in order to be there. When one protester questioned the officers, she was arrested and charged with loitering.

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