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
7:00 am
Thu November 14, 2013

Duggan looks for smooth transition in Detroit

Mike Duggan
Credit Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

Detroit’s next mayor says he’s making plans to hit the ground running—but it’s unclear what powers he’ll have to implement them.

Mike Duggan named former Detroit State Representative Lisa Howze and former Detroit Police Chief Ike McKinnon to co-chair his transition team Wednesday.

They’re looking for volunteers with expertise in various parts of city government to fill out the team.

Duggan says this team will come up with an operational plan—but whether he can implement it is another matter.

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Arts & Culture
7:00 am
Wed November 13, 2013

Fire strikes Detroit's famous Heidelberg Project, again

At The Heidelberg Project
user: doug_coombe Instagram

Update:

The Heidelberg Project's Executive Director Jenenne Whitfield told the Detroit Free Press that security cameras and extra lighting will be added to the project.

Fire has destroyed another home that’s part of the Heidelberg Project, a world-famous Detroit public art installation.

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Education
11:55 pm
Tue November 12, 2013

Detroit schools issue 'child safety ID cards' to some students

A child is fingerprinted for an ID card at Detroit's Chrysler Elementary School.
Credit Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

The Detroit Public Schools will start issuing “child safety ID cards” in some elementary schools.

The ID card will contain a child’s picture, fingerprint, and other identifying information. Participation is voluntary.

District officials say the cards could help find and identify missing children more quickly.

The district will give one card to parents, and keep the information on file. They say the district will only share the card’s information with law enforcement in the event of an emergency.

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Law
7:22 am
Fri November 8, 2013

Closing arguments set to begin in Detroit bankruptcy trial

Closing arguments start Friday in Detroit’s bankruptcy eligibility trial.

Witness testimony wrapped up this week, with former State Treasurer Andy Dillon and one of Governor Snyder’s top aides, Rich Baird, both taking the stand.

Dillon testified that he was “skeptical” after seeing Detroit emergency manager Kevyn Orr’s June proposal to city creditors, which included steep cuts to unsecured creditors, including pensions.

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Law
7:20 am
Fri November 8, 2013

Protesters call for answers, justice in Renisha McBride's death

Renisha McBride
Credit Family photo

Questions persist - and outrage is growing - over the death of a young unarmed Detroit woman in a suburban community.

Renisha McBride was shot to death on the porch of a Dearborn Heights home last weekend.

The circumstances surrounding her death remain murky. The man who killed her reportedly told police he thought McBride was breaking into his home, and he shot her accidentally.

The man has not been arrested or even identified.

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Politics & Government
8:47 am
Wed November 6, 2013

Voter turnout tops expectations in Detroit

Credit Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

With emergency manager Kevyn Orr running Detroit, the city’s elected officials have very few real powers. So Detroiters could be forgiven for asking: Why bother to vote at all?

But for some Detroiters, there was no question about exercising the right to vote.

And turnout for this election was higher than expected, at upwards of 25%.

Detroit city clerk Janice Winfrey had projected that less than 25% of voters would participate.

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Politics & Government
2:06 am
Wed November 6, 2013

Mike Duggan is Detroit's next mayor

Mike Duggan greets a supporter
Credit Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

Get used to saying "Mayor Duggan," because former Detroit Medical Center CEO Mike Duggan is the new mayor-elect of Detroit.

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Politics & Government
10:28 pm
Mon November 4, 2013

Levin, Rogers: Washington dysfunction reflects "fundamental rift"

Two Michigan Congressmen say Washington has some serious problems—and things aren’t likely to get better any time soon.

Democrat Sander Levin and Republican Mike Rogers talked about the current state of national politics at the Detroit Economic Club Monday.

Rogers said stark ideological divides and constant pressure from “third party outside political groups” to toe a hard line amount to “a recipe for bad governance in the next few years.”

But Rogers said it isn’t just Congress. He thinks there’s a “fundamental rift in America today.”

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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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