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.

Pages

Politics & Government
9:44 pm
Fri May 31, 2013

"Civic hackers" in Detroit this weekend

Attention civic-minded techies: Detroit needs your help.

That’s the message organizers are putting out ahead of the National Day of Civic Hacking on Saturday.

Read more
Education
1:19 am
Wed May 29, 2013

Education Achievement Authority officials: Test scores show 'phenomenal' progress

The Education Achievement Authority's motto, at Nolan Elementary-MIddle school in Detroit.
Sarah Cwiek Michigan Radio

Students in Michigan’s state-run district for the lowest-performing schools are making “impressive” strides.

At least, that’s how officials with the Education Achievement Authority are interpreting new test data.

The third set of online Scantron Performance Series tests administered to EAA students this year show what Chancellor John Covington calls “phenomenal” progress in reading and math.

District officials say 56% of all students demonstrated at least a year’s worth of progress in reading, and 65% did so in math.

Covington says most EAA students start out way behind, so it makes sense to measure growth rather than specific benchmarks.

He says these scores prove the district’s philosophy of “student –centered learning” and “meeting students where they’re at” is yielding results.

“Children aren’t able to move from one level to the next until they have clearly demonstrated they have mastered those standards and those requisite skills they need to move to the next level,” Covington says.

The district for the lowest-performing 5% of schools is only operating in 15 former Detroit Public Schools right now.

Governor Snyder is pushing to take the EAA statewide. But it’s faced considerable questions and opposition from Democrats and other critics, as legislation to codify the district in state law recently stalled in the State Senate.

Politics & Government
12:51 am
Wed May 29, 2013

Growing outrage, and calls for action on Detroit pet coke piles

Part of the petroleum coke piles on the Detroit River, glimpsed from Fort Street in southwest Detroit.
Credit Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

Residents and business owners in Detroit are worried--and outraged--about petroleum coke piles growing on the city’s riverfront.

Here's what the piles look like from Fort Street in Southwest Detroit:

That byproduct of the oil refining process is being dumped in massive piles—now several blocks long and building stories high--along the Detroit River. It’s stored in the open, and wasn’t approved through any permitting process.

Read more
Offbeat
2:58 pm
Mon May 27, 2013

'Mower Gang' takes on Detroit's overgrown parks

Mower Gang member in action.
Detroit Mower Gang Facebook

These days, services in Detroit are bare-bones—and a lot of the work that does get done is done by volunteers.

The Detroit Mower Gang is just one of the many groups tackling that work.

The group mowed grass, trimmed brush and picked up trash at parks throughout the city during their “Motown Mowdown,” a 24-hour mowing binge that also involved an overnight camp out in one park.

This is from their event announcement on Facebook:

Read more
Politics & Government
6:37 pm
Fri May 24, 2013

City Council approves $1 billion Detroit budget

The Detroit City Council has approved a more than $1 billion budget for the city’s upcoming fiscal year.

That budget is nearly the same as the one Mayor Dave Bing proposed last month.

Read more
Politics & Government
8:59 pm
Thu May 23, 2013

Duggan survives attempt to get him kicked off Detroit ballot

Mike Duggan
Credit dugganfordetroit.com

Detroit mayoral candidate Mike Duggan has survived an opponent’s attempt to get him kicked off the ballot—for now.

The challenge from opponent Tom Barrow cited language in the new Detroit city charter—and questioned whether Duggan met residency criteria to run for mayor.

Duggan moved to Detroit from suburban Livonia and registered to vote in mid-April, 2012.

Read more
Politics & Government
9:06 pm
Wed May 22, 2013

Peters uses Keystone XL vote to push for petroleum coke investigation

Gary Peters
Credit U.S. Representative Gary Peters
Read more
Health
8:40 pm
Tue May 21, 2013

Henry Ford, Beaumont health care systems call off mega-merger

Credit Adrian Clark / flickr

A planned mega-merger between two of Michigan’s largest health systems has been scuttled.

Beaumont and Henry Ford health systems are two of southeast Michigan’s three largest health care providers.

Read more
Politics & Government
8:02 pm
Tue May 21, 2013

Oakland County to appeal Fannie, Freddie case to US Supreme Court

Oakland County officials hope their lawsuit against Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac goes to the U.S. Supreme Court.

The Oakland and Genessee County treasurers are both suing Fannie and Freddie because they didn’t pay millions in so-called “transfer taxes” on a number of real estate deals.

The mortgage giants have claimed that under federal law, they’re exempt from those state and local taxes because they’re government agencies.

Read more
Politics & Government
6:34 pm
Mon May 20, 2013

Detroit state lawmakers suggest alternative auto insurance changes

Credit user H.L.I.T / flickr

State lawmakers from Detroit say they will put forth their own package of bills to overhaul m auto insurance in Michigan.

The Democrats oppose Governor Snyder’s plan to cap insurance payouts for catastrophic car accident injuries at $1 million.

Snyder and some Republicans say Michigan’s unique “no-fault insurance” policy bumps up Michiganders’ auto insurance premiums. They say their proposal will bring those rates down by $125 per vehicle for at least one year, with possible future savings.

Read more
The Environment Report
12:43 pm
Tue April 30, 2013

Detroit high schoolers explore wilder side of Belle Isle

Students from Detroit's Western International High School check out the Belle Isle Conservatory after their nature hike was rained out.
Jonathan Hoard

If you’ve heard about Belle Isle in the news lately, it was probably a story about people fighting over who should control Detroit’s famous island park. Those political fights tend to overshadow the island’s unique ecosystem. It’s a tiny fragment of what southeast Michigan looked like before industrialization.

Recently, some Detroit schoolkids got to take a look at this natural heart of Belle Isle. I had the chance to tag along.

It wasn’t a great day to be out on Belle Isle. In fact, it was pretty miserable.  It was rainy and cold, and a lot of these ninth-graders from Detroit’s Western International High School didn’t exactly dress for the weather. But too bad.

Read more
Politics & Government
7:08 pm
Fri April 26, 2013

Vote to shift federal transit funds from Detroit to suburbs opens old wounds

A rift over transit money is once again dividing Detroit from its suburban neighbors.

The Southeast Michigan Council of Governments voted Friday to shift money from Detroit’s bus system to a suburban line.

SEMCOG has temporary oversight of federal transit funds for capital investment while the new southeast Michigan Regional Transit Authority gets up and running.

Read more
Education
11:50 am
Fri April 26, 2013

FOIA documents reveal financial troubles, loans for Education Achievement Authority

The EAA's Mumford High School
Credit Brooke Harris

A suburban Detroit state representative says newly released documents raise some “serious red flags” about the Education Achievement Authority.

That state-run “reform district” for the lowest-performing schools is only operating in 15 former Detroit Public Schools right now.

State Representative Ellen Cogen Lipton, a Huntington Woods Democrat, got the information through a Freedom of Information Act request.

The records released so far reveal some financial trouble for the EAA.

Read more
Transportation
10:07 pm
Wed April 24, 2013

Detroit prepares to fight for federal bus funds

Credit Sarah Hulett / Michigan Radio

A vote this Friday could determine how federal transit money is split between Detroit and its suburbs—and Detroit officials aren’t at all happy with what’s being proposed.

Right now, that federal money is divided based on ridership. So the Detroit Department of Transportation gets about 65% of the funding, while the suburban system—known as SMART—gets 35%.

Read more
Politics & Government
7:52 pm
Tue April 23, 2013

Now on the sidelines, Detroit City Council still wants look at city contracts

The Detroit City Council wants a clearer view of what emergency manager Kevyn Orr is doing.

Some Council members said Tuesday they want to see all city contracts that Orr approves.

Those contracts are public record. Orr spokesman Bill Nowling says they’re working out “how to post them in an efficient manner,” though there’s no timeline for when that will be up and running.

Councilman Ken Cockrel Jr says that shouldn’t take too long because “it ain’t rocket science.”

Read more
Politics & Government
6:26 pm
Tue April 23, 2013

Detroit Council member, former interim mayor Ken Cockrel won't seek re-election

Kenneth Cockrel, Jr.
Credit via City of Detroit

Detroit City Council member and former Detroit mayor Kenneth Cockrel Jr. says he won’t seek re-election this year.

Cockrel is serving his fourth term on the City Council. He also served briefly as mayor after Kwame Kilpatrick resigned in 2008—but lost the follow-up election to Dave Bing.

In a statement released Tuesday, Cockrel says he’s decided that “now is the time” to leave the Council.

Read more
Politics & Government
5:46 pm
Mon April 22, 2013

Oakland County helps neighboring Macomb with IT after building fire

Mark Hackel, left, and L. Brooks Patterson
Credit via flickr

Oakland County is helping neighboring Macomb County get back online after a fire last week.

That suspected electrical fire seriously damaged Macomb’s IT department—shutting down phones and computer networks.

So Oakland County is offering Macomb staff, equipment and space to start re-building.

“Oakland County has opened up its data center to host Macomb County’s equipment and personnel on a temporary basis in order to get Macomb County back online,” says a press release from Oakland County Executive L. Brooks Patterson’s office.

Read more
Education
12:00 pm
Mon April 22, 2013

With Education Summit, some hints and questions about Snyder's education priorities

Business leaders and others share their thoughts on the future of Michigan’s education system Monday.

The Governor’s Education Summit comes just on the heels of revelations about a secret education reform work group in Lansing—and questions about how much the Governor’s vision for public education jibes with theirs.

Read more
Economy
11:33 am
Fri April 19, 2013

Report: Metro Detroit #1 for 'job sprawl'

Credit via University of Michigan/MLibrary

Detroit has the most “job sprawl” of any metropolitan area in the country, according to a new Brookings Institution report that looks at how jobs are distributed throughout metro regions.

The report found that 77 percent of metro Detroit’s jobs are more than 10 miles outside the city’s central business district. The nationwide average is 43 percent.

Read more

Pages