Sarah Hulett

Assistant News Director

Sarah Hulett became Michigan Radio's assistant news director in August 2011. For five years she was the station's Detroit reporter, and contributed to several reporting projects that won state and national awards.

Sarah considers Detroit to be a perfect laboratory for great radio stories, because of its energy, its struggles, and its unique place in America's industrial and cultural landscape.

Before coming to Michigan Radio, Sarah spent five years as state Capitol correspondent for Michigan Public Radio. She's a graduate of Michigan State University.

Contact Sarah Hulett at sarah@michiganradio.org.

Pages

WINTER
5:39 pm
Fri December 3, 2010

Counties get creative to deal with winter roads

Wayne County has outfitted its trucks to clear more snow faster, and to keep salt on the roads.
Sarah Hulett Michigan Radio

Counties all over Michigan are gearing up for another winter plowing season with higher costs and fewer resources.

Wayne County has outfitted about 20 trucks with new side plows that allow crews to make fewer passes to clear snow-covered roads.

Michael Rogers is the Roads Division director for Wayne County. During a demonstration of the equipment, he pointed out an innovation that will save on salt costs. The county has rigged up its trucks to wet the salt as it’s being spread on the roadway.  

You see the salt doesn’t necessarily make it all the way over here, to us. And that’s what you want. You want the salt to get on its intended target, and that’s what it’s doing. Because before the salt would’ve been ten feet back there, and that’s a waste of our resource.

Ten years ago, Wayne County had 726 people working for the Roads Division during the winter months. This year it has a little more than 330.

Read more
Detroit Politics
5:22 pm
Fri December 3, 2010

Mayor, Council to weigh in on new Detroit charter

Detroit Skyline
JSFauxtaugraphy/Flickr

A panel that’s drafting a new governing charter for Detroit will hear recommendations from the city’s mayor and city council this weekend. 

The Charter Revision Commission is looking at everything that has to do with how Detroit operates: How many elected officials the city should have, and how much power they should wield. How to remove elected officials from office. How many departments the city should have, and what services should be mandated.

One issue on which the mayor and city council disagree is how big the city council ought to be. 

There is agreement that the city should move away from its current system of electing members at-large, and have most council members represent districts. But Mayor Dave Bing thinks the council ought to remain at nine members, while the city council is pushing to expand it to 11. 

The Charter Revision Commission is expected to have a draft document finished in March. A citywide vote on the charter is expected next November.

The Commission meets Saturday from 9 am to 5 pm, and Sunday from 1 pm to 4 pm, at Cass Tech High School in Detroit.

Read more
Economy
4:38 pm
Thu December 2, 2010

White House pushes Congress for unemployment extension

The White House is ramping up its efforts to get Congress to approve extended unemployment benefits for out-of-work Americans. Michigan's unemployment rate in October was the second-highest in the nation, at 12.8%.

The president's Council of Economic Advisers released a report that touts the need for extending benefits. The report says for the typical person getting unemployment, the benefits make up a third of the household income.  As Presidential adviser Cecilia Rouse noted:

And in those 42% of households where the unemployed person was the sole wage earner, it's about 90 percent of the income. So it's quite an important source of income for these families.

The report says about 620,000 people in Michigan received benefits through October.

Republicans in Congress say the cost of extending the benefits is too high. They want to look at budget cuts and tax cut extensions first.

Budget
5:54 pm
Wed December 1, 2010

Wayne Co. slashes paychecks by 20%

Wayne County Executive Robert Ficano is imposing a 20 percent pay cut on union employees.

The move comes after two years of negotiating failed to yield an agreement. Earlier this year, Ficano instituted unpaid furlough days after the union rejected a proposed 10 percent pay cut.

Joyce Ivory represents about a thousand workers with AFSCME Local 165. She says a state labor board ruled against that move, but Ficano pressed forward anyway.

Education
5:53 pm
Wed December 1, 2010

DPS sues union over sub issue

The Detroit Public Schools system has filed an unfair labor practice against the district's teachers' union over a substitute teacher dispute.

The president of the Detroit Federation of Teachers issued a letter to some substitutes last month telling them to stop drafting lesson plans, grading students, and holding parent-teacher conferences.

Read more
municipal finance
1:00 pm
Fri November 19, 2010

Hamtramck ratchets up bankruptcy debate

Businesses in Hamtramck, Michigan
Ian Freimuth creative commons

The city of Hamtramck is ratcheting up the pressure on the state to allow it to file for bankruptcy.

Hamtramck’s city attorney has sent a letter to Governor Granholm urging her to issue an executive order allowing the city to seek federal bankruptcy protection. The letter also says appointing an emergency financial manager would not give the city the tools it needs to correct its financial problems.

Read more
Changing Gears
10:37 am
Fri November 19, 2010

Can Detroit use lessons from Pittsburgh? - Part 4

Judy Davids launched her business PostEgram in Detroit with financial help from a business incubator.
Sarah Hulett Michigan Radio

All week we’ve been looking at the reinvention of Pittsburgh. Now, we move west to see whether the ideas that worked there can work in other places. One such city is Detroit.

Like Pittsburgh, Detroit has always faced a challenge in convincing its talented citizens to stay. Many business owners try to buck the odds and keep their businesses in the city, only to find the hurdles too high. Others find it is simply too daunting to head out on their own.

Read more
Environment
4:27 pm
Thu November 18, 2010

Refinery's neighbors protest tar sands

Theresa Landrum lives near the Marathon oil refinery, seen in the background.
Sarah Hulett Michigan Radio

People who live near Detroit’s massive Marathon Oil refinery came out as part of a national protest against a proposed pipeline in the western U.S.


The Keystone XL tar sands oil pipeline would transport heavy crude oil from Canada’s tar sands. That’s the same type of oil the Detroit plant is being retrofitted to be able to process.

Read more
Municipal finance
9:42 pm
Wed November 17, 2010

Hamtramck asks state to file for bankruptcy

The city of Hamtramck says it will run out of money at the end of January, and officials have taken the unprecedented step of asking the state for permission to file for bankruptcy.


Bill Cooper is the city manager of Hamtramck. And he says he’s been a little surprised at the uproar his letter to the state has caused.


"That one little word got a lot of attention," Cooper said, sitting in his city hall office as the phone rang with a call from a reporter.


The word: Bankruptcy.

Read more
Medical Marijuana
4:38 pm
Thu November 11, 2010

Judge to hear arguments in medical marijuana case

(lky luciano/Google Creative Commons)

DETROIT, MICH. (Michigan Radio) - A federal judge in Grand Rapids will hear arguments tomorrow in a suit challenging the firing of a medical marijuana patient.

Joseph Cassias was fired from a Walmart in Battle Creek a year ago after he tested positive for marijuana.

Dan Korobkin is an attorney for the ACLU who's representing Cassias. He says employers from across the country are watching the case.

Read more
Reviving closed schools
7:32 pm
Wed November 3, 2010

Workshop will help developers buy, repurpose school buildings

Cooley High School in Detroit. The school was one of many recently closed by DPS.
user chuckjav Creative Commons

Detroit Public Schools officials are working to educate developers on strategies for purchasing and re-using closed school buildings.

The school system will host a workshop later this month in collaboration with an historic preservation non-profit. Potential buyers will get information about possible uses for the buildings, as well as information about tax credits, codes and the purchase process.

Karen Nagher heads Preservation Wayne. She says school buildings can be a great buy:

Read more
Hackel new Macomb County executive
4:35 pm
Wed November 3, 2010

Hackel to join Patterson, Ficano as new exec

Macomb County will be represented by a county executive for the first time, starting in January. 

 

County Sheriff Mark Hackel was elected to the post – which voters approved as part of a new county charter last year. 

 

Hackel says Macomb County and the southeast Michigan region stand to benefit from the change.

 

 "I think it provides a lot more stability and the first to set forward a vision or an agenda for the county itself. We’ve never had that opportunity before," Hackel said. 

 

Governor-elect Snyder
11:14 am
Wed November 3, 2010

Snyder, Granholm meet to talk transition

Governor-elect Rick Snyder met this morning with the woman he'll replace in Lansing.
(Sarah Hulett, Michigan Radio)

Governor-elect Rick Snyder met this morning with the woman he'll replace in Lansing.

Snyder and Governor Jennifer Granholm shook hands and posed for pictures in front of reporters before the meeting.

"A lot of hard work in the next couple of months," Granholm said, "but I appreciate the commitment to working together that you've continually professed. I think that's going to be healthy for Michigan. Our team stands ready to do whatever it takes to make sure this is a smooth transition."

Read more
Energy theft
9:32 am
Tue November 2, 2010

Detroit utility struggles to stay on top of theft

DTE Energy theft investigator Keith Gross prepares a lock box to prevent thieves from tampering with a gas meter.
(Sarah Hulett, Michigan Radio)

If you walk into a gas station or a party store in the city of Detroit, you might see a flyer taped up, advertising "help with gas and lights."

But the phone number probably won’t connect to a charity program or aid organization. More likely, it’ll put you in touch with a fixer who will help you steal electricity or natural gas.

Trying to shut the problem down is a team of investigators from DTE Energy. Every day of the work week, they embark on what seems like a never-ending game of whack-a-mole.

Read more
Detroit Corruption
2:08 pm
Thu October 14, 2010

Another contractor admits guilt in Detroit corruption probe

Outside Detroit city hall
Steve Carmody Michigan Radio

A suburban businessman has pleaded guilty to a felony as part of the federal government’s investigation into a bid-rigging scheme that involved a close friend of Detroit’s former mayor.

Brian Dodds is a subcontractor from Howell, west of Detroit. He told a federal judge he submitted an inflated bid for demolition work on a public housing project so that Bobby Ferguson’s company would appear to have the lowest bid.

Read more

Pages