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.

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DETROIT
9:04 am
Tue November 1, 2011

Bus crisis in the Motor City leaves riders stranded

Sarah Hulett Michigan Radio

James Hill lives in Detroit and uses the bus every day. And he says he’s learned to dedicate hours to getting from point A to point B.

People who need to catch the bus to work or school in Detroit are in a jam. On any given day, about half the city’s buses are parked, waiting for repairs. That, in turn, means hours-long waits at bus stops.

Hill said he took the bus to visit his son in the hospital a couple of weeks ago. He left the hospital at 4 o’clock in the afternoon…

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Politics
5:41 pm
Mon October 31, 2011

House Majority Leader: People need fair shot, not fair share

Protestors demonstrate outside House Majority Leader Eric Cantor's speech at U of M.
Sarah Hulett Michigan Radio

The majority leader of the U.S. House says wealth redistribution is not the answer to the nation’s economic disparities. Virginia Congressman Eric Cantor spoke at the University of Michigan today.

Cantor was heckled by a handful of audience members for his message that the government should give “a hand up, not a handout” to those who need it.

He spoke to a crowd that included about a dozen people who stood with their backs to Cantor and wore shirts with slogans like “tax the rich.” Cantor said that’s the wrong message.

"The goal shouldn’t be for everyone to meet in the middle of the ladder," he said. "We should be wanting all people to be moving up, and no one to be pulled down."

Dozens of people protested outside the building where Cantor delivered his speech. Several carried cardboard tombstones with the words "RIP middle class."

U of M student Jordan Harris wore a costume to the demonstration. But not, she said, because it's Halloween.

"I'm here as a zombie to represent the lack of humanity I and my fellow zombies... see in corporate America," she said.

Cantor said the national conversation about income inequality should be about how to accelerate income mobility. He said government’s role should be to help encourage family stability, and give tools to small business that will help them thrive.

Economy
4:56 pm
Fri October 28, 2011

Flood of welfare appeals hit state

Hundreds of people have appealed to the state to keep their cash assistance benefits. More than 11,000 families are set to lose those benefits next week.

Sheryl Thompson is with the state Department of Human Services. She says people who file appeals within 10 days of receiving a cut-off notice can have their benefits continue while the case is decided, although "if the department’s decision is upheld then they will need to repay those benefit amounts."

The department is required to make a decision within 65 days of when an appeal request is filed.

New state rules strictly enforce a four-year limit on cash assistance benefits.

Science
3:15 pm
Fri October 28, 2011

Student-made satellites launch into space

A NASA rocket launched this morning carrying two satellites built by University of Michigan students.
Ben Cooper Spaceflight Now

Students at the University of Michigan got to see two satellites they built blast into space today.

Engineering Professor James Cutler said it was an exciting moment for his students to be able to watch the NASA rocket that carried the satellites fire up and launch.

"They see all their theoretical knowledge come to life," said Cutler. "They get to apply everything they’ve been learning to a real-world problem. They get to see things that are real-world and unscripted."

RAX is the name of one of the satellites. It will do atmospheric experiments and measurements for the National Science Foundation.

Noah Klugman is a junior who worked on the second satellite, called M-Cubed. It's flying a technology demonstration mission for NASA. He’ll help operate the satellite from Ann Arbor, and take pictures of Earth.

"I plan on having a lot of fun with that, and getting better with that," Klugman said. "I can’t wait for my first picture to come down."

Video of the launch was provided by NASA:

 

Auto/Economy
6:38 pm
Wed October 26, 2011

UAW declares Chrysler deal ratified, despite split

Update, 6:30 pm:

Speaking with reporters on a late afternoon conference call, UAW President Bob King says its International Executive Board followed the union’s constitution, which gives skilled trades workers a separate right of ratification on skilled trades issues.

But King says the board investigated the reasons skilled trades workers voted the contract down. He says according to Facebook posts and leaflets, the main reasons were general economic ones affecting all workers, such as bonuses - and not issues specific to skilled trades workers.

"You want to protect the rights of the minority, but you can’t let the minority overrule the rights of the majority," King said.

King says with all three contracts with the Detroit automakers now finalized, the union will turn its attention to organizing efforts, and the 2012 elections.

Here's the breakout of the vote, according to the UAW:

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Politics
8:10 pm
Tue October 18, 2011

State initiates review of Inkster's books

The city of Inkster is the subject of a financial review by the state that could ultimately lead to the appointment of an emergency manager.

State Treasury spokesman Terry Stanton says the review was ordered after city officials informed the department about its financial difficulties. He says that’s the goal of the state’s revamped emergency manager law: to get information sooner, and work with municipalities to fix their problems:

“And therefore perhaps have an opportunity to work collaboratively with a local unit to address any issues that are there.”

The preliminary review will last up to 30 days. Michigan’s new emergency manager law has spurred much controversy, a lawsuit, and an effort to repeal it at the ballot box. Critics of the law say it violates home rule.

Politics
1:00 am
Tue October 18, 2011

Controversy over Wayne County severance not going away

The controversy over a lucrative payout to one of Wayne County’s top appointees does not look like it will end anytime soon. Wayne County Commissioners plan to question officials about the $200,000 severance this week.

"I’m not going to assume this is a frequent occurrence, but I am going to say that we’re going to ask all the right questions, and find out every single one that’s ever been done," said Commissioner Gary Woronchak.

Turkia Mullin was awarded the “severance” payment when she voluntarily left her county job to head the county airport authority.

Wayne County Executive Robert Ficano announced last week that he suspended two aides and fired a contract employee for the payout. He also apologized to county residents.

Yesterday, about two dozen activists reportedly protested outside the Wayne County offices, demanding a state investigation.

Politics
2:13 pm
Mon October 17, 2011

Michigan to get $46.7 million for transportation projects

Gov. Rick Snyder says he and Detroit's mayor will head a task force to try and get a southeast Michigan transportation authority off the ground.
State of Michigan

Michigan will get close $46.7 million for 16 transportation projects across the state. U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood in Dearborn today, where he announced the funding.

Governor Rick Snyder says he and Detroit Mayor Dave Bing will also head up a task force to try and break through a decades-old effort to create a regional transportation authority for southeast Michigan. Snyder says he wants to see quick action, "because we have a legacy here of planning too long and not acting enough.”

Right now, separate bus systems serve Detroit and the suburbs. Both systems face major budget troubles. DDOT, the system that serves Detroit, has cut routes, and riders have complained about hours-long waits. Meanwhile, the suburban system, SMART, just announced massive service cuts.

"I am hopeful in a short period of time we will have a solution or more than one option in terms of how we're going to deal with that problem," said Detroit Mayor Dave Bing.

Part of that solution will come in the form of help from the federal government, which has pledged $6 million for the city to purchase new busses. Bing says he's also hoping for concessions from the union that represents the city's bus drivers.

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Politics
5:57 pm
Fri October 14, 2011

"Occupy" movement comes to Detroit

Protestors in New York City have occupied Zuccotti Park for 28 days.
david_shankbone flickr

Hundreds of people of all ages turned out in downtown Detroit for an event they’re billing “Occupy Detroit.” It’s part of a movement that started on Wall Street and has spread across the country.

"It’s to wake up," said Dobey Gavin of Detroit. "With the trickle-down economics, it just don’t work no more in America."

Richard Black is an Army veteran from Warren. He says he’s never come out to protest, but he’s fed up. Especially with politicians.

"I don’t believe that they work for the people any longer, I think they work for whoever pays them," he said. "And it’s got to stop. It’s got to stop."

Protestors plan to meet at 7 p.m. to talk about goals for the movement in Detroit.

Some of the protestors plan to pitch tents and take up residence in Grand Circus Park, near the stadiums and theater district.

Politics
5:51 pm
Fri October 14, 2011

Ficano: 2 suspended over controversial payout

Wayne County Executive Bob Ficano.
Sarah Hulett Michigan Radio

Two Wayne County appointees have been suspended over the $200,000 payout to a former economic development chief.

County Executive Bob Ficano says proper protocols were not followed when Turkia Mullin was awarded the “severance” payment when she voluntarily left her county job.

"I’m holding those who made errors in judgment accountable for their actions," Ficano said. "Mistakes have consequences."

Deputy Executive Azzam Elder and the county’s head lawyer, Marianne Talon, have been suspended without pay for 30 days. Tim Taylor, the county's former human resources director, was also sanctioned. Taylor is retired, but had a part-time contract with the county. That contract has been terminated.

Ficano says the county should never have paid a severance to an appointee who left voluntarily. That’s despite the fact that he initially defended the payment.

County officials say Turkia Mullin will return the money.

transit
12:28 pm
Thu October 13, 2011

Massive cuts coming to Detroit-area bus service

Mysid Wikipedia

Southeast Michigan’s regional bus system is getting ready to make massive cuts to its service.

Declining tax revenues due to drops in property values, fewer federal dollars, and the SMART system’s inability to win concessions from its unions are the reasons behind the cuts.

The system is looking at a 22 percent cut to its service, affecting 30 of its 53 routes.

"Certainly this is a tragedy," said SMART’s Beth Gibbons. "It’s not going to be easy for the thousands of people who depend on our service every day to get to work and to school."

Public hearings on the proposed cuts are scheduled for the first week of November. The changes could take effect as early as December 12.

About 40,000 people a day ride SMART busses.

Courts
12:02 pm
Wed October 12, 2011

Abdulmutallab pleads guilty

Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab

Update 11:53 am

Abdulmutallab's stand-by attorney, Anthony Chambers, says he's "disappointed" with the guilty plea, but said he respects the defendant's wishes.

"Certainly no lawyer worth his weight in salt would recommend a plea to life without parole," Chambers said.

Chamber said he believes Abdulmutallab is misguided and impressionable. He said the young Nigerian will not cooperate with the government.

Asked why he believed Abdulmutallab decided to plead guilty, Chambers said he thinks the statement he read upon entering his guilty plea allowed him to say what he wanted, and avoid a trial. In the statement - which Chambers said Abdulmutallab wrote himself - the defendant said his actions were a reaction to U.S. support of Israel and because of the U.S. killings of Muslims around the world. He called the bomb he carried and tried to detonate on Northwest Airlines Flight 253 a "blessed weapon." He said he was guilty of violating U.S. law, but not the law of the Koran.

Abdulmutallab faces a mandatory life sentence without the possibility of parole. He will be sentenced January 12.

Update 10:39 a.m.

Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab has pled guilty to all eight charges against him.

From the Detroit News:

He pleaded guilty to eight charges after he returned from a 45-minute recess, ending the most high-profile terrorism case in the United States since the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

U.S. District Judge Nancy Edmunds asked him if he wished to waive his right to a trial and plead guilty.

"That's right," he said.

The guilty plea marksa major victory against terrorism for the Justice Department, which was criticized by some for trying Abdulmutallab in civilian court instead of a military tribunal.

David Ashenfelter of the Detroit Free Press reports that Abdulmutallab faces 30 years to life in prison.

10:19 a.m.

The Detroit News and the Detroit Free Press are reporting that Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab is pleading guilty on charges of trying to blow up a Detroit-bound jetliner on Christmas Day 2009.

The Detroit Free Press is live blogging the trial and reports that the judge is going over the penalties with Abdulmutallab now.

Michigan Radio's Sarah Hulett is on her way to the court and will have an update for us later.

Courts
9:24 pm
Tue October 11, 2011

Prosecutors: Alleged terrorist "thought he would end up in heaven"

U.S. Marshals

Attorneys for the federal government today laid out the road map they’ll use to prosecute the young Nigerian man accused of trying to blow up a Detroit-bound airplane two years ago.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Jonathan Tukel told jurors Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab’s sole reason for being on Northwest Airlines Flight 253 on Christmas Day 2009 was to blow it up. Tukel said Abdulmutallab “thought he would end up in heaven because he would be a martyr.”

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courts
5:00 am
Mon October 10, 2011

Federal terrorism trial set to start in Detroit

A high-profile federal terrorism trial starts in Detroit tomorrow. A jury will decide whether a 24-year-old Nigerian man tried to detonate a bomb on a Detroit-bound flight two years ago.

Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab will not deliver the opening statement. He’s decided to leave that to the stand-by counsel appointed to him by the court.

That same attorney has handled most of the court proceedings so far. Anthony Chambers questioned all but one juror for the defense during jury selection.

Read more
Economy
1:00 am
Sun October 9, 2011

Wayne County set to start second round of tax auction

Detroit1701 flickr

People interested in purchasing tax-foreclosed properties in Wayne County have until Friday to submit deposits.

The second round of this year’s auction starts the following week. The minimum bid for all properties is $500.

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Politics
1:00 am
Fri October 7, 2011

Metro Detroit Arab Americans reflect on Arab Spring, foreign policy

Metro Detroit resident Ahmed Ghanim conducts an interview with U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton for the Egyptian online news and information portal Masrawy.com, at the U.S. Department of State in Washington, D.C., on February 23, 2011.
State Department

The “Arab Spring” uprisings in the Middle East and North Africa have captured the attention of the whole world. And perhaps nowhere in the U.S. are the events being followed as closely as they are in metropolitan Detroit. The region is home to almost 500,000 Arab-Americans.

Many of those immigrants and their children say so far, the U.S. response to the wave of rebellions has left them hopeful that American foreign policy in the region is headed in the right direction.

“The game is changing”

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Courts
3:09 pm
Thu October 6, 2011

Jury finalized in case against alleged terrorist

U.S. Marshals

Update 3:02 pm:

The demographics are now in on the jury. With the last-minute change that took the Nigerian woman out of the mix, it looks like this:

The 12-member jury:

  • Three white men
  • Six white women
  • Two black women
  • One Indian woman

The alternates:

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Abdulmutallab trial
5:21 pm
Tue October 4, 2011

Jury selection in "underwear bomber" case begins

U.S. Marshals

Update 5:15 pm:

Judge Nancy Edmunds has recessed today's proceedings. The count so far: 20 jurors made it into the pool of potential jurors and will proceed to the final round of jury selection - 16 women, and four men. Seven were excused - three of them for bias. Two were excused for job-related reasons, one for mental health. The final juror who was excused has a wife with medical needs and expressed some frustration with his previous experiences with the courts.

The 13 jurors who were not questioned today will be questioned tomorrow, and 27 more jurors will also be called. Judge Edmunds is looking to have about three dozen prospective jurors in the pool for the second, final phase of jury selection - tentatively set for Thursday afternoon.

1:12 pm:

The first phase of jury selection is under way for the man accused of trying to blow up a Detroit-bound airliner on Christmas 2009.

So far five of the 17 jurors questioned have been excused.

Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab shouted, "Sheik Anwar is alive!" upon entering the courtroom. He also said "I will defend Muhammad," and likened the U.S. to a "cancer."

Judge Nancy Edmunds urged Abdulmutallab to change out of his prison clothes to make a better impression on potential jurors. After a brief back-and-forth, the defendant was escorted downstairs and returned wearing a dark blazer over a tan robe with white gym socks and wing tips.

Three of the jurors who were excused said they would have trouble putting aside their belief that Abdulmutallab is guilty.

"I shouldn't be this way, but this one just bothers me," said one. "I just have this guilty verdict in me."

Science/Medicine
5:10 pm
Mon October 3, 2011

State adds "bubble boy disease" to newborn screening panel

The state of Michigan will now screen newborns for Severe Combined Immunodificiency.
Stevenfruitsmaak wikimedia commons

The state of Michigan is now screening newborn babies for a deadly disorder that affects the immune system.

Severe Combined Immunodeficiency – or SCID – is often called “bubble boy disease.” It became widely known after a Texas boy lived with the illness for 12 years, most of it in a sterile bubble to avoid infections.

The disorder affects one in every 50,000 children. If it’s left untreated, the disease usually kills children before their first birthday. But bone marrow transplants in the early months of life can allow children to live into their 20s and sometimes much longer.

The Michigan Department of Community Health says six other states already screen for the disorder.

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Politics
3:24 pm
Wed September 28, 2011

State to close Mound prison

State prison officials say Mound Correctional Facility in Detroit will close in January as part of a broader effort to cut costs by more than $60 million a year.

Mound will be the 15th correctional facility to close in about five years. The state’s prison population is down about 8,300 inmates since March of 2007.

One of the reasons Mound was chosen for closure is because there are other facilities that are relatively close by, says Michigan Department of Corrections spokesman Russ Marlan:

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