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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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.

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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:

Read more
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.

Read more
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:

Read more
Politics
4:56 pm
Tue September 27, 2011

Bill would circumvent light bulb efficiency standards

Federal policies will begin the phase out of the energy inefficient incandescent bulb in 2012.
user whizzer's place creative commons

The state House could vote soon to let Michigan companies ignore new federal efficiency standards for incandescent light bulbs. But they could ignore the law only if they sell the bulbs exclusively to Michigan customers.

That’s because the federal government regulates interstate commerce.

The new federal standards for incandescent bulbs will start to phase in next year.

State Representative Tom McMillan says if his bill passes, it might mean Michigan manufacturers will jump into the incandescent bulb business.

"So I think there's a chance. There's no chance if we don’t pass this. If we do, I think there's a very legitimate chance."

There are currently no factories making incandescent bulbs in Michigan. There is at least one making the new energy-efficient bulbs.

*Correction - This story has been corrected to clarify that the new federal efficiency standards do not ban the sale of incandescent bulbs. The new standards will, however, phase out the common incandescent bulb as we know it.

Auto/Economy
2:31 pm
Tue September 20, 2011

Details of UAW's new contract with GM emerge

General Motors Chairman and CEO Dan Akerson (left) shakes hands with United Auto Workers President Bob King at the beginning of the UAW/GM talks last August.
gmmedia.com

Update 2:31 pm:

This story was clarified at 2:00 pm to say that the $5,000 bonus was for ratification of the contract.

Pay raises for entry-level workers, five-thousand dollar bonuses for ratification, and better profit sharing. Those are among the highlights of the four-year contract local UAW leaders will recommend to General Motors’ 48,500 hourly workers.

UAW President Bob King says the union bargained a “great framework” for all three Detroit automakers.

    "They’re in different states of financial health, different states of debt. We’re hoping that this country bounces back and the European situation gets resolved – they all could be impacted by that. And we think we’ve got an agreement that helps us get through those periods of time, because we didn’t add many fixed costs to this agreement."    

The tentative contract promises to add or save 6,400 workers. Nine hundred of those are at Michigan plants.

It also provides for a $5,000 dollar ratification bonus, and raises for entry-level workers. UAW President Bob King says those workers will also see generous health care provisions – including free emergency room and urgent care visits.

"What worker being hired at any employer today starts out with the kind of health care plan that workers hiring into General Motors will have? What workers have unlimited doctor visits, $25 co-pay? Nobody."

The contract also calls for $10,000 dollar bonuses for eligible employees who retire in the next two years. Skilled tradesmen who retire between November First and the end of March would qualify for additional $65,000 bonuses.

Ratification is expected at the end of next week.

Michigan Radio's Sarah Hulett is at the United Auto Worker's press conference in Detroit today.

She's reporting on some details of the UAW's new contract with General Motors:

  • Entry level wages will be bumped up to $19.28/hr over the life of the contract plus a $5,000 ratification bonus.
  • Unlimited doctor appointments with $25 co-pay.
  • $10,000 bonus for eligible employees who retire within the next two years.
  • Additional $65,000 bonus for skilled trades who retire between November 1, 2011 and March 31, 2012.
  • Jobs will be added in Michigan at facilities in Warren, Saginaw and Romulus.

UAW President Bob King says the next target for negotiations has not yet been determined.

From the Associated Press:

Union leaders from General Motors factories around the country have endorsed a new four-year contract with the company.

They are recommending that GM's 48,500 factory workers approve the deal in votes during the next week.

The agreement reached Friday includes a $5,000 signing bonus and improved profit-sharing instead of hourly pay raises for most of the workers. About 2,400 entry-level workers will get raises. They now make $14 to $16 per hour, about half the pay of a longtime UAW worker.

Profit-sharing will be a minimum of $3,500 next year.

The union now will focus on negotiations with Chrysler, and Ford will be next.

Since Chrysler isn't making as much money as GM, workers there probably won't see as good of a deal.

 

Politics
5:21 pm
Mon September 19, 2011

Justice's recusal sought in emergency manager case

Michigan Supreme Court Justice Stephen Markman
Michigan Supreme Court

A group that’s filed a legal challenge to Michigan’s emergency manager law wants one of the state Supreme Court justices to recuse himself from the case.

Attorneys for the Sugar Law Center say Justice Stephen Markman has a conflict of interest that should keep him from deciding the emergency manager case.

At issue is Markman’s wife. She’s a lawyer for the state Attorney General’s office. And she’s helping to defend the same law against a legal challenge in a separate, federal case.

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Auto/Economy
5:09 pm
Fri September 16, 2011

Bill signing revives plans for Detroit patent office

Congress passed the "America Invents Act." President Obama signed it into law today. The Act could lead to a satellite patent office in Detroit.
user wallyg Flickr

Patent legislation that had a big push from Michigan’s research universities and the Detroit automakers has been signed into law.

The “America Invents Act” promises to speed up the patent process, and help reduce a backlog of some 700,000 patent applications in Washington D.C.

Part of that includes opening a satellite patent office in Detroit and two other locations.  

"It really puts the patent office in one of the invention centers of the nation, which is the Detroit area," said Steve Forrest, vice president for research at the University of Michigan.

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abdulmutallab trial
12:02 pm
Thu September 15, 2011

Judge: Abdulmutallab's hospital statements admissible

A federal judge in Detroit says she will allow prosecutors to use statements at trial made by the so-called “underwear bomber.”

At issue were statements Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab made at U of M Hospital after he was removed from Northwest Flight 253 on Christmas Day 2009.

Abdulmutallab’s stand-by attorney argued the statements should be thrown out. He said they were made after Abdulmutallab was given a powerful narcotic. And he said Abdulmutallab was never read his Miranda rights.

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Abdulmutallab trial
3:40 pm
Wed September 14, 2011

Outbursts mark "underwear bomber" hearing

Click here to see a copy of the juror questionnaire

Update 3:37 pm:

Read more
crime
2:52 pm
Tue September 13, 2011

"Underwear bomber" due back in court

The man known as the “underwear bomber” will get a look at about 300 potential jurors in federal court in Detroit tomorrow.

The jurors will hear about the case against Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab from Judge Nancy Edmunds, then fill out questionnaires. The idea is to speed the jury selection process set to start next month by finding out whether any jurors have obvious biases.

It’s also the day when Judge Edmunds will hear arguments on some unresolved pre-trial issues. Those include Abdulmutallab’s request to change the trial’s venue.

Read more
Education
12:10 pm
Tue September 13, 2011

DPS attendance jumps after anemic start

Sarah Hulett Michigan Radio

Attendance rates for Detroit Public Schools have jumped dramatically since last week – when only about two-thirds of kids expected for the first day of classes actually showed up.

Close to 56,000 students were in school on Monday. That’s about 12,000 more than the week before.

School district spokesman Steve Wasko says over the past week teams of attendance agents and volunteers have been going door-to-door to find out why students are missing. He says in many cases there’s some obstacle.

"Whether that’s a transportation concern, something we’re frankly finding more and more, and it’s an unfortunate thing, and in some cases parents saying I’m planning on sending my child to school but I have to be honest with you I can’t afford the school uniform, so we’re trying to make ends meet and grab a few dollars for that."

The school district needs to hit 75 percent of its enrollment target in order to avoid financial penalties from the state. Wasko says Monday’s attendance was a solid 85 percent.

Politics
12:05 pm
Mon September 12, 2011

Former Kilpatrick aide pleads guilty in federal corruption case

An aide to former Detroit mayor Kwame Kilpatrick has pleaded guilty to criminal charges in federal court. It’s part of a case that alleges Kwame Kilpatrick and others turned city hall into a criminal enterprise.

Derrick Miller was the chief administrative officer in the Kilpatrick administration. As part of the deal he’s expected to cooperate with prosecutors.

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Sports
10:00 am
Sat September 10, 2011

Wolverines to host first-ever night game

U of M athletic director Dave Brandon
Sarah Hulett Michigan Radio

University of Michigan football fans are gearing up for an historic game tonight, when the Wolverines host their first-ever nighttime game against Notre Dame.

There’s been plenty of hype in the lead-up to the event, and ESPN will broadcast the prime-time game.

U of M athletic director Dave Brandon said he hopes there will be more night games in future seasons:

"If this goes well, I would like to do one night game a year. If it goes well. If it doesn’t go well, it doesn’t matter what I’d like to do."

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