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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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AdeptDrivers / Creative Commons

Last week, Gov. Snyder signed legislation ending the state’s much-hated Driver Responsibility Fees (DRFs). 

A metro Detroit family is going public with allegations, and video, about abuse their elderly father suffered in a Livonia nursing home.

Hussein Younes and his six children are suing Livonia’s Autumnwood nursing home.

Vice President Mike Pence told a Detroit audience Friday that the country is basking in the benefits of President Trump’s policy decisions, and that school safety is the administration’s new “top priority.”

Pence was in Detroit for an event sponsored by the group America First Policies touting Trump’s recent tax cuts. He was introduced by Michigan Attorney General and Republican candidate for governor Bill Schuette.

Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

Two Michigan members of Congress are taking a public stance in support of a Metro Detroit man facing deportation.

Ded Rranxburgaj, a native of Albania, entered the U.S. illegally in 2001. In January, he claimed sanctuary at Detroit’s Central United Methodist Church before he could be deported. The family, including two sons, has been living there ever since.

Tracy Samilton / Michigan Radio

Detroit schools superintendent Nikolai Vitti is crystal clear about his position on potentially arming teachers: It’s a bad idea, and the vast majority of teachers feel that way too.

Detroit Police Chief James Craig has a different view: that arming some highly-trained, qualified and vetted teachers would provide an “extra layer of security,” and is one option for making schools into “harder targets” for attacks like mass shootings.

Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan is throwing his support behind Democrat Gretchen Whitmer for governor.

Duggan says the former Lansing-area state senator will be an important “partner” for the city in Lansing. He pledged to work every day “for the next eight months” to drum up support for Whitmer, and boost voter turnout in Detroit.

Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

The four Democrats vying become Michigan’s next governor talked public education and public sector jobs at a union-sponsored town hall in Detroit Tuesday night.

Gretchen Whitmer, Abdul El-Sayed, Shri Thanedar, and Bill Cobbs largely agreed on the issues.

All agreed that teachers are underpaid, under-valued, and that arming them is not the answer to school shootings.

New Detroit police officers receiving their badges
Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

The Detroit Police Department wants to boost its budget and add personnel in the coming budget year, but some in the department want to focus on keeping the officers the department already has.

Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan’s budget proposes an additional $8 million for police in the coming fiscal year.

The department wants to use much of that to add another 141 employees to its ranks.

An employee at three southeast Michigan health care facilities may have unwittingly exposed more than 600 people to tuberculosis.

Those health care facilities are Saint Joseph-Mercy Ann Arbor and Livingston hospitals, and the South Lyon Senior Care and Rehab Center.

It’s believed the infected worker may have exposed patients and staff at all three places between May of last year and January of this year.

Tuberculosis is a potentially serious bacterial disease that usually attacks the lungs.

Elderly woman
Borya / Creative Commons http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

A plan to downsize a Kalamazoo nursing home that has some residents’ families and elder advocates crying foul is on hold for now, according to the facility’s CEO.

In January, the Harold and Grace Upjohn Community Care Center sent out a letter announcing imminent plans to downsize by 42 residents as part of a larger facility overhaul, saying some would have to "transition" to other locations.

marijuana bud
Garretttaggs55 / wikipedia commons

The legal confusion surrounding medical marijuana in Detroit has grown even more confusing with a judge’s surprise ruling last week.

Detroit voters passed two ballot proposals that laid out new rules governing how and where medical marijuana is permitted, transported, and sold in the city. It effectively overturned parts of an existing city ordinance that restricted where dispensaries could locate.

user BGilbow / Flickr

The Michigan Department of Transportation says it’s prepared to handle the threat of freeway flooding in metro Detroit.

Many of metro Detroit’s freeways are below-ground, and there have been some serious flooding episodes in the past few years.

An aerial view of Little Caesar's Arena.
Michigan Radio

An African American carpenter says he suffered racial discrimination and harassment on the job during the construction of Detroit’s Little Caesar’s Arena.

Harold Wilson is suing Hardman Construction, the contractor he spent just two days working for in 2015.

Wilson says he had trouble getting hired, despite a need for skilled tradesmen and Detroit resident workers. A city ordinance requires that 51% of all employees working on major development projects in Detroit be city residents.

MDHHS
Michigan Department of Health and Human Services

The state says it’s taking new steps to fix Michigan’s serious lack of inpatient psychiatric care, in hopes of jump-starting a more comprehensive fix.

Michigan largely shut down its inpatient psychiatric facilities in the 1990s. Rather than picking up the slack, community hospitals cut back too.

That means there’s now a serious shortage of beds for people who need care for an acute psychiatric crisis.

Doctor's stethoscope
Pixabay.com

A former University of Michigan pediatric rheumatologist has been arrested and is in federal custody on child pornography charges.

Dr. Mark Hoeltzel was arrested as part of a larger investigation into a sexual relationship with a female patient that started when she was 18.

Police in Ann Arbor began looking at Hoeltzel in December, when the Michigan office of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs (LARA) was investigating that alleged relationship.

State capitol
Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

The Michigan House passed a bill along party lines last week that would change how state courts deal with asbestos-related cancer cases.

Supporters of the Asbestos Bankruptcy Trust Claims Transparency Act would prevent “double-dipping” among some plaintiffs. Currently, victims of asbestos exposure can file claims in state courts against solvent asbestos companies, and an asbestos bankruptcy trust for insolvent companies.

movingmacomb.org

One of the state’s busiest highway corridors should start getting some much-needed maintenance this week.

Portions of I-696 in Macomb and Oakland counties are literally crumbling. Some motorists have reported getting hit by flying chunks of road debris.

The situation has forced the Michigan Department of Transportation to do some emergency repairs.

Macomb County Executive Mark Hackel, Oakland County's L. Brooks Patterson, Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan, and Wayne County's Warren Evans at an event in January.
Detroit Economic Club / via Twitter

With a few words during his annual State of the County address Wednesday night, Oakland County Executive L. Brooks Patterson appeared to doom an effort to revive a regional transit plan for metro Detroit.

 

Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

Gov. Snyder wants the public to turn up the heat on state lawmakers over road funding.

At a Michigan Department of Transportation facility in Oakland County Thursday, Snyder said his push is partly about the entire 2019 budget he proposed this week. It has an additional $150 million for infrastructure projects.

But Snyder also wants to bring in another $175 million of what he calls some “one-time” supplemental money that’s already elsewhere in the budget to pay for some additional projects sooner.

Detroit Lions coach Matt Patricia was indicted 22 years ago by a Texas grand jury.
Tony Brown / Michigan Radio

New Lions head coach Matt Patricia made his official debut in Detroit Wednesday, saying he’ll “work tirelessly to build a team that everyone around here can be proud of.”

Patricia, 43, comes to the Lions from the New England Patriots, where he was the defensive coordinator. He’s already made some other key coaching changes at the Lions, mostly on the defensive end.

But Patricia said his staff is still a “work in progress,” much like the team itself. He seemed to tamp down any expectations of the Lions winning championships right away.

Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

A Detroit man now faces prison time for a 2016 Facebook rant against police.

Nheru Littleton pleaded guilty to making a terrorist threat this week. That was in the form of Facebook comments making general threats against police in July 2016, including statements like “Kill all white cops!” and “F**k them police.”

Rashida Tlaib
Rashida Tlaib for Congress / via Facebook

When Congressman John Conyers was forced to step down last December in the wake of multiple sexual harassment allegations, some political observers predicted there would be a crowd vying to replace him.

They were right.

Already, seven people have announced they’re exploring bids to fill Conyers’ seat in Michigan’s 13th Congressional district, which includes a large chunk of Detroit and some surrounding suburbs.

Detroit Economic Club / via Twitter

Michigan U.S. Senator Gary Peters says former Republican Governor John Engler might not be the right person to lead Michigan State University right now.

Peters made the comments after addressing the Detroit Economic Club Monday, where his speech focused on Michigan’s future as a center of development for autonomous vehicles, and the artificial intelligence capabilities they promise.

Michigan Radio

The Metro Detroit man who’s become the face of about 200 Iraqis fighting deportation was allowed to walk free on bond after an immigration judge’s ruling on Thursday.

Usama Hamama, better known as Sam, has been in jail since he was swept up in immigration raids last June. Those raids centered in Metro Detroit, and targeted Iraqi nationals with prior criminal convictions.

Ded and Flora Rranxburgaj's younger son, Eric, speaks on his father's behalf outside ICE offices in Detroit Wednesday.
Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

Supporters of a Metro Detroit man scheduled for deportation this week rallied on his behalf outside U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement offices in Detroit on Wednesday.

With his deportation imminent, Ded Rranxburgaj and his family sought sanctuary in a Detroit church last week.

Rranxburgaj entered the U.S. illegally in 2001 and has faced deportation orders before. The government granted him stays because his wife, Flora, is seriously ill with multiple sclerosis.

The "Big Four." From left: Mark Hackel, L. Brooks Patterson, Mike Duggan, Warren Evans.
Detroit Economic Club / via Twitter

This year’s gathering of Metro Detroit’s “Big Four” political leaders highlighted more points of division than unity.

Those leaders are Wayne County Executive Warren Evans, Macomb County Executive Mark Hackel, Oakland County Executive L. Brooks Patterson, and Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan.

A spirit of regionalism did not prevail at this year’s event, held annually at Detroit’s North American International Auto Show. And the future of regional transit was a major source of contention.

A neighborhood in Detroit
Jodi Westrick / Michigan Radio

Detroit’s plan to get all city rental properties up to code launches at the start of next month.

Landlords in certain parts of the city will have 90 days to register their properties, and another 90 days to comply with a city ordinance.

Detroit updated and strengthened its rental ordinance last year, after letting it largely go unenforced for years.

Detroit Medical Center / Detroit Medical Center

The Detroit Medical Center is still trying to reach a new contract with some unionized workers at its five Detroit hospitals, after service and maintenance workers overwhelmingly rejected a tentative contract agreement earlier this month.

Those workers, who range from janitorial staff to equipment technicians, say the first deal offered by the DMC’s for-profit owner, Tenet Health Care, was simply “inadequate.”

Willie Brooks
Oakland County

The Detroit Wayne Mental Health Authority has named Willie Brooks its new CEO.

This is actually the second time Brooks has been offered the job as head of the state’s largest community mental health services provider.

Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

A Southgate family is now living above Detroit’s Central United Methodist Church.

They’ve sought sanctuary there in a last-ditch effort to save the father from a deportation order.

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