Sarah Cwiek | Michigan Radio
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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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Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

Detroit swore in a crop of city officials to new, four-year terms Tuesday.

Unlike four years ago, when the city was just about to emerge from bankruptcy and was still still under state control, this time nearly all are incumbents who have done the job before.

That includes Mayor Mike Duggan, who says he’s back for another full, four-year term.

Highland Park municipal building
City of Highland Park

Highland Park is a small city with a lot of vacant land. Now, it's trying to use that vacant space as an asset to lure developers.

At just under three square miles, the city is basically an enclave within the city of Detroit, along the central Woodward Avenue corridor. A once-prosperous city built on the backs of automakers, Highland Park is now close to economically destitute.

Mariam Elamine / Southwest Solutions

When the weather gets as bitterly cold as it is right now, an already-dangerous life becomes downright lethal for people living on the streets.

There are teams who try to bring in them in from the cold, if only for a couple days. But first, they have to find them.

detroit police car
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Detroit leaders say violent crime is trending downward in the city, a fact Mayor Mike Duggan and law enforcement officials touted Thursday as they released the city’s complete, but still unofficial, 2017 crime statistics. 

Police Chief James Craig admits that while the numbers are looking better, Detroit is still one of the most violent big cities in the country.

“We’re not saying we’re successful. We’re saying we’re making progress, and we want to sustain the progress,” Craig said. “And we’re doing it.”

(photo by Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio)

The Michigan Public Service Commission acted appropriately when it signed off on a 2015 rate hike for Consumers Energy customers, the Michigan Court of Appeals said in a ruling this week.

Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette and groups representing business and residential Consumers customers sued to overturn the new rates.

They said Consumers didn’t make a strong enough case for the 10.3% rate hike.

The FAST bus route along Michigan Ave.
via SMART

Three of Metro Detroit’s main traffic corridors are getting new, faster bus service along some main thoroughfares starting New Year’s Day.

The new FAST service will be run by the Suburban Mobility Authority for Regional Transportation, better-known as SMART.

FAST buses will run along Gratiot, Woodward, and Michigan Avenues, connecting downtown Detroit to points in Macomb, Oakland, and Western Wayne counties.

Michigan's Unemployment Insurance Agency (UIA) has wrongly accused tens of thousands of people of cheating on their unemployment claims.
Bytemarks / Flickr - http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

Gov. Snyder signed end-of-year bills to “modernize” the state’s unemployment system, but some say they don’t do enough to repair the damage caused when the state switched to an automated claims processing system.

Between 2013 and 2015, the Michigan Integrated Data Automated System (MiDAS) wrongly accused more than 40,000 people of fraud, sometimes going back as far as six years, and collected over $46 million in penalties. State assessments of the program during that time found false fraud error rates of at least 70%.

wikihow

Detroit has illegally collected millions of dollars in parking ticket fines since 2014, according to a federal lawsuit filed last week.

In April 2014, Detroit’s then-emergency manager, Kevyn Orr, issued an order raising ticket fines. The lowest fine was set at $45, and the city began ticketing at the higher rates in the summer of that year.

Michigan Sheriffs' Association

A federal judge has rejected an attempt to overturn her ruling that forbids the state from suspending driver’s licenses over traffic debt.

But the ruling doesn’t apply retroactively, so people who’ve already lost their licenses are out of luck for now.

U.S. District Judge Linda Parker ruled last week that suspending licenses over unpaid traffic debt violates due process rights, unless drivers get a court hearing to determine whether they actually can pay first.

A Lockheed-Martin F-35 Lightning II.
Wikipedia

Macomb County’s Selfridge Air National Guard base has lost its bid to house a fleet of next-generation warplanes.

Selfridge was one of five U.S. bases competing to host the new F-35 fighter jets.

But the Air Force announced Thursday it chose bases in Wisconsin and Alabama as winners in this round.

A bipartisan group of Michigan political leaders lobbied hard in Washington to land the F-35 and boost Selfridge’s long-term prospects.

Michigan State Police patrol vehicle shield
Michigan State Police

Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy has charged a former Michigan State Police trooper and three Detroit police officers with a slew of serious crimes, including second-degree murder.

Former MSP trooper Mark Bessner faces the murder charge. He’s also charged with two counts of involuntary manslaughter.

Michigan Department of Health and Human Services

Lansing has put Michigan’s biggest mental health agency on notice that its state certification may be in jeopardy.

That agency is the Detroit-Wayne Mental Health Authority. This year, it doled out over $700 million to community mental health service providers serving about 80,000 people.

The warning came in a December 18th letter from the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services to DWMHA leaders, after Michigan Radio reported on concerns about how the Authority conducts business.

Detroit is trying to fight a hepatitis A outbreak in the face of limited resources and low national vaccine supplies.

Detroit health department director Dr. Joneigh Khaldun talked about the city’s efforts to fight an outbreak of the viral liver disease on a conference call with other local and national health leaders Tuesday.

Michigan is one of a handful of states experiencing hepatitis A outbreaks right now. Michigan’s is one of the largest, with 610 cases and 20 deaths reported since August 2016.

Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

Detroit’s Immigration and Customs Enforcement office was the target of a Christmas-themed protest on Sunday.

The protesters want hundreds of Iraqi nationals released immediately. Nearly 300 Iraqis with criminal records have been in federal detention for months, after most were swept up in mass arrests this spring.

Richard Phillips with attorney Gabi Silver just after his release.
Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

Richard Phillips spent 45 years in prison for a murder he says he didn’t commit. But on Thursday, he emerged a free man--at least for the time being.

An artist's rendering of the as-yet-unnamed planned development on the former Hudson's site.
Bedrock

Detroit is “going vertical.”

That’s what developer Dan Gilbert said Thursday at the groundbreaking for a project set to transform the city's skyline.

The $1 billion dollar project is going up on the former site of Hudson’s Department Store. The store closed in 1983, and the building was imploded in 1998.

Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

This week, Vice News released the results of a thorough, nine-month investigation into police shootings nationwide.

If you look at it in map form, you’ll see an empty gray box near the top-center, signifying “unknown.” That’s Detroit.

University of Michigan

University of Michigan President Mark Schlissel says the school is in good shape for the next century.

Speaking Monday at the Detroit Economic Club to celebrate U-M’s bicentennial, Schlissel addressed topics ranging from its research budget and financial aid, to sexual harassment policies and a pending on-campus speaking request from well-known white supremacist Richard Spencer.

Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

Detroit’s partial recount of the November 7 general election is over.

The recount didn’t change the results of any races, but it did highlight some issues that continue to plague the city’s elections.

City clerk candidate Garlin Gilchrist requested a partial recount of that race, which he narrowly lost to incumbent Janice Winfrey.

The recount confirmed Winfrey’s win. But 33 precincts representing more than 7,000 votes couldn’t be re-tallied at all.

House Foreclosure
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

new lawsuit says Michigan’s property tax foreclosure laws are unconstitutional and amount to “government sanctioned theft.”

The case was filed this week on behalf of two men who lost Oakland County properties to foreclosure.

One of the men, Uri Rafaeli, lost a rental property in Southfield when he miscalculated the amount of interest he owed on 2011 property taxes by $8.41. Oakland County foreclosed, then sold the home for $24,500.

A diver inspects Enbridge's Line 5 pipeline under the Straits of Mackinac for a possible dent.
Enbridge inspection video shared with the state of Michigan

The state is getting public feedback on the future of Enbridge’s Line 5.

State environmental officials held the first of three public meetings on the subject in the Detroit suburb of Taylor Wednesday night.

The state released an alternatives analysis for the pipeline that runs through the Straits of Mackinac earlier this year. It’s also commissioning a risk analysis.

voting booths
user eyspahn / Flickr http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

Detroit’s election re-count carried on through a second day Wednesday.

Election workers are recounting just over 41,000 ballots cast in the November 7th election. That includes all absentee ballots, as well as results from 60 Election Day precincts with “documented issues at the polls.”

Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

Retiring Detroit Congressman John Conyers leaves behind a “rich legacy” with some “significant blemishes.”

And that entire legacy will likely be an important mold for whoever replaces him, according to Detroit historian and author Ken Coleman.

But that successor will also represent a very different district than the one Conyers represented for most of his nearly 53 years in office.

Michigan State University sign
MSU

So far, Michigan State University has refused to release findings of an internal review into how Dr. Larry Nassar was able to sexually abuse young gymnasts for years.

But that could change now that Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette has formally asked to see them.

Schuette sent a letter making that request to MSU President Lou Anna Simon Monday.

Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

Due process.

That was the rallying cry of U.S. Rep. John Conyers’ supporters, as they gathered at Detroit’s Hartford Memorial Baptist Church to mount a full-throated defense of the 88-year-old congressman and civil rights icon Monday.

Former Macomb County Clerk Karen Spranger
Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

A judge has found Macomb County clerk Karen Spranger in contempt of court.

Circuit Court Judge Richard Caretti ruled Spranger violated a court order. Among other things, the preliminary injunction and a subsequent temporary restraining order prevent her from harassing or retaliating against employees who file grievances, or engage in union activities.

Rep. Conyers
John Conyers Jr. for Congress / www.johnconyers.com/

Congressman John Conyers will make an announcement about his future “in coming days,” his attorney announced Friday.

The 88-year-old Detroit Democrat remained hospitalized for a second day for “stress-related” illness. He faces several sexual harassment allegations from former female staffers, and pressure to resign from fellow Democrats.

Conyers’ attorney Arnold Reed says that in addition to his health, a main concern is likely to be whether the Congressman can still “serve effectively.”

Conyers attorney Arnold Reed.
Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

Detroit Congressman John Conyers faces a growing number of sexual harassment allegations, and is currently in the hospital.

But his lawyer says we shouldn’t expect him to resign anytime soon.

Fellow politicians are "not going to decide his fate," attorney Arnold Reed told reporters outside the Conyers family's Detroit home Thursday. "It’s the people, the good people where we’re standing now, in this district, that said 'Yeah, we want John Conyers to represent us.'”

Former Macomb County Clerk Karen Spranger
Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

A court hearing Wednesday highlighted ongoing dysfunction in the Macomb County clerk’s office.

Clerk Karen Spranger represented herself in a case brought by her employees who are members of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees.

Spranger is accused of violating a court order preventing her from harassing or retaliating against union employees who file grievances or engage in union business.

YouTube screengrab

Michigan State University faces another federal lawsuit stemming from sexual assault allegations, this time over its handling of a 2015 incident involving a former football player.

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