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.

Ways to Connect

Emma Winowiecki / Michigan Radio

Under state law, Michigan counties may act as delinquent property tax collectors for their local units of government. They do this using what is called a Delinquent Tax Revolving Fund (DTRF). Here’s how it works.

Cheryl Casey / Adobe Stock

A case before the Michigan Supreme Court asks this question: How much can the government take from you if you don’t pay your property taxes?

City of Warren Police Department / via Facebook

A woman is suing a Warren police officer with a troubled history for allegedly abusing her while she was in custody.

In a federal civil rights lawsuit filed in December, Michelle Catinella says that in May of 2019, Officer Bernadette Moore shoved her face into a mirrored glass wall while she was handcuffed, leaving the glass “smeared with her blood.” This happened after Catinella told officers booking her for misdemeanor assault that she planned to file a complaint against them.

detroit police car
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Violent crime is still trending down in Detroit, according to preliminary numbers issued by the Detroit Police Department on Friday.

Police Chief James Craig says that in 2019, violent crime was down 4% from the previous year, and 16% from 2015.

Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

The U.S. EPA has begun drilling into the soil surrounding a shuttered factory in Oakland County in an effort to figure out just how much toxic chemicals left there have contaminated the surrounding area.

The former Electro-Plating Services facility in Madison Heights was responsible for the green ooze that seeped onto the shoulder of I-696 last month.

Wikimedia Commons

New estimates released Monday from the U.S. Census Bureau show the state’s population creeping upward—but still just shy of the ten million mark in 2019.

EGLE / via Twitter

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer says she’s considering more criminal charges against the owner of a hazardous waste facility that gushed toxic green ooze onto I-696 in Oakland County earlier this month.

Gary Sayers, owner of the former Electro-Plating Services in Madison Heights, is already facing a year in federal prison for environmental crimes.

Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

Some Detroit lawmakers and residents are keeping up the fight against the proposed expansion of a hazardous waste facility.

A state permit to allow U.S. Ecology to expand its Detroit operation ten-fold has been pending for years. The facility has stored and processed hazardous waste there for decades.

Gavel
Joe Gratz / Flickr - http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

A new federal lawsuit claims that regular protests outside an Ann Arbor synagogue go beyond free speech boundaries, and violate the constitutional rights of worshipers.

The lawsuit was filed by Beth Israel Synagogue congregant Marvin Gerber. It says that each Saturday since 2003, members of the groups Jewish Witnesses for Peace and Friends and Deir Yassin Remembered, led by defendant Henry Herskovitz, have protested outside the synagogue. They carry signs that the lawsuit says are “anti-Israeli and anti-Zionist,” and some that are also “flagrantly anti-Semitic.”

Aerial view of the Detroit River
Wikimedia Commons

The partial collapse of a dock once contaminated with uranium into the Detroit River did not put dangerous levels of chemicals into the waterway, according to new test results from a southeast Michigan water utility.

The Great Lakes Water Authority tested both raw and tap water from its intake site near where the dock collapsed.

DTE Energy / via Twitter

DTE Energy missed the mark with many aspects of its proposed long-term energy plan, according to an administrative law judge’s ruling this week.

Judge Sally Wallace found that some portions of DTE’s Integrated Resource Plan don’t comply with state law. DTE has submitted its required IRP to the Michigan Public Service Commission for approval, laying out how it plans to meet the state’s long-range energy needs.

Rick Pluta / Michigan Public Radio

Right to Life of Michigan has submitted what it says is enough signatures to move a proposed abortion ban on to state legislators, and the ACLU of Michigan says it’s already planning a court challenge.

The proposal would ban an abortion procedure called dilation and evacuation, the most common method used during the second trimester of pregnancy.

U.S. Department of Justice

The Trump Administration unveiled a new initiative aimed at tackling crime in some of the country’s most violent cities in Detroit on Wednesday.

U.S. Attorney General William Barr and the heads of federal law enforcement agencies announced the initiative, called Operation Relentless Pursuit, alongside Detroit Police Chief James Craig and U.S. Attorney Matthew Schneider.

Utica Education Association

The state’s second-largest school district and its teachers’ union begin mediation Wednesday, in an attempt to move contract talks that have become stalled and acrimonious.

Utica Community Schools has been bargaining with the Utica Education Association since March. The union’s contract expired in June.

Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

An undocumented Ann Arbor man with serious health problems has received a medical deferment allowing him to stay in the United States, his lawyer says.

Abraham Navarrete-Morales is from Mexico. He received a kidney transplant last year, and needs costly medications to keep his body from rejecting the organ.

Detroit Police Department

Update: Detroit Police Chief James Craig has identified the deceased officer as Rasheen McClain, 46, a 16-year DPD veteran working out of the city's 12th precinct.

Craig called McClain's death a "heartbreaking day" for the Detroit Police Department.

McClain was "a  leader. Very tactical, very much about doing a great job," said Craig, adding that the slain officer made a “conscious decision that it was time to go in and deal with a very dangerous situation.”

General Motors

United Auto Workers President Gary Jones announced on Wednesday that he’s stepping down as president and retiring from the UAW.

That comes just as the union announced it was moving to expel Jones and another top UAW official, Region 5 Director Vance Pearson.

SMART Bus
Mysid / Wikimedia Commons / http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

Wayne, Oakland, and Washtenaw counties hope that some proposed changes to state law will pave the way for an expanded regional transit system in southeast Michigan—minus Macomb County, for now.

The proposal involves changes to the state’s Municipal Partnership Act, which allows local government units to form partnerships for the purpose of funding and offering services such as transit. They would allow the three counties to create a regional entity that could levy and collect taxes to fund expanded regional transit.

Demolition
Sarah Hulett / Michigan Radio

Detroit has demolished more than 19,000 abandoned buildings under Mayor Mike Duggan.

But a new report contends that demolition program has suffered from mismanagement and lacked oversight.

Those findings are laid out in a report from Detroit’s Auditor General. Among other things, it found that city departments failed to properly supervise demolition contractors.

That resulted in things like contractors starting demolitions before they got proper permits, and failing to take proper safety precautions.

Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

Founders Brewing will re-open its Detroit tap room early next year and donate the location’s profits to local charities through 2022, in an effort to move past a disastrous episode for the Grand Rapids-based brewer.

That disaster started last month, with leaked details from an African-American Founders employee’s racial discrimination lawsuit. That employee, Tracy Evans, claimed Founders has a “racist internal corporate culture,” and that he was fired after making complaints to managers.

A retired United Auto Workers vice president has become the highest-ranking union official yet charged in a federal corruption investigation.

Joe Ashton was the union’s representative on the board of General Motors, and also sat on the board of the UAW-GM Center for Human Resources, a joint worker training center. He’s charged with fraud and money laundering.

Warren Mayor Jim Fouts
City of Warren

Warren Mayor Jim Fouts has been re-elected to a fourth term as head of Michigan’s third-largest city.

Fouts’ opponent, Warren City Council member Kelly Colegio, narrowly won the votes cast on Election Day.

But slightly more voters cast absentee ballots in the race. And Fouts won those handily, defeating Colegio with 57-percent of the overall vote.

Personal photo / via By Any Means Necessary

An Iraqi-born Michigan man who successfully resisted deportation once is now arguing he should be allowed to stay in the U.S.

Immigration agents tried to deport Muskegon resident Oliver Awshana, 31, this summer. But he put up such a fight, the pilot refused to fly with him on the plane.

On Monday, Awshana—who came to the U.S. as a teenage refugee—was back in Detroit immigration court, pleading for a second chance at asylum.

Awshana’s lawyer, Shanta Driver, said that as a Chaldean Christian with no remaining family in Iraq, Awshana will be in grave danger if returned to Iraq.

Congressman John Conyers in a light gray jacket and scarf
Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

Pillar of the civil rights movement. Champion of the underdog. Fighter for Detroit.

That’s how people who attended the late Congressman John Conyers’ public viewing this weekend say they’ll remember him.

Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

Interim Oakland County Executive Dave Coulter has had a change of heart: he now says he will run for a full, four-year term in 2020.

Coulter is a Democrat. He was the mayor of Ferndale when county commissioners appointed him to fill the vacancy left by the late Republican L. Brooks Patterson back in August.

DCI

A new University of Michigan facility will be at the heart of a new development on the edge of downtown Detroit, thanks to expected contributions from two billionaire donors.

The proposed Detroit Center for Innovation will be home to a $300 million university outpost for teaching and research in emerging high-tech fields like cybersecurity, mobility and artificial intelligence, said University of Michigan President Mark Schlissel.

Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

Fiat-Chrysler is expanding operations—and bringing jobs—to the east side of Detroit.

But it’s also expected to bring more pollution. And some residents, along with two Detroit lawmakers, want more guaranteed protections.

State of Michigan

For the third consecutive year, Flint water is testing below state and federal action levels for lead, according to data the state released on Wednesday.

In the first half of 2016, at the height of the city’s water crisis, Flint’s 90th percentile result for lead-in-water samples was 20 parts per billion.

Mark Brush / Michigan Radio

When you call the city of Melvindale’s Department of Water and Public Works these days, you’ll hear a message that goes like this:

“If you’re calling regarding recent lead sampling results for the city of Melvindale, please note that the water supply we are provided from Great Lakes Water [Authority] is safe. This applies to properties that have lead service lines going into their home.”

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Courtesy of City of Detroit, Mayor's Office

Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan says he will not punish staff members for deleting emails related to city support for a controversial program.

Duggan said Tuesday that three employees—including his chief of staff, Alexis Wiley—will instead undergo training in public document management.

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