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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Detroit Fire truck
Oliver / Adobe Stock

Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy has turned down a request to charge the head of the Detroit Fire Fighters Association with a crime for Facebook posts that highlighted slow police response to a crime scene.

The Detroit Police Department submitted the warrant request for Fire Captain Mike Nevin.

A Livonia family medicine doctor has been sentenced to over eleven years in prison for his role in a prescription drug-diversion scheme.

Doctor Zongli Chang pleaded guilty to taking part in the scheme from 2012-2017.

Michigan State Police car
Joe Ross / Flickr - HTTP://J.MP/1SPGCl0

The Michigan State Police raided the offices of Macomb County Prosecutor Eric Smith Wednesday.

A State Police spokesman confirmed that investigators executed a search warrant at Smith’s office.

The state Attorney General’s office is investigating Smith’s alleged misuse of asset forfeiture funds.

36thdistrictcourt.org

Detroit’s 36th District Court finds itself in an unusual position: as the defendant in a new lawsuit.

The ACLU has sued the court over its cash bail practices. The federal class action lawsuit contends the court keeps too many people behind bars simply because they’re poor.


36thdistrictcourt.org

A new lawsuit aims to end cash bail and overhaul the pre-trial justice system at Detroit’s 36th district court.

The ACLU filed the federal class action suit Sunday. It argues that the 36th district’s current process for arraigning defendants violates their constitutional rights in several ways.

Mayor Mike Duggan is accusing former Detroit Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr of misleading the city on the future cost of pensions.
Courtesy of City of Detroit, Mayor's Office

Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan found himself in an uncomfortable position on Wednesday, as he defended providing city money for a program run by a woman he appears to have a relationship with.

The program is called Make Your Date, and aims to reduce pre-term births and infant mortality in Detroit. It’s run by Dr. Sonia Hassan, a professor and researcher with the Wayne State University Medical School.

Duggan and Hassan are linked by surveillance video taken by a private investigator, which showed them both entering a suburban home on multiple occasions, in Duggan’s case without his security detail. The private investigator was hired by Robert Carmack, a businessman who’s embroiled in a real estate dispute with the city and Duggan.

A demolition on Detroit's east side.
Sarah Hulett / Michigan Radio

Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan took a bit of a victory lap Wednesday, after learning that no more indictments are expected to fall on city hall from a federal probe into the city’s demolition program.

Federal authorities took an unusual step this week, and announced that no more “public officials” are likely to face charges from the years-long investigation.

Detroit Police Department

Nearly four years after he was shot by officers trying to arrest him at his father’s Detroit home, Terrance Kellom’s parents say evidence from their federal lawsuit shows the police account of their son’s death doesn’t make sense.

The initial story was that a single federal agent, Immigration and Customs Enforcement agent Mitchell Quinn, shot and killed Kellom when a multi-agency task force attempted to arrest him on an armed robbery warrant in April 2015.

Under Mayor Mike Duggan, Detroit has used federal anti-blight funds for an aggressive demolition campaign.
Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

Detroit’s two representatives in Congress are worried that state regulators may be letting hazards slip through the cracks of federally-funded demolition programs.

Reps. Rashida Tlaib and Brenda Lawrence, both Democrats, outline those worries in letters sent to the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality and Michigan State Housing Development Authority Friday.

They urge the agencies to investigate possible public health concerns from potentially contaminated demolition sites in Detroit. But they also express concerns about federally-funded blight elimination programs statewide, and urge the state agencies to fully implement recommendations from a 2017 federal report on Flint’s demolition program.

Detroit has by far the biggest demolition program in the state. It’s demolished more than 11,000 blighted homes during Mayor Mike Duggan’s tenure, mostly by using about $250 million from the federal Hardest Hit Fund.

Aiyana Stanley-Jones
Family of Aiyana Jones

The city of Detroit has settled a lawsuit with the family of a girl shot and killed by a Detroit police officer nine years ago.

Aiyana Stanley-Jones was seven years old and asleep on a couch with her grandmother when Detroit police raided their east side home looking for a murder suspect in 2010.

protesters carrying signs
Michigan Radio

Iraqis with standing removal orders are no longer protected from deportation if an immigration court hasn’t heard their case, the U.S. Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed this week.

In 2017, Detroit U.S. District Judge Mark Goldsmith had made critical rulings that gave some protection to those Iraqis at risk of deportation.

Former United Auto Workers Vice President Norwood Jewell has pleaded guilty to violating federal labor law by misusing money meant for a worker training center.

The government says Jewell was part of a wide-ranging, years-long conspiracy between Fiat-Chrysler and UAW officials to siphon funds from the automaker-supported training center. 

courtesy Movimiento Cosecha GR

An outspoken young activist leader in Grand Rapids’ immigrant rights community will remain in custody after an immigration judge denied him bond Friday.

Twenty-two-year-old Brandon Reyes is a “Dreamer,” and participant in the Deferred Action on Childhood Arrivals (DACA), the government program that protects some young, undocumented people who were brought to the U.S. illegally as children from deportation.

Jennifer Fassbender

State environmental regulators are nearing a long-awaited decision on a permit to expand a hazardous waste facility in Detroit.

U.S. Ecology first applied for a permit to expand storage capacity ten-fold at its Detroit North facility in 2015. But the application stalled in the face of major political and community opposition.

Adobe Stock

The company that owns and operates Detroit’s massive trash incinerator abruptly announced Wednesday that it’s closing down the facility.

The controversial incinerator is near the I-75/I-94 interchange on the city’s near east side, adjacent to the Midtown area. It’s been operating for three decades, though never without controversy.

Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

Oakland County Executive L. Brooks Patterson has stage four pancreatic cancer, but plans to stay in office through the end of his term while seeking treatment.

Patterson made that announcement at an emotional news conference at the county building named after him on Tuesday. He also announced that he won’t run for an eighth term in 2020.

Car accident
Daniel X. O'Neil/Flickr / https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

Michigan has two intertwined problems when it comes to car insurance rates, according to a new University of Michigan report: overall high premiums that place the biggest burden on the poorest communities.

A former student at Detroit Country Day School accuses the school of having “a culture of systemic racism” in a new federal civil rights lawsuit.

LaNard Graham, Jr.’s family is suing Detroit Country Day, an elite private school in Oakland County. Graham was a senior student-athlete there until 2016. That’s when the Grahams say they were forced to withdraw after he was allegedly caught smoking marijuana with two other students on campus.

prescription drugs
flickr/Charles Williams / Flickr - http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

Michigan is getting $10 million to battle the opioid addiction crisis from former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s foundation. Bloomberg and Governor Whitmer made the announcement Thursday in a joint editorial in the Detroit News.

Bloomberg and Whitmer say the federal government has failed to make and fund a comprehensive strategy to reduce opioid death rates.

Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

Detroit Police Chief James Craig has fired a second white police officer because of a seemingly racist Snapchat video.

Michael Garrison’s partner Gary Steele made the video after they towed a young black woman’s car for expired plates in January, leaving her to walk home in frigid temperatures. It included racially-charged commentary like “what black girl magic looks like.” Garrison can be heard saying “walk of shame.”

Craig launched an investigation into the incident and both police officers in February. He also launched an “environmental audit” of the sixth precinct, where both worked.

Mike Duggan
detroitmi.gov

Detroit’s finances are no longer under state oversight, but the city’s budget remains “tight.”

That’s what Mayor Mike Duggan told the Detroit City Council during his annual budget address Thursday.

Duggan says the budget is balanced, with a $1.1 billion general fund for the upcoming fiscal year. The city is seeing some slight growth in municipal income tax revenues, while other revenue sources remain stagnant.

U.S. Representative Rashida Tlaib
Rashida Tlaib for Congress website

City of Detroit / via Twitter

Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan’s annual state of the city speech Tuesday night focused on jobs — specifically, on “creating job opportunities for everyone” in the city.

Duggan touted several of his administration’s jobs initiatives, including his Detroit At Work program and a youth summer employment program.

calypsocom / Flickr

General Motors says it’s extending the life of its Detroit-Hamtramck Assembly Plant for another seven months.

The company had planned to close the plant in June, but GM said Friday it will now keep it open through January 2020.

power lines in trees
Steffan Vilcans / Flickr - http://bit.ly/1xMszCg

DTE Energy’s proposed rate hike will hit low-income customers the hardest and benefit them the least, according to groups who protested outside a DTE customer service center in Detroit this week.

DTE has a rate case pending before the Michigan Public Service Commission.

pile of one dollar bills
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Civil asset forfeiture. Court fines and fees. Property tax foreclosure laws.

All are things local governments in Michigan use to operate and fund themselves. And all could be changed by a new U.S. Supreme Court ruling.

The case had to do with whether police in Indiana could seize a man’s car after he was charged with selling heroin.

Even though the man was convicted, the court ruled the seizure was illegal because the car was worth many times more than the maximum fine for the crime. In other words, it was an excessive fine or fee—the kind prohibited by the Constitution’s 8th Amendment.

Credit Melinda Odisho

A danger to themselves or others. That’s the threshold set by Michigan law to put someone in a psychiatric hospital.

But many families with autistic children say meeting that definition doesn’t seem to be enough for their kids--and they don’t know what to do.

This is one family’s story.


Early this month, judges in five Michigan district courts  started using a new tool to make bond decisions.

It’s part of a new pilot program spearheaded by the Michigan Supreme Court. The judges will use a standard risk assessment to help make those bond decisions.

For Rent sign
Kurt Bauschardt / Flickr - http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

Most Detroit landlords will no longer be able do to criminal background checks on potential tenants until they’ve otherwise completed the rental application process.

City officials say the new Fair Chance Ordinance will help ex-offenders stay on the right path by offering them a better shot at secure housing when they return home. They say it’s needed in a city where about 1,000 people return from prison each year.

Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

Former Congressman John Dingell was remembered in both Michigan and Washington on Tuesday as a witty, approachable and resolute lawmaker who leaves a massive political legacy.

Dingell was the nation’s longest-serving congressman, serving parts of suburban Detroit for nearly six decades. He died last week at age 92. His wife, Debbie Dingell, now holds that seat in the U.S. House.

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