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

rollingroscoe / Morguefile

Wayne County is in the middle of an effort to reduce its jail population, and it’s just received some early data to help guide that effort.

The county is teaming up with the New York-based Vera Institute of Justice to figure out who goes to jail, and who might not need to be there.

Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

“I am obsessed with a goal: To eliminate blight from the city of Detroit entirely by 2025,” Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan said recently.

New Americans in Wayne County: The Demographic and Economic Contributions of Immigrants in the County / Wayne County

Immigrants are bringing outsized economic benefits to Wayne County, and helping offset an otherwise declining population in the state’s largest county.

That’s the conclusion of a new study the county commissioned from the group New American Economy.

Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

Every homeowner at least occasionally needs some tools. But they can be expensive and inaccessible for some people, especially in low-income communities.

Rebecca Williams / Michigan Radio

A Michigan Court of Claims judge has dismissed a case that would have undone the state’s new Lead and Copper Rule.

The rule went into effect last year. It toughens standards for lead in water, has more stringent sampling requirements, and requires water utilities to pay for replacing all lead service lines by 2040.

City of Detroit

Detroit and Wayne County officials say a new program could help keep thousands of the lowest-income homeowners in their homes and out of tax foreclosure.

The plan, called Pay As You Stay (PAYS), calls for cutting the amount of money people owe on delinquent property taxes. It would reduce the balance to only those back taxes, or 10% of a home’s taxable value—whichever is less.

Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

Licensed Professional Counselors, their colleagues and advocates rallied Monday night in Detroit for a State House bill they hope will let them continue doing their jobs in Michigan.

The bill would codify in law that LPCs can diagnose and treat people with mental health conditions. A proposed state administrative rule change would tighten up rules that state officials say have allowed LPCs to do that outside of their scope of practice for more than 30 years.

Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

Detroit will use a grant from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to fight lead hazards in 450 homes.

The effort will target 48209, one zip code in southwest Detroit. It was chosen because of its high percentage of very old housing stock, and high poverty rate. It’s also a designated “Opportunity Zone,” a designation for certain low-income communities that gives capital gains tax cuts for investments in those zones as part of President Donald Trump’s 2017 tax cut package.

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.

Miriam Elamine / Southwest Solutions

More than 65,000 people in Michigan experienced homelessness last year, up about 3% from 2017, according to an annual report from the Michigan State Housing Development Authority.

The report’s data is based off counts entered into a statewide agency from homeless service providers across the state. It counts the “literally homeless”—people living in shelters, on the streets, in cars, or in places like abandoned homes. It does not count people who live with friends or family members to avoid homelessness.

Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

Next week, the U.S. Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in its first-ever case dealing with transgender rights.

The Michigan transgender woman at the center of it all will be there watching.

A mosquito
flickr user trebol-a / http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

For the first time since 1980, the state will use aerial pesticide spraying to try to curb the spread of a mosquito-borne virus.

The virus is Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE). There have been nine reported human cases in Michigan so far, three of them fatal. There have also been 27 cases reported in animals, all of them fatal.

Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos used a visit to a Detroit charter school on Friday to push one of her policy mainstays—more school choice.

DeVos visited the Detroit Edison Public School Academy as the final stop on her national “back to school” tour. It was her first visit to a Detroit school as Education Secretary.

DeVos says DEPSA is an example of the benefits school choice can provide. Its students perform better on statewide tests than most comparable schools, and more than 95% graduate within four years.

DeVos’ choice to appear at a charter school was not coincidental. The DeVos family has been instrumental in reshaping Michigan’s school landscape to include more charters and school choice, and she appeared at the event alongside Dan Quisenberry, of the Michigan Association of Public School Academies (MAPSA).

Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

An Ann Arbor man says he fears he will die if U.S. immigration officials don’t act soon on his request for protected status, “based on urgent humanitarian concerns.”

Abraham Navarrete-Morales, 32, is an undocumented immigrant from Mexico who’s been in the U.S. for about 14 years. He says he was diagnosed with end-stage renal failure at age 24, and was on dialysis for years before receiving a kidney transplant last year.

Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

After months of debate and public protest, Detroit’s Board of Police Commissioners approved a policy for police use of facial recognition software by an 8-3 vote on Thursday.

The vote came after Detroit Police submitted a revised proposal that addressed some of the concerns that commissioners and activists had with facial recognition.

Detroit Police Department

Detroit Police and Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy say they have enough evidence to prosecute an alleged serial killer.

Worthy charged Deangelo Martin with the murders of four women in Detroit. They are Annetta Nelson, 57, Nancy Harrison, 52, Trevesene Ellis, 55, and Tamara Jones, 55.

Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

As Detroit Police commissioners are scheduled to vote on a policy governing police use of facial recognition technology this week, the ACLU of Michigan and other civil rights groups are urging them to reject it.

The groups also sent a Freedom of Information Act request for records on how Detroit Police have used facial recognition software. The department has used the software to help identify criminal suspects for nearly two years, without a formal oversight policy.

striking UAW workers
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio


Sarah Hulett / Michigan Radio

Residents and activists are demanding answers about exactly what happened at Detroit’s Marathon oil refinery on Thursday.

Marathon says an “unintentional release of vapor” at the southwest Detroit facility caused it to evacuate employees, call in the Detroit Fire Department, and led to some temporary road closures. Two Marathon workers were reportedly hospitalized, and the company did not address inquiries about their condition on Friday.

Citizens Research Council of Michigan

Any growth in state education spending over the past five years is being eaten up by greater teacher retiree system costs, according to a new report from the Citizens Research Council of Michigan.

Since 2012, school districts have had to return per-pupil funds to the state to cover unfunded liabilities in the Michigan Public School Employee Retirement System (MPSERS). According to current projections, those liabilities won’t be paid off until 2038.

Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

A bipartisan group of Michigan lawmakers says it’s time to change state law and let more people expunge their criminal records.

Current state law only allows people convicted of certain offenses to expunge one felony or two misdemeanors. Lawmakers say that’s too narrow, and keeps too many people from really getting a second chance—especially when it comes to getting a job.

Bytemarks / flickr http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

Michigan House Democrats have introduced a series of bills that would expand unemployment benefits, and make fuller amends to people who were falsely accused of unemployment fraud during Gov. Rick Snyder’s administration.

The legislation would increase weekly benefit payments, and extend the eligibility period for collecting unemployment from 20 to 26 weeks.

students in classroom raising hands
gpointstudio / Adobe Stock

A new report lays out the specifics behind a widely-acknowledged problem in Michigan school districts—they can’t find enough substitute teachers, and the problem is only getting worse.

The report, from Michigan State University’s Institute for Public Policy and Social Research, details just how bad and widespread the substitute shortage really is, with around two-thirds of 177 school districts reporting they have trouble finding enough subs on a regular basis. 64% reported that multiple sub positions go unfilled every week.

Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

Monday’s Detroit Labor Day parade was a low-key one by historical standards, despite being a high-stakes time for many unions—none more than the United Auto Workers.

The union is going through a tough time. Its leaders are under FBI investigation for possible corruption, as they try to bargain new contracts with Detroit’s three automakers.

Some low-income Detroiters with property tax debt should soon get a chance to get that debt wiped out, thanks to a new program from the Wayne County Land Bank.

The program will work through a legal process called quiet title. The land bank will take ownership of the home. Then it will use quiet title to clear any debt attached to the property, and return the home to the former homeowners.

The FBI on Wednesday upped its investigation into alleged corruption within the United Auto Workers with some dramatic raids on high-profile targets.

The government raided the Canton home of UAW President Gary Jones. It also raided the Corona, California home of retired President Dennis Williams, and the UAW’s Black Lake Conference Center in northern Michigan, among other targets.

Emma Hernandez poses, smiling, next to statue of a man in a hat
Courtesy of Esmeralda Samano / gofundme

The alleged owner of three dogs that attacked and killed a nine-year-old Detroit girl was arraigned on murder charges Thursday.

Family photo

In a rare move, the Michigan Court of Appeals has reversed the jury conviction of an environmental justice activist sentenced to two years in prison for brandishing a gun during a 2017 altercation in Detroit.

Siwatu-Salama Ra claims she acted in self-defense when she pointed her licensed, unloaded weapon at another woman. Ra, her mother and niece all testified at trial that the woman was enraged, and using her car as a weapon to threaten Ra’s mother and two-year-old daughter.

Antwan Green

For victims of violence, the recovery process usually goes far beyond healing from physical wounds.

But many never get help dealing with trauma and its aftermath. And sometimes, victims are treated like criminals — especially if they’re young and black.


Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

Ten years ago this month, a Wayne County assistant prosecutor found more than 11,000 untested rape kits in an abandoned evidence warehouse.

On Wednesday, prosecutor Kym Worthy celebrated the decade-long effort that followed to test those kits, investigate cases, and prosecute offenders.

All the kits have now been tested, thanks to the Sexual Assault Kit Initiative, and a multitude of partners that helped fund and facilitate that process.

Worthy’s office has now investigated and closed more than 3,000 cases, winning 197 convictions so far. Another 588 cases are still either being investigated, or have yet to be tackled.

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