Sarah Cwiek | Michigan Radio

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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Jos Campau Historic District in Hamtramck, Michigan.
Andrew Jameson / Wikimedia Commons

The COVID-19 pandemic has closed the Hamtramck city clerk’s office, after City Clerk August Gitschlag and two employees tested positive for the disease.

The office closed on Monday. Hamtramck Mayor Karen Majewski told the Detroit Free Press that for the time being, all clerk-related business will be handled through the city manager’s office. Hamtramck city hall remains open.

a crowd of trump supporters stand outside of the TCF center in Detroit
Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

The counting of Detroit’s absentee ballots has been finished since Wednesday. But the TCF Center—where those votes were counted—was the site of angry protests for a third straight day on Friday.

Republican-affiliated protesters began gathering at TCF on Wednesday, demanding to be allowed into the city’s absentee counting board, and making unsubstantiated accusations of fraud even while votes were still being counted. For some reason, Detroit has been a focus point for these widespread claims, even though there were no verified reports of any election irregularities there.

Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

Michigan Senator Gary Peters is returning to the Senate for a second term.

Peters, a Democrat, defeated Republican challenger John James in a tight contest. He won the race by less than 90,000 votes.

Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

“Stop the vote! Stop the vote!”

That was one of the chants outside Detroit’s TCF Center on Wednesday afternoon, where election workers were still hard at work counting the city’s absentee votes.

Emma Winowiecki / Michigan Radio

A statewide group of around 100 organizations is banding together to create what they call the “We Make Michigan Coalition.”

The coalition is made up of a variety of grassroots community groups, faith leaders, labor unions and others.

absentee ballot boxes in a large room
Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

Election officials in Detroit and elsewhere are preparing to deal with challengers at the polls this week.

Election challengers are not new. They can work at polling place or absentee voter precincts. They can look at poll books, challenge a person’s eligibility to vote, and question the actions of election inspectors. They cannot engage voters directly, or make indiscriminate challenges.

prison bars
Flickr /

The ACLU of Michigan says medically-vulnerable immigrant detainees at the Calhoun County Jail should be released because of a COVID-19 outbreak there.

The jail houses immigrant detainees for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. The ACLU has been pushing for those deemed medically-vulnerable to be released during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

What is Proposal N?

Proposal N (“N” stands for neighborhoods) is a measure Detroit voters have on their ballots this election year.

If voters approve Proposal N, the city will have the go-ahead to issue $250 million in bonds for blight remediation—that is, either taking down or rehabbing much of the city’s remaining stock of vacant homes. Proposal N proposes to tackle around 16,000 of those vacant properties, with around 8,000 salvageable homes targeted for rehab, and another 8,000 for demolition.

A healthcare worker process a COVID-19 test at Beaumont.
Beaumont Health

Michigan reported 2,030 new COVID-19 cases on Thursday—the largest one-day increase the state has seen since the pandemic began in March.

There is some nuance to that number. A computer glitch slowed data transfers earlier this week, which means some cases reported Thursday should have come in Wednesday.

detroit police car
Facebook / Detroit Police Most Wanted Fugitives

An ongoing corruption investigation into the Detroit Police Department's narcotic unit may take up to two years, Detroit Police Chief James Craig said Wednesday.

Craig launched the investigation into what’s now called the "major violators" section after a former officer, Michael Mosley, was indicted for taking bribes from drug dealers. He subsequently pleaded guilty.

flooded street in Midland
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Two companies are facing a lawsuit after a COVID-19 outbreak among workers who helped with re-building efforts in Midland and Bay counties.

Servpro Industries and BTN Services brought the workers from Florida to mid-Michigan after this spring’s catastrophic floods.

Monroe County

A white man now faces a federal hate crime for allegedly assaulting a Black teenager in a Monroe County state park this summer, the U.S. Department of Justice announced on Tuesday.

A federal agent’s affidavit lays out the case against Lee James Mouat, 42, detailing an encounter between him and a group of Black teens at Sterling State Park on June 6.

judges gavel

A federal judge in Grand Rapids has ordered three of the men charged in an alleged terrorist plot to be held without bond.

Two other men face hearings later in the week.

Federal prosecutors laid out extensive evidence in court Tuesday against the five men charged in a plot to kidnap Governor Gretchen Whitmer. A total of 13 men face charges in the case.

At a hearing in Grand Rapids Tuesday, assitant U.S. prosecutor Nils Kessler showed pictures, videos and screenshots of text conversations among the five men.


The operator of a Detroit dock site that partially collapsed into the Detroit River late last year will pay the state $60,000 in fines.

The Revere Dock, which was illegally storing limestone aggregate along the river when the site collapsed in late November, 2019, has also entered into a consent agreement with the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy. A sinkhole also formed on the site sometime after the collapse.

City of Detroit

Detroit has issued a health order meant to provide what Mayor Mike Duggan calls “certainty and continuity” for COVID-19-related restrictions.

The order is meant to fill the void and alleviate confusion left when the Michigan Supreme Court challenged orders issued by Governor Gretchen Whitmer. The court ruled that the 1945 law Whitmer’s orders were based on was unconstitutional.

Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson says voting is more accessible than ever before this election year, and the results will be accurate—but not necessarily quick.

Benson urged Michigan voters to take advantage of early voting, which has already begun, as she picked up a ballot at a satellite clerk’s office in Detroit on Monday. It’s one of 23 satellite clerk’s offices that the city, working with Benson’s office, has established for Detroit voters to register, pick up, and cast their ballots leading up to Election Day.

Mark Brush / Michigan Radio

Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel has filed suit against a dairy farming operation she says has repeatedly “thumbed its nose” at environmental regulations.

Slater Farms is a concentrated animal feeding operation (CAFO) in rural West Michigan. According to the Attorney General’s office, it collectively owns and manages CAFOs with more than 1,500 mature dairy cows and 400 cattle. Every year, those operations produce about 8.9 million gallons of liquid waste and 1,500 tons of solid waste.

Gretchen Whitmer

Michigan is on the road to carbon neutrality by 2050, per an executive order Governor Gretchen Whitmer signed on Wednesday.

Whitmer made the announcement at a U.S. Climate Alliance virtual meeting. That’s a group of states led by governors who have committed to addressing climate change according to the framework laid out by the Paris Agreement, which President Donald Trump announced the withdrawal of the U.S. from in 2017.

Judge's gavel with books on a desk

The Michigan Supreme Court has appointed a special master to help decide whether a Wayne County judge committed judicial misconduct.

Two female prosecutors have accused Third Circuit Court Judge Bruce Morrow of making sexually suggestive and explicit comments during a 2019 homicide trial—from derogatorily comparing one prosecutor’s questioning of a medical examiner to sexual intercourse, to asking another about her height and weight (see the accusations here, and Morrow’s response to them here).

Michigan State University

The state of Michigan is launching a pilot effort to establish a wastewater surveillance system for COVID-19.

Yes, the novel coronavirus can be detected in human poop—even when people are asymptomatic, or have yet to show symptoms. And there are a number of pre-existing wastewater testing programs already running in Michigan.

Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

President Donald Trump’s son, Donald Trump Jr., campaigned for his father in Macomb County on Monday night.

Trump Jr. addressed a festive but occasionally-angry (and largely maskless) crowd at a Harrison Township boat club along with his girlfriend, Kimberly Guilfoyle. Singer Kid Rock also performed there.

someone getting a shot
Wikimedia Commons /

Some clinical trials for potential COVID-19 vaccines are going well—but don’t expect a vaccine any time this year, says an infectious disease specialist with Detroit’s Henry Ford Health System.

Dr. Allison Weinmann is involved in phase three clinical trials for Moderna's mRNA-1273 Coronavirus Efficacy (COVE) vaccine study. Henry Ford is participating in the national study, which has recruited 30,000 volunteers to receive either the vaccine or a placebo, and monitor the results for both safety and efficacy.

April Baer / Michigan Radio

Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson and Detroit city clerk Janice Winfrey have formed what they call a “partnership” to help run Detroit’s November election more smoothly.

Detroit had some election troubles during the August primary. There was a mismatch between electronic poll book entries and voter tallies in many precincts, particularly absentee voter ones. That led to calls for Benson to step in and make sure Winfrey’s office could handle things in November.

Oakdale Academy / via Facebook

Many Michigan schools are open for in-person learning.

But even those schools look very different from normal. There are a host of state requirements schools must comply with to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.

But one private Christian school is defying some of those safety mandates. And a former teacher said he was fired after he pushed back.

Detroit Will Breathe / via Facebook

Detroit Police Chief James Craig is defending officers’ use of force to break up a protest on Saturday night.

Officers used batons, gas, and other aggressive means to remove protesters gathered in a downtown Detroit intersection. 44 people were arrested.

Detroit brought in new voting equipment for 2017 elections after rampant problems with 2016 vote.
Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

The Wayne County Board of Canvassers says Detroit needs help from the Michigan Secretary of State to make sure the November election runs smoothly.

This comes after the board found discrepancies in Detroit absentee voter precincts in the August primary.

Eastern Michigan University
F. Delventhal / Flickr Creative Commons

Eastern Michigan University students will need to take a COVID-19 test before going back to school.

The university is mandating that students who will be living on campus take an at-home saliva test for the coronavirus before returning to school.

school hallway
Detroit Public Schools / Detroit Public Schools

Detroit Federation of Teachers members have given their leadership the go-ahead to strike if the union’s return-to-school safety demands aren’t met.

In a Wednesday evening vote, 91% of participating DFT members voted to authorize a “safety strike” if the Detroit Public Schools Community District doesn’t “implement basic science-based safety protocols before schools reopen during the continuing coronavirus pandemic.”

Chrystal McCadden stands next to a photo showing her son in handcuffs.
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

The ACLU of Michigan has settled a lawsuit with the Flint Police Department and an after-school program run by the Flint-Genesee Chamber of Commerce.

The lawsuit stemmed from a 2015 incident where Cameron McCadden, a seven-year-old boy with ADHD, was handcuffed by police for nearly an hour after having what witnesses described as a childhood tantrum at the after-school program.

Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

Monday was the first day in five months that Detroit’s 36th district court could start hearing eviction cases—though according to the court, hearings on some 200 eviction cases will not begin until at least next week. The court’s eviction moratorium lasted a full month longer than Michigan’s statewide moratorium.