Sarah Cwiek

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.

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.

Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel has gotten involved in the case of an undocumented Ann Arbor man who says he needs costly medications to stay alive after a kidney transplant.

Abraham Navarrete-Morales submitted his request for a deferral from deportation in December 2018. In recent months, his attorney Brad Thomson has been pressing U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services for a response, including going public with a plea for action last month.

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.

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

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.

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

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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).

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.

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 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.

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.

GM workers have been on strike since midnight Monday.

Company and union leaders are back at the bargaining table in Detroit. They’re trying to hammer out a new contract after GM workers walked off the job for their first strike since 2007.

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.

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.

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.

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

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.

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.

A tiny suburb in Detroit’s Downriver area has put some new restrictions on recording public meetings—some of which one attorney says seem to violate Michigan’s Open Meetings Act.

The Riverview City Council passed those restrictions last week. Among them:

Wayne County will foreclose on fewer Detroit homes this year for the fourth straight year, according to numbers the Wayne County Treasurer’s Office provided on Friday.

Wayne County has 3,023 residential Detroit properties on its tax foreclosure list right now. 1,083 of them are believed to be occupied homes.

The cities of Warren, Flint, and Jackson all had mayoral primaries on Tuesday, with the top two vote-getters advancing to November's general election.

In all three cities, the incumbents won their races and will move on.

Former Oakland County Executive L. Brooks Patterson died on Saturday, but the race to replace him is already becoming complicated and heated--and sparked public criticism from Patterson's team.

By law, Oakland County commissioners have 30 days to appoint an interim successor for Patterson. If they don’t, a special election will be held to fill the remainder of his term through 2020.

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