Council could hold hearings on failed studio

Sunday Times Newspapers

ALLEN PARK — A hearing to find answers about the city’s purchase of its failed movie studio property could be a reality.

Councilman Harry Sisko introduced a resolution last week directing the city’s Legal Affairs Committee to investigate the process by and rules under which the City Council could hold hearings regarding the property, purchased in 2008 under the previous council, for $25 million.

The council has the power to hold hearings and issue subpoenas under their charter, but Sisko said no prior council has ever used it. He also said legal counsel directed the council not to hold a hearing while one spearheaded by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, begun in February 2011, is ongoing.

Sisko said the council is unaware of that investigation’s current status.

“We don’t know where it’s at,” he said. “(We) haven’t been told that.”

He said the council may begin a hearing if the SEC investigation yields nothing.

The SEC investigation began with a letter sent in February to the council, which asked questions including whether the city gave money to Unity Studio founder Jimmy Lifton to influence his decision to set up in the city, whether the city overpaid for the property, and whether they misled investors in a bond measure to pay for the studio, which pulled out of the city in late 2010 after a year at the location.

“There might be something coming up during our time that we might actually need to do this,” Sisko said. “I don’t think anyone on this council’s afraid to do that. Maybe some previous councils were.”