Detroit Public Schools Emergency Financial Manager Robert Bobb and Inspector General John Bell announced today the district will file suit in Wayne County Circuit Court to compel the attendance and testimony from witnesses who, through their attorneys, have refused to appear before the Investigative Hearings into questionable real estate transactions.
Some of the real estate deals being probed include the purchase of a condominium in the Fisher Building; lease of space in the Fisher building; and the construction of Cass Technical High School and the Detroit School of Arts. The district will also seek answers on certain long-term leases of school sites and other transactions.
“From my earliest moments in Detroit, a recurring set of concerns and questions were brought to my attention, and later to the attention of Inspector General John Bell through his tiplines, regarding the use of public funds on a series of real estate transactions emanating from the 1994 Bond Issue,” Bobb said. “These matters involved a huge investment of public funds-out of the some $1.5 Billion Bond Issue. As such, the public has a right to know how these funds were spent, particularly in light of allegations involving questionable transactions.”
Bobb and Bell have been holding hearings into the questionable real estate actions for several weeks.
“When we began these investigative hearings, we made clear that our goal was to shed light on questions surrounding a series of real estate deals and practices that seriously needed light shed upon them,” Bobb said. “We are, quite simply, just looking for answers.”
The powers granted through Public Act 72 of 1990 clearly provide that the Emergency Financial Manager may require the attendance of witnesses and the production of books, papers, contracts, and other documents relevant to an analysis of the financial condition of the school district, and, further, require compliance with his or her orders, by court action if necessary, Bobb said. He credited witnesses that have appeared to date.
Bobb said the district learned yesterday through their attorneys that three additional witnesses have confirmed to appearing under oath in public hearings during the first week in December. The exact dates, between December 1-4, will be set pending the conclusion of an unrelated murder trial involving one of the witness’s attorneys.
Set to appear the first week of December are: Kenneth Burnley; Robert Moore, Robert Francis
Bobb said the district will now file suit in Wayne County Circuit Court to compel the attendance and testimony from the following witnesses who, through their attorneys, have refused to appear before these Investigative Hearings: Sharon Harbin, David Farbman, Andrew Farbman, Anthony Adams
Bobb is calling on anyone with information on past real estate deals to step forward and call the DPS Inspector General hotline at (313) 870-3436.