Speak No Evil

Why a federal whistleblower was taken off the case at DIA.

In its review of the charges, the OSC found little evidence to support the "draconian" transfer and termination of Deans. "The timing of actions by Solano and Zinser is persuasive evidence" that Deans was removed not for legitimate reasons but for his whistleblower activities and for exercising his right to free speech, the report concludes.

Solano says he never discussed FAA funding with Schiavo (a Bush appointee, he points out) or Pena and was "troubled" by Deans's remark. "I was offended by it," he says. "There's never been a question about my honor, my integrity or my truthfulness and candor." But he describes the personal affront as the least of his disagreements with Deans.

"An investigator should not be talking about such matters in a social context," he says. "When you couple that with some of the other incidents that took place, there was a pattern of problems."

Department of Transportation officials did not respond to requests for comment about the OSC findings. Although a federal personnel board has ordered Deans's temporary reinstatement in Denver, he still hasn't been put back on active duty, prompting the OSC to petition the board for immediate enforcement and possible penalties, including a request to withhold Zinser's salary if DOT fails to comply with the board's order.

To date, none of the numerous city, state and federal probes into DIA have uncovered any evidence of criminal wrongdoing with respect to diversion of airport funds. Three separate DOT inquiries into the city's handling of airport spending have resulted in minor disputes about proper use of airport monies, but otherwise the city has been given a relatively clean bill of health by the feds. Yet Boulware's suit continues to press the charges made by Deans and others that illegal diversions did occur, ranging from the fees paid to law firms and lobbyists to more than $400,000 set aside for planning the Gateway Project, a private development on land adjacent to DIA.

The Boulware suit is scheduled for trial next month. City officials are currently seeking to have it thrown out on technical grounds. If they are unsuccessful, then Deans may finally have an opportunity to tell what he knows where it might matter the most: in a courtroom.

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