Lawsuit: Ex-Grand Junction official fired for blowing whistle on alleged misuse of funds

From The Daily Sentinel (Grand Junction): The former executive director of the Grand Junction Downtown Development Authority has filed a federal lawsuit against the DDA and the city, alleging he was fired last November in violation of his employment contract and his First Amendment right to talk about the alleged mismanagement of public funds.

John Schneiger, a former city manager in Fruita and Montrose, traveled from Florida to assume the post of DDA executive director in September, but was fired after less than two months on the job.

Schneiger claims he was terminated because of his repeated objections to the “misappropriation and misallocation of public” funds by the DDA board of directors, according to the complaint.

He also alleges he was fired because he raised alarms about a large, decades-old plume of petroleum waste in groundwater currently being monitored beneath the downtown area, including a stretch of Colorado Avenue he implied the DDA could be responsible for cleaning up.

There were a variety of other reasons Schneiger was fired by the board, none of them valid, following a Nov. 24, 2015, combined meeting of the DDA, Grand Junction City Council, and Business Improvement District, according to the complaint.

The city could be required to file an answer to Schneiger’s 20-page, Jan. 27 filing as soon as Feb. 17, the 20-day deadline imposed by court rules, but extensions are frequently granted.

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