Bring back Lee |

Bring back Lee

Dear Editor:

The news of ski instructor Lee Mulcahy’s firing by James Crown’s Aspen Skiing Co., or Skico, is very disappointing. Not only have they fired one of their most loyal and valuable employees, but they have taken their actions to the extreme; dabbling on the edge of risky legal behavior in the interpretation of federal law as it applies to protection of an employee’s right to work, not to mention an infringement on personal liberties.

In addition to Lee’s termination, we have just learned about Skico’s outrageous decision to ban Lee from all four Aspen Ski mountains: Aspen Mountain Ski Area, including the Gondola Plaza; Aspen Highlands Ski Area; Buttermilk Ski Area; Snowmass Ski Area, including all restaurants and hotels they run: the Snowmass Club; the Limelight Lodge; the Little Nell Hotel; Sneaky’s Restaurant; 117 AABC; the Snowmass Base Village ticket office and the Snowmass Mall Ticket Pavilion.

Skico’s ban, as stated in their proclamation, “is not limited to” the above-mentioned areas. So, basically, any property which Skico has a hand in, from Aspen to Snowmass, about 7 square miles, leaves it up to anyone’s guess where Lee can step foot in his hometown. The ban is, in essence, a good part of any property in Aspen and Snowmass, which, by the way, includes ski areas owned by the U.S. taxpayer and leased from the government. Lee will be “arrested for criminal trespass” if he enters onto any Skico property including walking up the slopes.

Beyond these extreme actions against an employee for speaking up about unfair wages, are Skico’s impressive, yet desperate, attempts at typical corporate smear campaigns via spins, shams, and smokescreens in an effort to discredit the character and performance of Lee as a ski professional. After months of legal protests by Lee and extremely bad press for Skico, they are pulling out all the stops.

We have known Lee for over 11 years. Lee has been the only ski instructor for our twins, since they were 5 years old. They are now 16. Our children ski with Lee on an annual basis and he represents a rather large Skico revenue stream over the past 11 years as he faithfully and proudly represented the impressive ranks of Skico ski instructors. He has become a dear friend on and off the slopes, and from our perspective and others, represents a picture perfect example of a ski instructor guided by the highest principles of safety, service, loyalty, integrity and spirit.

Three years ago, at the height of ski season, Lee came to Miami to attend our children’s B’nai Mitzvah ceremony, an act of selfless devotion to two 13-year-old kids whom he has molded into disciplined quick thinkers and excellent skiers. Lee has also visited other families of students to be present for milestone ceremonies.

Not only is Lee an exemplary ski professional but he has been an exemplary role model for our children and scores of others in every way. It is typical of Lee to encourage and embrace the growth and development of friends who surround him, be they ski students and their parents from all over the world or novice ski instructors on the slopes of Colorado’s mountains. The devoted and thoughtful kindness he has shown us and others is unsurpassed.

Lee’s devotion, integrity and character will not be dimmed by the unfair and heavy handed actions of Skico.

It is hoped that Skico will reinstate Lee at his previous prestigious Diamond Level and remove the outrageous ban on their properties. They should consider giving a few more dollars per hour to their rookie ski instructors, something they should have considered from the beginning, in an attempt to avoid this escalating public mess. It is a drop in the bucket for Skico and would have been a small price to pay to make everyone happy in a town where the extremes of wealth, privilege, and arrogance provoke resentment from many an employee. From a public relations standpoint at least, Skico should have gone above and beyond to temper the situation.

We implore Skico to take the challenge by reversing their decisions regarding Lee and be the Gentle Giant in a town that magnifies its haves and have-nots and where class divisions are a common debate.

Robyn and John Cassel

Coral Gables, Fla.

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