Roger Marolt: Roger This | AspenTimes.com

Roger Marolt: Roger This

Roger Marolt
The Aspen Times
Aspen CO Colorado

I am not impressed with Aspen Skiing Co.’s freedom of speech policy. Let me summarize it for you:

We at Aspen Skiing Co. support our employees in their right to exercise free speech. This policy could not be made without the full and magnanimous backing of our benevolent owners, the incredible Crown Family, and their relentless pursuit of generosity for the benefit of all mankind now and forever, or until global warming completely obliterates Aspen ( … and the rest of the world) through no fault of ours.

However, while we encourage you to speak your mind openly on any and all issues whatsoever to whomever you please at any time and any place you choose, if you are ever dismissed from your job at Aspen Skiing Co., we reserve the right to disseminate publicly any and all information from your personnel file including, but not limited to, details about your poor job performance, unseemly conduct on the job and around town, customer complaints about you, and general and specific personal hygienic practices that we judge to be offensive and/or weird against standards set by the impeccably groomed Crown Family.

Please note that with the blessings of the totally sic Crown Family this subsection of our code of employee conduct supersedes all other provisions, especially those regarding employer confidentiality as it relates to you. This means that if you decide to exercise free speech while employed by Aspen Skiing Co. and, if subsequently you happen to be fired for any reason other than for saying bad stuff about us (which, by the way, we are completely cool with), we will dump your employee file on the pressroom floor and kick it around until it is completely empty. (Note: copies of particularly incriminating documents will be provided free upon request to properly credentialed members of the media). We reserve the right to spread innuendo, imply illegal acts, and project unseemly things about you as we see fit.

We thank you in advance for continuing to vote Aspen Skiing Co. as one of the best 50 places to work in the annual Outside Magazine survey! Ballots are available at headquarters and we encourage you to fill out several each time you come by to pick up your paychecks or venerate any of our Crown Family portraits.

As you may have guessed this wasn’t printed in the employee manual. It was published in The Aspen Times! Skico President and CEO Mike Kaplan laid it out Tuesday in a full-length column announcing the firing of former Skico instructor Lee Mulcahy. Then, as if to blatantly defy self-control, Kaplan provided a follow-up letter on Wednesday. And yes, reading a shortened version of basically the same words in different order with emphasis made me feel like I was being punished, too. We get it already!

Of course, the policy as stated above is not in Kaplan’s exact words, but if you eliminate the self-congratulatory, self-serving praise he heaps on the Crown Family and The Company he is in charge of, these are the granules of pertinence that work their way through the strainer.

You can speak your mind at Skico, but be warned: If you have otherwise slipped up, it may come back to haunt you. At Skico you bank peccadilloes the same as hush money. If you say something Skico doesn’t like, you might get fired for unrelated, unforgiven sins. Then, they will not keep your secrets. The world may soon know that you are nothing more than a lazy advanced-intermediate skier who leads little girls into avalanche zones, teaches them to cuss there, and later commits fraud with their parents’ credit cards to get paid for it. No plausible explanation will be forthcoming as to why Skico tolerated this Hannibal Lector-like behavior for years until you began criticizing them.

Perhaps it was the photo of the cocksure smiling face of Kaplan carrying his skis over his shoulder, presumably on his way to the lifts on a bright sunny morning, appearing at the head of his Tuesday column that set the mood for me. I expected something more humble in a matter pertaining to the life -altering matter of delivering a pink slip; because by dressing him down in this public manner Kaplan took something much more than a measly job from Mulcahy. He may no longer be fit for ski instructing, but he is still a human being. If complete disgrace of and revenge on Mulcahy was the goal, congratulations! The head shot was appropriate. Message to the peons received, loud and clear. Have a nice time skiing, Mike.

Don’t take this to mean that I believe Mulcahy should not have been fired. It doesn’t sound like he was the model employee.* (*information courtesy of Skico) And, even though Mulcahy took his issues along with his flaws public, I don’t think Skico had to chase him there to kick his teeth in … unless they were out to make an example of him. Otherwise, fire the guy quietly. Let him make noise for a few more days and then flame out on his own.

As such temptation has become more intoxicating than hi-test snowmobile exhaust fumes for Skico executives, they didn’t leave this controversy well enough alone when every circumstance and alignment of the stars indicated they should have. Kaplan’s newspaper proclamation was a truckload of coal and a few squirts of bio-fuel on embers that wouldn’t have browned a marshmallow much less glowed to greet the next morning, even with Mulcahy blowing hot air on them.

We can only hope that the employee in charge of this failed public relations strategy had the common sense not to previously exercise their own freedom of speech, otherwise we might soon be enduring the grisly details about their personal life inside the company as yet another career torpedoes and this barely altered storyline rises once again from the ashes.


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