Freedom of speech or . . .
In keeping with company policy, Crested Butte Mountain Resort has told a high-profile employee to not expect to work for the ski company next year.
CBMR ski patrolman Billy Rankin—who is also a Crested Butte town councilman and a vocal opponent of the ski area’s plans to expand lifts onto Snodgrass—has been informed he won’t be working for the ski company next season.
Believing the action was taken because of Rankin’s opposition to Snodgrass, the union representing the Crested Butte Professional Ski Patrol has indicated to Rankin it will file a grievance. Rankin is not sure when or where that action will be taken.
Ski patrol supervisors informed Rankin of the company decision the final weekend of the ski season.
Rankin did not want to comment extensively on the situation but said he was surprised at the resort’s action. He said he had recently received his year-end review for patrol work and it was “positive.”
CBMR chief operating officer Ken Stone said the company “doesn’t comment on personnel matters outside the company. So I don’t have a statement on the issue.”
The company has been clear in the past that it expects employees to not work against the “direction and goals” of the company but is open to ideas if presented in a suitable format inside the company.
“We are always open to suggestions and criticism from our employees and the public when presented in the appropriate way,” said Stone. “We will not choose outside vendors or suppliers or employ people who have a conflict of interest with the company’s vision or policies.”
Rankin admitted he had signed the CBMR employee handbook at the start of the season indicating that he had read and understood company policies. The handbook apparently includes a clause stipulating that employees agree not to take action against the company or put themselves into a situation where a conflict of interest could arise.
As a Crested Butte councilperson, Rankin voted to send a letter from the town to the Forest Service expressing concerns about the Snodgrass proposal and recommending the Forest Service not pursue the expansion. At the latest public CBMR master plan meeting, Rankin reiterated his opposition to Snodgrass while emphasizing he supported the success of the ski company.
“I really want to see CBMR succeed and I support them,” he said. “I just don’t agree with expanding lifts onto Snodgrass, which is just one part of the company’s plans.”
Rankin is also employed by a group hoping to get Forest Service approval for a snowcat ski operation up in the Irwin drainage. During Crested Butte council discussions on that operation, Rankin, along with mayor Alan Bernholtz (another employee of the company) stepped down from the discussion, citing a potential conflict of interest.