Actions and consequences

Look at it from the business side. Here’s what I recently discussed with Billy Rankin, a CBMR ski patrolman and Crested Butte town councilman who regularly fights the idea of ski lifts on Snodgrass Mountain…and apparently paid with his ski company job:
As an example from my angle, if you owned the newspaper and one of your employees kept fighting your business plan, you might get tweaked.
A newspaper makes money through the ads, the subscriptions, the classifieds, the 50-cents that I know everyone drops in the red tubes around town. The business also makes money through the “legals”, which are the notices placed by local governments that you’ll find in the back of the paper.
Now, what if a guy who worked for Billy’s paper went to the town council and told them that the newspaper was big enough and the town shouldn’t award the paper those notices? “I support the paper in pretty much everything it does but the legals aren’t really needed and the paper can do other things to make money,” the employee might say to the council.
Hmmm. You might raise an eyebrow.
If the employee has a problem with the way the business is run, you might suggest he come into your office and chat. But, you’d likely ask him to not go to the board that awards the legals and fight against your paper getting what you believe to be a vital piece of commerce that could help the business thrive.
Maybe it’s the newspaper business. Maybe it’s a general contractor asking a sub that he hires for lots of jobs not to tell a potential client that another contractor might be faster. Maybe it’s a ski patrolman telling the Forest Service not to let the ski area expand onto Snodgrass. If that employee persisted, you might not want the guy working for you.
I think Billy understood that.
Rankin found himself in a similar situation. He was shocked at the news CBMR didn’t want to keep paying him (most people who get fired are a bit shocked…and I speak from experience on both ends). He says his job reviews were good and he supported the ski area on most of its plans…except for Snodgrass.
So when as a Crested Butte councilman Rankin voted to send a letter to the Forest Service asking them to shut down the process of even considering the Snodgrass expansion, which the company has said is essential to future business success, and then again spoke against lifts on Snodgrass at the CBMR master plan meeting last month, his bosses apparently got tweaked.
No one will argue that Billy isn’t a good guy. I haven’t heard any derogatory comments about his patrol work. He obviously felt it was important to take action publicly and continually against Snodgrass.
In similar discussions, he stepped down from the town council when the board discussed a future snow-cat ski operation up at Irwin. Billy is working for that company as well. He recognized the conflict of interest.
As a reporter covering Crested Butte town council meetings, it was always a bit surprising when he didn’t step down as Snodgrass was being discussed due to the conflict of interest. I’ve seen part time ski instructors in public positions step down when decisions impacting CBMR are discussed.
So the debate of whether Rankin should have been allowed to continue to voice opposition isn’t really relevant. He felt he was able to do that and he did. As a guy who is working on compassion and forgiveness, if I ran the ski company, I might consider bringing Billy back under tight parameters and a clear understanding; but I believe that was already attempted with an early season meeting and mutual understanding between Billy and ski area executives.
As I try to remember to tell my kids…your actions will have consequences.
Rankin just got a big bag of consequence up the side of the head.

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