Guest Column: Do we want Squaw Valley Ski Holdings leading us? | SierraSun.com

Guest Column: Do we want Squaw Valley Ski Holdings leading us?

Robb Gaffney

Mr. Andy Wirth and Squaw Valley Ski Holdings have underestimated our community's will and intuitive abilities.

Just as Jennifer Gurecki explored Squaw Valley leadership though a different lens in her Oct. 3 guest column, " Squaw Valley — a new direction for leadership," we need to use lenses of various shapes and sizes to help us ultimately reach core truths. This is particularly important in a system filled with high powered marketing tactics designed to inorganically sway support in one direction.

Intuition is our brain's remarkable ability to calculate mass amounts of information far before we can consciously analyze a situation. Trusting it can be hard at times, especially when its conclusions puts us in a difficult place with respect to others around us.

Use your intuition to explore the following questions with respect to Squaw Valley Ski Holdings' leadership and the regional tone that has been set in the last few years.

Have you sensed any red flags? Have you felt comfortable with speaking your mind? Have you hidden any feelings to protect your job/nonprofit or your future in the region? How does it strike you that some within your community are being paid significant sums of money to thwart the will of others within the same community?

Does the anti-town Save Olympic Valley campaign, which is heavily funded by Squaw Valley Ski Holdings, accurately reflect you, your friends, and your community? What does your gut say when you see their full page ads in the newspaper?

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What do you sense when key influential figures and athletes have to publicly vouch for Mr. Wirth's leadership and character? How does it sit with you that Squaw Valley Ski Holdings has spent $364,000 in the last six months to fight a local democratic process?

How is Squaw Valley Ski Holdings treating our community and the voices of the individuals within it? Finally, do you want the current leadership style offered by Squaw Valley Ski Holdings to form the skeletal structure of our community's future process?

Sharing your intuition with the greater community is critical for our region. Come to the table – not from a position of protecting yourself or your business, or from a place of fear — but with what sits down deep in your heart.

If you remain quiet and do not contribute, think of the weight and responsibility you'll carry when this critical chapter in Tahoe history is said and done. If you step out on a limb and speak up, think of the positivity and value you'll experience from having shaped Tahoe's future identity.

My intuition tells me that something is drastically wrong with the way Squaw Valley Ski Holdings and Mr. Wirth are attempting to lead this region.

One crucial element essential to every leader/follower relationship is trust. But the current system has a fatal flaw blocking our ability to experience it. We have a frontman of a billion dollar private equity firm attempting to be our community leader.

There is no doubt Mr. Wirth gets things done. He creates strong loyalty in those close to him. He has done respectable things for several organizations around Tahoe. Yet, each of us is left with the impossible task of assessing whether his deeds are truly altruistic or merely strategic.

Answering that question is not as important as the fact that the question even exists. It will continue to plague the leader/follower relationship as long as the system is set up like this.

More disturbing is the contagious nature of distrust and its profound and insidious effects on people and communities. Did anyone lose a sense of trust for the commercial entities that came out against the town effort?

Did your sense of respect shift for the athletes who cosigned the letter last spring that praised Squaw's leadership? What happens when these types of feelings weave into our personal lives, our business relationships, and the ways our regional communities negotiate and relate with one another?

These trust issues can be repaired. But for that to begin, Mr. Wirth and Squaw Valley Ski Holdings need to embrace and join our community rather than continue to fight it by strategically creating their own.

We are rapidly becoming a place where "skiing has a soul, this is where it dies." As a community, we can come together and show the world that "skiing has a soul, this is where it lives."

Robb Gaffney is a Tahoe City resident and former employee at Squaw Valley.