Subtlety is not one of Squaw Valley CEO Andy Wirth’s strong suits. Add writing a cohesive sound bite and good timing to that list.

By Andrew J. Pridgen

About the time the car was packed Friday afternoon and the tailgate was refusing to shut, Squaw CEO Andy Wirth closed his solitaire window and busted out an epic press release decrying the efforts of Incorporate Olympic Valley.

Maybe he thought, Fuck it, nobody’s paying attention to anything on the internets besides Google Maps and that Fallon video of U2 busking on a subway platform. Or maybe he had an extra tall boy with his hand roll lunch special at Mamasake.

Whatever it was, it was an incredible show of hubris-meets-confusion (<–which is what I can only hope is the title of some CEO’s, preferably Wirth’s, memoirs someday).

An arctic blast of fuck you from Wirth’s office featured the summer blockbuster headline: Placer County LAFCO’s Draft Fiscal Analysis Concludes Incorporation of Olympic Valley is Unfeasible (note to Andy: Acronyms are like emojis, they may be fun, but they have no place in your subject line) pretty much said, “I want to say fuck you Incorporate Olympic Valley but I’ll say it by saying someone else said it instead.”

I feel like a much better thing to do would’ve been just go on the group’s Facebook page and (speaking of emojis) just put a bunch of poop icons on their wall.

Happy Memorial Day.


Andy Wirth

Or he could’ve written something like: “The Incorporate Olympic Valley folks are a pain in my Recaro-Sport-office-chair-loving ass, and they need to go away and let my employer build a bunch of rough-hewn-and-granite shit that looks more dated than Jeb Bush’s foreign policy so I can restructure my bonus.”

Instead, he kicked off the weekend by twisting (a snippet from) Placer County’s local agency formation commission’s fiscal analysis of the area into saying the group’s mission to incorporate is invalid.

When in reality—and here comes the kicker—he unwittingly exposes the premise to build a big village thingy as equally if not more ridiculous than incorporation.


“The independent study confirms the prevailing wisdom, that creating a town of 500 people, based on one revenue source and dependent on tourism and weather conditions, doesn’t make sense. There aren’t enough pencils and erasers in the world to make the numbers work.” — Andy Wirth

This is the fucking best self-quoting quote ever. Here’s why:

  • Prevailing wisdom: What does that even mean? The prevailing wisdom is that Squaw used to burn down its own buildings, tried for decades to sue its KT-22 landlord into submission and that Andy Wirth is a carpetbagger from Colorado who can only pizza when he’s sliding down Sibes. I mean, whether you agree or not, it doesn’t matter…because, you know, that’s the prevailing wisdom.
  • Town of 500 people…doesn’t make sense: The state of Kansas alone has more than 400 towns with fewer than 500 people. And guess what? Not one of them is owned by a corporation. Autonomy is not merely the right of only the big and mighty—but, and maybe most crucially, the small and concerned. It’s like saying it doesn’t make sense when a poor person smiles—because, you know, they’re poor.
  • One revenue source: Um, there it is. Creating anything based on one revenue source and the unpredictability of tourism and weather is NOT a good idea. If it seems incorporation to create a taxpayer base to help usher in decorum and stewardship is ill-fated then how bad an idea is putting a bunch of Monopoly hotels that look eerily similar to the Courtyard Salt Lake City Airport on what should be a protected watershed? How ‘bout taking the DeLorean back 1998 when there was money in ski real estate and snow on the mountain and building a village business model seemed feasible—does that seem like a good plan to go unchecked? With the options for Squaw’s future dwindling faster than you can say March 2015 snowpack results, it seems engagement along with alternative looks at infrastructure management, environmental impact and income generation could benefit the area more than corporate greed.
  • There aren’t enough pencils…: Not really sure where he’s going with this one. It takes people, not pencils and erasers, to make ideas work.

Part II of Wirth’s quote is even better:

“Furthermore (FURTHERMORE!), any attempts by Incorporate Olympic Valley (IOV) to ‘grab and capture’ Transient Occupancy Tax (TOT) from other parts of the North Lake Tahoe area, amounts to a ‘taking’ that will only have negative and adverse effects for everyone who lives here, works here or visits here.”

Note to Andy part II: please budget for a proofer or at least run your press releases by someone who doesn’t let you embed ‘air quotes’ into your regular quotes. It makes it look like you’re signing someone’s yearbook, not running a business. ?

  • ‘Grab and capture’: I think that’s supposed to be a ‘thing’. Like ‘shock and awe’ or ‘peanut butter and jelly’ or ‘make it a double’. Dunno. I might be a bit behind on my research but in none of the documentation I’ve read (nearly 2,000 pages—ugh) have I seen the Incorporate Olympic Valley group try to pull a SLA-type move and steal hotel taxes Patty Hearst-style from Tahoe City or Truckee or the Marina. Oh, wait, maybe he’s talking about ‘taking’ from parent company KSL or the Death Star or Liam Neeson. Nevermind.
  • That will only have negative and adverse effects: That’s terminology you reserve for what divorce does to children, Cousin Eddie, cancer or ISIS Day at the museum. Unleashing verbiage like that on a group of concerned citizens who don’t want to resort to tying themselves to bulldozers is probably a little strong (again, especially on the Friday of a three-day weekend.) Chillax bro.

It’s too bad the Incorporate Olympic Valley Group can’t respond to a press release. Then again, maybe they’ve got better things to do, like sharpening their pencils, this Memorial Day weekend.