Advice from on high 

Ranger Rich

The holiday season is upon us, and Broadmoor CEO/president Steve Bartolin is a busy man. Take, for example, his nightly drive up to NORAD to explain sheepishly why all their lights go out when The Broadmoor plugs in its Christmas tree.

He also oversees the hotel's winter pageant, a local twist on A Christmas Carol in which Scrooge spends two hours trying to cheer up Doug Bruce. (You might not want to bring the kids. In the final 30 minutes, each time Doug smiles, somewhere an elf dies.)

But even with those and other duties, Bartolin somehow found time recently to write a very long letter telling our City Council how to run the village. The Councilors are pretty darn smart, as you know, and responded to the criticism in the manner we've come to expect: They got a photo of Bartolin and drew eyeglasses and a goatee on him.

I tried to speak with The Broadmoor CEO this week to ask about the letter, but he did not return my phone calls. He was probably busy with the feeding of the ducks, a charming Broadmoor holiday tradition in which the boss himself hand-feeds cracked corn to the hotel's flock of cute, waddly birds. (Because of this, the ducks no longer fear people and almost trip over each other to get in line when Chef Jean-Pierre comes out and asks: "OK, who want to see zee kitchen?")

Here now, an actual observation from Bartolin on the village's budget cuts contained in the four-page letter: "It doesn't appear to be a popular solution to cut police and fire or not replace street lamps or water parks or close the museum or require temporary furloughs. It appears to be making people angrier."

This anger can be seen in many ways, from the steady stream of harsh letters to the editor in this paper to the way Mayor Lionel Rivera now huddles inside his Ray Marshall-built castle and uses a trebuchet to launch cauldrons of burning oil onto the mob of villagers who gather in his driveway each night.

Seriously, Bartolin writes that his experience running The Broadmoor can be useful in running the city. And so today I am proud to announce that starting next Wednesday, homeless people in our village will be allowed to sleep in any Colorado Springs city park.

For the special rate of just $289 per night. Per person, double occupancy. Plus tax.

No, really, Bartolin noted that the city has had 81 people in its information technology department. "We have some ultra-sophisticated and integrated systems and a large PC network," Bartolin writes about The Broadmoor IT Department. "In addition, we provide 24-hour IT customer service to all of our guests. We do this with 9 people."

Not that The Broadmoor doesn't have an occasional glitch. Just last week when I was staying in the Spencer Penrose suite, I tried to place a long-distance call and a lamp and the mini-bar exploded, leaving me covered in broken glass and 26-year-old Scotch. Although, frankly, it's possible I drank too much and fell out of a window.

Bartolin saves his harshest criticism for the city-owned Utilities, pointing out that it has some 60 people in its human resources department. "We have 13," Bartolin writes, "yet we have over 1,800 employees compared to their 1,300."

To which I would say, "Sure, but those 1,300 Utilities employees often do the work of 300 people."

Bartolin also noted that Utilities now has about 30 people in its communications department and yet also pays for the services of an outside public relations company.

"We have one person in PR," Bartolin wrote, "and we have to compete for our business across the nation."

(Personal note: At exactly 8 a.m. on June 3, 1996, I left a voicemail for The Broadmoor's PR director and was mildly surprised to get a return phone call from her at 8:15 a.m. On Aug. 26, 2007.)

The other big difference, of course, is that unlike Utilities, retiring workers at The Broadmoor don't get a gold watch. Bartolin does, however, unlock his giant office safe and gives each ex-employee something even more valuable.

Their passport.


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