Coronavirus

Twitter Rips Ex-Florida Lt. Gov. Who Whined About Vail's COVID-19 Closure

Vail Resorts announced that it would be shutting down prior to Colorado Governor Jared Polis's broader order.
Vail Resorts announced that it would be shutting down prior to Colorado Governor Jared Polis's broader order. vail.com
On Saturday, March 14, Vail Resorts revealed that it would be closing its operations for one week, from March 15 through March 22, shortly before Governor Jared Polis directed other ski areas in the state to do likewise. This move incensed Jeff Kottkamp, the former lieutenant governor of Florida, who was heading to Vail for a family skiing vacation and vented his spleen about the inconvenience on Twitter.

The reaction from people in Colorado and beyond? A powerful tweetstorm aimed directly at Kottkamp that only intensified when he tried to mitigate the damage — albeit after deleting the message that had started the whole thing.

Kottkamp's now-removed response to Vail's announcement: "Thank you for making this announcement as we are driving in to Vail. Came all the way from Florida only to have our family's vacation destroyed."

These lines were met with rare bipartisan agreement. Polis responded with thinly veiled contempt, writing, "Thank you for your deep concerns regarding the health of our residents in the face of a global pandemic, as well as your heartfelt sympathy for the difficulties faced by those who work in the ski industry and hospitality."

Rick Enstrom, a business owner and major player in Colorado Republican politics, offered a single pithy line: "Delete your account, Florida Man."

Amid the backlash, Kottkamp put out a statement intended to make him seem less whiny:
I obviously have no quarrel with Vail Resorts taking steps to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. However, the way they abruptly closed their resorts was very unfair to thousands of visitors to the state. Only ten hours before the announced closure, Vail Resorts said on social media that they would "remain open as scheduled" and outlined steps they were taking to reduce the spread — steps I thought were appropriate.

The statement that Vail Resorts would "remain open" led people to believe they could go forward with their travel plans. Had Vail Resorts simply given people a week's notice before their closure, as was done by DisneyWorld and Universal Studios in my home state, lots of heartaches, inconvenience and financial loss could have been avoided.
Not everything Kottkamp claimed is accurate. For instance, DisneyWorld's announcement of its impending closure at midnight Sunday, March 15, came out on Thursday, March 12, hardly a week in advance, and Universal followed Disney's timetable.

In any case, the majority of folks on Twitter didn't find Kottkamp's justifications any less tone-deaf than his original comment.

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Michael Roberts has written for Westword since October 1990, serving stints as music editor and media columnist. He currently covers everything from breaking news and politics to sports and stories that defy categorization.
Contact: Michael Roberts