To the barricades
July 12, 2016
The time has arrived that I apologize for a casual reference that appeared in this column some time back. To paraphrase, I compared Vail Resorts to the Koch brothers. It was a thought that rolled through my head and it truly should have received more consideration prior to being applied to the page. David and Bill, I apologize!
With hearings and a subsequent decision on Bears Ears National Monument looming, I had been looking forward to the opportunity for yet another round of tearing down Utah Congressman Rob Bishop's ludicrous Public Lands Initiative this week. But, alas, further Bishop bashing will just have to be put on hold.
Vail has elbowed its way back to the table with both a chunk-of-change campaign donation to the congressman-in-question, the Honorable Rob Bishop, and their ongoing legal maneuvering through an application with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office to acquire control over business-related use of the name "Park City."
Unless it comes to fruition, of course, it's just all too delicious to pass up. Most of us with a proclivity to protest have long been priced out of the Park City market. What's cool about the Vail trademark brouhaha is that it has become such a cause célèbre across the entire local demographic spectrum.
All manner of Park City folk are up in arms and, although acting out in a somewhat less radical fashion than, say, the revolutionary chorus of "Les Miz," they do seem to be phoning ahead to reserve window seats at the barricades. Who'd a thunk it? A new tribal coalition may be forming.
Which brings us to the Wednesday, July 13, demonstration at the uphill parking lot of the Marsac Building. Scheduled for 2 p.m. to coincide with a closed-door session between Vail and City Hall over the trademark issue, the demonstration will feature longtime community activist and three-term mayor Dana Williams along with other local voices of concern.
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The rally could be construed as an attempt by concerned citizens to demonstrate to the City Hall powers-that-be that an energetic portion of the electorate would indeed have its back if it were to decide to file a formal opposition to Vail's aforementioned trademark application.
Although it was stated in a recent letter from PCMR/Vail to Park City officials that, "(a)fter purchasing the resort, we inherited Powdr Corp's application for the word mark PARK CITY," somehow that application never caused push-back to the degree this current one has generated.
It would seem that, for the most part, the long run of Powdr Corp left a taste somewhat less acrid in the collective mouth of locals than has the short tenure of the current operator. Not that, to some degree, each and every new resort operation going back to "Treasure Mountain Resort" hasn't had detractors within the community.
In fact, when I hear the term "bully" used in reference to Vail (or any other large corporation), I have to chuckle. Corporations exert economic influence to get their way! That's what they do! Why should Vail change its modus operandi at this stage of their industry takeover? Is their steamroller in the shop, or something?
Park City's reaction to Vail's trademark application has obviously acquired at least a modicum of attention back at their Colorado headquarters. Something seems to have nudged Rob Katz, chairman and CEO of Vail Resorts, into making the trip westward to join in Wednesday's meeting at the Marsac Building.
Possible sidebars of note hinging on the outcome of the discussions include Park City's future involvement as a partner with Vail in the Lower Park Avenue Redevelopment Area and assorted other collaborations that were seen by some to be a given prior to this latest rift in the fabric.
So where's this all headed? Who knows? It's in flux. No doubt spin-doctors will be well into overtime by week's end. All I know is that people are talking. They seem to care. It's an issue that has gained traction.
Meanwhile, back at the Bear's Ears, U.S. Department of the Interior Sally Jewell will be holding a public hearing down in Bluff, Utah at 11 a.m. Saturday, July 16 on the possible ramifications of a National Monument in the area. It'll be the perfect opportunity to drag your Rob Bishop mask out of the closet.
Jay Meehan is a culture junkie and has been an observer, participant, and chronicler of the Park City and Wasatch County social scenes for more than 40 years.
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