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Conflict between Park City Councilman and ski instructor heads to county attorney’s office

Outside the White Nordic Center in Park City.
Outside the White Pine Nordic Center in Park City.

A White Pine Touring instructor filed an internal complaint with his boss against Park City Councilman Jeremy Rubell this week, and his boss called law enforcement. The Summit County Sheriff's Office has sent it to the Summit County Attorney for review.

Marcel Vifian, a cross country ski instructor, says Rubell verbally abused him Wednesday.

Vifian says he was teaching clients how to put on their skis near the entrance of a ski trail. Rubell was nearby snow-blowing the deck of his home.

Vifian claims Rubell flipped him off, and followed that with a profanity-ridden tirade that included calls to shut the Nordic Center down. White Pine operates its Nordic center at the municipal golf course under a contract with the city.

Vifian’s client, a Park City resident, corroborated the instructor’s account of events. That person asked that their name not be used for this report.

Rubell responded with a prepared statement that disputed Vifian’s claims. Rubell said Vifian started the incident by flipping him off and calling him a “f***ing a**hole.” Rubell said the instructor has a long history of disrespect towards him and his family.

In his statement Rubell said he called Park City Police Chief Wade Carpenter after the altercation to ask about how to handle the situation, and learned that he could file a police report if he chose to. He has not done so.

Park City Police Department spokesman Jay Randall said Friday the case has been sent to the Summit County Sheriff’s Office to “ensure there is no conflict of interest.” Randall said that is customary when city employees or elected officials are involved in any incident within the Park City Police jurisdiction since the police are a department of city hall.

Rubell and White Pine Touring have been mired in conflict regarding the Nordic Center’s parking plan. Rubell has urged White Pine to more strictly manage overflow parking on Thaynes Canyon Dr., saying it has negative impacts on neighbors. In response, some residents called for Rubell to recuse himself from a city council vote on White Pine’s parking plan in December.

The complaint will be sent to the Summit County Attorney’s Office next week, where it will be screened for any potential criminal violations.