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Embattled Salt Lake County Recorder Gary Ott may agree to early retirement, aide says

Published June 13, 2017 9:53 pm

Early retirement • Talks could be tricky amid questions about Ott's ability to speak for himself.
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Gary Ott, the embattled Salt Lake County recorder whose mental cognition has apparently declined in recent years, is interested in talking about retiring early from his elected post.

Ott's aide and longtime friend Karmen Sanone told The Salt Lake Tribune that the recorder has offered to discuss terms of his retirement before the end of his elected term, which runs through 2020.

"Gary basically said once [new office software] is in place, that's the last of the things I created and I'm looking at retiring at the end of the year," Sanone said of a conversation with the Salt Lake County Republican chairman.

Sanone said the offer was made to Salt Lake County Republican Chairman Jake Parkinson on Monday morning, but Parkinson later said he only spoke with Sanone and not Ott.

Sanone told The Tribune that Ott was present during what she said was a speaker phone call, but that she spoke for him.

"I did a lot of the talking because Gary could tell me what he wanted to say but he couldn't always hear Jake," Sanone said.

Sanone said the software is under development and may be completed within two to four months. She indicated if the Salt Lake County Council would fund the software, along with other unspecified benefits for Ott, he would consider retiring.

"The reason for brokering the deal is to get a good retirement deal for him," Sanone said, "but to also make sure [the software] is funded."

Parkinson confirmed he spoke with Sanone on Monday morning but declined to discuss the contents of the call.

Other County Council members declined to comment.

Sanone said Parkinson asked whether Ott would retire before the end of this year.

"If the conditions were right, I'd think about" leaving early, Sanone said for Ott.

Ott is under pressure to leave office after his ability to run the operation has been under scrutiny for more than a year. Ott was found in early 2016 on the highway in freezing temperatures in Tooele County and police officers who rescued him said he was incoherent. Ott later that year struggled to answer basic questions from Salt Lake County Council members.

Salt Lake County Mayor Ben McAdams and members of the council called for Ott's resignation last week.

Retirement talks could become difficult if the County Council doesn't believe Ott is capable of negotiating for himself. Sanone said Ott has no legal guardian, and the two aren't married.

Jennifer Lee, an attorney who handles family planning cases, said it may be up to the County Council whether Sanone can negotiate for him.

"It's up to the county what they're willing to accept," Lee said.

If the county believed Ott couldn't negotiate for himself, the task may fall to a legal guardian, and Lee said state law gives preference for assigning guardianship to immediate family.

"After an adult child then, they start looking at more remote: brother, sister, aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews," Lee said. A girlfriend, she said, would "be among the very, very last to be chosen. Family comes first."

Sanone said Parkinson was to check with the County Council to see whether there was interest in his early retirement.


Twitter: @TaylorWAnderson






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