This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2016, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.
Not wanting to even acknowledge what their hourlong closed-door meeting was about, Salt Lake County Council members had nothing to say Tuesday about the obvious subject of their session County Recorder Gary Ott.
"This is why we have closed meetings" is all a couple of council members said after the meeting was convened by Council Chairman Max Burdick to discuss "the character, professional competence, or physical or mental health of an individual."
That individual is Ott.
Concerns that have percolated for months around the County Government Center that Ott's cognitive skills are diminishing came to the forefront last week. That's when police reports surfaced showing that late on Jan. 29, officers found a befuddled and incoherent Ott, inadequately dressed for 19-degree weather, walking away from his out-of-gas car left on a remote road west of Tooele. Officers took care of him and got him home.
Ott later told The Tribune in an interview that he was fine and that the situation occurred because "I was in the wrong place. Then it got dark."
Ott said he has not seen a doctor about the possibility he might have dementia or Alzheimer's disease and maintained he is ready to continue running his office with the aid of a capable staff, led by his chief deputy, Julie Dole, and assistant, Karmen Sanone, widely considered to be Ott's girlfriend.
The bizarre January incident elevated earlier worries that had led Mayor Ben McAdams to retain an outside law firm to review a former employee's complaints against the recorder's office. The council also asked the district attorney's office what authority it had to deal with the recorder, 64, who has been in office since 2001. He was last re-elected to a six-year term in 2014.
Both reviews determined there was little the mayor or council could do because Ott was independently elected, answerable only to the voters.
But noting community concern about Ott's "health and well being," Burdick called for Tuesday's meeting to "receive advice and guidance to help us move forward to help our friend Gary."
Ott did not attend the closed session, which was restricted to council members, their attorney, Jason Rose, and legal counsel from the district attorney's office.
Ott did attend part of the council's workshop meeting earlier in the afternoon as most of the independently elected officials do. He did not speak. Agenda items had nothing to do with his office.