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Salt Lake County Recorder Gary Ott called in sick Tuesday.

Had he shown up as scheduled for Tuesday afternoon's County Council meeting, Ott would have been called upon to respond to the county auditor's evaluation of his office's performance.

Its first finding, according to an auditor's office summary, was that Ott did not participate directly in the day-to-day management of the recorder's office and its 43 employees.

"The executive management activities of the recorder's officer were almost exclusively delegated to the chief deputy recorder [Julie Dole] and senior managers, with very little oversight or involvement by the elected county recorder," the summary said.

That's been an issue for months around the County Government Center, peaking in early February after law-enforcement officers rescued an underdressed Ott wandering and speaking incoherently at night along a road in the western Tooele Valley, having abandoned his car after it ran out of gas.

"Gary said he was with his people and vegetables," a Grantsville police officer reported before releasing Ott to the care of his girlfriend and office aide, Karmen Sanone.

Because the 64-year-old Ott is an independently elected official, Mayor Ben McAdams and the County Council determined that they had no authority to force the recorder to give up his position unless something criminal was involved — and no evidence of anything like that has surfaced.

Barring criminality, the most the council could do is ask the auditor to evaluate the performance of the office. Auditor Scott Tingley and his staff have been doing that since early April and were prepared to deliver their report, and the written responses from Ott's staff, Tuesday.

But then Dole came forward and told the council Ott had called her in the morning, complaining his long-running case of shingles had "exacerbated. … He was planning to come in, but can't and asked to be excused," she said.

Council members seemed taken aback by Ott's decision not to show up, maintaining that it was essential for him to be present to answer the auditor's issues and to clarify questionable points in the official rebuttal.

So they agreed to seek a time — "even if it's Wednesday, Thursday or Friday," said Councilwoman Jenny Wilson — when Ott feels well enough to appear before the council in the near future.

Wilson later approached Dole and Sanone, pleading with them to persuade Ott to resign with dignity, adding that she doesn't believe he'll show up to face the council.

Dole disputed that assertion. She also blasted the release of the auditor's summary, saying she was obligated to remain mum on the audit and her office's response until both are formally submitted to the council.

Besides the primary point about Ott's absence from day-to-day activities, the audit found that the office:

• Did not have strategic plans for its major functional units

• Suffers persistently from backlogs in filing abstracts of recorded documents

• Does not accept credit or debit cards for payments

• Does not have formal policies or appropriate cost accounting for parts of its technology programs

Ott's office has responded to those assertions, but the answers worried some council members enough that they asked their attorney, Jason Rose, and fiscal manager, Dave Delquadro, to look them over.

"Make sure," said Councilman Jim Bradley, that Ott "understands the issues raised."