The trouble with Gary Ott

County recorder's dwindling office visits, incoherent interview raise more concerns about his well-being

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  • deseret pete robertson, Wy
    June 10, 2017 6:42 a.m.

    If they cut off his paycheck ---- would he remember ?

  • NeilT Clearfield, UT
    June 6, 2017 4:23 p.m.

    Ironman I disagree. He is not just a typical government employee. Government employee's are teachers, police officers, firefighters/emts, corrections officers, judges and many others who are dedicated and professional. This is an unfortunate situation. It appears that there associates who are covering for him and that is reprehensible. Gary Ott's incompetency does not mean all elected or appointed officials are corrupt. The majority of public employee do their best often under difficult circumstances. Don't judge everyone by the actions of a small minority. There should be some legal way to remove Gary Ott from office.

  • james d. morrison Sandy, UT
    June 6, 2017 3:29 p.m.

    He could be president.

  • Utopian_Lie Centerville, UT
    June 6, 2017 3:14 p.m.

    His answers sound like typical politician speak to me. Just a bunch of nonsense dancing around nothing trying to sound like something but you can't figure what so you're just left scratching your head and he goes on collecting a paycheck. So wrong.

  • USAlover Salt Lake City, UT
    June 6, 2017 3:07 p.m.

    Gary "Ott" to retire (see what I did there)

  • SLC Grandma Salt Lake City, UT
    June 6, 2017 3:07 p.m.

    There is the pursestrings option..cut his salary to a fair amount below what he would receive upon retirement and give him a choice of continuing as auditor or taking retirement. That seems like a fair option all around, for him, the department, and the poor taxpayers! Any problem with that?

  • I have my opinion Kaysville, UT
    June 6, 2017 2:48 p.m.

    Wow -- I listened to 10 minutes of the audio conversation. Rambling. Incoherent. Can't focus. I'm sure he's a nice guy but he really should not be in a SL County elected (or any) office. It's amazing that those in-charge at SL County can't solve this problem. True example of Government Inefficiency. And he's receiving $189k annually of taxpayer money. Amazing...

  • Sanefan Wellsville, UT
    June 6, 2017 1:48 p.m.

    With no recall ability, the voters of SLC County will just have to wait until the next time he comes upper re-election. It's really and unfortunately that simple.

  • DN Subscriber Cottonwood Heights, UT
    June 6, 2017 1:00 p.m.

    Sounds like Mr. Ott is in need of a court ordered mental competency evaluation, and if found incompetent to manage his own affairs there can be a guardian or power of attorney type person appointed to manage them.

    Then, the first thing the guardian should do is to submit his resignation from office.

  • H. Bob Salt Lake City, UT
    June 6, 2017 12:51 p.m.

    The Gary Ott situation illustrates the problem with Utah politics in a nutshell. One party has too much power and the other too little, and so when something like this happens, nothing can be done. If we had a robust, two-party system, the Republicans wouldn't have been able to run Gary Ott for county recorder and hide what was then only the beginnings of his diminishing capacity. There's some evidence that at least some of the recent changing of the guard came from the Republican leadership's desire to have a Republican in that office no matter what his deficiencies. And in a robust system, a Democratic county attorney would be able to find a legal solution to this problem without having to worry about spending all the political capital he has. The minute Sim Gill tries to have Gary Ott removed is the same minute that the Republicans will start yelling about "poor Gary Ott." In a robust system, Gill could tell them where to go and the problem could get solved.

  • jalapenochomper albuquerque, NM
    June 6, 2017 12:53 p.m.

    Dear Ned Flanders:

    Wow - Y'all are making NM government and voters look functional and competent. That's hard to do.

    Thanks. It is nice to have some local company on the bottom of the rankings lists. Usually we have to share space with Illinois and Mississippi.

    Regards- Homer

  • Henry Drummond San Jose, CA
    June 6, 2017 12:46 p.m.

    This sounds like a serious problem, yet the Utah Legislature can't figure out a solution after all this time? Get on the phone and see how other States deal with this.

  • California Steve Hanford, CA
    June 6, 2017 12:16 p.m.

    A County here in California had a problem with the elected county treasurer showing up drunk for work. The Board of Supervisors took an action to remove him from office. They then passed an ordinance to consolidate the treasures, finance and recorders offices within other departments. They also declared them appointed not elected. This resulted in a more efficient government. SL County, how bout it?

  • JBs Logan, UT
    June 6, 2017 11:05 a.m.

    I feel bad for Mr. Ott. He seems to be being used, through no fault of his own, and there is no recourse at this point.

    Something needs to be put in place so that this doesn't happen again. This isn't fair to Mr. Ott, and it isn't fair to the citizens who elected him. Paticularly when certain other employees seem to be unduly and contemptibly benefitting from this tragic situation. It is difficult to anticipate and prepare for any and all contingencies, so it is understandable. But now that everyone is aware of this, a change needs to be made. Soon.

  • bricha lehi, ut
    June 6, 2017 10:52 a.m.

    @suzcnoor and some others that posted similar things.

    Legislation can be incredibly complex, especially when you are giving someone more power to do whatever they want. If they were to do this incorrectly it would give the governor, or someone else the ability to get rid of elected officials at a whim, can you imagine the potential for corruption?

    IMO this is a sad situation where there legally isn't much to be done other than the people around him caring enough to convince him to retire. Unfortunately it looks as if some of those people around him aren't willing to take the risk of admitting that there is a problem.

  • Jim Schwartz Fort Lauderdale, FL
    June 6, 2017 10:50 a.m.

    Anyone who does not understand how this sort of thing can happen, ad nauseam, has not read and understood the gravity of the comment from "Third try screen name - Mapleton, UT."

    We, the voters, allow and enable governmental ineptitude.

  • Ironman SANTA CLARA, UT
    June 6, 2017 10:22 a.m.

    "How often does he work?"

    "Very little."

    He is just a typical government employee. There is noting remiss here.

  • The Educator South Jordan, UT
    June 6, 2017 10:21 a.m.

    What do you want Sam Gill to do?

    Ott was voted in. there's no recall election. And unless Ott breaks the law, what is Gill supposed to do?

    Some of you seem like you're hating and bashing government just to whine. Perhaps voters need to actually become educated and participate rather than just mindlessly voting in the same people they always do.

    Get Educated

  • HSTucker Holladay, UT
    June 6, 2017 9:24 a.m.

    Katie, thank you very much for your article documenting government incompetence.

    I have a great deal of sympathy for Mr. Ott. He deserves better than to be used like a pawn in a scam to fleece taxpayers.

    That situations like this can not only occur, but persist for years, is why we need less government and more human decency.

  • Impartial7 DRAPER, UT
    June 6, 2017 9:25 a.m.

    Utah legislators are reluctant to pass laws that will remove incompetent politicians, because they are afraid those laws will be used against them.

  • Twin Lights Louisville, KY
    June 6, 2017 9:15 a.m.

    I believe the issue is that Mr. Ott was voted in. The staff are employees and can be fired. Mr. Ott can only be "unelected". That means an impeachment process or something similar needs to be in place to undo (for cause) an election. Without that, there is, at least as I understand it, no way to remove Mr. Ott or an other elected official who is no longer capable of functioning in their office.

  • Wasatch Al South Jordan, UT
    June 6, 2017 8:40 a.m.

    Every time I read an update on this sad story, I'm reminded of two things: (1) the "leadership" of Salt Lake County has no ability or inclination to solve this problem, and (2) elected officials can do just about anything they want and still collect their pay checks.

    Maybe this isn't completely true, but it certainly looks that way.

  • Hemlock Salt Lake City, UT
    June 6, 2017 8:39 a.m.

    If the functions of recorder are running well without Ott's involvement, why down downgrade the office and eliminate his job?

  • samhill Salt Lake City, UT
    June 6, 2017 8:38 a.m.

    “'We need to have a legislative fix for this,' DeBry said. 'Frankly, this is an unprecedented situation in the state of Utah.'”

    The "legislative fix" has been needed for at least 18 months and the legislature has been in and out of session during that time with more than sufficient time to take care of this ridiculous situation. A situation that exists only because of the woefully inadequate legislation that exists now. It is absurd to think there hasn't always been some contingency policy already in place to deal with obvious potential cases like this.

    What we really **need** are some legislators with enough interest and common sense initiative to produce the simple fix needed to get the job done.....ASAP.

  • Third try screen name Mapleton, UT
    June 6, 2017 8:26 a.m.

    Aside from wasting $200K on his salary, what's the problem? The article does NOT say that the work isn't getting done or that his weird behavior is impacting the office.

    Maybe there are some problems. Tell us about them. Tell us about malfeasance in office. Tell us he does weird things like charging $2 to record a document one day and $500 the next. Tell us the paperwork is piling up and isn't being recorded properly. Tell us he isn't there to approve the payment of the electric bill. Tell us he is leasing the office for $400,000 a month from his high school pal. I'm not hearing any of that.

    Some offices run better when the boss isn't underfoot.

  • toosmartforyou Kaysville, UT
    June 6, 2017 8:27 a.m.

    Few people that work at Salt Lake County, and I was one that did back in the 1980's, are held accountable for, shall we say, incompetence. It's a culture of getting paid first, think about actually doing some work later, and never think about doing it correctly or efficiently. Why? Because it's government work and no one holds you observed.

  • Catherine Gardner Hartlepool, 00
    June 6, 2017 8:16 a.m.

    This is very sad. Can the people close to MR.Ott not see he appears to be very confused? There are other health reasons for becoming forgetful and confused but I must say he is showing classic signs of dementia. Somebody please be kind and help him.

  • neece Logan, UT
    June 6, 2017 8:06 a.m.

    Wow and he is still in office? Something is seriously wrong with him. To me they are wasting tax payer monies ... and to keep him in there is almost like stealing our hard earned money!

  • Tyler McArthur South Jordan, UT
    June 6, 2017 7:44 a.m.

    This is a totally sad situation, but this guy should have been removed by Gill or Herbert months ago. I don't buy the whole legal 'vacuum' excuse, there's just not enough concern from them to make it happen. There's no way we can let Ott stay in office till 2020.

  • stevo123 Driggs, ID
    June 6, 2017 7:16 a.m.

    Wouldn't be nice to give Mr. Ott a medical retirement.

  • ute alumni SLC, UT
    June 6, 2017 6:49 a.m.

    Get rid of him and the elected officials that allow this to continue. If it were high profile Sam gill would be in front of the cameras daily.

  • Old Scarecrow Brigham City, UT
    June 6, 2017 6:47 a.m.

    This is an embarrassment to Salt Lake County. But more importantly it is a wake-up call to taxpayers everywhere that many (most?) of our highly paid political leaders (at all levels of government and in most localities) are unaccountable and virtually unnecessary. What a racket.

  • Nan BW ELder, CO
    June 6, 2017 6:17 a.m.

    Gary Ott to resign. Gary Ott to have resigned long before now. He Ott not be in office. However, it is very possibly he doesn't even know himself just how poorly he is functioning.

    My mother has significant dementia. However, she still understands enough about money to realize her care is expensive. She wants to leave her care facility because of the expense, but she doesn't understand that her care requires constant monitoring. I suspect that Gary Ott is in a similar circumstance. He knows he has a large salary, and he wants to keep it, not realizing he is not remotely earning it. Clearly the situation needs to be addressed. It is inappropriate for taxpayers to be paying for him to have a house in Salt Lake County while he resides in another county and is not functioning in his elected position. With all the legal experts Utah has, someone should have determined a course of action. This dilemma isn't even good for Gary Ott's "well-being."

  • suzcnoor Logan, UT
    June 6, 2017 6:02 a.m.

    Government. Such a sad tale. What the saddest tale of all is, the lack of ability and complete inability to have a method in place to solve this issue --for fear of what could be used as a 'weapon' against their very own in the future. So, the taxpayer pays. For nothing. Government.