Even when the Salt Lake County Commission and County Attorney Doug Short think they agree, they really don't.

For several days, Short and an attorney for the commissioners have been negotiating a settlement agreement in the suit that commissioners filed against Short last year.Friday afternoon, the County Commission issued a press release announcing they'd reached an agreement on at least one aspect of the suit - assigning one of Short's deputy attorneys to work with the commissioners.

Commission attorney Randy Dryer said the deal is the commissioners' effort to "be responsive to the investigative report" issued two weeks ago, which recommended a similar arrangement.

But Short said it's his idea, one he came up with a year ago and most recently offered in December.

"These guys are amazing," Short said. "The commission finally just accepted my offer."

Short was also upset because he said the press release was issued before he and Dryer finalized the agreement.

It also appears the two parties don't even agree on what the deal is.

Dryer and the commissioners' press release say deputy county attorney Gavin Anderson will be reassigned to the County Commission staff.

"According to the agreement, Mr. Anderson will report to the commission and will not be subject to the direction or control of Mr. Short," the press release said. "Mr. Anderson will advise the commission and represent the commission's interest."

Short, however, said Anderson will still work for him but won't report to him. Additionally, he says Anderson's responsibility will still be the entire county, not just the County Commission.

"He still has to abide by the same rules," Short said.

Those rules and how they're interpreted appear to be the heart of the commission's disagreement with Short.

Short said the law is clear and "there is nothing to clear up."

But Dryer, the independent investigators' report and the commissioners said whether the commission is the county attorney's client and what that means is unclear, and the issue will have to be settled either by the courts or the state Legislature.

Dryer admits this is not the first time this idea has been discussed but said it "fell by the wayside" the last time it was suggested.

Short said that's because the attorney they asked for didn't want to work for the commissioners, and "we never heard back from the commission."

Dryer said he also tried to work out other issues raised in the lawsuit, but to no avail. Two such issues are whether the commission has the right to retain independent counsel and whether there is an attorney-client relationship between the county attorney and the commission.

Short has no legal counsel defending him in the suit because the commission refuses to authorize it. Short said Dryer offered him a defense attorney in the suit if Short would authorize the county auditor to pay his firm and attorney Pat Shea for representing the commission in suing Short.

Both Dryer and the commissioners expressed hope that this agreement would "normalize" the relationship between the two.

"We're very pleased," said Commission Chairwoman Mary Callaghan. "This is a great step in the right direction."

Short, however, said intervention by legislators or the court will likely be the only solution to the problems between the commissioners and himself.