Sunbury administrator

Sunbury administrator Jody Ocker.

SUNBURY — City Administrator Jody Ocker plans to stay in her role until Jan. 13 although she said would remain in the job if needed to help train her replacement.

Ocker informed city council Monday night she was leaving the position and that she was not the right person for the job because she felt she wasn't allowed to do her job.

Ocker, who has been employed by the city for nearly two years at an annual salary of $65,000, said she was supposed to have a six-month and yearly evaluation and council ignored it.

"This expectation has not been fulfilled," Ocker said during her speech. "Feedback packets were provided to each council member in July 2019. There was an executive session to discuss feedback. I was excluded from the room for an hour while council members discussed among themselves. When I was invited into the room, one council member departed."

Ocker said the only feedback she received was that she “talked down to people.” 

"There was nothing constructive provided for me to act upon," she said. "No suggestions for improved performance. Nothing to direct me to apply more effort here and less effort there.  January came and went without an annual evaluation."

Ocker said she was also scheduled for an evaluation in July.

"An executive session was scheduled and unfortunately, not all council members were present," she said. "I was once again excused from the room for an anticipated five minutes. When that turned into 20 minutes, I entered the room and expressed to the council members present my desire to not have a repeat of the last feedback session. I also provided feedback to council about the challenges with fulfilling my job responsibilities as set forth in the job description and the council’s lack of commitment and support for the successful implementation of the position and the council’s failure to meet the expectations of the employment agreement."

Ocker apologized to anyone who felt she talked down to them, she said.

"It is never my intention to belittle anyone," she said. "However I have certain expectations of people who are in a position of responsibility or leadership and become frustrated when they are unable to articulate what they do and why beyond 'we’ve always done it this way' or '20 years ago, this or that happened.'  I have been told 'no need to change anything here' and 'don’t fix what ain’t broke' only to discover practices that are not supported by current written policies and ordinances and that are lacking in transparency and accountability. This is frustrating, but fixable if everyone is on board."

Ocker said she also had a hard time dealing with all department heads.

"While one department head is comfortable to allow the city administrator to direct operations, relying on the administrator to keep him informed, another does not allow any action without his personal consent which leads to operational inefficiency, unclear lines of supervision, and frustrated employees who feel caught in the middle," she said. "With regard to variation in performance expectations, I have been subjected to toxic pettiness and vindictiveness from councilmen who don’t share the same understanding of the job as others." 

Councilmen Ric Reichner, Jim Eister and Josh Brosious would only say they wished Ocker well in whatever career choice she makes. 

Councilman Chris Reis said Ocker will be missed and the city needs to act on hiring an administrator immediately.

Mayor Kurt Karlovich said he will be discussing the city administrator position with council and said he is unsure what direction the city will take.

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