A Sydney council planning boss was told he might be sacked because two controlling councillors felt he wasn't being helpful when they asked for certain things to be done, a corruption inquiry has heard.
Canterbury City Council's general manager Jim Montague warned Marcelo Occhiuzzi in 2014 that he needed to "turn things around" amid growing dissatisfaction from the "junta" - referring to councillors Michael Hawatt and Pierre Azzi.
Mr Hawatt, Mr Azzi and Mr Montague are at the centre of an investigation by the NSW Independent Commission Against Corruption.
According to diary notes tendered to the inquiry on Tuesday, Mr Montague told Mr Occhiuzzi he "had no choice" but to consider not renewing his contract.
"He said that the political environment had changed dramatically in the last 12 months. He said that the 'junta' were in control and that the mayor was a passenger," the notes said.
"The GM said that I needed to turn things around.
"I said that my integrity was very important to me and if not bending sufficiently cost me my job, then so be it."
Mr Occhiuzzi told the hearing he felt pressured and his recommendations were constantly being questioned and undermined. He eventually resigned in late 2014.
His replacement as director of planning, Spiro Stavis, is also being investigated by the ICAC.
Recruiter Judith Carpenter told the inquiry she was "disgusted" by the recruitment process, including the "unusual" interview process with the mayor, Mr Montague, Mr Hawatt and Mr Azzi.
"It was probably one of the more dysfunctional interview processes I've ever been through," Ms Carpenter said.
The two councillors were "aggressive" and "adversarial" towards other candidates, and were only interested in whether they would do what the general manager said, the hearing was told.
After finding out Mr Stavis got the job, against her warnings, Ms Carpenter said she felt "crushed" and rang Mr Montague - whom she'd known for a decade.
"He said basically 'I've done a deal'," she told the hearing, adding that she didn't know what the deal was.
On Monday, the inquiry heard that Mr Hawatt allegedly received $300,000 from associates of his son-in-law, Tala El Badar, which he used to buy a unit in Queensland.
Counsel assisting the inquiry, David Buchanan SC, said the payment was purported to be an option fee or deposit for a property he owned in Kingswood.
Mr El Badar and the others later withdrew from the purchase. The subsequent buyers paid a $30,000 option fee.
The inquiry continues.