The state’s civil service commission in a letter to business administrator Nellie Pou is seeking answers as to why Lydia Robles’ information was not entered into the commission’s county and municipal personnel system (CAMPS).
“There is no record of such appointment in CAMPS, nor is the civil service aware of such appointment,” read a letter from the commission dated December 30th, 2014. More than two-month after hiring Robles, who was hired on October 27th, 2014, the city did not submit her information to the commission.
The letter gave Pou 15 days to respond with an answer.
On January 13th, the business administrator, in response to the letter, explained the city’s former personnel director Betty Taylor was to blame for the submission delay. Pou said Taylor, who was suspended on November 7th, 2014 “left several items pending” including the transmission of Robles’ information to the commission. Pou stated in the letter that the information was submitted to the commission on January 13th, 2015.
Pou’s hiring of Robles, who dropped out of the mayoral race last year to endorse then mayoral candidate Jose “Joey” Torres, has been under intense scrutiny: officials have said Robles lacks the qualifications to be an auditor.
Robles, who during the campaign said she was a stay-at-home mother, claims in her resume she has worked for several companies as an auditor. She lists Sylvan Paper Corporation and Arc Renovations as two firms in which she worked under the title of “internal audit.”
Her resume, which is rife with employment overlaps – she worked for North American Papers from 1999-2005; she worked for Sylvan Paper from 2000-2008 – shows she earned an associate degree in psychology from Passaic County Community College and a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Montclair University.
The auditor title requires the appointee to have a four-year degree, which she has, and 21 semester hour credits in accounting, which, whether she has or not, remains uncertain.
Messages seeking Robles’ comments for this story went unanswered.
With a four-year degree in psychology it’s not clear whether Robles has the required credits for the position. When asked whether she checked Robles’ transcript to see whether she has the requisite credits for the position, Pou said she did not have to check by going through the transcript and that she took Robles’ word for it.
Pou’s almost three-page long letter conspicuously leave out Robles’ education. The business administrator sings the praise of Robles’ stating she is a “quick learner,” and has a “strong mathematics background.”
The business administrator also wrote Robles has been auditing payment in lieu of taxes (PILOT) agreements the city has with various entities. “During her auditing, the City of Paterson has found over $60,000 owed to the City of Paterson that was missed by the previous auditor, some since 2011,” wrote Pou.
“That has not been reported to the council,” said William McKoy, 3rd Ward councilman. “It’s conceivable, but I have not seen any evidence of that.”
“I don’t know how that happens, the PILOT agreements are fixed agreements,” said Kenneth Morris, councilman at-large, who chairs the city council’s finance committee. He said the agreements are fixed by ordinance with a payment schedule.
“If in fact there was some savings I’d be real interested in knowing how it happened because that would suggest to me there’s a flaw in the system since you have fixed agreements,” said Morris.
The state’s department of community affairs (DCA), approved the waver for Robles’ hiring, under the condition that it be consistent with the civil service title. A department spokesperson said she needed additional time to respond in January.