Department of Health and Human Services director Donna Nelson-Ivy hired her sister-in-law to fill a position at the city’s health department despite the city’s personnel policy discouraging such practice.
Denise Coba, the sister-in-law, was hired by the city in 2011, few months after Nelson-Ivy was appointed to the helm of the department.
Coba is the sister of Nelson-Ivy’s late husband, according to public records. The city’s personnel manual states: “The hiring, promoting, transferring, demoting or reassigning of relatives is prohibited if the employment of such an individual would result in the creation of a prohibited employment relationship.”
The manual further defines a “prohibited employment relationship.” The manual reads, where “one relative would have the authority to supervise (directly or indirectly), appoint, remove, discipline, evaluate, or otherwise affect the work or employment of another relative.”
By being the head of the department where Coba is an employee, Nelson-Ivy is directly supervising her sister-in-law. The city’s anti-nepotism policy is unambiguous stating, “Relative includes…sister-in-law.”
This is not the first time a city official was found violating the city’s ethics code. In May, it was reported the mayor’s bodyguard’s company was hired by the city to complete a snow clean up. More recently, mayor Jeffery Jones committed an ethics blunder by unsuccessfully appointing himself to the Passaic Valley Water Commission.
Coba is currently employed as a program analyst under Nelson-Ivy’s supervision.
Nelson-Ivy did not return multiple messages seeking her comments. Business administrator Charles Thomas could not be reached for comments for this story.