The director of the city’s health department Donna Nelson-Ivy has been cleared of any wrongdoing over the hiring of her sister-in-law, said mayor Jose “Joey” Torres.
Torres sought a report from the city’s law director to determine whether Nelson-Ivy violated city policies in hiring Denise Coba, her sister-in-law, as a program analyst. Torres said law director Dominick Stampone issued a verbal report or “consultative” report clearing Nelson-Ivy (pictured at podium) of any wrongdoing.
“The law department did not find any wrongdoing with Ms. Ivy hiring someone who is not blood relative but related by marriage,” said Torres. “Her husband expired almost two decades ago.”
Stampone apparently reviewed to see whether relationships emerging from a deceased person constitutes a conflict of interest, said Torres.
Stampone did not return calls for comment.
When told the city’s ethics code is unambiguous in its definition of a prohibited relationship, specifically singling out: “Relative includes…sister-in-law.”
“That’s your opinion,” said an irked Torres.
Torres said Stampone’s interpretation made sense. He did not see a conflict ridden relationship when the husband has been dead for two decades.
Even when the ethics issue is explained away, city records have revealed Coba, at the time of hiring, did not meet basic employment qualifications. The job posting called for four-year degree; Coba attended Ramapo College for three years, but did not earn a bachelor’s degree.
The job postings also required: “One (1) year of experience in the review, analysis and evaluation of operating programs in an agency or organization.” Coba’s resume showed she had worked in four minor marketing jobs.
Coba’s resume did not list any health experience.
At one point last year, Stampone’s department brought resolutions before the council to potentially take legal actions against Coba; however, officials have said that has gone nowhere.
Nelson-Ivy, who was appointed as director of the health department by former mayor Jeffery Jones, was re-appointed as acting director by Torres. Nelson-Ivy’s permanent appointment to the directorship is pending before the council.
Council members are scheduled to host confirmation hearings next month to decide whether Nelson-Ivy should remain at the helm of the department.
Nelson-Ivy could not be reached for comments for this story.