An audio recording apparently of Jay Coffey has gone viral. Coffey is Bayonne Law Director and also mayor of Oceanport.
The recording was first posted to Soapbox Blog, a Facebook page belonging to controversial former candidate for city council Peter Franco. The audio allegedly records a conversation between Coffey and an unknown staff member discussing an interaction between Coffey and Business Administrator Melissa Mathews.
Mathews is currently suing the city for gender discrimination, citing the alleged behavior of Municipal Services Director Tim Boyle and former Assistant Business Administrator Mark Bonamo. Mayor James Davis and Coffey are also named in the suit.
In the audio recording, Coffey allegedly said: “She goes: ‘Jay that was so uncomfortable. You stood there and you didn’t talk there for like five minutes.’ I said ‘I was doing other stuff’ … She just stood there … F*ck her. I’ve been here 30 years. I’m not going to kowtow to this jerk… I talked to my wife about this: I’m going out with my sword with this lady, not on my shield.”
Mathews told the Bayonne Community News that Coffey is likely referring to an encounter that took place after she returned to City Hall from her leave of absence and before she filed her lawsuit. Mathews said she took a leave of absence following the alleged gender-based harassment and toxic environment she faced at work, with the assurance that she would not be retaliated against upon her return.
During the encounter described in the audio, Mathews said she was waiting in a room with a member of the mayor’s staff to meet with Davis when Coffey allegedly entered the room and only acknowledged the staffer.
“This is further evidence that shows that this is not just a hostile work environment,” Mathews said. “This is very targeted retaliation. They had ulterior motives to get me out of my job.”
More than just toxic workplace?
The incident between Mathews and Coffey described in the audio is not the first negative encounter between the two.
The lawsuit states that Mathews formally reported Boyle on May 31, 2020 for “his direct and indirect bullying, intimidation, and or abuse” of Mathews. In response, Coffey allegedly told Mathews that “she should have a beer” with Boyle to “smooth over everything.” In August of 2020, Coffey allegedly told another municipal employee that Mathews had a “problem with men,” according to the lawsuit.
Later in the recording, Coffey allegedly acknowledges that Mathews is one of a handful of individuals in City Hall who are not on the same page as the rest of the administration.
“We have all of City Hall rowing the same way right now, except for one person, well there’s four: her, Sharon [Ashe-Nadrowski], and the Smiths,” Coffey allegedly said in the audio.
City Council President Sharon Ashe-Nadrowski is widely thought to be challenging Davis for mayor in 2022. While she hasn’t declared her candidacy, she has recently broken from the Davis administration on a number of issues as controversies continue to simmer in Bayonne.
Coffey had no comment, citing the ongoing litigation regarding the matter.
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