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Woburn

Officer’s benefits on table again

Robert DeNapoli (second from left) was shot during an attempted robbery while on duty as a Woburn police officer.

Joanne Rathe/Globe Staff/File 2012

Robert DeNapoli (second from left) was shot during an attempted robbery while on duty as a Woburn police officer.

Highlighting the similarity between the settlement passed in Somerville for a similar case involving a police officer seriously wounded on the job, Woburn Mayor Scott D. Galvin is making a renewed bid to win City Council approval of his plan to provide extra disability retirement benefits to former officer Robert DeNapoli.

Galvin and the council have been at odds over the specifics of the settlement, with council members insisting DeNapoli deserves more than the mayor is offering.

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DeNapoli is on disability leave and receiving his full salary, currently $64,901 per year.

The mayor said he would submit a plan to the council on Tuesday that is identical or largely similar to the original plan he submitted in June. DeNapoli, 52, would receive 100 percent pay until reaching 65, the state’s mandatory retirement age for police officers, and 80 percent thereafter.

But the City Council in June amended Galvin’s plan to provide DeNapoli a disability pension equal to 100 percent of his pay for the remainder of his life. The bill was sent to the state Legislature, where it stalled because it lacked the mayor’s signature.

“We know what we want, and the mayor and a majority of the City Council are not on the same page,” said Ward 2 Alderman Richard F. Gately Jr. He said he would give the mayor’s latest submission a look, but that “I’m sticking to my guns 100 percent” in supporting a larger package for DeNapoli.

Galvin said his proposal closely mirrors special legislation that Somerville is seeking for Mario Oliveira, 43, who was seriously injured in the line of duty in November 2010. DeNapoli was shot several times while responding to a jewelry store robbery in September 2011.

“The one I’m hoping to get through the council is the same one Somerville passed,” Galvin said. “Both are extremely generous packages and they seek to take care of a police officer, particularly in the years between now and when they are 65, in our case 13 years,” Galvin said.

The Somerville plan for Oliveira proposed by Mayor Joseph A. Curtatone was approved unanimously by the Board of Aldermen on July 11.

State law provides that employees who retire with a disability be compensated for life at a rate of 72 percent of their regular rate of pay.

Both the Somerville and Woburn proposals provide that if the officer dies and has a surviving spouse, the spouse would receive monthly payments equal to three-fourths of his annualized pension, more than the two-thirds the law requires; and that the officer is compensated for any injury-related, out-of-pocket medical costs.

When they amended the proposal to enhance DeNapoli’s settlement in June, city officials assumed incorrectly that Galvin’s signature was not needed because the city charter deems council orders to take effect if the mayor does not sign them within 10 days, said city clerk William Campbell.

Galvin said that he had not intended to stand in the way of the council-approved plan when he opted not to sign it, believing that it could move forward in the state Legislature without his signature.

“I honestly thought at that point, let it go through the Legislature and have the state deal with it. . . . We had had our debate on it,” he said.

Galvin sent the council a revised proposal for its July 16 meeting, but it was too late to make the agenda, and the council declined to suspend its rules to take up the plan.

That proposal would have dropped a provision calling for all sums paid by DeNapoli into the retirement system to be returned to him in a lump sum. Generally, such a payment is only provided as a death benefit to a surviving spouse. Galvin last week was evaluating whether to remove that provision in his latest plan.

Gately, the city councilor who sponsored the enhancement to the original proposal, said he believes a majority of the council will hold firm in opposing any proposal from the mayor that “waters down” the plan agreed to by the council in June.

“I think Mr. DeNapoli deserves everything that was in the” package approved by the council, Gately said, calling anything less than that plan “unworkable for me.”

Alderman at Large Richard M. Haggerty said, “I have to look at exactly what [the mayor] is proposing, but I think the council took a vote on what we think is appropriate for our officer who was injured in the line of duty. . . . I think we are going to support what we think is appropriate.

“I was committed to getting Bobby 100 percent for life and I hope to be able to do that,” he said. “Most important, I hope we are able to find some kind of common ground to make sure we take care of him.”

John Laidler can be reached at laidler@globe.com.
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