WOBURN - Without comment, the City Council last night sent to its Liaison Committee a veto message from Mayor Scott Galvin regarding the disability settlement offer to Woburn Police officer Robert DeNapoli that was approved by the council last month.
There was no date set for the Liaison Committee meeting, and the council does not hold its next regular meeting until Tuesday, Oct. 1 (the Sept. 17 meeting has been canceled due to the preliminary municipal election).
Ward 7 Alderman Raymond Drapeau also told reporters after last night's meeting that a referendum question regarding DeNapoli's settlement package would have to be non-binding. Drapeau submitted legislation calling for the referendum question to be placed on the ballot for the final municipal election on Tuesday, Nov. 5.
Voters would choose whether to approve the settlement offer approved by the council, which would pay DeNapoli 100 percent of his salary after he retires, and reinstate a lump sum payment of about $86,000, the funds DeNapoli has paid into his retirement plan.
Unless a special meeting is called, it is unlikely a referendum question regarding DeNapoli's settlement offer would be put before the voters, as the ballots for the municipal election would have to be printed before Oct. 1 so they can be sent out to absentee voters serving overseas in the military.
Passage of the referendum was not certain, as not only a majority but also one-third of the city's registered voters - about 8,000 people - would have to vote in favor. And in the event those criteria were met, the non-binding status of the referendum means Galvin is not required to abide by the results.
DeNapoli was shot and injured while responding to a robbery at a jewelry store in West Woburn nearly two years ago. For months, he and the mayor have been at odds over a disability settlement, with the mayor offering DeNapoli upon retirement 80 percent of his salary of the last three years before he turns 65, and the elimination of the lump sum payment.
"As mayor, I have a responsibility to ensure that an officer injured and/or disabled in the line of duty be treated fairly based on the incident and injuries," wrote Galvin in his veto letter. "At the same time, I have a responsibility, as always, to balance that response with serious consideration of appropriateness in not just this one case, but also possible benefits packages that will require the same treatment, as well as the resulting financial obligation to the city in the future."
The council, on 6-3 votes, has twice approved versions of the settlement package with DeNapoli receiving 100 percent of his salary upon retirement, but neither piece of legislation has been signed by the mayor, which is necessary since it must be approved by the state Legislature, and then Gov. Deval Patrick, as a home rule petition.