Special Reports

Board delays Woodard retirement ruling

A decision that could guarantee tax-free retirement benefits for a key figure in the David Brame scandal will wait one more week.

Tacoma's Police Pension Disability Board agreed Tuesday to delay a ruling on disability claims by assistant police chief Catherine Woodard. The board tentatively agreed to meet Nov. 12 to decide Woodard's claims.

Approval would grant Woodard $65,540 in annual tax-free retirement benefits. Denial would make her retirement income taxable.

Approval requires a majority vote from the six-member board. In a 3-3 tie, a motion to approve Woodard's claim would fail.

Tuesday's delay might reflect political finesse; one board member, City Treasurer Morgan Jacobson, could not attend the meeting. That left five members, including three retired police officers.

The other two members, Mayor Bill Baarsma and City Clerk Doris Sorum, said they were not prepared to conduct business without all members present.

"This is one of our most important meetings," Baarsma said. "It's extraordinarily important. When we have issues of significant import, I think the full board should be present."

One board member, retired officer Lee Revelle, complained about Baarsma's maneuver.

"This is not being considered fairly, rightly or whatever," he said. "If you start a precedent like this, we can do the same thing. We can walk out."

Woodard, 49, has not worked since May 1, when then-City Manager Ray Corpuz placed her on administrative leave after Police Chief Brame fatally shot his wife, Crystal, and himself on April 26. Woodard's actions are one element in a Washington State Patrol investigation into possible criminal misconduct during Brame's tenure.

Questions revolve around Woodard's contact with Brame, his wife and her family. Wood-ard's attorney has said she did nothing wrong.

Woodard applied for disability leave May 20. Board members and city officials will not disclose the nature of Woodard's two disability claims, citing medical privacy laws. The News Tribune has learned that one of the disabilities Woodard claims is stress, and the other is a back injury.

Sean Robinson: 253-597-8486