Special Reports

Tacoma council poised to end Corpuz's tenure

Tacoma City Council members most likely will vote tonight to end the employment of City Manager Ray Corpuz, despite some 11th-hour lobbying by influential business leaders who want to keep Corpuz in power.

A majority of the nine-member council - Mayor Bill Baarsma and members Bill Evans, Connie Ladenburg, Mike Lonergan and Rick Talbert - confirmed Monday that they'll vote tonight to end Corpuz's employment effective July 15.

The plan includes no provision for severance pay, a subject of great contention among council members over the last few weeks.

Councilman Doug Miller said he probably won't make up his mind until he's heard what everyone has to say. Councilman Kevin Phelps wants to know why his colleagues think Corpuz deserves to lose his job after 13 years of economic revitalization downtown and stellar reviews the last two years.

Councilwoman Bil Moss wouldn't reveal how she intends to vote.

Councilwoman Sharon McGavick said she's definitely against the proposed resolution.

"I just don't think it's the right way to deal with someone on their way out of a position," she explained. "How we say goodbye is much more important than how we say hello. I don't think this is showing good will, or good faith. ... And I'm not sure it's the best way to protect the city."

Lonergan said he'd been hearing from "people in the business community who think I have my head in the wrong place" and he'd been called by representatives of the Filipino American community, who want to ensure Corpuz is being treated fairly.

"We've been trying to talk to the council members, but, unfortunately, they've been folding one by one," retired Tacoma banker and longtime civic leader Bill Philip said.

Corpuz has "done a great job" as city manager, he said, and doesn't deserve to lose his job over the David Brame scandal.

"Somebody has to tell me what the man did before they shoot him," Philip said. "I don't know how many people (in the business community) have come to me and said it's just criminal. I hate to see him go, but I don't know if anybody (on the council) has the backbone to keep him."

Corpuz has been under fire for his promotion and personnel decisions concerning Brame, the city's late police chief, who fatally shot his wife, Crystal, and then committed suicide April 26.

He announced May 12 he would retire following investigations into the Brame case and admitted he had made some mistakes in judgment. Council members, faced with a public outcry to fire Corpuz, decided early last month to speed the manager's retirement.

Several council members said they hadn't been contacted by Philip or any other business leaders, but Miller said calls were still being made from "some pretty prominent people in the community."

Miller said he doesn't plan to make his final decision until he hears arguments from all sides, and he hoped his colleagues would listen to the debate before deciding how to vote.

Kris Sherman: 253-597-8659


To get involved • Tacoma City Council members will meet at 5 p.m. today in council chambers at City Hall, 747 Market St.