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McLaughlin era starts on large upbeat note
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Karen McLaughlin’s honeymoon has started.

It’s not a second honeymoon with longtime husband Bob but her honeymoon as Manteca’s city manager.

The entire council piled on kudos and compliments of her performance and a municipal employee over the past 25 years before approving a five-year contract on Tuesday to have her serve in the city’s top management position. She replaced Steve Pinkerton who parted after three years to take the city manager’s post in Davis.

Even some of the city’s most consistent critics - citizen activists Georgiana Reichelt and Richard Hansen - had nothing but praise for McLaughlin who they characterized as being honest and hardworking.

It was in stark contrast to city hall politics when McLaughlin first started nearly 25 years ago as an analyst in the city manager’s office. Rarely would more than two council members agree on anything and the city manager - even after contract renewals - was a verbal punching bag.

Mayor Willie Weatherford noted that when her contract was being negotiated McLaughlin insisted on being paid less than what the council had offered to compensate her for her duties over the next five years.

The council took McLaughlin up on her recommendation to keep her former position as assistant city manager vacant for now. That wil save $240,399 a year in salary and benefits.

McLaughlin said she asked to be placed midway between her salary as assistant city manager and what Pinkerton - her predecessor as city manager - was making.

That means she will be placed on the salary schedule at $186,600 but she will actually be making less. That’s because the city manager, like all other municipal employees, has taken additional cuts in compensation of 23.4 percent primarily by paying more of their benefits and retirement costs. That means McLaughlin’s annual pay before taxes will actually be $144,690 per year.

Pinkerton’s pay was cut to $165,000 a year after the 23.4 percent reduction was taken into account. His actual base pay was $200,515 although that is not what he received. McLaughlin’s base pay as assistant city manager was $172,600 but she was receiving less than $140,000 a year. Pinkerton will make $188,000 a year in his new job as Davis city manager.

The city has kept all employee base pay in place and then did the double digit compensation cutbacks. It may seem confusing but keeping the old pay was necessary to establish bench marks for negotiations with various bargaining units.