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Terry McAteer: Another side to Kamala Harris

Terry McAteer
Terry McAteer

As many of you know, my family has some long political roots. My dad, J Eugene McAteer, was a San Francisco supervisor and state senator until his untimely death at age 51.

I pursued the educational political route and was elected Nevada County Superintendent of Schools for six- four-year terms. Our son, Gregory, loves politics and thought that it also might be his passion.

A few years ago, I assisted him in securing a summer non-paid internship with Senator Dianne Feinstein in her San Francisco office. Feinstein’s office was unable to have Gregory start in June but told him that then-Attorney General Kamala Harris was looking for summer interns.

While I have nothing against now-Senator Harris as she is a good orator and has done some fine things while holding elective office, I believe, however, how she treats her staff is as important as an individual’s legislative accomplishments. A person’s character is probably one of the most important attributes for someone wanting to obtain the office of President.

In fact integrity and character are still virtues that can and should be upheld in our politicians and politics; we just haven’t seen them in a while.

Presidential candidate and U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar had drawn scrutiny for her berating treatment of her staff. This particular flaw by elected officials in dealing with common courtesy and respect toward staff is something for which most people in this country have little tolerance. Sure, the job is stressful and we’ve all dealt with an angry boss in our lives but there is another side of Kamala Harris which the general public does not know.

Gregory had an eye-opening experience in Kamala Harris’ office that none of us expected. For his sake, the month could not pass quickly enough. Needless to say, he was delighted to work in Feinstein’s office for the rest of the summer.

Four short episodes I would like to share of his month-long internship for Kamala Harris:

Senator Harris vocally throws around “F-bombs” and other profanity constantly in her berating of staff and others. The staff is in complete fear of her and she uses her profanity throughout the day.

As Attorney General, Senator Harris instructed her entire staff to stand every morning as she entered the office and say, “Good Morning General.”

Never once during the month-long internship did Harris introduce herself to our son (as he was only in an office with 20 paid employees) and staff was too intimidated by her to introduce him. The only acknowledgment was a form letter of “thanks” signed by Harris given to him on his last day of service.

Gregory was also given instructions to never address Harris nor look her in the eye as that privilege was only allowed to senior staff members.

I don’t know about you but this is not the workplace of someone who respects her staff. For a woman of color to have employees stand when she enters the room smacks of a bygone era that we, as Americans, deplore and find demeaning. Furthermore, that she didn’t show the quality of leadership skills or even being a decent boss — much less the “class” to approach Gregory at least once during the month to say “Hi, I’m Kamala Harris and I want to thank you for volunteering in my office” — is really troubling. Finally, what is up with the “don’t look her in the eye” instruction? I know I wouldn’t want to work in that hostile environment!

I had Gregory read this piece before submitting it and he is willing to put his own integrity on the line because the truth is important to him. In fact, integrity and character are still virtues that can and should be upheld in our politicians and politics; we just haven’t seen them in a while.

Terry McAteer is a member of The Union Editorial Board. His views are his own and do not represent the views of The Union or its editorial board members. Contact him at editboard@theunion.com.


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