As I was walking along Lakeshore Avenue, preparing for Thanksgiving, I ran into an old co-worker from my days in The City of Oakland and in The Mayor’s Office. This person still works for Oakland Mayor Jerry Brown; all I did was try to bring the Super Bowl to Oakland under his watch. Both of also worked for Elihu Harris, who was a much better Mayor than Jerry.
Anyway, I asked how things were going and this person remarked that they were OK, but that was more than could be said for some other workers in Jerry’s office.
See, when Jerry took office in late 1998 (unofficially then in 1999 for real), he quickly established a reputation as being a real ass toward his secretaries: yelling at them and throwing tantrums. His top aide and friend Jaques Bargazhi didn’t help with alledged exploits featuring in-office advances toward women, and other actions that eventually cost him his job. I thought Jaques departure might make Jerry himself “nicer.” Some may have believed the days of Jerry the Tormentor were over.
I don’t dislike Jerry. I understand — as a person who’s driven — that he has high ambitions and wants those around him to share his passion. But he’s got to learn to hold how he treats his workers in check. I thought he was better. On a personal note, he can be funny, as he was when he remarked — as I was having my photo taken by Lake Merritt — “Getting married?”
But he’s not changed how he treats his staffers.
“He’s still the same, Zennie,” my friend said. “He runs around throwing tantrums and having screaming fits and going up to secretaries and clapping at them in the face when he needs something in a hurry,” this person reported. “There’s no staff loyalty; they can’t stand him.”
Jerry, listen up. If you want to win friends and have a great life, stop treating people this way. At the end of your political run, you will have few real friends, a lot of leaches, and nothing to show for all of your years in office. Ultimately, God will remind you of how important those who work for you really are.
In other words, be nice to your people.