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February 11, 2010


Ken Levine

Bruce - your experience was very interesting to me. We here at Sunset have been hosting numerous delegations of members and staff from other countries (we seem to have become a standard tour stop for many delegations.) I find the cultural differences to be enlightening. Not just the differences between our US and state culture to theirs, but also between countries or continents. When in Italy a couple of years ago, for example, I spent several days with members of regional parliaments. Their approach to dealing with staff seems to border on feudal. Anyway, this is an interesting subject. Thanks for blogging about it.

Toby Dorsey

Wow, this is fascinating! But I think I have to agree with the South Africans here ... or maybe it's just a matter of terminology. "Boss" can be a loaded term, I suppose.

If a legislator has personal staff in his or her employ, the legislator is the "boss", sure. But I would not call a legislator the "boss" of any other staff. The legislator is the "client", or the "customer", but not the "boss".

Bruce Feustel

Toby: You're right that "boss" can be a loaded term, certainly in South Africa, but we talked about that term during the session and subsequent conversations. I think we provided some of the nuances of the member/staff relationship depending on the type of staffer yo are. I also talked to the gentleman who made the comment and he said it wasn't the term "boss" that he was reacting to but the "power" and "equality" issues involved. The experience was fascinating and I had that frustration of feeling that we had no time to get at the "next steps." I am corresponding with one staffer who is trying to use the session as a springboard to some more staff workshops designed to clarify what staff should and shouldn't do in their work for members.

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