Thursday, May 28, 2009

Senatorial impressions

Recently I sent an email to my representatives in Congress regarding the status of 'enemy combatants' held at Guantanamo Bay as part of Amnesty International's effort to support an independent tribunal for those who advocated illegal torture methods. Here are my two Senator's responses (first Gillibrand, followed by Schumer):

Dear Mr. Lamb:

Thank you for taking the time to write to me about alleged abuses by the Bush Administration. I share the concern raised by many that the former Administration may have acted contrary to the Rule of Law and the Geneva Conventions with regard to the treatment of detainees in United States custody. I believe torture to be abhorrent, ineffective, and immoral. Its use as a tactic of interrogation has no place under the Constitution of the United States.

I have been troubled by documents that I have seen from the Bush Administration that argue for the use of certain interrogation techniques, such as water boarding. It is important that the American people receive answers about the full scope of procedures sanctioned by the Bush Administration, and to that end, I support an independent, bipartisan investigation. This process must not be driven by politics, but rather as a fully bipartisan way to better understand and hold accountable those who were entrusted with the duty of upholding our Constitution and following treaties to which we are a party. The Intelligence Committee of the United States Senate has already initiated an investigation, and I will work with my colleagues in Congress to find all appropriate way to move forward.

There is no duty more sacred to me as a United States Senator than upholding the Constitution and protecting the human rights of all individuals. I believe that we can keep America safe from terrorism while still respecting basic human rights, and I am heartened by the strides that the Obama Administration has made to make our government more transparent and accountable on this issue.

Thank you again for taking the time to contact me on this issue, and please do not hesitate to write to me in the future with any other issues or concerns that you may have. For more information on this and other issues being discussed in the United States Senate, please visit my website and sign up for my e-newsletter.

Sincerely yours,

Kirsten Gillibrand
United States Senator

And now, Schumer's:

Thank you for your e-mail. Each and every piece of correspondence I receive is important because it allows me to better understand the New Yorkers I serve in the United States Senate.

As you can imagine, my office receives a great number of messages every day regarding a variety of issues – this is particularly true of e-mails. It makes me proud to know that my constituents take an active role in our government by corresponding with me, and I look forward to responding to your concerns in greater detail. In the meantime, I just wanted to let you know that your e-mail has been received, and to ask for your patience until I send you a more detailed response.

Again, thank you for writing. Please feel free to visit my website to follow my work in the Senate and to learn more about the services my office can provide to you.

Warmest regards

That's right, no signature. While I try to mitigate first impression syndrome, this goes to show how important Public Relations can be.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Social responsibility and 'real change'

A few weeks ago I went to our local TD Bank branch as I heard about their free change counting machines. My girlfriend and I had been keeping loose change in a one-gallon ziploc bag, and it summed to over $140. Now that's real change!

And speaking of real change, I recently started my new stint at New Leaders for New Schools, a not-for-profit organization whose mission is to ensure high academic achievement for every student by attracting and preparing outstanding leaders, and supporting the performance of the urban public schools they lead. I'm finding the work extremely rewarding and we're taking on big challenges - single sign on solutions, complete consumption of Software as a Service (SaaS) and leveraging cloud services like Salesforce. In fact New Leaders won an award for the innovative work they're doing with the Force plantform. And the largest issue - helping Principals lead their schools based on best practices at scale. Check out our Urban Excellence Framework for a peek into driving dramatic achievement results in schools.

Some other great places to find real change: The job board which allows you to find nonprofit careers in your area of interest; which supports micro-funding of Teacher's requests for their classrooms; and WiserEarth - "connecting you to communities of action". Leave your favorites in the comments!