Monday, June 22, 2009

Gerry Connolly, Master of Constituent Services

Last year, when I crossed over into the United States from Canada, I had the dubious pleasure of being flagged by a Homeland Security database at the border as a dangerous felon. The time in between my being taken into custody and them figuring out I wasn't the person they thought I was wasn't particularly fun. Next month, my family has a trip planned that will once again take us across US borders, and I'd thought it might make some sense to try to resolve the issue before I spend some more time in a holding cell.

I'd tried writing my representative in Congress last year when it happened, but I never heard back. Not a surprise, as he was leaving office. Knowing this travel was coming up, I tried again with his successor, Rep. Gerry Connolly, two months ago. Today, I finally got a response.

That response is cut and pasted below:

Dear Rev. Williams,

Thank you for contacting me about _________. I appreciate your interest in this issue and your views are important to me.

As a Member of Congress, it is essential that I know my constituents' thoughts and concerns so I can best represent their interests in Congress. I will continue to watch this issue closely going forward to determine if any Congressional action is necessary.

Once again, thank you for expressing your concern on this very important issue. I enjoyed hearing from you. For more information on my views on other issues, please feel free to visit my website at I also encourage you to visit the website to sign up for my e-newsletter.


Gerald Connolly
Member of Congress

I guess it must have been too difficult for this particular boilerplate form to handle my lil problem. "Thank you for contacting me about your false arrest on the United States border. I appreciate your interest in this issue and your views are important to me," does sound a bit on the lame side, but at least it would have shown some marginal effort.

I hadn't really expected a substantive response, but you'd at least think his interns would have been told that they're supposed to fill in the blank in the first sentence.

Ah well. Democracy in action, eh?


As it so happens, folks on his staff are more on the ball than I thought. More here.