No Surprise Giffords Used Video for Farewell

She had been using video teleconferencing since 2009 to communicate with staff throughout Arizona
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It comes as no surprise that former member of the U.S. House of Representatives Gabrielle Giffords, D-Ariz, would use video to announce her resignation from Congress.

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In the 2:05 video—made public on Jan. 22, 2012—Giffords says she is leaving the House to focus on recovering from the gunshot wound she sustained Jan. 8, 2011 during the shooting spree in which six were killed and 13 wounded.

Giffords also looks back at her career and urged her colleagues in Congress to continue her practice of working across party lines for the good of the country. “A lot has happened over the past year,” she says. “We cannot change that. But I know on the issues we fought for, we can change things for the better. Jobs, border security, veterans; we can do so much more by working together.”

VTC USED SINCE 2009

Of course the value of using video was not new to Giffords. She had been using video teleconferencing (VTC) since 2009 to communicate with her staff at offices in Sierra Vista and Tucson, Ariz., thereby saving “taxpayer dollars,” according to Giffords staffers. However, the need for VTC to conduct House business increased dramatically as Giffords’ worked to recover, Ashley Nash-Hahn, Giffords’ deputy communications director, told Government Video.

“It’s [VTC] been essential for the congresswoman to communicate on issues important to constituents,” Nash-Hahn said. “Holding video teleconference meetings meant not having to spend on travel expenses, but still getting the work done,” she added.

As Giffords underwent rehabilitation, VTC enabled the representative’s Washington staff to keep her informed of what was going on in the House, while the staff in Sierra Vista and Tucson told her about the constituents who had been helped with things like veteran’s benefits, or preventing a foreclosure, Nash-Hahn said.

The VTC used was a Tandberg Edge 95, which was in all of Giffords’ offices, says Jim Dennany, the former representative’s technology manager. The Tandberg is “very easy to use, very user friendly,” he said. There have not been any major problems with the VTC system since it was set up in 2009, he said. However, “being on the House network is always a little difficult because there are security procedures and firewalls,” he said. But “the VTC has played a huge role in increasing our systems within the office; it has been a huge help,” he said.

Unfortunately, the work conducted by Giffords during 2010 via VTC had an outcome related to the shooting. A casualty of the spree was U.S. District Judge John Roll, who Giffords engaged in a VTC meeting along with her district director Ron Barber, and other government and community leaders to discuss the burdening caseload occurring at the federal courthouse in Yuma, Ariz.

The courthouse was originally built in 1992 when only 826 cases annually were heard, but that number had grown to over 4,000 cases being heard each year. Following the VTC meeting, Giffords worked with Roll to secure $28 million in federal stimulus funding to construct a new courthouse that could handle the increased caseload. Construction of the new courthouse began in July 2011, and President Barack Obama signed a bill into law to name the new Yuma courthouse the John M. Roll United States Courthouse.

On Jan. 25, Giffords personally delivered her resignation letter to House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio. At the same time she vowed to return to a life of public service. Her return is a video many people would be happy to see.

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