By Minister Moten
I borrow from “Peter” to pay “Paul”. What am I going to do? Can I pay my rent, keep the
lights on, and will my food last until my next income blessing. And, then I hear about Pepco’s rate hike request and the millions its CEO makes. Everyday my neighbors and I live by – piecing money together and praying that we will be blessed for another week or another month – to make ends meet.
I had a job is at a daycare center that’s sponsored by a church in southeast, Washington, DC. From 6:30 A.M. until 6:00 P.M., I cared for the children of low income parents or families that have no income at all, over 100 in all. We are all low on money but high on hope.
The center is often the only guaranteed warm, safe, place many of us including the children have. The truth of the matter is that they are just babies, 6 weeks to 5 years old many of whom are without lights at home. Right now Pepco is threatening to turn off the daycare’s power because our electric bill is over 10 thousand dollars and the center can’t pay it all at once. Based on the limited funding we receive, we are paying what we can every month. A flood in 2010 (and no flood insurance) led to tough times at the center. For me, it was losing my job at the center that led to a Pepco bill of sixteen hundred dollars ($1,600) that I couldn’t pay. It took a toll on my health. I can’t sleep, and I am experiencing headaches, respiratory illnesses all because I didn’t have any heat when it was cold. Without electricity, I sleep with my clothes on every night and I really feel for those small children who don’t understand why they are cold every night.
One day, a guy named Travis from a group called, “OurDC” got in touch with me and talked to me about Pepco’s price increase. Travis mentioned they were going to do a march on Pepco protesting the rate hike and Pepco paying no federal income taxes. I later learned that Pepco’s CEO, Mr. Joe Rigby, made over seven millions dollars last year. I wonder, if he ever thinks about the struggling people like me, my neighbors, the babies in the daycare
center, and the folks that don’t have the money to pay their electric bills? Does he consider how higher rates will affect my life and the tax money Pepco doesn’t pay could help my neighbors.
I brought several church members with me to the march. As I marched I couldn’t help but think about the loss of my job at the daycare and the struggles I am going through since PEPCO shut off my lights. I have faith that the daycare center will find a way to keep its lights on! As for me and so many of my neighbors, we do what we can to stretch every dollar, hoping to keep the power on and make ends meets.
Some things just don’t make sense to me; PEPCO doesn’t pay income taxes and somehow still gets millions in government tax refunds. “How can a company not pay income taxes when my meager unemployment check is taxed?” I don’t agree with how these things work, but in truth, this just shows heartlessness. In hard economic times like these, how can PEPCO keep asking people for more money when it already gets so much and gives back so little? OurDC is protesting at the Pepco shareholder meeting on May 18th. Believe me, I’ll be there.