Speaking Truth to Power in Providence

On Monday, June 13th, I met Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-Rhode Island). It was my first time meeting a U.S. Senator! After we sat down at the conference table and introductions were made, I was given the opportunity to inform the Senator about the issues.

Here in Rhode Island, we are working with community allies to keep J.P. Morgan Chase from charging unreasonable bankcard fees to Rhode Island’s economically distressed, unemployed and temporarily disabled residents. We are asking the Governor to put the state’s contract with J.P. Morgan Chase out to bid as it expires, and we are asking other elected officials to support the Governor in making this decision.

I don’t get nervous often, but to inform a Senator about what is going on back home?  I was almost shaking. But as I started to hit my stride and make my key points, the Senator started to ask thoughtful questions. I soon realized that he was actively listening to us and was very interested in what we were telling him! At the end of the discussion, we stood up to shake hands and exchange farewells, and I did what any good Summer Organizer would do:

“Senator, can I snag a picture with you? To throw up on my Facebook page?”

Good-naturedly, the Senator smiled and said that he would allow it.

I told my wife and family as soon as I got home that I got a fantastic picture with a U.S. Senator and I felt really proud of what we got accomplished.

Not bad, for a Monday.

-James, Summer Organizer, Providence

UPDATE!

The Providence Journal reported on July 30, 2011 that “Kenneth C. Kirsch, deputy director of the state Department of Administration, says he has met with the union and has told it that the administration will put the debit-card contract out to bid within the next month. The contract with JPMorgan Chase expires Jan. 14, 2012.” Si se puede!