The Delta Grassroots Caucus (DGC) is a broad coalition of grassroots leaders in the eight-state Delta region. DGC is also a founding partner of the Economic Equality Caucus,
which advocates for economic equality across the USA.

Economic Equality Caucus, May 17-18 in Washington, DC: Jobs, Health Care, Education, Diversity

Posted on February 20, 2017 at 04:28 PM

The Economic Equality Caucus (EEC), will convene a conference on Capitol Hill on May 17-18, 2017 to have a dialogue with Members of Congress, Trump administration officials, and grassroots advocates about economic equality, job creation, health care, and education for working Americans.

The Delta Caucus is one of the key partners for this conference led by our national affiliate, the Economic Equality Caucus, which will focus on economic inequality across the country, including the Greater Delta Region from southern Illinois and Missouri to New Orleans and east to the Alabama Black Belt, Appalachia, the Southwest Border, the Midwest, Native Americans, the Mid-Atlantic Virginia/Washington, DC/Maryland region, and inner cities such as Baltimore, New York, Memphis, New Orleans and Washington, DC.

Please RSVP by registering (registration information is below) or by replying by phone to (202) 360-6347 or by email at LeePowell@delta.comcastbiz.net

This is bipartisan. We are inviting Members of Congress from both parties, Trump administration officials on key job creation and infrastructure issues, and grassroots economic development and equality advocates from across the country.

Make your voices heard in our nation’s capital: Whatever your beliefs or concerns are, come to our nation’s capital and express your views to the national powers that be. Members of Congress and administration officials are impressed when concerned citizens come to Capitol Hill to urge greater action for economic growth and equality in our country.

Nowadays, we often hear people complain about partisan gridlock in Washington, DC, or express disdain for either one or both of the major parties. Our response is that if you want to guarantee that gridlock and inaction persist, the surest way to get such a poor result is to give up on the democratic process and do nothing. Whatever your views, come to DC and give our elected officials an earful in person.

For this conference the Mid-Atlantic Region is one of the key regions, because although Virginia/Washington, DC/Maryland are relatively prosperous overall, even they have significant pockets of poverty. Economic inequality unfortunately is widespread across the country nowadays. With its dense population and many national organizations with headquarters in this area and, of course, proximity to Capitol Hill, this region has great potential for constructive activism for economic equality.

The Delta Caucus is a founding partner of the national EEC and is joining forces with similarly situated regions and populations across the country to amplify our voices in urging the national powers that be to take more effective action for those who have not shared equally in America’s prosperity and opportunity.

TABLE OF CONTENTS FOR THIS MESSAGE:

I. KEY ISSUES

II. SCHEDULE

III. REGISTRATION

IV. GROUP HOTEL

I. Key issues:

Job creation on a range of issues, in particular support for major investments in transportation, housing and other infrastructure to create jobs and improve our deteriorating infrastructure. Job creation at good wages will be a key issue. We will urge Congress and the Trump administration to follow through on promises made during the campaign to make major investments in infrastructure to create jobs and repair America’s deteriorating infrastructure.

A strong system of public education is essential for improving economic opportunity and equality. Whatever your views are concerning President Trump’s Secretary of Education, Betsy DeVos, come to DC and make your voice heard.

Health care: The Affordable Care Act has expanded health insurance to many millions of Americans who never had it before, but even supporters of the ACA acknowledge it needs improvements. If it is to be discarded we want to know what the alternative is.

The hunger safety net including SNAP, school meals, WIC and other hunger and nutrition programs provide a vital safety net and deserve strong funding.

Gender, racial and ethnic diversity: We can’t have a system of economic equality if certain regions and populations always lag behind, such as the Delta, Southwest Border, Appalachia, the Rust Belt, inner cities, Native Americans, Hispanics, African Americans, women, and impoverished rural areas.

We take a comprehensive approach to economic development and equality and will cover a range of issues. We will select a few of these to prioritize since we can’t cover all these issues, and invite feedback on which three or four of these issues you would most like to see highlighted.

We are a diverse group including women, African Americans, Hispanics, Native Americans, Asian Americans, whites and people of all demographic backgrounds.

II. SCHEDULE

HOUSE SESSION: Wednesday evening, May 17, 2017, 4:30 p.m. to 7:45 p.m. The opening session is at the US House of Representatives Rayburn building, Room 2060.

SENATE SESSION: Thursday morning, May 18, 2017, 8:30 a.m. to 10:45 a.m.; Senate meeting room TBD (Senate rules do not allow room reservations until 90 days before an event)

CLOSING SESSION: Thursday afternoon, May 18, 2017, 11:45 a.m. to 2:45 p.m., Lutheran Church of the Reformation on Capitol Hill, 212 East Capitol St. near the US Supreme Court

III. REGISTRATION

You register by sending in the early registration fees.

Early Registration fees for attending both days of the conference are $125 each until April 21, 2017. Those who have paid their annual membership dues will receive a reduction down to $100 each.

GROUP DISCOUNTS:

We will offer registration fee group discounts depending on the size of the group. For a group of five or more attendees the fees will be reduced to $75, and down to $50 for a group of 10.

For a large group there will be a relatively small lump sum. Most people wish to attend most of the conference on both days, but for a small number who can only make one session we will pro-rate the registration fees, (minimum of $25).

Late registration fees: After April 21, 2017, registration fees are increased to $160 to provide an incentive to get the fees in on time.

Space is limited so please RSVP by sending in the registration fees ASAP.

You can pay the registration fees in two ways:

Go to the website and use the PayPal process at the top of the site at www.mdgc.us

Send a check by mail. Please make out the check to “Delta Caucus” and mail to:

Delta Caucus

5030 Purslane Place

Waldorf, MD 20601

IV. GROUP HOTEL:

We have a group discount rate with the Hilton Garden Inn at Reagan National Airport at $199 for the night of May 17. Please call the hotel at (703) 920-8600 to reserve your room.

We also have some rooms for the night of May 18, although most people only stay one night to reduce costs.

The conference is scheduled so that people can save money by only having one hotel night to pay for. You can arrive Wednesday afternoon May 17 and check in and go to the opening session on Capitol Hill starting at 4:30 p.m. Then you can check out on the morning of May 18, store your luggage at the hotel if necessary, and go to the May 18 morning, lunch and early afternoon sessions.

The conference ends about 2:45 p.m. so you can get a flight back home that evening.

Spring is one of the busiest times of the year for Washington, DC so this is a relatively low rate for a hotel that is a short drive both from our meeting locations on Capitol Hill and to Reagan National Airport.

The deadline for the group hotel is April 17. After that day there may not be any more spaces available and in there are you will not get the discount rate.

For more information, contact Lee Powell, Co-Chair, EEC and Delta Caucus Executive Director (202) 360-6347

Time for a Change in DRA Federal Co-Chair Post, & Recommendations to Prevent Recent Issues from Recurring

Posted on January 25, 2017 at 12:09 PM

As we enter a new administration and new Congress, the Delta Caucus strongly endorses continued growth for the Delta Regional Authority, a small but good agency for which we believe Rep. Rick Crawford, Sen. John Boozman and most Members of Congress as well as Gov. Asa Hutchinson and the region’s governors are doing a great job.

However, the current DRA Federal Co-Chair is an Obama administration appointee who is trying to hang on into the Trump administration, has engaged in ill-advised partisan actions, grossly exaggerated the impact of this small but good agency’s impact, supported sending of substantial parts of the DRA’s limited budget outside of the Delta, and supported the bad practice of adding on a tiny DRA contribution to a massive private sector contribution to add the total amount to their totals in news releases. For all of these reasons, it’s time for a change in the post of DRA Federal Co-Chair.

“Despite the Caucus’ longstanding support for the agency, we don’t rubber-stamp all actions of every DRA political appointee. We have serious policy disagreements with the current DRA Federal Co-Chair, Mr. Chris Masingill, and present four recommendations to prevent recent mistakes from being repeated by future Presidential appointees,” said Kevin Smith of Helena-West Helena, Caucus senior adviser.

“But beyond the fact that we thought he made and continues to make many mistakes in his role at the DRA, it’s a basic reality that each administration needs their own staff in appointed executive branch positions. Someone who opposed the current President’s candidacy in the 2016 election cannot appropriately serve during the Trump administration. It’s time for a change in the DRA post,” Smith said.

The current DRA Co-Chair has made inappropriate partisan statements, such as endorsing Hillary Clinton at the Democratic National Convention in 2016 in comments in Arkansas’ largest newspaper (Democrat-Gazette) while being identified in his post at the DRA. “He cannot appropriately serve in the Trump administration after having publicly opposed Trump in the election. Many Delta Caucus partners supported Hillary while some supported Mr. Trump, so our point is not that he endorsed Hillary, but that he should not have made any endorsement of any candidate or party. The DRA should be strictly nonpartisan.” said Caucus director Lee Powell.

While it is too early to tell what policies the Trump administration will take regarding economically distressed populations like the Delta and we hope to work with them in a positive way, there are concerns about some of the Cabinet appointees’ right-wing positions on such issues as minimum wages and above all repeal and replacement of the Affordable Care Act, which has been beneficial to many people in the Delta.

Such positions as repeal of the ACA clearly contradict the positions of both former President Obama and Secretary Hillary Clinton, and as an avowed supporter of those two leaders, it is surprising and illogical that the current DRA Federal Co-Chair would desire to continue working for a President who advocates policies that are so opposed to those of Obama and Clinton. The vast majority of Obama appointees immediately resigned when Trump was inaugurated, and that is what the current DRA Federal Co-Chair should do.

Smith said “Lee Powell and I and most of the other Delta Caucus partners were strongly pro-Hillary Clinton as is our right as private sector citizens in the election, but a government official at the DRA should stay out of partisan politics. So our question is: Why does Mr. Masingill want to continue serving in the Trump administration when he publicly opposed Trump in the campaign? How can he work effectively with Trump administration officials and Republicans in Congress and governors? Has he set a date to leave so as to hasten the Trump administration installing their own appointee? He should have left already like most of the previous administration appointees did, and he should resign now.”

“We need a DRA leader to help urge President Trump to make major investments in the Delta for transportation and other infrastructure as he pledged in his campaign, but we need a true Trump appointee in there to do so,” Smith said.

Key recommendations: In addition to the call for DRA staff to avoid partisan statements, substantial parts of the DRA’s small budget should not be sent outside the heart of the east Arkansas Delta as has happened the last two years; there should be an end to gross exaggerations of this good but small agency’s impact; and the agency should not add on a tiny DRA contribution to massive projects funded by other sources that would have happened without any DRA involvement.

“While most Delta Caucus partners were Hillary supporters, we also have some Trump supporters in our network, and we have had good discussions with them about the need to get a Trump appointee to fill this post. We have confidence that Rep. Rick Crawford and Sen. John Boozman (R-AR) always stay on top of DRA issues, and we feel sure they are working to get a well-qualified appointee approved by the Trump administration in that job as soon as possible,” Powell said.

The DRA is a small agency that does some good projects each year; however, the vastly larger federal departments like USDA, HHS, US DOT, Commerce, etc., have programs of greatest impact on the Delta. The DRA can be a useful supplement to these large-scale programs. By far the most beneficial initiative for the Delta in recent years is the Affordable Care Act, which provided insurance to thousands in the Delta who never had it before. We just need to remember that the DRA is quite small.

Key recommendations to prevent recent mistakes from happening in the future:

• Avoiding partisanship: “All DRA officials should be careful to refrain from any partisan activities or comments, such as an ill-advised comment by Mr. Masingill while being identified in his government job praising Hillary Clinton at the Democratic National Convention in 2016, as well as other partisan actions. Delta Caucus partners happen to include many supporters of Hillary Clinton, but it is just not the DRA chair’s role as a government official to make any partisan comments for any party or any candidate,” Smith said.

• “DRA officials should avoid gross exaggerations of this small but good agency’s impact on the still economically distressed Delta, and not try to make inflated claims that it makes a major impact on the regional and the entire state’s economy. The DRA news releases have frequently made these claims when in fact poverty is still quite serious in much of the Delta.

The DRA does some good projects each year, but there’s no point in exaggerating it. These inaccurate claims weaken our ability to advocate for the DRA budget, defend it against cuts, and expand it to the much larger levels of our sister agency, the Appalachian Regional Commission, because some powers that be in Congress say we don’t need more funding if there is already such a major impact,” Powell said.

• The DRA should stop the ill-advised practice of tacking on a relatively tiny DRA contribution in some projects to a massive private sector investment—for example adding $150,000 to a project whose entire cost was $62 million for the North Little Rock Electric Dept., which would have happened without any DRA involvement. The claims that their small budget has caused “more than $2.9 billion” to be invested in the region is erroneous. Economics Professor Emeritus of ASU Garyl Latanich stresses that when the DRA contribution is so small, these projects “would have gone on without any DRA involvement.”

• The DRA should focus its funding in the impoverished east Arkansas Delta rather than scattering them across the state, in some cases in areas that are not located in the Delta: “Last year over half the funding oddly went to Little Rock, two projects in North Little Rock, Yellville in northwest AR hill country; Fairfield Bay; and this year at least $900,000 went to Bull Shoals, Stone County in the northern AR hill country, and to El Dorado, a relatively prosperous community southwest of Little Rock. These communities are just not located in the Delta and it was not the original intent when this agency was created for substantial parts of the funding to go outside the Delta,” said Harvey Joe Sanner.

DRA’s mission is to focus on the east AR Delta:The DRA statutory boundary lines were drawn expansively so that the region would not appear too small, yet the great majority of the 42 AR counties are in east AR; the requirement that 75% of the funding must go to economically distressed counties was intended to steer funding to east AR, and the clear legislative history and intent were that the DRA was created to aid the impoverished heartland of the east Arkansas Delta.

The Delta Caucus partners give high marks to Members of Congress such as Sen. John Boozman, Rep. Rick Crawford, and others in the Arkansas and Delta regional delegation for supporting the DRA budget, defeating attempts to slash its funding or even abolish it. The budget has now been increased to $28 million (of which Arkansas’ share is $3.2 million), which is small but better than the $6 million of the early 2000s or the $12 to $14 million range in recent years.

DRA budget dwarfed by vastly larger ARC: The DRA budget is dwarfed by our sister regional agency, the Appalachian Regional Commission, whose basic economic development budget is 5 times larger at $146 million. Beyond that, for many decades the ARC had $400 million or more each year for the Appalachian Highway Development System. The ARC no longer controls that funding, but the ARC-created highway corridors still gain funds from the Surface Transportation Program. By contrast the DRA has never held a separate highway development major source of funding.

The Delta Caucus appreciates Gov. Asa Hutchinson’s support for the DRA; he serves with the governors of the 8 Delta states on the DRA board. As a statewide official, we know the governor would be pleased when any AR community gets federal funding. However, the DRA Federal Co-Chair has a very different role: he is supposed to make sure the agency remains true to the DRA’s original mission and intent, which was to aid the heart of the east Arkansas impoverished Delta.

Therefore, we place the primary responsibility upon DRA Federal Co-Chair, Mr. Masingill, for what we regard as funding allocations going to places outside the Delta. The Co-Chair not only supported these projects outside the Delta but made public communications touting the agency as helping over this huge area of the state—this is far beyond the scope of this good but small agency. Stretching its small budget that far greatly dilutes its impact on the areas where it is most needed.

DRA Alternate Federal Co-Chair Mike Marshall did a very good job, as did former DRA official Rex Nelson for President Bush. We say this to stress that most Presidential appointees in the DRA’s history have performed their duties admirably.

Delta Caucus partners include Clinton administration appointees Lee Powell and Wilson Golden who were involved in the DRA’s creation. The Caucus later fought for the agency through the lean years when the Bush administration slashed its funding, the arduous battle to get funding closer to the original $30 million (now $28 million) envisaged when President Clinton signed the bill creating the agency into law in late 2000. The key long-term goal is to gain equality with the ARC.

The DRA Arkansas announcements in 2016 included $3.2 million for projects that had a total of $26 million. The DRA release stated that the funding was “primarily” from the DRA SEDAP program. Again, it is good that the DRA contributed to these projects, but they were one of many contributors and gave only about 13% of the total.


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Economic Equality Caucus Set for May 17-18, 2017 on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC

Posted on January 03, 2017 at 03:37 PM

The Delta Caucus and our national affiliate, the Economic Equality Caucus (EEC), will convene a conference on Capitol Hill on May 17-18, 2017 to have a dialogue with Members of Congress and the new administration of President-Elect Donald Trump about economic development and equality for working Americans.

The focus will be on economically distressed populations across the country, including the Greater Delta Region from southern Illinois and Missouri to New Orleans and east to the Alabama Black Belt, Appalachia, the Southwest Border, the Midwest, Native Americans, the Mid-Atlantic Virginia/Washington, DC/Maryland region, and inner cities such as Baltimore, New York, St. Louis, Memphis, New Orleans and Washington, DC.

We are inviting Members of Congress, Trump administration officials on key job creation and infrastructure issues, and grassroots economic development and equality advocates from across the country on key health care, education, nutrition and other vital issues.

The Mid-Atlantic Region is one of the key regions, because we want to emphasize that even areas like Virginia/Washington, DC/Maryland that are relatively prosperous overall still have significant pockets of poverty. Economic inequality unfortunately is widespread across the country nowadays.

The Delta Caucus is a founding partner of the national EEC and is joining forces with similarly situated regions and populations across the country to amplify our voices in urging the national powers that be to take more effective action for those who have not shared equally in America’s prosperity and opportunity.

The Greater Delta will have an important role due to the unfortunately still economically distressed nature of many areas in the eight-state Delta region.

Job creation at good wages will be a key issue. We will urge Congress and the Trump administration to follow through on promises made during the campaign to make major investments in infrastructure to create jobs and repair America’s deteriorating infrastructure.

Health care, hunger and nutrition, housing, energy and education will be key issues as well; we take a comprehensive approach to economic development and equality and will cover a range of issues. We will select a few of these to prioritize since we can’t cover all these issues, and invite feedback on which three or four of these issues you would most like to see highlighted. Reply by email to leepowell@delta.comcastbiz.net

We are a diverse group including women, African Americans, Hispanics, Native Americans, Asian Americans, whites and people of all demographic backgrounds.

SCHEDULE

HOUSE SESSION: Wednesday evening, May 17, 2017, 4:30 p.m. to 7:45 p.m. The opening session is at the US House of Representatives Rayburn building, Room 2060.

SENATE SESSION: Thursday morning, May 18, 2017, 8:30 a.m. to 11 a.m.; Senate meeting room TBD (Senate rules do not allow room reservations until 90 days before an event)

CLOSING SESSION: Thursday afternoon, May 18, 2017, noon to 2:45 p.m., Lutheran Church of the Reformation on Capitol Hill

Space is limited so please RSVP early by sending in the registration fees ASAP either by PayPal on the website at www.mdgc.us or mailing a check to the address below.

For more information contact Lee Powell, EEC Co-Chair and Delta Caucus Executive Director (202) 360-6347 or by email at LeePowell@delta.comcastbiz.net

REGISTRATION

You register by sending in the early registration fees.

Early Registration fees are $125 each until April 21, 2017. Those who have paid their annual membership dues will receive a reduction down to $100 each.

Late registration fees: After April 21, 2017, registration fees are increased to $160 to provide an incentive to get the fees in on time.

Space is limited so please RSVP by sending in the registration fees ASAP.

You can pay the registration fees in two ways:

Go to the website and use the PayPal process at the top of the site at www.mdgc.us

Send a check by mail. Please make out the check to “Delta Caucus” and mail to:

Delta Caucus

5030 Purslane Place

Waldorf, MD 20601

For more information, contact Lee Powell, Co-Chair, EEC and Delta Caucus Executive Director (202) 360-6347

Support McElroy Bill for Seat Belts in School Buses; & Federal Mandate Nationwide

Posted on December 09, 2016 at 01:55 PM

The Delta Caucus encourages all of our partners to support Rep. Mark McElroy’s bill to push school districts in Arkansas to buy new school buses equipped with seat belts; this should be a model for states across the country.

Similar legislation should be pushed in the other seven Delta states, and ultimately it’s the federal government that has the financial and national clout to mandate school bus seat belts across America.

Rep. McElroy (D-Tillar), who is one of the Delta Caucus’ senior advisers, rightly says it’s past time to change decades-old assumptions about school bus safety and protect children in the event of a crash. Back in 1977 federal safety regulations only required school buses to employ “compartmentalization”-meaning the box-like space made by higher seats with protective padding.

At the federal level, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration for the first time changed its stance in 2015, when Administrator Mark Rosekind stated that seat belts should be standard on every school bus in America.

The Delta Caucus urges the Congress, the Obama administration and the incoming Trump administration to make the feds put their money where their mouth is and mandate seat belt usage in every bus, which they have not done.

Back in 2011 the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration concluded that requiring seat belts nationally would reduce the number of school children killed each year from five to three.

Why have the feds stated that seat belts are a vital safety precaution that should be in every school bus, but not mandated it? It would require about $10,000 to include seat belts in every seat.

As McElroy rightly says, “Now (federal government officials) say that seat belts do save lives. They stopped short of mandating because of the money. When they say it’s not about the money, it’s about the money.”

Hey, feds, state officials and bus manufacturers–how much is the life of a child worth? Don’t quibble about $10,000 per bus when children’s safety is at stake.

Why are seat belts in their families’ cars but not when they ride a school bus?

Rep. McElroy filed his bill before the tragic accident in which six school children were killed in Chattanooga, Tennessee. So McElroy was not just chasing publicity but has advocated for seat belts in buses for a long time.

These accidents have occurred in the past and will continue to do so unless safety standards are heightened. In 2004, a bus in the Siloam Springs, Arkansas area crashed killing one student and injuring seven. In 1983, four students and five teachers were killed when a Jonesboro School District bus crashed.

Local control issue at the state level: The Congress and the President have the financial resources to mandate seat belt usage and provide funding, if they have the will and foresight to do so. However, at the state level, there are local control issues that Rep. McElroy has taken into account.

A bill was introduced in 2001 in Arkansas that required all new school buses to have seat belts and that students wear them. School administrators and bus manufacturers opposed the bill and it died in the House Education Committee.

To allow for local control, McElroy’s bill would require school districts to determine the costs of requiring seat belts on new bus purchases if more than 10% of the district’s voters filed a petition supporting this requirement. Then the district must place a millage tax to cover the costs on the ballot during the next election. If the tax passes, seat belts would be required.

Surely the great majority of school districts would place a very small tax on themselves to pay for safety for school children. Shame on those who don’t, but the local control approach of Rep. McElroy will get over the obstacle that blocked previous efforts.

We would ask for Gov. Asa Hutchinson’s support for this long overdue legislation.

Rep. McElroy’s chief adviser on this issue is a seventh-grade student in southeast Arkansas named Hannah Adler, who approached him at the Cattlemen’s Pie Auction in Star City, Arkansas and discussed a project she was working on regarding the use of seat belts in school buses.

In this case a seventh-grade student is a far better expert than lobbyists in Little Rock or Washington, DC.

While passage of this state law ought to be a no-brainer deserving support from both parties in Arkansas and other states, it’s true that the local input could mean that some districts will not require their use.

For that reason, we reiterate that Congress and the White House should mandate national seat belt use in school buses across America as the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said they ought to do in order to save children’s lives.

McElroy’s experience on this issue goes back literally decades. There was a dangerous episode when at the age of 17, Mark was hired to drive a school bus full of cheerleaders along the then-perilous “Pig Trail” from McGehee, Arkansas to Fayetteville. The Pig Trail of that era wound around mountainous passes and hair-pin turns in the Ozarks.

Delta Caucus partners grilled McElroy about that adventure, because we suspected that his mind was much more focused on the cheerleaders than it was on the road. He confessed that he often was looking in the rear-view mirror at the girls.

By a fantastic stroke of fate, despite McElroy’s inattention, the bus arrived safely in Fayetteville and no cheerleader was harmed.

This proves the ancient saying that “God looks after crazy people and Southern country boys” (we may be repeating ourselves with that last phrase regarding Mark McElroy.)

Call your state and federal officials and tell them to put seat belts in all school buses.

The Delta Caucus/Economic Equality Caucus focuses primarily on community and economic development issues, but we also advocate for key quality of life initiatives, and increasing safety for school children ought to be supported by Republicans, Democrats and Independents alike.

Annual Membership Dues Request, November-December 2016; & General Plan for 2017

Posted on November 29, 2016 at 02:21 PM

We hope everyone is having a good holiday season. The Delta Caucus/Economic Equality Caucus is engaging in a year-end fundraising drive to request annual membership dues for all those who support our advocacy for economic equality in the Greater Delta Region and across the country.

We are a private sector, bipartisan grassroots advocacy organization and our budget is entirely made up of voluntary donations in the form of annual membership dues, registration fees for the major conferences, and some sponsorships.

We base our budget on a large number of modest contributions, and dues are only required for $25 once a calendar year, although many contribute $50 or $100.

This is our year-end fundraising drive for 2016, so please send in your donation in the next few days before the holidays crunch comes in.

The small amount of $25 once a year is all we require for membership, although larger organizations, universities, banks, foundations, corporations or those who wish to contribute larger amounts usually contribute at $50, $75 or $100.

We have such a large number of partners that this will add up to a significant amount. We are sending out more reminders than we used to and we feel sure that for those who have not yet sent in their dues it was just an oversight.

Again the only requirement is $25 once a year. This will help the budget in a major way and can’t be a burden on the vast majority of our colleagues’ finances.

Please make out the check to “Delta Caucus” and mail to:

Delta Caucus

5030 Purslane Place

Waldorf, MD 20601

Alternatively, you can go to the website at www.mdgc.us and use the PayPal process to pay if that is more convenient for you.

Many organizations and leaders pay the dues now and we are making this a requirement if you wish to be a member–meaning that if you wish to attend our conferences, be invited to them, receive group email newsletters and otherwise stay in touch with and be involved with our organization, we do require the simple, minimal action of sending in the $25 membership dues once a year.

We never want to send these requests or any other information to anyone who is not interested. Please advise if you do not wish to be a member by sending an email to us at leepowell@delta.comcastbiz.net and we will remove your name from the data base and the group email list.

A grassroots organization needs to raise funds by a large number of modest contributions, to avoid dependence on a few “big bucks” donors. We do ask for a few sponsorships but do not want to depend on a few large donors and we have a diversified financial base. We are placing increasing emphasis on collecting annual dues from all partners, at least for $25 once a year.

Our only sources of income come from voluntary donations in the form of annual membership dues, registration fees for larger conferences, and sponsorships. We are not and cannot be a 501c3 because we need to have complete freedom to engage in all forms of political expression that a 501c3 cannot.

Delta/Economic Equality Caucus Activities for 2017:

–Year-round advocacy by individual or small group emails, phone calls, or small meetings: Every week we contact federal, state and grassroots partners regarding key issues such as job creation, infrastructure, health care for underserved populations, hunger and nutrition, USDA programs, renewable energy/energy efficiency, education and other initiatives crucial to bringing about broader economic progress.

Group email newsletters on key issues-we encourage people to make a quick phone call or email to federal and state powers that be on initiatives that they agree are beneficial to economic equality.

Website postings at www.mdgc.us

News releases on key issues issued when legislation or other matters are pressing.

News conferences in the Washington, DC area or the Arkansas state Capitol.

Washington, DC conference-national in scope–on Economic Equality on Capitol Hill, spring, 2017: the Delta Grassroots Caucus will be joined by our partners representing other major regions and populations including Appalachia, Southwest Border, parts of the Midwest, Native Americans, New York, key inner cities like New Orleans, Memphis, St. Louis, Baltimore and Washington, DC; and the Mid-Atlantic region of Virginia/DC/Maryland, which is relatively prosperous overall but has significant areas of economic distress.

Conference at the Clinton Presidential Library in Little Rock, Arkansas, October, 2017-this will highlight the Greater Delta Region but will also include some national participants.

The largest region of economic distress is unfortunately the Greater Delta Region, which we expansively define as extending from Missouri and Illinois down to New Orleans and eastward to the Alabama Black Belt.

The Delta Caucus is reinforced by allies in Appalachia, Southwest, Midwest, New York, Mid-Atlantic region to amplify our influence in recent years: Over the last three or four years, we have joined forces with like-minded partners in the other key regions mentioned above-Appalachia, SW Border, Midwest, Mid-Atlantic, etc.-because they have very similar views on key economic and community development issues as the Delta partners do and our voices will be greatly strengthened by allies from all over the country.

We have been advocating year in and year out for 15 years now, in good times and bad. We will continue our advocacy as vigorously as ever in 2017 to the Trump administration, Congress, federal and state officials, and grassroots partners.

Organizational status: We are not a 501c3 because we need to have complete freedom of action to engage in political dialogue on some issues that some may feel are somewhat controversial at times, to engage in lobbying for broad-minded initiatives supporting the prosperity of the majority of Americans, and to otherwise speak our minds as we see fit after feedback from our many partners across the country.

As you know, 501c3 organizations have limitations on their freedom of political expression and lobbying activities. Our entire purpose as an organization is to engage in bipartisan public policy and political advocacy and occasion lobbying for broad-based initiatives. Thus all of our funding comes from private sector donations, we do not have any tax benefits, and we do not get funding from the government (except for routine matters like registration fees to pay for attendance at a conference, or on rare occasions funding to help disseminate information in emergencies like floods or hurricanes.)

We are all familiar with organizations who had or sought tax-exempt status who were discriminated against by the IRS because of their public policy positions. We are invulnerable to that kind of pressure, because we are not a 501c3 and do not have tax-exempt status in the first place. This is a longstanding decision made after careful policy, financial and legal analysis.

Thanks so much. Lee Powell, Economic Equality/Delta Caucus (202) 360-6347