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.

Delta Conference set for Feb. 5-6, 2009 at Clinton Presidential Center-Please RSVP

Posted on November 11, 2008 at 12:32 PM

The Mississippi Delta Grassroots Caucus annual conference at the Clinton Presidential Center will be Thursday, Feb. 5, 2009 and Friday, Feb. 6, 2009. We will be inviting President Bill Clinton, former Gov. Mike Huckabee (R-AR), Sen. Thad Cochran (R-MS), Gov. Mike Beebe (D-AR), representatives of the new administration of President-Elect Barack Obama, and grassroots leaders from around the region to take part in this event.

We are just now starting to work on the agenda, and we plan for Gov. Mike Beebe to be one of the two main speakers at the luncheon at the Great Hall of the Clinton Library on Friday, Feb. 6, 2009. The Hon. Rodney Slater has confirmed his participation at some point on the program. We will have leaders from both parties participating at this crucial time for the future of our region’s economy.

Of course we had some partners who supported Obama and some who supported Sen. John McCain and both are welcome at our conference. We will have colleagues and new national executive branch officials from what will by February, 2009 be President Barack Obama’s administration. We have already received a confirmation from Lisa Ferrell, a distinguished attorney from Arkansas who was a colleague of Obama’s at Harvard Law School and has known him personally for many years, spoke on his behalf at our conference last time, and was a prominent supporter of Obama during the campaign. Both parties will need to come together in the new administration and Congress to deal with our economic troubles in the Delta and nationally.

In addition to the prominent Republicans we are inviting, including Sen. Cochran, Gov. Huckabee and others, we will have Mayor Sheldon Day of Thomasville, Alabama as a co-host for the conference. Mayor Day was prominently involved in the McCain campaign in Alabama and is the Alabama coordinator for the Delta Caucus, and he has a strong reputation for working with both parties and promoting economic development in the region.

The opening session will be Thursday evening, Feb. 5, 2009, at the Clinton School of Public Service, from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m., and the main session will be Friday, Feb. 6, 2009 at the Great Hall of the Clinton Presidential Library in Little Rock, Arkansas. Dean James “Skip” Rutherford will speak at the opening session at the Clinton School.

We should take a moment to commend the fine work that Federal CoChair Pete Johnson and Alternate Federal Cochair Rex Nelson, appointees of President Bush, have done during the early history of the Delta Regional Authority. People in those two positions serve at the pleasure of the President of the United States. Whomever President-Elect Obama selects to serve in those jobs, we should take note that Pete Johnson and Rex Nelson have served very well and we have a foundation to build on now.

The conference will focus on jump-starting the economy at this time of distress in the region and nationally, with job creation, renewable energy expansion to cut gas prices, expanding educational opportunities, information technology, housing issues and rebuilding our transportation and other infrastructure being among the key issues. Progress on the Interstate 69 Corridor and the rest of the regional transportation network will be especially important in 2009 during the debate over the highway bill.


Please make out the check to “Delta Grassroots Caucus,” with a note “For 2009 fees,” and mail it before JANUARY 29, 2009 to:

Delta Grassroots Caucus

Attention: Lee Powell)

5030 Purslane Place

Waldorf, MD 20601

Please note that we will have a new policy that the registration fee of $85 will have to be received by January 29, 2009. For those who wait beyond that date or try to pay at the door, please be advised that there is limited seating and if you do not pay ahead of time there may not be space for you. If there is space, you will have to pay $115 if you pay late at the door.

This policy is necessary because we have had many people who said they were coming but either did not pay the fee or did not attend, and this costs us money, because the costs for the two meals and rental space for the Great Hall have to be paid ahead of time, and the costs are based on how many people are expected. A problem is that some people have come to the events unannounced and not paid any registration fee, which is obviously unfair to the great majority of people who do pay the fee.

It looks like the space will be tight, because we still have almost three months to go but we already have a substantial number of participants. If you want to be assured of a place, it would be good to send in your registration fee as soon as possible.

The Clinton School of Public Service will be the site for the opening session, because the Clinton School has had many of its graduate students engage in public service projects in the Delta, and that school is turning out many graduates who will be future leaders in the Delta. We will invite Dean Skip Rutherford to speak at the opening session. We appreciate Dean Rutherford’s leadership at the Clinton School and his strong interest in the Delta.

We are just starting to line up grassroots leaders who will be speaking. State Representative Tommy Baker of Osceola, Arkansas has already agreed to speak on one of the economic development panels. Mississippi County, Arkansas is one of the most important counties in the heart of the Delta, and there are many important economic development initiatives going on there. Representative Baker is a veteran leader for our region and has done a great job for the Delta for many years.

We always like to promote good books about the Delta. We will have Mary Gay Shipley of That Bookstore in Blytheville, Arkansas, bring a selection of books about the Delta to display on tables during both days of the event. That Bookstore has received great publicity as one of the best bookstores in the region and we are pleased to give them this recognition. We will also have one or two other authors or publishers there as well with books to purchase about the Delta region.

With the new requirement of paying fees ahead of time, this may mean the overall turnout will be 100 to 120 or so, which is somewhat smaller than the usual turnout for the Arkansas conference, but a smaller group is less expensive and easier to manage. 100 to 120 is a good turnout. We would actually prefer a smaller, less expensive and more manageable group, but if people send in the fees on time, we doubt that anybody will be turned away. Our costs for meals and rental space are based on how many people come.

The group hotel is the Comfort Inn Downtown at the Clinton Library. The group rate for the night of Feb. 5 is $79, which is a good rate for downtown Little Rock. Please call the hotel at (501) 687-7700 before January 12, 2009 and say you are with the Delta Caucus to get the group rate.

People would only need to stay that one night, Thursday, Feb. 5, because they can check out in the morning and store their luggage and come back and pick it up in the afternoon.

Thanks very much–Lee Riley Powell, executive director, MDGC (202) 360-6347