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.

Reps. Berry, Davis & Pickering to Speak on Presidential Race

Posted on April 29, 2008 at 05:38 PM

The deadline for the group hotel of this year’s Delta initiative is getting close–May 12. The Delta Grassroots Caucus conference on June 3-5 will feature a forum for the remaining Presidential campaigns, with Rep. Marion Berry (AR) speaking for Sen. Hillary Clinton, Rep. Artur Davis (AL) speaking for Sen. Barack Obama, and Rep. Chip Pickering (MS) speaking for Sen. John McCain. Other key sessions will feature Members of Congress addressing Congressional issues in the region, national executive branch officials, and grassroots leaders from all eight Delta states.

The Presidential forum will take place on June 4, Wednesday morning, from 8:30 a.m. to 11:45 a.m. on Capitol Hill at the Lutheran Church of the Reformation, 212 East Capitol right behind the US Supreme Court. Rep. Marion Berry, Rep. Artur Davis and Rep. Chip Pickering are three very distinguished Members of Congress and we are delighted to have them explain why they believe their candidate would be the best leader for the Delta and America. We will not endorse any candidate but want to press all of them to devote more attention to the Delta’s economic issues and take a stand on what they would do as President for the vast region extending from southern Illinois to New Orleans, Louisiana.

We will especially emphasize asking Representatives Berry, Davis and Pickering to address what their candidate would do to revive the economy in the Delta. Additionally we want to hear from them about what they would do to reform FEMA, in light of that agency’s inept responses to Hurricane Katrina and other flooding, storms and disasters in our region in recent years.

The opening session will begin at 5 p.m. on Tuesday, June 3 and continue until 8 p.m. at Room B-338 Rayburn House of Representatives building. There will be food and drinks there. We will begin with Congressman Charles Melancon of Louisiana and Congressman John Tanner, who will discuss their views on key issues and priorities for the Delta’s economic development. Bill Bynum, CEO, Enterprise Corporation of the Delta Hope Community Credit Union, will discuss key regional issues, including support for the New Markets Tax Credit and other initiatives to spur investment and create jobs in lower-income areas.

After several opening speakers we will have a “big picture” panel on regional economic development.

The next morning on Wednesday, June 4 we will have the Presidential forum, which in addition to the three Members of Congress addressing the Presidential issues will also have several grassroots leaders discussing regional issues.

The June 4 Wednesday afternoon session will be at Senate Russell Building, Room 385 from 1 p.m. to about 4:15 p.m. It will feature Sen. Thad Cochran of Mississippi, Senators Blanche Lincoln and Mark Pryor of Arkansas, and Congressman Mike Ross of Arkansas, in addition to grassroots leaders.

We are glad to have Rex Nelson, Alternate Federal Co-Chair of the DRA, and Bill Triplett, senior adviser to Federal Co-Chair Pete Johnson of the DRA on the agenda.

The final session will be June 5, Thursday morning, 8:30 a.m. to noon, USDA National Headquarters, South Building Cafeteria, 1400 Independence Avenue SW. This session will feature President Bush’s appointee, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Transportation Joel Szabat, other US DOT officials, Bill Triplett, senior adviser to Federal Co-Chair Pete Johnson of the DRA, and transportation experts from the region. We will then have a session with Bush administration appointees at USDA and grassroots leaders on issues such as rural development, housing, alternative energy, agriculture, hunger and nutrition and telemedicine and other rural health care issues.

This session is in a meeting room adjacent to the USDA South Building cafeteria. When you enter any of the main entrances to the USDA South Building, the security officers can tell you where the cafeteria is.

(Meeting in this room adjacent to the cafeteria will enable people to occasionally take breaks and have a cup of coffee or food during that session, which is very important and is the last group meeting of the annual initiative in Washington, DC.. We thought this location might be useful to people to take a coffee break from time to time, because we know that by the final session many people are tired. We plan to invite many Congressional staff to this session, because of key legislative issues regarding transportation and USDA.

The major highway bill will be coming up next year, and we need to get an early jump on lobbying for major improvements in the Delta’s transportation system, including completion of the Interstate 69 corridor and the rest of the Delta Development Highway System. We also want to push for other transportation improvements, especially the DRA’s multi-modal transportation plan.

Please note that the deadline for the group hotel is May 12, close of business. If you call after that date you will definitely cut the reduced group rate and probably all the space in the hotel (Radisson at Reagan National Airport) will be gone.

GROUP HOTEL: The group hotel is the Radisson at Reagan National Airport. To get the reduced group rate of $209 a night for the nights of June 3 and June 4, call the Radisson at (703) 920-8600 and say you are with the Delta Caucus.


Tuesday evening, June 3, 5 p.m. to 8 p.m.: The opening session begins on Tuesday evening, June 3, from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the House of Representatives Room B-338 Rayburn Building. Please get a flight that arrives in Washington in the early afternoon so that you can be there at the start of the opening session at 5 p.m. Many people find it convenient that the group hotel is close to Reagan National Airport.

Wednesday, June 4 morning session is from 8:30 a.m. to 11:40 a.m. at LUTHERAN CHURCH OF THE REFORMATION, 222 EAST CAPITOL STREET Parish Hall, on Capitol Hill directly behind the US Supreme Court building.

WEDNESDAY, JUNE 4, AFTERNOON SESSION, 1:15 P.M. TO 4 P.M. Senate Russell Office Building, Room 385

THURSDAY, JUNE 5, 8:30 a.m. to noon (final session): USDA National Headquarters, South Building Cafeteria, 1400 Independence Avenue SW, in the meeting room adjacent to the cafeteria

The Thursday morning session is the final group meeting. This is an important meeting that will focus on completion of I-69 Corridor and connectors and the rest of the Delta Development Highway System, the multi-modal transportation issues, rural housing and other rural development issues, agriculture and other USDA issues. We are holding it adjacent to the USDA cafeteria so that people can take a break for a cup of coffee or get something to eat and then just be a few steps away. We know many people may be a little tired by the final session, so we thought that location and the proximity of the food and coffee would be a plus.

REGISTRATION: The early registration fee is $85 until May 22. To register, just make out the $85 check to “Delta Grassroots Caucus,” with a note “For DC 2008,” and mail to:

Delta Grassroots Caucus

(Attention: Lee Powell)

5030 Purslane Place

Waldorf, MD 20601

After May 22, the early registration fee of $85 ends and the fee will be $100 after that day. It makes it difficult for our planning if we always have large numbers of registrations that are brought to the front desk or even paid after the conference.

KEY ISSUES: Among the key issues will be job creation and efforts to jump-start the economy, support for the New Markets Tax Credit, Empowerment Zones, Renewal Communities and other efforts to spur investment in low-income areas, completion of I-69 Corridor and connectors and other improvements to the region’s transportation system, expansion of alternative energy, reforms of FEMA and disaster relief issues after the hurricanes, flooding and tornado damage that has devastated our region in recent years, support for the Delta Regional Authority budget, along with such “big picture” issues as improved health care, housing and education and other development initiatives.

TRAVEL ARRANGEMENTS: If you need assistance with your airfare, the travel agent for this year’s Delta initiative in Washington is Becky Hawkins of Travel Consultants International in Blytheville, Arkansas. You can reach her at (870) 762-2800 or Becky Hawkins is an excellent travel agent and has done a great job for many years.

We will have representatives from the remaining Presidential campaigns speak about what they plan to do for the Delta if they are elevated to the White House, and we will probably know who both parties’ nominees are by early June. This will be a nonpartisan forum to press them to pay more attention to Delta regional issues and we will not endorse any candidate.

QUESTIONS OR COMMENTS: If you have any questions or comments about the June 3-5 Delta Initiative in Washington, DC please contact Desha County Judge Mark McElroy at (870) 877-2426, or Dr. Martha Ellen Black, executive director of the Susanna Wesley Family Learning Center in southeast Missouri and a key member of the Delta Caucus executive committee, at (573) 649-3731, or Lee Powell at (202) 360-6347, or see the website at

Please RSVP so that we can know who will be attending. Thanks very much. Lee Powell, MDGC (202) 360-6347