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.

Turnout Growing & Deadlines Coming, Sept. 15-16 Delta Initiative in Washington, DC

Posted on July 30, 2009 at 09:34 AM

We have nine Members of Congress, Obama administration appointees, and 81 RSVPs and growing for the Sept. 15-16, 2009 annual Delta Initiative in Washington, DC. Deadlines for registration fees and group hotel reservations will be coming up in the next few weeks, and we also encourage people to buy airplane tickets now, when many are getting very low fares. If you wait to buy them you will likely pay a good bit more.

The opening session is 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. Tuesday evening, Sept. 15, B-339 Rayburn building. Senate session is Wednesday morning, Sept. 16, 8:30 a.m. to noon, Room 385 Senate Russell building. USDA Obama administration officials session is Wednesday afternoon, Sept. 16, 1:15 to 4 p.m., national USDA headquarters, 104-A USDA Whitten building. Details on the schedule are included below.

We have confirmations from Sen. Blanche Lincoln (AR), an influential Senator who is on the powerful Finance Committee and also on the Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry Committee; Sen. Thad Cochran (MS), a senior Republican Member of the Appropriations Committee; Rep. Travis Childers (MS), the new Democratic Member from Mississippi; Rep. Mike Ross (AR), leader of the important Blue Dog Democrat coalition and a key member of the Energy and Commerce Committee; Sen. Mark Pryor (AR), who is rising in seniority and clout in the Senate and is an Appropriations Committee member; Rep. Artur Davis (AL), who is one of the most eloquent regional and national leaders from our eight-state area; Sen. Mary Landrieu (LA), another Appropriations Committee member and influential Senator; Rep. Charles Melancon (LA), another influential member of the Blue Dog coalition; and last but not least Rep. Jerry Costello (IL), a senior member of Congress from southern Illinois who has strong ties to President Obama.

Rep. Marion Berry (AR), Sen. Claire McCaskill and Rep. Jo Ann Emerson (MO) and others are invited. We had 15 Members of Congress last year, but will have fewer this year to make space for Obama administration officials, and also because we have shortened the conference to two days to cut travel costs during this recession.

We will have several Obama administration officials from USDA and other departments, and we look forward to having our first public dialogue with the new administration as a regional group. We certainly have many supporters of President Obama in our coalition, but we need to place constructive pressure on them to get the Delta region higher on their radar screen.

DEADLINES: The early registration fee deadline is August 24, 2009. The early registration fee is $85. After August 24, the registrations increase to $100. We do not want the extra $15, we are just trying to create some incentive for people to get the fees in early. We have bills coming due right before the conference. Moreover, it creates logjams and slows things up at the conference if we have a lot of people waiting in line to pay the fees at the door.


You register by sending in the registration fee.

Please make out the $85 early registration fee check to “Delta Grassroots Caucus” by August 24, 2009, and mail the check to:

Delta Grassroots Caucus

(Attention: Lee Powell)

5030 Purslane Place

Waldorf, MD 20601

After August 24 the registration fee is $100.


The Radisson Hotel at Reagan National Airport is the group hotel. We have a group rate of $229 for the night of Tuesday, September 15. To get the group rate, call the Radisson at 703-920-8600 by August 31, 2009 and say you are with the Delta Caucus.

By Washington DC standards for a hotel that is relatively close to Capitol Hill, $229 is a good rate for the very busy time of mid-September.

You can check out of the hotel in the morning of Sept. 16, store your luggage, go to the sessions all day until about 4 p.m., and then come back to pick up your luggage take a flight back home that evening. The group hotel is conveniently located near Reagan National Airport.

Please keep in mind that the Wednesday afternoon session is with Obama administration officials and is very important, so schedule a flight that evening that will enable you to stay for that session until 4 p.m.

We also have a group of rooms available for Wednesday, Sept. 16, for those who plan to stay over and do some additional advocacy work on Capitol Hill or the administration on Thursday morning, Sept. 17.

Many people have felt this is a convenient location because it is near the airport and is a fairly short taxi ride away from Capitol Hill. For those not familiar with Washington, DC hotel costs, the rate cited above is much lower than most that are close to Capitol Hill.

We will go over to the meetings from the hotel in groups of taxis as we have in previous years. This substantially reduces your cab fare if you go in groups of three or four and is the fastest way to get around in DC.

If you prefer to stay at another hotel, that is perfectly fine. There are no meetings at the group hotel.


It starts with an opening session at B-339 Rayburn House of Representatives office building on Tuesday evening, Sept. 15 from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. We will have Congressman Mike Ross, Congressman Jerry Costello of southern Illinois who has strong ties to President Obama, Congressman Travis Childers and Congressman Melancon of Louisiana and several other prominent speakers. Congressman Berry and Senator Lincoln usually speak and we have invited them for either Tuesday or Wednesday. There will be food and drinks at this session.

The next morning, Wednesday, Sept. 16 from 8:30 a.m. to noon at Room 385 Senate Russell building. We will have Senator Mark Pryor and the other Arkansas Members of Congress, Sen. Thad Cochran of Mississippi, Sen. Mary Landrieu of Louisiana, and other prominent speakers, including President Glenn Poshard of Southern Illinois University, who in addition to heading up one of the region’s largest universities is also a former Member of Congress with longstanding personal ties to President Obama. Executives of Enterprise Corp. of the Delta and other distingusihed speakers are on the agenda for that session as well.

In the afternoon, Sept. 16 we meet with officials from Secretary of USDA Tom Vilsack and other Obama administration appointees, 1 to 4 p.m. at USDA national headquarters on the Mall, Room 104-A Whitten building.

We are lining up the Obama administration officials now, and have invited Secretary Tom Vilsack, as well as US DOT and HHS appointees. We have confirmation from an old friend of the Delta–Deputy Under Secretary for Rural Development Victor Vasquez, now an Obama appointee who was formerly a Clinton administration appointee who headed up the national Empowerment Zone/Enterprise Community program and was one of the stalwart supporters of the Clinton administration’s Delta Regional Initiative.

We shortened the conference to a day and a half to reduce the travel costs, and we really hope you can join us this year. Additional specific information is below. Thanks so much–Lee Powell, MDGC (202) 360-6347

TRAVEL AGENCY–Travel Consultants International, Blytheville, Arkansas, 1-800-764-7660:

Most people make their own travel plans, but if you need a travel agent, we highly recommend Travel Consultants International, an excellent agency based in Blytheville, Arkansas, led by Becky Hawkins. Phone is 1-800-764-7660 and her email is If you do not want to stay at the group hotel and would like to look for another hotel for whatever reason, Becky Hawkins and staff can help you with that. They are also good at finding cheaper airfares for people. Based on previous experience we know Becky Hawkins and Travel Consultants International do a great job.

We are inviting First Lady Michelle Obama to speak on nutrition issues, which are always huge in the Delta, and are also inviting US DOT, USDA and other Obama administration officials.

Grassroots leaders on the agenda include President Glenn Poshard, Southern Illinois University; Mayor Brad Cole, Carbondale, Illinois, President Larry Peterson, Shawnee Community College of Illinois, Southern Illinois Delta Empowerment Zone officials;

Robert Cole, East Arkansas Enterprise Community, based in Forrest City;

Mike Ashanti, Heifer International, Helena-West Helena;

Mayor Helenor Bell, Hayneville, Alabama;

Mike Marshall, banker and regional leader from Sikeston, Missouri;

a representative from Enterprise Corporation of the Delta, based in Jackson, MS and serving Arkansas, Louisiana and Mississippi;

Steve Onufrak, a USDA nutrition and anti-obesity expert based in Stoneville, Mississippi;

Bill Triplett, senior adviser to the Delta Regional Authority, Jackson, Mississippi;

Buddy Spillers, president of the Macon Ridge Community Development Corp. in Ferriday, Louisiana;

Dr. LaDonna Ford, Medical Director of the LSU Medical Center in Monroe, Louisiana;

Rev. Dwight Webster, pastor of Christian Unity Baptist Church in New Orleans, Louisiana;

Charita Johnson Burgess of the Shiloh Distribution Center in western Tennessee;

Kenny Gober, Director of the McGehee–Lake Village Housing Authority,

Johnnie Bolin, director of the Arkansas Good Roads Transportation Council;

Alan McVey, director, Delta Economic Development Center, Arkansas State University;

Mayor Carl Redus of Pine Bluff, Arkansas;

and Robert Dansby of the Edgenics company, a national corporation that works on expanding broadband access throughout America but is particularly active in the Delta.

Thanks so much and please send in your registration fees and make your travel arrangements as soon as possible. Lee Powell, MDGC (202) 360-6347