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.

Request for Feedback on Key Delta Regional Issues

Posted on May 15, 2010 at 12:21 PM


Both for purposes of our ongoing daily advocacy for the Delta’s community and economic development, as well as for planning for the Sept. 21, 22 and 23 Delta conference in Washington, DC, we would request feedback as to what the top priorities should be for our regional grassroots coalition. Send an email to with your feedback.

We continue to hear that job creation/economic recovery is the number one issue.

We also want to continue disseminating information about health care issues, such as getting better informed about the health care reform law, as well as supporting the innovative “Health Houses” initiative for grassroots health care led by Dr. Aaron Shirley of the Jackson Medical Mall Foundation and James Miller of the Oxford International Development Group that has begun in 15 communities in Mississippi. We are currently trying to expand it in Arkansas and the rest of the Delta. Nutrition issues are always a key issue, since obesity, diabetes, heart disease and other health maladies are related to nutrition. It is very encouraging to see such a promising initiative that originated from the grassroots level.

In addition to job creation/economic recovery and health care, other priorities include expansion of broadband access across the Delta; support for the new Delta Regional Authority under the dynamic new leadership of President Obama’s appointees Chris Masingill as Federal Cochair and Mike Marshall as Alternate Federal Cochair; greater support for renewable energy and green jobs as we heard from President Clinton in the recent conference at the Clinton Library; rural housing, small business and other rural development programs; progress on the I-69 Corridor and the entire Delta Development Highway System plan; opposition to the ill-advised plan to redraw flood plain maps in a way that will inflict excessive and unjustifiable flood insurance costs on the Delta (former FEMA Associate Director Kay Goss will address that issue at our Sept. 21-23 conference; Delta blues, jazz, historical and natural resources-related tourism; educational improvements in the underserved Delta are always vital and we will have several prominent educators in DC.

Those are all huge issues, and while we do advocate a comprehensive approach to economic development, we do want to have a sense of priorities as well. Please give feedback about other key Delta regional issues that you think ought to be high on the priorities list.

We will want to focus on a few of the most important and hotly contested Congressional races, such as the US Senate race in Arkansas, where the three most prominent candidates thus far all spoke at our April conference at the Clinton Center: Sen. Blanche Lincoln, chair of the Senate Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry Committee that handles the full range of nutrition, rural development, forestry, as well as agriculture issues; Rep. John Boozman, currently representing the northwest Arkansas Congressional district and widely considered to be the front-runner for the Republican nomination; and Lt. Gov. Bill Halter, a Clinton administration appointee who headed the Social Security Administration and has been active in promoting educational improvements in our region. We appreciated the participation of all three leaders.

The goal is to press the candidates to state what they would do in the Senate to address the Delta’s economic issues, and this race is attracting not just regional but national attention.

We cannot cover all the races, but if you have other suggestions for races that we ought to scrutinize, please give feedback on that. Any campaign we would focus on would need to be hotly contested. We want to press our political leaders to focus more on the Delta both while they are running for office AND when they are elected.

We are just now beginnning the planning stages of the September conference. Some speakers who have already confirmed include Mike Marshall of Missouri, Alternate Federal Cochair of the DRA; Bill Triplett of Mississippi, senior adviser to the Federal Cochair of the DRA; and we have invited Chris Masingill, DRA Federal Cochair.

We usually have 12 to 15 Members of Congress, and Sen. Blanche Lincoln and Rep. Mike Ross have already confirmed.

Nationally recognized FEMA and disaster relief issues expert Kay Goss, who was President Clinton’s FEMA Associate Director; long-time regional advocate Kevin Smith of Helena-West Helena, Arkansas; Stephen Copley, a faith-based leader who works on issues related to the growing Hispanic population in the Delta as well as other constructive activities; Dr. Aaron Shirley and James Miller speaking on the Health Houses initiative; we have invited participation from Cooperative Baptist Fellowship, which is a stalwart and greatly valued partner of the Delta Caucus and does a lot of great work in the Delta; we expect to have a strong line-up of Obama administration officials from USDA, DOT and HHS; and of course we will be inviting the other key Members of Congress from the Delta region.

This is of course just a preliminary list of participants. We want to include as many voices as possible over the three-day conference.

Please save the dates of Sept. 21, 22 and 23 for the annual Delta Grassroots Caucus in Washington, DC. We are heading into a new era in the Delta. Of course we are sending messages and advocating for the Delta on key regional issues every week.

Naturally we have been very disturbed by the oil slick threatening the Louisiana and Mississippi coasts, as well as the storms in Mississippi, Tennessee and Arkansas. These are enormous problems and at this point and like everyone else we are monitoring those issues as closely as we can. Any feedback is welcome.

For the Sept. 21-23 DC conference, we are planning to begin on Tuesday evening, Sept. 21 at Room B-339 Rayburn House of Representatives building. Then we go to one of the Senate meeting rooms on Wednesday morning from about 8:45 a.m. to noon. Then we go down to USDA national headquarters at the Williamsburg room close to Secretary Vilsack’s office from about 1:15 to 4:15 p.m. Then we wrap it up Thursday morning, Sept. 23, from about 8:45 a.m. to noon either at one of the USDA meeting rooms or the sanctuary of the majestic, historic Lutheran Church of the Reformation on Capitol Hill near the US Supreme Court. The sanctuary will be of course a much larger space than we need, but it’s a historic place and people like meeting there, rather than in the room downstairs.

Some people stay on Thursday afternoon and Friday morning to schedule additional meetings with Obama administration officials, small meetings with Members of Congress, or other key organizations based in DC. If you can’t stay on to do that as late as Thursday afternoon, then we encourage people to skip one of our sessions on Wednesday or Thursday and use that time for a meeting with a Member of Congress or executive branch official in a “one-on-one” setting.

GROUP HOTEL: We were able to get a reduction in the Radisson Reagan Airport rate to $215, which is a fairly good rate for a DC hotel that is a short taxi ride from the meeting rooms at the very busy time of year of September. There are no meetings at the group hotel so if you would prefer to stay elsewhere that is fine.

You would call the Radisson Reagan Airport at (703) 920-8600 and say you are with the Delta Caucus group to get the reduced rate for the nights of Sept. 21 and Sept. 22.

EARLY REGISTRATION: Early registration fee is $85. You register by sending in the registration fee. Early registration ends on Friday, September 3, 2010. After that the registration fee is $100. Please make out your check to “Delta Grassroots Caucus” and mail to:

Delta Grassroots Caucus

(Attention: Lee Powell)

5030 Purslane Place

Waldorf, MD 20601