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 Events in Washington, Sept. 21-23: DRA, Jobs/Economy, Health Care, Oil Spill

Posted on July 07, 2010 at 02:50 PM

Please register and RSVP for the annual Delta Grassroots Caucus in Washington, DC on Sept. 21-23, 2010, which will highlight the excellent new leadership of the Delta Regional Authority under Federal Cochair Chris Masingill and Alternate Federal Cochair Mike Marshall, job creation/economic recovery, health care for the underserved Delta including the new health care reform law and the innovative Community Health House Network, the oil disaster in the Gulf, expansion of renewable energy, broadband access, opposition of FEMA’s ill-advised plan to escalate flood insurance costs across the region, and other key issues for the eight-state, 252 county region from southern Louisiana to southern Illinois.

We will have a group of distinguished grassroots leaders from the Delta who will urge Members of Congress and high-level Obama administration officials to do much more for the community and economic development of the Delta region. We always have many Members of Congress who speak and then do a question and answer session, as well as high-level Obama administration officials from USDA, HHS, DOT and other key federal departments.


OPENING SESSION: Tuesday evening, Sept. 21, 5 p.m. to 8 p.m., B-339 Rayburn House of Representatives building

SENATE SESSION: Wednesday morning, Sept. 22, 8:30 to noon, Room 385 Senate Russell building (Note that Senate rooms may be changed based on the Senate schedule and logistics)

USDA SESSION: Wednesday afternoon, Sept. 22, USDA national headquarters on the Mall, Williamsburg Room 104A, USDA Whitten building

FINAL SESSION: Thursday morning, Sept. 23, main sanctuary of the historic Lutheran Church of the Reformation on Capitol Hill near the US Supreme Court, 212 East Capitol–this will be a combined fund-raiser for victims of Hurricane Katrina and the oil disaster in the Gulf and an issues forum on the oil disaster and FEMA’s controversial plan to escalate flood insurance costs.

REGISTRATION: You register by sending in the early registration fee of $85 by Friday, September 3. After Sept. 3 the registration increases to $100. There is limited space for the first two days’ sessions and that will have to be determined on a first come-first served basis. The final session at the sanctuary of the Lutheran Church of the Reformation will be in the large, historic sanctuary of the Lutheran Church of the Reformation so there are no space considerations for that session.

Please make out the $85 early registration fee to “Delta Grassroots Caucus,” and mail to:

Delta Grassroots Caucus

(Attention: Lee Powell)

5030 Purslane Place

Waldorf, MD 20601

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. We will have groups of taxi cabs to depart from the Radisson each day of the conference.

NEW ERA FOR THE DRA: The Sept. 21-23 conference will highlight the new era of the DRA under the leadership of Federal Cochair Chris Masingill, who has tremendous experience and knowledge of the region after serving many years as a senior aide to Gov. Mike Beebe of Arkansas, former aide to Sen. Blanche Lincoln and Congressman Mike Ross, and was confirmed by the Senate on June 25; and Alternate Federal Cochair Mike Marshall, former Mayor of Sikeston, Missouri, formerly Missouri co-coordinator for the Delta Caucus, a banker with expertise on a wide range of economic development issues. President Obama’s appointment of Chris Masingill and Mike Marshall has been greeted with tremendous enthusiasm throughout the region. We will also be glad to have Bill Triplett, senior adviser at the DRA.

CONGRESS AND OBAMA ADMINISTRATION OFFICIALS: We usually have 12 or more Members of Congress participating each year, and we have Sen. Blanche Lincoln, Rep. Mike Ross confirmed and will be inviting Sen. Mark Pryor, Rep. John Boozman, and Rep. Marion Berry (AR), Senators Mary Landrieu and David Vitter (LA), Rep. Charlie Melancon Rep. Joseph Cao, (LA), Rep. Bennie Thompson, Rep. Travis Childers and Sen. Thad Cochran (MS), Rep. John Tanner and Rep. Steve Cohen (TN), Rep. Jo Ann Emerson and Sen. Claire McCaskill (M)), Rep. Jerry Costello (IL), Rep. Ed Whitfield (KY), and Sen. Richard Shelby (AL), as well as Obama administration officials from Health and Human Services, USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack and other high-level USDA officials, Dept. of Transportation, as well as nationally recognized experts on key Delta issues.

For the fund-raiser/issues forum at the historic Lutheran Church of the Reformation on long-term recovery after Katrina, the oil disaster in the Gulf, and FEMA’s plan to redraw the flood plain maps to include areas previously not considered flood-prone and thereby unjustifiably escalate flood insurance costs throughout the region, we will have an impressive line-up of speakers:

–Kay Goss, nationally recognized disaster relief expert and former Associate Director of FEMA in the Clinton administration,

–Dr. Aaron Shirley, distinguished medical doctor and leader of the Community Health House Network,

–Rev. Dwight Webster, senior pastor, Christian Unity Baptist Church in New Orleans, an eloquent speaker and survivor of Katrina,

–Dr. Kevin Stephens, medical doctor and former head of the New Orleans health department who received accolades for his Congressional testimony regarding his work in responding to Katrina,

–James Miller of Oxford International Development Group, co-leader of the Health Houses,

–Mary Joseph, Director of the Louisiana Children’s Defense Fund based in New Orleans,

–Jan Paschal, formerly high-level US Dept. of Education official in the Clinton administration and now CEO of the Every Child Is Ours Foundation that formerly did excellent work in New Orleans after Katrina,

–Jessica Vermilyea, state director of the Lutheran Social Services in New Orleans–the Lutheran organizations have a great reputation for their community work and we are glad to be meeting in this famous Lutheran church,

–Ken Smith, formerly Assistant Secretary of the Interior in the Clinton administration,

–James Lee Witt & Associates speaker, either James Lee Witt, former Director of FEMA under President Clinton, or another representative of his firm that works on disaster relief issues,

–other Members of Congress and leaders from Louisiana, including Plaquemines, LaFourche and other parishes on the coast that have already been directly hit by the oil disaster.

–Sen. Mary Landrieu and Congressman Charlie Melancon are at the forefront of the effort to improve the cleanup efforts and help for victims of the oil disaster, and in recent years they have given excellent presentations every year at our conferences;

–Amir Webster, son of Rev. Dwight Webster and a student at Howard University in DC–we need to include young people on the agenda and Amir did a great job of speaking last year, clearly having inherited his father’s oratorical gifts.

We willl also invite President Bill Clinton and James Carville to the Lutheran Church of the Reformation fund-raiser for victims of Katrina and the oil disaster. President Clinton and the elder President Bush won widespread praise for their philanthropic efforts after Katrina, and James Carville is a vocal but thoughtful critic of the responses to the disaster by BP and the federal government.

KEY ISSUES: For the conference as a whole, among the most pressing issues we will focus on will be support for the DRA’s new leadership and a larger budget for the agency, job creation, economic recovery, health care issues in light of the health care reform law, expansion of the Community Health House Network championed by Dr. Aaron Shirley of the Jackson Medical Mall Foundation and James Miller of the Oxford International Development Group (MS), responses to the oil disaster threatening much of southern Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama, expansion of renewable energy, greater broadband access in the underserved region, educational improvements, progress on the I-69 Corridor and the rest of the Delta Development Highway System, Delta jazz, blues, historical and natural resources-related tourism, and a range of rural development issues. We welcome feedback on what people believe are the top priorities.

We are still finalizing the speakers and times for all three days of the conference and will pass that information along as soon as it is finished.

WEST TENNESSEE MEETING: Each year we have speakers from all eight states. We recently held an excellent meeting at the beautiful and historic Canaan Missionary Baptist Church in Covington, Tennessee, and we have invited long-time Delta regional leader Minnie Bommer; Charita Johnson and Vivian Greer Fry of the Shiloh Distribution Center nonprofit organization; Mayor David Gordon of Covington; Paul von Hoesen, CEO of a firm that expands broadband access in schools across west Tennessee and other states, thus generating jobs and improving education; long-time Delta regional leader Alan Gumbel, president of Gumbel & Associates. We will send out information on the Tennessee speakers when this is finalized.

MISSOURI AND THE NORTHERN DELTA: We are especially enthusiastic about participation from southeast Missouri, western Tennessee, western Kentucky and southern Illinois now with the leadership of Alternate Federal Co-chair Mike Marshall, formerly Mayor of Sikeston and Missouri co-coordinator for the Delta Caucus along with Dr. Martha Ellen Black of the Susannah Wesley Family Learning Center in East Prairie, Missouri. Mike Marshall has many ties throughout the “northern tier” Delta states of Missouri, Illinois, Kentucky and Tennessee, and it is always important to include our colleagues in the northern end of the Delta. We will keep you posted on participants from those areas.

Missouri is a key state and we are glad to have Mike Marshall from the southeast Missouri Delta as DRA Alternate Federal Cochair.

STRONG PARTICIPATION FROM ARKANSAS, LOUISIANA AND MISSISSIPPI: As always we will have many participants from Arkansas, Louisiana and Mississippi, which have the most heavily populated Delta areas of the eight states in the region.

ALABAMA: We have greatly appreciated the participation of Congressman Artur Davis of Alabama, who is retiring this year after many years of distinguished service for Alabama, the Delta and our country. He will be sorely missed in the Congress but we know he will find many other arenas in which to use his many talents. We also always appreciate the stalwart support of Mayor Sheldon Day of Thomasville, Alabama, who is a good role model for what a Mayor should do in helping his community in community and economic development.

In addition to Mayor Day and Congressman Davis, we have had participation from Mayor Helenor Bell of Hayneville, Alabama, G.A. Wildman of Birmingham, other participants from Selma; we would like to add more Alabama participants and any grassroots leaders from that state are welcome.

GROWING HISPANIC POPULATION IN THE DELTA: It is also important to include the rapidly growing Hispanic population in the Delta in our grassroots regional coalition. We will have Stephen Copley, a faith-based leader in Arkansas who works on help for Hispanics in the region and other constructive causes, as one of our participants at the conference, along with some Hispanic leaders.

Thanks very much and please help us advocate for the Delta in Washington, DC on Sept. 21-23. Lee Powell, executive director, Mississippi Delta Grassroots Caucus (202) 360-6347