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.

Deadlines near for Sept. 21-23 in DC; Issues: elections, jobs, oil, DRA & health care

Posted on August 05, 2010 at 04:01 PM

The annual Delta Caucus conference in Washington, DC is only six weeks away on Sept. 21-23, 2010, with the early registration deadline only three weeks away on Sept. 3.

The conference will feature participation from Sen. Thad Cochran (MS), Sen. Mary Landrieu (LA), Senators Mark Pryor and Blanche Lincoln (AR), Rep. Mike Ross (AR), Rep. Jo Ann Emerson (MO), Rep. Joseph Cao (LA), other Members of Congress from the eight-state region we are expecting confirmation from soon, Delta Regional Authority Federal Cochair Chris Masingill, Alternate Federal Cochair Mike Marshall, Obama administration officials from USDA, HHS, Dept. of Energy and other key agencies, and a group of grassroots leaders from the Greater Delta region from the Louisiana coast to southern Illinois and Missouri.

We will want to hear from key Congressional candidates, such as Rep. John Boozman–whom we have invited but have not received word yet as to his participation–Sen. Blanche Lincoln, who has confirmed her participation at our conference, in the contested Senate race in Arkansas, Rep. Charles Melancon and Sen. Vitter in Louisiana and other key races. We want to hear from the candidates about what they plan to do to create jobs and get the economy running again.

Others we have invited include Sen. Claire McCaskill (MO), Rep. Steve Cohen (TN), Rep. Jerry Costello (IL), Rep. Bennie Thompson and Rep. Travis Childers (MS), Rep. Marion Berry (AR), and others. Most of these Members of Congress participate each year and we expect them this year.

Please register and RSVP for the annual Delta Grassroots Caucus in Washington, DC on Sept. 21-23, 2010–registration information is below. EARLY REGISTRATION DEADLINE IS SEPTEMBER 3–ONLY THREE WEEKS AWAY NOW.

In addition to scrutiny of the economic positions of the key Congressional candidates, we have an unusual number of pressing issues on our plate at this time:

• We want to show strong support for the excellent new leadership of the Delta Regional Authority under Federal Cochair Chris Masingill of Arkansas and Alternate Federal Cochair Mike Marshall of Missouri;

• Job creation/economic recovery initiatives for the economically distressed Delta region;

• Health care for the underserved Delta including the new health care reform law and the innovative Community Health House Network championed by Dr. Aaron Shirley of the Jackson Medical Mall Foundation and James Miller, Managing Director for the Health House network;

• Aid for those suffering from the health care and economic impact of the oil disaster in the Gulf;

• Expansion of renewable energy, which the oil disaster underscores the risks of our national addiction to oil;

• Greater broadband access for the underserved Delta;

• Opposition to FEMA’s ill-advised plan to redraw the flescalate flood insurance costs across the region;

• Progress on the Delta Development Highway System plan and the Interstate 69 corridor;

• Other key community and economic development 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.


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

USDA SESSION: Wednesday afternoon, Sept. 22, USDA national headquarters on the Mall, Williamsburg Room 104A, USDA Whitten building. We will have many high-level USDA officials from Secretary Tom Vilsack’s office, Rural Development, Under Secretary Pearlie Reed’s mission area, Food, Nutrition and Consumer Services and other USDA agencies.

FINAL SESSION: Thursday morning, 8:30 A.M. TO 12:30, Sept. 23, main sanctuary of the historic Lutheran Church of the Reformation on Capitol Hill near the US Supreme Court, 212 East Capitol–the focus will be on Hurricane Katrina and the oil disaster in the Gulf, emergency preparedness issues related to FEMA’s ill-advised plan to escalate flood insurance costs; and attention to renewable energy in light of the oil disaster in the Gulf pointing out the risks inherent in our nation’s dependence on oil.

REGISTRATION: You register by sending in the early registration fee of $85 by Friday, September 3. After Sept. 3 the registration increases to $100.

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, chief of staff at the DRA who is tremendously knowledgeable about economic development issues for our region.

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:

–Patty Riddlebarger, Director of Corporate Social Responsibility, Entergy Corp., New Orleans;

–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,

–Former Congressman Bill Alexander from Osceola, Arkansas, a forceful and long-time leader for renewable energy,

–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.

–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 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.

Participants thus far include:

–Bill Triplett, Chief of Staff at the DRA–Bill does a great job for the agency;

–Kevin Smith, long-time Delta regional leader, former aide to then Governor Bill Clinton and US Senator Dale Bumpers, former Arkansas state senator, Helena-West Helena, Arkansas;

–Stephanie Vance, who works on the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship anti-poverty initiative in Lake Providence, Louisiana;

–Larry Williams, Delta Citizens Alliance, based in Greenville, Mississippi but active in Arkansas, Louisiana and Mississippi;

–George Miles, Mid-South Delta LISC, active across the Delta region;

–Buddy Spillers, Macon Ridge Community Development Corp. in norhtern Louisiana;

–Martha Ellen Black, executive director, Susanna Wesley Family Learning Center, southeast Missouri;

–J.Y. Trice of Rosedale, Mississippi, an eloquent speaker–many of you may recall his participation in past years;

–Minnie Bommer, rural development expert and long-time Delta regional leader from Covington, Tennessee;

–Charita Johnson, nonprofit Shiloh Distribution Center that is engaged in a wide variety of constructive activities in western Tennessee and other states as well;

–Alan Gumbel, President of Gumbel & Associates, Memphis, Tennessee and long-time Delta regional leader going back to the Lower Mississippi Delta Development Commission;

–Paul Von Hoesen, head of CTechnology based in Nashville, Tennessee, engaged in expansion of broadband activities in the west Tennessee Delta and other areas, creating jobs while simultaneously improving education;

–Josh Tubbs, Marshall County Economic Development office in western Kentucky–one of our region’s best advocates for the Delta Development Highway System and completion of the Interstate 69 Corridor;

–Desha County Judge Mark McElroy, Kenny Gober of McGehee and many other grassroots leaders from southeast Arkansas;

–Mayor Barrett Harrison of Blytheville, Arkansas, one of the best economic development leaders in America who has a very impressive record for job creation in Mississippi County, Arkansas;

–Bruce Lockett of the Boys, Girls and Adults Community Center led by Beatrice Shelby in Phillips County, Arkansas;

–Chaulk Mitchell and several other leaders from Helena-West Helena–we appreciate the support we have had for many years from Mayor James Valley and Phillips County Judge Don Gentry;

–Jerry Smith, economic development expert from Arkansas State University, one of the leading academic institutions in our region;

–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-