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.

Agenda for Delta Conference by Zoom, Nov. 18-19, 2021

Posted on November 18, 2021 at 11:56 AM

Delta Issues in Recovering from the Pandemic

November 18-19, 2021

Delta Grassroots Caucus Meeting by Zoom

Please register on the Zoom link below if you have not already done so.

Again, this is how you tune in to the conference. The link is here, but you need to highlight, copy and paste it–it’s not a direct link. Thanks–Lee Powell, Delta Caucus:

OPENING SESSION, NOV. 18, Thursday evening, 4:50 p.m. to about 6:50 p.m.

“Education and Workforce Development”

4:50 p.m.–Introduction—Lee Powell, Delta Caucus Director

5 to 5:15 p.m.–Professor Charity Smith, Philander Smith College (PSC), introduced by Philander Smith Vice President Charles King

5:15 to 5:22 p.m.—Josh Goffney, honor student at Philander Smith College and recipient of the 2021 Delta Caucus Carol Willis Award, which is given to a promising young leader in the Delta to honor the legacy of Carol Willis, Philander Smith College alumnus, and a native of McGehee, Arkansas in the Delta who rose to become a distinguished attorney, political consultant, and senior adviser to President Bill Clinton

5:22 to 5:30 p.m.—Callie Dunavin, Arkansas State University—Mid-South, Associate Vice Chancellor for Workforce and Strategic Initiatives

5:30 to 5:38 p.m.—Lynn Andersen Lindberg, Southern Illinois University, Interim Executive Director, Office of Innovation and Economic Development

5:38—5:48 p.m.—Al Cross, Director, Institute for Rural Journalism and Community Issues, University of Kentucky

5;50 P.M. to 6 P.M.—Alan Gumbel, veteran Delta regional advocate and community leader based in Memphis, Tennessee; Executive Director, Memphis Academy of Health Sciences Middle and High School

6 p.m. to 6:10 p.m.—Millie Atkins, veteran Delta regional advocate based in Monroe, Louisiana

6:15 p.m.—Vicki Malpass, Winrock International, Associate Director of US Programs

Nori Muster of the Bill Muster Foundation, brief remarks on the legacy of steamboating on the Mississippi River, including the historic Delta Queen

FRIDAY NOV. 19 SESSION, 9 a.m. to 12:30

9 a.m. to 10:40 a.m.—Hunger, Health and Economic Inequality Issues in the Delta during the Pandemic

9 to 9:05—Lee Powell, Caucus Director, opening remarks

9:05 to 9:15–Kathy Webb, Executive Director, Arkansas Hunger Relief Alliance

9:15 to 9:25–Rev. Preston Clegg, Pastor of Second Baptist Church in Little Rock, on the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship’s philanthropic work in Helena/Phillips County Arkansas

9:25 to 9:35–Keith Fulcher, President, Community Foundation for Northwest Mississippi

9:35 to 9:45–Dorothy Grady-Scarbrough, Executive Director, Mississippians Engaged in Agriculture (MEGA)

9:45 to 9:55–Bo Ryall, President and CEO, Arkansas Hospitals Association, overview of the Coronavirus situation in Arkansas

9:55 to 10:10–Joel Berg, CEO, Hunger Free America, a national hunger and poverty organization

10:10 to 10:20–DISCUSSION

10:30 a.m.—10:40 a.m. Infrastructure

10:30 to 10:40 a.m.—Shannon Newton, Arkansas Trucking Association, on infrastructure issues

10;40 to 10:50–DISCUSSION

10:50 to 12:45 p.m.—Big Picture Speakers on Delta’s Community and Economic Progress

10:50 to 11–Mike Marshall, CEO, Sikeston, Missouri Regional Chamber and Economic Development Corp., former Alternate Federal Co-Chairman of the Delta Regional Authority

11 to 11:10 a.m.–Lee Powell, Delta Caucus Executive Director, Clinton administration appointee at USDA and one of senior managers of the Delta Regional Initiative (along with Wilson Golden, Harold Gist, and the late Al Eisenberg); Remarks about the Delta Caucus’ work looking back after 20 years

11:10—11:20–Harvey Joe Sanner, long-time Delta regional advocate, President, American Ag Movement of Arkansas

11:20 to 11:30 a.m.—Professor Tamara Glover, Chairperson, Department of Social Work at the University of Arkansas Pine Bluff

11:30 to 11:50 a.m.–Annette Dove, Executive Director, TOPPS nonprofit in Pine Bluff, Arkansas area Two young social workers who work with Annette Dove for TOPPS in Pine Bluff

11:50 to about 12:10—Mike Preston, Arkansas Secretary of Commerce and Executive Director, Arkansas Economic Development Commission, followed by a discussion session

A Note about the Delta Caucus Activities

The Delta Caucus is an advocacy organization and does not have any status as a registered lobbyist. A number of years ago Director Lee Powell had registered out of an abundance of caution, but we have deleted the status and make sure to adjust our activities accordingly. There is considerable doubt as to whether our Director ever needed to register years ago, but this was done out of an abundance of caution. In recent years we have concluded that we should not register as lobbyists.

The Delta Caucus is incorporated as a regular corporation in order to give us complete freedom of action in our activities. Even a nonprofit 501c3 can engage in some lobbying, as noted below, and since we are not a 501c3 we have even more ability to engage in occasional lobbying, although most of our activities are informational and advocacy.

The National Council on Nonprofits states that there is considerable confusion about the distinction between lobbying in the narrow legal sense and advocacy:

“Lobbying is … Communicating with decision makers (elected officials and staff; voters on ballot measures), about existing or potential legislation, and urging a vote for or against. All three components of this definition are required: decision makers, actual legislation, AND asking for a vote.

So why the Confusion?

The reason the difference between advocacy and lobbying even matters is because the law that public charities operate under, Internal Revenue Code Section 501(c)(3), is exceedingly confusing. One of the limits (provisos) in that section of the law states that tax-exempt status is contingent upon

“… no substantial part of the activities of which is carrying on propaganda, or otherwise attempting, to influence legislation (except as otherwise provided in subsection (h)),”

“No substantial part” is vague and some may believe that the safest route is to avoid any lobbying. Indeed, the IRS has this to say in summarizing the law: “A 501(c)(3) organization may engage in some lobbying, but too much lobbying activity risks loss of tax-exempt status.”

End of citation from National Council of Nonprofits

There were no decision makers at the Nov. 18-19 Delta Zoom conference. There was no pending legislation regarding DRA, so it is hard to see how the generalized support for them would be considered lobbying. There were comments that DRA ought to include diversity in its senior ranks, but it is hard to see how that would be lobbying. You lobby when you say there is “X” legislation pending, and I hereby urge you, Decision Maker, to vote for or against it.” (Along with the requirement that a lobbyist has to be paid and lobbying is not a substantial part of their overall work.)

There have certainly been elected officials and politicians who have spoken at many other Delta Caucus events. Their participation itself is not lobbying.

Again, we don’t have tax-exempt status so as not to worry about the loss of something we don’t have in the first place. That’s why we are incorporated as a regular corporation.

At this conference, all of the speakers were either nonprofits, university or college officials, community advocates, and others. We did not have any politicians or elected officials.

Please note that the IRS has said “A 501(c)(3) organization may engage in some lobbying, but too much lobbying activity risks loss of tax-exempt status.” We have even more freedom of action on this point because we are not a 501c3.

There may have been a few quotes that might be construed as lobbying at this conference, but the vast majority of comments were informational and educational, and certainly the Delta Caucus did not pay the substantial sums needed to anyone to engage in lobbying that would have triggered the requirement to register as a lobbyist.

Again to quote the National Council on Nonprofits: “The legal definition of a lobbyist is actually quite narrow: lobbyists are required to register if one-third of their time per month is spent engaging in direct communication with officials for lobbying purposes. Contract lobbyists are required to register if they receive or are entitled to receive $2,000 per month for direct communication with officials.” (End of quote)

I do minimal fundraising nowadays because my financial situation personally has nothing to do with the Delta Caucus and I don’t need any income from it. I think people ought not to have to pay expenses and ought to get some nominal payment for their work, but lately I am actually losing money on the Delta Caucus. I am often not paid at all (beyond expenses) and even when fundraising does better I certainly don’t receive the levels of funding listed above by the National Council on Nonprofits.

Thanks–Lee Powell, Executive Director, Delta Grassroots Caucus