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 Caucus May 30-31, 2024 Meeting Will Be by Zoom and Not In-Person in LR

Posted on April 10, 2024 at 12:50 PM

Delta Caucus Meeting on May 30-31, 2024 Will Be by Zoom

April 10, 2024

We have changed the format of the May 30-31, 2024 meeting to a Zoom meeting to enable more participation from people who live a long distance from Little Rock and to reduce the time and expense of travel.

You register and RSVP by paying the registration fees–that information is below in this message.

The Zoom meeting is just as important as an in-person meeting and we will continue working hard to get as strong a turnout as possible.

There is a trend nowadays toward Zoom meetings and away from in-person meetings and we have to deal with that reality.

The meeting will only be by Zoom and of course we are cancelling the meeting space and group hotel bloc in Little Rock.

The key issues will be job creation, infrastructure, health care, hunger and nutrition, Delta Heritage tourism, education/workforce development, transportation and related regional development subjects.

We have 35 RSVPs as of now, have many other invitations sent out, and will keep working to increase that number until May 30.

SCHEDULE

The opening session will be the evening of May 30, 2024, Thursday, about 5:30 p.m. to 7:15 p.m.

The Friday session May 31, 2024 will be from about 8:45 a.m. to about 12:30 p.m.

REGISTRATION

You register by paying the registration fees,

The early registration fee of $75 is good until May 1, 2024 to provide an incentive to get the registration fees in before the time of the conference.

After May 1 and up to May 31 the registration fees go up to $100. We would request that people NOT wait until the time of the conference to pay registration fees because it takes up time to collect them while we are trying to get the program started.

The fastest and easiest way to register is to go on the website at mdgc.us and go to the PayPal link that says “Donate.”

If you prefer to pay by check, please make out the check to “Delta Caucus” and mail to:

Delta Caucus

5030 Purslane Place

Waldorf Md 20601

We would greatly prefer to not have to collect registration fees after the conference is over, so the fees go up to $125 each if we have to collect them at that late time.

Group discount: We will offer a group discount of $50 each for a group of three or more, and a discount down to $30 each for a group of five or more.

Thanks again for all your support of the Delta regional advocacy initiative over the years. Lee Powell, Director, Delta Grassroots Caucus (202) 360-6347

Please Register for Delta Caucus Conference in Little Rock on May 30-31, 2024

Posted on March 22, 2024 at 12:02 PM

Please register by paying the registration fees for the Delta Caucus spring conference in Little Rock on May 30-31, 2024. You register by paying the registration fees.

You can pay the registration fees at the website on mdgc.us by going to the PayPal link that says “Donate,” or pay by check to the address listed below.

You can reserve a room at the Comfort Inn Presidential for the night of May 30 by calling the sales manager Sierra Logan at (501) 297-9005.

Early registration fees of $75 until April 30 for an individual will save you money and help expedite matters for the group as a whole. For a group of three or more you will get a discounted rate to $50 each and $30 for a group of five or more.

NEWSLETTER TABLE OF CONTENTS

  1. Schedule

  2. Registration fees

  3. Group hotel

SCHEDULE

Opening Session:

Thursday, May 30–Speakers from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m., followed by a networking dinner on your own at the Dean-MacArthur meeting room at Comfort Inn Presidential in Little Rock, Arkansas from about 7:30 p.m. to about 8:30 p.m. at hotel restaurant near the meeting room

Friday, May 31 session:

Clinton Library Great Hall from 8:45 a.m. to lunch from noon to 1 p.m., May 31, 2024.

REGISTRATION FEES

Early registration fees will be discounted to $75 each if received by the early registration deadline of April 30, 2024.

Registration fees go up to $100 from May 1, 2024 to May 30-31, 2024.

We discourage people from paying at the front desk at the time of the conference, because this leads to bottlenecks and detracts from a full focus on getting the conference underway.

LATE REGISTRATION FEES–For those who pay after the conference is over, registration fees increase to $125 as an incentive to get the registration fees in on time.

The fastest and easiest way to pay the registration fees is to go to the website at mdgc.us and go to the PayPal link that says “Donate.”

If you prefer to pay by check, please make the check out to “Delta Caucus” and mail to:

Delta Caucus

5030 Purslane Place

Waldorf, MD 20601

While the great majority of people pay the registration fees, some do not and recently we had an unusually large number who either did not pay the fees on time or still have not paid them. For those who ignore or refuse the obligation to pay the fees, they will not be able to attend Delta Caucus events.

The Delta Caucus is a volunteer, private sector group and this is by invitation only.

GROUP HOTEL

The group hotel is the Comfort Inn & Suites Presidential in Little Rock.

You can make the reservation to get the lower group rate of $129 by calling the Comfort Inn sales manager, Sierra Logan, at (501) 297-9005 and saying you are with the Delta Caucus group.

The address is Comfort Inn Presidential

707 Interstate 30

Little Rock, AR 72202

Debi Alexander Honored by Inclusion in Marquis' Who's Who; She is the Wife of former US Rep. Bill Alexander

Posted on March 21, 2024 at 05:59 PM

Debi Alexander, Wife of former U.S. Rep. Bill Alexander, Included in Marquis Who’s Who for Work to Help Adults with Disabilities

We would like to inform our partners across the 8-state Greater Delta that Debi Alexander, wife of the Hon. Bill Alexander who served as US Representative for the First District of AR, has been included in the prestigious Marquis Who’s Who for her service in helping adults with disabilities.

Most of our partners will vividly remember Debi Alexander as a dynamic, thoughtful leader who was active across the First District in helping Congressman Alexander in his work promoting community and economic progress in the Greater Delta. Bill Alexander served the First District for 24 years and Debi was by his side with her vivacious leadership across our region.

We believe in recognizing partners in our network when they have received acclaim, and here is the statement from Who’s Who honoring Debi:

RESTON, VA, 2024 /24-7PressRelease/ – Debi D. Alexander has been included in Marquis Who’s Who. As in all Marquis Who’s Who biographical volumes, individuals profiled are selected on the basis of current reference value. Factors such as position, noteworthy accomplishments, visibility, and prominence in a field are all taken into account during the selection process.

Ms. Alexander is noted for her leadership expertise as the executive director at Specially Adapted Resource Clubs (SPARC), a respected organization based in Reston, Virginia, that provides exceptional community-based day programs for adults with disabilities. With five locations throughout Northern Virginia, SPARC strives to maintain a safe, caring, and inclusive environment where these young adults with severe disabilities can thrive. SPARC also maintains a public-private partnership with Fairfax County, Virginia, offering an alternative to the traditional Medicaid model.

Passionate about advocating for those who often go unseen, Ms. Alexander is eager to continue helping expand SPARC into Loudoun County, Prince William County, and along the Route One corridor. She is confident she can secure the necessary funding to see it through.

Before joining SPARC in 2020, Ms. Alexander was the director of development and communications at PHILLIPS Programs for Children and Families from 2015 to 2020, a private, nonprofit organization founded over 50 years ago that serves over 500 children and their families annually throughout the Washington metropolitan area.

She also worked as an executive director for the Rainbow Therapeutic Riding Center between 2006 and 2015. During an earlier stage of her career, Ms. Alexander worked in public relations and marketing with the Fairfax County Office of Partnerships and as the director of presidential letters and messages at The White House.

In addition to her full-time career endeavors, Ms. Alexander has lent her expertise to the board of directors for Northern Virginia Community College and joined the NOVA Foundation as a member of the board of directors and communications chair. Civically invested, Ms. Alexander presently serves in various roles with the Greater Reston Chamber of Commerce, the American Association of University Women, and, among other organizations, Serve Our Willing Warriors.

Ms. Alexander graduated from George Mason University in 1994 with a Doctor of Jurisprudence. She also completed leadership training at the Leadership Fairfax Institute in 2017.

Highlighting her achievements, Ms. Alexander was one of six to be recognized by Northern Virginia Magazine as a Northern Virginian of the Year in 2013.

About Marquis Who’s Who®: Since 1899, when A. N. Marquis printed the First Edition of Who’s Who in America®, Marquis Who’s Who® has chronicled the lives of the most accomplished individuals and innovators from every significant field of endeavor, including politics, business, medicine, law, education, art, religion and entertainment. Marquis celebrates its 125th anniversary in 2023, and Who’s Who in America® remains an essential biographical source for thousands of researchers, journalists, librarians and executive search firms around the world. Marquis® publications may be visited at the official Marquis Who’s Who® website at www.marquiswhoswho.com

Summary of Efforts to Address the Delta's Regional Development, 1990s to the Present

Posted on March 19, 2024 at 02:36 PM

“A Short Summary of Efforts to address community and economic development in the Delta, 1990s to the Present”

News of the closing of the iconic First Baptist Church in Helena has prompted a great deal of comments regarding the Greater Delta Region in general. This is one of the grand old beautiful churches of the South and we are saddened to hear of its closing.

Former DRA Alternate Federal Co-Chair Rex Nelson made a statement on Facebook that it was sad that the great First Baptist Church of Helena was closing, and this was an example of population loss in the region. Nelson’s comment was factual, but some other comments on Facebook were derogatory concerning the efforts to improve the region over the past three decades.

The naysayers who bash those who are working to help the region are part of the problem, and they should join the effort for progress rather than dismissing our efforts.

In particular, we believe the statement on Facebook that “nothing ever came” of the Clinton administration’s Delta regional initiative after one press conference in 1999 is totally erroneous.

Caucus Director Lee Powell was among the Presidential appointees in the Clinton administration who worked for a strong focus on the Delta—always recognizing that we should not make unrealistic promises, given the 200 years of melancholy legacy in slavery, Jim Crow and the mistaken policy of attracting big plants with cheap labor that soon left for even cheaper markets elsewhere. ​

There were some accomplishments in spite of the difficulties both in the Clinton administration and later years, however, so it is not all gloom and doom.

The policies of the Clinton administration were geared to helping middle class to lower-income families, of which we have many in the Delta, so that was constructive for the Delta. A diversified policy of generating many small to medium-sized businesses and broad-based economic growth is far wiser than the outdated policies.

Status-quo oriented forces opposed our efforts, but the administration’s Delta Regional Initiative gained momentum from about 1995 onward and eventually led to the most intensive focus on the Delta of any Presidential administration in history by 1998-2000.

We know the results were limited but we had the fortitude to make the effort—and many people warned us not even to try because the problems were so immense.​

Kevin Smith, former mayor of Helena, aide to the late US Sen. Dale Bumpers, and long-time Delta advocate, cites two recent examples of constructive projects in Helena based on initiatives begun in the Clinton era–DRA and New Markets Tax Credit:

The Delta Regional Authority provided funding to Helm Fertilizer for a paved road to their Helena slackwater harbor site that will add 50 jobs;

In 2022, Poinsett Grain and Seed (which located at Helena in 2020) received New Markets Tax Credit funding to expand their site, helping their constructive activities related to barge traffic and shipping grain.

Smith acknowledged that they have significant population loss (population is now approximately a little under 10,000) and does not deny the difficult issues his area faces, but he also stressed that “There have been some good, constructive projects done here along with the challenges we face, and those have not been accurately portrayed or discussed.”

This is a relatively short summary we present here–A comprehensive survey would take a report along the lines of the Clinton administration’s Delta Report, which is available on the Delta Caucus website at mdgc.us at the link that says “Delta Vision, Delta Voices.” This was nonpartisan and included many contributions from Republicans, Independents and Democrats.

Some quick facts on the Delta: Here is a short list of some key facts about efforts to support community and economic development in the Delta over the years:

The Clinton administration, the later Delta Grassroots Caucus from the early 2000s and other advocates never claimed we were going to suddenly bring about prosperity in a region that has had serious economic problems after 200 years of counterproductive policies. I know how serious the problems are, seeing them in my work every day.

As one of the three managers for the administration’s Delta Regional Initiative (I was based at USDA; the others were Wilson Golden of Mississippi and the late Al Eisenberg at US DOT), we said we would fight hard against poverty in our region but never promised a quick, magical turn-around, always being realistic enough about how severe the problems are.

2) During the Clinton administration, economic indicators DID improve—unemployment was 7.5% in 1993 for the region and declined to 4.5% by 2000, and poverty levels were reduced by 10% from 1996 to 2001. The indicators were at least headed in the right direction, although the issues remained very challenging. Clinton (or any President) can’t be held responsible for what happened later, but the record on his watch was solid.

3) The Delta Regional Authority was created in 2000, after naysayers and defenders of the status quo had blocked it for many years. From a low of $5 million in the early 2000s, we have fought to increase its budget by 6 times to today’s DRA budget of $30 million, and we will work to get it much bigger to the best of our ability.

The regional economic indicators declined again in the Bush years—partly due to national and international economic trends, partly due to lessened federal emphasis on the region, but Clinton can’t be responsible for what happened under later administrations, although the Delta Caucus and others have continued to work on these issues, sometimes with disappointing results, sometimes with limited progress.

The DRA did continue during the Bush administration with Alternate Federal Co-Chair Rex Nelson and others doing a lot of good, hard work and that is to the Bush administration’s credit. We all know that much more needs to be done.

Mike Marshall of Missouri followed up with more diligent and effective work as DRA Alternate Federal Co-Chair in the Obama administration. Current DRA officials are duly carrying on in that constructive tradition.

An individual named Chuck Martin whom we do not know stated that Clinton gave a speech in 1999 about revitalizing the Delta and that was most or all he did and “nothing ever came of it,” but in fact the administration held a series of listening sessions all up and down the Delta and passed legislation based on the recommendations, including the bill creating the Delta Regional Authority that was signed into law in late 2000, after encountering resistance from status-quo forces in the region and without.

We make no claim that the DRA is a panacea for all the Delta’s problems. But it does constructive work every year: for example, in FY 2022, DRA and leveraged funds led to;

–$46 million investments in the Delta,

–with 1,841 jobs created or retained,

–1,228 people in training programs, and

–41,878 families affected. This is not a huge impact, but it is real and constructive.

The DRA has operated for over two decades now and they continue to turn out these constructive projects year after year.

4) There were innovations from the beginning of the Clinton administration in 1993 including Enterprise Communities and Empowerment Zones, in later administrations Renewal Communities and related innovations regarding community planning and local collaborations to promote community and economic development.

As one example, one fourth of all the Empowerment Zones and Enterprise Communities across the country were located in the Delta in 1993 in the first round of EZ/EC and additional Delta organizations were set up in a later round. Many of them still operate.

Infrastructure: There were many infrastructure projects in transportation, housing, water and sewer, and other fields in the Clinton years and afterward. There are so many of these it would take a tome to list all of them, but here are a few highlights and for those who want to look at it in depth you can go on the website at mdgc.us and go to the link that says “Delta Vision, Delta Voices,” at the top of the site and then go to the link in the table of contents that says “Infrastructure.”

At USDA Rural Development, where I served as senior adviser to the Under Secretary, there was an expansion in these programs during the Clinton administration:

–Telephone service was provided for the first time to 8,200 rural, primarily low-income residents;

–77,000 Delta residents received improved telecommunications;

–$9.8 million was invested to provide distance learning and telemedicine for 800,000 residents in the region.

–The Departments of Commerce, Energy, DOT, EPA and HUD provided expanded rural water projects, energy supply and delivery and solid waste management.

5) Health care and nutrition: There was an expansion of Food Stamps use and the Women, Infants and Children (WIC) program, and the five Delta states (Arkansas, Mississippi, Missouri, Kentucky and Illinois) joined the WIC Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program in the 1990s.

State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP), Centers for Disease Control, and USDA Rural Development Community Facilities health care activities were expanded in recognition of the serious health care and hunger and nutrition issues related to the Delta’s high rates of obesity, diabetes, heart disease, and other maladies.

Other leaders and organizations have followed up since then. Of course there are many critics as well as supporters of Obamacare in general, but there is no question it did help some lower-income people in the Delta.

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Delta Caucus Commends Gov. Asa Hutchinson's Public Service and Courage to Oppose Trump, Support the Rule of Law

Posted on January 18, 2024 at 02:12 PM

“Delta Caucus Commends Gov. Asa Hutchinson’s Public Service and Courage to Oppose Trump”

Jan. 18, 2024 CONTACT: Lee Powell, Caucus Director (202) 360-6347

The Delta Grassroots Caucus praises Gov. Asa Hutchinson for his courageous efforts to oppose Donald Trump’s threat to the rule of law.

The Democratic National Committee’s snide comments about Gov. Hutchinson only weaken the effort of all thoughtful, reasonable people to stand for democracy.

Gov. Hutchinson made stalwart efforts to run a moderate Republican campaign opposing Trump’s encouragement of insurrection on Jan. 6.

Delta Caucus partners have known Asa for literally decades. Delta Caucus Director Lee Powell was a federal court law clerk for US District Judge Bill Wilson when Asa practiced in that court, and he was notable for upholding the finest standards in pursuit of representing his clients and promoting justice.

We also knew him as Governor of Arkansas, Presidential candidate and other capacities, and he has always demonstrated the highest standards of integrity and public service.

We regret that Gov. Hutchinson received very few votes in the Iowa caucuses and decided to suspend his campaign, but that does nothing to diminish his courageous efforts to stand up for the rule of law, even when it wasn’t popular among many Republicans.

Gov. Hutchinson has spoken many times over the years to Delta Caucus conferences and always demonstrated strong support for the community and economic progress for the eastern Arkansas Delta, the Delta Regional Authority, and the 8-state Greater Delta Region as a whole. He deserves tremendous respect, and not the partisan, snarky comments from the DNC that they “didn’t know he was still running.”

The Delta Caucus is nonpartisan and opposes all efforts from people of whatever party or political persuasion that encourage extremism and undermine the rule of law.