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PRO/CON at the Pier and PRO/CON at USC
Arthur N. Rupe Debate Series in LA



Running from Sep. 12, 2017 through Oct. 3, 2017 at the Santa Monica Pier on Monday evenings and at the University of Southern California on Tuesday evenings, the Arthur N. Rupe Debate Series in LA was designed to stimulate critical thinking and civil discussion on current issues. ProCon.org, the USC Jesse M. Unruh Institute of Politics, and the Santa Monica Pier partnered to bring prominent experts from both sides of the issues, neutral moderators to facilitate the conversations, and beautiful venues to enjoy the free public debates. Sponsored by the Arthur N. Rupe Foundation, the debate series brought VIPs from politics, academia, and the media world to prove that people can disagree without being disagreeable. See all our panelists below. Topics included electoral reform, the shrinking middle class, education, and housing. For more information on our upcoming events, please visit our Calendar of Events page.


Video shot by Adam Episcopo, www.shotbyae.com


Sep. 12, 2017 - PRO/CON at USC
Electoral Reform: Does Your Vote Really Matter?

Arthur N. Rupe Debate Series in LA
featuring Ralph Neas, Pete Peterson, Trevor Potter, Leslee Sherrill, Bob Shrum, and Alex Grushan

ProCon.org CEO Kamy Akhavan introduces the panel

Trevor Potter, speaking, former Chairman of the Federal Election Commission, Pete Peterson, Dean of Pepperdine University's School of Public Policy, and Leslee Sherrill, former Vice President at ABC News

Ralph Neas, speaking, former CEO of the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights, Bob Shrum, presidential campaign manager for John Kerry and Al Gore, and co-moderator for this debate, and Adam Grushan, Student Vice President of the Unruh Associates Executive Board and co-moderator of this debate

The panel: Trevor Potter, Pete Peterson, Leslee Sherrill, Ralph Neas, Bob Shrum, and Adam Grushan

Pete Peterson, Leslee Sherrill, and Ralph Neas

The panel for our electoral reform discussion



At each debate, we ask attendees to vote pro or con based on our question that week, and also to indicate the intensity (1-10) of their opinions. Below are the results of this week's voting on the question, "Does your vote really matter?"

PRO Intensity CON Intensity
Before 63.6% 7.8 36.4% 4.3
After 36.8% 5.0 63.2% 5.8
% Change -42.1% -35.9% 73.6% 33.7%



Sep. 18, 2017 - PRO/CON at the Pier
America's Shrinking Middle Class: Do We Need More Government Involvement to Keep the Middle Class from Disappearing?

Arthur N. Rupe Debate Series in LA
featuring Brian Calle, Joseph Sanberg, and Alex Cohen

ProCon.org CEO Kamy Akhavan introduces the debate

Sunny weather for our Sep. 18 debate

Alex Cohen, moderator for this debate, and KPCC host of NPR's Morning Edition

Brian Calle, Vice President of Opinion for the Southern California News Group

The sun setting during our debate on the middle class

Joseph Sanberg, Co-founder and Chair of Aspiration.com


At each debate, we ask attendees to vote pro or con based on our question that week, and also to indicate the intensity (1-10) of their opinions. Below are the results of this week's voting on the question, "Do we need more government involvement to keep the middle class from disappearing?"

PRO Intensity CON Intensity
Before 73.7% 6.4 26.3% 6.2
After 66.6% 7.3 33.3% 6.5
% Change -9.6% 18.7% 26.2% 16.1%



Sep. 19, 2017 - PRO/CON at USC
America's Shrinking Middle Class: Do We Need More Government Involvement to Keep the Middle Class from Disappearing?

Arthur N. Rupe Debate Series in LA
featuring Brian Calle, Mike Gatto, Silvia Barcellos, David Hadley, and Alex Cohen
Photos courtesy of USC Jesse M. Unruh Institute of Politics

Brian Calle , Vice President of Opinion for the Southern California News Group, speaking, with Mike Gatto, former 4-time California Assemblyman

Silvia Barcellos, Economist at the Center for Economic and Social Research at the University of Southern California

David Hadley, former California Assemblyman

Alex Cohen, KPCC host of NPR's Morning Edition and moderator for this debate

USC students populated the audience

The panel: Brian Calle, Mike Gatto, Silvia Barcellos, David Hadley, and Alex Cohen


At each debate, we ask attendees to vote pro or con based on our question that week, and also to indicate the intensity (1-10) of their opinions. Below are the results of this week's voting on the question, "Do we need more government involvement to keep the middle class from disappearing?"

PRO Intensity CON Intensity
Before 75.0% 5.6 20.5% 3.7
After 66.6% 7.3 33.3% 5.0
% Change -11.2% 30.4% 32.0% 35.1%



Sep. 25, 2017 - PRO/CON at the Pier
Public Education: Is It Broken? If So, How to Fix It?

Arthur N. Rupe Debate Series in LA
featuring Nick Melvoin, Jason Spencer, and Maureen Langan

Jason Spencer, Principal Advisor to the California State Superintendent of Public Education

Maureen Langan, speaking, comic and former PBS and Bloomberg TV journalist, and moderator of this debate

Nick Melvoin, Vice President of the LAUSD Board of Education

Jason Spencer and Nick Melvoin during the debate

Our debate location: the Santa Monica Pier

The sun sets over our debate


At each debate, we ask attendees to vote pro or con based on our question that week, and also to indicate the intensity (1-10) of their opinions. Below are the results of this week's voting on the question, "Is public education broken in Los Angeles?"

PRO Intensity CON Intensity
Before 92.9% 8.2 7.1% 6.3
After 80.0% 7.0 20.0% 7.0
% Change -13.9% -23.9% 181.7% 12.0%



Sep. 26, 2017 - PRO/CON at USC
Public Education: Is It Broken? If So, How to Fix It?

Arthur N. Rupe Debate Series in LA
featuring Nick Melvoin, Jason Spencer, Micah Ali, and Howard Blume

Micah Ali, President of Compton Unified School District

Nick Melvoin, Vice President of the LAUSD Board of Education

Jason Spencer, Principal Advisor to the California State Superintendent of Public Instruction

Howard Bloom, Education reporter for the Los Angeles Times and moderator for this debate

The panel for our education discussion

USC students listen to the panel discussion


At each debate, we ask attendees to vote pro or con based on our question that week, and also to indicate the intensity (1-10) of their opinions. Below are the results of this week's voting on the question, "Is public education broken in Los Angeles?"

PRO Intensity CON Intensity
Before 91.3% 7.8 8.7% 3.0
After 76.9% 8.9 23.1% 4.7
% Change -15.8% 14.1% 165.5% 56.7%



Oct. 2, 2017 - PRO/CON at the Pier
LA Housing Crisis: Gentrification, Densification, and Why the Rent Is Too Damn High - Does Los Angeles Need Significantly More Development to Bring Down Housing Costs?

Arthur N. Rupe Debate Series in LA
featuring Jill Stewart, Gary Toebben, and Dana Cuff

Jill Stewart, former Managing Editor of LA Weekly and campaign manager for "Yes on S" 2016 ballot measure

Dana Cuff, Director of cityLAB-UCLA and Professor of Architecture and Urban Design at UCLA

Gary Toebben, President and CEO of the Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce

Jill Stewart, Dana Cuff, and Gary Toebben debate Los Angeles housing issues

The Arthur N. Rupe Debate Series in LA

ProCon.org CEO Kamy Akhavan welcomes the audience to the debate


At each debate, we ask attendees to vote pro or con based on our question that week, and also to indicate the intensity (1-10) of their opinions. Below are the results of this week's voting on the question, "Does Los Angeles Need Significantly More Development to Bring Down Housing Costs?"

PRO Intensity CON Intensity
Before 80.0% 8.3 20.0% 9.0
After 89.0% 8.6 11.0% 10.0
% Change 11.3% 3.6% -45.0% 11.1%



Oct. 3, 2017 - PRO/CON at USC
LA Housing Crisis: Gentrification, Densification, and Why the Rent Is Too Damn High - Does Los Angeles Need Significantly More Development to Bring Down Housing Costs?

Arthur N. Rupe Debate Series in LA
featuring Richard Close, Christine Rangel, Sudha Reddy, John P. Wilson, and Bob Shrum

Our panel on housing: Sudha Reddy, John Wilson, Christine Rangel, Richard Close, and moderator Bob Shrum

Sudha Reddy, Managing Principal of Haven Reality Capital, LLC

Sudha Reddy and John Wilson, speaking, USC Professor of Sociology and Spatial Sciences, and Director of USC Spatial Sciences Institute and Geographic Information Science & Technology Graduate Programs

Christine Rangel, speaking, Director of Government Affairs for Los Angeles/Ventura Chapter of the Building Industry Association of Southern California, and Richard Close, attorney at Gilchrist & Rutter and President of the Sherman Oaks Homeowners Association

Richard Close and Bob Shrum, speaking, moderator of this event and Director of the Jesse M. Unruh Institute of Politics at USC

The Oct. 3, 2017 housing panel at USC


At each debate, we ask attendees to vote pro or con based on our question that week, and also to indicate the intensity (1-10) of their opinions. Below are the results of this week's voting on the question, "Does Los Angeles Need Significantly More Development to Bring Down Housing Costs?"

PRO Intensity CON Intensity
Before 80.0% 5.3 20.0% 3.6
After 100.0% 9.0 0.0% 0.0
% Change 25.0% 69.8% -100.0% -100.0%







Participants (in alphabetical order)

Micah Ali – President of Compton Unified School District; former President of the Los Angeles Schools Trustees Association; former Compton Personnel Commissioner

Silvia Barcellos – Economist at the Center for Economic and Social Research at the University of Southern California; former Professor of Economics at RAND corporation

Howard Blume – Education reporter for the Los Angeles Times; co-host of Deadline: LA on KPFK

Brian Calle – Vice President of Opinion for the Southern California News Group; English Instructor at Chapman University; Editor-in-Chief of CalWatchdog.com; published in Forbes, Bloomberg News, Fox News, and many other media outlets

Richard Close – attorney at Gilchrist & Rutter; President of the Sherman Oaks Homeowners Association; Commissioner of the Local Agency Formation Commissions for "Yes on S - End Development Control"

Alex Cohen – KPCC host of NPR's Morning Edition; former producer and director for NPR's Weekly Edition and All Things Considered; former afternoon host and reporter for Pasadena's KPCC "All Things Considered"

Dana Cuff – Director of cityLAB-UCLA; Professor of Architecture and Urban Design at UCLA

Mike Gatto – former 4-time California Assemblyman; candidate for California State Treasurer; former lawyer with O'Melveny & Meyers and Mayer Brown LLP; founding partner of Actium LLP law firm

David Hadley – former California Assemblyman; former Los Angeles Republican party chairman; founder of Hadley Partners Inc

Maureen Langan – former PBS and Bloomberg TV journalist; Host of a weekly radio show for ABC; Comic

Nick Melvoin – Vice President of the LAUSD Board of Education; attorney, former seventh and eighth grade English teacher; director of Camp Harmony

Ralph Neas - former CEO of the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights; former CEO of People For the American Way; and Senate Republican legislative director who left the Republican Party in 1996

Pete Peterson - Dean of Pepperdine University's School of Public Policy; 2014 Republican nominee for California Secretary of State; former Executive Director of the Davenport Institute for Public Engagement and Civic Leadership

Trevor Potter - former Chairman of the Federal Election Commission; former general counsel to Senator John McCain's Presidential campaigns and President George H.W. Bush 1988 campaign, and lawyer for late night host Stephen Colbert and his Americans for a Better Tomorrow, Tomorrow Super PAC, and currently President of the Campaign Legal Center

Christine Rangel – Director of Government Affairs for Los Angeles/Ventura Chapter of the Building Industry Association of Southern California

Sudha Reddy – Managing Principal, Haven Realty Capital, LLC

Joseph Sanberg – Co-founder and Chair of Aspiration.com; Founder of CalEITC4Me; founding investor in Blue Apron and board member for companies such as Bright Funds and IVY.com

Leslee Sherrill - former Vice President at ABC News, former publicist for Diane Sawyer; former White House staffer

Bob Shrum - presidential campaign manager for John Kerry (2004) and Al Gore (2000); Director of the Jesse M. Unruh Institute of Politics at USC; columnist for The Week, Slate, and many other publications

Jason Spencer – Principal Advisor to the California State Superintendent of Public Instruction

Jill Stewart – former Managing Editor of LA Weekly; campaign manager for "Yes on S; Neighborhood Integrity Initiative" 2016 ballot measure

Gary Toebben – President & CEO of the Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce

John P. Wilson – USC Professor of Sociology and Spatial Sciences; Director of USC Spatial Sciences Institute and Geographic Information Science & Technology Graduate Programs