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Debate Date Set Over Outside Group's Initiative to Decide How $14 Million from General Fund Gets Spent

Aug 09, 2023

Cleveland (Aug. 9, 2023) – PB Cleveland (People’s Budget Cleveland) leaders have accepted a council member’s challenge to debate their initiative to take $14 million from the city’s General Fund and give it to a group outside of Council to decide how to spend it. 

After providing them with seven different prospective debate dates which they declined, PB Cle has agreed to Tuesday, Sept. 26 for a debate. Councilman Kris Harsh had challenged the group to a debate in an opinion piece that was published in The Plain Dealer and in clevelanddotcom.

“In fact, I feel so strongly about this that I would like to formally challenge the PB CLE organizers to a public debate. …so that we can be open, transparent and honest about what is and isn’t being proposed,” Councilman Harsh wrote in the piece. “If the voters are being asked to decide this, they deserve an open process by which to understand it.”

Their initial declination on July and early August debate dates included this response, “PB CLE is happy to have this debate, with a few conditions. First, we will be ready to debate in August, once we've qualified for the ballot. Second, we'd request four debaters, two per side.”

Both conditions were agreed to, and three August debate dates they’ve declined were after the group qualified for the ballot. 

They responded, “After further discussion with the PB CLE steering committee, PB CLE feels that after Labor Day would be the best time to host the debate.”

Two dates were offered in September, and they accepted September 26th

The Debate Moderator/Timekeeper is Carrie Cofer, Head Speech and Debate Coach at the Rhodes High School Campus and Assistant Coach at Hathaway Brown School. Cofer is the Chair of the Cleveland District of the Ohio Speech and Debate Association and an OSDA Hall of Fame member. She has been a teacher and Speech and Debate coach in CMSD for 24 years.

As noted, there will be two people on each side. It will be Councilman Harsh and a partner yet to be determined. The moderator has requesting the names from the PB Cleveland side, which have yet to be provided. Cofer is also establishing what’s known as a “debatable resolution,” which is a statement of fact, value, or policy that will be debated. It is also known as the topic of debate. 

The debate will be held in the Little Theater inside of Public Hall, which can seat up to 600. The debate will commence at 6 pm, with the doors to the theater open at 5:30 pm. It is free and seating will be first come, first served.  

To read Councilman Harsh’s opinion piece go here:

Contact Councilman Kris Harsh at 216-664-2943.