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ProCon.org and Santa Monica Pier Bring Civil Discourse Back with PRO/CON Debate Series:

Elected Officials, District Attorneys and Leading Advocates Debate Hot-button Issues Weeks Before the Election

Is it time to repeal California’s death penalty? Should California tax and regulate marijuana? Is a college education worth the money?

ProCon.org and the Santa Monica Pier are bringing together leading advocates, elected officials and district attorneys to debate these hot-button topics just weeks before the November elections where voters will weigh in on ballot initiatives to decide how California wants to address these issues.

“People around the country have been struggling to make sense of complex issues like marijuana legalization, college affordability, and the death penalty,” said  Kamy Akhavan, president and managing editor of ProCon.org. “They don’t have time to spend weeks researching the issues themselves. The consequence is that many people don’t feel confident in their opinions or their ability to make informed decisions. We want to fix that.”

“PRO/CON @ The Pier debates are taking place on the iconic Santa Monica Pier with Pacific Ocean sunsets as a backdrop.

For years, ProCon.org has tracked the issues people search for most and provided the best Pro and Con research to help them get smart fast. Through that research, ProCon.org has assembled some of the best PRO and CON subject matter experts on key issues and brought them together with a neutral moderator. 

“We kept hearing friends and colleagues say they are embarrassed at the state of politics in America right now, said Jay Farrand, executive director of the Santa Monica Pier. “This is our attempt at a grassroots public service to help people make more informed choices. The Pier can be a great forum for dialogue since it’s open to the public and invites people of all backgrounds and incomes.”  

PRO/CON @ The Pier is a nonpartisan discussion series consisting of policy experts and independent moderators designed to better inform public discourse on ballot measures and current issues before Election Day in November.

PRO/CON @ The Pier is free, open to the public and takes place at the West End of the Pier on Tuesdays.


Death Penalty – Time to Repeal?

Tuesday, October 18

6:00 – 7:00 pm

Moderator: Ben Allen, California State Senator, whose 26th Senate District stretches from Pacific Palisades to the Palos Verdes Peninsula and from Venice to Hollywood.

(PRO): Gil Garcetti, former LA County District Attorney, and father of current LA Mayor Eric Garcetti and former LA Deputy District Attorney Dana Garcetti-Boldt.

(CON): Michelle Hanisee, Deputy District Attorney for LA County and President of the Association of Deputy District Attorneys – Los Angeles.


Cost of Education – Is College Worth It?

Tuesday, October 25

6:00 – 7:00 pm

Moderator: Maureen Langan, former PBS and Bloomberg TV journalist, and now host of a weekly radio show on KGO in San Francisco.

(PRO): Michelle Herczog, immediate Past President of the National Council for the Social Studies and former Co-Chair of the California Coalition for the Partnership for 21st Century Skills.

(CON): Dale Stephens, author of Hacking Your Education and Founder of Uncollege.com, and one of the first recipients of the $100K Thiel Fellowship, for high school grads who delay college to pursue their dreams. 


Marijuana – To Legalize or Not?

Tuesday, November 1

6:00 – 7:00 pm

Moderator: Alan Thicke, 7-time Emmy winning actor, star of Growing Pains and Unusually Thicke, and author of How to Raise Kids Who Won’t Hate You.

(PRO): Karen O’Keefe, Director of State Policies for the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP). Karen helped shape and pass medical marijuana legislation in many states.

(CON): Californians Against Legalizing Marijuana. CALM is an all-volunteer political action committee dedicated to defeating any effort to legalize marijuana.


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