Thursday, September 27, 2012

Cleveland schools second levy debate sponsored by The Imperial Women Coalition, community activists in Lee -Harvard Ward 1 at Harvard Community Services Center gets heated, was informative, activists vote 39 to 13 against school levy, over 125 people attend, state Senator Nina Turner cancels at last minute, debate is covered by Channel 3's Lynna Lai, watch Lai's video of the debate here, State Sen. Shirley Smith discusses new state law to expunge felonies, misdemeanors, debators were Gerald Henley, Debbie Kline, Donna Walker Brown, Kimberly Brown, State Rep. Patmon was moderator, John Hairston, Linda Matthews represent Congresswoman Fudge at debate, Genevieve Mitchell, Ernest Smith speak, debate panelists were Frances Caldwell, Roz McAllister, Kathy Wray Coleman, Cleveland African-American Museum honored at event, State Rep. John Barnes participated too

CLEVELAND, Ohio- The Cleveland schools second levy debate, held Tues, Sept. 25 in Ward 1 at the Harvard Community Services Center, was informative and  got heated, with News Channel 3's Lynna Lai covering it, among other media, such as Cleveland Urban News.Com, Ohio's most read Black and urban online newspaper ( (Editor's Note: Community activists thank Elaine Ghostin, CEO of the Harvard Community Services Center, for permitting the debate at the community facility).

Watch the Channel 3 (WKYC) news video above and read Lai's story on the event below this story. (Editor's Note: Some people at the debate voted 39 to 13 against the levy  via a poll taken by The Imperial Women Coalition, the sponsoring group of the debate that drew more than 125 people to Cleveland's predominantly Black east side).

Debating for the levy that, if passed by Cleveland voters, would bring some $67 million annually for four years,  were Debbie Kline and Gerald C. Henley, a former Cleveland School Board member.

 And debating against it were Kimberly F. Brown and Donna Walker Brown.

State Rep. John Barnes Jr. (D-12) opened up the debate, which was moderated by state Rep. Bill Patmon (D-10), and had panelists of Roz McAllister, Frances Caldwell and Kathy Wray Coleman. 

Community Activist and Lil Africa Owner Michael Nelson sang a song and community activists gave the Cleveland African-American Museum a community service award.

Linda Matthews and John Hariston represented Congresswoman Marcia L. Fudge (D-OH), and Hairston, Fudge's executive director and a former community relations director for Cleveland schools, spoke on the congresswoman's role on the education committee in Congress.

State Sen. Nina Turner (D-25), a proponent of the levy, canceled at the last minute, allegedly because of preparation for the visit by President Obama's to Kent State University on Wed. Grassroots have said that the invitation remains open for a debate with Turner, a sponsor of the state law that represents Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson's educational transformation plan (Editor's Note: Jackson controls the city schools and appoints members of the Cleveland Board of Education pursuant to state law).

State Sen. Shirley Smith (D-22) spoke at intermission on 
Senate Bill 33, also known as the collateral sanctions bill ,that she sponsored that permits the expunging of either a felony and a misdemeanor, or two misdemeanors.  

SB 33 takes effect today, Smith said.

Former Cleveland School Board Member Genevieve Mitchell spoke on the now defunct Cleveland schools desegregation court order and mayoral control,  and The Oppressed People's Nation, led by Ernest Smith, spoke on Black empowerment. 

A previous grassroots debate, which was also sponsored by a coalition of grassroots organizations that include The Imperial Women, The Carl Stokes Brigade, Cleveland Jobs With Justice, Stop Targeting Ohio's Poor, Black on Black Crime, The Oppressed People's Nation, The Northeast Ohio Poor People's Economic Human Rights Campaign, Ohio Family Rights, People for Parental Equality, Peace in the Hood, The Underground Railroad and the Cleveland Chapter of the New Black Panther Party, was held on Aug. 30 at Lil Africa in Cleveland.

Also at the debate, community activists called for the Ohio Supreme Court to hold the Ohio State Legislature in contempt of court for ignoring three of its orders to revise the state's unconstitutional public school funding formula that gives rich children more monies than poor children through property taxes that partly fund the schools. 
By Lynna Lai, Channel 3 News

CLEVELAND -- It was an emotionally-charged debate in the heart of Cleveland's Lee-Harvard neighborhood.

Community activists organized an informative debate at the neighborhood community center, moderated by State Rep. Bill Patmon, to help educate constituents about Issue 107, a 15-mill property tax levy to fund an overhaul of the Cleveland Metropolitan School District.City and business leaders say the outcome of the election will make or break the school system.

"What do you tell a senior citizen if she can't afford her medication?" argued levy opponent Kimberly F Brown. "Yes, our schools need to be fixed, but not on the backs of our taxpayers!"

Supporters of the levy fired back, including former Cleveland School Board President Gerald Henley.

"It's like you're taking the kids and throwing them into the lake, and letting them bottom out," he said. "It's already bottomed out. What are you going to do about it?"

Opponents of the levy appeared to outnumber supporters 2 to 1. For many voters, their minds are already set. However, for the estimated 14 percent of voter who are undecided, school and city leaders have a message about Cleveland's future:

"Education is key to our success," said Mayor Frank Jackson at an earlier meeting with the Council of Small Enterprises, or COSE.  Jackson and CMSD CEO Eric Gordon made their pitch for the levy to local small business owners by stressing that the success of the entire region depends on overhauling Cleveland schools.

"There will be people who say it's a bad investment," said Gordon. "The reality is, while we're not where we want to be, we have made great gains."

The district has not passed an operating levy in 16 years. In that time, it's seen a 23 percent increase in the graduation rate.

Meanwhile, the district has seen a total loss of 168 million dollars infunding over the last 2 years because of state and federal cuts.

"We're talking accountability and responsibility!" shouted opponent Brown, to a cheering crowd at the debate.


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