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2018 Scrum

By State Senator Al Melvin

Arizona’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) has been law since 1999. SB1062’s sole purpose was to update two sections of it. First, to clarify the definition of “person” to include all types of businesses and legal entities. Arizona laws largely conform to that, but more clarity was best. Second, to address the infamous photographer case in New Mexico where courts ruled that RFRA protections did not apply in a case involving two private parties. We wanted to protect people’s liberties, not just from encroachment by government, but from other private parties as well. al melvin

The bill did not change the protected or unprotected classes in Arizona. Hysterical pronouncements like “mixed-race couples will be kicked out of restaurants” were deliberately inflammatory. That discrimination remains illegal under Arizona and Federal law.

Democrats and liberals argue that businesses should operate only with the consent of government and they should have no say in who they do business with or how. If their doors are open, they must serve everyone and accommodate any request if they are physically able. But that isn’t the law now, nor should it be. A sign company doesn’t have to produce a banner that depicts graphic violence just because their customer wants one. A baker doesn’t have to bake a cake in the shape of a Nazi swastika just because a customer wants one. Still, opponents of SB1062 argue that the State of Arizona should force these companies to make these products or go out of business.

True liberty is not where you get to make everyone do everything you want them to do. True liberty is where you are free to do what you want to do. You are free to make your choices and so is everyone else.

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MSNBC Host Rachel Maddow is really liberal. And annoying. And she’s a partisan. But one can’t say she doesn’t bring it with passion. It’s worthy of respect even while it reminds those not like-minded why we are right.

That’s why a shout out is in order for SeeingRedAZ.com, one of the most influential and longest-running political blogs in Arizona. Its espousals are not moderate. Opinions were and always are conservative.

And even as the house has caved in on SB1062 – and Republicans run for cover – there stands SeeingRedAz, defending the policy. Proudly.

Theirs is a small gun in war that has been lost. But thank goodness they are there, adding to the debate. They make one think, just as Maddow does, but unlike her they are more often right than wrong. Just not on this one.

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A recent article discussed fear within the Christian community that Christians were losing the culture war and would soon be losing their rights as well. The writer interviewed Jim Phillips, the senior pastor of North Greenwood Baptist Church, to find out why events are moving against Christians with such speed.

“Sadly, Christians have often wimped out and grown silent instead of being bolder for the Gospel,” he said. “Christians get subdued into thinking they’re not supposed to rise up.”

It was easy to be reminded of that quote as we watched virtually the entire Republican field for Governor run for the hills in the debate over SB1062, the religious liberties bill that was advocated for by the Center for Arizona Policy and was supported by 50 out of 53 Republicans in the legislature. Conservative Republicans supported the bill, but so did moderate Republicans like Frank Pratt, TJ Shope, John McComish, Steve Pierce, Bob Robson and Adam Driggs.

Upon passage however, Democratic lawmakers and their allies in the homosexual lobby kicked their public relations machines into high gear and the media happily engaged in a feeding frenzy to declare SB1062 the next SB1070. And why not? SB1070 was great for ratings!

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Arizona State Senator Michele Reagan is one of the most likable people in all of state politics. She has her own style and compelling nature that is refreshingly authentic in an age of political clones. Reagan has been a dynamic and effective representative for her district that covers much of Scottsdale.

And for years it has been known she has wanted to be Arizona’s next Secretary of State. And she would likely do a fine job. Screen-Shot-2013-10-30-at-10_34_40-AM2-78220_641x340

But sometimes in politics things just break against you. And when they do it’s OK to re-evaluate. And it should be the responsibility of a consultant to shoot straight rather than walk a candidate into a wall.

Let’s take stock.

Yesterday, Reagan reported having about $100,000 in cash on hand for her Republican primary run. That’s a new definition of pissing in the wind with the well-funded Wil Cardon facing her for the GOP nomination and Terry Goddard ready after that as one of the more formidable Democrats to ever pursue the post. And this amount very likely defers a good amount of campaign expenses relegating her real total to less than spun.

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So the Arizona Republican Party censured John McCain this past weekend. If they were hoping this would dissuade the senior senator from re-electing it may have had the opposite effect. After all, a man who withstood the Vietcong probably chuckles at the potbellies of rightward lunacy. They remind us that just because one can do something, doesn’t mean it is wise to do so. One Ted Cruz is just enough.McCain, John-012309-18421- 0004

Still, the Censurists do speak to the long-time detachment and disregard many Republicans have for John McCain. He is at once so damn impressive yet also such a petulant ass. The kind of guy that is both a great American symbol for resilience yet also one that would yell at the construction worker he hired for not building a monument to himself fast enough.

Evidence can be found in the numbers. Despite spending some $26 million in the 2010 Republican primary against J.D. Hayworth who raised a fraction of that amount McCain only won the Republican primary by a little more than 20 points. Fast forward to 2012 when Jeff Flake and Wil Cardon spent a relatively similar amount in that U.S. Senate primary but Flake won by 50 plus points.

And this gets us to a key point. The 2012 U.S. Senate race occurred at all because Jon Kyl decided three terms was enough; that others could carry on his good work, in their own way. And Arizona would be just fine. He left at the top of the Republican Senate world, like Bobby Jones atop the golf world some 80 plus years ago. He knew when it was time to leave. He knew there was more to life than title and ego.

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Billy Crystal watching Meg Ryan faking it was one of the most memorable movie scenes in recent memory.

It’s fair to say that’s how engaged Republican primary voters are feeling as they evaluate whether upstart Christine Jones is faking her espoused conservative bona fides or whether she really has the financial resources to become a player in the 2014 Arizona Governor’s race.  jones-governor

Fife Symington clearly had the personal dough to be competitive. He actually became an Arizona Governor. He wasn’t faking it. Buz Mills appeared to have the jack too, before pulling out of the 2010 Governor’s race because of the unique circumstances of SB1070.

Wil Cardon was soundly defeated for the U.S. Senate in 2012 but he too showed a real bank account. If Christine Jones doesn’t have the same depth she is an immediate also ran.

Judging from her very aggressive fundraising efforts we question how much there is really there. The 2013 financial reports due Friday should shed some light. But so too does a refresher course on Buz Mills’ effort.

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*A scandal is brewing for one elected official in the Northeast Valley

*Downtown Scottsdale businessman and activist Bill Crawford has formed an exploratory committee to run for Scottsdale Mayor

*Good news.  Scottsdale City Manager Fritz Behring has been on medical leave for months but has been visiting City Hall and events about town much more lately.  A date for his full-time return is still uncertain.

*Superman vs. Batman.  Godzilla vs. King Kong.  Nurses vs. Doctors.  The latter battle is as epic in its own way and playing out now at the Arizona State Capitol.

*Love bites.  APS may be sinking its fangs into likely Arizona Corporation Commission candidate and current State Representative Rick Gray

*Early voting starts in less than a month for Arizona’ presidential primary March 22nd

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Once upon a time a group of neighbors in McDowell Mountain Ranch and a terribly odd no-growth activist teamed up to oppose the Ice Den on Bell Road near WestWorld.  Proposed by the then Phoenix Coyotes 20 years ago it was meant to serve as a training facility for the franchise, and an incredible new amenity for kids and families.  After a pitched battle that went all the way to the Arizona Supreme Court the project was allowed to proceed.  Today, it stands as a Scottsdale point of pride and the best ice skating site in Arizona. Time has proved neighbor warnings of “gangs,” “traffic,” and “decreased property values” fallacious.

The episode reminds of a more contemporary debate about siting a flagship BASIS School campus at 128th and Shea.

The BASIS schools are the top ranked schools in Arizona and in some cases, the nation.  The school’s history in the community is long and distinguished.  Having schools of such renown is not unimportant to economic development efforts.  They are the best in class, something Scottsdale has always aspired to whether it’s golf tournaments, car auctions, preservation, the arts, flood control projects or its quality of life. 

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Sean Noble’s recent take on the solar industry as outlined in his blog Noble Thinking in an entry entitled "Failure to Launch" represents a failure to learn on the part of the author.

First a little background.  Nevada recently pulled the plug on “net metering” which requires utilities to pay the retail rate for the excess electricity rooftop solar customers send to the grid.

Hundreds of solar related jobs are being lost in Nevada as a result. That’s something the pro-utility crowd seems to forget as they do a victory lap.

Noble and the pro-utility crowd falsely label this a subsidy.

Net metering is commerce, it’s not a subsidy. Net metering enables rooftop solar customers to generate extra power to offset their electricity bills. These people pay the retail rate for their electricity, why shouldn’t they receive the retail rate for the power they send back to the grid.

And while we are on the topic of subsidies, the fossil fuel industry is one of the most subsidized industries in the United States.  That’s a talking point often ignored by the utilities and their camp followers.

Another misconception is that net metering burdens non solar customers because it can reduce utility profits. The same could be said for double pain windows, attic insulation, or a good shade tree.

In reality, solar benefits utilities (and the paying public) in the long run by reducing the need for additional power plants.

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By Michael Crow

Dear friends of ASU,

As we enter an exciting new year of excellence at Arizona State University, I want to call your attention to just how momentous 2015 was in the evolution of our New American University. We set milestones in research, accessibility and achievement throughout our learning enterprise, and for service to our local and global communities.

Most visibly, ASU was ranked #1 among the Most Innovative Schools in the nation for 2016 by U.S. News & World Report - a ranking conferred by our peers, the leaders of other universities. The world is talking about ASU, and it will greatly benefit our efforts to support the success of our students when you talk about us as well.

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Not to channel Hillary Clinton but it does seem women often endure a double standard in the political arena.  Donald Trump’s campaign theatrics make him a “leader,” “entertaining,” and “commanding.”  Imagine if a woman acted so.  “Bitch” would be the most frequently used term.  Like it was when Christine Jones ran for Governor in 2014.  Others have avoided such labels with disarming traits:  Brenda Burns (principle).  Janet Napolitano (smarts).  Kyrsten Sinema (humor).

And that leads us to the tony town of Paradise Valley and one Maria Syms.  She burst onto the scene in 2012 and a combustible race against the person who defeated her for Mayor, Scott Lemarr.

The electorate did not doubt her spirit but let’s just say the marketplace felt a little Christine Jones about her post-election.

What a difference a few years makes.

She was elected to the Paradise Valley Town Council.  She was tapped by Attorney General Mark Brnovich to be a top advisor.  She matriculated through the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard and is a graduate of a U.S. Attorney’s Office.   She’s a mom, wife, and articulate defender of community character and the resonance of resorts.

The right and recalibrated combination of sass, class and charisma has positioned Syms towards a broad political horizon.  Who knows where she goes from here, but it’s pretty impressive where she’s already been, and is.

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The success of recent Scottsdale efforts to fund city improvements with new general obligation bonds isn’t great.  Indeed, a merry band of opponents defeated all of the bond requests several years back and only two passed during the latest effort in 2015.

The campaigns in suppIMG_0638ort of the requests were wayward, but something more fundamental was at play too.  Opponents prosecuted what amounted to a transparency and trust argument.  You can’t trust City Hall and the tricksters there that are trying to hide secret funding items the rhapsody goes.

The trust thrust was and is misguided.  After all, to question the integrity of people like Jim Lane, Virginia Korte, David Smith et al is akin to questioning the very definition of conscientious service.  And the public knows it as demonstrated by their regard for the job the City of Scottsdale is doing.

But when it comes to the transparency of the bond proposals opponents had a point.  In lumping specific projects into broader categories such as Parks, Public Safety or Transportation the city didn’t do anything that other cities don’t. But most other cities don’t have as discerning or attentive electorate as Scottsdale.  Bond opponents argued each spending request – a fire station in the north, a road project on Hayden, etc.  – should be allowed an up or down vote.  That’s not unlike how judges appear on ballots in Arizona.  We don’t vote for judges en masse or as a block.  We do so individually.

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Scottsdale is on a roll. While no community can expect a sunny headlines all the time, let’s just say these past few weeks have been very, very good to Scottsdale.

The Phoenix Business Journal put out an article that says Scottsdale is one of the best places in the United States for a startup business.Scottsdale-Sign-547x198

Reporter Haley Ringle wrote, “This is no surprise to the Phoenix Business Journal since our reporters often drive out to Scottsdale to talk to thriving businesses and startups.”

You can read the complete story here.

The other sunny shoe dropped in the Arizona Republic which reported Scottsdale is taking in record amounts of sales tax revenue thanks to sporting events and a tourist trade that keeps expanding. It was a very good year with local tax revenues hitting $258.9 million.

Here is a link to the rest of the story.

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*Governor Doug Ducey’s State of the State again reminded Arizonans what it’s like to have someone with a firm grip on the wheel.  His predecessor always made the public feel like a passenger to a driver’s permit.

*It should be noted that McCain’s time in the U.S. Senate and Ducey’s time as Governor will both end in 2022.  Who knows if Ducey would ever want to succeed him but he would undoubtedly be an impediment to those who prefer waiting McCain out to taking him on.

*When people now ask whether Phoenix, Tempe, Scottsdale or Gilbert has the best downtown it shows how far Phoenix and Gilbert have come.

*The success of a young Phoenix Coyotes team is an underreported local sports story and an underappreciated sports achievement.

*Many in the media are quietly asking and exploring how likely it may be that the Phoenix Suns relocate its arena to the Salt River Pima Maricopa Indian Community.

*With the Scottsdale Tribune expiring years ago and the Scottsdale Republic cutting two more reporters it might be the case that the Scottsdale Independent is the closest thing the city now has to a newspaper of record.

*Craft brew houses are everywhere, thank goodness.  Flashbacks:  Coyote Springs at 20th & Camelback.  Hop’s at Scottsdale Fashion  Square.

*Former Scottsdale School District Superintendent David Peterson’s tirade and accusations as he departed might be the most pathetic and inaccurate report since Brian Williams was on the air.

*Wendy Rogers needs to go away.

*In today’s Wall Street Journal there was a short article on the Sussman house in Paradise Valley listed for $35 million, along side Hugh Heffner’s Playboy Mansion which will only cost you $200 million.  And it’s required that Hugh stays.  Unknown if the Playmates come with.

 

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Not all content here needs to be political.  Nor should it.  Our job is to stir thought.  And that's what this article does.  A businessman who runs as local rock legend Roger Clyne sings, "Counterclockwise."  It's a good read.  And a different way of getting ahead in business.

From the New York Times: North Korea Is Newest Frontier for a Daredevil Investor
By Penn Bullock

He searched for oil in the badlands of Somalia and fueled a stock market boom in Mongolia. He sued the world’s smallest republic, far out in the Pacific, for a chunk of what it is worth. Now, he is betting on North Korea. James Passin, a hedge fund manager at Firebird Management, believes the nuclear ­armed country sits on as much as a billion barrels of crude — enough to make it as big a producer as Oklahoma. If the oil exists, he wants to help unlock it.

Click here to read the entire article

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by Loyd Eskildson

The Arizona Legislature took away SUSD’s near monopoly on students living within the district when it passed the 1994 law enabling charters. Since then SUSD has lost an ever increasing number of pupils and associated funding. The total number of pupils currently lost is estimated to be as high as 12,000. Using a conservative number of 10,000 pupils funded at $8,500/each suggests that SUSD personnel and pupils are currently losing $85 million/year. That number has steadily grown.

Why did this happen? Instead of making ‘Job One = Customer Satisfaction,’ the district instead focused on simply obtaining more money from residents and the State, rebuilding/renovating facilities, and maintaining an environment of ‘Happy Talk’ at Board meetings. The primary concern of parents withdrawing their children – lack of alternatives to what many saw as inadequate discipline and achievement goals, was largely ignored/dismissed. As for the disappearing students - that was either denied or ‘rationalized’ via highly implausible excuses. Meanwhile, neighboring public school districts raided SUSD, while competing charter schools, parochial schools, and private schools steadily added capacity and filled those seats with the children of dissatisfied SUSD parents. More of these seats will be available next year, and they’re already working to fill them.

SUSD’s losses could soon create a downward spiral. Given the rationale of most parents for removing their children from SUSD, it wont take long for SUSD pupil achievement to also start trending downward, creating more incentive for even more parents to withdraw their children.

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Ever since a 2002 statewide vote Arizona tribes have had a monopoly on gambling. You remember the promises:  grant us this right and we’ll do good by it, help our people and keep gambling on our lands.

Then along came the Tohono O’Odham tribe from Tucson.  Through clever lawyering, political chicanery and sleights of hand that would make any great blackjack dealer jealous, they claimed a right to put a new casino on acquired land near the Phoenix Coyotes’ hockey arena.

Opposition from state leadership over the years has been intense.  After all, the tribes promised in 2002 to keep gambling in certain places.  Until a tribe 200 miles south of Glendale decided to go rogue.

This Sunday the Tohono O’Odham tribe will try to claim some victory as they debut their new Desert Diamond “Casino” at 9341 West Northern .  But if media reports about the new facility are to be believed, claims of victory are pyrrhic, to put it generously.

Consider that it can and should be called the most unrewarding casino in the world. Why? Because it can’t even serve alcohol until at least February according to AZCentral.  Here is a link.

No booze at a casino?  That’s like baseball without peanuts.  Pizza without cheese.  Or a bikini without boobs.

And if you’re expecting to play blackjack or slot machines, think again.  Because casino backers have so alienated lawmakers all they can engage in is Class II gaming. What’s that?  Glorified bingo. 

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It’s up for debate that it is impossible to teach an old dog new tricks because of all the established companies who are mixing things up. Businesses across the nation are finding that they can indeed learn new tricks and even put their own spin on it.

Starbucks is constantly working to keep as up to date as possible with the latest trends, from having themed cups and matching drinks, to having wine in different locations. It seems that Starbucks has also found another new future for itself in art.  Not the art that you can hang on the wall, but the art of who works for their company. The baristas are the heart and soul of their company and are whom the customers interact with everyday.

Take Angus Maxwell in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. A barista at Starbucks who loves to brew artisanal cups of coffee for avid coffee lovers. He continues to brew coffee in different ways to keep up with the boutique roasters nearby.

It is baristas like Maxwell that contribute to Starbucks success, according to Howard Schultz, Starbucks’ chief executive officer. In a flat market year, Starbucks shares saw a 50 percent increase. Why? Innovative baristas like Maxwell keep the company fluid and help it adapt to new things.

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By Marco Rubio

Last night, in the latest Republican presidential debate, one of the moderators actually asked me if I should "slow down." That's exactly what the establishment has been telling me for years. That I should "wait my turn."
Wait for what? This country is running out of time:
• Millions of people are living paycheck to paycheck at the same time they're working as hard as they ever have because everything costs more. They have not had a real raise in decades.
• Small businesses are struggling: more businesses are closing than opening.
• We live in a world that's out of control, with a president who's weakening our military and doubling down on a failed foreign policy while our adversaries continue to grow stronger.
The time to act is now, the time to turn the page is now. If we don't act now, we'll be the first generation that leaves our children worse off than ourselves.

>>Click here to donate $10 if you agree that the time to act is now!<<

With your help and support, I'll be the leader that turns our country around and ensures the 21st Century is an American Century.

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My name is Alex Meluskey, and I'm running for the U.S. Senate in Arizona against John McCain because a seat in the U.S. Senate is more than just the comfortable job of one man. Arizona deserves better.

As a husband and father I am running out of a deep calling to stand for our Constitution and our Bill of Rights -- to stand for and revive our military, to stand with our veterans and fix the broken VA system, and to foster strong national security policies to protect the American homeland. These are some of the strong conservative principles that I stand for.

I have fought for conservative values my entire life, as a true champion of tax reform, the FAIRtax State Director in Arizona, and a syndicated talk show radio host.

I know firsthand the struggles of small businesses even during good economic times. My life has been about my family, and instilling those valued conservative principles into mine and Roberta's children.

John McCain has been in Washington for more than 32 years, which has clearly put him out of touch with the citizens of Arizona. John McCain is Hillary Clinton’s favorite republican and the Obama administration’s partner in foreign policy, and as you know, he is running for re-election in 2016.

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MESA, Ariz. (October 22) – Maricopa County Supervisor and Chairman Steve Chucri today announced his first major endorsement, Governor Doug Ducey, in his re-election effort.

"I've known Steve Chucri for many years, and he is exactly the kind of leader we need at Maricopa County – one who has applied private sector principles and a sharp business acumen to solving county problems and increasing the level of service for residents while also protecting taxpayer dollars,” Governor Ducey said. “As chairman of the Board of Supervisors, he has taken a conservative-minded approach to governing and led with integrity and transparency. Given his record of accomplishments during his first term, I'm proud to endorse Supervisor Steve Chucri for a second one and I look forward to continuing to work with him."

Chairman Chucri was elected to his first term in 2012 and has served as chairman since January of 2015.

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By Bob and  Kathy  Littlefield

Dear Friends:

Councilmember Guy Phillips just announced he is running for re-election to the Scottsdale City Council in the 2016 city election. We are supporting Guy and urge all of you to do so also. While we don’t agree with Guy on every issue, he has been a strong and consistent opponent of the parasitic development, supported by the City Council majority, which threatens Scottsdale’s special character and high quality of life. He has also been a fierce opponent of the wasteful spending that plagues our city government. We need to keep Guy’s voice on the Scottsdale City Council.

Unfortunately the special interests will be pulling out all the stops to defeat Guy. No doubt they will try to drown him in a tidal wave of special interest campaign money. So Guy will need lots of help. You can contribute to Guy’s campaign online via PayPal or by a check made out to “Committee to Elect Guy Phillips.” You can mail checks to Guy at 7131 E. Cholla St., Scottsdale, AZ 85254.

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By Sheriff Paul Babeu

Friend,

We’ve been saying it for years … Washington, DC needs a new sheriff in town. There’s cleaning up to do.

It’s time to arrest all the spending and debt created in Washington.

It’s time to arrest the flow of illegal immigration into this country that makes a mockery of the rule of law.

And it’s time to arrest the ambition of professional politicians who toe the establishment party line and only reach across it to grab a campaign contribution from special interests.

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By Scottsdale Councilmember Virginia Korte

PLEASE VOTE YES FOR SCOTTSDALE BONDS!
Since 1989, Scottsdale’s citizens have demonstrated great foresight, fiscal responsibility, and logical long-range planning having passed capital bond projects totaling over $700 million dollars.  Such purposeful investments resulted in the funding of what continues to make our city thrive and our citizens’ quality of life stellar: libraries, parks, senior centers, public safety, transportation needs, a Cactus League baseball stadium, cultural and visual amenities, and so much more.

The financial impact of the 2015 bond’s approval ($95.5 million) will vary from resident to resident; the average value of a home in Scottsdale is $371,000; thus, a successful bond election will cost each household $3.50 per month.  While the

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