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Locals Launch Referendum To Repeal City Animal Feeding Ordinance

September 26, 2013 Leave a comment

By Elisha Dorfsmith

Not long ago I was alerted to an issue in my chicken coop by the loud squawking of panicked birds. At first I thought it was the neighborhood cat causing trouble again but the chickens were far too upset for just a cat appearance. I grabbed a flashlight and went out into the darkness to investigate.

My chicken coop has a small window at the top and as I looked through I was surprised to see my light illuminate a large skunk happily eating eggs. The next day I found a hole in my fence where the skunk had come into the yard and hopefully fixed the problem so this doesn’t happen again. One thing I learned, chickens attract skunks.

The City of Flagstaff recently passed a wildlife feeding ordinance that could potentially impact urban chicken farmers like myself. Since I know that the eggs, feed and even the chickens themselves are attracting wildlife, I might receive a visit from Arizona Game and Fish one day telling me to fix the problem or face the consequences. If I keep my chickens after being warned that they are attracting wildlife, I face heavy fines and even jail time.

While City staff is working behind the scenes to ease the animal keeping part of the City Code to make it easier for people to raise chickens, the Flagstaff City Council is passing ordinances that could eventually sabotage these efforts. I don’t believe council intended the animal feeding ordinance to affect chicken farmers but that’s what it does and this flies in the face of the many Flagstaff residents who support urban chicken farming.

Councilmember Jeff Oravits deserves credit for working extremely hard to limit the unintended consequences of this ordinance and he was successful in fixing several major problems. He made sure people with fruit trees would be protected if fruit fell on the ground and attracted wild animals. He made sure people would not be fined or face jail time for feeding ducks at a pond. He looked for a variety of different scenarios that could come up unexpectedly in the future and worked to correct them.

Even with these protections in place, this ordinance is an unnecessary burden for the majority of Flagstaff residents and could impact any one of us under the right circumstances.

Residents Launch Referendum

Today the Arizona Daily Sun reported that a couple Flagstaff residents have officially launched a referendum and are in the process of collecting the 1,046 signatures needed to place this item on the November ballot. I endorse their efforts and will be volunteering my time to help collect signatures from qualified voters.

The City should not pass ordinances that affect all of Flagstaff just because a couple neighbors have a dispute. Passing broad far-reaching laws to address a narrow problem is never the right way to govern and this ordinance needs to be repealed. Let’s put this on the ballot and see what the voters have to say about it on election day.

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Flagstaff made national news when they approved their Wildlife Feeding ordinance last week. This story from a Florida based newspaper talks about fines and jail time for people who feed wild animals in Flagstaff (click to enlarge).

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Flagstaff Mornings, NAZ Today and The Big Talker (Weekly Update)

September 23, 2013 1 comment

By Elisha Dorfsmith

Last week was a big week for media appearances by Flagstaff Liberty Alliance members and supporters. The requests for interviews and guest host opportunities have come from all over in recent weeks and we’re very excited to have the chance to get our message out to a wider audience.

Flagstaff Mornings

 

On September 17, Travis Estes of Flagstaff Liberty Alliance joined Ryan Oler and Jeff Oravits on Flag Mornings (93.5 FM) to discuss a variety of topics from a liberty perspective including our food freedom resolution, the Flagstaff Regional Plan and war with Syria.

 

 

Travis was also able to debate HB2305 and third party ballot access with Arizona State Representative Bob Thorpe who voted for the bill.

NAZ Today

On September 18 I was invited to the NAZ Today studio to discuss local opposition to war with Syria and how people can get involved and promote non-interventionism. I was joined by Paul Lenze from the Politics & International Affairs department at NAU. Video of this discussion should be available soon.

The Joe Harting Show

Thanks to local activist Don Peavey for giving a shout out to Flagstaff Liberty Alliance while co-hosting the Joe Harting Show on the Big Talker on September 20. Don also promoted our food freedom resolution and asked people to look into it and support it.

Our food freedom fesolution should be revisited again by the Flagstaff City Council in early October (probably October 8). I’ll post more about that once I have a date confirmed.

Subscribe To The Flag Liberty Youtube Channel

Flagstaff Liberty Alliance plans to start activly uploading videos on liberty topics to the Flag Liberty Youtube channel. Please consider subscribing to the channel and sharing the videos to help us reach the maximum amount of people possible. Educating and informing the public is our biggest priority and we need your help to get the word out. You can find the Flagstaff Liberty Alliance Youtube channel here:

http://www.youtube.com/channel/UCD33r4MNbeGSDsktG2k0w2Q/videos

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146,000 Signatures Turned In For HB2305 Referendum (Weekly Update)

September 11, 2013 2 comments

By Elisha Dorfsmith

“Evidently Republican leadership knows they can’t compete in the marketplace of ideas, so they resort to cheating. Did they really think their attempts to hijack Arizona’s elections by controlling who would be on the ballot to represent Arizona would be unnoticed?” —Barry Hess, Arizona Libertarian Party

This afternoon a press conference was held by members of the HB2305 referendum effort’s Protect Your Right To Vote Committee (I have talked about this effort many times on my blog). One of the speakers at the event was Barry Hess of the Arizona Libertarian Party who made a statement that Republicans in Arizona have succeeded in uniting every other political group in the state against them by pushing HB2305 through the legislature.

Hess is correct in his assertion. Libertarians, Greens, Independents, Democrats and honest Republicans all joined together to collect signatures for the effort. Republicans who thought they could slip this bill in under the cover of night without consequences have made a gross miscalculation and the people have risen up against them.

Today over 146,000 HB2305 referendum signatures were turned in…well above what was required! Organizers needed a little over 86,000 valid signatures to qualify for ballot access. The extremely high number of signatures turned in guarantees that you WILL be able to vote on the bill on election day.

This is wonderful news and I am confident that Arizona voters will overwhelmingly vote to put an end to this sneaky attempt by Republicans to destroy third parties and limit voter choice.

Thanks to everyone who worked so hard to make this happen!

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Some of the boxes of HB2305 referendum petitions turned in today (click to enlarge)

Anti Gun Legislators Recalled In Colorado

Two anti gun legislators were recalled in Colorado yesterday as voters sent a strong statement to their state and the rest of the Country that excessive gun restrictions will not be tolerated. This is just a first step and many pro gun groups are working behind the scenes to repeal some of the anti gun laws that were passed by the Colorado legislature.

Former Libertarian presidential candidate Gary Johnson is leading some of these efforts including one to repeal a recent state law banning certain gun magazines.

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(Former Libertarian presidential candidate Gary Johnson)

On a side note, Arizona’s HB2305 also made it harder for people to recall elected state officials. Just another reason to oppose the bill. As Colorado has shown, there are times when a recall is necessary and Arizonans need to retain that option for when it’s needed.

Equal Marriage Arizona Ends Petition Drive

Former Libertarian Presidential candidate Gary Johnson was also Honorary Chair for Equal Marriage Arizona, a group of Log Cabin Republicans and Libertarians who were working to put same sex marriage on the Arizona ballot in 2014.

The group expected serious opposition from social conservatives but instead found their fiercest opposition to be from State and National gay rights groups. Any gay rights group that endorsed Equal Marriage early on was pressured and even bullied by larger gay rights groups to pull their support and withdraw their endorsements.

The gay rights groups could never offer a consistent reason for their opposition to Equal Marriage Arizona. They argued that the timing was wrong, the organizers couldn’t be trusted, the language was wrong (it protected Churches), etc.

As someone with some knowledge of what went on behind the scenes, my feeling is that most gay rights groups were opposed to Equal Marriage Arizona simply because it was being led by Republicans and Libertarians. They were very upset that Democrats would not get the credit if it passed.

Whatever the true reason for the opposition, Equal Marriage Arizona is dead for now…

UPDATE: Thanks to Reason Magazine for adding my thoughts to their article on this topic today:

http://reason.com/blog/2013/09/11/gay-marriage-recognition-efforts-in-ariz

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Flagstaff Pride admits they helped kill the ballot measure because they didn’t trust the Log Cabin Republicans and Libertarians who created the initiative (click to enlarge)

Coconino Community College Tax Override

Later this year, Coconino Community College will be asking voters to approve a property tax override that will add $50 to the average homeowner’s tax bill. Even if the override passes, tuition for CCC students could still be increased.

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Last night former Flagstaff Mayor Joe Donaldson told the Flagstaff City Council that he endorses the property tax hike. Organizations and individuals across Flagstaff will soon be lining up to follow in Donaldson’s footsteps.

As the campaign heats up, those of us who plan to vote NO can expect to be harassed and called names for “not supporting public education”.

For the record, I do support education. I just don’t support property taxes. Period. I will always vote NO.

Flagstaff Regional Plan Update

At last night’s Flagstaff City Council Work Session, Mayor Nabours and Councilmembers Brewster and Oravits expressed deep concerns about wording in the Regional Plan document. On one hand they are being told that the regional plan is a “suggestion” and a “guide” and on the other hand the document is filled with words like “policy” and “shall” and “will”.

Staff tried to tell Council that “policy” does not mean law, “shall” does not mean shall, and “will” does not mean will. At the end of the discussion Councilmember Overton said he agreed with staff and does not want to see the word “policy” removed from the document. He said he appreciates the document and thinks it’s a good document. Then he went on to say that discussing the document in detail and taking more public input was hurting the process. He suggested that some council members were using public comment to derail the plan.

Alright Councilmember Overton. If my opinion does not count and the opinions of other Flagstaff residents do not count and if you are too lazy to go through the document and fix the many contradictions and flaws, then Flagstaff residents know exactly what to do when you are up for re-election next year. I expect a lot of your former supporters to keep that “Overton” box on their ballot blank.

Here’s a recent article I wrote expressing my concerns about the Flagstaff Regional Plan:

https://flagliberty.wordpress.com/2013/09/07/the-flagstaff-regional-plan-is-not-my-plan/

March Against Monsanto Take Two

On October 12, 2013 food freedom activists across the world will once again join together to protest Monsanto and the push by companies and governments to control the world’s food.

Flagstaff will be holding our protest in front of Flagstaff City Hall starting at 2:00 pm. Bring your signs and invite your friends! Let’s pack the City Hall lawn.

It’s time to:

Support Food Freedom!

Protect Our Food Supply!

Support local gardens and farms!

Expose the cronyism between big business and government!

Say NO to Monsanto!

You can join the facebook event here:

https://www.facebook.com/events/679625052065813/

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Monsanto protestors at Flagstaff City Hall.

flagstafflibertyalliance.com

Flagstaff Residents Urge Congress To Vote Against War With Syria

September 10, 2013 2 comments

By Elisha Dorfsmith

In advance of an impending vote by congress on a resolution for war with Syria, individuals and groups spanning the political spectrum convened at Flagstaff City Hall on Monday to make a statement that Flagstaff does not want the United States involved in another unnecessary military conflict.

Below are a few photos from that protest (click photos to enlarge).

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The Flagstaff Regional Plan Is NOT My Plan

September 7, 2013 13 comments

By Elisha Dorfsmith

“It (the regional plan) is guiding not only government agencies but everyone else.”
 — Eva Putzova (Friends of Flagstaff’s Future Board Member. Regional Plan Advisory Committee Member)

The Flagstaff Regional Plan is being touted as a plan created by the people of Flagstaff for the people of Flagstaff. What we’re not being told is that this document was created by a one sided Citizen Advisory Committee of only 15 people along with City and County staff.

Public input was taken and community outreach was done but it was done in a way that only put a very positive spin on the plan and discouraged people from sitting down and actually reading the whole thing.

A simple way to test people’s knowledge about the regional plan is to ask them what they think of it. About 99% of the time they will look at you with a question mark on their face and ask what the regional plan is. When someone does recognize the name of the plan ask them how they like it. They will tell you that they have not read it and don’t know much about it. This has been my experience over and over and over again.

Still, we are being told that this is “our plan” and that it’s what everyone wants for Flagstaff. Manufactured consensus created the illusion that this plan is the vision of Flagstaff Residents and the community as a whole. Did you help write the plan? Did you have a say? Did you voice your opinion on the plan? If you’re an average Flagstaff resident, the answer is no.

At last Tuesday’s City Council meeting certain council members and Eva Putzova of the Citizen Advisory Committee and Friends of Flagstaff’s Future said that enough public input has already been compiled and the current draft should be the final draft. Any future changes and amendments were strongly discouraged.

Reading through the document I was shocked to see in the Open Spaces section of the plan (page 4 of that section) where it says Friends of Flagstaff’s Future will be a non-profit partner with the City. Wow, wouldn’t it be nice to sit on the advisory committee and be able to write my organization into the plan and tell Flagstaff Residents that it’s what they want.

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Many Flagstaff residents consider Friends of Flagstaff’s Future to be a bit on the extreme side of things, politically or otherwise. Are they sure this is our plan? Could it possibly be that this is Friends of Flagstaff’s Future’s plan and they think we’re too stupid to realize that?

We are also being told that people with concerns are reading too much into the Regional Plan and that it is simply a guide or vision for the City to casually consult. We are being told that if it is passed it won’t be equivalent to laws or rules that we have to follow.

While they tell us this, Friends of Flagstaff’s Future is already looking at how they can use this plan to change laws they don’t like and force things like a stricter energy code. The following is from one of their recent newsletters:

“The City Council unanimously voted to update the Energy Code to 2009 standards with some amendments. This happened after weeks of opposition from Mayor Nabours and Councilmembers Oravitz and Brewster. F3, along with other citizens concerned about energy conservation and costs in our community, supported updating to the 2012 standards, but due to the opposition supporters of the 2012 code were forced to compromise. The proposed Regional Plan, however, has strong Energy Conservation language. If this section passes intact after council review and voter approval, we may be able to revisit this issue next summer.”

Oh, I guess the regional plan DOES have the force of law. I’m so surprised.

The Devil Is In Appendix B

Guess what you won’t find on the Regional Plan website? You won’t find a direct link to Appendix B which has the strategies for implementing the plan. In order to find Appendix B you will need to download the whole plan and go to page 278. This is where the really good stuff is. We’re told that this list is unedited but Eva Putzova (Friends of Flagstaff’s Future) and a couple council members prefer that it remains unedited. They have opposed any changes to the Regional Plan document and that includes Appendix B.

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There are 242 strategies to implement the plan listed in Appendix B. Above is a screen capture of 6 of them. (click to enlarge)

I have picked out a handful strategies in Appendix B that really throw up red flags for me:

“Continue to educate the public on issues of personal safety and crime prevention by emphasizing that all citizens need to play a part in crime prevention, in partnership with their police, in order for it to be effective.”

Don’t you just love the police state? Don’t you love spying on your neighbor? I know you’re anxious to turn in that little neighbor kid who rides his bike without a helmet and breaks the bike helmet ordinance that was passed a few years ago. Cops couldn’t bust that kid without your help!

“Emphasize the role of law abiding community members, governmental agencies and the private sector in the development of successful crime prevention efforts.”  

You’re a cop, I’m a cop, we’re all cops!

“Allow and use neighborhood police substations.”

Sweet, we all want a police substation right down the street from us. It will make life super easy for cops who want to fly their spy drones around the neighborhood making sure that our weeds are cut and not violating the property maintenance ordinance (which is also in the plan) and we’re not washing our car on a day we’re not allowed to.

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Police departments across the country are anxious to get their hands on drones to patrol neighborhoods.

“Create area plans and neighborhood plans; support these plans with regulatory techniques.”

Get with the “plan” or pay a fine or go to jail!

“Implement a general public education campaign for basic preservation achievement and appropriate remodeling techniques for the average homeowner.”

What exactly does it mean to do an appropriate remodel? My friends at the City and County and Friends of Flagstaff’s Future…I’m so happy you want to spend my tax dollars on programs to teach me how to do my remodel appropriately.

“Direct walkway and bikeway routes to schools, parks and community facilities shall be provided.”

Shall? Do you know what shall means? Shall means SHALL! What if the City can’t afford it? What if it’s not practical. What if whatever. This kind of language does not work for me.

I could go on and on but you get the idea. This is not the kind of stuff I would put in MY plan.

While some kind of “plan” is mandated by law, I think I can say with confidence that this plan as it is currently written, is not a plan that accurately represents the majority of the people of Flagstaff and it must be changed. I encourage you to read the plan and contact the Flagstaff City Council and County Board of Supervisors with your suggestions and concerns.

You can read the proposed plan here (be sure to check out Appendix B):

http://www.flagstaffmatters.com/

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Below is my letter to the Flagstaff City Council about the public input process:

Good afternoon Mayor and Council,
 
I watched the live stream of last night’s council meeting with great interest as the process for reviewing the Regional Plan was discussed. I was very discouraged to see so much resistance to public input by some council members and the Citizen Advisory Committee. I was especially frustrated to see Eva Putzova of Friends of Flagstaff’s Future stand up and say that the public had their chance for input and allowing public input now is disrespecting the process. 
 
Yes, there was a process for public input. Yes, many members of the public submitted comments through that process. I personally filled out the survey for the plan and submitted several comments for suggested changes as the process required.
 
My biggest concern was the fact that the plan included a Property Maintenance Ordinance (PMO) as a possible solution to many of Flagstaff’s problems. As you may remember, you chose to stop pursuing a PMO at your January 8, 2013 meeting.
 
During the Regional Plan review process, many meetings were held across the City to explain the plan and take questions and suggestions from the public. I talked with Roger Eastman and Kim Sharp at one of these meetings and asked them why a PMO was included in the plan. They said that including a PMO was an oversight and that it would be removed when the next draft came out.

I currently serve on the Sustainability Commission and during a Commission meeting I once again asked Roger Eastman to confirm that the PMO language would be removed when the next draft was released. He told the whole Commission that it would not be there. Just to be safe, I suggested that the Commission include a note along with our other recommendations to remind Eastman and others to remove the PMO language. The rest of the Commission agreed. That reminder was formally submitted through the required process.
 
When the most recent Regional Plan draft was released, I skimmed it over and to my surprise the PMO language was still there but it had been moved to a different part of the plan. Previously it had been in Appendix B and now it is on page 191. I made a big deal about this on my blog and on social media and was contacted by Kim Sharp who said the PMO language was supposed to be removed and they forgot. Honest mistake or not, it’s still in the plan and it needs to go.
 
I have been told that the newest draft of the Regional Plan is called the “Public Hearing Draft”. If this is true I find it quite ironic that public input is being discouraged at this point and that people are saying that allowing public input disrespects the process.
 
As someone who worked within the process and was ignored, I think it’s safe to say that the process is disrespecting me and other members of the public who were not listened to. If this is really the people’s plan and something we will want to vote for on election day you need to listen to and respect what the residents of Flagstaff have to say. Otherwise it’s the plan for special interest groups and the plan for people with an agenda and it is NOT “our plan”.
 

Thanks for your time.

Sincerely,

Elisha Dorfsmith
Flagstaff Resident

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Coconino County Fair, HB2305, And War With Syria (Weekly Update)

September 3, 2013 3 comments

By Elisha Dorfsmith

“It’s now Authoritarian vs. Libertarian. Since Democrats vs. Republicans has been obliterated, no real difference between parties…” —Matt Drudge

Coconino County Fair

This week was all about the Coconino County Fair. The Flagstaff Liberty Alliance booth was full of dedicated volunteers who worked extremely hard to get the message of liberty out. Between Friday and Monday we handed out hundreds of pieces of literature, over 150 liberty books and movies, and helped countless kids and adults take our constitution quiz.

The message of freedom really resonated with the people we talked to! Even with all the rain on Friday and Saturday we were able to accomplish all of our goals and hand out much more literature than we expected to.

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Flagstaff Liberty Alliance members take time out for a photo at the Coconino County Fair (click to enlarge)

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A few of the liberty books and movies we handed out at the Flagstaff Liberty Alliance booth (click to enlarge)

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Sharing the philosophy of freedom and liberty. (click to enlarge)

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Thanks to Flagstaff City Councilman Jeff Oravits (2nd from left) for stopping by our Flagstaff Liberty Alliance booth! (click to enlarge)

HB2305 Referendum

Last week I turned in a bunch of completed petitions for the HB2305 referendum. This morning I returned several more petitions filled with signatures that were collected at the Coconino County Fair. People are not happy with the excessive signature requirements that third party candidates now need to collect to achieve primary ballot access. They are very upset at the Republicans in the legislature for passing this bill. Unless there are more dirty tricks, I think it’s safe to say that we will see this referendum on the ballot.

And it’s not just Libertarians, Greens, Independents and Democrats who are lining up to sign the referendum petitions. Many Republicans in Arizona are also standing up for what is right and voicing their opposition to HB2305.

Mohave County Republican Chairman Ron Gould recently made headlines when he signed the HB2305 referendum and defended third parties.

Nearly half of the elected Republican precinct committeemen in Coconino County have signed the petition.

A Facebook page called Republicans Against HB2305 has also been created.

The Republican establishment is facing a massive backlash over their attempts to destroy third party candidates. Many Republicans who voted for HB2305 will lose primary or general elections in 2014. They’re already discovering that this vote will haunt them throughout their upcoming campaigns.

No U.S. Intervention In Syria

In solidarity with the “no war with Syria”protests happening worldwide, Flagstaff Liberty Alliance focused a lot of attention at the County Fair on educating people about what a non-interventionist foreign policy means. Syria is the big topic right now and everyone at the fair was interested in discussing it. We handed out a lot of Campaign For Liberty literature explaining what it means to have a non-interventionist foreign policy. The response was very receptive…even among Republicans who just a few years ago were calling Ron Paul weak on defense or an isolationist for saying the same exact thing.

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Campaign For Liberty literature on what a non-interventionist foreign policy means. (click to enlarge)

I contacted my Congressperson Ann Kirkpatrick yesterday and asked her to vote no on war with Syria. Congressperson Paul Gosar recently issued this statement:

“The phones in my office are ringing off the hook and the mail is flowing in. Nearly all of the people are opposed to war in Syria. According to House leadership, a vote will be held next week. Where do you stand on US intervention in Syria? How would you recommend I vote?”

I encourage all of my readers to please contact their Congressperson to tell them to vote against war with Syria. You can find contact information for Congress here:

http://www.house.gov/representatives/find/

Republican Speaker of the House John Boehner and Republican House majority leader Eric Cantor have already endorsed President Obama’s war with Syria and that means there will be tons of pressure on Republicans in Congress to support an attack.

An angry Matt Drudge posted a series of tweets attacking Republican leadership for supporting the war this morning. As I post he has a poll on his website with only 8.63% of respondents supporting war and 91.37% opposed. Nearly 600,000 people have voted in the poll so far.

Flagstaff City Council Meeting

Tonight the Flagstaff City Council will be holding a work session to discuss the Regional Plan, election issues and a possible transportation tax. I will not be attending this meeting but I will be watching the stream from home and tweeting comments about it for Flagstaff Independent Press.

Several years ago Joe Ferguson started tweeting from Flagstaff City Council meetings for the Arizona Daily Sun. When he left the Sun he left a void on twitter. I have stepped up to try to keep getting that information out to the public. I use Ferguson’s old hashtag #FlagCouncil. You can find my tweets here:

https://twitter.com/FlagIndiePress

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