School merger meetings; Early voting; Rio Nuevo board; more

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Parents weighed in Thursday night on proposals to close nine TUSD schools.

Members of the Tucson Unified School District governing board listened to parents from three east side schools on the block to close and merge with other nearby schools. Board members say with all of the statewide budget cuts to education, merging schools that are small or underutilized will help protect students' resources.

Similar meetings will continue through mid-June. The mergers will take place in august if approved by the school board.

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If you plan to vote early for Tuesday's statewide sales tax increase election -- Friday's your last chance.

A slow but steady stream of voters showed up at the old county courthouse Thursday. If you don't vote early in person by Friday -- you can still vote at your neighborhood polling location on Tuesday.

And mail-in ballots must be postmarked by Friday to count.

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The proposed convention center hotel is considered the crown jewel of Rio Nuevo. But whether the project becomes a reality is another question.

Rio Nuevo board members spent nearly six hours Thursday reviewing studies on the hotel's feasibility, financing, and its overall economic impact on the city of Tucson. Board members still need to receive the hotel's guaranteed maximum price from the developers And then approve the capital plan before the project goes forward, but Thursday's presentations had board members feeling optimistic.

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Arizona could be out of money by this time next year. State treasurer dean martin estimates, at current spending levels, the coffers will run dry as early as march 2011.

He says Arizona is already handing out i-o-u's and after this year won't be able to make good on them unless voters approve the prop 100 sales tax boost next month.

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Arizona-based Bashas could be out of bankruptcy protection within the next couple of months. A lawyer for the grocery store chain reports the company is close to getting a new financing deal. It would pay off lenders in full and get a better repayment deal for unsecured creditors. Bashas' went into chapter 11 bankruptcy reorganization last June.