Counting Votes Among Bernie’s College Army

Published 9:45 am Thursday, February 11, 2016

CHAPEL HILL — Of all places, I watched the Iowa presidential caucus returns on TV last week at Linda’s Bar & Grill, a dive on Franklin Street, surrounded by college students rooting for Bernie Sanders.

They want free college. Free everything. Who can blame them? Their government is $19 trillion in debt and adding to the red ink by the minute. The only thing Bernie hasn’t promised college students is no more exams.

I had promised to feed my college student here Monday night, but he didn’t get out of class until nearly everything had closed. Linda’s may have been the bar of last resort, but it was nice enough. The young owner came by the table to introduce himself.

Were I a college student, I would have been Rand Paul’s campus campaign manager. The Kentucky senator dropped out of the race after the Iowa votes were counted. His libertarian message of personal responsibility and limited government didn’t trend among anybody but me this year. Maybe because I read George Orwell’s 1984, I’m still leery of Big Brother monitoring every phone call, e-mail and transaction I make. With our smart phones, of course, Amazon and Facebook do the same thing — pushing unsolicited ads on me as they monitor my movements.

Like Rand Paul, I want to be left alone.

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Had she lived a little longer, Clemmons historian Janet Banzhof could have seen the oldest home in Clemmons, the Hanes house off Middlebrook Drive, be included in the National Register of Historic Places. It was a goal of hers. She was a tireless advocate for preservation. One of her dreams has now come true.

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It was a Noah moment. For about an hour — noon to 1 p.m. on Feb. 3 — the skies opened and rain fell in torrents. Small streams swelled into rivers. Many area creeks jumped their banks. The Yadkin River rose three feet over flood stage.

A frog strangler. A gully washer. I’m glad it didn’t last for two hours, much less 40 days.

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There’s a tiff in progress between the Davie County commissioners and the three county municipalities over sales tax revenue. In reality, the disagreement is with the Town of Bermuda Run, but Cooleemee and Mocksville have been unwillingly dragged into the fray.

Last year, county manager Mike Ruffin discovered that Bermuda Run was only paying $25,000 for a full-time deputy to patrol the town around the clock. The proper value for that service would be 10 times that amount. Davie asked for $125,000 last year, growing to $250,000 in following years. Bermuda Run elected to merely cut the service, secure in the knowledge that Davie County deputies would still come when needed. Ruffin and the commissioners were not impressed with Bermuda Run’s priorities. A year later, the conflict is rejoined.

Cooleemee and Mocksville both have their own police departments.

Bermuda Run gets $273,000 from its share of the county sales taxes. Ruffin has proposed changing the method of that distribution.

The change would be devastating for Cooleemee. Mocksville is understandably miffed since it has repeatedly bailed out the county government over the years, helping refurbish the county’s Brock Auditorium, the Brock gym and expand the Davie County Library among others. Mocksville and Cooleemee have fully born the responsibility of municipal governance. Bermuda Run, not so much. Mayor Ken Rethmeier said the county was requiring the town to surrender its discretionary spending.

Predictably, the debate has revived some of the rancor about the new high school under construction on Farmington Road. The county, of course, will need more revenue to operate the school when finished.

The county is correct to expect the town to shoulder its weight for law enforcement. Cooleemee and Mocksville shouldn’t be casualties in this debate.

— Dwight Sparks