On My Mind

Tommy Tomlinson’s On My Mind column runs every Monday on WFAE and WFAE.org. It represents his opinion, not the opinion of WFAE.

I was talking to Richard Vinroot the other day when the subject of gerrymandering came up.

Vinroot, for those of y’all who are new to town, was mayor of Charlotte from 1991 to 1995. He’s a moderate Republican, but he is most definitely a Republican. His party has used gerrymandering to its advantage all throughout the country, especially here in North Carolina. He wishes they wouldn’t.

We live in a time when some people react to news they don’t like by calling it fake news. That’s a deep insult to those of us who have spent our lives trying to bring you the real thing.

I had to go up to Cornelius the other day, so I intended to try out the new toll lanes on I-77.

It turned out the traffic was light and I didn’t need to. But a few people were using the toll lanes anyway, flying past at 80 miles an hour, as if paying the toll means you don’t have to bother with the speed limit.

I went to the Excelsior Club a few times back in the ‘90s, and it wasn’t much to look at even then. Now it’s even more rundown. If you just drive by the club, off of Beatties Ford Road, you might wonder what’s worth saving. But that’s only if you haven’t heard the stories.

Today we’re going to discuss one of life’s eternal questions: Does size matter?

The Catholic Diocese of Charlotte is crawling into the 21st century. They should get some credit for finally moving forward. But they should also understand that there’s a long way to go.

I’ve seen a lot of the Carolinas over the years, but the other day I heard about a place I have to go visit sometime – the Black River down in southeastern North Carolina.

Its tea-colored water is home to a couple of rare fish species, and it’s known as one of the cleanest streams in the state. But the real attraction is the trees. There are bald cypress trees in the Black River swamp that have been around more than 2,000 years – literally since Jesus was a boy.

Last Tuesday I was taking our garbage cans back around the side of the house when I saw two baby birds on the ground.

One was already dead, and I thought the other one was, too. But I looked closer and it was breathing – too weak to stand, but breathing. It was a fledgling, not quite a newborn, not quite ready to fly.

Run. Hide. Fight.

That’s the alert UNC Charlotte sent to its students and faculty in the moments after a student with a gun started firing in Kennedy Hall.

We’ve got some younger folks in our office, and some people who aren’t natives of the South. So I found myself, the other day, having to explain the phrase “a pig in a poke.”

You’ve probably seen it by now, unless you deliberately didn’t want to. The parking lot outside the Burger King. The young man, Danquirs Franklin, crouching next to a car. The police officer, Wende Kerl, shouting at him to drop his weapon. She’s aiming hers at him.

You know what happens next. Another young black man killed by a white police officer. Another controversy over what constitutes a legal shooting. Calls for the police to release more video. More blows to the old bruise that never heals.

In some ways, a four-year medical school is just another box that Charlotte gets to check. Fortune 500 companies, check. NBA and NFL teams, check. Shake Shack, check.

For years we’ve been the biggest metro area in America without a four-year medical school. Atrium Health and Wake Forest University announced last week that they’re going to remedy that by building a medical school in Charlotte sometime in the next few years.

When I fantasize about being rich, my imagination is pretty modest. I think about getting a nice stereo, or maybe a pontoon boat.

I have to admit, I’ve never once thought about buying myself an insurance commissioner.

Around our house, this is headache season.

My wife’s allergies kick in with the first breath of pollen in the air. It never used to bother me but I caught some sympathetic vibrations along the way. Now I can almost feel the yellow dust crawling up into my sinuses. I go to work in the morning and the whole car is coated with the stuff.

I get so grumpy about it that I almost forget to notice the riot of beauty all around us.

If you’re a student at North Carolina A&T in Greensboro, you have to check your voter card carefully. If you live on one side of Laurel Street, you vote in Congressional District 13. If you live on the other side, you vote in Congressional District 6.

District 6 looks fairly normal on the map. But District 13 looks like it sprung a leak and bled over into Guilford County, where it just by chance splits N.C. A&T – a historically black university – in half.

I remember a time when Thom Tillis did something courageous.

Media outlets across the state had started doing stories about a shameful part of North Carolina history. From 1929 through 1974, the state had forcibly sterilized some 7,600 men and women who had been classified as mentally ill, promiscuous, epileptic or just “feebleminded.”

Let’s set aside, for today, the question of whether President Trump is a racist.

Instead, let’s talk about the ways you should not go about trying to prove otherwise.

I already had lots of opinions about the U.S. House election between Mark Harris and Dan McCready. What I didn’t expect to have was feelings.

But then – after all the talk about election fraud, and who knew about what and when – it suddenly turned into a family matter.

The first hint that this was not normal Charlotte was the barbershop rolling down Tryon Street.

The sign on the front of the van said SHAPE-UP KING, and sure enough, if you looked in the big windows on the sides, there was a guy sitting in a barber’s chair. I couldn’t tell if he was actually getting his hair cut. It’s probably not smart to get it done while the truck’s moving. That’s a good way to lose an eyebrow.

I stepped outside the other morning and caught an old familiar whiff in the air. Were the magnolias already starting to bloom? Was it the old cookie factory down the street? I took in another breath. Ahh. It was a bank merger! It smelled like money and danger.

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