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.

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.

Now here’s a college class that sounds like it’s worth the tuition.

Pat McCrory, former mayor of Charlotte and governor of North Carolina, is teaching a class at UNC Chapel Hill starting this week.

In 1993, when I first moved to Charlotte, I moved into an apartment in Dilworth. The rent was $385 a month.

I doubt you could rent a doghouse for that price in Dilworth now.

It’s not just our city’s fancy neighborhoods, though. All over Charlotte, we have a serious problem: Thousands upon thousands of people who work here and contribute to this community, can’t afford to live here anymore.

I was thinking that by the time the Charlotte City Council got around to regulating electric scooters, the e-scooter boom might be replaced by something else. Hoverboards, maybe. If we can’t have flying cars yet, we should at least have hoverboards.

Thomas Davis didn’t want to talk about the pain. 

I interviewed Davis, the Carolina Panthers linebacker, in the fall of 2013 for a magazine story. He was in the middle of an astonishing comeback. He was the first NFL player – maybe the first player in any sport – to tear the ACL in the same knee three different times and return to play again.

Over the holidays, while we were in Tennessee, a cousin looked at me and my wife and said, “So what’s going on with that Congressional race in North Carolina?”

We tried to explain. It took about half an hour.

A lot of people take the end of the year to make wild predictions about what will happen in the next one. If you hit on one out of 10, you look like a genius, because nobody remembers the nine you got wrong.

Still, I’m not much of a gambler. I liked to make predictions that I’m pretty sure will come true. So in that spirit, here are my Safe Bets for 2019.

To tell you about the best Christmas present I ever got, I first have to tell you about the worst Christmas present I ever got. It turns out they happened on the same day.

We have four big TVs in the WFAE newsroom. One is tuned to local news, and the other three are on CNN, Fox News and MSNBC. All week long, those last three TVs – and sometimes the other one, too – featured the same images over and over again: Someone who used to work for President Trump, being led into or out of a courthouse.

Magicians base most of their tricks on misdirection. They get you to stare at one closed fist while the other hand slips the vanished coin into the magician’s pocket. A good trick depends on the audience looking at the wrong thing.

The magicians in the North Carolina legislature have gotten us to pay a whole lot of attention to voter fraud. But it turns out we should’ve been spending our time paying attention to election fraud.

The city of Charlotte turns 250 years old today. If our city was a person, you might say, yeah, they’ve had a lot of work done. In fact, there’s not much left that anybody who was alive in 1768 might recognize.

There’s the Hezekiah Alexander House, which was built in 1774. There’s a couple of log cabins at Rural Hill and Latta Plantation. There’s the Old Settlers’ Cemetery uptown, which has gravesites that go back as far as 1776. That’s about it.

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