Life's hard, but finding the right answers doesn't always have to be. In this edition of "Do This, Not That," I offer some advice for big deciders in Charlotte (and in Raleigh).
Situation: You are the longtime director of the airport. Reports get back to City Hall that too many passengers are losing valuables from their luggage, so the city brings in Charlotte cops to fix the situation.
Don't: Have a hissy fit because the city is supposedly infringing on your territory; work behind the scenes to rile your powerful Republican friends in the General Assembly into taking the airport away from city control; and start a political dogfight that will go on for a long time, all while you put on a "Who, me?" face when asked if you had anything to do with the legislature's take-over attempt.
Do: Realize that A. you're a city employee whose responsibilities to airport passengers is at least as important as covering your butt, and B. you're getting up there in age and probably aren't as capable of keeping up with every little detail as you used to be. Follow those realizations by apologizing to passengers whose cameras, Rolexes or whatever were snatched from their suitcases by your employees, and offer to resign.
Situation: You are a member of the local press. Airport director Jerry Orr starts a fight with city government over control of the airport. Orr's supporters repeatedly point out how the airport grew 10 zillion percent during Orr's tenure and attribute the growth to Orr's leadership.
Don't: Forget about the press' duty to look into the details of how the airport has been run, making sure to get both Orr's and the city's perspective. And don't keep repeating in every article about the airport flap that we have a "great airport," and that Orr has run the airport extraordinarily well by keeping it "low cost."
Do: In at least one prominently placed news story, point out that the people for whom the airport is "low cost" are US Airways' bean counters, and that for passengers, the airport has never been so "high cost." Also mention that airport management has played footsie with US Airways, refusing to bring in enough competing airlines, thus guaranteeing that passengers at CLT will continue paying some of the highest prices in the country. Also report that the parking situation at the airport is such a mess, one would think it was planned by the Three Stooges; that departure gates too often resemble a low-grade riot; and of course, that CLT has a reputation as a great place to have your camera swiped out of your checked baggage. To sum up, don't be a suck-up to power, and do your job.
Situation: You're the governor of the state and former mayor of Charlotte. During your gubernatorial campaign, you promised that you would not sign any law that would further restrict a woman's access to abortion services. Nevertheless, you signed off on a draconian new law that, if fully implemented, would shut down nearly all abortion clinics in North Carolina. Afterward, groups of women protest outside your office in Raleigh.
Don't: Act like a peevish, mocking frat boy and walk outside in your khakis to offer a plate of cookies to "the ladies," while sporting a look on your face denoting that you think you've shown up the gals and are one slick operator.
Do: Remember that you are governor of all the people, not just wealthy businessmen and fundamentalist preachers, then invite the women in to your office to talk to them about the issues involved in the abortion law. You may not get them to agree with your position, but at least you will have acted like a mature leader and a mensch, rather than resembling some high school jock making fun of the artsy types.
Situation: You are the guy who stopped me in a grocery store last week to inform me that I was "full of shit" regarding the NSA's info data collecting. "We're at war," you said as justification, adding, "if you haven't done anything wrong, you've got nothing to worry about."
Don't: Continue to be a tool of bureaucrats who are finishing off what's left of the Fourth Amendment's protection against unreasonable searches and seizures.
Do: Read about the couple on Long Island who were visited last week by six men from a joint terrorism task force because the couple had Googled "pressure cookers" and "backpacks" (two things used by the Boston Marathon bombers). The upshot, it appears, is that groups of armed men in black SUVs conduct searches of about 100 homes a week, triggered primarily by the occupants' Internet searches. But don't worry — President Obama and NSA honcho Gen. Keith Alexander say that no one is intercepting your mail or Internet surfing.