Welcome to Char-cago. Is this who we want to be?

The victim was a 27-year-old mother of two driving her car during rush hour on a Thursday afternoon when the shooting started. Police said she was an innocent bystander, caught in the crossfire between three men with several drug, gun, and robbery convictions between them. She was pronounced dead at the scene.

“It was like a gunfight in the parking lot,” a 9-1-1 caller said.

Welcome to Char-cago.

Charlotte had an off year for homicides in 2018 after hitting a 22-year high of 85 in 2017. The city’s at 34 so far this year. At least, that’s per CMPD as of 7:39 pm Monday night.

Homicides have been happening every two or three days, so that total could have changed by the time you’re reading this and could hit 135 for the year at the current pace. And, though the Uptown Crowd doesn’t like to talk about it, there’ve been many times over the years Charlotte has landed on lists of “highest violent crime rates among the nation’s larger cities.”

It’s not just rapidly rising violent crime that’s behind Charlotte’s growing resemblance to my hometown of Chicago.

There are the re-segregated schools, the exploding real estate market that has led to a crisis in affordable housing, and companies crossing city lines to the suburbs.

The growth of businesses and population outside Charlotte has prompted talk of a commuter tax or payroll tax as ways for GuvCo to make a buck, or hundreds, off people who work in the city but live elsewhere. Chicago’s been kicking this around for years.

The latest high profile company to talk about moving out of Charlotte is the Carolina Panthers, who are looking at relocating their headquarters and practice facilities to York County. The Halas Hall HQ of the “Chicago” Bears has been in the northern suburb of Lake Forest for years. Players are only seen at Soldier Field eight Sundays a year. Will that soon be as often as Panthers are seen on Morehead Street?

In recent years, Charlotte has even begun to out-Chicago Chicago. The Windy City is synonymous with political corruption, but the feds never caught one of its mayors bagging thousands in cash in a brief case right there in his City Hall office. Chicago mayors have “people” for that. They’re called aldermen.

There are of course ways Charlotte is nothing like Chicago. In Illinois, for example, it’s widely understood that Chicago controls state government. There’s not a soul in North Carolina who thinks Charlotte is running Raleigh. Charlotte couldn’t make a dent in Raleigh even when its longest serving mayor was living in the Governor’s mansion.

There’s another way Charlotte is unlike Chicago. Charlotte has no cadre of cynical columnists chomping at the powers that be each day in its newspapers as Chicago does. It could use a few. Or even, one.

Charlotte’s dream is to be World Class. Chicago is generally considered World Class.

Keep it up, Charlotte. You’re getting there.

Keith Larson’s podcasts can be heard on TheLarsonPage.com. Email: klarson@thelarsonpage.com