Once upon a time I ran a news site, now I just have opinions on the news. 

Good morning, RVA: BUDGET SEASON!, community conversations, and A(H)CA

Good morning, RVA! It's 54 °F, and today's looking exceedingly springlike. Highs will hit 72 °F, we'll see some sun, some clouds, and maybe some showers—a bit of everything. Keep an eye on this weekend, though...for it may snow?

Water cooler

Budget season is officially upon us, and yesterday, the mayor released his FY2018 budget to much fanfare! JK, there was very little fanfare, but the PDF people, myself included, were excited. The budget "does not raise taxes" but does generate new revenue by increasing fees on things like gas, water, wastewater, stormwater, and solid waste. You can read the mayor's overview here (PDF), an FAQ about changes to leaf collection here (PDF), and Ned Oliver's take over on the RTD. The actual budget document (PDF) appeared online briefly and then vanished, but you can look through the Capital Improvement Plan (PDF) while you wait for the budget to return. Next step in the process: On March 13th, Council will hold a budget work session beginning at 12:00 PM and running right into their regularly scheduled meeting.

If you read through the mayor's budget overview, you'll see just $1.6 million earmarked for school facilities and maintenance this year. Now read this piece in the RTD by Katy Burnell Evans about the School Board signaling a willingness to rezone, redistrict, and close schools to save on capital costs. I'm looking forward to seeing how all the new people involved in our government (plus the tireless education advocates!) work together to tackle some of these intense issues.

Melissa Hipolit at WTVR covered the community meeting about a possible new development off of Brook Road across from the Seminary. That's a whole lot of people to turn out to a community meeting—which is usually not a recipe for making rapid progress on a large apartment complex. If you really want to dig in, Richmond Magazine's Harry Kollatz has the background and history you crave.

Jackie Kruszewski in Style Weekly has a piece about the rally for Trumpian gubernatorial candidate Corey Stewart that took place this past weekend at the Capitol. Capitol police told protestors that they couldn't bring signs onto the grounds without a permit, but the insane people with terrifying rifles? They're totally in the clear. What the heck kind of world are we living in?

Two events tonight that are worth your time: 1) The folks behind the Lumpkin's Slave Jail project (SmithGroupJJR) will host a meeting tonight at Virginia Union from 5:30–8:00 PM to solicit community ideas and feedback, and 2) The Valentine will host one of their Community Conversations tonight at 6:00 PM focusing on prosperity and growing wealth in the Richmond region. So much community to conversate with, so little time!

Congressional republicans released their Affordable Care Act replacement, the not-at-all-confusingly-named American Health Care Act. Sarah Kliff from Vox explains the major parts of the bill. I agree with Ezra Klein's take, after years of complaining about the ACA, this is what republicans have come up with? What is even the point—other than to convince themselves that they did, in fact, repeal and replace (at the expense of millions of Americans)?

And, of course, Trump signed year another Executive Order keeping people from six Muslim countries from entering the United States.

This morning's longread

Dummy Land


At the convention, the puppets are a slim but boisterous majority. They crowd in around you. They critique you. They grope you. They chatter continuously. Being around them approximates what it would be like to read people’s minds. It is a most unpleasant experience—a great deal more unsettling, of course, isn’t what they say but that they say anything at all. All over the hotel, in conference rooms, in hallways, at the bar, ventriloquism is practiced in its purest form: not as a stage show, but as an ongoing, unscripted social interaction, a live conversation between humans and their golems.

Good morning, RVA: Shockoe bottom, public art, and State of the Plate

Good morning, RVA: The Big Five, budget season begins, and Bourne's replacement