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

Good morning, RVA: #Beddexit, CAFR chat, and Brookland Park Boulevard

Good morning, RVA! It's 57 °F and rainy. There's a good chance, depending where you stand, that the rain will continue for a significant part of your day. Temperatures should nudge up against 70 °F and set us on the path towards a bright and warm week.

Water cooler

Lots of great city government stuff in the RTD today! Katy Burnell Evans starts us off with some speculation about who might replace recently-ousted Superintendent Bedden.

Michael Paul Williams also weighs in on #Beddexit. He's not stoked on any part of the entire situation, and it feels like he's leaning towards the "power play by the totally new School Board" interpretation of events with a little bit of "political move by the strong mayor" thrown in for good measure. Less than three days out from the Board's decision, and I'm still waiting for some more information.

Ned Oliver's up next with a double feature! The first focuses on one of my all-time favorite subjects: The CAFR! We've talked about the Comprehensive Annual Financial Report in this space for the past several years—mostly about how it's always embarrassingly late. Last night, Finance delivered a "final draft" of the FY2016 CAFR five months late, which, if we're being honest, is an improvement over previous years. The report lets you know exactly how much money you have (so you can see why turning one in a year late would impact the city's budgeting process), and the result of last year's is surprising! Next up is Ned's recap from City Council's marathon set of meeting that included the first public hearing on the budget—which drew 72 public commenters. Egad! A bunch of folks showed up in support of salary increases for police & fire, but also in opposition to the cuts to the Office of Community Wealth Building. See today's longread for more on how the OCWB views their work.

Oooo a Lamplighter might open up on Brookland Park Boulevard, says Tina Eshleman! An important piece of this news: "two entry-level positions with Lamplighter...would be reserved for youth who have been through the [Richmond Cycling Corp] program." That sounds excellent.

And J. Elias O'Neal brings us news of another new spot coming to Brookland Park Boulevard. How many opening announcements is that over the past couple of weeks? At least three? This particular new spot sounds about as neighborhoody as you can get, which I'm extremely excited about.

Gary Robertson has a long piece in Richmond Magazine on all things ICA that you should read. It's wild that VCU announced Steve Holl as the project's architect way back in 2011! And here we are, with the opening scheduled for October 28th! Time flies when you're building institutes for contemporary art, I guess.

Whoa, Elizabeth Warren endorsed Tom Perriello.

The Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers has until May 1st to avoid another writers strike, and Vox explains what's behind the potential strike. I'm old enough to remember the previous writer's strike and what it did to Battlestar Galactica, so let's get this figured out, y'all!

"Best if used by" dates are FAKE NEWS! I've been saying this for years!


  • Squirrels had their game against Bowie postponed yesterday. Tickets to tonight's matchup at 6:35 PM are available online (assuming the weather holds).
  • Nats fell to the Rockies, 4-8. They'll try again tonight at 8:40 PM.

This morning's longread

A while back, a patron asked how the Office of Community Wealth Building measures their goal of moving 1,000 people out of poverty each year. I ended up asking some folks over at the OCWB, and here's what they said:

There are indeed other ways we are tracking people who move out of poverty other than the Census data. We are currently working on exploring how we will track with certainty our 1,000 person per year goal. This goal is not our goal alone, but a city-wide goal.

Internally, we are tracking our progress through our Center for Workforce Innovation (CWI), a workforce initiative that sees 300 people weekly. They focus on connecting and preparing residents to existing employment opportunities, expanding local businesses and attracting new jobs to the city. CWI also tracks a case managed group of residents with respect to their wages, training, and placement, and provides additional intensive case management for individuals that wish to move out of RRHA through our BLISS (Building Lives to Independence and Self-Sufficiency program).

We are also exploring the feasibility of using the self-sufficiency standard as an additional city-wide metric. The self-sufficiency standard is used to measure how much a family of a certain composition in a given place needs to adequately meet their basic needs—without public or private assistance.

The standard calculates a family sustaining wage that does not require choosing between basic necessities such as child care, nutritious food, adequate housing or health care.

Components of the standard include housing, food, childcare, transportation, health care, miscellaneous (essential items clothing, shoes, diapers…), taxes (federal, state income tax, local sales tax), tax credits (earned income tax credit, child care tax credit, child tax credit), and emergency savings fund.

Since 2015, we have learned that achieving equal outcomes in all areas of life for all groups is impossible, in August of 2016 we collectively agreed as a department that our indicators should measure proximity to the utopian state of reducing the Federal Poverty Level (FPL)—the closer our city gets to it the better.

We refined our focus to concentrate squarely on individual outcomes, rather than opportunities that may be available, based upon the recognition that equal opportunities do not always lead to equal outcomes.

This does not mean that our goal of reducing poverty is out of reach, it simply means that we should as a city strive to place the people at the center of our strategy for poverty reduction in the city. We can do this by opening the lines of communication with families that experience poverty, going to where they are, listening to their experiences, documenting and systematically identifying barriers that restrict their access to self-sufficiency and work to develop people centric data measures and recommendations for policy that accurately capture an individual’s progress toward the betterment of the lives of individuals who are most likely to experience inequalities on a specific issue.

We have recently hosted a series of network inventory meetings to ascertain how we may collectively develop a city wide data sharing platform to measure the progress of families that traverse the path to economic self-sufficiency. This is emergent work and we welcome community involvement.

Good morning, RVA: Grace Street Parking Tower, Engine Company No. 9, and restaurants with round tables

Good morning, RVA: Superintendent Bedden, Office of Community Wealth Building, and Dead Rock