Good morning, RVA! It's 53 °F, and we're all set for a wonderful day ahead of us. With highs in the mid 80s, clear skies, and no chance for rain, what else are you looking for in a day's weather?
Will we ever finish talking about the Richmond City budget? Maybe! But not today! Last night City Council voted 6-3 (Y — Agelasto, Gray, Hilbert, Jones, Larson, Trammell; N — Addison, Newbille, Robertson) to approve the budget as written and send it along to the mayor to sign. This means that Council will have to pass an ordinance for a department to move any amount of money between any of a set of predefined programs and sub-programs within that department (see page 8 (PDF)). As Councilman Jones said last night, this move by council is about transparency, and they're (theoretically) not interested in tiny amounts of money getting shifted around but when millions of dollars get spent on things they weren't budgeted for. Unfortunately the ordinance, as written and adopted, doesn't say that. I don't know enough about how city government works to know what parts of the process are now set in stone (the list of programs and sub programs?) and what parts can still be changed with future ordinances (setting a dollar amount that triggers the oversight process?). Anyway, the mayor does have the opportunity to veto the budget, which would then give council the opportunity to override the veto with six votes. So there's probably at least one more opportunity to talk budget, if not two! Get excited!
In other extra exciting PDF news, the Planning Commission was real busy yesterday, approving changes to both the Riverfront Plan (PDF) and the Pulse Corridor Plan (massive PDF). Ned Oliver has all the juicey details. More on these as they move to Council at some point in the future (but color me excited about the Pulse Corridor Plan and the prospect of a denser transit corridor!).
Speaking of cool transit stuff, yesterday GRTC launched their RideGRTC Rewards program. The details: Show any unlimited fare pass (even the One Day pass, which I totally recommend that everyone carry around at least one on their person) to a participating merchant and get a discount. Participating businesses include: Burger Bach, Capital Ale House Downtown, Duck Donuts, Richmond Kickers, the Science Museum (free admission!?), and a bunch more. Saving money is an excellent excuse to try transit if you've haven't done so yet!
Apparently it's Transit Tuesday (every day is Transit Tuesday in my house)! It's wild to read a story like this one in Richmond Magazine by Robey Martin about development in Short Pump and not see any mention of public transportation. Folks out there are willing to just gaze out at the traffic, shrug, and say "If you are in a hurry to get from Whole Foods to Wegmans, Short Pump may not be for you." People! It doesn't have to be this way! Let's get some dedicated bus lanes out there so folks who live in these denser, mixed-use places don't have to hop in the car and sit in traffic for just a short trip down the street.
As a follow up to yesterday's bit about Confederate statues, UR Professor Gary Shapiro has this piece in the New York Times. Y'all know that I think words are important, and this is a good discussion about how the words we use for places like Monument Avenue matter. I'm with Shapiro: A diverse group of folks—including historians, artists, urban planners, and citizens—needs to sit down and figure out what to do with our Confederate monuments. But if all we end up with is plaques, I'm going to be really disappointed.
- Squirrels topped Akron, 3-1. That series continues at 10:35 AM.
- Nats take on the Pirates tonight at 7:05 PM.
This morning's longread
Here's a good summary of why Trump's dish to the Russians in the Oval Office is a big deal.
Finally, Trump’s alleged screw-up with the Russians reveals yet again what we have learned many times in the last four months: The successful operation of our government assumes a minimally competent Chief Executive that we now lack. Everyone else in the Executive Branch can be disciplined or fired or worse when they screw up by, say, revealing classified information or lying about some important public policy issue. But the President cannot be fired; we are stuck with him for 3-1/2 more years unless he is impeached, which remains a long-shot. Bottom line: It matters who we have running the most powerful institution in the world.