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

Good morning, RVA: Monument Avenue Commission, violence in public housing, and City Council

Good morning, RVA! It's 61 °F, and today looks like a great day to spend in Richmond. Expect highs in the mid 80s and plenty of sunshine to go with them.

Water cooler

Y'all, I'm back! My week in San Francisco was wonderful, filled with taking all sorts of different types of public transit, tons of walking, loads of good food, and more weed and pee smell than you can shake a stick at. But it's good to be home. Appropriately/Fitting/Typical that while I was on the West Coast in the middle of a massive city-wide Pride celebration, Richmond was focused on its Confederate Monuments. Mayor Stoney announced a Monument Avenue Commission to "help the city redefine the false narrative of the Confederate statues that line Richmond's grandest boulevard." Here's the mayor's full remarks (PDF), in which he says some strong anti-Confederacy stuff but also is pretty clear about how he is not in favor of taking the monuments down. In fact, the Commission's online feedback form asks just two questions: How would you best add context and who would you add to Monument Avenue. TIME Magazine has even picked up the story—but somehow gets the idea that the Lincoln Statue, Richmond Slavery Reconciliation Statue, and the soon-to-be-unveiled Maggie Walker Statue balance out "no shortage of public memorials to defenders of white supremacy." When put that way, do you really want to do any balancing at all? Anyway, here's the list of comission members (PDF) which seems legit, and I'm excited to see what they come up with—as long as it's not plaques. If we're going to add context to these things instead of removing them, that context needs to be appropriately intense and visible while driving by in a car. If we decide to leave up an entire street of massive "public memorials to defenders of white supremacy," we need to be really clear that their cause is not ours and we in no way support it either actively or casually.

Ned Oliver has written the best piece of local journalism I've read in a long time in this piece about the increasing violence in Richmond's public housing neighborhoods—specifically those in the East End. With so much work to be done, at such great cost (both literal and figurative), it's hard not to feel hopeless after reading this. But now that this piece exists, maybe we'll see more like it and more movement to help improve life in some of these places that are intentionally disconnected from the rest of us living in the region.

Keep an eye on the movement to switch Hanover County from an appointed School Board to an elected Board—Michael O'Connor at the RTD has some background. In Richmond, and elsewhere I imagine, the School Board seems to function as a political stepping stone to bigger and better political things. This...doesn't always lead to the most qualified and focused candidates. Switching to an entirely appointed board would come with its own problems, but it's a conversation I'd enjoy having over beers to learn more.

City Council will have their regularly scheduled meeting tonight, and here's the agenda (PDF). It's a meaty one with some interesting progress on transferring Vauxhall Island to City ownership. You probably have never been on Vauxhall Island, but you have definitely been bummed out by the huge crappy billboard on it that obscures the great view of Richmond seen headed north on I-95. The end game is to remove the huge crappy billboard, and incorporate the island into the James River Park System. There's also a special City Council meeting with both Mayor Stoney and the School Board at 3:00 PM today at the Library of Virginia. They'll talk about the Education Compact and how to move forward on that thing. By the way, last week, the ever-amazing Anne Holton wrote an op-ed in support of the Compact.

The 2017 iteration of InLight will take place downtown in the Arts District—aka an extremely easy to get to spot by all forms of public and human-powered transportation! Mark your calendars for November 3rd.

Two bits of food news that have circled my Richmond Food Radar for a while now: Brenner Pass and Mean Bird are both open.


ESPN ranks John Marshall student Isaiah Todd the #1 class of 2020 high school basketball prospect in the country! Hat tip to WTVR.

  • Squirrels dropped their home series against Akron, 2-3, and head north to take on the Trenton Thunder tonight at 7:00 PM.
  • Kickers fell to the Charlotte Independence, 0-2.
  • Nats took two of three from Cincinnati over the weekend, including an 18-3 obliteration. A new series with the Cubs begins tonight at 7:05 PM.

This morning's longread

The Ken Doll Reboot: Beefy, Cornrowed, and Pan-Racial

I like this idea of making many Kens all of which are the real Ken.

In a dark corner of the design center, in a lightless cubby located in a small honeycomb of identical lightless cubbies, sits a being who is God to the Kens: Ray. Ray is Ray Cavalluzzi, the digital sculptor who brings Kens forth into this unholy world—a tremorless man tasked with translating hopes into plastic. Without Cavalluzzi, designers’ visions would remain just that: ephemeral pictures, collections of adjectives, mood boards laden with computer printouts of guys in color-blocked tank tops. Ray can make any Ken and every Ken, the Kens of Americans’ dreams—and some they have only seen in nightmares. His workspace is cluttered with amputated doll limbs.

Good morning, RVA: A correction, healthcare, and skateparks

Good morning, RVA: Chesterfield's sheriff, a concession, and STEAM