Good morning, RVA! It's already 80 freaking °F! Today's forecast calls for highs near 100 °F, tons of sunshine, and loads of sweat. I apologize to anyone I may have a meeting with.
I don't know what to make of this story by Ned Oliver about the City's auditor taking issue with a culture-shifting program at the Department of Public Utilities, but it's the latest in a long line of City Auditor Stories in the paper. I have a seriously, not-at-all snarky question: What is the role of the City Auditor? Is he supposed to be like the City's public editor? Or is he more like Bob Mueller? The description of the office on the City's website seems more like the former, but the way he often comes across in the newspaper seems a lot like the latter. And why does it feel like a lot of the issues the Auditor uncovers are immediately litigated in the media? What if we gave that office a place to publicly write about issues of efficiency, effectiveness, waste, fraud, and abuse that wasn't the local paper? Kind of like how a newspaper's public editor has their own column? These are real questions I have due to my ignorance of how City government works!
Speaking of DPU, shoutout to WTVR for filing a FOIA request to get a list of all the fire hydrant repair reports in the city. First: Can we get those in a table or on a map? I imagine folks living on a block with a broken hydrant would like to know and would also like to politely lobby DPU to come out and fix it (I'm...not sure DPU would enjoy that part). Second: How do we just get DPU to publish that data on the regular without requiring a FOIA request from a TV station? Does it already exist, buried somewhere on the City's website?
Whoa, big news: The owner of the Gallery5 building has put the historic firehouse on the market for $1.82 million. This article by Brent Baldwin in Style will give you some really good background info that you'll need to follow this story as it evolves over the next bunch of months. I will officially be bummed if such a focal point for arts and culture in Jackson Ward became boring condos.
Michael Phillips in the RTD says that along with a $30 million investment in the infield, there could be some development planned for the area surrounding the racetrack. I'm interested in what form that would take—there's certainly enough space for stuff as the whole area is engulfed in a endless sea of parking that's used twice a year. The transit guy in me wants you to note that there's already an (infrequent) bus that serves Willow Lawn, the racetrack, and almost the airport. With a little work/money, that could be a really useful bus!
This is your mid-week reminder that this coming Saturday at 10:00 AM, the City will unveil the Maggie L. Walker monument at the intersection of Broad and Adams (the location of the sweet new pedestrian plaza). It's her 153rd birthday, too! Come for the statue unveiling with the Mayor, stay for all kinds of cultural stuff like walking tours, free admission to The Valentine, and special Maggie Walker displays by the Black History Museum & Cultural Center.
Don't forget: The second community meeting for the Lumpkin's Slave Jail Site Project will take place tonight at 5:30–8:00 PM at the Washington Training Center (2401 W. Leigh Street).
Check it out, Governor McAuliffe made an appearance on DeRay's podcast Pod Save the People. I really, really enjoy this podcast, and the list of guests so far has been stellar: Former Secretary of Education John King, Katy Perry, DNC Deputy Chair Keith Ellison, Edward Snowden, Senator Cory Booker, and John Legend! The podcast does a good job at explaining some of the things going on with the world in a way that I can understand through a social justice lens.
This morning's longread
I know, I know, I can't get enough of these "future of work" longreads. This one looks at an on-the-ground experiment with universal basic income in Kenya.
A universal basic income has thus far lacked what tech folks might call a proof of concept. There have been a handful of experiments, including ones in Canada, India and Namibia. Finland is sending money to unemployed people, and the Dutch city Utrecht is doing a trial run, too. But no experiment has been truly complete, studying what happens when you give a whole community money for an extended period of time — when nobody has to worry where his or her next meal is coming from or fear the loss of a job or the birth of a child.