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

Good morning, RVA: Unsolicited monument suggestions, trains, and Vision Zero (again)

Good morning, RVA! It's 63 °F, and we've got another great day queued up. Get ready for highs in the mid 80s, a ton of sun, and very few clouds in the sky.

Water cooler

Sooooo...I didn't make it to the Monument Avenue Commission meeting last night. Full disclosure: I was late because Joe's Inn's happy hour goes until 6:00 PM, and it's, like, a really good happy hour. Anyway, when I showed up at 6:50 PM the event was at capacity, the doors of the VHS were locked, and, for folks who banged on those doors enough, Richmond Police officers would peek out and tell them to sign a piece of paper giving them priority entrance to the next public event (September 13th). No live stream, no overflow room. Luckily (for me, a couple dozen folks standing around outside, and those of you following along at home), a few people served up coverage via #rvamonuments on Twitter.

Overall, I'm disappointed. I'm disappointed by the apparent lack of thoughtful planning put into the event. I'm disappointed by the format. I'm dissapointed that the mayor, who created this dang Commission, wasn't even on the East Coast last night. I'm embarrassed that I hadn't read this letter from the Defenders of Freedom, Justice & Equality before now. I'm embarrassed that I didn't join them in pushing for the Commission to have a wider scope—one that included removal of the monuments—from the get go. I'm sad that so many Richmonders said so many hurtful things.

With all that said, here are a couple of unsolicited suggestions from someone who didn't even attend the event (which is totally his own fault):

  1. Schedule at least one more public event in a different part of town, possibly on the weekend. As Erin White said on Twitter, "the limited charge of this Commission and the locations /times of meetings says a lot about this process."
  2. Don't have the Richmond Police Department be the face turning folks away from a public event!
  3. Livestream! Overflow room! Watch parties with guided conversations planned afterwards in different communities around Richmond!
  4. Consider tweaking the format. Voicing concerns at a panel of people on a stage in disjointed 2-minute segments doesn't seem like the best way to have a conversation. There are lots of talented facilitators in town. How would they have run this meeting? We should ask them! Conversation is an important cathartic step that we maybe missed when we jumped straight into asking for solutions.

Tammie Smith at the RTD reports that the Scott's Addition Boulevard Association supports Eugene Trani's plan to bring a train station to the Boulevard. My personal opinion, as Joe Richmonder, is that I sure as heck do not want to consume a ton of valuable (and taxable) land in one of RVA's most desirable neighborhoods with a sea of parking for a train station. It may be in the surrounding counties' best interests to cram a Park and Ride to DC into the City limits, but it's probably not in the City's. In fact, the very first reason Trani's presentation says to put the station on the Boulevard is: "The Boulevard Site is bound by high capacity roads and regionally accessible by three interstates, allowing easy access to Chesterfield, Henrico, and Hanover residents." Weird, but that doesn't say anything about Richmonders at all.

WTVR reports a child under the age of 10 was hit by a car on the 1400 block of Hull Street Road and taken to the hospital with life-threatening injuries. It's far past time for the City to begin implementing a Vision Zero policy to make our streets safer for pedestrians and people on bikes. This incident took place in Councilwoman Robertson's district, and you can/should email her and her liaison. You can also drop Mayor Stoney a line, and let him know we need to see progress on a Vision Zero action plan.

Removing in-person visits from jails seems terrible and inhumane. I wonder if the new video-only visits will cost money?

Brad Kutner at Style Weekly says all of the doughnuts at Sugar Shack are now vegan. Of course, they're still super bad for you, though. Delicious, yes. Healthy, no.


  • Squirrels posted another loss to Portland, 4-9. They'll wrap up that series tonight at 6:35 PM. Tickets are available online.
  • Nats mashed the Marlins, 10-1. That series finishes up tonight at 7:05 PM.

This morning's longread

Men Will Lose the Most Jobs to Robots, and That’s OK

I continue to be super interested in automation and the future of work.

Whether or not you believe men are about to go the way of the portable CD player depends entirely on how you define manhood itself. A great many men have been trained over countless generations to associate their self-worth with the performance of tasks that are, in a very real sense, robotic—predictable, repetitive, and emotionless. The trouble is that machines are far better at being predictable, repetitive, and emotionless than human beings. What human beings do better are all the other things: We are better at being adaptable, compassionate, and intuitive; better at doing work that involves actually touching and thinking about one another; better at making art and music that elevates us above the animals—better, in short, at keeping each other alive. We have walled off all that work and declared it mostly women’s business, even as exhausted women have begged men to join them.

Good morning, RVA: Commission frustration, trains, and brisket

Good morning, RVA: Monument chat, parking downtown, and teacher vacancies