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

Good morning, RVA: The State of the City, the meals tax, and the insurance market

Good morning, RVA! It's 41 °F, and today’s highs, while in the mid 50s, are not as spring-like as yesterday’s. You can expect plenty of sunshine, however.

Water cooler

The mayor gave his State of the City Address last night, which you can watch in full over on the City’s Facebook page. The two major topics were, predictably, education and housing. He directly addressed his proposal to increase the meals tax by 1.5% to fund school facilities, saying that, unlike property tax, the meals tax is paid not just by Richmonders but by visitors and folks from the counties. He also set a goal of building 1,500 affordable homes in the next five years, which sounds great. There are many, many cities you can read about that failed to build enough housing (affordable or otherwise) and now are stuck in a terrible housing crisis. He’ll propose some incentives for developers to Council later this year—but in the mean time, maybe read this PDF about the economics of inclusionary zoning to get a head start on how you convince folks to build affordable housing!

The Richmond Times-Dispatch editorial board says the mayor shouldn’t raise the meals tax to pay for school facilities because waves hands inefficiencies. This is weird because the editorial even points out why the meals tax is more than just $9 million per year: “[the meals tax], to be fair, would help leverage tens of millions more in borrowing capacity.” It’s actually $150 million over the next five years. That’s not the kind of money we can find in our municipal couch cushions overnight. We need money to start fixing / building schools now, and other than the cigarette tax (which we should totally do as well), I think the meals tax may be the lowest hanging fruit available to us. Of course we should make the government more efficient, of course we should rezone, but we can’t wait around and hope that the school buildings don’t literally crumble into the ground before we realize the benefits of those things. P.S. There are a lot of onerous zoning, permitting, parking, regulationy things restaurant owners have to deal with—maybe easing up on a few of those would help with the burden of this new tax?

Ned Oliver at the Richmond Times-Dispatch has the news on the RRHA’s new interim director and the organization’s new response to the heating issues in Creighton Court. It involves a “red team.”

Peter Galuszka at Style Weekly has a good recap of the last year of Obamacare and how the Trump-initiated twists and turns have impacted Richmonders and Virginians. We’ve got a problem if folks are considering moving to Goochland so they can continue to get the medical treatment they need downtown at VCU.


  • Rams hung on to beat Saint Louis, 75-74, in overtime.
  • Spiders head to Duquesne for a 7:00 PM tipoff.
  • Wahoos crushed Clemson, 61-36.

This morning's longread

The Anatomy of a Lie

If you’ll remember a long while back, I posted a link to a piece by a woman who had done some data analysis on every time she cried for almost two years. Here’s what she was crying about and the accompanying analysis.

On November 8, 2014, I learned that my long-distance boyfriend of one year, "Ad" (short for "Adam"), was not who he said he was. In addition to adopting a completely fake name, he had made me, and dozens before me, an unknowing other-woman to his wife of five years. I was a starry-eyed 22-year-old living in Chicago. He was a professional 33-year-old working in Boston.

If you’d like your longread to show up here, go chip in a couple bucks on the ol’ Patreon.

Good morning, RVA: The restaurant industry, the Pulse construction, and the Rebel Craft Rumble

Good morning, RVA: Meals tax, State of the City, and more on the RRHA