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

Good morning, RVA: Public housing thoughts, PILOTS, and pizza

Good morning, RVA! It's 48 °F and rainy at the moment. Expect the rain to continue and the temperatures to drop throughout the day.

Water cooler

Ned Oliver at the Richmond Times-Dispatch has a follow up on the public housing heating situation and the RRHA CEO search. The former is worse than originally indicated, and the latter is just kicking off but folks are hopeful. I’ve had a lot of conversations about public housing and the RRHA over the past couple weeks, and I keep turning over two things in my head (please remember that I know almost zero about housing policy): 1) Is wholesale replacement of public housing—like Blackwell and the kind-of-ongoing Creighton Court redevelopment—the only option, or can we set a smaller, achievable goal of building 100 new units while getting rid of 100 of the crappy, crumbling units each year? Maybe this is not how it works? Someone who knows more please let me know. 2) A smart person reminded me that City Council appoints the RRHA board—Oliver points this out in the aforelinked article—and as such they have authority over the authority’s decisions makers. They should also shoulder some of the blame when basic issues, like heating, are not addressed.

The Education Compact team will meet today at 6:00 PM at the Police Training Academy. The agenda’s not online yet, but I imagine they’ll talk about the mayor’s proposed meals tax as a means of funding a school facility plan.

Speaking of, here’s Shalom Farms’s Dominic Barrett with a guest editorial on The Cheats Movement about why he supports the meals tax as a funding mechanism for school facilities.

Justin Mattingly, at the RTD, reports on the expansion of VCU’s footprint in Richmond. The numbers are kind of astounding: “It’s net capital asset wealth has grown from $609.3 million in 2007 to $1.1 billion, as of June 30. The $1.1 billion figure is 4 percent higher than 2016 and it’s grown at least 4 percent every year since 2014.” It’d be cool if at least some of that billion dollars of real estate was taxable to fund things like, oh I dunno, maybe school facilities and public housing? Both the state government and VCU own a ton of property downtown but are exempt from the real estate tax. I’ll tell you what though, they aren’t exempt from a Payment In Lieu Of Taxes.

Sarah King in Richmond Magazine has an overview of Title IX and how our local universities handle sexual misconduct allegations.

Whoa, whoa, whoa, Church Hill is getting an 8 1/2?? This is excellent news for East Enders. Us Northsiders look on wistfully.

Episode 47 of the Sam and Ross Like Things podcast exists! On this episode we talk about the newest Legend of Zelda game, which is absolutely excellent and how the new year is the real most wonderful time of the year.

Vox has the complete list of Grammy Winners so you can make coherent conversation with your music-loving friends today.


  • Rams beat George Mason, 84-76, on the road.
  • Spiders picked up another win, this one against Davidson, 66-63.
  • Hokies knocked off Notre Dame, 80-75.
  • Wahoos handled Duke, 65-63

This morning's longread

My Journey to the Heart of the FOIA Request

I like the idea of doing FOIA requests for information about FOIA requests.

Other times, the way in which a request is fulfilled suggests that the agency is less than eager to turn over the information. When Leopold received his requested information about Clinton’s emails from the State Department, it came late on a Friday — a government favorite — the same day Clinton announced Tim Kaine as her running mate, and three days before the Democratic National Convention. When Max Galka requested a database from the Department of Labor, he asked that it be delivered as an Excel file. The spreadsheet arrived as a 763-page printout that wasn’t machine-readable when scanned. When two reporters for National Geographic asked to know why the Department of Agriculture removed a public database from its website, the agency responded by delivering 1,771 pages, each of which was fully redacted except for an exemption code printed in the top-left corner of the page.

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This morning's Instagram

Good morning, RVA: Affordable housing, a call to Hanoverians, and burgers

Good morning, RVA: Annual crime report, the Lt. Gov, and spending the weekend at the movies