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

Good morning, RVA: A correction, schools audits, and solar power

Good morning, RVA! It's 65 °F, and today looks amazing. Expect sunshine and highs in the low 80s. Spend some time outside doing stuff!

Water cooler

Richmond Police are reporting that Wayne E. Friday, 35, was murdered on Friday night. Officers arrived to the 1600 block of N. 19th Street and found Friday shot to death.

It’s time for a correction and a clarification! Last week, the Mayor announced that the City would move their cold weather shelter from the decrepit Public Safety Building to the modern Conrad Center on Oliver Hill Way. Clarification: This is a good move by the City. The Mayor committed to finding a new shelter before temperatures dropped this year, and he followed through on that after the arrangement with Commonwealth Catholic Charities on the Southside fell through. I don’t think that vibe came through in what I wrote last week. Correction: I also said that the Conrad Center is in a “public transit wasteland,” and that’s just not true. Mark Robinson at the Richmond Times-Dispatch reminds me (even though I should need no reminders on this sort of thing) that the loop portion of the #5 bus stops just a five-minute walk up the road. It is, however, always faster to walk from Broad Street to the Conrad Center than to ride the #5 allllll the way around the loop, but transit wasteland it is not. I will do better in the future!

This morning, I want to start things off with two big schools PDFs. First: the Review of Finance and Business Operations of the Richmond Public Schools. This is an audit, requested by Superintendent Kamras, of, as the title suggests, the finance and biz operations of RPS. It’s a little dense but filled with fascinating information about how the district is organized and operating currently and what the group doing the audit (the Council of Great City Schools) thinks the future should look like. Keep in mind that Kamras requested this audit early on in his tenure and it was completed this past June. That means some of the criticisms address the state of affairs left by the previous administration and some address recent changes made by the current admin. Second: the Educational Opportunity and Outcome Equity Audit. This audit, completed by The Education Trust, puts it bluntly in its executive summary, “Generally, elementary and middle schools serving a larger percentage of White and higher income students provide greater access to learning opportunities and have better outcomes overall.” And again in its conclusion, “The story of students attending Richmond Public Schools is the story of children attending public schools across the nation. All indicators of academic success show White students and more affluent students being provided with better educational opportunities than students of color and those from lower income families.” In his weekly email, Superintendent Kamras says, “Both of these audits shed light on the years of mismanagement, low expectations, and immoral underfunding that have gripped RPS.” If you need it, Justin Mattingly at the Richmond Times-Dispatch has a tl;dr on both audits.

Katie O’Connor at the Virginia Mercury has a depressing and sobering look at a particular assisted-living facility on the City’s Southside and how the assisted-living industry in Virginia works as a whole.

I had no idea, but University of Richmond will soon get all of its energy needs from solar power, WTVR reports. I don’t really understand how energy markets work, but I think the idea is that UR gets its power from a variety of energy sources while generating an equal, offsetting amount of solar energy and sending it back into The Grid. So interesting!

The City’s leaf collection program begins today, and there are a surprising number of options for something that sounds fairly straightforward. The easiest option is to put up to 10 bags of leaves (biodegradable, please!) out by your trash can on trash day. The even easier option is to just not do anything at all, but I’ve since learned that this is how leaves end up in the City’s drainage system which leads to Bad News. So at least try to do your part to keep the neighborhood sewers free flowing, OK?

This morning's longread

Fraught mascot

I thought this history of Stanford’s tree mascot was fascinating.

Brown, the new Tree, had a tedious but time-honored task this summer: sewing the costume he’ll dance in for the rest of the year. Every Tree makes their own outfit, and while a friend welded the metal frame together, the rest is up to Brown. Each leaf of cloth-sheathed Styrofoam takes him over half an hour to make, he said; he’s hoping to have 70 by the end of the summer. His favorite leaf so far is cut from a shirt mailed to him by Steven Paul Judd, a prominent Native American artist. Earlier this year, Brown posted an open call for fabrics and designs from the Native community that he could highlight in his creation. Judd responded with “his take on the Incredible Hulk,” Brown explained. The T-shirt he sent shows a Native person reading a newspaper article about a treaty being broken, prompting his transformation into the “Indigenous Hulk.”

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

Good morning, RVA: Pointing fingers, fun Master Plan homework, and a new commission

Good morning, RVA: Cold weather shelter, racial disparities in Henrico schools, Chamberlayne housing