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

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

Good morning, RVA! It's 67 °F, and todays highs will creep back up into the mid 80s. Add that to plenty of sun, and we’ve got a pretty warm day on deck.

Water cooler

Michael Paul Williams opens his new column on who’s to blame for the state of Richmond Public Schools 💸 with a Jay-Z quote that most likely zooms by, far over the heads of a large portion of the paper’s subscription base. While MPW says there’s no time to point fingers and assign blame for the current situation, he does spend a significant number of words pointing fingers directly at Kamras’s administration for a few changes to RPS’s organization structure that run counter to one of the audits I linked to yesterday. I’ve seen this criticism highlighted in a couple of stories over the past few days. For context, though, the audit in question (PDF) lists 21 recommendations, several of which have many sub recommendations, and span six entire pages (about 10%) of the document. There are a lot of recommendations. I don’t know why we’re so hung up on this one thing? You could write many, many more interesting stories (maybe one about how currently the District lacks regular reconciliation of accounts 😳), but it’s like we‘re excited to tear down the new guy before he even gets started. I dunno. Moving forward, I‘m looking forward to however the Superintendent plans to address (or maybe not address) both of the audits’ recommendations.

Mike Platania at Richmond BizSense says Planning Commission approved new apartments near the post office on Brook Road. The apartments will require a zoning change, but they do fit in with the 2016 VUU Chamberlayne Neighborhood Plan that is an actual factual part of the city’s current Master Plan. This is a good example of why master plans are important, and, as a fun homework assignment, you should download the neighborhood plan (PDF) and the project plan (PDF) and decide for yourself whether or not the new apartments are a good fit for the area and inline with the Master Plan. Fun homework, I say!

Yesterday, the Mayor announced that he’ll submit legislation to create a Richmond History and Culture Commission. The new commission would “focus on items such as honoring and memorializing the history of Shockoe Bottom, and providing guidance on the recommendations of the Monument Avenue Commission regarding the reinterpretation of the Confederate statues on Monument Avenue, among others.“ As always, I look forward to reading the enabling legislation! One other thing of note: The Mayor’s office says this commission would serve as an advisory body to the mayor and will include two RPS high school students, a member of City Council, a staff member, and nine appointees. You—the person reading this right now—might could be one of those nine appointees! Keep it in mind and please apply should City Council approve the creation of this commission and an application process present itself.

Tomorrow, the Wilder School will host the 2018 Wilder Symposium, which, this year, is titled “By the People: The Role of Urban Communities in Improving Housing, Education and Public Policy.” The event will, of course, feature Governor Wilder himself, but also Representative Bobby Scott, Genevieve Siegel-Hawley, and a good list of other smart and talented folks. This is another free and open-to-the-public event, so while doors open at 6:00 PM, you may want to get there a bit earlier.

This morning's patron longread

Worse Than Lead?

From Patron Gary comes this fairly intense store about the Gottwalds (yes, those Gottwalds) and flame retardant chemicals. I also had absolutely zero idea about the history of Ethyl Corporation—not great, Bob!

While certain flame retardants have been phased out over time, others have been phased in; the Gottwalds and other manufacturers are not going quietly into the night. Notwithstanding the proven health and environmental harms that their products inflict, the suppliers of flame retardants intend to sell increasing amounts of this toxic product for years to come. The Gottwalds have made that clear enough, as their Albemarle Corporation has expanded its bromine-production capacity and its partnerships around the world, recently with a 2014 linkup with Israel Chemicals, Ltd.

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Good morning, RVA: Graduation rates, a legislative agenda, and a candidate forum

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