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

Good morning, RVA: Reduction in violence, budget surplus, and an overhead view

Good morning, RVA! It's 47 °F, and highs today should climb up into the mid 60s. You might not even need your raddest fall coat today!

Water cooler

If you read one article in the Richmond Times-Dispatch this morning, read this one about the change in police procedure and reduction in violent crimes in the City’s major public housing neighborhoods. Then please tell me what you think. Correlation != causation, and increased police presence is not always a good thing—or even something a neighborhood necessarily wants. This is definitely not my lived experience, and I don’t really feel comfortable spouting off about it (unlike every other thing), but would love to learn more.

The RTD’s Mark Robinson has the word from Council’s budget surplus meeting. At the end of the day, Council only had a couple hundred grand to play with and decided to put some of that back into the Percent for Arts Fund, replenishing a teeny bit of the over $2 million they stole from the fund last budget season (voting for that were Councilmembers Addison, Gray, Larson, Robertson, and Newbille). I guess this is good news, but we’re talking just 10% of what’s needed to make the fund whole again. I don’t know about you, but I’ll be looking forward to next year’s budget season and expecting a boatload of money to make its way back into Percent for Arts.

Is this a big deal? It seems like a big deal. Michelle Hankerson at the Virginia Mercury has the details on the state joining the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative and pledging to reduce its carbon output. Although it sounds like Virginia was already on track to hit the 2020 carbon output goal, so why not make the caps a bit more intense?

Not a ton of new news in this Justin Mattingly report on yesterday’s Education Compact meeting. We need more money for education from both the City and the State. Period. And there’s a lot of work ahead of us to win both of those things, but, for the first time in a while, it feels like folks are starting to settle on a state-first strategy—with meetings and marches already planned for this upcoming General Assembly session. We, of course, need a local funding strategy, too (and for more than just education), but I’m happy to see local leaders and advocates focusing down and working from the same page. Aside: The folks from @RVADirt were at Style Weekly’s Top 40 Under 40 celebration yesterday, so there’s basically no Twitter record of the Compact meeting. This is Not Great, Bob and makes me realize just how much information about the civic happenings around town is provided on a volunteer basis.

Yesterday, the Mayor announced the City’s Census 2020 effort, RVA Counts 2020. You can learn more on the aforelinked webpage, including who the folks are heading up this effort and the several different ways you can get involved. Yes, the census continues to be incredibly boring, but it remains incredibly important. As the press release announcing RVA Counts 2020 said, every uncounted person means the City loses out on $20,000 over the next ten years!

Here’s a wonderful overhead drone photo of Monroe Park via /r/rva. While I’m not a fan of the park’s new gravel paths (they’ve already got ruts in them caused by runoff), it really is a beautiful public space.

This morning's longread

The Fetishization of Mr. Rogers’s ‘Look for the Helpers’

I’m not trying to yuck your yum, but this is important context to have and to think on.

Once a television comfort for preschoolers, “Look for the helpers” has become a consolation meme for tragedy. That’s disturbing enough; it feels as though we are one step shy of a rack of drug-store mass-murder sympathy cards. Worse, Fred Rogers’s original message has been contorted and inflated into something it was never meant to be, for an audience it was never meant to serve, in a political era very different from where it began. Fred Rogers is a national treasure, but it’s time to stop offering this particular advice.

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Good morning, RVA: It’s Halloween, drive slowly, please

Good morning, RVA: Stolen guns, stressful housing, and a basketball touchdown