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

Good morning, RVA: Change for RVA, electric signs, and a good podcast listen

Good morning, RVA! It's 71 °F, and what the what, highs are back up in the 90s today. Tomorrow, though, things begin to cool down for real.

Water cooler

A reader went to City Council’s General Assembly legislative agenda workshop yesterday and sent along the agenda (PDF)! Highlights include: requests for a commission to find funding for public housing and tweaking the State legislation to allow Richmond to do inclusionary zoning; asks for improved education funding, transportation funding, and a state contribution to the local affordable housing trust fund; plus a handful of common-sense gun violence reforms. These are all great potential policies and ideas, but, until there’s actual political pressure from actual constituents, they’re likely to stay theoretical ideas on an agenda PDF. Mark Robinson at the Richmond Times-Dispatch has a meeting recap with a few quotes and strategy suggestions from Sen. McClellan.

Related, the Mayor launched a new ad/marketing campaign called Change for RVA Schools to remind folks that every time you eat food from a restaurant within the City limits, you contribute meals tax money toward building new schools. You can watch a very professional-looking video here. The fact that there (finally) seems to be a coordinated effort to improve Richmond Public Schools—one with a bunch of folks involved, for example the Change for RVA Schools website is hosted by the local tourism group—is really good news. Of course there is hard policy and political work ahead, but that work would be waaaaay harder without a broad coalition of folks at the ready.

As promised, in the wake of the killing of Marcus Davis Peters, the Richmond Police Department has put their Crisis Intervention Team training documents online.

The Better Housing Coalition is at it again and will build 60-units of affordable housing for seniors in Chesterfield County, says J. Elias O’Neal at Richmond BizSense. Seniors who may no longer be able to driver and may live on a fixed-income are exactly the folks who should have and need access to public transportation. Astoundingly, it looks like the County will consider doing just that. I wrote more about this unanticipated turn of events over on the RVA Rapid Transit blog.

And it’s not just older Virginians that deserve access to good public transportation: Katie O’Connor, at the Virginia Mercury, looks at the impact not being able to get a driver’s license has on youth aging out of foster care.

Today the Urban Design Committee will look at the Convention Center’s application to install digital billboards at the southeast and northwest corners of their building (PDF, scroll down to page 12 to see a rendering). I’m not a huge fan of digital signage Downtown, but both the Siegel Center and the Dominion Arts Center have some, and, thus far, I’ve survived. While the southeastern displays feel like acceptable entranceway signage, the billboard on the northwest side of the parking deck seems like just that: a regular ol’ billboard—which I’m not stoked about. We’ll see what UDC says about it though.

Episode 60 of the Sam and Ross Like Things podcast has dropped and features a special guest and a special topic. Enjoy!

This morning's patron longread

Taking Back the Suburbs: The Fair Housing Act at Fifty

Patron Heather sent me this great piece about how the Fair Housing Act continues to work for folks, even in the face of an extremely Conservative federal government that really isn’t interested in fair housing at all.

The Small Area Fair-Market Rent rule is a seemingly small change with potentially huge effects. It requires local public-housing authorities to calculate their rent subsidies at a neighborhood level, rather than a citywide one. In effect, this increases the spending power of Section 8 vouchers across all of a city’s neighborhoods, allowing recipients to move more easily to affluent ones. Vouchers have become the predominant form of rental subsidy in the United States, even though three-quarters of those who qualify receive no assistance. But those who do manage to obtain one have generally lacked the ability to move out of poor areas because their subsidy doesn’t go far enough. This in turn has allowed landlords in impoverished communities to price-gouge their voucher-holding tenants who lack bargaining power, by setting rents at the maximum level the feds will allow. The Small Area Fair-Market Rent policy was successfully piloted in Dallas and a 2014 study of that pilot found it imposed no-net cost on government spending.

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Good morning, RVA: Southside soccer, a guide for men, and 2nd Street Festival

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