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

Good morning, RVA: Economic Development analysis, dead Birds, and bad framing

Good morning, RVA! It's 37 °F and rainy. There’s a better than average chance of lots of cold, gross rain throughout day, so buckle up, hold on tight, and wait for tomorrow when the sun comes out for the foreseeable future!

Water cooler

The Commonwealth Institute has a good post up that throws a bit of cold water—lukewarm water, maybe?—on the Amazon deal (and really all super big economic development projects (maybe you can think of one locally, idk)). The gist: Megadeals are complex and hard to understand, and electeds, media, and normal people should be given the time and resources to work through them.

While we’re talking the ‘Zon, Ned Oliver at the Virginia Mercury compares the deals given by Virginia and New York to the retail giant. If we’re gonna be in the business of incentivizing corporations to set up shop in the Commonwealth, I’d rather read sentences like this than the alternative: “Meanwhile, Virginia’s offer of $573 million works out to about a third what companies typically get nationwide.”

Mayor Stoney announced that he’s appointed Reggie Gordon as the permanent Deputy Chief Administrative Officer of Human Services, a role he has filled on an interim basis since this past summer. If there’s a dude in City Hall that everyone seems to like it’s Reggie Gordon. Mark Robinson at the Richmond Times-Dispatch says Valaryee Mitchell will fill Gordon’s old roll as the head of the Office of Community Wealth Building—also on an interim basis. I’m really interested to see if the City goes out and tries to hire someone for OCWB since the department is looked at as such a critical and cross-sectional part of the government.

One quick City Council note: The Finance and Economic Development Committee meets today and will consider ORD. 2018-236, Councilmember Gray’s ordinance to create a real estate tax deferral program for folks whose tax bill has gone up by more than 110%. As far as I can tell this ordinance still does not have any income limits to it, and that seems pretty important for legislation that’s supposed to help keep folks in their homes and help slow gentrification in neighborhoods.

Where do Bird scooters go when they die / get confiscated by the City? Related! The Mayor’s second attempt at a scooter ordinance is out, and you can read it here (PDF). I haven’t even looked at it yet, so, for me, it’s sort of a Schrödinger's scooter ordinance at this point.

Here’s a great example of a super common RTD Editorial Board rhetorical device: Write something positive, end with a completely unnecessary and mildly offensive comment contradicting the entire piece, and then finish it with something along the lines of “but maybe not, who even knows!” Today they’re on about women serving on the USS Bush and end with this: “Historically, the Air Force has had the highest percentage of females, but the Navy has caught up. In both services, nearly one in every five members is a woman. Navy women are serving as jet pilots, submariners, divers, and drivers — just about every career field one can imagine. Of course, as one SEAL is quick to remind us, no female has ever been able to meet those job requirements. He’s correct. For now. But whether that day ever arrives takes nothing away from the phenomenal job women like Seaman Pillay are doing today. We salute them all.” The purpose of this framing is to nudge and wink at the reader, creating space and approval for people that believe women are inferior to men, while allowing both that reader and the Board to point to the rest of the piece as a way to deflect inevitable criticism. It’s gross and they could just not. But they do! A ton! Once you notice this technique, you can’t not see it in tons of things they write.

Oh hello! The newest episode of my podcast, Sam and Ross Like Things, is up! This is a podcast about things people—me, Sam, and a really long list of other people—like; you’d be surprised how nice it feels just to hear about a ton o’ things people enjoy.

This morning's longread

This Is All Donald Trump Has Left

This is some real good, albeit real mean, writing about the president on the eve of the back half of his term.

Presidents exert a kind of ambient influence on the culture, but as Trump is different than previous presidents his influence necessarily feels different. Barack Obama wanted to be a cosmopolitan leader who brought people together and into a deeper empathy through a mastery of reason and rules; the country he governed doesn’t work like that, though, and the tension between that cool vision and this seething reality grew and grew. By the end, his presidency had the feeling of a prestige television show in its fifth season—handsomely produced and reliably well-performed but ultimately not really as sure what it was about as it first appeared to be. Trump has no such pretense or noble aspiration, and has only made the country more like himself; living in his America feels like being trapped in a garish casino that is filling with seawater, because that is what it is.

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Good morning, RVA: Executive Order 25, a horrible crash, and InLight

Good morning, RVA: HQ2s, Council bust, and so long Chief