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

Good morning, RVA: Coliseum conversations continues, Medicaid expansion goes live, and clocks

Good morning, RVA! It's 69 °F, and highs are back up in the 70s again. Rain will move in this evening, and clouds will fill the sky until then. The weekend’s weather is looking pretty fine, though!

Water cooler

The proposed Coliseum redevelopment continues to dominate the news! Yesterday, after Mark Robinson’s report that the TIF had leveled up to a BigTIF, the Mayor’s office held a press conference to announce that “the City of Richmond has reached an agreement, in principle, with the nonprofit NH District Corporation for the development of the Navy Hill neighborhood north of Broad Street.” You can read a full transcript of the Mayor’s remarks here. I stopped by the press conference for a quick second and found a couple things interesting. First, in Stoney’s rundown of how this project would benefit Richmond, replacing the Coliseum came in eighth on the list—below jobs, contracts for minority businesses, affordable housing, a GRTC transfer center, restoring the Blues Armory, raising up Leigh Street to grade (!), and a 500-room hotel. Second, he said something that sounds like a soft no against rolling back the recession-era property tax cuts (at least until the State kicks in more funding for education): “We know the state has shortchanged Richmond Public Schools in education funding. And that same state government, which we are home to as a capital city, has many lovely buildings that occupy a substantial portion of our downtown—and don’t pay taxes. We can—and we are—demanding more. But until that happens, we can’t burden our homeowners and residents with more taxes and higher costs.” Third, he addressed what I wondered about in this space yesterday (and continue to wonder about): How much revenue will the area contained in the new BigTIF generate if we just let it grow organically? PDFs should drop today addressing this, but ahead of those he said, “In fact, based on the analysis of our third party, we believe that this project could provide our city with over $1.7 billion of revenue over 30 years. This far exceeds the revenue that would be generated if we did nothing. Ladies and Gentleman, there is a cost for doing nothing.” Of course, I wouldn’t characterize rebuilding the downtown neighborhood currently occupied by the hulking Coliseum with an interesting and thriving mix of small-scale uses as “doing nothing.” But I am, admittedly, an optimist who has read at least most of Jane Jacobs’s book. Anyway, stay tuned for those PDFs and for an ordinance to hit Council’s agenda in the next couple of weeks.

Medicaid expansion in Virginia went live yesterday, and Bridget Balch at the Richmond Times-Dispatch says a record number of folks are calling in to figure out what’s what. This is a big deal! Before yesterday’s expansions, Virginia’s Medicaid qualifications were embarrassing and draconic. As Virginia Interfaith Center’s Kim Bobo says in the aforelinked article, “[Medicaid expansion] puts flesh on the Golden Rule.”

Mark Robinson at the RTD reports that Councilmember Hilbert will not seek out a second term as council president. The president is elected by their peers, and is tasked mostly with running meetings and assigning members to committees. Robinson calls the position “largely ceremonial,” but I think that’s just a reflection of how Hilbert currently treats the role. A strong president manages the flow of meetings and could make Council, as a whole, more effective.

Is GWAR Richmond’s most interesting export? Probably! Here are some of them talking trash on the...Condé Nast salad bar?

Daylight saving time is dumb and goes into effect on Sunday. Clocks fall back one hour for archaic, farm-based reasons and most people get an extra hour of sleep. Lots and lots of the world does not truck with DST, and they get by fine!

This morning's longread

Italy’s Oldest Instrument Hints at Sounds of Prehistoric Rome

I love this kind of thing! Using science and creative brains to recreate, in this case, instruments from bizarre and unidentified artifacts. I’m reminded of this recent episode of 99% Invisible where they talked to the artists who draw dinosaurs.

More recently, Mr. Maioli has been holding daily workshops in antique music at the archaeological site at Paestum, near Naples in southern Italy, which is home to three ancient Greek temples. “Have you ever heard the sound of stones?” Mr. Maioli asked during one recent workshop, while a group of children sat evidently entranced by his ability to draw intricate sounds from a variety of objects, including shells, bones and horns, feathers, and seeds. Many everyday objects were used in prehistoric times to make music, he explained, a fact that archaeologists often forget.

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Good morning, RVA: Coliseum PDF, RPS scholarships, and RRHA renovations

Good morning, RVA: BigTIF, electric buses, and High Life on tap