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

Good morning, RVA: Share your ideas, mayoral support, and pictures from Mars

Good morning, RVA! It's 38 °F, and today should be a bit cooler. Expect highs in the upper 40s and a lot more sun than yesterday.

Water cooler

Michael Paul Williams’s column in the Richmond Times-Dispatch today again looks at the proposed Coliseum redevelopment 💸 , and he again remains skeptical—although not about the need for a new arena. Williams also talks with Councilmember Gray who says a thing I agree with: “Nobody’s seen the plan. How can someone be for or against something they haven’t seen?” While we still lack the details to know exactly what’s going on with this massive project, it has started to smell more and more inevitable. But! I do truly believe that the details are up for debate—and, more than that, I believe that the Mayor really does want a ton of input on how to make the pieces of this project better. With that in mind, here are just a few of the pieces I’d like to see made better, in no particular order: The GRTC transfer station should be an easy and pleasant walk from the Pulse for all folks regardless of the day, time, or weather; the TIF should be way, way smaller and certainly not include any of Monroe Ward; and the Department of Social Service should be on a major corridor—10 minutes off of Route 1 behind a railroad track, some ponds, and a forest doesn’t count! These are just my opinions and the first ones that came to mind this morning; I’m sure you have your own. Precisely because we’re all bristling with ideas and opinions, I’m really looking forward to how the Mayor’s administration, City Council, and the developers of this project set out to do real public engagement after we know all of the details. I reserve the right to be real sad if they just don’t.

Hey, this is neat: The former Mayor of New York City David Dinkins wrote our mayor a letter in support of renaming the Boulevard to Arthur Ashe Boulevard. Dinkins and Ashe were friends, and the former remains the only Black mayor of New York City. The ordinance to make this happen, ORD. 2018-228, sits on the agenda for the December 18th Land Use, Housing and Transportation committee meeting (along with every other ordinance I’m interested in). Related, someone linked me to this well-designed, but seemingly anonymous, Arthur Ashe Boulevard marketing website.

Katie O’Connor at the Virginia Mercury has an update on Virginia’s Medicaid expansion and its work requirement. O’Connor says the state received over 1,800 comments, mostly expressing concern about the work requirement and only four in support of it! That’s a heckuva ratio.

You’re definitely gonna want to tap on this link to /r/rva and check out an excellent photo of Rocketts Landing and the river covered in fog.

Somehow it entirely escaped me that NASA landed a probe on Mars yesterday! The first pictures from the surface, as always, are incredible. But seriously, how did this happen without me knowing about it? Space stuff is my favorite stuff! If you have good space-related blogs I should read or Twitter accounts I should follow, please let me know so I’m not left out in the cold (of space) again.

This morning's longread

Japan's Hometown Tax

I cannot confirm the accuracy of any of this, but it’s neat and people are neat.

While not formally defined in the legislation for the Furusato Nouzei system, someone at a city government figured that it was just not appropriate to let someone just give ~3% of their salary to the city without receiving a token of appreciation in return. So they sent something back; a can of locally-produced plums, say, to remind you of the tastes of your childhood. And this was a beautiful idea! It directly improved the ability of the system to cement relationships between internal migrants and their hometowns, one of the declared goals of the system. It motivated people to fill out paperwork and float the city a bit of money for part of a year, because who doesn’t like free plums. (You might sensibly object that they aren’t free given the time value of money, but prevailing interest rates in Japan are indistinguishable from zero.) And it let cities specialize in marketing this initiative. And specialize they did.

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Good morning, RVA: Bike lanes, the best album, and pig poop

Good morning, RVA: Housing, crime, and transportation