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

Good morning, RVA: Independent redistricting, a real bad editorial, and Big Christmas Weekend

Good morning, RVA! It's 41 °F, and today’s a bit warmer than the last couple of days, with highs in the mid 50s. You should expect a bit of rain throughout the weekend, and—you’d never expect this—highs in the 70s on Sunday. In December! OK!

Water cooler

OneVirginia2021 has released their proposed constitutional amendment to create an independent redistricting commission (PDF). The method for selecting commission members is really interesting and shoots for balance rather than being a-political—which, duh, the group of a-political humans that exists that would serve on a redistricting commission is probably a null set. After formed, the commission would then go about their work, prioritizing a bunch of factors: preserving boundaries and residential subdivision lines, creating districts with equal population, following contiguity and compactness, and not drawing districts “to favor or disfavor any political party, incumbent legislator, member of Congress, individual or entity, nor...to abridge or deny the ability of substantial racial or ethnic minority communities to elect representatives of their choice.” The General Assembly will redraw the Congressional maps in 2021, so if this sounds like something you can get behind, holler at your legislators by signing up with OneVirginia2021. Michelle Hankerson at the Virginia Mercury has more background if you need it!

Bridget Balch at the Richmond Times-Dispatch covers a recent eviction forum hosted by the Campaign to Reduce Evictions, which I wish would have found its way onto my calendar. She gets this excellent quote from Omari Al-Qadaffi, which, while about evictions, applies to transportation and all sorts of other policies: “We really won’t be able to solve the problem — or even be able to push the needle on it — if we’re not going to the community to have them inform the policy that we’re making.” Yes!

Yesterday, the RTD Editorial Board ran another stupid, disgusting, and offensive editorial suggesting that kids with autism shouldn’t attend public school. Today—in what’s become a fairly regular procedure for them of horribly offending the region, having to do some sort of mea culpa, and then moving forward like nothing happened—they’re devoting all of the Op-Ed page to publishing letters from readers. Their decision to do so does not erase their original awful choice to write and run the editorial. It doesn’t erase the further damage done to the trust the news side of the paper tries to build with Richmonders every day. It doesn’t erase the feeling folks with loved ones with autism felt when they read that garbage. And it doesn’t erase the emotional work reporters have to do to constantly defend their reporting. I mean, y’all. The RTD Editorial Board is in crisis, right? Is it just me that thinks this? I’m seriously starting to feel gaslit. It cannot possibly be normal for your town’s paper of record to screw up so hard and so continually. Right?? 😱???

Speaking of solid letters to the editor, here’s one on pedestrian safety that closes with “Doesn’t the city have a responsibility to protect its citizens—both children and adults—before another person is killed or injured?” Mmmmmhmmmm.

This weekend is Big Christmas Weekend in Richmond! We’ve got the Grand Illumination tonight paired with the grand opening of the 17th Street Market. Then on Saturday, at 10:00 AM, the Christmas Parade heads down Broad Street (rain or shine). As you can imagine, the latter has a big impact on The Pulse and many other bus routes which you should read about over on GRTC’s website.

This morning's longread

‘Birds Aren’t Real’ Is the Conspiracy Theory Mocking QAnon

This is not the best written or most enlightening longread I’ve ever linked to but, 1) it’s Friday, and 2) I believe that, in today’s bizarre fact-free world, this sort of response is 1,000 times more effective than a point-by-point rebuttal.

Some people believe Earth is flat. Some people believe the Trump administration is using a seedy internet forum to send coded messages about Satanic pedophile rings. Now a movement of young memers is parodying more established conspiracy movements with an outlandish claim of its own. The U.S. government eradicated all birds in 2001 and replaced them with surveillance drones, the Birds Aren’t Real movement alleges. The movement (which conveniently sells merchandise) is thriving off young people’s sense of the absurd in the Trump era, the movement’s founder said. It’s disinformation as performance art. And it’s only half as ridiculous as some earnest conspiracy theories.

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Good morning, RVA: The March for More, DSS, and Pickleball

Good morning, RVA: Rules is rules, chicken ordinances, and Boots Riley