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

Good morning, RVA: East Marshall Street Well, an intent to rezone, and pipeline permits

Good morning, RVA! It's 37 °F, and there’s a good chance of rain beginning this afternoon and continuing through the evening. In fact, we’ve got a pretty decent shot at a rain-filled weekend. Enjoy!

Water cooler

Michael Paul Williams at the Richmond Times-Dispatch writes about the East Marshall Street Well Project, and how this is an opportunity for VCU to lead rather than simply do damage control. If you’re unfamiliar, this is a project to properly memorialize the Black people whose graves were robbed and bodies used for medical research by the Medical College of Virginia during the 19th Century. Back in the 1990s, 50 bodies were found at the bottom of well during a VCU construction project, and the University is just now getting around to figuring out an appropriate response. I agree with Williams, there are so, so many things Richmond and Richmond institutions could choose to lead on if we wanted to—especially on matters or race and reconciliation.

Two small Coliseum notes today! Mark Robinson reports on a local man trying to get a court to force Mayor Stoney to release the proposed Coliseum redevelopment plans. I’m of a couple minds about this. First, FOIA is not all-powerful and there are exemptions carved out for decent reasons. Second, I really do think that we’ll have the final proposal in our hands relatively soon. Third, I just listened to this Reply All episode about the Foxconn plant being built in Mount Pleasant, and it is absolutely terrifying. I think if the people of Mount Pleasant had someone with the legal experience to do this sort of court-related FOIA business they may have had more information around which to organize and advocate. So, ultimately, good work Local Man, I think. The second fascinating Coliseum thing: The Planning Commission will consider a resolution to declare the intent to rezone the Coliseum Mall district. This is a necessary step before the actually zoning change can be introduced, and, I think, points to the relatively short timeline until we have a Coliseum redevelopment proposal in our hands. My first take on this was “AHHH! CART BEFORE THE HORSE!”, but this seems mostly procedural, and Planning Commission will still need to approve whatever actual zoning change is submitted by the Mayor.

Robert Zullo at the Virginia Mercury has some news about the Feds taking away another permit from Dominion as they seek to build their Atlantic Coast Pipeline. This quote, from the court, is a zinger: “A thorough review of the record leads to the necessary conclusion that the Forest Service abdicated its responsibility to preserve national forest resources. This conclusion is particularly informed by the Forest Service’s serious environmental concerns that were suddenly, and mysteriously, assuaged in time to meet a private pipeline company’s deadlines.” Yikes. They also quoted from The Lorax, which, sure. Anyway, you should take a minute to read Zullo’s piece as it’s a good recap of where we are with this whole pipeline process. Then, after hearing all about the US Forest Service and nodding your head knowingly (but unconvincingly), take nine minutes and watch this explainer on what even is federal land.

Government Northam continues to announce little budget bits and bites ahead of his full budget address on the 18th. This most recent one includes $36 million to increase the number of counselors at schools. You can read the release here.

This morning's longread

What Happens When You’re Convinced You Have Bad Genes

Brains are weird. But bodies are weird, too, apparently!

The Stanford team devised two experiments. About half of the participants got a result—a fake one—for a gene linked to exercise, then had to run on a treadmill. The other half got a result for a gene linked to hunger, then had to drink a 480-calorie smoothie. Those told they had the “worse” version of the genes quit running earlier and reported feeling hungrier than those told they had the “better” version of the genes. Curiously, even their lung function and hunger-hormone levels appeared to change.

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Good morning, RVA: Final Council meeting of the year, budget analysis, and it’s full of stars

Good morning, RVA: Chesterfield’s bizarre take on buses, Medicaid expansion is powerful, and show flyers from the past