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

Good morning, RVA: A schools funding plan, after-school programs, and slot machines

Good morning, RVA! It's 62 °F, which seems kind of warm for winter. Rain may continue on and off throughout the morning, after which things should clear up a bit. As for the final week of 2018, looks pretty warm and mostly sunny. Not too shabby!

Water cooler

Remember how I spent the better part of the summer complaining about Paul Goldman’s unnecessary ballot referendum? Well, that unnecessary ballot referendum passed in November, and, with it, a December 31st deadline for the Mayor to present a plan to fully fund Richmond Public Schools’ capital needs without raising taxes or—and I always thought this part was overly dramatic—DECLARE IT IMPOSSIBLE. Well, impossibility be damned!, the mayor has delivered that plan ahead of schedule. If you were to ask me how to fully fund $800 million of school-related capital needs without raising taxes and with the City’s debt limit maxed out until 2024, I would have said “Uhhh, I guess we just wait until 2024 and then borrow some more money as our debt capacity opens up? Boom?” And, lo, this is what the plan appears to be. To me, this mostly seems like a Paul Goldman-required waste of time and something that could easily change because of a 1,001 future factors—things like school closings and rezonings, increased funding from the state, the mysterious fate of the proposed Coliseum redevelopment, or a set of elected officials willing to restore the property tax back to pre-Recession levels. As I’ve said in this space a trillion times before, I am often too dumb to understand municipal finance, so take everything I just said with a grain of salt. I’m more than willing—nay, excited—for folks to correct me on how this all intends to work.

Because there always forevermore must be Coliseum news, Ben Paviour at WCVE has a nice look at the history of the current Coliseum—including a few neat, old pictures that are worth your time.

Ali Rockett at the Richmond Times-Dispatch has a farewell interview with the now former Richmond Police Chief Alfred Durham. Replacing Durham will be one of the Big-Deal Decisions Mayor Stoney needs to make in 2019.

Earlier this year the Mayor and Richmond’s philanthropic community made a commitment to expand after-school programs for our City’s public school students. Justin Mattingly at the Richmond Times-Dispatch has the update on that initiative, which seems like it’s going pretty well.

I’m going to link to this new study out of VCU’s Center for Urban and Regional Analysis that looks at the impact of this past summer’s redesign of Richmond’s bus routes (PDF) mostly because it’d be weird not to. However, I’m not going to say much about it, though, because some of the maps really don’t make a lot of sense to me, and I have some concerns about the framing. I’ve got an email out to the folks involved to see if they can help me learn more about their methodology and intent behind the report.

Ned Oliver at the Virginia Mercury has some interesting details on the “skill games” you see at corner stores and in bars that look and function exactly like slot machines. I’m not a person who gambles and agree with Omari over on Twitter, that these things are probably pretty poisonous to their neighborhoods. But, I guess I’m willing to listen to counter arguments from folks who love these things that are clearly gambling despite what their manufacturers and lobbyist insist.

Cars, y’all! Here’s a video of one that just...caught on fire in Carytown? Scroll down a bit in that thread to read the owners comments about how it just randomly CAUGHT ON FIRE IN CARYTOWN??

A logistical note! It is the end of the year, and Good Morning, RVA will be taking a holiday break until 2019. If I find myself with an incredible amount of downtime and and irresistible desire to email several thousand people, I may put together a end-of-year recap. But no promises! The inertia of slow mornings with lots of coffee, a huge stack of PDFs, and a video of a fire playing on Netflix may just be too much to overcome. Either way, 2018 has been both an incredibly long and fascinatingly short year, and I’m very thankful for all of you who spent a few minutes each morning waking up and working through the what’s what of the day with me. See you in 2019!

This morning's longread

For the First Time in More Than 20 Years, Copyrighted Works Will Enter the Public Domain

In 2019 we get an entire year of material added into the public domain! That’s exciting and something I’ve been looking forward to ever since I read Lawrence Lessig’s book Free Culture, like, 15 years ago. You can download and read Free Culture for free, and you’ll understand why after reading it!

We can blame Mickey Mouse for the long wait. In 1998, Disney was one of the loudest in a choir of corporate voices advocating for longer copyright protections. At the time, all works published before January 1, 1978, were entitled to copyright protection for 75 years; all author’s works published on or after that date were under copyright for the lifetime of the creator, plus 50 years. Steamboat Willie, featuring Mickey Mouse’s first appearance on screen, in 1928, was set to enter the public domain in 2004. At the urging of Disney and others, Congress passed the Sonny Bono Copyright Term Extension Act, named for the late singer, songwriter and California representative, adding 20 years to the copyright term. Mickey would be protected until 2024—and no copyrighted work would enter the public domain again until 2019, creating a bizarre 20-year hiatus between the release of works from 1922 and those from 1923.

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Good morning, RVA: A temporary chief, river updates, and 40 local albums

Good morning, RVA: New schools on the way, pipeline updates, and episode 62