Good morning, RVA! It's 38 °F, and highs will shoot back up into the upper 50s—maybe even break 60 °F! Keep an eye out for rain late this evening.
Happy February, and happy Black History Month! To begin our celebration, I’d like to link you to the Black History Museum & Cultural Center of Virginia—general admission tickets are just $10.
At 9:00 AM today, we’ll have a new Richmond Public Schools Superintendent! Congratulations, Jason Kamras! You can catch his swearing in on the 17th floor of City Hall in the School Board Room.
I think we should just accept that all we’ll be talking about for the next couple of weeks is the mayor’s proposed meals tax increase to fund school facilities. The Richmond Times-Dispatch’s editorial board has further thoughts on why we shouldn’t raise the tax—hanging most their argument on the shimmering mirage of efficiencies. I have even further thoughts on their thoughts, of course. First, the $150 million the meals tax increase seeks to make available in additional debt capacity is more than 20% of the City’s FY2018 budget ($681,213,792). This is not the kind of money you can find by giving everyone a copy of _Getting Things Done_ and automating a few spreadsheets here and there. It’s the kind of money you end up needing after years and years of deferred maintenance and neglect. Second, no one is against making the government more efficient! But you cannot tell me that even if we hired the Marie Kondo of government restructuring we’d reduce per-capital expenses for “general government administration” by 20 percent instantly. And we do need this money instantly or the need in next budget cycle will be even larger and our existing school facilities even crumblier. Third, while rezoning and consolidation of schools is not part of the current facilities plan, that plan only covers the next five years. I’d imagine once the immediate needs are taken care of—like buildings that are literally crumbling into dust as we speak—there will be an in-depth discussion on rezoning and consolidation. Remember! Several councilmembers are currently undecided about how they will vote on the meals tax (and those that are already for it could use your support)! If you think finally funding desperately needed repairs to our public school facilities is important, please email your councilmember and let them know! You don’t need to write a point-by-point takedown of every editorial you read (looking at you, self), just drop them a line, tell them you’re a constituent, and ask them to vote for the meals tax increase to fund school facilities.
Oh wait a second, 1st District School Board Member Liz Doerr talks about rezoning and consolidation way better than I just did. Here are the words I was looking for: “I believe that school consolidations need to be on the table and that we need to use every tool in our toolbox to stretch each dollar including historic tax credits and energy performance contracting. That said, if we wait until the process is perfect, we’ll miss out on another generation of students — the time to act is now.”
Finally, if you’d like to read about some of the folks in town that are supportive of the meals tax increase, head on over to this piece by Alix Bryan at WTVR. As the owner of Southern Kitchen in Shockoe says, “Kids can’t wait!”
RTD meteorologist John Boyer has this lovely article recapping January’s weather in Richmond. I am required by law to link to it simply because the featured image is a lovely graph of observed temperatures, the normal temperature range, record highs, and record lows—all in one pretty chart!
BridgePark, a proposed linear park that would stretch across the river in a High Line-esque way, has moved on to its next phase says Jonathan Spiers at Richmond BizSense. This next phase even includes research and planning that by the same structural engineering firm that worked on the actual High Line. Whoa!
- Hokies squeaked by Boston College, 85-80.
- Wahoos beat Louisville, 74-64.
This morning's longread
Good thoughts on one of the anecdotes Trump shared in his State of the Union speech this week.
Yet their story highlights some difficult truths about what it takes to help one another. Fast, dramatic changes made in the lives of morally unimpeachable people make for the simplest and most uplifting stories. But real human beings are notoriously morally compromised, and real change often takes long periods of time and repeated efforts to achieve. Moreover, the blameless and the blameworthy are threaded together, in life, in a web of inseparable interdependence. It simply isn't possible, in most cases, to maximally help the innocent while neglecting the accountable: The two groups are irreversibly entwined. They need one another. We all belong to each camp at various times in our lives, and we always need one another.
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