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

Good morning, RVA: The state budget, body cam footage, and Strava data

Good morning, RVA! It's 42 °F, which does indeed seem like a February temperature. Expect highs today around 60 °F and lots of clouds in the sky.

Water cooler

The two houses of the General Assembly, not so alike in dignity, in fair Richmond, where we lay our scene, from ancient grudge break to new mutiny by Republicans in the House of Delegates who support and have included Medicaid expansion in their version of the Commonwealth’s budget! The WaPo has a Shakespeare-free write up of the current state of Virginia’s budget impasse: The House of Delegates has passed a bipartisan budget that includes $420 million of federal money to expand Medicaid, while the Senate has made $420 million of cuts so they don’t have to expand Medicaid. Senator Janet Howell puts it well: “We’ve cut student aid, public safety, mental-health programs, programs for the disabled, programs to have a reliable election system. And why have we made these cuts? We’ve made them to deprive low-income people of health care.”

Laura Ingles at Style Weekly was at a recent meeting of our local chapter of Moms Demand Action For Gun Sense in America. On hand was Virginia Secretary of Public Safety and Homeland Security Brian Moran. He acknowledged that while Virginia Republicans’ dark fascination with guns (those are my words) has thus far prevented any meaningful gun violence legislation, he thinks we’re at a tipping point.

Aaron Thomas from WTVR has a quick piece about Chesterfield’s Commonwealth’s Attorney no longer assigning staff “to misdemeanor criminal offenses and traffic infractions in the lower court.” They cite reviewing police body camera footage as one of the reasons they’re simply running out of time and person power to prosecute these cases. This is not an uncommon complaint! A couple years back, when Richmond Police started rolling out their own body cameras, lack of resources was one of our Commonwealth’s Attorney’s major concerns when asking for more money from City Council. Body cameras generate a ton of footage, and that makes it tough for understaffed offices to process. This is, of course, not any sort of judgment on the value of body cameras. The Commonwealth’s Attorney will present their needs for this year’s budget to City Council during April 2nd’s budget session.

Inspired by this post on r/RVA, I made a quick side-by-side comparison of the Strava heatmap for running and biking in Richmond. It’s neat to see where people love to ride (down by the river) versus where they love to run (all over the Fan). Also, for extra credit, compare these maps with the racial dot map of Richmond and report back your (unsurprising) results.

Whoa, check out this nine-part speaker series about addiction, The Ache of Addiction, put on by St. James’s. The series kicked off this past Wednesday, but continues through March 21st with some really interesting speakers. John Donegan at RVA Mag has a recap of this week’s event and a preview of what you can expect moving forward.

These pictures from a recent River City Roller Derby practice are great. The Best Nickname Award definitely goes to “Sirius Block” of Fresh Meat. Roller derby continues to seem awesome.

I’ve never had a beer brewed by Beale’s out of Bedford, but I love that they’re distributing it in little, stubby bottles. Mike Platania at Richmond BizSense has the details.

A programming note update! Turns out I was wrong about the Richmond Times-Dispatch putting up an instant and omnipresent paywall. Yesterday, after I wrote a bit about my internal conflict on linking to paywalled RTD articles, I got an email from their subscription department. In part it said: “It’s important to clarify that there has been no change in our policy of allowing access to five local articles per month before asking users to subscribe. Access to non-local content remains unmetered. This week we have been in the process of upgrading our subscription-management features on Richmond.com, and the paywall has been taken down during the transition. The pay meter was reinstalled last night, but some subscribers received error messages when they tried to access the site this morning. Once we discovered the issue we immediately took down the paywall while we work to solve the problem.” I’m still having trouble accessing their site this morning (hence no RTD links today), but I need to remember that I should never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by technological malfunctions.


  • Rams host St. Bonaventure on Saturday at 8:00 PM in their penultimate home game.
  • Spiders welcome St. Joseph’s to the Robins Center on Saturday at 6:00 PM.
  • Hokies and Louisville get down to business at 1:00 PM on Saturday.
  • Wahoos square off against Pitt at 4:00 PM on Saturday.

This morning's longread

How a Belief in American Exceptionalism Is Making America Less Exceptional

Somehow, we’re too exceptional to take naps or long vacations? That’s garbage!

Somewhere along the line, though, the idea of American Exceptionalism evolved into a conviction that the U.S. as a country had little to learn from the rest of the world. That is why the word "nationalism" is much more positive in the U.S. than in Europe, where the word still reminds people of their continent's periodic flirtations with authoritarianism. That idea of exceptionalism is contained in the resurgently popular "America First" slogan, and the fact that fewer than two in five Americans have ever traveled abroad. It is why international news is usually an afterthought for most U.S. media, and why American politicians so often reduce foreign policy to a simple us-against-them calculus.

If you’d like your longread to show up here, go chip in a couple bucks on the ol’ Patreon.

Good morning, RVA: Vision Zero, an Affordable housing reading list, and invasive plants

Good morning, RVA: Supervisor Lynch, Black-owned restaurants, and a programming note