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

Good morning, RVA: Meals tax, redlining, and a progressive rollercoaster

Good morning, RVA! It's 35 °F and icy. Later today, you can expect highs in the 40s with a bunch of sunshine to brighten your day.

As of this moment: Chesterfield, Henrico, and Richmond public schools are on a two-hour delay.

Water cooler

The 24-7 meals tax coverage continues! First, this piece by Jessee Perry at RVA Dirt is the single best piece I’ve read at explaining why we need the meals tax (school facilities are falling apart), are there any other viable options (no), and do we need to do this right now (yes). Perry digs into the CAFR, the Capital Improvement Plan, and runs some quick numbers to illustrate the type of costs we’re talking about to the average human—it’s all really well put together. Second, Brent Baldwin sat down with the mayor to talk through some of the concerns related to the proposed tax increase. A good takeaway from this interview for me: The mayor’s ongoing quest for a AAA bond rating (which does limit some of the less-financially sound ways we could pay for school facilities) isn’t just for honor and glory, but so we can find bonds at less cost aka its cheaper to borrow money. For whatever reason, my brain hadn’t yet put that together. Third, and most importantly, City Council will meet tonight at 5:00 PM for a special meeting to consider a bunch of papers related to the Larus Park / Chesterfield water facility situation. Immediately following that, the Organizational Development Standing Committee will meet with a single item on their agenda: ORD. 2018-017, the proposed meals tax increase. This is an excellent opportunity to get in front of your councilperson and tell them that you support the mayor’s proposal—especially if you live in a district represented by one of the fencesitters (3rd, 4th, 5th, and 8th). If this sounds incredibly stressful, don’t worry! You don’t have to get up there and Barbara Jordan these folks, just kindly thank them for their work and tell them that you support the meals tax for school facilities. If you want to get fancy, you can read through these talking points sent out by the mayor’s team (PDF). See you there!

In some County news that’s kind of the exact opposite of what’s going on in the City, Chesterfield County voted to reduce the amount of real estate tax they’re allowed to levy. REDUCE?? Jim McConnell at the Chesterfield Observer has the details, and folks who have been promised new programs and infrastructure are not happy. They’ll most likely remember this next time the Board of Supervisors says there’s no money for things like...oh, I don’t know...public transportation for example.

Justin Mattingly at the Richmond Times-Dispatch says Superintendent Kamras has fired a bunch of “high-ranking administrators.” Because it’s a personnel matter, this is totally a light-on-details, anonymously-sourced piece. But, intrigue! I assume we’ll learn more at some point—at least when dude hires a new cabinet.

Only the RTD editorial board could write an editorial about housing policy, quote Housing Opportunities Made Equal, discuss redlining, and then draw this conclusion: “Remind us again: Why do some people think more government involvement in the housing market will benefit the less-well-off?” Uhhhh maybe because private industries like realtors and mortgage lenders have a long and ongoing history of discriminatory policies, and its groups like HOME that fight to make those practices illegal at the federal and state level? Just last year Wells Fargo dropped $4 million into the Richmond region after HOME investigated them for underserving minority communities.

Kings Dominion has changed the name of the Rebel Yell to the Racer 75. Don’t tell me that our region’s Confederate veneration is a tourist attraction! The free market is moving forward led by...the rollercoasters?


The Eagles beat the Patriots, 41-33, winning their first Super Bowl ever.

  • Rams lost to Rhode Island, 68-81.
  • Spiders fell to George Mason, 75-79.
  • Hokies dropped a home game to Miami, 75-84.
  • Wahoos picked up a win over Syracuse, 59-44.

This morning's longread

The Drum Major Instinct

If you watched the Super Bowl, you may have seen this Dodge commercial that used some audio taken from a Martin Luther King Jr. sermon. This is that sermon in its entirety, and it includes several long passages about the dangers of consumerism and advertising—specifically car advertising.

Now the presence of this instinct explains why we are so often taken by advertisers. You know, those gentlemen of massive verbal persuasion. And they have a way of saying things to you that kind of gets you into buying. In order to be a man of distinction, you must drink this whiskey. In order to make your neighbors envious, you must drive this type of car. (Make it plain) In order to be lovely to love you must wear this kind of lipstick or this kind of perfume. And you know, before you know it, you're just buying that stuff. (Yes) That's the way the advertisers do it.

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Good morning, RVA: Meals tax moves on, Superintendent’s 100-day plan, and microtransit

Good morning, RVA: Google doodle, housing, and, of course, the meals tax