Good morning, RVA! It's 52 °F, and today looks like rain, rain, and more rain. Stay dry, folks!
A small Vision Zero update before we dive in: I couldn’t attend yesterday’s meeting and haven’t seen any media coverage of it yet, but I hear tell that the Safe & Healthy Streets commission voted 8–0 for the draft of the Vision Zero Plan (PDF). The commissioners made some verbal agreements to work on amendments to make the plan stronger before the next meeting.
Vanessa Remmers at the Richmond Times-Dispatch continues to report on fascinating, open-air budget discussions in Chesterfield County. Maybe I just wasn’t paying attention before now, but to have these push-and-pull budget conversations between the Board of Supervisors and the School Board out in the public is refreshing. An aside: There’s a couple quotes in here from Supervisor Jaeckle who’s skeptical about the County’s rising poverty rate. I mean, I just looked it up via the United States Census and the number of people living in poverty in 2000 was 11,586 compared to 24,148 in 2016. You can be skeptical all you want, but thems the facts.
Also in Chesterfield County, Mark Bowes says that County officials oppose a “budget amendment that would require the county to pay for more prosecutors to assist with reviewing police body cam videos.” Remember a little while back when Chesterfield prosecutors said they will just stop prosecuting misdemeanor offenses in lower court because they just don’t have the staff to get though all the bodycam footage? Of course, this budget amendment would impact Henrico and Richmond—both localities’ police departments have body cameras. Stay tuned for budget season in Richmond to hear about the impact on our Commonwealths Attorney’s office.
Here’s an early reminder from Laura Ingles in Style Weekly about next week’s Black Restaurant Experience, which begins on Sunday, March 4th. Things kick off with food trucks in Abner Clay Park to compliment special Sunday hours at the Black History Museum that’s just across the street. That sounds great, and the list of participating restaurants looks great, but I keep thinking about this not great bit from co-organizer Kelli Lemon about why not just participate in the existing Richmond Restaurant Week: “‘We got comments asking why we were making it for black restaurants only,’...Lemon goes on to note that there is already a Richmond Restaurant Week. She says that encouraged black owners to get involved, but there's a waiting list. ‘We tried,’ she says. ‘We don't want anybody to think we didn't try, and we'll continue to try. But we want to make sure we get exposure.’"
Jeremy Lazarus at the Richmond Free Press has a sneak peek at Paul Goldman’s magical ideas to fund school facilities without increasing taxes. He says the 27-page document will be published in a couple of days, so I’ll reserve further judgment until I can dig in. But I’ll tell you one thing: comparing the current mayor’s policies to those of Harry Byrd is not cool.
If you’d like to read a pretty dang negative take on the region’s big construction projects (one of which isn’t even a sure thing), I present to you this piece from Gary Robertson in Richmond Magazine.
Here’s today’s collection of national gun-related stories: Trump supported a bunch of liberal gun policies in a live, televised meeting; Walmart announced they will raise the age restriction for the purchase of firearms and ammunition to 21; DICK’S Sporting Goods said they’d no longer sell assault rifles, high-capacity magazines, and are also upping the age restriction to 21; and a Georgia school had to be evacuated after an armed teacher barricaded himself in his room and shot out the window.
- Rams lost a hearbreaker to George Mason, 80-81.
- Spiders beat UMass, 90-65.
- Wahoos take on Louisville at 8:00 PM.
This morning's longread
Here’s a short history of Black inventors and the role of the U.S. patent system.
Some black inventors achieved financial success but no patent protection, direct or indirect. Benjamin Montgomery, who was born into slavery in 1819, invented a steamboat propeller designed for shallow waters in the 1850s. This invention was of particular value because, during that time, steamboats delivered food and other necessities through often-shallow waterways connecting settlements. If the boats got stuck, life-sustaining supplies would be delayed for days or weeks. Montgomery tried to apply for a patent. The application was rejected due to his status as a slave. Montgomery’s owners tried to take credit for the propeller invention and patent it themselves, but the patent office also rejected their application because they were not the true inventors. Even without patent protection, Montgomery amassed significant wealth and become one of the wealthiest planters in Mississippi after the Civil War ended. Eventually his son, Isaiah, was able to purchase more than 800 acres of land and found the town of Mound Bayou, Mississippi after his father’s death.
If you’d like your longread to show up here, go chip in a couple bucks on the ol’ Patreon.