Good morning, RVA! It's 40 °F, and there’s a chance of snow and rain this morning with the latter continuing throughout the day into the evening.
City Council’s budget work sessions begin today at 9:00 AM! The schedule, as always, is subject to immediate and mysterious change, but today Council will hear from Richmond Public Schools; Public Utilities; Economic Development; Housing and Community Development (note the split in those formerly combined departments); Planning & Development Review; and Parks, Recreation, and Community Facilities. This is an incredibly ambitious schedule, so I wish them luck. You can stream these meetings online, but I’ll be posting each one as an episode of The Boring Show podcast. Fascinating, hours-long budget chats automatically delivered right to your device of choice!
Garet Prior at Richmond Forward has an update on where we stand with Councilmember Agelasto’s proposed cigarette tax to fund (some) school maintenance. It sounds like we’ve got until at least the April 19th Finance Committee meeting to pull two Councilmembers from the following list off the fence: Addison, Gray, Robertson, Newbille, and Jones. Remember, this tax would not be used to take out new bonds and should 100% be done in conjunction with creating efficiencies in Richmond’s government; We have to save current money and make new money at the same time. If you’d like to tell your City Council representative to support the cigarette tax you can find their contact information on the City’s website (make sure you copy their liaison).
You should definitely listen to this episode of the Cheats Movement Podcast featuring Dr. Tressie McMillian Cottom (who is a Big Deal™) and 9th District Councilmember Michael Jones. The first half is a discussion of Black Panther, so, spoiler alert, but the second half is a fascinating look into how Jones thinks as a representative of the City’s 9th District. It’s a must-listen if you’re a City Council nerd (or anyone trying to advocate for anything in the City) and want some insight into what makes that guy tick. If you give it a listen you’ll hear the Councilmember’s fairly-hot take on the above-mentioned cigarette tax.
Erick Kolenich and Shelby Lum at the RTD have this great profile of local basketball star Isaiah Todd that’s mostly about his mother. Todd plays for the John Marshall Justices, who just won the state championship, and is the #3 sophomore in the nation (#1 at his position). Make sure you watch the video, too!
Meanwhile, out in Mechanicsville, the Washington Post has a piece about the effort to rename Lee-Davis High School. This is really not a good look for Hanover County Schools, and it’s now national news.
Speaking of Confederate Monuments, Mayor Levar Stoney and UR professor Julian Hayter were on 60 Minutes with Anderson Cooper talking about our continued veneration of these things. Honestly, it’s not a great look for Richmond, either, but it is great hearing the Mayor calling these statues, on national TV, “the fake news of their time.”
Alright, Michael Martz at the Richmond Times-Dispatch has a General Assembly status update...kind of. The Governor says he’ll introduce a new budget that still includes Medicaid expansion and “the significant investments that the savings from expanded coverage will generate to fund key priorities like education, workforce development and salary increases for public servants, with a particular focus on men and women in law enforcement.“
It’s tournament time! The seeds for the 2018 NCAA tournament have been set, and you need to get your bracket filled out ASAP.
- #8 Hokies face #9 Alabama on Thursday at 9:20 PM.
- #1 Wahoos take on #16 UMBC on Friday at 9:20 PM.
This morning's longread
With teacher strikes and that Betsy DeVos interview on 60 Minutes, here’s a good piece from last year about why public school is important.
My point here is not to debate the effect of school choice on individual outcomes: The evidence is mixed, and subject to cherry-picking on all sides. I am more concerned with how the current discussion has ignored public schools’ victories, while also detracting from their civic role. Our public-education system is about much more than personal achievement; it is about preparing people to work together to advance not just themselves but society. Unfortunately, the current debate’s focus on individual rights and choices has distracted many politicians and policy makers from a key stakeholder: our nation as a whole. As a result, a cynicism has taken root that suggests there is no hope for public education. This is demonstrably false. It’s also dangerous.
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