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

Good morning, RVA: A new policy advisor, another budget session, and some training camp ideas

Good morning, RVA! It's 41 °F, and it’s raining. It’s going to keep raining throughout the day, tapering off around dinner time. Stay dry, friends!

The RIchmond Times-Dispatch’s John Boyer has the mid-week snow details that you’re either dreading or excitedly awaiting. All signs point to some sort of wintery precipitation tomorrow morning. Will it ruin whatever you have planned for the day? Boyer says, “That snowfall should coincide with Wednesday morning’s commute, and possibly the afternoon drive, too.” Blerg.

Water cooler

The Mayor has hired a new senior policy advisor! Osita Iroegbu will join the administration and focus on “the mayor’s priorities in community engagement, diversity, and inclusion.“ As a former RTD reporter and current media-savvy human, Iroegbu has written a ton of things that you can find and read to get some insight into how she thinks. Here are two! First, a piece in Richmond Magazine about her experience growing up in Hillside Court and today’s challenges of making Richmond an equitable place for all children—note the critical use of the mayor’s “One Richmond” phrase. Second, this piece in the Richmond Times-Dispatch calling out Mark Holmberg for using coded, racist language—note that Holmberg’s original piece also ran in the RTD.

Mark Robinson at the RTD staked out Council’s second budget work session yesterday, and has a quick write up of the transpirings. In addition to more presentations from City departments, Council introduced some of their amendments—both increases and decreases—to the Mayor’s budget. The details of those proposals should drop today (along with the audio from the meeting), but, until then, you can read the aforelinked article for an overview.

There are some really fascinating things on today’s Land Use, Housing and Transportation committee agenda (PDF): Councilmember Robertson’s affordable housing resolution and a resolution from Councilmember Addison to update the zoning code (!) to remove parking requirements for certain types of businesses in certain types of businessy areas. That’s right! A move to reduce parking! He even cites the recent improvements to our transportation network as one of the reasons why no one will burst into flames if we don’t require every single restaurant downtown to have a bunch a parking spots. Additionally, the committee will consider a proposed $100 fine for folks caught evading fare on the Pulse. My personal opinion on that last one is that the fine should be similar to a parking ticket ($20–40). There’s no reason to penalize bus riders five times as much as we do car parkers.

Michael Paul Williams looks at City Council’s attempts to ghost on any future payments to the Washington NFL team—including debt service payments on the training camp facility. Council’s Finance Committee just recommended for approval RES. 2018-R021 (PDF), which says they’re against renewing the contract with the team “unless the terms and conditions of the Agreement are amended to ensure that all debt service and operating costs associated with the primary practice fields and related facilities.” With eight members co-sponsoring it should pass full Council easily. Now, since it’s a resolution, it’s a non-binding collection of thoughts and feelings, but it is certainly a statement of where the Council stands. Also, towards the bottom of the article, I’m into these councilfolk thinking of some out-of-the-box ideas for the facility once Washington bails on it.

This morning's longread

Black Kids Don’t Want to Read About Harriet Tubman All the Time

The Snowy Day forever, right?

The typical children’s picture books featuring black characters focus on the degradation and endurance of our people. You can fill nearly half the bookshelves in the Schomburg with children’s books about the civil rights movement, slavery, basketball players and musicians, and various “firsts.” These stories consistently paint African-Americans as the aggrieved and the conquerors, the agitators and the superheroes who fought for their right to be recognized as full human beings. Don’t get me wrong, I appreciate those kinds of books; our history deserves an airing with all children. But I’m not trying to have my kid float off into dreamland with visions of helping runaway slaves to freedom, or marching through a parade of barking dogs and fire hoses, or the subject matter of Billie Holiday’s “Strange Fruit” — yes, there is a children’s book devoted to this song protesting lynching.

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

Good morning, RVA: Snow!, the Superintendent’s cabinet, and empanadas

Good morning, RVA: Pedestrian deaths, a budget work session, and a horse barn