Good morning, RVA! It's 33 °F, and today we return to our regularly scheduled weather of highs in the 50s and plenty of sunshine.
Richmond Police are reporting that two people were murdered yesterday. At 3:15 PM they found an adult male fatally shot near Broad and 4th Streets. At 7:37 PM they found an adult male shot to death on the 1100 block of N. 29th Street. Police have not yet released the names of either victim.
Today, City Council meets for their third all-day budget work session. On the docket for discussion, assuming the docket has not changed since I last downloaded it: Social Services, Community Wealth Building, the Richmond Public Library, and Justice Services. During the afternoon session, Council will discuss amendments relating to Public Works, Information Technology, and some of Council’s offices. I’ll get the audio of these meetings up on The Boring Show, which you can subscribe to here, as soon as possible. Now that I’ve listened to the entirety of the two previous sessions, I want to take a second and award a few Ross’s Gold Stars For Exemplary Performance in a Budget Work Session. The first gold star goes to Vice President Cynthia Newbille who, filling in for President Hilbert, runs a lean and tight meeting. This year (so far) Council has stuck to their schedule, heard all of the presentations, and even finished early! The second gold star goes to Budget Director Jay Brown who seems to know everything and always has a kind answer to almost any question, kind or otherwise, posed by Council. The third and final gold star goes to the City itself. This year’s budget presentations are significantly less bleak than previous years. Departments have filled some needs, hired for vacancies, and are now planning for the future (I’m looking at you, Information Technology). The whole vibe of this season is totally different—and in a good way.
Nicholas Smith has an excellent letter to the editor in the Richmond Times-Dispatch about what exactly the Code of Virginia says about pedestrian right-of-way. I want to shout this part from the rooftops: “Richmond’s police department needs to better understand, communicate, and apply state law, which clearly and unambiguously states that while people walking shouldn’t dart out into traffic, they do have the right-of-way and people operating vehicles must yield to them. Our police should be protecting and serving us, which means championing safer streets so our friends and neighbors can stop getting killed for that most human behavior — walking.”
Related to pedestrian safety, one of the few things remaining on the agenda for tonight’s regularly scheduled City Council meeting is RES. 2018-R025 (PDF). This resolution directs the City’s CAO to develop regulation to require a safe place for pedestrians any time that a sidewalk is closed due to construction or demolition. I am very excited about this resolution and especially stoked to see it the consent portion of tonight’s agenda. Also of note at tonight’s meeting, the ordinance to allow the demolition (instead of renovation) of the Intermediate Terminal Building as part of Stone Brewery’s restaurant has been continued. The brewery’s co-founder Greg Koch has a YouTube video up talking through why the cost of renovating the building is not covered by the current agreement with the City.
Over in the RTD, Michael O’Connor says Henrico County public school has hired Monica Manns as the director of equity and diversity. This is a new position created after students at Short Pump Middle School posted a racist video on Snapchat that ended up in the national news. I absolutely love this regional focus on equity. We’ve got Henrico hiring a district-level person to coordinate and focus on equity, Richmond’s superintendent focusing his 100-day plan (PDF) around “engagement, equity, and excellence,” and Chesterfield’s Superintendent commissioning a report on equity that was presented to their School Board late last year (I couldn’t find the report itself this morning, if anyone has a link to the PDF, please share!). We’ve obviously got a long and deep history of inequity in the region, but it’s nice to see us working on that together and out in the open.
Marc Cheatham has a few photos from this past weekend’s #MarchForOurLives down at the Capitol, and you’ll find even more over on Never Again RVA.
This year’s college basketball Final Four is decided! #11 Loyola-Chicago, #3 Michigan, #1 Villanova, and #1 Kansas will duke it out this coming weekend for a chance at top honors.
- Kickers fell to the Indy Eleven, 0-1.
This morning's longread
Here’s a long collection of bits and pieces on the current state of Alien Affairs. It’s a pleasantly distracting read for a Monday.
Alien dreams have always been powered by the desire for human importance in a vast, forgetful cosmos: We want to be seen so we know we exist. What’s unusual about the alien fantasy is that, unlike religion, nationalism, or conspiracy theory, it doesn’t place humans at the center of a grand story. In fact, it displaces them: Humans become, briefly, major players in a drama of almost inconceivable scale, the lasting lesson of which is, unfortunately: We’re total nobodies. That’s the lesson, at least, of a visit from aliens, who got here long before we were able to get there, wherever there is; if humans are the ones making first contact, we’re the advanced ones and the aliens are probably more like productive pond scum, which may be one reason we fantasize about those kinds of encounters a lot less than visits to Earth. Of course, when the aliens are the explorers, we’re the pond scum.
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