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

Good morning, RVA: Fewer guns please, sidewalk progress, and retro soda

Good morning, RVA! It's 34 °F, and highs today should hit 50 °F—but only around dinner time. Take advantage of today’s cooler temperatures for all of your cooler-temperature activities, because the week heats up from here on out.

Water cooler

Over the weekend, at the #MarchForOurLives, Superintendent Kamras tweeted, “I’ve been Superintendent of @RPS_Schools for 53 days. In that time, 6 of our students have been shot, 2 of whom have died. If that’s not the definition of a crisis, I don’t know what is. Enough is enough.” Earlier in the week the RPS School Board passed a resolution in support of a set of federal gun violence legislation (PDF), including an assault weapons ban, universal background checks, and a condemnation of arming teachers. Today in the Richmond Times-Dispatch, Michael Paul Williams reminds us that (for now) Richmond’s youth are impacted by gun violence in our streets and neighborhoods not in school buildings. There are lots of threads here, both locally and nationally, and I haven’t seen anyone pull them all together yet. And maybe that’s not the point. Maybe shifting the Overton Window and the tenor of conversation back into reality is what’s going on—it’s certainly needed. But ultimately we need some new policies to keep our cities, neighborhoods, and schools safe. What creative ideas to get guns out of our region will come from this moment? What can we do as localities stripped of power by the Dillon Rule? Will we need to wait until the next round of state-level elections? What will the 2019 General Assembly session bring? So many questions!

Zoning and rezoning update! Ned Oliver says the ordinances to upzone parts of Manchester passed City Council last night. Denser development, taller buildings, fewer parking spots! Also, I’m going to guess that the sidewalk resolution (RES. 2018-R025) passed as well since it ended up with eight co-patrons (everyone but Councilmember Trammell). Now we wait a polite amount of time before checking in with the CAO and the Mayor’s administration to see what kind of regulations they’ve come up with. Remember, a resolution, unlike an ordinance, is not an enforceable law, but it does give us some ground to stand on if we need to go complain to the Mayor. Luckily, it sounds like he’s supportive, nay, even excited, about the resolution!

I haven’t listened to yesterday’s budget work session yet, but the RTD’s Justin Mattingly was there and has a schools-focused recap. The vibe of the conversation, at least as it’s presented in this piece, tells me that there’s still an extreme dearth of trust between City Council and the schools. In fact, I’m not sure what says “dearth of trust” more than Council spending a chunk of change to hire an auditor specifically focused on schools. In addition to running a school system, Superintendent Kamras has a huge stack of political work to do to rebuild trust between those two parts of government, and I wouldn’t want that job in one million years.

OK, OK, OK, I am officially into this resurrection of Climax, an old Richmond soda brand. Soda seems like the next natural extension of Richmond’s obsession with brewing things, and I’m here for it. Mike Platania has more details in Richmond BizSense.

This morning's longread

The House That Spied on Me

From Patron Julie comes this slightly disturbing article about some of the privacy perils of home automation. I love the format of this article, but, as someone who dabbles in home automation, this is not my experience! As I write this, my living room lights have slowly turned up telling me that it’s time to get to work, and I’m drinking tea for which the electric kettle had boiled water before I even got downstairs this morning. It’s all pretty neat (minus the terrifying privacy implications, of course).

“The camera’s not working,” I texted my husband. He replied that he had unplugged it. “It was staring at me while I made coffee,” he texted back. I told him I needed it plugged in for the story to monitor the data flows and he said he would do it. But as the days passed in Spain it remained offline and I stopped bothering him about it. (The acceptance of complete surveillance had not been part of our marriage vows.)

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Good morning, RVA: County stuff, barcades, and parks

Good morning, RVA: Violence, pedestrian safety, and equity