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

Good morning, RVA: No cigarette tax, cash bail changes, and community art projects

Good morning, RVA! It's 56 °F, and today you should expect a pretty good chance of rain throughout the day.

Water cooler

The cigarette tax did not pass last night, failing with a 3–6 vote: YES: Hilbert, Larson, Agelasto; NO: Addison, Gray, Robertson, Newbille, Trammell, Jones. Mark Robinson at the Richmond Times-Dispatch has a writeup of the long and arduous meeting, and whenever the City posts the video online, I really recommend you pull it up, skip all of the public comments, and listen to your Councilmember defend their vote.

There was lots and lots of heartfelt rhetoric about supporting our schools, our teachers, and our kids. But, at the end of the day (literally, it was after 10:00 PM following a 12 hour meeting—when we all make our best decisions, right?), folks found plenty of reasons to continue massively underfunding school maintenance for another year. Council’s arguments against the cigarette tax ranged from regional concerns (Addison), to using the funds to fight addiction instead of leaky roofs (Robertson), to not wanting to be the deciding vote (Jones), to the specter of Altria leaving the City (Trammell), and to the lack of a comprehensive funding solution (Newbille).

So what’s next? Robertson committed to introducing legislation to set up Yet Another Commission To Study Schools by the next Council meeting—that’s May 14th, and we should keep her accountable to that. Newbille promised to put every funding source (including property tax!) on the table and come up with a way to fund school maintenance to the tune of $30 million annually—let’s check back in on that effort in a couple of months, too. Finally, there’s this fascinating tweet from Councilmember Jones suggesting that some of these plans are already in motion, so that’s something.

It’s beyond ludicrous that Richmond still does not have a cigarette tax in 2018, and I’m frustrated by a lot of what I heard from the dais last night. Maybe some of these long term plans that Council is cooking up will pay off, and the meals tax will get construction of a few new schools under way, but, as Superintendent Kamras said last night, there are thousands of issues with the existing buildings today and no resources to fix them for yet another year.

Frank Green at the RTD says Richmond’s Commonwealth’s Attorney’s office will “stop seeking cash bail bonds for defendants awaiting trial.” This is a complicated issue, but it sounds like getting rid of cash bail moves us towards a more equitable justice system.

Art on Wheels has an opportunity for you to vote on their next Big Idea public art project. Choose between Cast Cube Benches, a Metal Enameled Pyramid, and Music Boxes. Each of these is a participatory community art project and would show up in public spaces around town. I have voted and am now kind of emotionally invested in the results of this contest.

The Cheats Movement has some great photos from the ICA opening and block party this past weekend. Remember! The ICA is free and open to the public, but you’ll need a timed ticket for the main exhibit, Decleration, for the next couple of days.


  • Squirrels battled Bowie but lost, 2-4, and will continue the series tonight at 6:35 PM.
  • Nats got squashed by the Giants, 2-4, and try to climb the beanstalk again tonight at 10:15 PM.

This morning's longread

The end of the architect profile

I love writing about writing, and this feels timely given our newly-opened, starchitect-designed building.

Architecture does not benefit from layers of publicists, an emphasis on looks, designer labels on the black sweaters. Something, anything, to keep your reader from the truth: that your subject is an abstraction-spouting workaholic with a huge team of people who have drawn, rendered, detailed, supervised, constructed the work in question. The profile lives to serve the simplest possible narrative of architecture: one man, glorious inspiration, a building.

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

Good morning, RVA: Schools data, taxes & budgets, and a really BIG show

Good morning, RVA: A City Hall feast, violin Olympics, and international films