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

Good morning, RVA: More on evictions, Council debates cuts, and a charming video

Good morning, RVA! It's 44 °F, and, with highs in the 70s, today looks like the beginning of a string of stunning days.

Water cooler

Remember when the New York Times did that feature on eviction rates across America but focused on Richmond? Well, Ned Oliver at the Richmond Times-Dispatch digs in some more on the local situation, and it’s bad news all the way down. While the article leads with practices at the region’s public housing authority, this bit about the privately-owned Weinstein Properties seems particularly nefarious: “Hampton-based Senex Law, which represents Weinstein Properties, advertises wholesale pricing on its eviction filings and an online system that lets apartment managers take their tenants to court with a few clicks. The firm filed more than 20,000 civil claims for eviction last year – four times more than any other lawyer in the state.” Take the time to read this story, save it away, remember it, and then thank Ned Oliver for writing it. This feels like a piece of journalism that will get some changes made at these private companies but possibly even at the General Assembly. P.S. The third to last paragraph points out the real problem, which is an entirely different story: In Richmond, “A lot of people don’t make enough money to afford housing.”

City Council will get the band back together for another budget work session today, just a couple days after they decided to snatch away money dedicated for public art to pay for district-specific projects. You can listen to them have a fairly cavalier discussion about using the approximately $3 million dollars of arts funds to balance their CIP budget (capital projects, not ongoing expenses) on this episode of The Boring Show. The Mayor “is not pleased” with this decision and said he’ll “work to restore these dollars as soon as possible.” I hope he’s successful. Moving forward, assuming they stick to the agenda, today Council will consider a ton of amendments to balance their general fund budget (operating expenses, not capital projects). The list of possible reductions proposed by Council Staff is pretty intense (PDF) and includes some things I would be upset to see cut—like the funding for free bus passes for RPS high school students. Since these reductions were proposed by Council staff, I don’t think any one member is out there looking to delete these programs, but at some point someone must have asked for a giant list of all possible places to cut. What will Council ultimately decide to do? Who knows; you’ll have to tune in today to find out (or over the next couple of days if they can’t get it done during today’s session).

Have you seen the new, very Richmond Jason Mraz video? Style Weekly’s Laura Ingles has a behind-the-scenes of how it all came together. It is hard not to be incredibly charmed by this!

Bus-related FYI! GRTC will host their regularly scheduled informational Pulse public meetings today at 1:00 PM and 6:00 PM at the Children’s Museum. They’re the same meeting, so don’t feel like you need to go to both if you want to be on the bleeding edge of bus news.

Bike-related FYI! RVA Bike Month really kicks off this week! Check out the calendar and decide how you want to celebrate two-wheeled locomotion.


  • Squirrels picked up a couple of wins against Hartford and now settle in for a series with Altoona tonight at 6:35 PM.
  • Nats went 1-2 against Arizona over the weekend and begin a series against the Pirates tonight at 7:05 PM.

This morning's longread

Mass Extinction: The Early Years

The mass extinction is coming from inside the house!

Yet, tragically, our emancipation as a species from what might be seen as the thrall of nature also made us a force for planetary environmental destruction. With this metamorphosis in human culture, our relationship to nature in general and to animals in particular underwent a dramatic shift. During the late Pleistocene era (50,000–35,000 years ago), our ancestors became highly efficient killers. We developed all manner of weapons to hunt big game, from bows and arrows to spear throwers, harpoons, and pit traps. We also evolved sophisticated techniques of social organization linked to hunting, allowing us to encircle whole herds of large animals and drive them off cliffs to their death. The Paleolithic cave paintings of the period in places such as Lascaux record the bountiful slaughter: mammoths, bison, giant elk and deer, rhinos, and lions. Some of the first images created by Homo sapiens, these paintings suggest an intimate link between animals and our nascent drive to imagine and represent the world. Animals filled our dream life even as they perished at our hands.

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Good morning, RVA: A Pulse opening date, a meals tax wall of text, and some neat postcards

Good morning, RVA: Stealing public art, beer dogs, and bike month