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

Good morning, RVA: Medicaid expansion!, a rezoning survey, and baklava

Good morning, RVA! It's 73 °F, and we’ve got highs in the upper 80s and, again, a pretty decent chance of rain starting after lunch and continuing throughout the day.

Water cooler

Virginia, we have a budget and it includes Medicaid expansion! Michael Martz at the Richmond Times-Dispatch has the details along with some grumpy quotes from Republicans who were unsuccessful in keeping health care from hundreds of thousands of Virginians.

Bon Secours has submitted a request to rezone (!) the old Westhampton School property to B-7 (PDF), which permits a metric ton of uses, so 1st District Councilman Andreas Addison put together an online survey to see how folks felt about each and every possible use. The responses, over 700 of them, are fascinating (PDF). I’m not saying these results make up a good representation of impacted 1st District residents—online surveys aren’t the best at that—but they are interesting to flip through. For example, more than half the folks filling out the survey were 51 years old or older. 39% have lived In the district for over 20 years! Respondents were slightly in favor of a brewery producing less than 100,000 barrels per year, but not really supportive of a similar sized distillery. Catering: yes; Funeral home: no. 13% of respondents were good with a marina, which, what? For more information on what it all means, I’ll let the Councilman analyze the rest of the results for you (PDF).

I have a lot a lot of thoughts and feelings about GRTC’s decision to remove bus service from a single block of W. Grace Street due to the complaints of a very small number of very loud people. If GRTC can find a mostly cost-neutral solution—or a clever way to provide more useful service with the additional cost of moving these routes—I'll stick to just rolling my eyes. But if the City ends up spending significant money to remove bus service from one of the richest parts of town—either in cash or cuts to bus service elsewhere—I will be very upset. For now, though, I will just keep rolling my eyes into the back of my head until I hear how much a permanent change will cost.

The Mayor has hired Eva Colen as a Senior Policy Advisor for Youth Initiatives. Colen comes from an education background, most recently starting up local advocacy nonprofit Virginia Excels. Here’s a fascinating bit: Her position is funded for 18 months by The Community Foundation. You can read the full release from the City here (PDF) or follow her on Twitter.

Speaking of education stuff, the Education Compact Team meets tonight. You can see the agenda over on RPS’s BoardDocs site, which means you can sort of get a vague idea of what’s happening if you squint real good. My kingdom for a dedicated place to go for all Education Compact related information!

The new East End grocery store officially has a name, but I doubt that’ll keep folks from calling it “the new East End grocery store” for the next couple of years. Check out its snazzy new website to learn more.

Two bike-related reminders! Tomorrow is the rescheduled Bike to Work Day. Join the Mayor and a bunch of other people on bikes at Carytown Bicycle Company at 7:30 AM for some coffee and snacks. After everyone gets fueled up, roll out to the Downtown YMCA via the new Franklin Street bike lane for a ribbon cutting ceremony. Bike to Work Day is, of course, part of RVA Bike Month, which wraps up with the East End Bike Party and RVA Bike Month Awards—also tomorrow. You’ll have your bike handy since you biked to work, so hop on that thing and head over to the Sarah Garland Jones Center in the East End tomorrow at 5:30 PM for a great big bike hangout.

🚨 Spanakopita Alert 🚨 The Richmond Greek Festival begins today and runs through Sunday. I am never not surprised that they own the greekfestival.com domain. That’s how you know this is a super legit Greek festival, y’all.


  • Squirrels got postponed last night, but will try again tonight at 6:35 PM. Tickets are available online.
  • Nats swept Baltimore with a 2-0 win and play a one-off against Atlanta tonight at 7:35 PM.
  • Caps beat the Golden Knights, 3-2, in the Stanley Cup Finals.

This morning's longread

‘I Was a Storm of Confetti’: Michael Pollan On Why It’s a Good Idea To Lose Your Self

Michael Pollan, author of The Ominvore’s Dilemma, goes on a new adventure—this one with psychedelic drugs!

But the toad –– this is the most bizarre psychedelic I know of, or that I certainly have had experience of. It is the smoked venom of the Sonoran Desert toad. How did anyone ever figure that out, that the venom of this toad was not only psychoactive, but in fact it’s poisonous unless you smoke it, which burns off the toxins and leaves the chemical 5-MeO-DMT? The ingenuity of humankind is really on display here. They milk this toad. It doesn’t hurt the toad. It’s a big toad that lives in the Sonoran Desert, as the name suggests. You basically gently squeeze the glands that are on the side in the legs of this toad. The spray of venom you catch on a piece of glass. Overnight, it dries and crystallizes, and it looks like brown sugar. Then, you put it in a vaporizer and smoke it. It’s the most powerful and instantaneous trip you can imagine. You are basically taking one big gulp of this gas. Before you’ve exhaled, you are just lost to the world. You feel the sense, not only of your ego dissolving, but of all fixed landmarks dissolving: matter, your body, the room, any sense of place. Any orientation in space or time is gone.

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Good morning, RVA: A news paywall, absent councilmembers, and new music

Good morning, RVA: Medicaid rap battle, rezoning, and gas station food