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

Good morning, RVA: Budget season finale, Monument conversations, and downtown development

Good morning, RVA! It's 58 °F, and today looks beautiful with highs in the mid 70s and a few clouds in the sky. Great weather continues throughout the week!

Water cooler

Mark Robinson has written up a nice recap of this year’s budget season and begins with this excellent sentence: “After 40 hours of deliberations spanning six weeks, the Richmond City Council did not make a single cut to the $715.3 million general fund budget Mayor Levar Stoney proposed in March.” I’m not trying to suggest that Council’s success should be measured by how much their budget differs from the Mayor’s (I’d disagree with that sentiment a lot), but there was sooooo much consternation among Council over what to add, what to cut, and how to balance. To end up cutting nothing at all seems entirely anticlimactic and makes me feel exhausted—and all I did was listen to their meetings! Robinson also does a good job at explaining the Capital Improvement Program shenanigans that, in my opinion, did some lasting damage to Council and the Mayor’s Administration’s working relationship. I hope they get over it quickly, because the Education Compact team has two meetings coming up this month, and I’d love for everyone to head into to those meetings ready to work—not nursing budget-related wounds. Throughout the season, school facilities and maintenance funding have remained the biggest tension point, and I still believe that only by interacting with each other like regular humans can School Board, City Council, and the Mayor come up with a path forward on schools. The Education Compact provides them the opportunity to do just that.

Speaking of the Education Compact and the path forward for schools, Jesse Perry at RVA Dirt has done a heckuva a job pulling together a master list of schools-related PDFs. There’s audits dating back to 2007, facilities plans going back to 2002, and strategic plans from eight years ago. You better believe I have stored this page away in my Database of PDFs. I don’t agree with her on everything, but I’m with Perry on this: After a decade, Council’s constant requests for more audits, more studies, and more plans seem like a way to deflect, defer, and delay progress rather than to move forward on schools.

The Mayor’s Monument Avenue Commission is back in action and will hold two public meetings: The first on May 10th from 6:00 – 8:30 PM at the Richmond Main Library (101 E. Franklin Street), and the second on May 19th from 10:00 AM – 12:30 PM at MLK Middle School (1000 Mosby Street). At these meeting, the Commission will “review community input provided during recent small group meetings and [will] receive additional public comment as the commission concludes its public engagement phase and prepares to compile its report to the mayor.” The City plans to stream and record these meetings so you can watch from the comfort of your own couch should you choose to do so.

Planning Commission will meet today to consider this neat mural by Hamilton Glass (PDF) on the Leigh Street Bridge aka the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial Bridge. That’s a big, gray stretch of street right across from MLK Middle School, and it could definitely use some color. Check out his instagram to get a better feel for what the final mural will look like.

Have you seen that huge crane in Jackson Ward? J. Elias O’Neal in Richmond BizSense gives you the what’s what on that and lots of other development going on downtown.

A lot of places already do this, but beginning today restaurants with more than 20 locations will need to post calorie counts on their menus. I can’t wait to see how menu designers cram calories counts into an already limited space! Vox has the all the details.


  • Squirrels won two of three over Reading and return home today to face Akron at 6:35 PM. Tickets are available online.
  • Kickers got beat by Bethlehem Steel FC, 1-3.
  • Nats went 2-1 against the Phillies, and start up a series with San Diego tonight at 10:10 PM.
  • Caps beat the Penguins, 6-3, to take another game in the series. They’ll face off tonight at 7:00 PM with a chance to put Pittsburgh away.

This morning's longread

Particle Physics Resurrects Alexander Graham Bell’s Voice

Hear Alexander Graham Bell from beyonnnnnnd the graaaaave!

Bell knew there was a distinct possibility of a patent fight with Edison, so on three occasions he had papers and experimental products sealed in tin boxes and deposited at the Smithsonian Institution for safekeeping. They were to be opened only with the approval of at least two of the three Volta Associates. Although Bell never used the material as evidence in a legal battle, the Smithsonian collection grew to include hundreds of sound recordings and notebooks from the Volta lab. These days, the Smithsonian, like many other museums, has to carefully balance the preservation of its collections with its ongoing research. Generally speaking, it’s not a good idea to destroy unique museum objects while on the quest for new knowledge, or to halt all research so as to preserve more objects. Most of the Volta recordings at the Smithsonian are one of a kind. They cannot be played, either because the original playback apparatus no longer exists or because to do so would permanently damage the record. For years, curators thought they had lost this sonic cultural heritage forever, and the objects sat mutely in storage.

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Good morning, RVA: Construction responsibilities, a possible bike path, and the Carytown Exchange

Good morning, RVA: Unaffordable housing, urban heat islands, and Friday Cheers