Good morning, RVA! It's 76 °F, and you should expect a hot, sunny Friday with highs in the mid 90s.
Well that was quick. Ned Oliver at the Virginia Mercury says the City has impounded all of the Bird electric scooters that popped up yesterday. I’m bummed, but, honestly, I can’t fault the City. Bird’s whole deal of dropping a bunch of scooters into a city without giving anyone a heads up is not appealing to me at all. But, as y’all know, I’ve been shouting from the rooftops to whoever will listen to me for the past couple of months that Richmond needs a scooter ordinance ASAP. Now we have no ordinance and no scooters, and folks are dissapointed. Moving forward, I hope to see an ordinance hit Council’s agenda for their September meeting and the return of the scooters before too long.
OH WAIT NOT SO FAST. Just after I finished writing that paragraph, I saw this post on reddit and a couple folks posting screenshots of the Bird app this morning. Birds are back, baby. See what I mean about not being super into their kinda of sketchy business practices? Get ready for some more scooter drama today.
Councilmembers Gray and Hilbert will hold a community meeting—this time one ostensibly open to all members of community—to discuss the Brook Road bike lane on September 11th. The timing of this meeting is important. A week later, on September 18th, the Land Use, Housing and Transportation committee will meet and consider the anti-bike lane ordinance (ORD. 2018-194). Assuming the committee makes a decision on the paper, it might could end up in front of Council on September 24th. So this meeting on the 11th sounds like one of the last, informal opportunities for community feedback.
Oooo look at this headline from Mark Robinson at the Richmond Times-Dispatch: “Dissatisfied with negotiations, Stoney says arena redevelopment plan won’t go to Richmond City Council in September” 💸. Fascinating, but still I await the final details so I can read and process everyone’s hot takes.
A bunch of folks are reporting on this plan from State Senator Stanley and local ballot referendum writer Paul Goldman to build new schools using internet sales tax money. The plan: take half of the $250–300 million in internet sales tax revenue (which the state now has access due to a recent Supreme Court decision) and finance $2–3 billion in bonds for public school “facility modernization and maintenance.” I don’t know how far $2 billion bucks get you in a state with hundreds and hundreds of buildings in need of replacement—Richmond Public Schools’ facility needs, for example, total more than $700 million alone. Why, locally and statewide, do we have to invent new ways to pay for our decades-long underinvestment in schools? If the State thought it was important to fund schools and school maintenance, they already have plenty of mechanisms to do so (aka raising taxes). They didn’t and don’t need to wait on the Supreme Court to decide anything at all. Paul Goldman calls the Supreme Court decisions and the new tax revenue a “once-in-a-lifetime political opportunity,” which is exactly correct. This is a political opportunity for state politicians. It’s a way for them to fund the bare minimum of school facility needs without having to say “I raised taxes” out loud.
Also on the schools tip, the Black History Museum will host Superintendent Kamras on Saturday for a conversation about “his interests, desires, and personal goals.” Free for RPS employees, Black History Museum members, and $8 for everyone else!