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

Good morning, RVA: Violence, bike share, and power

Good morning, RVA! It's 78 °F, and we have a heat advisory in effect today from 12:00–7:00 PM. Expect highs in the upper 90s but for it to feel 10 degrees hotter. Stay cool, stay safe, and stay hydrated.

Water cooler

Since Sunday, Richmond has seen three murders. On Sunday, August 26th, Shirley Washington, 78, was stabbed to death in her home at the 3800 block of Peyton Avenue. Later that same day, police were called to the 3000 block of P Street where they found Michael Allen, 41, shot to death. Finally, Krissia Henderson-Burrus, 21, the victim of a Saturday-evening double shooting on the 1100 block of Starview Lane, died on Monday.

You can see the full list of 2018 murder victims over on the Richmond Police Department website.

Richmond Public Schools Superintendent Jason Kamras sat down with the Richmond Times-Dispatch for a Q&A ahead of the start of the new school year (next week!). If you’ve been following schools since Kamras arrived, you’ll have heard a lot of this stuff before. One thing that seems obvious now, but I hadn’t yet thought about, is the part of his strategic plan to “[think] deeply about creating theme-based middle and high schools that are extremely rich and exciting for kids—an arts high school, a technology and engineering high school, a law and social justice high school.” This is a clever way to do “bussing” without really doing “bussing,” right? You mix up Richmond’s youth by topical interest and send them all around the City, and, ta da!, you’ve made a lot of progress in desegregating our schools. In Kamras’s words: “We have to look at rezoning and other measures like that as well, but the best way to integrate is creating attractive programs that will break up the neighborhood-defined racial segregation that exists. Transportation becomes a huge equity issue when you try to pursue something like that, so that’s going to have to be a huge investment as we think about that going forward.” That last sentence! Yes! Also, read more about the Richmond region’s really fascinating history with bussing over on Wikipedia.

Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring says the Lee County School Board can’t follow through with their ludicrous and dangerous plan to arm teachers because the state prohibits firearms on school grounds. You can read his full opinion here (PDF)—the extremely readable conclusion is at the bottom. Love this sick burn from Herring: “Virginia law expressly limits who may possess firearms on school grounds for safety purposes, and the General Assembly declined to enact bills presented every year from 2013 through 2017 to extend this authority to school teachers and administrators.”

Wyatt Gordon at RVA Mag has a fairly scathing take on RVA Bike Share, and they’re not wrong about any of it. Assuming City Council approves an ordinance regulating and allowing dockless scooters and bikes sometime soon, it’s hard to see how the current bike share system will keep up—even given their massive, years-long head start.

Style Weekly published their annual Power Issue. I’m always interested by how folks decide to define power and who they think wields it effectively. I’m interested: Who’s not on this list that you would have included?

I think this unnecessarily alarmist headline from WTVR is inspired by this summer’s Giant Hogweed news: “Poisonous and potentially deadly Jimson weed found in Scott’s Addition.” Giant Hogweed is an invasive and truly dangerous plant that you should learn to identify and stay far, far away from (PDF). Jimson Weed, on the other hand, is pretty common and has been found in the South since Jamestown. It is poisonous, but, as the Cooperative Extension says, “human poisoning results from sucking the nectar from flowers or consuming the seeds.” Basically, its a natural hallucinogenic that can definitely kill people stupid enough to eat it.

This morning's longread

Ghost Bikes: A Global Ritual to Memorialize and Protest Cycling Deaths

Unfortunately, you’ve probably seen one of these on Main Street where Corey Frazier was hit and killed by a driver earlier this year.

Over the past decade, ghost bikes have become part of a global ritual of bearing witness to cycling deaths. The all-white bikes, placed at locations of fatal crashes, serve as an infrastructure of grief—part memorial, part protest symbol—marking the individual lives lost and the remaining challenges that cities face as they aim to eliminate traffic fatalities altogether through Vision Zero plans.

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Good morning, RVA: Redistricting, after-school events, and don’t close a bike lane

Good morning, RVA: Mental health, Broad Street development, and Blackwell