Good morning, RVA! It's 13 °F, and highs today won’t make their way above freezing. Warmer, and wetter, weather returns over the next couple of days.
Apology time! This past Friday, I said I was skeptical of a new report out of VCU's Center for Urban and Regional Analysis because I disagreed with the methodology they used for a previous report about our region's bus network. That was unfair of me, and I apologize. Even worse, my unwritten implication was that all future CURA reports deserved my skepticism. That was also unfair. I use CURA's research in my work frequently, especially Understanding the Jobs-Affordable Housing Balance in the Richmond Region (PDF), and we're lucky to have them in town. I went too far last week, and I'll do better moving forward!
Today, City Council’s Land Use, Housing and Transportation Committee will meet, and all signs point to them finally voting on the ordinance prohibiting a bike lane on Brook Road (ORD. 2018-194). Introduced on June 25th of 2018, we’re now in month seven of Council refusing to deal with this ordinance and continually kicking its can down the road. If you’d like to let your Councilmember know that you support safer streets for all Richmonders and that they should too, Bike Walk RVA will help you out with that. It’s time for first the Committee and then Council to vote on this thing!
The Land Use, Housing and Transportation Committee will also hear an update on Richmond’s bike share program (PDF). Take the proposed timeline found in that PDF with a Coliseum-sized grain of salt, but the City hopes to have the entire fleet upgraded to electric-assist bikes by May and to have doubled the number of bikes and stations by “late summer 2019.” That would be rad, but I’ll wait and see until the bikes and stations actually exist before celebrating.
While we’re talking bikes and streets and Bike Walk RVA, the latter also has a way for you to contact your state legislators and let them know you support HB 1811 and SB 1341, the hands-free driving bills floating around the General Assembly. The GA moves at lightening speed, and I think one nefarious committee or another will hear at least one of these bills this week, so don’t delay! Read the full bills here: HB 1811 and SB 1341.
Unsurprisingly, this week’s email from Superintendent Kamras is worth your time. You can watch him testify in front of the GA’s Senate Finance Committee, advocating for more money for RPS (fast forward to ~16:30). Please do this. Also, I really enjoyed the transparency and directness of the section in his email about the 2019-2020 budget, which we should learn more about this week. The Superintendent is just a dang good communicator.
The Richmond Times-Dispatch’s Michael Paul Williams was at Evergreen Cemetery yesterday for the day of service and celebration, and has some thoughts on the slow rebirth of the once-neglected Black cemetery. I can’t figure out the right words to express it, but there’s something powerful about a cemetery—one that’s home to Maggie Walker and John Mitchell Jr.—slowly, naturally becoming a focal point of Richmond’s racial reconciliation work. The cemetery is filled with human-scale monuments to resistance and resilience and tended to by a growing team of community of volunteers. Monument Avenue, on the other hand, is spiked with monuments to slavery and white supremacy that stand tall but isolated and must be protected by governments and power washed by paid cleaning crews. Samantha Willis, writing for the Virginia Mercury, has the word on new state legislation that would dedicate more money to the preservation and maintenance of historic Black cemeteries.
Remember last week when, miraculously, the General Assembly Republicans let a $15 minimum wage out of committee? But there might have been some gross political reasons for them doing so? Patrick Wilson at the RTD has the details, including this sentence, which, at least to me, doesn’t have the intended effect: “They allowed the bill to get to the Senate floor this year to send a message to the [Northern Virginia Chamber of Commerce] about what could happen if Democrats take control of the Senate this fall, said Jeff Ryer, an aide to Senate Majority Leader Tommy Norment, R-James City.” Sounds...fine?
I’m late on letting y’all know about this, but Initiatives of Change is hosting a two-day event for the National Day of Racial Healing, the second of which is today. Head over to Studio Two Three (3300 W. Clay Street) between 2:00–10:30 PM. It sounds like there will be a ton of stuff going on throughout the day, including “Artivism actives for children & youth from 2:00–4:00 PM.”
This morning's longread
What Happened to CongressEdits? The Thrilling Life and Untold Death of Twitter’s Most Important Wikipedia Bot
This entire thing is fascinating, as is the entire idea of newsy blog about Wikipedia.
On Thursday, September 28, a journalist alerted Summers that a CongressEdits tweet was going viral. This was nothing new, and Summers didn’t investigate until the next morning—when he found that Twitter had suspended the account. The story was already in the Washington Post: an anonymous person using a congressional IP address had “doxxed” several Republican members of the Senate Judiciary Committee, posting their phone numbers and even home addresses—“personally identifiable information”, or PII in legal terminology. This was no regular chicanery, Summers said: “In the past, people have noticed that the bot had a lot of followers and then if they edited Wikipedia from within the Capitol building, they could basically send messages. … But leaking PII through the edits themselves was something new.”
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