Good morning, RVA! It's 31 °F, and today looks to be far less freezing cold than the last couple of days. In fact, temperatures should steadily climb overnight into the 60s. There’s a bit of a chance for rain today, but mostly that’s for tomorrow.
Yesterday afternoon, the Land Use, Housing and Transportation committee met to consider a handful of things and the conversations had were fascinating (but the audio is not yet posted on the internet). First, the committee voted to move the ordinance prohibiting bike lanes on Brook Road (ORD. 2018-194) to Council with no recommendation. This means it’ll show up on Council’s regular agenda next week, there will be another public hearing, and we’ll get to rehash the entire conversation that took place last night. Bike Walk RVA will help you get involved in the final push to kill this unnecessary ordinance. Second, the Committee continued the ordinance to add back in a left turn lane from southbound Belvidere onto eastbound Broad Street (ORD. 2018-153)—another unnecessary ordinance that would disrupt the Pulse. Aside: How much City staff time have we wasted by requiring DPW staff to show up prepared to speak to this paper over the last eight months? Finally, the ordinance to rename the Boulevard to “Arthur Ashe Boulevard” (ORD. 2018-228) will also head to full Council with no recommendation. I got heated about this last one over on Twitter after hearing some of the public comment against the renaming. The whole meeting is worth listening to, especially comments on a variety of topics from Councilmember Jones, who’s new to the committee. Once the audio shows up on the City’s website, I’ll try and link to it in this space.
Justin Mattingly at the Richmond Times-Dispatch has the first few details on Superintendent Kamras’s new budget. If you read the Superintendent’s email from yesterday, you won’t be surprised that he plans to cut funding from the central office—but you may be surprised at the scale of those cuts: $13 million. I recommend taking a look through the (very readable) budget presentation (PDF) yourself. I know I always say this, but even when it comes to even very readable budgety documents like this, my brain melts into a useless mush. So someone help me out: It looks like the Superintendent will cut from the central office to cover a shortfall that results from using last year’s one-time funds for recurring costs, and, additionally, will ask for $16 million of new dollars from the City. Yes? If so, two thoughts! First, I can’t but help think about what we could do with $16 million of new money for pedestrian, bike, and public transportation infrastructure or operating funds. Second, Kamras’s willingness to create a strategic plan that involved the community and then use that plan to inform his funding requests—while slashing his administration budget by $13 million—at least gives him solid ground on which to stand while asking the City for more money. Now we’ll have to wait a couple months to see if it works.
Mechelle Hankerson at the Virginia Mercury has the news about yesterday’s General Assembly House subcommittee meeting on the Equal Rights Amendment, which sounds like it went poorly. Predictably, the Republicans on the subcommittee killed the proposal for Virginia to become the 38th and final state to ratify the amendment. Looks like there’s one final chance for the ERA this year, but, most likely, this becomes an election issue for House candidates. I’m pretty sure Del. Ransone’s quote, “I don’t need words on a piece of paper, God made us all equal.”, will not age well.
Switching gears to another Republican woman in the House of Delegates, Chesterfield’s Roxann Robinson, and she’s got a column in the paper today about HB 2677, her bill to protect LGBT Virginians from housing discrimination. I think this is the House version of SB 1109, which was introduced by Richmond’s Sen. Jennifer McClellan. HOME supports the Senate bill, which is an excellent stamp of approval in my book.
This morning's longread
When Sphen and Magic became a couple, Australia had just gone through a bitter battle about whether gay marriage should be legal. The human gay marriage debate had brought out thorny personal and religious tensions. These two diligent Gentoos, unaware of the political heat around their courtship, became a larger symbol for the country. If a penguin colony could figure this out, a human nation certainly could.
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