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

Good morning, RVA: BIKE LANES!, other Council business, and big RTD editorial changes

Good morning, RVA! It's 31 °F, and, with highs in the 50s, you can expect rain later today and possibly some sort of slush-snow situation this evening. We’ll see what below-freezing temperatures overnight mean for that situation tomorrow morning, I guess!

Water cooler

Whoa, what a fascinating night at City Council! The agenda was packed, the house was packed, and even the #rvacouncil hashtag was packed. Bottom line, it’s exciting to see so many people interested and involved in what their local government is up to—and, dang, did local government put on a show last night. First, the particulars: Six-pack chickens passed, a paper to expand VCU’s jurisdictional foot print passed, the new scooter ordinance passed, and the ordinance prohibiting the Brook Road bike lanes failed on a 3-6 vote (NO: Addison, Larson, Agelasto, Robertson, Newbille, Jones; YES: Gray, Hilbert, Trammell). You can find links to all of these papers, and video from the meeting when it gets posted, over on legistar. Second, this was Council President Newbille’s first go at running a contentious meeting, and her leadership style is way different than Councilmember Hilbert’s hands-off approach. At one point—early in the evening while Council discussed the paper about expanding VCU Police’s footprint—the crowd got a little rowdy, Councilmember Trammell got a little rowdy in response, and, instead of having folks escorted out of Council Chambers by the police, President Newbille called for a recess. What wisdom! If she’d have thrown out the loud audience members—during a discussion about the police, no less!—that would be the entire story this morning. Instead, she shut down the exchange, and when she gaveled the meeting back in order, she moved immediately to a vote with no further discussion and the tension in the room dissipated. I was impressed. Third, a million and one people turned out to speak in favor of the Brook Road bike lanes. It’s incredible that Bike Walk RVA managed to get dozens and dozens of folks organized and educated to give thoughtful and respectful public comment during an hourslong meeting on a Monday night. They are the local advocacy game in town. As for the bike lane ordinance itself, I think Nicholas Smith on Twitter nailed the long term consequences: “Ironically, this ordinance hugely backfired. Safer, better biking and walking infrastructure is now the mainstream, popular position. Opposition is the politically risky one. Politicians and staff who support biking will be rewarded; those who oppose, ostracized.”

In news you will absolutely not believe, the Richmond Times-Dispatch has hired Pamela Stallsmith as its next opinions editor (the first woman to hold that title), they’re ditching unsigned editorials, and they’ll “create a Community Advisory Board to help facilitate dialogue between the readers and the opinions staff about key issues and topics...” This is...shocking! I didn’t think meaningful change on the editorial side of things was possible without wholesale leadership change. Stallsmith starts on February 18th. Mark your calendars.

I’ll be the first to admit that I don’t know whether or not the GOP proposal for an independent redistricting commission coming out of the House of Delegates is good one or not. Graham Moomaw at the RTD has the details, and One Virginia 2021 has three ways in which the General Assembly can improve the proposal: Full transparency of all meetings, minutes and data; clear rules prohibiting gerrymandering; and criteria to keep existing communities together. That middle one seems like kind of a big deal? Anyway, follow @1VA2021 for the latest.

The Virginia Mercury was at yesterday’s #RedforEd march in support of more state funding for education—Mechelle Hankerson has a write up and Ned Oliver has a great picture. Here’s another great picture, from /r/rva, of the crowd stretching alllllll the way down Franklin Street on its way to the Capitol

This morning's patron longread

The oral history of Office Space: Behind the scenes of the cult classic

Patron Jeremiah shared this oral history of Office Space, in which I learned a thousand interesting facts. I also cannot believe that we’re 20 years out from that movie’s release.

Root: Milton’s glasses were so thick, I had to wear contacts in order to see. I had zero depth perception. I had to practice reaching for the stapler. Thankfully we’d painted it red; Swingline didn’t make red ones back then. Judge: We’d tried to use Boston and Bostitch brand staplers, but they wouldn’t clear us to use their names.

McGinley: My scenes were mostly with [actor] Paul Willson (Bob Porter). He came up with the line, where he can’t say Samir’s last name: “Naga…naga…well, not gonna work here anymore anyway.” It was like jazz on that set. Naidu: The part where I breakdance in the apartment was improvised too. I’d work during the day and breakdance at night with my Indian friends in Austin. We had a hardcore crew. [Laughs]

If you’d like your longread to show up here, go chip in a couple bucks on the ol’ Patreon.

Good morning, RVA: 🤷‍♀️, 21 to smoke, and teenage advocates

Good morning, RVA: #RedforED, a packed council agenda, and a denser Henrico