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

Good morning, RVA: The year in violence, Brook Road bike stories, and ballpark business

Good morning, RVA! It's 47 °F and kind of rainy. You can expect a slightly warmer and a bit drier afternoon, and you can also expect this sort of weather to carry on through the next couple of days.

Water cooler

Ali Rockett at the Richmond Times-Dispatch has put together their end-of-year look at all of Richmond’s murder victims. I really appreciate the work that goes into both humanizing the victims and attempting to follow these murder cases to whatever end they have in the courts. Through a numbers lens, which isn’t always the best or the only way to look at things, the City has seen a marked decrease in murders compared to 2017: Down to 28.2% to 56.

Please read this absolutely excellent post by Bike Walk RVA that shares the stories of the actual humans who ride bikes on Brook Road. You won’t be surprised to learn that most people who get around by bike on Brook are not spandexy white fitness dudes, but a wide range of people who are mostly trying to get to and from work or school. In case you didn’t put it together, this piece is great advocacy work in building support for the Brook Road Bike Lane, and clearly points out how Councilmember Grey’s anti-bike lane ordinance (ORD. 2018–194) will hurt families, folks with lower incomes, and people simply trying to safely get to work. I love this quote from John, who puts it perfectly, “It seems to me, anyone that is bound up about a bike lane on Brook Road, should take a ride to burn off some stress. There are too many people in this city, just like me, who rely on a bike for everything. We need this.” When I think about how to do effective advocacy today, during a period of time when a list of facts doesn’t have the same impact as it once might have had, personal and compelling stories like this are so, so perfect. Councilmember Grey’s anti-bike lane ordinance sits on the January 22nd Land Use, Housing, and Transportation committee’s agenda. Remember to share these stories if you find yourself contacting your councilmember or giving a public comment.

Whoa, we haven’t talked about a new ballpark in a while—we’ve been so dang focused on a new arena—but Michael Martz at the RTD says the Governor’s proposed budget gives VCU the opportunity to buy the ABC site near the Diamond. If you’ve already forgotten the entire ballpark saga, you’ll need some background data points to catch up. First, way back in 2016, the City, the Squirrels, and VCU signed an agreement that calls for a new ballpark to be built near the Old Grey Lady, which is what I’m now calling the Diamond. Second, the ABC property has been identified as a prime spot for building that new ballpark. You can easily imagine, at least I certainly can, a future in which VCU gets a pretty good deal on the property from the state, and then turns around and uses the market value of that property as a measure of their financial contribution to a new ballpark project. I can easily imagine myself finding that unfair. Also! As with anything related to VCU buying property, selling this property to them would forever and ever remove a chunk of taxable land from a tiny (in terms of area) City that already has way too much untaxable land. Also also! Do we even need a new ballpark? Has the public appetite for big shiny projects changed since we’ve wrapped ourselves up so tightly into the Coliseum proposal situation? We should ask that question, like, before we start awarding RFPs.

From an RTD Editorial Board piece about Carytown, this chef’s kiss: “Speaking of which, we hope you’ll excuse our real source of joy in this announcement: a two-story parking deck.” 🙄. I don’t know what the impending Richmond 300 parking recommendations for Carytown will be, but I can tell you that there’s way, way too much free parking in the neighborhood and that charging for each and every spot would not only create new revenue for the City but would lead to more turnover and more humans spending money in stores. Design for accommodating people not cars and you’ll end up with better spaces. Anyway. Speaking of the Richmond 300 parking study, you can attend a meeting to learn all about the Carytown recommendations on January 15th, from 6:00–7:30 PM at 2810 W. Cary Street.

Via /r/rva, a 1927 New Year’s Eve dinner menu from The Jefferson. I love this sort of thing! What the heck is a Ladies Delight salad?

This morning's longread

Craig Newmark’s New Hit List

As a person who previously worked in news, it’s my humble opinion that membership and philanthropy are the only ways to sustain high-quality local journalism.

Since then, Newmark’s efforts have expanded to include funding reporters and publications. His move to New York City is a calculated one, based on his assumption that what happens in New York tends to ripple across the country. And his contributions to the City, the Markup, and WNYC are early bets that if a nonprofit funding model works to sustain reporting for these organizations, the same model could pop up elsewhere in the United States, outside of the major metropolises, to either support new publications or revive existing ones. “He realizes the incentives of present journalism push folks away from thoughtful journalism,” says Sue Gardner, executive director of the New York–based Markup. “People want journalism that’s designed to be in the public interest. He realizes that if people want that to happen, they need to be willing to pony up to make it happen.”

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

Good morning, RVA: New Council president, an election report, and campaign contributions

Good morning, RVA: A temporary chief, river updates, and 40 local albums