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

Good morning, RVA: New prez, confusing numbers, and Transit app

Good morning, RVA! It's 45 °F, and, today, temperatures are on the rise. Expects highs in the 60s and some good ol’ sunshine. Cooler temperatures return tomorrow, and snow is still a possibility on the weekend horizon. John Boyer at the Richmond Times-Dispatch has the weather science behind this weekend’s potential winter wonderland.

Water cooler

I thought Councilmember Newbille was the safe bet for new City Council president, but I didn’t think she and Councilmember Hilbert would pull the ol’ switcheroo and trade jobs, but that’s just what happened. For the second half of this particular Council’s term, we’ve got President Newbille and Vice President Hilbert. Sarah King at Richmond Magazines has some quotes from our new/familiar Council leadership. First meeting under the new president will take place next week, and all eyes (JK, very few eyes) will be on the dais!

In related news that I need to try and be more aware of, RPS School Board reelected Chair Dawn Page and picked new Vice Chair Liz Doerr. Justin Mattingly at the Richmond Times-Dispatch has the details on the stressful, definitely not unanimous votes.

Yesterday, I linked to VCU President Dr. Rao’s column pledging the University’s fealty to the proposed Coliseum redevelopment project. I didn’t realize that in the physical paper it ran beside this anti-Coliseum column by Justin Griffin. There are lots of numbers in this piece, and, to this day, after months of writing and thinking about this project on the regular, I am still very confused about the municipal finances involved. What I would have preferred, what I need, is not more editorials and opinions on the Coliseum redevelopment project but some actual in-depth reporting and explanation on how these finances will or will not work. To be clear, this is not me dunking on reporters. Until the details of the deal are made public—and it’s way past the time to make that happen—journalists just can’t fully do the job that Richmonders need them to do.

Y’all! Big news: The Transit app now works in Richmond! This is my favorite public transportation app, and I use it all the time...whenever I am not in Richmond. But that’s changed as of yesterday! The Transit app does an excellent job of showing you upcoming departures for nearby lines, which is sooooo useful if you know you can take one of a handful of buses to your destination but don’t want to scroll, scroll, scroll, tap, tap, tap, to look up all of your options. Locally, I love how the colors of the routes correspond to their frequencies and that the Pulse gets its own stylized icon. Modern transportation tools in Richmond! I love it!

Also, while we’re talking public transportation, Streetsblog has a story about how Richmond—our Richmond!—has seen a significant increase in bus ridership since the launch of the Pulse and the bus network redesign. And when I say significant, I mean 21% year-over-year significant. That...is a lot...and it puts a stop to the last couple of years of ridership decline—something almost every other city in America is also experiencing. This makes a ton of sense to me: After years of actively disinvesting in public transportation and shedding riders, the City, Henrico County, and GRTC decided to do something and it resulted in, predictably, more riders. Now imagine what would happen if we increased GRTC’s budget? Even by, like, 15%!

The Virginia Mercury’s Mechelle Hankerson has the word on the Gov’s proposed voting and campaign finance reform. As always, I know very little about how state government works, but I think we may need new elections and new legislators to get some of these reform bills passed. That said, you don’t pass any of the bills you don’t submit!

From /r/rva, an aerial photo of Richmond and an accompanying sunrise.

This morning's longread

Tax Aversion and the Legacy of Slavery

This sounds scarily familiar, no?

Whether they were worrying about the federal government or about the governments of their own states, slaveholders developed three solutions to this general problem. First, they tried to guarantee that they dominated the legislative process by manipulating the representation rules. Second, they demanded weak governments that would make few of the decisions that provoked discussions of slavery. Third, they insisted on constraining the tax power through constitutional limitations on its use. Regardless of which of these strategies they were pursuing at a particular moment, slaveholders were always trying to prevent nonslaveholding whites from talking about how the institution of slavery harmed them. The goal was always to prevent situations in which the nonslaveholders would think about taxing the institution of slavery out of existence.

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Good morning, RVA: Overtime pay, the SCOTUS weighs in, and more pipeline news

Good morning, RVA: New Council prez, coal ash update, and a fun legislator database