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

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

Good morning, RVA! It's 47 °F, and it may get a little warmer this afternoon but not much. Snow still seems to be in the forecast for this weekend, maybe start putting together your Monday contingency plans now.

Water cooler

Mark Robinson at the Richmond Times-Dispatch looks at a new citywide payroll report from the City Auditor 💸. If you are not an RTD subscriber, you can dig into the 24-page, pretty-dang-readable report for yourself (PDF), if you wish. The report’s Finding #1 says that just 41 employees (less than 1% of the City’s workforce) were paid $1.3 million in overtime pay (8.1% of the City’s entire overtime expenditures). That means that individuals pulled in over 700 hours of overtime last year, with one employee claiming 1,889 hours of overtime! The quick math: 1,889 / 52 = 36.3 hours per week. I sympathize with Chief Administrative Officer Selena Cuffee-Glenn, the City is and has been chronically understaffed, yet mission-critical work still needs doing. Something I’d like to look into but ran out of time for this morning: Remember the audit that Mayor Stoney commissioned when he took office back in 2017? What did it say about fully staffing City departments and filling all these vacant positions? Has he made progress in that area? Too many vacancies and too much overtime pay are expensive, but also, I imagine, real bad for employee morale.

SCOTUSblog says that the Supreme Court has rejected a request by Virginia legislators “to put lower-court proceedings in a case challenging the legislative districts drawn for the state’s House of Delegates as the product of unconstitutional racial gerrymandering...on hold until the justices rule on the case.” That means the map nerd brought on by the federal court to redraw the state’s districts can continue their nerdy map work ahead of the November election (at least for now).

Do State Air Pollution Control Board meetings typically end with cursing and members of the public escorted out by the police? I don’t know, but this most recent one did, says Mechelle Hankerson at the Virginia Mercury. That meeting was, of course, related to the Atlantic Coast Pipeline. I think I need some sort of ongoing, ever-updating page that tells me all of the things I need to know about the ACP. Maybe, like, a wiki? Does this exist? For whatever reason, it’s really hard for me to hold all of the important pieces of this story in my brain simultaneously.

Do you work for a nonprofit that wants to get into policy and advocacy? For a lot of different reasons, this sort of work can be scary or seemingly impenetrable to a lot of folks. If you were like “Yeah! Totally!” to those last two sentences, mark your calendar for January 17th: A group of nonprofits are putting together a short event to help demystify and deterrify these exact things. I’m involved in an organizing capacity in as much as I’ve stumbled my way to some policy wins for RVA Rapid Transit and am always willing to tell people about how I think things should happen. If that sounds interesting, you can register over on Eventbrite.

This morning's longread

Hollywood and the New Female Grotesque

I’m mostly including this because I just watched Hereditary (now streaming on Amazon Prime Video!) a couple weeks ago, and Toni Collette is incredible in it. I continue to be haunted by one particular scene!

The role won Collette a couple of awards and eventually landed her where she is today, in Hereditary, that same elastic face rewarded for its encapsulation of abject grief. In one scene, her son, sensing she is angry with him, asks that she release herself from her inner burden. And she does; after she yells wildly, we watch her searing hatred and anger slip into sadness, her face dragged down to hell. As Owen Gleiberman wrote in Variety, “She plays Annie as a woman who begins to wear her buried rage and guilt on the outside. It pours out of her, as if she were “possessed,” and indeed she is — but by what, or whom?” This spectacle of disfigurement helps to reframe the way in which women are allowed to express emotion, the preservation of allure — “I don’t want to cry, my mascara will run” — shouted down into oblivion.

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

Good morning, RVA: Weekend snow?, the Governor’s speech, and 2019 goals

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