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

Good morning, RVA: Distracted driving, a competitive race, and A Focus on the 5th


Good morning, RVA! It's 56 °F, and that’s chilly! Highs today will stay in the low 70s, which sounds absolutely perfect. Make a plan to enjoy the out-of-doors at some point.

Water cooler

Yesterday, the Mayor announced that he’ll introduce two public safety ordinances at Monday’s City Council meeting: First, an ordinance to require the reporting of lost or stolen firearms, and second, an ordinance prohibiting driving while distracted using a handheld communication device. The first is a no-brainer—I’m always shocked when the police talk about the existing number of folks who report having their guns stolen out of unlocked cars. The second is a great first step given the current status of state-level handsfree driving law. What we eventually want is a statewide ban on touching a device while driving a car. We almost got there at last year’s General Assembly session, and should City Council pass this ordinance locally, it’ll be an important data point for legislators during the upcoming General Assembly session. Enforcement of this new law from the police—and better enforcement of existing traffic safety laws—will be important moving forward, but, like I said, it’s a good step. I’ll keep an eye out for the ordinances and link to their full text once they hit the City’s website.

Speaking of the GA, Mechelle Hankerson at the Virginia Mercury says Virginia’s lawmakers are contemplating a vape tax, which sounds great. It’s hard for me to take arguments against taxing vapes seriously when they’re being made by vape industry dudes—I’m sure they’ll be just fine.

Also at the Virginia Mercury, Graham Moomaw (first time I’ve linked to a Moomaw story at his new outlet!) looks at the 66th House District race, where Speaker of the House Kirk Cox faces Shelia Bynum-Coleman, his first competitive challenger in decades. This sentence is bananas, “Though he’s one of the most powerful lawmakers at the Capitol, Cox told reporters he couldn’t recall being in a one-on-one debate since his first run for the House in 1989.”

It’s finally here! A Focus on the 5th, the 5th District City Council Candidate forum I’ve helped put together as part of my day job, will take place tonight at the Randolph Community Center (1415 Grayland Avenue) from 6:30–8:30 PM. We’ll have a bunch of candidates, a lot of nerdy questions, and (we think at least) an interesting format. 5th Districters and #rvacouncil watchers, I will see you there! P.S. Please RSVP so we don’t have to spend a lot of time freaking out about headcount.

If you don’t live in the 5th District and have no interest in seeing how the next and newest City Council member answers policy questions (gasp!), consider attending the Gerrymanders book launch at the Library of Virginia (800 E. Broad Street) from 5:30–7:00 PM. The author, Brent Tarter, Brian Cannon from OneVirginia2021, and Dr. Julian Hayter from the University of Richmond will have a discussion about gerrymandering and what we can do about it in Virginia. If you read yesterday’s longread and barfed in your mouth a little, this event is probably right up your alley.

There’s a lot going on tonight. The Education Compact will have their quarterly meeting at 6:00 PM at MLK Jr. Middle School. It’s a public meeting, so you can totally attend, but it’s also one of the few chances for allllll of our City’s elected leaders to get in the same room and talk schools. They’ve got a ton to talk about, that’s for sure. Here’s the agenda, and, with any luck, we’ll read more about the meeting tomorrow.

This morning's longread

McDreamy, McSteamy, and McConnell

Congressional fan fic!! Incredible!

Yet for all the rage that has soaked into our political rhetoric lately, stories wherein characters physically attack politicians are rarer than you might think. Instead, most congressional fan fiction, even the really out-there stuff, is all about the romance. In one story, Senator Kamala Harris (D-CA) and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA 12) get intimate after a spirited game of one-on-one basketball. In another, Paul Ryan and former Rep. Aaron Schock (R-IL 18) long for each other from across the House floor. The exception to this rule is Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, whose stories, so far, are loving but pointedly nonsexual. This has much to do with the fact that fanfic authors are overwhelmingly female, making sites like AO3 something of a refuge from the male gaze. “When the media reports on AOC and ‘girlifies her,’” Davisson explains, “they’re diminishing her. … [Her fans] care about her as a person.”

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Good morning, RVA: Intense questionnaire, a 300-year-old tree, and the Folk Festival

Good morning, RVA: A fatal crash, school district goals, and Virginia syrup