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

Good morning, RVA: Some school rezoning numbers, a civic victory (for now), and you can start Topgolfing this morning


Good morning, RVA! It's 71 °F, and temperatures today are not blazing hot! You can expect highs in the upper 70s and, gasp!, even cooler days over the weekend.

Water cooler

This headline in the Richmond Times-Dispatch makes me nervous: “New buses, bathrooms and teachers: Richmond Public Schools rezoning could have high price tag” 💸. Superintendent Kamras presented details—including costs—for pairing a handful of schools at a recent rezoning meeting, and you can read all of those details in this PDF. Depending on how things work out, it’d cost the District between $617,500 and $842,500 per pairing. This new money would cover hiring teachers and staff, transportation costs, and a few other things. “High price tag” seems a weirdly relative phrase to use to describe what’s happening here. We’re talking a couple million dollars—some of that one-time capital expenses. For my household that’s a high price tag. For a city with an $800 million operating budget and a $230 million capital improvement program? Maybe not so much. And maybe it’s not a new cost at all, but the deferred cost of decades of racist and segregationist policies? So I’m nervous. Not because of the cost, but I’m nervous because any additional cost is a real easy thing for people—elected officials and otherwise—to use to rationalize our current, unacceptable status quo.

Y’all! You did it! After a bunch of emails from regular folks, the State’s Department of General Services has pulled their plan to redesign 9th Street—a plan that would have punched a huge whole right in the middle of Richmond’s Downtown bike network. This is excellent news! However, as usual with these sorts of things, our work here is not done. DGS will almost certainly rejigger and resubmit their plan for 9th, and, when they do, it must include a safe and protected bike path connecting the existing bike lane on Franklin Street to Bank Street all the way through to 12th Street. Because DGS answers to the General Assembly, now we need to let Del. Jeff Bourne (@JeffMBourne) and Sen. Jennifer McClellan (@JennMcClellanVA) know that a safe east-west bike passage is a priority for any redesign of the streets around the Capitol. I know that reactive civic emailing is a lot easier than proactive civic emailing, but if we can get the State moving in the right direction we can start using our time to advocate FOR things instead of AGAINST things. Anyway, holler at those two electeds and tell them what’s up.

Over in the GMRVA Slack (something you get access to as a patron!), this next story was summarized as “FOOD HALL FOOD HALL FOOD HALL,” which I think illustrates an appropriate level of excitement. Mike Platania at Richmond BizSense has the details on plans to bring, yes, a food hall to Scott’s Addition. A couple of years ago, I went to Pittsburgh’s Federal Galley and thought it would be an absolutely perfect model to replicate in Richmond. Of course, that’s what I thought the Blues Armory would end up as, so shows how much I know. The planned food hall is way, way back in the back of Scott’s Addition, so no time like the present to push for better infrastructure to get you back there on foot or by bike. Maybe we should move ahead on the Scott’s Addition Greenway?

The James River Association has put out their 2019 State of the James report. The overall grade remains unchanged from the 2017 report at a B-. Sounds like climate change is taking a negative toll on our river, from the report: “The increased polluted runoff associated with heavier than normal downpours caused setbacks for a number of indicators, including sediment reductions, bacteria pollution, tidal water quality, and oysters.”

RVA Hub says that Topgolf opens today at...9:00 AM? That’s kind of incredible, but, hey, the weather is great and I can think of worse ways to spend a Friday morning.

This morning's longread

'Why does Rice play Texas?': How JFK's speech defined a rivalry

We just watched First Man the other day, and, because I’m a bad student of American history, I had no idea this Rice vs. Texas college football joke was in the most famous presidential speech of all time!

"But why, some say, the moon?" Kennedy said. "Why choose this as our goal? And they may well ask why climb the highest mountain? Why, 35 years ago, fly the Atlantic? "Why does Rice play Texas?" As the home crowd reacted, with smiles, laughs and applause, Kennedy -- clenching the lectern with his left hand and pumping his right fist -- emphatically spouted the signature line of that speech: "We choose to go to the moon. We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard." Kennedy's speech, delivered on Sept. 12, 1962, is remembered as one of the greatest presidential speeches in history. Its legacy remains, as this summer the country celebrated the 50th anniversary of the moon landing.

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Good morning, RVA: New sidewalks, ice hockey, and artober

Good morning, RVA: A weird fundraiser, the Capital Trail, and great ribs