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

Good morning, RVA: Snow(ish), VCU rides the bus, and Silent Reading Parties

Good morning, RVA! It's 29 °F, and it’s kind of snowing, kind of raining. Either way, it doesn’t look like we’ll end up with much of anything in the way of accumulation. Temperatures will rise throughout the day and overnight to eventually top out in the 60s tomorrow (?!).

As you’re probably aware, many things are delayed! Richmond, Chesterfield, and Henrico schools are all (for the moment) operating on a two-hour delay. VCU and the City both open at 10:00 AM. Make sure you check a website if you’ve got a meeting or appointment first thing today.

Water cooler

Police are reporting a murder that occurred last Thursday on the 1200 block of N. 19th Street. Officers arrived at the scene and found Curtison J. Murray, 29 shot to death. According to the Richmond Police Department, six people have been murdered in Richmond in 2019.

Graham Moomaw at the Richmond Times-Dispatch has some updates on the process surrounding the sexual assault accusations facing Lt. Gov Justin Fairfax. Between Democrats, Republicans, Fairfax, and his accusers, it’s a tangled mix of who folks think should proceed with an investigation—either the General Assembly or law enforcement. One thing everyone agrees with, though: Someone needs to do an investigation. This particular Executive Branch Crisis is not going away any time soon.

You’ll have to wade past the negative headline and through the questionable controversy over a revenue forecast shortfall to get to the truly shocking thing in this C. Suarez Rojas report on yesterday’s GRTC board meeting: Bus ridership by folks affiliated with VCU went up by 35,000 in January—an 83% increase over December?? I’m going to see if I can get the numbers presented at the board meeting, but, dang, that’s a lot of additional rides. GRTC’s Carrie Rose Pace puts it well in an unrelated video about Henrico’s ridership (which is also way up): “Where you place a level of transit service that is more frequent, operates at later hours and on weekends, and reaches the destinations that the community needs to get to, the riders will get on board.“

Justin Mattingly also with the RTD says last night’s vote on Richmond Public Schools’ budget was delayed because someone on a call from Dubai misheard a question. O...K. I do take a little bit of issue with some of the complaints from the School Board that the budget process this year has been rushed. I’m not on the School Board, obviously, but I do feel better informed about this year’s schools’ budget that any year in recent memory. I get that they’ve been asked to approve some significant job cuts, which, no doubt, is a tough and terrible task. But just because it involves hard decisions doesn’t make the process rushed or bad (he says from a complete outsider perspective).

Remember yesterday, when I made some casual jokes about the woman arrested at the ERA protest for dressing up as Virginia’s seal—left boob out and everything? Well that woman, Michelle Renay Sutherland, is now being held without bond until her March 21st court date?? That seems totally inappropriate.

I want to joke this Silent Reading Party concept, but the picture of folks reading quietly in close proximity to each other while minding their own business is so appealing to me!

This morning's longread

The Hidden Value of a Poor Neighborhood

Some of the language in this piece makes me feel weird, but it’s a good reminder that—for cities—density reigns.

Newtown has a lot of challenges. Its median household income is only $20,000, and 40% of residents live in poverty. Unemployment is high. Many of the houses in the neighborhood are in poor condition owing to years of deferred maintenance. Given this, one would expect that home prices would be low, and one would be right: the average Newtown home is assessed at only $50,000, versus $238,000 for the county as a whole. As we emphasize at Strong Towns, value per acre tells a different story. And an important one, because land is a city's scarcest and most finite resource, and must be used productively. This neighborhood sits relatively near the water (in a coastal town) and near downtown—such locations are even scarcer.

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Good morning, RVA: Listen and learn, new RRHA CEO, and a Henrico charette

Good morning, RVA: RPS budget presentation, environmental justice, and creative protest