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

Good morning, RVA: RPS budget, affordable housing strategy, and the James River Flood Report

Good morning, RVA! It's 30 °F, but I’m looking forward to today’s clear skies and highs in mid 50s. Soak it up/in, because rain probably returns later this week.

Water cooler

I forgot to link to Superintendent Kamras’s email yesterday, which is a real shame since the School Board also voted to approve their FY20 budget yesterday (PDF). Read the email in retrospect, though, to get an idea of where the new funds RPS has asked for will be spent. Helpfully, outside of the local match for the State’s teacher raise money and capital expenses for facility maintenance, it’s all linked to strategic plan priorities. The Mayor will now take this budget request and factor it into his budget which he’ll present to City Council this coming Monday. Stoney had this to say about the schools’ budget: “The school board faced a number of tough decisions in crafting this budget, and I appreciate it choosing to pass a plan that prioritizes students and teachers. I am committed to identifying the resources needed to provide our students with the learning opportunities they deserve. Fully funding Richmond Public Schools would be easier if the Commonwealth of Virginia would step up and fulfill its constitutional obligation to adequately support K-12 education. Virginia’s current approach to funding public education is not only inadequate and inequitable, it is unjust and immoral. The Commonwealth needs to do more for Virginia’s children, especially those growing up in poverty. The RPS adopted budget demands a lot from the City of Richmond. We have our own tough decisions ahead, but our kids deserve nothing less than our bold leadership.” Justin Mattingly at the Richmond Times-Dispatch has the vote count 💸, with a few members of the Board dissenting and citing concerns about cuts to the central office.

Mike Platania, writing for Richmond BizSense, says that City Council approved the SUP for a new, mixed-use, adjacent-to-transit development on Semmes. I’ve talked about this development before, and, while still single-family homes, they are pretty densely packed onto the 12-acre property. Despite the proximity to a bunch of good public transit, opposition from both citizens and council members came in the form of “concerns regarding traffic.” At some point soon—before the planet burns down around us—we’re going to have to shift our mindset away from this idea that everyone in Richmond has the god-given right to drive themselves in and out of town, never once encountering the slightest slowdown.

Also in Richmond BizSense, Jonathan Spiers has a piece that should underscore the importance and desperate need for an affordable housing strategy in the City (honestly, so should the previous link, too). These quotes from the developer make me feel uncomfortable: “I believe strongly in that whole Union Hill/Fairmount area. There is no question that it’s the next boom. The question is how quickly guys like Bryan Traylor and I can push it there, amongst other guys.” And about the affordable housing the Better Housing Coalition is building in the area: “They’re going for the low-income housing credits, and I’m not...That’s not where I want to take this neighborhood.” OK, but, maybe that’s where we want the neighborhood to go?

Mechelle Hankerson at the Virginia Mercury has a General Assembly wrap-up mostly from the point of view of the state’s Black lawmakers—featuring locals Sen. Jennifer McClellan and Del. Jeff Bourne.

This new audio installation titled Impeach that the VMFA put in the Confederate Memorial Chapel sounds really interesting, via Richmond Magazine and Harry Kollatz.

The RTD’s John Boyer has the James River Flood Report, something I wish always existed. Come for stats, records, and flood charts, stay for the video of raging water rushing under the T-Pot Bridge and over the Pipeline. Also, here’s a great picture of the Angry James from /r/rva.

This morning's longread

Time to Panic

Another terrifying climate-change longread for you to start your morning with! In addition to the scary-but-true excerpt below, I keep thinking about this sentence: “People should try to live by their own values, about climate as with everything else, but the effects of individual lifestyle choices are ultimately trivial compared with what politics can achieve.”

I know the science is true, I know the threat is all-encompassing, and I know its effects, should emissions continue unabated, will be terrifying. And yet, when I imagine my life three decades from now, or the life of my daughter five decades from now, I have to admit that I am not imagining a world on fire but one similar to the one we have now. That is how hard it is to shake complacency. We are all living in delusion, unable to really process the news from science that climate change amounts to an all-encompassing threat. Indeed, a threat the size of life itself.

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

Good morning, RVA: We need safer streets, RPS budget weirdness, and History & Culture

Good morning, RVA: Hands-free bill, redistricting commission, and an end to this year’s General Assembly session