Good morning, RVA! It's 34 °F, but highs will hit 60 °F. Today’s just the first part of a springlike week that should help to gently erase the memories of last week’s polar vortext. Temperatures near 80 in a couple of days, y’all!
Where to even begin on this Ralph Northam stuff? Unless you’ve been living under a rock, inside of a hole, deep within a cave, you know the broad strokes. Friday evening, a right-winger news site released a photo of Northam’s medical college yearbook page that showed a person in blackface and a person dressed in a KKK costume. That same evening, Northam admitted to being one of the people in the photo, saying “I am deeply sorry for the decision I made to appear as I did in this photo and for the hurt that decision caused then and now.” By Saturday afternoon most Democrats in America, including the Mayor, had already called for his resignation. Northam chose to deny everything in a horrible press conference (“I truly do not believe I am in that picture.”), after which all of the Democrats in American (and most of the Republicans) called for his resignation—except one: Lt. Governor Justin Fairfax, who would become governor should Northam resign.
So where are we now? Well, first, the Virginia Legislative Black Caucus has a press conference scheduled at 8:00 AM. They called for Northam’s resignation on Friday and amplified that call after the crash-and-burn press conference on Saturday, so I’m not sure what today’s (possibly previously-scheduled) press conference entails. Second, overnight, the same right-winger website that published the Northam photo, published a story accusing Lt. Gov Fairfax of sexual assault. Fairfax issued a complete denial at 2:55 AM today which says that the WaPo knew about the allegations a couple of years ago, investigated them, and decided not to publish. I want to start thinking through cynical and conspiratorial storylines that brought us to this point, but, instead, I’m just going to sit back and watch what happens today—because I don’t think anyone knows for sure. Of note: There will be a protest at the Governor’s Mansion at 10:00 AM (PDF), assuming Northam doesn’t resign before then.
John Ramsey at the Richmond Times-Dispatch spoke with a former student who worked on the yearbook layout at Eastern Virginia Medical School, if you’d like a look at the process. The person in question brushes off anger at people literally wearing blackface and a KKK robe in 1984 as political correctness gone amok, but, other than that, it’s a useful background piece as we wait for more news and information today.
In the midst of all this executive branch terribleness, the General Assembly still has work to do. Mechelle Hankerson at the Virginia Mercury has an overview of the budgets that are floating around the two legislative houses and that they include a pay raise for teachers. Republicans have stripped “all of the new spending items from the governor’s introduced budget.” Cool.
On Friday, I went to this new brewery, Tabol Brewing, off Chamberlayne behind the McDonalds. Despite not being a sour beer kind of guy, I was surprised and impressed at their barrel-aged, wild-yeast lineup. Also the location is fascinating and super accessible by bus (right off the #1). Mike Platania in Richmond BizSense has more details.
Marc Cheatham has a nice piece remembering Lillie Estes and a link to her talking about her own organizing work in public housing neighborhoods.
This morning's longread
Meteorologists! I salute you!
It is dangerous, record-breaking, can’t-look-away weather. Yet this cold snap’s arrival was preceded by a marvel so spectacular that we hardly noticed it: It was correctly predicted. As early as a month ago, forecasters knew that colder-than-average weather would likely strike North America this month; a week ago, computer models spit out some of the same figures that appeared on thermometers today. Meteorologists have never gotten a shiny magazine cover or a brooding Aaron Sorkin film, and the weather-research hub of Norman, Oklahoma, is rarely mentioned in the same breath as Palo Alto. But over the past few decades, scientists have gotten significantly—even staggeringly—better at predicting the weather.
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