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

Good morning, RVA: Policy Jammed, eviction laws, and conversations about racism

Good morning, RVA! It's 36 °F, and the rain has returned. Expect showers on and off today, a beautiful Saturday, and maybe some more rain on Sunday. It was nice/dry while it lasted!

Water cooler

Did y’all make it out to Mayorathon: Policy Jam last night? I had a great time, but, admittedly, was back stage doing night-of tasks for a lot of it. Please let me know what you thought! Over the course of an hour and a half, the Mayor talked through three of the commits he made over the last two years in each of four areas: Urban Environment, Transportation, Neighborhoods, and Youth & Families. He also reacted to three policy suggestions (from local nonprofits and organizations) in each of those topic areas. Scroll through Twitter user @dbass1978’s timeline to read all 12 commitments and all 12 policy suggestions. The specifics are interesting, but this is the part of the event that I’m most excited about: creating a culture of accountability for our elected officials in Richmond. Yeah we had a good time and made some jokes, but the reason Mayorathon exists is to help citizens focus on policy and remind our representatives that these things are important to us and that we are paying attention.

Yesterday, the governor signed a stack of eviction-related bills into law, and it sounds like he could sign another stack “in the coming weeks.” I don’t know enough about how eviction works to say if these bills make enough progress, but it is at least some progress. It’s wild that less than one year after the New York Times piece on eviction rates (published on April 7th, 2018), we’ve got real, state-level legislation, passed by the General Assembly, and signed into law by the Governor. Plus, at least in Richmond, the local level has responded with programs and policies as well. Look at what good reporters armed with good data analysis can do!

I honestly don’t know what to think about this story involving Virginia’s First Lady passing around a cotton boll and a tobacco leaf to some Senate pages on a tour of the Executive Mansion 💸. I ignored it yesterday, because my first reaction was “seems fine,” but I’m not here to invalidate or minimize the experience of anyone who is offended—especially since I’m a white dude who spends most of his life affably and cluelessly bumbling around. I do, however, want more spaces to have more conversations about racism, and in the historic kitchen of the Governor’s mansion seems like the perfect place to do that. Maybe it’s not the First Lady’s place to lead those conversations, and maybe the First Family needs to be way more intentional about what’s being taught in their house if racial healing and just is a priority. We’ve missed the mark, though, if our reaction to the racism uncovered in Virginia’s Executive branch is that we actually end up having fewer difficult conversations. As always, I’d love to hear your thoughts and perspectives on this.

Michael Paul Williams has a column up today about the bank building on Brookland Park Boulevard and suggests returning it to its original use 💸. I’m not sure I agree—for what it’s worth, there’s a Wells Fargo on Chamberlayne just an 18-minute bus ride away from Six Points (assuming you hit your transfers). I’ve talked about the ongoing redevelopment of Brookland Park Boulevard in this space for awhile, and with that as context, I really like this quote from the Better Housing Coalition’s CEO Greta Harris: “As North Side continues to gentrify in both the residential and commercial markets, I think the hope was that a Black business could actually hold on to a property and serve existing and new residents.” For folks who need the background on this story, Jonathan Spiers at Richmond BizSense has what you’re after.

This morning's patron longread

Shared scooters don't last long

Submitted by Patron Caitlyn. I love scooters, and I can’t wait for them to reappear on our streets. However, according to this (small) data set, it sounds like scooter companies will need to find cheaper and more durable vehicles if they want to not lose a ton of money.

Still with me? Ok. So, our scooter company walks away with $2.32 in revenue per day from the average scooter in Louisville. As we said at the beginning, Louisville data indicates that the average scooter was around for between 28 and 32 days. That means the typical scooter generated something like $65 to $75 in revenue for the company after most operating costs over its lifetime. You see where I’m going with this. Let’s be generous and say the company paid $360 for each scooter, as Bird aims to. At the rates calculated above, that company only recoups $65 to $75 on the cost of each scooter—in other words, it loses $295 to $285 per scooter. That doesn’t even include the $50 annual fee per dockless vehicle, the $3,000 in combined licensing fees, or the $100 fee for each designated parking area. Plug in the $551 sticker price for a scooter, and the losses are even greater.

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Good morning, RVA: Civil Rights, Black Restaurant Experience, and Byrd Theatre .gifs

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