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

Good morning, RVA: Mitch Landrieu, four Secretaries speak, and climate change

Good morning, RVA! It's 62 °F, and highs today return to the mid 70s. There’s a chance of rain this evening, but the rest of the weekend looks pretty dry—cooler, but dry.

Water cooler

Former New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu will visit Richmond this coming Tuesday, March 19th, from 9:30–11:00 AM at the Virginia Museum of History and Culture. Landrieu will chat with our Mayor during this public event and is in town as part of his E Pluribus Unum initiative to “bring people together across the American South around the issues of race, equity, economic opportunity and violence, proving the American motto that ‘out of many, one.’“ You may remember Landrieu as the guy who just up and took down four of his city’s prominent Confederate monuments several years ago. In a surprising twist, New Orleans did not crumble to dust and remains standing to this very day. The Mayor’s press release says members of the public can RSVP by emailing , but the event is free and open to the public with doors at 9:00 AM.

Whoa, the Richmond Times-Dispatch has an column by four former Virginia Secretaries of Education supporting Mayor Stoney’s proposal to fully fund RPS by restoring the real estate tax to its pre-Recession levels (oh, and, adding a cigarette tax, too). Heavy hitters! Three of these folks served under Democratic governors, and one under a Republican.

The Governor has vetoed two bills that would have prevented Virginia from joining the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative—Mel Leonor at the RTD has the details. I’ve about had it with Republican legislators—Del. Charles Poindexter from Franklin County in this case—standing in the way of the most basic, Conservative, and capitalism-driven policy to mitigate the tiniest bit of climate change. Legislating against saving our planet must be easy for the Franklin County delegate, whose home county sits about 250 miles inland from Virginia Beach, which continues to fall into the ocean.

Climate change: It’s no joke! I finally finished listening to the first City Council budget work session, and one of the more interesting takeaways for me was that our storm drains can’t handle the amount of water produced by modern storms. These aren’t old, Civil War-era piece of infrastructure, either. This is a great example of an extremely local, extremely practical, and extremely expensive result of our changing climate. Some other thoughts, in no particular order: RPS Superintendent Kamras defended his budget well and got into it a bit with Councilmember Gray over this year’s staffing cuts and last year’s decision to use one-time funds for recurring costs—he passionately stood by both of those decisions; a couple members on Council wondered when the Coliseum officially closed and why they weren’t made part of that decision; and before things even got started, there was a back-and-forth over $2 million of unspent money for streets and sidewalks that, apparently, was in DPW’s FY2019 budget but has since been included in the Mayor’s proposed FY2020 budget. I have a single, raised eyebrow about that last one, but need to find the answers to about a half dozen questions before I’m willing to shoot my mouth off about it too much. Budget work sessions continue on Monday, so get this first session out of the way if you want to keep up!

Another day, another survey for you to fill out to help guide some group doing some thing in our region. Today it’s Richmond Region Tourism, and they’d like you to fill out their tourism master plan survey. It’ll take you about five minutes and mostly wants to know what you like and dislike about our region. I like a ton of things about Richmond and checking those boxes was easy, but I really had trouble figuring out what I liked least about the region. There are lots of things I think we could do better at (like, maybe we follow Mayor Landrieu’s lead on a couple of things), but I do think we’re making a lot of progress in a lot of different ways.

Rage rooms?? We have one in Richmond, according to Mike Platania at Richmond BizSense. I have no idea if this is something that’ll succeed in Richmond, but I do know that people are very angry about a lot of different things right now. Plus, having people pay you to bash up trash you get for free seems like a pretty low-overhead business model.

General FYI and reminder: Sunday is St. Patrick’s Day. I imagine folks will celebrate in earnest on Saturday, so be aware if you head to a bar to catch some dinner or some basketball. Shamrock the Block will take place up and down Arthur Ashe Boulevard from Leigh to Broad Streets, on Saturday, too, and will close down a few block of street and a couple bus stops—keep it in mind if you plan on moving through the area between 12:00 and 6:00 PM. Also, shout out to Shamrock the Block for including GRTC as an alternative in the parking section of their FAQ.

This morning's longread

The Servant Economy

Here’s an interesting where-are-they-now for a bucketful of Uber-for-X companies. I think I found the link to this article in Alison Griswold’s excellent Oversharing newsletter.

Now, a decade since Uber blazed the trail, and half that since the craze faded, we built a spreadsheet of 105 Uber-for-X companies founded in the United States, representing $7.4 billion in venture-capital investment. We culled from lists, dug in Crunchbase, and pulled from old news coverage. It’s not a comprehensive list, but it is a large sample of the hopes and dreams of the entrepreneurs of the time.Of this group, four—DoorDash, Grubhub, Instacart, and Postmates—are unicorns, start-ups valued at more than $1 billion. (Notably, all are in the delivery business.) Forty-seven are gone—28 simply closed down; 19 were acquired. But 53 are neither unicorn nor roadkill.

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Good morning, RVA: Strategic infrastructure, land use planning, and the Supreme Court

Good morning, RVA: A model legislative report, cemeteries, and bronze ladies