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

Good morning, RVA: Las Ardillas Voladoras, a bucket of budget updates, and a monument chat

Good morning, RVA! It's 27 °F, but we should see temperatures a few degrees warmer than yesterday and basically no rain—drizzles or otherwise.

Water cooler

Reminder: Mayor Stoney will host the first of four budget-related town halls tonight at Woodville Elementary (2000 N. 28th Street) from 6:30–8:00 PM. This is an excellent opportunity to ask the Mayor specific questions about both his budget and his proposal to roll back the Recession-era cuts to the real estate tax. If you’re already on board with the Mayor‘s proposals and supportive of new revenue for basic city services, bring that support (and your IRL body) into the room tonight.

Justin Mattingly at the Richmond Times-Dispatch, says 4th District RPS School Board member Jonathan Young will not vote for any RPS budget that relies on the Mayor’s proposal to roll back tax cuts. That’s certainly an interesting strategy for a guy who did just vote for a schools budget that included millions of dollars in additional funding requests from the Mayor. Ultimately, City Council, not School Board, will decide the fate of the real estate tax, but it definitely wouldn’t hurt to have as many of the School Board members on board, too. So, if you want to let your elected representatives know how you feel about taxes and budgets, you can find School Board contact info here and City Council contact info over here.

How rad is this: For every Friday home game during the 2019 season, the Flying Squirrels will shed their black and red, don blue and green, and become Las Ardillas Voladoras de Richmond—that’s “the Flying Squirrels of Richmond” in Spanish. Through this initiative and new branding, the Squirrels/Ardillas hope to “educate, honor and celebrate the deeply-rooted and rich cultures of the Hispanic and Latino communities in and around Richmond.” They’ve got the Virginia Hispanic Chamber of Commerce and Virginia Hispanic Foundation involved, a new Spanish-language site, and two lucky youth baseball teams get to rep the new Ardillas gear this spring. I pretty much love everything about this. You can catch the first Friday home game of the season on April 5th.

I posted the audio from yesterday’s budget work session over on The Boring Show. I can’t wait to listen to it, because, unlike last week, I don’t know anyone who was following along or in the room—it’s a total mystery! Did someone wilt under pressure from Council questioning? Did a department score enough points to secure additional funding? Who knows! It’s Schrödinger’s budget session!

Jason Roop, writing for Style Weekly, asks, what about Arthur Ashe Boulevard? I ask this too! Why is it so gray and boring? Let’s build some stuff in this wasteland of parking and decay—as long as that stuff is not more wastelands of parking for a stadium or train station or Target or whatever.

Michael Schwartz at Richmond BizSense says Henrico might masterplan the Belmont Golf Course, with an opportunity for community members to get involved on April 16th, April 30th, and May 6th. If you’re unfamiliar, this golf course sits just a stone’s throw north of the City line, adjacent to Route 1. You can probably hear me coming from a mile away: The County should build dense housing, some of it affordable, right up to the street, and then extend the Route #1 bus to provide 15-minute service to Downtown. Sorry, golf people! Developable land this close to the City, adjacent to a major corridor is ultra rare and we should find a better use for it than fancy grass!

SCOTUSblog has an analysis of the arguments made in Virginia’s racial gerrymandering case at the Supreme Court yesterday. I understood most of the words in this update, but I’m not sure what they mean. I think we are still in wait-and-see mode?

Today, Former New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu will sit down with our Mayor Stoney to chat about how localities can address “the history and symbolism of monuments and how to chart a path toward dismantling inequities.” Landrieu has first-hand experience tearing down his city’s monuments to White supremacy and can maybe help push us to do the same to ours. With any luck this conversation will be recorded, but, if you’ve got time this morning, head over to the Virginia Museum of History and Culture between 9:30–11:00 AM (doors at 9:00 AM).

This morning's patron longread

How social media took us from Tahrir Square to Donald Trump

Submitted by Patron Julie. Dang! This is excellent and precisely highlights all the ways I’m feeling about social media at this exact moment. I could have quoted two dozen different passages below—such an embarrassment of good-paragraph riches.

Power always learns, and powerful tools always fall into its hands. This is a hard lesson of history but a solid one. It is key to understanding how, in seven years, digital technologies have gone from being hailed as tools of freedom and change to being blamed for upheavals in Western democracies—for enabling increased polarization, rising authoritarianism, and meddling in national elections by Russia and others. But to fully understand what has happened, we also need to examine how human social dynamics, ubiquitous digital connectivity, and the business models of tech giants combine to create an environment where misinformation thrives and even true information can confuse and paralyze rather than informing and illuminating.

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

Good morning, RVA: Budget opposition, Dorothy Height, and tournament of journalists

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