Good morning, RVA! It's 27 °F, and you can expect temperatures in the mid 50s along with some rain later this evening. That rain will probably continue through tomorrow.
1st District Councilmember Addison’s always thorough newsletter is out, and in this edition he addresses the Mayor’s proposal to roll back the Recession-era real estate tax cuts (PDF). The Councilmember does not mince words, “I am opposed to this tax increase.” he says. He’s also the first Councilmember (I’ve seen) to propose the ~$21 million of offsetting cuts needed to balance a budget which does not include any of the Mayor’s proposed new revenue. Y’all, I wish that Richmond were in a place where all this new money was needed to take us to the next level, to make us a tier-one city as the previous mayor liked to say. The unfortunate reality is that Mayor Stoney’s proposal to add $24 million of new revenue is absolutely necessary to permanently fix decades of disinvestment in extremely basic city services. It’s not for shiny new things, it’s for streets, schools, houses, and buses. It gets us back to a barely acceptable baseline. While I agree with the Councilmember that we should explore every possible way to increase funding, if there were some magic public-private partnership out there waiting to solve all of our problems, we’d have found it by now. It’s not new news that almost every aspect of City government is underfunded—just listen to a budget work session or two. It’s been that way for ages, and now’s the time to do the hard work to get it fixed.
Mark Robinson at the Richmond Times-Dispatch has a short recap of yesterday’s event with former New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu. Here’s more from Katja Timm writing for the Capital News Service. Does video of this conversation exist somewhere? Anywhere? Please let me know if you come across it!
Do you now about Dorothy Height? I did not—which is deeply embarrassing, and, honestly, offensive/racist—but now I do thanks to Scott Wise at WTVR. Height was born in Blackwell, and was awarded both the Presidential Medal of Freedom and Congressional Gold Medal for her work on Civil Rights and gender equality. The State will unveil a historical marker for Height on March 24th at the Hull Street library.
I’m confused by this article in the paper by C. Suarez Rojas about GRTC’s recent board meeting and the bus company’s ongoing negotiations with VCU. The lede seems to imply some anticipated reduction in service for VCU students, faculty, and staff, but a VCU spokesperson outright denies this a few paragraphs down (and I got an email or two yesterday with similar outright denials). Here’s what I do know: Access to GRTC has been incredibly popular with the VCU community, I can’t really imagine a world where they just end the service, and the University should be willing to pay their fair share of whatever costs are associated with getting the region’s largest employer on the bus.
The Department of Public Works says 20 electric bike share bikes will hit the streets on Thursday. This is cool! It’d also be cool to have three times as many bike share stations, but giving folks a chill way to get out of the Downtown valley without breaking a sweat is definitely progress. I don’t know when it’ll happen, but, at some point, private companies will begin operating dockless vehicle fleets in town—both scooters and bikes. When that happens, I’m interested to see how the RVA Bike Share system fits into how I get around.
Twitter user @RTDBrainTrust has put together The 1st Annual RTDBrainTrust Unsigned Editorial Memorial RVA Journalist Tournament, a bracket for local journalists. This makes me laugh, and I love the good-natured responses from the reporters involved.
This morning's longread
What are other cities around the world doing to limit and discourage single-occupancy car use? Lots of interesting things! Reading this article, I can’t not think about this thread from @RVAbikedad on Twitter. To paraphrase: Yeah, we don’t have an ultrabad traffic problem at the moment, but Richmond is growing and on track to welcome a ton of new people over the next bunch of years. If we don’t plan for that growth now, you can expect all sorts of things—traffic, parking, housing, air quality—to get way worse.
You can’t have a truly fair city unless you start beating back all the cars. “Nonsense!” you might say. “Denying me the unfettered use of my Freedom Machine is the very antithesis of fairness!” Well, sure, it may seem unfair to you and your SUV—especially when you’re looking for a parking space. But letting people in private vehicles run roughshod over the city causes crushing traffic jams, delays public transit, pollutes the air, creates noise, wastes public resources, and takes up an obscene amount of space in a city that doesn’t have enough of it. Oh, and there’s also all the people these automobiles kill.
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