Good morning, RVA! It's 43 °F, and warmish temperatures continue with highs in the mid 50s. Yesterday’s rain has come and gone, and we’ve got maybe an entire week ahead of us for things to dry out.
Mark Robinson at the Richmond Times-Dispatch says Council passed RES. 2019-R009 last night, and, honestly, I don’t know what to think about it or what it means. The resolution is, of course, nonbinding, so maybe it means nothing at all? Assuming it does mean something, RPS now has a funding stream that sounds a lot like The Roanoke 40—let’s call it The Richmond 55.4. The idea is that Council will appropriate 55.4% of the real estate tax receipts to RPS each year. The positives of a plan like this is that it would, theoretically, remove politics from the conversation about funding schools, although I’m sure the politicians would still manage it somehow. No longer would you have this annual drama about how much the Mayor, or ultimately City Council, will fund/underfund schools. It’d just be 55.4% of the real estate tax, every year, to be reevaluated every three years. I have questions! Does the Education Compact—the Voltron-like group made up of School Board, City Council, the Superintendent, and the Mayor—support this plan? What happens if our real estate tax receipts change dramatically (in either direction)? Why is the amount of funding suggested by this resolution less than what RPS says it needs? What other options, presumably being explored by the Education Compact, exist that still dedicate funding to schools and keep the political garment-rending to a minimum? This passed with so little fanfare and so few PDFs to read, that I don’t know what to do with myself!
Earlier this month, the RTD launched Strong Voices, a program designed to “amplify the spirit and hope of women who continue to persevere, who continue to inspire and be inspired, and who are extending the path for new generations.” Now go and read the 9 stories from the 9 local women featured and feel inspired!
Look at this positive Vision Zero news coming out of nowhere: The City will reduce speeds from 35 mph to 25 mph on several sections of Route 1 (including Belvidere Street between Idelwood and Leigh) and reduce speeds from 35 mph to 30 mph on Forest Hill Avenue / Semmes Avenue between Prince George and Cowardin. First, reducing speeds below 30 mph saves lives. Starting on page 12 of this PDF, you can look through a bunch of graphs to convince you that allowing cars to speed through our City is dangerous and terrifying—especially in parts of town full of humans, like VCU’s Monroe Park campus. Second, speed limit reductions are just a first step, and the City needs to follow them up with enforcement of those speeds and changes to the streets to really slow vehicles down. I appreciate the Mayor and the Department of Public Works for taking a step towards making our streets safer for all sorts of folks.
The RTD’s Graham Moomaw has a preview of the new slot machines planned for Colonial Downs’s South Richmond location. @_SmithNicholas_ on Twitter did the math, and these machines allow people to bet $8,100...per hour. Ugh, that makes me feel sick to my stomach. I know we want to squeeze tax revenue out of these things, but, dang, tax revenue from whomst?
Something to keep an eye on! RVA Mag will launch a series by Wyatt Gordon called GRTC Connects: “...each month I’ll be taking one of GRTC’s bus routes from end to end and exploring two neighborhoods at opposite ends of the route...I’ll be choosing neighborhoods with varying demographics and histories to foster conversations on the legacy of redlining, disinvestment, and gentrification within our region.”
Do you love the Capital Trail? Of course you do, who doesn’t? It’s one of our region’s raddest pieces of infrastructure. If you’d like more, similarly rad infrastructure, tonight from 5:00–7:00 PM at Maggie L. Walker Governor’s School (1000 N. Lombardy Street) you can attend a public meeting about the proposed Ashland to Petersburg Trail—a north-south cousin to the Capital Trail. As with every project—infrastructure and otherwise—you can fill out this survey if you can’t make the meeting.
Here’s the latest episode of the Boring Show, to which I have yet to listen. I don’t know how they did it (tune in to find out), but apparently Council flew through their morning presentations and knocked out their first round of discussion on amendments in under two hours?? That’s at least five full hours fewer than I expected. I thought for sure we’d see a ton of Sturm und Drang as members of Council opposed to the Mayor’s budget suggested tens of millions of dollars of cuts to get the thing balanced. I guess this will happen at a later date? You can, of course, subscribe to the Boring Show and have it delivered right to the podcast player of your choice.
This morning's longread
Here’s a perspective on gentrification in Richmond from a resident of the East End that’s part of a larger work on the subject.
From slavery and Jim Crow to highway construction and mass incarceration, there is no shortage of tools in the social infrastructure that contribute to advancing oppression, stifling mobility and exacerbating inequity. These realities linger in the DNA of this city and our country. For my community, Richmond’s East End neighborhood, the latest manifestation of this lingering legacy is gentrification. In 2013, the Executive Director of Richmond Redevelopment & Housing Authority was quoted as saying, “We need urban pioneers.” Pioneers are explorers – people discovering new places for the first time. However, Richmond’s East End neighborhood isn’t a “new place.” Instead, in Richmond, gentrification is colonization, where colonizers “discover” inhabited spaces and supplant their power, culture and economies with their own.
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