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

Good morning, RVA: Believe Black women, hands-free bill returns, and elk meat

Good morning, RVA! It's 27 °F, but today’s highs will be right back up in the mid-to-upper 50s accompanied by plenty of sunshine.

Water cooler

Michael Paul Williams has a column today about believing victims of sexual assault, especially when those victims are Black women 💸. This column comes immediately after—and maybe prompted by—this terrible, offensive quote by Marty Jewell in the New York Times: “We do know that women, through their scorn, have made false charges against men to get even.” The Times article is worth reading, despite Jewell’s comments, and stitches together the stories of Justin Fairfax’s accuser Meredith Watson, Chicago-based activist Aliyah Young, R. Kelly, and some gut-wrenching statistics. For example: More than four in 10 Black women experience physical violence from an intimate partner during their lifetimes.

The trickeration around the hands-free driving bill continues! Last we spoke of it, the hands-free bill had died due to Republican procedural shenanigans. The bill has now been resurrected, bursting forth from its shallow grave in a new form: An amended version of SB 1768. This bill originally prevented “use of handheld personal communication devices” in a highway work zone, but now, in a bit of Democratic trickeration, the Governor has amended SB 1768 to apply everywhere. The amended bill has the support of Delegate Jeff Bourne, who notes that “the Governor’s amendments address concerns about disparate enforcement against drivers of color and will help ensure this measure is being enforced appropriately across the state.” You should definitely contact your legislator and let them know how you feel about this renewed chance to make streets safer across the Commonwealth. Both the House and Senate will vote on this next week, and the bill will need a simple majority for it to pass as amended.

You get an aquatics center! You get an aquatics center! With Oprah-like egalitarianism, Henrico County officials announced that, through a public-private partnership, they’re turning the Macy’s at Regency Mall into an aquatics center. Mike Platania at Richmond BizSense has the details. This is the western-most sibling in a pair of new swim facilities, the eastern one will sit right off Laburnum. The announcement reminds me of when Henrico built twin palatial libraries, one each in the eastern and western parts of the County.

/r/rva had a thread about where to buy elk meat in town, and someone posted this link about a herd of elk at the Defense Supply Center south of Richmond? And they’ve been there for over 100 years?? Did everyone already know about this?

WTVR, via Alexandra Zernik at the Capital News Service, has an interesting piece about how Arlington County might rename their section of Jefferson Davis Highway. Two things to note from the article: 1) Cities, unlike counties, have the authority to rename streets right now, 2) Arlington’s Jefferson Davis Highway, like most across the country, dates back to the 1920s and is a relic of the proliferation of the racist Lost Cause narrative across America.

The Mayor will host his penultimate budget-related town hall tonight at Thomas Jefferson High School (4100 Grace Street), from 6:30–8:00 PM. You can check out the presentation he gives at these hangouts (PDF) if you can’t make it. Of particular interest to me is the pie chart of which types of properties end up paying what share of real estate tax. After “Commercial & Industrial,” the largest percentage of real estate tax collected comes from homes valued at more than $300,000.

This morning's longread

A stupid gamble on evil machines

Yesterday, I linked to a Twitter thread about the gambling machines coming to Richmond. This story from The Guardian showed up in that thread and paints a bleak picture of this sort of technology in the UK.

How many times, in the year ending September 2016, do you think somebody lost more than £1,000 on one of these machines? Have a think. We aren’t talking about rich people, glitzy casinos or friends having a big night out. We’re talking about people on their own, playing the slots on regular, trafficky, local streets. Poor people. Bored people. Sometimes desperate, sometimes ill. Lonely old men. Women with their babies locked in the car outside. The average national wage is about £25,000. How many times, over a year, do you think £1,000 or more was lost in a single gambling session, on a local high street, in these circumstances? No. You’re wrong. It was 233,071 times.

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Good morning, RVA: School construction costs, government software (!), and the French Film Festival

Good morning, RVA: The Richmond 55.4, slower speeds, and a new trail