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

Good morning, RVA: Budget season begins, Bermuda Hundred, and trains

Good morning, RVA! It's 24 °F, and today’s highs won’t break 40 °F. But! It looks like a dry and sunny day ahead of us. I’ll take it; my back yard is starting to mold over.

Water cooler

Today, at 3:00 PM in Council Chambers, Mayor Levar Stoney will present his proposed budget to City Council, officially kicking off Budget Season aka the most wonderful time of the year. I didn’t invent the saying, but it’s true: You can tell a City’s real priorities not by what politicians say but by what’s in their budget—ideally the two things align. So what priorities will the Mayor lay out this year? If I had to guess it would be a continued commitment to schools (which may not mean more money over last year, but certainly not less) and housing (possibly framed around eviction). Of course, if I tell my brain to hush and let my heart take hold, I would love to see more money for transit, more money for bike infrastructure, more money for Vision Zero, and, really, just more money in general. I haven’t banged on the Increase the Property Tax™ drum in a while, but, at some point, we’re gonna need more revenue. Council will kick off their deliberations on Monday, March 11th, with a daylong meeting of presentations by departments trying to justify their budgetary existence. On the agenda: Public Schools; Public Utilities; Economic Development; Housing and Community Development; Planning & Development Review; and Parks, Rec. and Community Facilities. With Councilmember Newbille leading these meetings, they may actually get through all of those scheduled presentations in a single day! I will post the audio from the meetings, beginning with today’s initial budget presentation, to The Boring Show podcast as quickly as a I can. Go ahead and subscribe now.

I forget who sent it to me, so, apologies, but this article about the history of slavery at Bermuda Hundred in Chesterfield is excellent. Great work by Rich Griset in the Chesterfield Observer, and you should mark this as your reading homework for the day.

Mark Robinson at the Richmond Times-Dispatch says the Governor will consider signing a statewide law that will “require Virginia’s localities to reinvest fees and money from building permitting into the departments administering them 💸.” This is HB 1966 introduced by Del. Yancey, which passed both the House and Senate with just a single vote against and has the support of a handful of local orgs and civic associations. As with most things, I’m clueless about this and would love to learn more! How much money does permitting bring in now? Would those funds even cover the gap in needs in Richmond’s permitting process? Are the funds already dedicated to the permitting department anyway? Is this legislation even necessary? While I hear anecdotal evidence all the time about the lack of efficiency at the permitting office in City Hall, I’m also annoyed by state legislation that forces the City do things with their budget. I’m sure someone will fill me in?

Scooter update! Mike Platania in Richmond BizSense says we should have Lime scooters “on the ground in the springtime.” March is basically springtime, right? ANY DAY NOW??

I don’t talk about trains in this space very often, but this seems like good news: According to C. Suarez Rojas in the RTD, the State has completed a bypass around Acca Yard. This does not get us high-speed rail service to D.C., but, as far as I can tell, it is a necessary first step. If high-speed rail service is a thing that gets you going, go give Virginians for High Speed Rail a holler.

Whoa, I hadn’t thought about the consequences to our trails of having all that water angrily rushing down the James River for the past forever. Jake Burns at WTVR talked to the Superintendent of the James River Park System to find out more, and, turns out, it’s a lot of consequences!

Richmond Magazine now has two ways for you to relive last week’s Mayorathon: Policy Jam—a video of the entire event and Sarah King’s written recap. I think it’s so incredibly important to build a public way to keep our local elected officials accountable, and that also means building the culture of doing so. Mayorathon attempts to do both!

This morning's longread

Heavy Metal Confronts Its Nazi Problem

I love metal and I hate racism, but sometimes those things entwine in insidious ways. I’m glad folks are proactively working to untangle the two.

The set was part of a fifteen-band weekend festival at Brooklyn Bazaar, in Greenpoint, called Black Flags Over Brooklyn, which was organized as probably New York City’s first anti-Fascist extreme-metal show. It was planned partly as a celebration of an underground form of music that has traditionally thrived on images of drama and danger, and partly as a response to a subgenre known as National Socialist black metal, which espouses neo-Nazi views and has been described by the Southern Poverty Law Center as aiming to recruit youth to white-supremacist causes. The organizer of the Black Flags show, Kim Kelly, who, until recently, was a metal editor for Noisey and has written for Pitchfork, Spin, and Rolling Stone, said that, although National Socialist black-metal bands comprise only a small percentage of metal music, they have recently had outsized visibility. And, as far-right movements have grown in the United States and Europe, she said, some metal fans have begun having discussions about politics and expression that mirror those taking place in the broader culture.

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Good morning, RVA: The Mayor’s budget is bold, homelessness in Richmond, and the Byrd Park Reservoir

Good morning, RVA: Mardi Gras, a housing framework, and signed editorials