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

Good morning, RVA: 5th District drama, high school drama, and Shockoe plans

Good morning, RVA! It's 61 °F, and that is the basically temperature for the rest of the day. Last night’s storms have cooled things down a bit, but, don’t worry, we’ll get back into warmer weather tomorrow.

Water cooler

Today, because I can already hear your eyes rolling when I bring up the Mayor’s proposed budget yet again, I will condense all of my budget-related thoughts down into a single paragraph. First, City Council will meet today to propose budget amendments to a huge stack of departments as well as begin to balance Capital Improvement Plan amendments. I haven’t seen either sets of amendments yet (if you have, send them my way!) but am nervous that someone on Council will decide to strip the $965,000 of new GRTC funding out of the Mayor’s proposed budget. Second, RPS’s School Board meets tonight at 6:00 PM on the 17th floor of City Hall. If you wanted to let your School Board representative know that you support the Mayor’s budget and his Big Time investment in schools, tonight would be the night to do so. The public comment period is right at the beginning of the meeting, and you do not need to sign up ahead of time. Easy peasy. Third, Superintendent Kamras has a great column in his email today about trust (scroll down to the bottom). By far the most common refrain I’ve heard from progressives who do not support the Mayor’s proposal to roll back the Recession-era real estate tax cuts is that they’re convinced RPS cannot be trusted with any more money. If that describes you, please, please read this piece by the Superintendent, and ask yourself: What more could he and the school district do to begin winning your trust? Dude has already done a ton of planning, cutting, efficiency-finding, and it’s time to give him the resources he needs to start rebuilding our school system. Fourth, something to keep in mind and on your calendar: City Council will hold their public hearing on the budget on April 22nd at 6:00 PM. This is the time for the physical manifestation of support for the Mayor’s budget (by showing up in the room). You can, of course, digitally manifest your support (by emailing your councilmember) at any time.

A while back, Councilmember Agelasto moved out of the 5th District—which he was elected to represent—and into the 1st District. As he continues to serve the 5th District he’s faced a couple of challenges to the legitimacy of his position, and this new one, from former 6th District Councilmember Sa’ad El-Amin (circa 1998–2003), seems the realest. Commonwealth’s Attorney Mike Herring says that while he appreciates El-Amin’s stance he doesn’t want to disrupt budget season with litigation. First, hmmmmmm! Second, how come the only people working to oust Agelasto are former Richmond City Councilfolk?

Bill Lehman at the RTD has a story about the current theatre production at Armstrong High School 💸. Why is this a big deal? Well: It’s “the first in-house theatrical production at the school in at least two decades.” Until very recently, Armstrong did not have a useable auditorium—and even for this production they had to borrow a spotlight from another school. Remember last week’s longread about how school doesn’t have to be boring and a lot of important student-led learning takes place during extracurriculars like theatre? We’ve deprived decades of Armstrong students even the full opportunity for such a thing because of, among other things, simple facility maintenance needs. That’s unacceptable. The show, Once on This Island runs this Wednesday and Thursday at 6:30 PM. Tickets are $5 and available online.

The old, abandoned railroad tracks on Brook just south of the post office are a dangerous hazard for folks on bikes. They’ve been that way for years and years and have become a sort of Northside Bike Safety White Whale for me. So you can imagine my surprise and excitement when I opened up my email this weekend and saw that the Department of Public Works will close the street from Tuesday, April 23rd to Friday, April 26th (7:30 AM–9:00 PM) to remove the railroad tracks! This is great news and pairs well with the forthcoming Brook Road bike lane which ends in this general area. Thanks, DPW!

The Shockoe Alliance will hold their first community meeting tonight at 6:00 PM in Main Street Station. This group sounds like an attempt to pull together all of the past, present, and future Shockoe planning efforts into one big, smokin-hot stew to create a cohesive plan for the area. This is important, and if you live, work, play, or worship in the area, you should get involved. Plans like this guide the growth of a neighborhood—just check out what the VUU/Chamberlayne plan (PDF) that I keep talking about is doing for that part of town. Sarah King at Richmond Magazine has more details.

The Richmond Book Art Fair, put on by Studio Two Three seems awesome. Stop by between 11:00 AM and 1:00 PM any time this week for demonstrations of all kinds of book-related arts and then, later in the evening, a ton of interesting workshops, panels, and talks. The whole shebang culminates on Saturday with a day-long fair. Sign up for something—or everything!

This morning's longread

How A.S.M.R. Became a Sensation

I’d like to read this same piece, but written by someone slightly less cynical who also experiences ASMR.

The poster went on to demand an explanation. In the discussion, nobody had one, but many described a similar feeling — a “silvery sparkle” inside the head, a euphoric “brain-gasm” or a feeling like goose bumps in the scalp that faded “in and out in waves of heightened intensity.” Many people agreed that the sensation was euphoric. Its triggers were as varied as watching someone fill out a form, listening to whispering sounds or seeing Bob Ross paint landscapes on TV. Allen scrolled through pages and pages of discussion. Oh my gosh, she remembers thinking. These people are talking about exactly what I experience.

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Good morning, RVA: The City Charter, combined sewer overflow, and vegetables

Good morning, RVA: Monument 10k, work-in-street permits, and Old Town Road