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

Good morning, RVA: Violence, bus numbers, and music stories

Good morning, RVA! It's 54 °F, but highs today will hit a summery 80 °F. Assuming the sun finds its way out from behind the clouds, we’re heading into a top-notch Wednesday.

Water cooler

Richmond Police are reporting three murders in the City—the first in over a month. This past Saturday, officers were called to the 1300 block of Coalter Street and found Malik D. Banks, 21, shot to death. Then, on Monday, police were called to the 1800 block of Southlawn Avenue and found Tijuan D. Davis, 20, and Eric D. Wheless, 21, shot to death in a vehicle. The Richmond Times-Dispatch’s Ali Rockett has a few more details on the double homicide and an update on this year’s statistics. You can always find a list of Richmond’s homicide victims on the RPD’s website.

Yesterday, GRTC had their monthly board meeting which means new and exciting (for me) monthly ridership numbers. Compared to last March, ridership is up almost 25%! Bananas! The Pulse accounted for 175,361 rides, or about 33% of the total system ridership. I think this makes March the 2nd highest ridership month since at least July of 2017 (PDF)?

Tracy Sears at WTVR says Richmond Public Schools is looking to replace 10 principals at the end of the school year. The folks quoted in this article are, perhaps understandably, upset. I think this is a good illustration of the tough, damned-if-they-do-damned-if-they-don’t spot RPS and the Superintendent are in. Opponents of fully funding schools say that the District hasn’t done enough to demonstrate a willingness to make changes, and then, when changes are made, folks say its too much (or the wrong kind of) change. Stressful.

It’s time for Style Weekly’s annual music issue! There are a ton of stories to work through, and I haven’t had the time to do so but am interested in this story about Spacebomb, this one about Natalie Press, and this feature on the RVA Rap Elite series.

What’s up with Virginia’s Medicaid work requirement? Katie O’Connor at the Virginia Mercury knows all about it, but, basically, we’re either waiting on federal approval of Virginia’s program or for federal courts to decide work requirements in general are against the law.

Kind of related: The Commonwealth Institute looks at maternal mortality rates for Black women in Virginia. If you are a pregnant Black woman in Virginia, your chance of dying during pregnancy or within six weeks of the end of pregnancy is 1.9 times higher than the rate for all women. That is awful. TCI looks at a few potential policies to help change those numbers including the aforementioned Medicaid expansion as well as possibly increasing access to doula services.

Mel Leonor at the RTD has a horse-race article about political fundraising at the state level 💸 with an ominous-sounding (for Democrats) title. I wanted to link to it and point to the important bits a bout halfway down: House Democrats, Senate Democrats, and the Democratic Party of Virginia all raised more money than their Republican counterparts during this reporting period. The multiple scandals facing Virginia’s Executive Branch are real, real bad, but don’t let that fact (or a stack of sullen headlines between now and November) convince you to stay at home on Election Day. You can find more detailed campaign finance reports over on VPAP.

Somehow, we’re already in the beginnings of the 2020 presidential election season—even though Virginia’s primary on March 3rd is almost an entire year away. I think I’m going to mostly ignore the pageantry and politics until we get much, much closer to actual 2020, but I did like this bit at the very bottom of a piece about Beto by the RTD’s Patrick Wilson: “At the Norfolk diner, [Beto] inquired about — but did not attempt — the Charlie’s Challenge, something no politician has ever completed. It requires eating a 12-egg omelette with habanero sauce, and eight pancakes.”

This morning's longread

It's the (Democracy-Poisoning) Golden Age of Free Speech

There’s nothing new or shocking in this piece, it’s just a really well-written reminder that we should be thoughtful about how and why we use social media.

What’s more, all this online speech is no longer public in any traditional sense. Sure, Facebook and Twitter sometimes feel like places where masses of people experience things together simultaneously. But in reality, posts are targeted and delivered privately, screen by screen by screen. Today’s phantom public sphere has been fragmented and submerged into billions of individual capillaries. Yes, mass discourse has become far easier for everyone to participate in—but it has simultaneously become a set of private conversations happening behind your back. Behind everyone’s backs. Not to put too fine a point on it, but all of this invalidates much of what we think about free speech—conceptually, legally, and ethically.

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Good morning, RVA: Budget equity, McAuliffe returns, and Planeteers!

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