Good morning, RVA! It's 55 °F, and today’s weather looks incredible. Highs will hit 70 °F, the sun will come out, and we’ll have nary a tornado watch as far as the eye or radar can see.
Well, it has arrived: Tonight at City Hall (2nd Floor) from 6:00 PM until question mark, City Council will host their one-and-only scheduled public hearing on the Mayor’s proposed budget. It’s an excellent opportunity to actually do civics yourself and hear firsthand—from the dais—how some councilfolk would rather inflict a bunch of austerity cuts on the City than roll back the Recession-era tax cuts to fund schools, streets, housing, and transit. Should you still need convincing that this is the right thing to do, first, read this excellent piece by the Rev. Ben Campbell. To quote a bit: “This budget is suitable for a City Council, a School Board, and a Mayor who can hold their heads up and do things right — not extravagantly, but not pitifully either. The taxes are necessary...It’s time to succeed. We can, and we should. No need to apologize.” Next, RPS School Board Chair Dawn Page finally has the piece I’ve been looking for about how Councilmembers Gray and Larson both asked for full funding of RPS while school board members, built full funding into their council campaigns, and yet, now, both are proposing cuts to RPS’s budget request. Finally—to arm you with some context, details, and background—Thad Williamson and Ravi Perry have their “Top-Ten Takeaways from the RVA Budget Process (So Far...). Double finally, I assigned as homework reading through all of the proposed budget amendments over the weekend. Turns out, I have yet to see a publicly available list of every amendment that’s proposed and who’s signed on to what. I can’t overstate how bummed I am that tonight’s public hearing will take place with citizens pretty much in the dark about what’s even on the table for City Council to consider. If you’ve got a public copy of the amendments, please send it my way!
OK, OK, just one more budget-related thing! City Council must pass a balanced budget. To do that this year, they’ve got to cut tens of millions of dollars from the Mayor’s proposed budget or they’ve got to find new sources of revenue from a very small list of taxes permitted by the state government. Admissions tax is something Richmond can levy, and a couple of councilmembers have proposed nearly doubling the tax to help close that budget gap. Lucas Fritz, owner of the Broadberry, has a column in Style this week about how increasing the admissions tax would impact Richmond’s music scene. Raising the rate to 14% does seem like a massive increase, but, according to Fritz’s own numbers, there might be room to raise the rate by a couple percent without putting the City at a competitive disadvantage. It’s still nibbling at the edges, though—real estate tax is the only place to get the amount of money Richmond needs to thrive.
Justin Mattingly at the Richmond Times-Dispatch has a great profile of RPS teacher and National Teacher of the Year candidate Rodney Robinson 💸. Mattingly says we’ll know if Robinson is literally the best teacher in America by the end of the week. Ahhhh! I felt emotions reading this!
It’s Earth Day, which reminds me to share the results of my Captain Planet Twitter Poll! With 48% of the vote, fictional character Kwame (Earth) wins the very prestigious GMRVA Best Planeteer Award. Full disclosure: Twitter would only let me include four options, so I left out the White guy from America. Earth Day also reminds me of this non-fiction thing: 29% of Richmond’s greenhouse gas emissions come from the transportation sector (PDF). If we want to prevent our beautiful town from becoming a post-climate-change hellscape we need folks to start shifting their mode of travel away from single-occupancy vehicles towards almost anything else.
Also on the climate tip, Mechelle Hankerson at the Virginia Mercury says Virginia is the first Southern state to cap carbon emissions. Honestly, it’s way more complicated, both politically and logistically, than that previous sentence. But! It’s Earth Day so let’s celebrate the wins.
This morning's patron longread
Submitted by Patron Casey. I know a few folks who crisscross the region daily, piecing together an almost livable wage from a handful of adjunct positions, and...it does not sound great.
To be a perennial adjunct professor is to hear the constant tone of higher education’s death knell. The story is well known—the long hours, the heavy workload, the insufficient pay—as academia relies on adjunct professors, non-tenured faculty members, who are often paid pennies on the dollar to do the same work required of their tenured colleagues.
If you’d like your longread to show up here, go chip in a couple bucks on the ol’ Patreon.