Good morning, RVA! It's 64 °F, and beautiful weather continues. Expect another chill day (not that kind of chill) with highs in the 80s.
Today, City Council will have another, very important budget work session. Armed with whatever they learned from the hours of public comment at Monday’s public hearing, they will now try and come to consensus on rolling back the Recession-era real estate tax cuts. Dun dun dunnnn! What even will happen?? I don’t know for sure, but I’m on the record with a prediction of raising the real estate tax rate to $1.25ish and fully funding the near entirety of the Mayor’s proposed budget. Councilmember Jones says “I think we have five for fully funding schools.” Keep in mind that “fully funding schools” can happen in a variety of ways. For example, Councilmember Addison has a plan to fully fund schools without rolling back the Recession-era tax cuts. He does so by cutting 1.5% from every City department, cutting about $5 million from new funded-but-vacant City positions, cutting $3 million from a program to encourage folks working for the City to retire, and squeezing $3 million out of the tax-delinquent property / development agreement thing that I still don’t quite follow. He also suggests creating a special fund for the Dreams4RPS strategic plan, which means money earmarked for the plan can only be spent on the plan. I disagree strongly with the first two cuts on that list, as they are pretty much the definition of equal but inequitable. The other items, though, sound like the ingredients for some sort of compromise. Two things that I want to say out loud: 1) While I disagree with the core of Councilmember Addison’s plan, he’s done the work and submitted the budget amendments to fully fund all of the investments in the Mayor’s proposed budget. 2) I deeply appreciate these long posts of his that let us know what he’s thinking and how he got there. I wish more councilfolk would do the same. If you want to listen along live to City Council’s budget discussion, head over to this page around 9:00 AM and click the “In progress” link in the row for today’s meeting.
Dudes! SPEAKING OF CITY COUNCIL, Councilmember Parker Agelasto will resign effective November 30th! Remember how he bought a new house in the 1st District and then an angry clutch of former councilmembers called for his resignation? Here’s Agelasto’s own words: “I have always had to balance my governmental life with my personal life and the prospect of expensive legal actions against me, balanced with the fact that I am not seeking re-election, makes it difficult, if not impossible, to continue serving as your representative. Therefore, effective November 30, 2019, I will resign and vacate my seat on City Council with, effectively, a full year remaining in my four year term. My arrival at this decision has been exceptionally difficult.” You can read the full announcement here, which is fascinating, includes some digs at the legal advice provided by City Attorney Allen Jackson, and suggests that the City queue up a special election to coincide with the general election on November 5th (to avoid the costs of a separate election—always about the details, that Agelasto). OK, 5th District, who’s ready to run for City Council?
Thad Williamson has a column in the Richmond Times-Dispatch about City government efficiencies. Williamson should know a bit about this, as former head of the Office of Community Wealth Building and former senior policy advisor to Mayor Stoney. I like his closing thoughts: “If City Council is seriously interested in an improved government and an improved school system, it should fund the budget requested. It then should vigorously demand improved accountability, transparency and communication from both agencies and the schools in FY 2020 and beyond.“
Roberto Roldan at WCVE talks about a true fact: Not enough folks know about the City’s Tax Relief program that’s available to seniors and folks with disabilities. When we talk about the real estate tax, this program seems like another place for City Council to compromise around. Can we double the Department of Finance’s marketing budget for the tax relief program? Can we hire a couple folks from every council district to go door-to-door and spread the word? I’d like to see creative policy ideas from Councilmembers who are for fully funding critical City services but worry about how raising taxes will impact the most vulnerable Richmonders.
At some point today, on CBS This Morning, we’ll find out if Richmond Public Schools’s Rodney Robinson is the National Teach of the Year! I don’t know when that is, so it could be happening now, in the future, or have already happened. Good luck, Rodney!
This morning's longread
Depressing that we keep coming up with new hellsites on which folks can shout terrible things at women.
Once upon a time, in 1999, when the internet was small, when it came through your phone and not just on your phone, when the first browser war had not yet been won, when you had to teach yourself a few lines of code if you wanted to exist online, when the idea of broadcasting your real name for anyone to see was unthinkable — in those early days, before Twitter revolutions, before Facebook Live homicides, when the internet was small and most people didn’t understand it, and only the nerds hung out there — even then, it was already happening. Even then, people hated girls on the internet.
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