Good morning, RVA! It's 50 °F, and today you should expect light-jacket weather with highs in the mid 60s. The summery temperatures from the last couple of days will take a break and return tomorrow.
It’s here! Today, after...decades?...The Market @ 25th, a full-service grocery store, will open in the East End. There’s a short ceremony at 10:00 AM featuring a ribbon cutting and remarks, with shopping for fresh and healthy food (or chips, I guess) following. You know Councilmember Newbille will be on hand to say a few words about all her hard work over the last forever in making this grocery store a reality.
City Council will have another all-day meeting today to work towards balancing the budget. I honestly have no idea what that vibe in the room will be like, as last we left them, six members of Council had requested outside legal representation to investigate forcing the mayor to unlock about $6 million in new revenue. Most of the budget-related chatter I heard over the weekend centered around the decision of five members of Council to strip $965,000 of new funding from GRTC (Gray, Hilbert, Larson, Agelasto, Trammell—incidentally, that’s the same five plus Addison that wanted the outside legal representation). Since last week, there’s been talk by some councilmembers to “mandate” that GRTC provide the improvements that the $965,000 would have funded—but without actually funding them. What a terrible and punitive idea! This will result in $965,000 of bus service being cut from some other neighborhood in need. Is Council ready and willing to mandate which City residents will lose their bus service?
I absolutely loved this piece by Richard Meagher titled “Why do we hate city government?” Over the past several decades, the Richmond region has intentionally constructed a false and racist narrative of Black incompetence at City Hall. Meagher puts it well: “Many urban areas have bureaucracies filled with a black middle class, but who are also especially prone to being characterized by those myths I talked about earlier. So many white Richmonders often ignore how taxes go to pay for necessary services like parks, law enforcement, and health clinics. Instead, they see taxes as payments to “lazy, corrupt bureaucrats,” who just happen to be the same “lazy, shiftless” people white Americans have always scapegoated, especially here in the South.” Think about this the next time you read a story or see a headline about incompetence, inefficiency, or waste at the City. Meagher‘s got a good follow up piece on three ways he thinks that the Mayor has undermined his own proposed budget: (lack of) communication, conflict with council, and the downtown arena. I think he’s right in that all three of these play a role to some degree, but the aforementioned racist narrative does the most work against finding new revenue for needed services in Richmond.
Tina Eshleman at Richmond Magazine writes about the James River Park System’s newish superintendent and their ongoing master planning process. Since I live here and see it every day, it’s easy for me to forget that the James River is this amazing resource filled with totally rad stuff to do just rolling right through the middle of our downtown. You can just go out there and see a dang bald eagle! What the heck!
Here’s the Richmond Times-Dispatch’s story about Trump not presenting Richmond’s Rodney Robinson the National Teacher of the Year Award. That news is unsurprising and whatever, but this quote from Superintendent Kamras is everything: “Of all Americans, it may be the president who most needs to hear Rodney’s message of equity, inclusion and justice...As Rodney has so powerfully demonstrated with his work, our greatness as a country comes from the millions of people of all backgrounds who strive every day to right the wrongs of the past so we can become a more perfect union.” 🔥🔥🔥
Colleen Curran has a long and interesting article in the RTD about Richmond’s housing market 💸, which, while not mentioned in the article, just screams affordable housing crisis to me.
Whoa, whoa, whoa, Richmonder Brian Palmer won a Peabody for his work on the true cost of Confederate monuments! You can listen to the award-winning episode on The Reveal podcast or, if you’d rather read, check out this article in Smithsonian Magazine. Richmonders are doing amazing things!
Even when writing about local wonderful bookstore Chop Suey Books, the New York Times couldn’t resist kicking off the article with references to the Civil War and reminding everyone that Richmond was, in fact, the former capital of the Confederacy. Boring and lazy framing, NYT!
Are you a woman who works in a STEAM field and wants to share their knowledge and experience with a group of whip-smart and curious middle school girls? If so, consider leading a workshop at the annual Full STEAM Ahead conference. Come on! Share your brain with others! If you are into leading a workshop, that application is due May 2nd. If you are or know a rising 6th–rising 9th grade girl who’d love to spend the day of June 29th STEAMing it up, that registration will open in May.
This morning's longread
I absolutely love profiles of random, niche industries. Remember that glitter article from a while back? Here’s one but about raisins!
Mr. Overly installed a security system at his house in Fresno. At Sun-Maid headquarters, he and other executives discussed the necessity of active shooter trainings. As rumors about Mr. Overly’s motives swirled among raisin farmers, raisin packers and raisin bureaucrats, he became increasingly concerned about the safety of the raisins themselves. He feared that the current crop, drying from grapes to a wrinkly, shrunken state in bins on the Sun-Maid campus, would be set ablaze. It was their destruction by “fire, specifically,” that worried him, he said.
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