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

Good morning, RVA: Checking in with the National Teacher of the Year, Storm drain art, and a river adventure

Good morning, RVA! It's 58 °F, and highs today will creep up into the 70s. We’ve got a slightly cooler, more springlike week ahead of us.

Water cooler

This past Thursday afternoon, Lonnie W. Carter, 43, was shot to death. Richmond Police officers arrived to the 00 block of W. 27th Street and found Carter unresponsive and suffering from a fatal gunshot wound.

Justin Mattingly at the Richmond Times-Dispatch checks in on National Teacher of the Year Rodney Robinson and his plan to advocate for more teacher diversity 💸—specifically for more Black male teachers. You can follow National Teacher of the Year Rodney Robinson directly on Twitter to keep up with the year of advocacy that’s part of winning the award. National Teacher of the Year! It’s still so exciting.

City Council will have a special meeting today at 5:00 PM to handle some of the procedural work related to their handshake agreement on this year’s budget. Boring stuff, but, and this is less boring, they’ll also consider a “motion to approve petition for special election.” I think that means we’ll learn when the 5th District will have its special election to replace Councilmember Agelasto, and that means we’ll probably start hearing from interested candidates. Are you an interested candidate? It’s a wide-open race, so maybe you should be? Related, and something to keep an eye on, the folks trying to oust Agelasto from City Council (because he no longer lives in the 5th District) still have some irons in the fire and will try to get the courts involved before the Councilmember’s planned November resignation.

Planning Commission will also meet today and consider some new storm drain art for Scott’s Addition. Check out the six proposed pieces, artists, and locations (PDF). This is the fourth year the Department of Public Utilities has paid artists to paint cool stuff on storm drains, and you can learn more over on the RVA H2O website.

Steve Hedberg, writing for Richmond Magazine, tells the story of his attempt to paddle as many of the 320 navigable miles of the James River as possible. He got through 270, lost three hats, and only flipped his kayak once—certainly seems like success to me.

The process to pick a Republican candidate in the Virginia’s 97th District, which was already a mess, continues to devolve into deeper chaos. Andrew Cain at the RTD says that we’ve got one candidate declaring himself the nominee while state-level Republicans say the balloting process wasn’t a legitimate one. Yikes!

Last week I mentioned a cool event I’m hosting with my pal Max as part of Bike Month called Max and Ross Bike Things. On May 20th, join us at Monroe Park at 6:00 PM for a bike-based tour of all of Richmond’s hottest new transportation infrastructure. We’ll talk about the procedure and politics behind what we’ve got and the possibility for more. We’ll end at a brewery, because Richmond. It’ll be fun, casual, and a cool way to learn about some of the stuff I’m always writing about in this space.

This morning's patron longread

Botanical Sexism Cultivates Home-Grown Allergies

Submitted by Patron Susan. Ahhhhh! We’ve made such a terrible mistake!

Prior to the 1970s there was only limited demand for new street trees, since almost every street in America seemed to be lined with those big, grand, long-lived stately American elm trees. But then Dutch elm disease struck and suddenly millions of our city trees started to die. By the mid-1980s many millions of elms had died and many streets were suddenly treeless. Enter the new modern, university-recommended trees: the clonal males. In short order millions of these wind-pollinated trees were grown, sold and planted to replace the old insect-pollinated elms. It took a number of years for these new trees to mature enough to start to bloom, but eventually they did and with them came more city pollen and the “epidemic of allergy and asthma.” Many of these same trees are still alive and well and getting even larger, and the bigger they get, the more pollen they shed.

If you’d like your longread to show up here, go chip in a couple bucks on the ol’ Patreon.

Good morning, RVA: More great NTotY content, special election, and a new purveyor of fine electric scooters

Good morning, RVA: Police data by race, Vision Zero infrastructure, and cool snakes