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

Good morning, RVA: New police chief, FOIA’d documents, and a chance to do something

Good morning, RVA! It's 71 °F, and highs today will sulk around in the mid 90s. I think that might officially cross into “just too hot, y’all” territory. Stay hydrated and stay inside if you can.

Water cooler

Richmond Police have identified the person hit and killed by a driver in Shockoe Bottom yesterday as Shanice A. Woodberry, 22. They have also classified this incident as a homicide.

Yesterday, Mayor Stoney announced that he’ll hire Interim Chief William C. Smith as the next official chief of the Richmond Police Department. Hiring someone internally is rare for RPD—this is the first time since 1967—and isn’t what I expected as the result of a pretty significant and public search process. The aforelinked press release has some reactions from a few Richmonders. Other than that, I haven’t seen a ton of reactions to the hire, but, admittedly, haven’t spent a lot of time looking. I imagine folks will soon have Some Thoughts and that we’ll start seeing some interviews/profiles over the next couple of weeks. Stay tuned!

Streets Cred has a new post up about crossing Broad Street at the Staples Mill Pulse station—specifically, how terrible and dangerous this crossing is to make on foot after grabbing a milkshake at CookOut. Check out the post for a menu of possible solutions and some options other mid-sized cities are using to make big streets safer for people. I love this quote from 1st District Councilmember Addison, in whose district this station lives: “The lack of safe infrastructure for pedestrians to access the Staples Mill Pulse stations is just another example of how we have consistently prioritized personal vehicle use over people. It’s time to change that trend.” Yes! It is! So let’s do something about it! Next steps: Let Councilmember Addison () know that you agree with him that safe pedestrian access to the Pulse is important and that we need to get some funding allocated to implement changes to this part of Broad Street. Unrelated, but not really!, you can check out the (impressive) CookOut milkshake menu here.

Mark Robinson at the Richmond Times-Dispatch works through some of the recently FOIA’d documents describing the organizational structure of NH District 💸, the group proposing to build a new downtown arena. You can view the full PDFs—part one and part two—on Scribd. I’m still confused about why the Mayor and his administration would work so hard to keep these documents private. Honestly, they seem kind of boring? I need someone smarter than me to read through them with a fine-tooth comb and report back any theoretically juicy bits.

5th District City Council update! Justin Mattingly says Graham Strum, an Armstrong High School teacher, has entered the race. Insert your own #DemDebates joke here.

A quick City Council reminder: The Mayor’s proposed ordinance banning guns in City-owned buildings and in City-owned parks (ORD. 2019-165) heads to the Governmental Operations committee today at 12:00 PM. I imagine that Council’s debate over this ordinance will be an interesting conversation worth listening to. So, if you’re around and feeling nerdy, make sure to tune in.

The James River is a huge area full of nature—nature like this dang picture of a coyote somewhere in the city limits, north of the river!

I keep trying to figure out what I can do, personally, about the concentration camps along our country’s southern border. It seems so far away and so out of my lane—as both the author of Richmond’s Premier Daily Zoning and Rezoning Email or as a Regional Transit Person. And I know it’s sophomoric and self-centered—literally centering myself in the the narrative of what is happening in America right now—but it gets me good every time someone says “If you want to know what you’d be doing in 1930s Germany, it’s what you’d be doing now.” I can’t help but feel like what I am doing now is not enough. So! Here’s the plan: I make about $600 from Good Morning, RVA each month. This month, I’m donating half of that to RAICES. If you tweet (@rosscatrow) or email me your donation receipt I’ll match it up to a total of $900. It’s not a lot of money, but it’s for a good cause, and it’s something we can do.

This morning's longread

The Six-Year Struggle to Regain Ownership of the ‘This Is Fine’ Dog

I had no idea we knew the identity of the This is Fine artist! They seem awesome, and I’m glad having their work turn meme has been profitable.

And yet, there’s a counterexample that should inspire hope for anyone whose content has been ganked for the lulz. Another cartoonist, KC Green, similarly saw one of his characters meme-ified for political purposes. The figure was initially named Question Hound but has since been dubbed the This Is Fine Dog. Across social media, we see him sitting in a burning room with a dumb smile on his face, musing to himself, “This is fine.” It’s a simple, potent image that captures the tenor of our chaotic times and the reactions of those who refuse to accept awful reality, and it’s been used far and wide. What makes Green’s story different from those of folks like Furie is that he has, astoundingly enough, been able to harness the meme’s success for profit and greater recognition, and is surprisingly renowned as its creator. He says the trick is vigilance, luck, and not being afraid to steal from your thieves.

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Good morning, RVA: School rezoning maps, single family zoning update, and assessments

Good morning, RVA: Pedestrian death, a bronze ranking, and RVA Street Art Festival returns