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

Good morning, RVA: Guns, elections, and trains

Good morning, RVA! It's 49 °F, but, don’t worry, highs today are back up near 80 °F. Enjoy another excellently early-summer day.

Water cooler

I haven’t mentioned the mass shooting in Virginia Beach yet because I’m having a hard time processing it, and I don’t really know what to say about it. At this moment, for me, things feel hopeless and inevitable. That said, Ned Oliver at the Virginia Mercury has a short story about local jurisdictions advocating for the right to ban guns in municipal buildings. Guns are, of course, banned in all State office buildings, but the Republican-controlled General Assembly hasn’t seen fit to give that power to localities—which is total garbage. In the past couple of days, Richmond City Councilmember Mike Jones has been vocal about this, saying, “I want to see how many members of the VA General Assembly are going to tweet condolences and heart felt sentiments versus writing legislation that will secure Municipal Buildings.“ It’s a small change, banning guns in our local municipal buildings, but it’s a start. It’s at least something. Maybe this is something, too: Graham Moomaw at the Richmond Times-Dispatch says the Governor has scheduled a press conference for today at 10:00 AM to discuss guns 💸 and, possibly, “call for a special session of the General Assembly or issue an executive order.” Unfortunately/realistically, until there are fewer gun-loving Republicans in the General Assembly, Virginia will continue to do absolutely nothing to prevent people from dying due to gun violence. But, as my friend Nicholas constantly reminds me: All seats in the General Assembly are up for election this November (check your voter registration here). By the way, if you are looking for details and coverage on the Virginia Beach shooting, I’d skip the local and national stuff, and head directly to the Virginian-Pilot.

Colette Wallace McEachin has announced that she will seek the nomination to fill Mike Herring’s spot as Commonwealth’s Attorney. McEachin, tapped by Herring, will serve as the interim CA until the election, which, most likely will be on November 5th—the same date we vote for all of our state legislators (see above) and a new 5th District councilmember. The RTD has some of her background. P.S. 10 points to whichever reporter or editor kept the mention of McEachin’s husband out of the piece until the very last sentence.

Y’all, trains are transportation, too! I’m a little out of my depth when it comes to rail, so keep that in mind, but the final Environmental Impact Statement for the DC to Richmond high-speed rail project is out. The executive summary in particular is pretty dang readable (PDF), and gives you an idea of what you can expect when we finally get the new tracks built and the new service implemented. If you scroll all the way down to page 39 you can see lots of project phases that need to happen before construction and most of them are “subject to funding.” The very next step, though, is for the federal government to issue a Record of Decision, which you can encourage them to do by filling out this form over on Virginians for High Speed Rail’s website. I’ll leave you with this kind of depressing sentence from the report: “Further, FRA and DRPT understand that funding for construction—as well as the timelines of separate but related projects—may require that the DC2RVA Project be constructed incrementally over the 20-year planning horizon from 2025 to 2045.” Bleh.

Julie Young at VCU News has a nice profile of Marc Cheatham. Marc runs The Cheats Movement empire which includes the blog, a podcast or two, some rad merch, and solid real-world events. He’s a good dude, and contributes a lot to the conversation. Keep your ears out for the next episode of the Cheats Movement podcast—you may hear someone you recognize!

Richmond’s Brantley Tyndall has officially set off on the Trans Am Bike Race—which is literally a bike race across all of America. You can follow Brantley’s progress on the leaderboard and map here. About two days in, and he’s ridden 500.7 miles 😳.

This morning's longread

Why Don't We Have Pay Toilets in America?

More about public toilets! Here’s a story about how a few students got rid of all of America’s pay-for-use public toilets.

In the early 1900s, when railroads connected America’s biggest cities with rural outposts, train stations were sometimes the only place in town with modern plumbing. To keep locals from freely using the bathrooms, railroad companies installed locks on the stall doors—only to be unlocked by railroad employees for ticketed passengers. Eventually, coin-operated locks were introduced, making the practice both more convenient and more profitable. Pay toilets then sprung up in the nation’s airports, bus stations, and highway rest stops. By 1970, America had over 50,000 pay toilets. By 1980, there were almost none.

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Good morning, RVA: A special session, LGBTQ school policies, and eating fish out of the river

Good morning, RVA: Special election, parking study, rock and roll chicken sandwich