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

Good morning, RVA: Changing of the guard, affordable housing, and a police chief interview

Good morning, RVA! It's 65 °F, and we’ve got another great day queued up. You can expect highs in the mid 80s and sunshine. Honestly, the weather looks lovely until at least the middle of next week.

Water cooler

Whoa, huge news! Mark Robinson at the Richmond Times Dispatch says City Attorney Allen Jackson will retire November 1st 💸. While you may not hear about the City Attorney a ton, it’s a very powerful position. The lawyer filling the role technically represents both City Council and the Mayor, which, as you can imagine, leads to all kinds of suboptimal weirdness. Robinson closes his report with this tantalizing bit: “The city attorney’s dual role could be up for debate if the council pursues plans to review the charter, as its members have signaled they would, in the coming months.” This kind of charter change is so totally up my alley, I can hardly wait!

You probably heard that Governor Northam joined high-level state republicans in inviting Trump to Virginia’s upcoming event to celebrate the 400th anniversary of democracy in America. That’s wildly disappointing, of course, but not entirely unexpected. However, I didn’t expect this: Graham Moomaw at the RTD says, that as a result of the presidential invite, Mayor Stoney has resigned from the event’s steering committee 💸. I know, I know, resigning from a planning committee right before the event takes place doesn’t do a whole lot to combat the day-to-day problems facing Richmonders—many of which are caused or exacerbated by racism. But, in my opinion, this is the right thing for a progressive elected official to do and an easy decision to make.

This is a bananas tweet from National Teacher of the Year Rodney Robinson: “I have had policy conversations with every level of government and leaders except Richmond’s city council.” What in the world! I...do not understand how this is possible. Cities and leaders from across the country are lining up to get advice from this guy, and we should, too. Robinson goes on to say he’d love to talk with Council about recruiting teachers of color to work at RPS, and links to this thread from Taikein Cooper that gives folks some background.

Congratulations to the Better Housing Coalition on opening their Union Hill apartments, aka The Goodwyn—Jonathan Spiers at Richmond BizSense has the details. These 52 apartments are available to folks making between 40 and 60 percent of the Area Median Income and are also eligible for vouchers. More of this level of affordable housing, please! Seriously, though: All of these units are full and BHC received over 150 applications.

Public Art Commission meeting agendas are the best because you get to see renderings of what any newly proposed public art looks like. Today the Commission will meet to review this neat, planty mural (PDF) on the 21st Street Pedestrian Tower over on the south side of the river. I love the idea of using public art to help integrate this clearly urban structure into the wild enviornment of the James River Park System. Let’s do more of this sort of thing everywhere!

As foretold, here’s a Richmond Magazine interview with new Richmond Police Chief William C. Smith that’s worth your time. His reflections from 90s-era policing in Richmond are interesting as is the way he views the police’s role in the community.

RVAHub says that the occupancy tax collected across Chesterfield, Hanover, Henrico, and Richmond is up 50% over the last six years. In Richmond, almost all of that tax—one of the few taxes the State allows us to levy—goes towards the Greater Richmond Convention Center Authority to pay down the Convention Center’s debt. I’d love to have someone start a conversation about changing that equation and maybe sending a portion of the 8% tax into the City’s General Fund. We’ve only got but so many ways to raise money in the City, and we need to be clever and flexible with how we use them.

The Mayor will host yet another community office hours tonight, this one in the 1st District at Mary Mumford Elementary School (211 Westmoreland Avenue) at 6:30 PM. By now, you should know the drill. Here’s his presentation (PDF), you can ask him whatever you want, etc, etc, combined sewer overflow.

This morning's longread

The Crane Wife

Dang, I loved reading this piece, and I hope you will, too.

Ten days after I called off my engagement I was supposed to go on a scientific expedition to study the whooping crane on the gulf coast of Texas. Surely, I will cancel this trip, I thought, as I shopped for nylon hiking pants that zipped off at the knee. Surely, a person who calls off a wedding is meant to be sitting sadly at home, reflecting on the enormity of what has transpired and not doing whatever it is I am about to be doing that requires a pair of plastic clogs with drainage holes. Surely, I thought, as I tried on a very large and floppy hat featuring a pull cord that fastened beneath my chin, it would be wrong to even be wearing a hat that looks like this when something in my life has gone so terribly wrong. Ten days earlier I had cried and I had yelled and I had packed up my dog and driven away from the upstate New York house with two willow trees I had bought with my fiancé. Ten days later and I didn’t want to do anything I was supposed to do.

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Good morning, RVA: High-speed rail impacts, speed limit enforcement, and a fake seal

Good morning, RVA: A re-nomination, a cool new trail, and the trailer for HARRIET