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

Good morning, RVA: Hello again!, arena news, and the Canal Walk

Good morning, RVA! It's 76 °F, and highs today will hit somewhere in the mid 90s. Today looks like a sunny, humid, and great way to start the week.

Water cooler

So many arena-related things happened while I was out of town that it was hard to keep track of everything. The tl;dr, as I understand it, is that Richmond will have zero Arena Referenda on the ballot this November (at one point we could have had as many as two). That’s a really simple resolution to what felt like two weeks of continual arena onslaught. Both the Paul Goldman-led referendum, which ended up with too few signatures to make it on the ballot, and the non-binding, advisory referendum sponsored by Councilmembers Gray and Trammell, which failed in Council by a slim margin, were anti-arena referendums. However, I don’t know that we can extrapolate Council’s general position on the proposed Coliseum replacement from their votes on this referendum—I’d have voted against it, too, regardless of how I feel about the project. The important takeaway from all of this is that Council is divided on the matter, and whoever gets elected in the 5th District special election will most likely be the swing vote—a stressful (or powerful) position for a new, baby legislator. Anyway, as far as news coverage goes, I really enjoyed this column from one of the Richmond Times-Dispatch’s sports reporters, Paul Woody, about the proposed coliseum replacement 💸. He highlights what I think are two compelling arguments against the project: 1) It’s a regional amenity and the region should help pay for it (this is how things work with the convention center), and 2) The BigTIF, which may generate swimming pools of cash at the end of 30 years, kneecaps the City’s general fund possibly for decades. More on this, I’m sure, in the coming weeks as everyone continues to dig through the documents and City Council’s advisory board starts to get to work.

This week’s email from Richmond Public Schools Superintendent Jason Kamras has some good reflections on the recently released RPS SOL scores. I liked this bit in particular: “In terms of growth, we actually outperformed the counties. Yup, you heard that right. We were the only school division in the area to see gains in three subject areas. Of course, we still lag far behind the counties in overall achievement. But I do think it's worth noting when RPS distinguishes itself academically.” If you want to dig in for yourself, you can download massive spreadsheets from the Virginia Department of Education that contain all of the scores for all of the schools in RPS or any division in the state. In other schools-related news, we’re still in the midst of the public conversations about rezoning. Make sure you check the summer rezoning meeting schedule for this week’s meeting dates, times, and locations.

Back in December, Richmond’s City Council adopted ORD. 2018-241 which requires the City to create a homeless strategic plan. Homeward is running the show on that plan, and has a survey for folks to fill out ahead of putting it all together. It’s not just a survey for homelessness service providers or for people who’ve experienced homelessness—they’re looking for feedback from concerned citizens as well as from residents who live or work near a homeless services facility.

Gregory J. Gillian at the RTD has some details on a hotel planned for the southern side of the canal. Not only would the new hotel bring retail to the actual Canal Walk, it’d replace the scrappy old Reynolds Metal Building that currently looms over the canal. Sounds like a potentially big upgrade if the developers can get the handful of approvals required by the City. It took a billion years, but it seems like we’re finally starting to see the canal take shape as a pedestrian-focused space surrounded by residential and retail—just like San Antonio’s, which I’m sure inspired City leaders at some point in the far past.

Each one of these pieces in the New York Times’s 1619 Project probably deserves to be its own longread—and may eventually show up below! But, because I’m way behind on my reading and who knows when I’ll catch up, I wanted to get the link into y’all’s inboxes ASAP.

This morning's longread

A Walk In Hong Kong

This firsthand look at the protests going on in Hong Kong by one of my favorite internet writers is worth your time.

The protesters divide themselves into groups based on how much they can risk being arrested. The issue is not jail time, but the prospect of losing a job or being kicked out of school, now that China has shown it will crack down ferociously on companies that employ demonstrators. The frontmost group are the people who actually come into contact with the police, and put themselves at greatest risk of arrest. Behind them there is a supply group, who passes water and other essentials forward, and helps those in front if they are hurt. And behind that is the great body of demonstrators. Those who will be up front are given leeway to make decisions, including telling the crowd to move back and make room, or deciding to disperse and reassemble elsewhere.

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

Good morning, RVA: Affordable housing North of Broad, 5th District candidate count, and welcome back VCU students!

Good morning, RVA: A downtown arena update, an important cheese event, and a vacation