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

Good morning, RVA: An RPS strategic plan report, a City surplus, and trains & buses.

Good morning, RVA! It's 76 °F, and dang that was a lot of rain. I guess it cooled things down a bit, as today’s highs are in the low 90s instead of the mid 90s. There’s a small chance of rain throughout the day—it’s oh so small, but still a chance, and you saw what yesterday’s small chance of rain led to, right?

Water cooler

The Richmond Times-Dispatch’s Justin Mattingly has the report from this week’s RPS School Board Meeting. The highlight (lowlight?): Just 10% of Richmond Public Schools students are “ready for college and a career” 💸 (which, I think, is based on SAT and PSAT scores). You should definitely download the surprisingly readable presentation (PDF) given to the Board. It checks in on the academic and enrollment goals set by Dreams4RPS, the District’s five-year strategic plan, and is packed with charts and tables that set the stage for the next half decade at RPS. It’s important to keep in mind that this is a 2018–2023 strategic plan, and the numbers in the aforelinked presentation—like the 10% college readiness number—are baselines. They’re just getting started. Anyway, I think this presentation is part of a set that work through each of the 10 goals in Dreams4RPS, and now I feel compelled to go catch ‘em all. Once I’ve got them collected, I’ll make sure to link them for y’all here in an easy to process way.

Mark Robinson, also at the Richmond Times-Dispatch, says that the City ended last fiscal year with a $15.4 million surplus. The Mayor wants to use the surplus to cover cost overruns in a few departments, give City retirees a cost-of-living adjustment, and pay back the money Council took from the Capital Improvement Program so they could avoid restoring the real estate tax to pre-Recession levels. Robinson says this data comes from a recent report, which I’m not sure where to find, but, while poking around on the City’s website I did find these really interesting monthly financial reports.

Danny Plaugher, writing for the Virginia Mercury, has a piece up about how the Commonwealth’s growing population is really gonna do a number on our existing transportation network. As more and more people end up in Virginia, they’re traveling more and more miles in their vehicles, and that, in turn, creates more and more traffic. And, guess what? Building a whole new and additional I-95 isn’t going to solve any of the problems created by billions of added VMTs (vehicle miles traveled)! We’ve gotta get people out of cars and onto trains, buses, bikes, and walking around on their own two feet. Some of that means supporting regional rail projects like DC2RVA, and some of that means making smarter land use decisions so that lots of people end up living adjacent to lots of jobs, schools, grocery stores, cool bars—all the stuff folks need to thrive.

I wrote a short thing over on the RVA Rapid Transit blog about how if you make transit more useful more folks will use it. Last year Henrico added nights and weekend service to their major routes to dramatic effect. It got me thinking about how often I hear people talk about making transit free. That’s great and all, but if the free transit service isn’t useful, folks won’t use it.

Earlier this week, I linked y’all to the online-version of the NYT’s 1619 project—and I’m still working my way through it. If scrolling websites isn’t your thing, the Pulitzer Center has PDFs of the physical magazine that you can download for free, or, if you’re after a physical copy, you can buy it for $6 on the NYT store.

This morning's patron longread

What the Heck Is Crab Rangoon Anyway?

Submitted by Patron Matthew. Crab Rangoon! It’s delicious and has a delicious history!

The name, too, is emblematic of tiki culture. Rangoon, now Yangon, is the largest city in Myanmar, formerly Burma. Myanmar has a substantial Chinese cultural and gastronomic influence, as the two countries share a border. But neither uses cream cheese in its food—that’s a proud New York product. There’s plenty of crab in Burmese food, but it’s pretty clear that Trader Vic didn’t name his dish after the city because there was any connection there. It is simply a place in a general Southeast Asia-Polynesia-South Pacific zone, suitably exotic-sounding but still easy for native English speakers to pronounce. Tiki culture’s widespread popularity occurred in the 1940s and 1950s, just when American Chinese cuisine was also gaining huge mainstream acceptance. The food served in tiki restaurants shared a lot with American Chinese food: vaguely Asian, very sweet, deep-fried. So it shouldn’t come as a surprise that the cuisines cross-pollinated.

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

Good morning, RVA: New GRTC CEO, the parking study exists, and a Northside school pairing

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