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

Good morning, RVA: Richmond’s CAO fired, participatory budgeting, and a scooter social

Good morning, RVA! It's 53 °F, and today looks absolutely wonderful. Expect highs in the mid 70s and absolutely zero excuses to not spend some time out of doors. We may be done with blazing hot temperatures for the year, what do you think?

Water cooler

This is massive news: Mark Robinson at the Richmond Times-Dispatch is reporting that the Mayor has fired his Chief Administrative Officer Selena Cuffee-Glenn. Robinson says a report released by the Inspector General (which will eventually show up on the audit website), details how five of Cuffee-Glenn’s relatives ended up with jobs at the City. The Mayor’s response to that report: “In my opinion, the conduct detailed in this report erodes the public trust, violates the spirit of good governance and has diminished my confidence in the CAO to continue to serve in her role. As such, the city has separated the CAO from employment and I have appointed Lenora Reid, Deputy Chief Administrative Officer for Finance and Administration, to serve as Interim CAO until an acting CAO is approved by the Richmond City Council.” In our weird, strong mayor form of government, the CAO holds a tremendous amount of power, and replacing Cuffee-Glenn will have a enormous impact on the way the City works. This is big.

Two things of note at City Council’s Finance and Economic Development committee meeting today. Every year, probably because of state-level Republicans, City Council must introduce and pass an ordinance to prevent the real estate tax rate from automatically rolling back to $1.122. This year that is ORD. 2019-248, and it, of course, maintains the Recession-era real estate tax rate of $1.20. There’s nothing to be done about that at this moment in time, but it is a nice reminder that with a single ordinance we could have more in the City of Richmond. Also, the committee will consider Councilmember Addison’s resolution to allocate $3 million in the Capital Improvement Program for participatory budgeting (RES. 2019-R051). Participatory budgeting is super cool and just what it sounds like: the City would form a citizen committee that would design and vote on projects that would then be funded from the $3 million pot of money. It’s a great way to get actual Richmonders involved in the things we build from the get-go. I’m pretty excited to see where this resolution goes.

I continue to be against selling islands in the middle of James River to private entities. The City—and the public—should own these and they should become part of the James River Park System. Mike Platania at Richmond BizSense has the news on Goat Island’s recent sale to Riverside Outfitters.

Two RVA Transit Week items for you to be aware of: First, tonight at Basic City Brewing from 5:00–7:00 PM, check out the Scooter Symposium + Social. Drink some beer, hang out with some transit-minded folks, hear about dockless scooters—honestly that’s approaching a perfect evening for me. Second, tomorrow is PARK(ing) Day. I’ll write more about it then, but I did want to let y’all know about a bike tour of the parklets tomorrow led by the Bike Walk RVA crew (Facebook). Wheels up at 9:00 AM.

Fan-based folks, what do you have planned this evening? Because you could spend three straight hours discussing school rezoning should you so choose. Tonight, from 5:00–6:00 PM, the consultants working on the rezoning plan will host a community conversation, and then, immediately following, the Richmond Public Schools Rezoning Advisory Committee will meet from 6:00–8:00 PM. Both of these meeting are at Fox Elementary School (2300 Hanover Avenue) and are open to the public—even portions of the public that do not live in the Fan. The RTD’s Justin Mattingly has an explanation of the four different options, or you can just download this PDF that’s full of tables and maps and dig in for yourself.

A couple of weekends ago I hiked a tiny portion of the Appalachian Trail with a bunch of kids and we had a total blast. The wild thing is, there are tons of worthy, deep-nature places to explore right here in our City and as many kids as possible should get to experience that. Turns out, that’s part of Blue Sky Fund’s mission, and they’re hosting a hike for kids fundraiser on October 26th so they can do more of just that sort of thing. So if hiking through Richmond’s urban wilderness for a good cause sounds fun, consider signing up. This 8.3-mile loop option does look like a lot of fun.

This morning's patron longread

Seriously, Drivers? Is Your Time More Valuable Than My Life?

Submitted by Patron Brantley. Yesterday I was almost hit by two different drivers while riding my bike—one turning left onto Broad to beat the light and one turning right off of Main Street from the far left lane. Both drivers need to take this article’s advice to heart.

On the days I've ridden into the office, I've been passed by many cars in exactly the same place I now saw a cyclist in front of me. There are two options for passing on this particular section of road: Give the cyclist plenty of room and risk a head-on collision with oncoming traffic, or improve your chance of bashing into another car by passing the cyclist within inches. There is, of course, a third option that (based on my experience while riding) seems to occur to almost no one: Slow down, stay behind the cyclist until you get to a more open and safe stretch of road, then pass. I picked the third option. I waited.

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Good morning, RVA: PARK(ing) Day, school desegregation, and a City mistake

Good morning, RVA: Renewable energy, Mayor Pete, and one of the best restaurants in America