Good morning, RVA! It's 70 °F, and regular summery days are back for awhile. We’ve got highs in the upper 80s and sunshine for the next couple of days while we wait for Hurricane Dorian to figure out its final destination.
It’s the first day of school for Richmond Public Schools! Welcome back students and good luck parents, teachers, and staff! A good place to start the new school year is, of course, with the newest edition of the Superintendent’s email, and it’s full of interesting bits of info this week. First, RPS has a new website for you to poke around on. Second, the number of students taking and passing AP tests is up. Third, there are just 14 teacher vacancies in the District—this is down from 54 vacancies two years ago. Fourth, and maybe most interesting, there’s a fascinating table featuring all of the capital facilities projects that took place over the summer and their costs. For example, Henderson Middle got new heating pumps, HVAC, and a chiller—totaling almost $2 million. Anyway, rather than me just retyping his entire email, you should just go read the whole thing. I couldn’t find the link to the online version, so you’ll have to deal with this PDF of the email for now. You can, of course, just subscribe to the Superintendent’s email yourself. Oh, P.S., there are thousands of children walking on sidewalks, riding their bikes, waiting for the bus, and crossing streets to get to school today. If you choose to drive a vehicle, please do so carefully.
A tiny scooter update from Roberto Roldan over at VPM! He says Lime still has a presence in town, but that they’re using their mysterious warehouse space to repair and ship scooters to places that are not Richmond. Sigh.
OK, so, I went to that Navy Hill Development Advisory Commission meeting this past Friday. As predicted, the 2nd Floor Conference Room of City Hall is a weird place to hold a public meeting, and, because I showed up 30 minutes lates, I spent the final 10 minutes of the meeting hanging out in the hallway listening to closing statements from a few folks. From what I gather, the Chair and Vice chair introduced their proposed seven nominees for commission members, and that was that. I haven’t listened to it yet, but the audio from the meeting does exist online, and I’ll make sure to post it on The Boring Show as soon as I can. Afterwards, I got a reassuring email from Vice Chair John Gerner saying that future meetings will be held in larger spaces and that they will continue to post audio from each meeting.
City Council committees and commissions are back in action after their August summer break. Today, Planning Commission will meet and discuss a handful of special use permits as well as the rezoning of property on Orleans Street (PDF) and on Nicholson Street (PDF). If approved, they’ll switch from industrial use to mixed-use. These are, I think, the first steps in the “Fulton Yard” development which will lead to some new, extremely transit-accessible places for folks to live and work. Still a lot of parking in the current drawings (PDF), though. Also on the Council committee calendar for today, the Organizational Development committee will meet and hear a report on the North of Broad proposal and discuss the nominations to the Navy Hill Development Advisory Commission (linked above).
Jonathan Spiers at Richmond BizSense says that filling in the ditch behind the Coliseum and bringing Leigh Street back up to grade is no longer part of the proposed North of Broad development. Disappointing. That whole area back there sucks for anyone not driving a car, and I hope that thoughtful alternative bike and pedestrian throughways are part of the plan moving forward. Currently, most pedestrians and folks on bikes cut through the concrete Coliseum wasteland and avoid the unnecessary and dangerous up-and-down of Leigh Street. They’ll still avoid Leigh if/when all this new stuff gets built, so safe passage through the area should be something folks are thinking about up front.
While not exactly what was pictured on Twitter, the memorial in Hollywood Cemetery for GWAR’s lead singer, Dave Brockie, is excellent.
I am contractually obligated to link to all regional paw paw stories. Here’s one from Mechelle Hankerson at the Virginia Mercury. They are ALL OVER the river right now, if you want to head out and pick a peck.
This morning's longread
Capitalism is weird.
“Our business would be adversely affected,” the S-1 continued, “if Drivers were classified as employees instead of independent contractors.” It’s worth taking a moment to reflect on what an utterly bizarre argumentthis is for a company to make. Should this be any other business—a clothing store, a coffee shop, a food cart, an auto parts supplier—one would struggle to see the dilemma. This would be, quite simply, a bad business that loses lots of money. It would go under. There would no quandary. Just capitalism, baby. Or, to take a more modest forecast, Uber and Lyft threaten that, at the very least, wait times would get longer and rides more expensive. This is an indirect appeal to the positive externalities their venture capital-subsidized taxi rides produce. These rides, the companies are saying, provide services for the public and we’d all be worse off should fewer members of the public have access to it.
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