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

Good morning, RVA: Rumors of War, criminal justice, and return of Mayorathon

Good morning, RVA! It's 70 °F, and highs today may stick right around 80 °F. Keep your hot-weather gear at the ready, though, because on Wednesday and Thursday we could see temperatures back up in the mid 90s. NBC12’s Andrew Freiden says we could even see record heat on both days.

Water cooler

Correction! Last week, I slipped up and misattributed the delay in demolishing the old George Mason elementary school building. That delay lies solely on the Commission of Architectural Review, as Richmond’s School Board approved the demolition back at their August 19th meeting. CAR next meets on October 22nd.

Kehinde Wiley’s Rumors of War sculpture is even more incredible than I imagined, and I’m having a hard time believing it’s going to end up in front of the VMFA this December. After seeing it for the first time on Twitter, I immediately want to get rid of the Stonewall Jackson statue and replace it with this one. It’s just...perfect. The New York Times has a write up and a bunch of great pictures that you’re goign to want to check out.

How much do you think a public defender in Richmond makes? Not a ton! In fact, compared to the City’s prosecutors, the Virginia Mercury’s Ned Oliver says that, “27 of 29 attorneys make less than the highest paid administrative assistant in the prosecutor’s office.” Dang! I had no idea about this, either: “While both offices are funded by the state at roughly comparable levels, the discrepancy comes down to local budgetary contributions. Most cities and counties chip in extra cash to boost salaries in their prosecutors’ offices. But very few make similar contributions to their local public defender offices.” In Richmond that extra cash for prosecutors totals $7 million. Keep an eye on this discrepancy during the coming year’s budget season.

Ali Rockett at the Richmond Times-Dispatch has a recap of this past Friday’s Beyond Containment event. Regional discussions on the criminal justice system seem good and necessary, and I hope that they’ll get the second conversation event scheduled soon. This process reminds me a lot of how the region has begun to tackle eviction, and I hope that the folks involved in this can start building some criminal justice policy suggestions as well.

Here’s a 2017 Richmond Magazine piece about Harland Bartholomew, the man who helped strangle and destroy Richmond with highways. As @RVAbikedad said on Twitter, “We probably won’t undo his legacy in our lifetime, but we can try.” Sigh. Pair the article and those bummer vibes with The Valentine’s Controversy/History: This Land is Whose Land event on October 1st—it’s a discussion on the past, present, and future of land use, which is definitely one of my most favorite things to discuss.

J. Elias O’Neal at Richmond BizSense says the owners of Little Mexico will open up new spot, Lolita’s, in Carytown. I’m interested in how this spot turns out, because they’ve sourced inspiration for the food, the interior design, and the furniture from Mexico (the country). Also, I just love a good family business story: The two owners of this new spot are sisters and their parents own Mexico (the restaurant).

The folks who brought you the Mayorathon in 2016 and Mayorathon: Policy Jam earlier this year are hosting Mayorathon: A Focus on the 5th, a policy-oriented candidate forum for the 5th District City Council special election. Join a stack of organizations (including RVA Rapid Transit, my place of employ) on October 10th from 6:30–8:30 PM at the Randolph Community Center for a policy-focused discussion across a bunch of interesting topics. If you’re interested, please take a minute to RSVP over on the eventbrite!

This morning's longread

Is It Okay to Laugh at Florida Man?

People are complicated! This reporter went and talked to several Florida Men and, turns out, they’re complicated, too.

At its most comical, the Florida Man phenomenon encapsulates the wildness of both America and the Internet. At its most salacious, it’s a social-media update on the true-crime TV of “America’s Dumbest Criminals” and the gallows humor of tabloid headlines. At its most insensitive, Florida Man profits by punching down at the homeless, drug-addicted or mentally ill. Florida Man has become an American folk hero with all the contradictions of his predecessors, who, from John Henry to Buffalo Bill, were always a mix of what Hatfield calls the “half of what happened” and “half of what didn’t.” What those old folk tales and our new viral memes have in common is that they tend to reveal more about the kind of stories we want to share than the people they’re ostensibly about.

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

Good morning, RVA: Republican banishment, school district data, and opportunities to weigh in

Good morning, RVA: Rumors of War, a history of bricks, and a packed Saturday