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

Good morning, RVA: TIF concerns, a really old ditch, and the Mayor of Flavortown

Good morning, RVA! It's 75 °F, and you may see some rain here or there today. Expect highs in the 80s and lots of clouds that are totally the outside edges of Hurricane Dorian. NBC12’s Andrew Freiden linked to this wonderful Dorian Briefing from the Fine Weather Folks at Wakefield (PDF), which will give you some idea of the impacts the hurricane will have on Richmond and other parts of Virginia.

Water cooler

Richmond Police are reporting that Harry D. Seigler, 67, was shot to death on the 1600 block of N. 23rd Street around 12:00 PM this past Sunday. Police have arrested and charged a suspect.

Richard Meagher has a good, level-headed post up on his blog about some of the risks involved in using a TIF as a method of financing large-scale development. He lists four ways TIFs can go wrong: the intended private investment never shows up, the TIF mutates into a zombie TIF that won’t die—even after development is finished, a failed TIF which doesn’t generate enough money to pay for the improvements it helped create, and the opportunity costs of not doing something else with the money flowing into the TIF. Out of those four things, the opportunity costs are what worry me the most—although I’d love to see the plans for winding down our BigTIF after the proposed North of Broad construction is completed, and the failed BigTIF scenario is still one I don’t feel smart enough to really grok.

Jonathan Spiers at Richmond BizSense says that NewMarket will fill in the portion of the canal on their downtown property for safety reasons. The “canal” is really more of a ditch that you’ve crossed over 100 times on your way to Belle Isle and probably never noticed. To be fair, it is a really old ditch; parts of the canal were surveyed by George Washington, and Spiers says the existing stone walls are nearly 200-years-old. This is where I get kind of meh about historic preservation. Even one of the people in opposition to filling the canal says, “We’ve got a ditch that was dug 150 years ago and it’s in perfect condition, and they want to fill it up.” That...is not a super compelling pitch to me, but, if you are a ditch historian or ancient canal scholar, I’d love to be convinced otherwise!

Yasmine Jumaa at Virginia Public Media has a neat look back at 30 years of the Better Housing Coalition. We’ve got to build thousands of affordable units in the Richmond region, and we’ve got to do it soon. BHC can’t do it all, but they’re an important slice of the affordable housing provider pie.

Guy Fieri was in town yesterday, and this picture of him with our mayor is just perfect. Since I saw this tweet, I can’t stop thinking about where in Richmond I would send Fieri. This piece from Karri Peifer at the Richmond Times-Dispatch suggests he stopped by one of our biscuit places, ZZQ, and Perly’s. These are all excellent options, but my two spots would be Joe’s and Chef MaMusu. If you’ve got other interesting options for the Mayor of Flavortown, share them with me on Twitter.

Good headline in this RTD repost of a story from the Charlotte Observer: “How do Outer Banks wild horses survive hurricanes like Dorian? They use their butts.”

This morning's Patron longread

Race, History, and Memories of a Virginia Girlhood

Submitted by Patron Chris. Here’s an excellent piece in the Atlantic that’ll remind you of Virginia’s long, multi-faceted history of racism.

But elite white Virginians created a narrative of an invented past and a distorted portrait of their own time to reassure themselves of the justice of their social order and of their own benevolence. The cult of the Lost Cause embraced an apocryphal history suffused with nostalgia for a world of valorous Confederates, kindly masters, and contented slaves. And it mischaracterized the present, extolling the “Virginia Way,” a distinctive form of Jim Crow in which blacks and whites lived peaceably together in lives of “separation by consent,” in the words of Douglas Southall Freeman, a Richmond newspaper editor and renowned Robert E. Lee biographer. Freeman acknowledged that this was a social order designed to perpetuate “the continued and unchallengeable dominance of Southern whites,” who, he told his readers, would work to provide assurance of safety and security to black Virginians in return for their acquiescence in the status quo.

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

Good morning, RVA: Dorian updates, bus nerd analysis, and gingerbread battles

Good morning, RVA: A garbage move, public meeting audio, and the end of TV Head