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

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

Good morning, RVA! It's 70 °F, and today you should expect some wind from Dorian and maybe a bit of rain this morning. Highs won’t even break 80 °F, so that’s nice.

Speaking of Dorian, here’s the Thursday evening briefing from The Weather Folks at Wakefield (PDF), here’s the Richmond Times-Dispatch’s early morning update from John Boyer, and here’s what Andrew Freiden has to say over on NBC12.

Water cooler

Kathy Mendes and Chris Duncombe at The Commonwealth Institute have a new post up about the incredible lack of state-level funding for Virginia’s public schools. Here’s an excellent/depressing quote, “More broadly speaking, inadequate state funding creates a system where educational opportunity varies by zip code. Right now, schools in Virginia rely more on local governments to fund their budgets than all but nine other states in the country, resulting in one of the most regressive funding structures in the nation – meaning we spend less per student in our highest poverty communities than in our wealthiest ones.” Tap the link for a look at what other states are doing to increase funding for schools and fulfill their obligation to educate children.

I know I talk a lot about how ride hailing platforms like Uber and Lyft are cannibalizing public transportation trips and how moving more people around in more cars is not the solution to any of our climate issues. But! Our sprawly built environment is what it is, and a lot of places where people live today are extremely hard to serve with useful public transportation. Plus, some folks, like women escaping domestic violence or refugees new to the region, have transportation needs that, today, are best met by calling a Lyft. So, with that enormous caveat out of the way, if you’re involved in a nonprofit with transportation challenges that just can’t be solved with the bus, you should check out Lyft’s Wheels For All grant program. They award these small ride-credit grants quarterly, and you only need to apply once. This is a useful tool to keep in the transportation toolbox as the region extends and expands the bus network to meet more folks’ needs.

So let’s say you had a bunch of money to dump into the bus system, how and where would you spend it? To help answer that question, my pal Nicholas and I went through GRTC’s most recent ridership numbers and did a bit of analysis on which bus routes are the most productive and which could use some more investment. The main takeaway for me is: Extending the daytime hours of the most frequent routes from 7:00 PM to, say, 10:00 PM is best and easiest thing to do to improve our bus system. That one change would benefit so many riders across almost every part of the City. Also make sure to read the bit about the the #86 Broad Rock / Walmsley bus on the Southside. We should definitely consider upping its frequency from once an hour to twice an hour.

Whoa, the video from this water main break right in the middle of Franklin Street, via /r/rva, is intense! I forget that there’s all kinds of stuff just buried under out streets, minding its business until it decides to burst forth into the light of day. Here’s a couple close-up pictures from @DPUStreetClosings.

Michael Schwartz at Richmond BizSense has a small update on developer Michael Hild’s trial: “The founder and CEO of collapsed Chesterfield-based mortgage company Live Well Financial on Thursday pleaded not guilty to federal criminal charges of securities fraud, mail fraud and bank fraud.”

Continuing this week’s run of good headlines, here’s one from WTVR: “Owner of Jeep explains why it was left on beach at Myrtle Beach during Hurricane Dorian.”

For the last couple of years, the Better Housing Coalition has hosted a winter gingerbread house-building challenge. While building gingerbread houses, unfortunately, doesn’t help increase our region’s supply of affordable housing, it is a ton of fun. The competition is $100 to enter, the winning team will take home a $1,000 grand prize, and this year’s theme is Holiday Songs. One twist! Songs are claimed on a first-come-first-served basis, so if you wait to enter you may have to reach deep into the holiday song back catalogue. May I suggest “What Can You Get a Wookie for Christmas (When He Already Owns a Comb)” from the hit Star Wars Christmas album Christmas in the Stars? Having previously participated, I can tell you that the level of gingerbread competition here is way higher than you might expect, so you’re gonna need to bring your A-game. You can find rules, regulations, and registration in this PDF.

This morning's Patron longread

The New American Homeless

Submitted by Patron Rachel. An awful story about how lack of affordable housing and a livable wage in Atlanta leads folks—folks with full-time jobs—to housing insecurity or homelessness.

If the term “working homeless” has not yet entered our national vocabulary, there is reason to expect that it soon will. Hidden within the world of homelessness has always been a subset of individuals, usually single parents, with jobs; what’s different now is the sheer extent of this phenomenon. For a widening swath of the nearly seven million American workers living below the poverty line, a combination of skyrocketing rents, stagnant wages, and a lack of tenant protections has proved all but insurmountable. Theirs, increasingly, is the face of homelessness in the United States: people whose paychecks are no longer enough to keep a roof over their heads.

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

Good morning, RVA: Tax relief, downtown sports, and the 100-year-old battle to slow down cars

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