Good Morning, RVA: Wait, what just happened?

Dismal doings in Council Chambers.

Photo by: taberandrew

Good morning, RVA! It’s 59 °F, and we’re done with rain for awhile. Today looks pretty and wonderful with highs in the mid-60s, plenty of sunshine, plus a little wind. Keep those bonnets strapped down.

The incredibly unreliable ten-day forecast has Christmas Eve a rainy, muggy 71 °F. Hooray?

Water cooler

Last night City Council passed the gross porch couches ordinance and also closed a couple dozen feet of Brook Road–the later despite the many, many folks who spoke in favor of and, at times, for the live oak that the lives in the adjacent tiny concrete island. I wish I had the transcripts of a couple of the public commenters who spoke eloquently about what it means to value a tree over Maggie Walker and her neighborhood and questioned whether Ms. Walker would even want her monument located on Momument Avenue as some folks have suggested as a tree-saving alternative.

But the real meat of the evening happened after all of the Tree People went home and Council began to consider amendments to legislation. As presented on the approved agenda, RES. 2015-R065 (the mayor’s plan to put in motion development on the Boulevard) was set to be amended and continued until January 11th. A couple of amendments improving the transparency and timeline of the proposed process were introduced, debated, and approved under the assumption that the newly amended legislation would, in fact, be continued. It was printed right there! On the agenda!

Then, led by Councilperson Graziano, a motion was introduced to just vote on the resolution right then and there. At 10:57 PM. A joke of a public hearing was held in which zero members of the public spoke or heard anything–mostly because it was the middle of the night and smart members of the public were probably asleep. The victorious voting block (Graziano, Robertson, Hilbert, Newbille, and Mosby) patted themselves on the back for improving the transparency of the process despite ramming through a last-minute vote literally under the cover of darkness. It was not a stellar moment in #rvacouncil history.

I’m not even sure what’s next for Boulevard development. One of the two amendments adopted before Graziano took things off the rails extended the original timeline to allow for more public input. But that extension starts on the adoption date of the resolution–which I (and several council members) assumed would be January 11th, not December 14th. With the resolution being adopted last night, we may see…honestly, I don’t know what we may see and can’t even link you to the amended version of the resolution because it doesn’t exist on the internet yet.

This is how Council chose to govern last night. The manner in which the five-member majority seemed determined to push forward with little regard for the public is disturbing and probably not the best sign for the process moving forward–especially when last night’s shenanigans were marked as a victory for citizens and the government transparency.

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Meanwhile over at the School Board meeting, Superintendent Bedden rolled out his budget requests. This is the money needed to keep the schools running, which is separate from the money needed to keep the schools from falling down. So much money, I know, but when you underfund a school system for a bunch of years it’s bound to catch up to you at some point. Related is this anonymous editorial in the RTD that makes some good points but could be about 50% more intense.

The only new businesses allowed in Scott’s Addition are those involving yeast. Stephanie Breijo at Richmond Magazine has the word on Idle Hands Bread, a new bakery which opens tomorrow. There’s still room in the neighborhood for a microbial perfumer or an artisanal probiotics company, if you’re looking to start a business…

Check out this cool tool called MetroView via the Center for Urban and Regional Analysis at VCU. Instead of pulling various data by arbitrary political boundaries (counties, council districts, etc), you can just draw whatever blobby shape you’d like right on the map. Data nerds, map nerds, blobby shape nerds rejoice!

Alert! There is a Republican debate tonight at 8:30 PM on CNN!


  • After nine days, the Rams return to action against Georgia Tech on ESPN2. Late 9:00 PM tipoff, though.
  • Spiders (roundball) and a struggling Old Dominion team face off tonight at 7:00 PM at the Robins Center.

This morning’s longread

How to know if your appendix is bursting

100% of this is gross and funny.

Then it feels like you’re getting better. Your temperature lowers back to normal, the cramps go away and the fiery liquids cease trying to erupt their way out of your body. Such sweet relief! (Turns out this is a strange but not altogether rare thing that your body can do: It walls off the infection, sealing it away from the rest of your organs with some kind of membrane (?!) which actually works surprisingly well, but isn’t a great long-term solution since behind the seal your appendix is slowly turning gangrenous.)

This morning’s Instagram

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Ross Catrow

Founder and publisher of RVANews.

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