100 episodes

My goal is to get you everything you need to know to have intelligent conversations with the folks you encounter throughout the day. I make Richmond's news interesting and give you an easy way to collect your thoughts on what's happening around town. Plus, there are jokes!

Good Morning, RVA! Ross Catrow

    • News

My goal is to get you everything you need to know to have intelligent conversations with the folks you encounter throughout the day. I make Richmond's news interesting and give you an easy way to collect your thoughts on what's happening around town. Plus, there are jokes!

    Good morning, RVA: 981↗️ • 3↗️; a tropical storm headed our way; and mayoral polling

    Good morning, RVA: 981↗️ • 3↗️; a tropical storm headed our way; and mayoral polling

    Good morning, RVA! It’s 75 °F, and highs today are back up in the 90s. As of right now, the region is under a Tropical Storm Warning. This means a tropical storm is headed our way and you should take some precautions to stay safe, batten down the hatches, and charge up your devices in case we lose power. The Richmond Times-Dispatch’s John Boyer has put together a bunch of great maps, and NBC12’s Andrew Freiden says we should expect the biggest impacts between 7:00 AM–2:00 PM on Tuesday morning. Take some time today to prepare!
    Water cooler
    As of this morning, the Virginia Department of Health reports 981↗️ new positive cases of the coronavirus in the Commonwealthand 3↗️ new deaths as a result of the virus. VDH reports 109↗️ new cases in and around Richmond (Chesterfield: 52, Henrico: 47, and Richmond: 10). Since this pandemic began, 296 people have died in the Richmond region. 🚨Emoji indicator methodology update!🚨 Moving forward the emoji arrows now compare the average of the past seven days to the average of the seven days before that. For example, over the last seven days the Richmond region reported an average of 137 COVID-19 cases each day. The seven days before that, the region reported 98 per day. So that means you see an up arrow. I’m hoping this will make for less wobbly and more useful arrows.
    Today at 5:00 PM, City Council will hold the State-required public hearing on removing the Confederate monuments which have, of course, already been removed (ORD. 2020–154). You can email the City Clerk (CityClerksOffice@richmondgov.com) before 10:00 AM with any comments you may have or if you’d like to sign up to speak virtually. Because the State doth require it, you can also go speak for this paper in-person with a bunch of other people down at City Hall. I’m looking forward to seeing how the technology to blend virtual and in-person meetings works, because I think that’s something we’ll need to do for a good, long while. Immediately following the closure of today’s hearing, Council can vote to remove the monuments and start the process of figuring out where to permanently put all the bronze bits. Right now they’re chilling at the water treatment plant!
    Quick update on Richmond Public Schools: The School Board will meet at 6:00 PM tonight and receive reopening next steps from the Administration. Normally there’s a rad PDF attached to an agenda item like this, but, as of right now, I don’t see it. You can, however, tune in tonight to watch live over on the RPS facebook page, and I’ll keep an eye out for that PDF.
    The Richmond Free Press has what I think is the first public polling for the mayoral election, and it is fascinating! The results: Mayor Stoney, 36% (ahead in the 4th, 5th, 6th, and 7th Districts); Councilmember Gray, 31% (ahead in the 2nd, 3rd, and 9th Districts); Alexsis Rodgers, 16% (ahead in the 8th Distrcit), and Justin Griffin, 11%. Remember, a mayoral candidate needs to win five of the nine districts, not a city-wide popular vote. It’s early, but I’m surprised at how tight the race is between the (current) top two candidates. I know some election wonks are out there comparing 2016’s precinct results to these polls and looking at where Stoney should focus to pick up another district (I’d guess the 1st) and where Rodgers could start to break into a few more of her own (maybe the 9th and 5th?). If anyone sees a good-and-wonky post or thread, please let me know! Also included in the polling: “88% of those polls opposed raising real estate taxes to provide additional funds to support public schools.” Hey, that’s OK, we’ll use an increased real estate tax to pay for a lot of other things instead of public schools!
    Hmmmm, Jonathan Spiers at Richmond BizSense says that the City has filed a permit to demolish the Fulton Gas Works building. While it makes

    Good morning, RVA: 911↗️ • 16↗️; moving the Registrar's office; and civic homework for the weekend

    Good morning, RVA: 911↗️ • 16↗️; moving the Registrar's office; and civic homework for the weekend

    Good morning, RVA! It’s 75 °F, and today looks slightly cooler than the last several punishing days. I hope y’all got some rain last night.
    Water cooler
    As of this morning, the Virginia Department of Health reports 911↗️ new positive cases of the coronavirus in the Commonwealthand 16↗️ new deaths as a result of the virus. VDH reports 117↗️ new cases in and around Richmond (Chesterfield: 48, Henrico: 43, and Richmond: 26). Since this pandemic began, 287 people have died in the Richmond region. Here’s my stacked graph of statewide new cases, new deaths, and new hospitalizations since the end of March. I’m not sure you can compare new cases now to new cases back in May since we’ve really ratcheted up our testing game: The Commonwealth now regularly reports over 15,000 tests each day. You can compare the ebb and flow of hospitalizations and deaths though, which is (morbidly) interesting. The latter lags behind the former by a couple of weeks. Also, the most recent COVID Tracking Project post says that, looking at the national data, “it took 27 days after cases began to rise in early June for deaths to start rising as well.” Virginia’s cases started to really rise around the first week of July, so keep that in mind as we get closer to that 27-day threshold here in the Commonwealth.
    I’ve got two ways for you to get involved in Richmond City civics this morning—perfect homework for the weekend. First, the application for the Task Force on the Establishment of a Civilian Review Board is up and open! If you want to help the City figure out how its Civilian Review Board should work, this is the task force for you. They need nine members, include one person 18-years-old or younger, one person with a disability, and one person living in public housing. It’s unclear to me what kind of commitment they’re asking for—although building a CRB from scratch by March seems like a lot of work for a group of volunteers. Also, if you know a youth who’d be a good fit and they need some help with their application, please let me know! I’d love to help or find someone to help. Second, the City will hold the official public hearing on removing Confederate monuments at their meeting this coming Monday, August 3rd at 5:00 PM. A reader reminded me that, because the State says so, this public hearing must be conducted in person (PDF). That means if you really, really want to go sit inside with a bunch of other people for what could be several hours to give a public comment on monuments that have already been removed, you are totally welcome to do so. Alternatively, you can and should email the Clerk’s office (CityClerksOffice@richmondgov.com) with your comment in support of this paper before 10:00 AM on Monday, August 3rd.
    Jonathan Spiers at Richmond BizSense reports that the City’s Office of the General Registrar will move from City Hall to 2143 Laburnum Avenue sometime before Labor Day. Unlike City Hall, which is eminently accessible by foot, bike, or bus, this new location at the far west end of Laburnum, crammed up against the highway, is just plain hard to get to unless you’re driving a car. In fact, this BizSense article mentions parking four times and “ample parking” twice. However, not mentioned is that the new location’s only bus access is a 12-minute walk to the hourly #91 bus (it’d take you at least 45 minutes to get there from Downtown and over an hour from Southside Plaza), biking on the wide and speedy Laburnum is terrifying, and to get there on foot you must cross over a highway on-ramp and under two overpasses. Not only that, but in early August, VDOT plans to tear up the street directly in front of the Registrar’s new office to build a roundabout—adding navigating construction to an already significant stack of accessibility challenges. But why is the accessibility of the Registra

    Good morning, RVA: 999↘️ • 30↗️; a great bus PDF; and how do you undo eminent domain?

    Good morning, RVA: 999↘️ • 30↗️; a great bus PDF; and how do you undo eminent domain?

    Good morning, RVA! It’s 76 °F, and blah, blah, blah, hot and humid today. We may see some rain late tonight and into early tomorrow morning, which would be nice. This headline from the Richmond Times-Dispatch’s John Boyer catches the mood: “Richmond hasn’t seen 20 straight days of highs in the 90s since ‘Waterworld’ was in theaters.”
    Water cooler
    As of this morning, the Virginia Department of Health reports 999↘️ new positive cases of the coronavirus in the Commonwealth and 30↗️ new deaths as a result of the virus. VDH reports 100↗️ new cases in and around Richmond (Chesterfield: 33, Henrico: 30, and Richmond: 37). Since this pandemic began, 285 people have died in the Richmond region. I’ve seen some folks talking about the recent federal change in hospitalization reporting requirements—requirements that bypass the CDC and have hospitals sending data straight to the Department of Health and Human Services. This post on the COVID Tracking Project’s blog is the best explanation of what’s happened, how that’s impacted the public availability of coronavirus data, and what that means for how we understand what’s going on with everything. Let me quote the important part: “it is not possible that any change in federal reporting requirements for hospitals has a causative role in the change in the direction of COVID-19 case counts at the state or national level.” So that’s reassuring! But it’s not all good news as the change in requirements has destabilized some of processes used to report hospitalization data and the underlying data itself. Again, to quote from the post: “These problems mean that our hospitalization data—a crucial metric of the COVID-19 pandemic—is, for now, unreliable, and likely an undercount.” Yikes.
    Yesterday, I found myself wondering about GRTC’s ridership numbers now that we’re several months into both a pandemic and a region-wide experiment with zero fares. The best place to get this data is from the most recent GRTC board meeting packet, and you can download July’s right here(PDF). Friends, you will not be disappointed with this PDF—it’s filled with all kinds of interesting information. As for ridership, though, compared to last June, GRTC has seen about a 23% drop. This sounds like a lot, but keep two things in mind: 1) Other cities across the country have shed a devastating number of riders—the CTA in Chicago, for example, saw a 72% drop in bus ridership back in April (PDF); and 2) A big chunk of the lost ridership in Richmond can be attributed to the Pulse. Compared to last year at this time, Pulse ridership is down 44% (74,970) while local service (all the other buses that are not express buses) have only seen an 11% drop (58,074). What This All Means™, I think, is that folks who ride the bus in Richmond are both filling essential, front-line jobs that are impossible to do in a work-form-home situation and that Richmond’s bus riders don’t have a ton of other easy transportation options. Keep that in mind when we start talking about “bringing folks back to public transportation,” because a lot of people never had the option to leave.
    Also in this PDF, check out page 20 for a really fascinating choose-two situation that regional elected officials must navigate next year to avoid a projected GRTC budget deficit. Leaders must choose (at least) two of the following to balance GRTC’s upcoming budget: 1) Get the region to pay for some of the more regionally-focused routes through the newly-created Central Virginia Transportation Authority—an authority which should kick off meeting soon and will generate an as-yet-unknown (at least to me) amount of money; 2) Restore some of the cash that both Richmond and Henrico cut from their GRTC allocations last year as they anticipated that sweet, sweet CVTA money; 3) Reinstate fares; or 4) cut

    Good morning, RVA: 922↘️ • 13↘️; a George Floyd hologram, and a stunning map

    Good morning, RVA: 922↘️ • 13↘️; a George Floyd hologram, and a stunning map

    Good morning, RVA! It’s 75 °F, and you can expect “cooler” temperatures today. We’ll still see the hot and humid 90s, just the low 90s instead of the high 90s.
    Water cooler
    As of this morning, the Virginia Department of Health reports 922↘️ new positive cases of the coronavirus in the Commonwealthand 13↘️ new deaths as a result of the virus. VDH reports 127↘️ new cases in and around Richmond (Chesterfield: 30, Henrico: 65, and Richmond: 32). Since this pandemic began, 281 people have died in the Richmond region. A couple things to note this morning! First, the outage or backlog or whatever at VDH did seem to cause a one-time increase in new coronavirus case counts, and today’s new COVID-19 case numbers are back under 1,000. Second, faced with a worsening situation in the 757, the Governor tweaked Phase Three (as predicted) for just a handful of localities in the Eastern Region of the state: Virginia Beach, Chesapeake, Norfolk, Suffolk, Portsmouth, Hampton, Williamsburg, Newport News, Poquoson, James City County, and York County. In those localities, on-site alcohol sales will end at 10:00 PM, all dining establishments must close by 12:00 AM, indoor dining will be limited to 50% of capacity, and gatherings over 50 people will be prohibited. The new restrictions will remain in place for at least a couple of weeks, an entire COVID-19 incubation period. Third, a GMRVA Patron reminded me of this VDH form to report violations of the Governor’s executive order requiring folks to wear masks inside of buildings. Wearing a mask is not a joke, and, in fact, it is required by the dang Governor while inside.
    RPS Superintendent Jason Kamras says teachers will not be virtually teaching from their classrooms this coming school year. While this is exactly what Chesterfield Public Schools have required—that teachers show up for work each and every day with students staying home—I didn’t know that it was something teachers in Richmond wanted. Kamras says opening the buildings to teachers would open the buildings to additional staff, additional cleaning costs, and, most importantly, the coronavirus itself—which is exactly the point of keeping all learning virtual for the foreseeable future.
    City Council’s Public Safety Committee met yesterday and voted to continue RES. 2020-R048 until September. That’s the paper that asks the Richmond Police Department to stop using certain less lethal weapons to control unlawful assemblies. Considering the membership of the committee—Councilmembers Trammell, Gray, and Hilbert—this is unsurprising, as those same councilmembers were some of the most outspoken in support of the current policing status quo at this past Monday’s full Council meeting. Only one of three is running for reelection (Trammell in the 8th District), so make sure you ask candidates what they would have done in this situation with this resolution (you can find the list of candidates and their contact information here). Anyway, while I didn’t think RES. 2020-R048 had much of a chance passing full Council, I didn’t expect it to get hung up in committee—especially given the current (and growing) state of protests in Richmond. I’m not sure what the process is for full Council to vote on something that’s been continued by a committee, but I doubt there would be the votes for whatever that is either.
    Speaking of police reform, C. Suarez Rojas has an update on Henrico County’s efforts to create a independent Civilian Review Board for their police department—an effort led by Supervisor Tyrone Nelson. There’s a lot of work to do in Henrico, especially when you’ve got Supervisor O’Bannon who “isn’t sure if there is a policing problem the county needs to solve” and wonders if “[a review board] could be a new program in the division of police.” If you’re a Henrico resident, consid

    Good morning, RVA: 1,505↗️ • 4↘️; Civilian Review Board ordinance passes; and an opportunity to help

    Good morning, RVA: 1,505↗️ • 4↘️; Civilian Review Board ordinance passes; and an opportunity to help

    Good morning, RVA! It’s 78 °F, and you know the drill. Expect highs in the mid 90s and a soupy atmosphere. Keep an eye out for some rain later this evening, though.
    Water cooler
    As of this morning, the Virginia Department of Health reports 1,505↗️ new positive cases of the coronavirus in the Commonwealth and 4↘️ new deaths as a result of the virus. VDH reports 167↗️ new cases in and around Richmond (Chesterfield: 36, Henrico: 81, and Richmond: 50). Since this pandemic began, 280 people have died in the Richmond region. This is a lot of new cases—the second most ever reported in a single day (May 26th posted a record 1,615 cases). The VDH website does have this message pinned to the top of the page: “The Virginia Electronic Disease Surveillance System was down for a few hours this weekend for planned maintenance. Today’s case number reflects cases that were not entered into the system during that time, in addition to cases entered in the last 24 hours.” So maybe take this morning’s new-case numbers with a grain of salt.
    Last night, City Council took up four of the five police reform papers and ended up passing the Civilian Review Board ordinance (ORD. 2020–155) and the Marcus Alert resolution (RES. 2020-R045), continuing the resolution to report on asset forfeiture special funds (RES. 2020-R046), and voting down the resolution to take the tiniest step towards defunding the police in the form of a simple report (RES. 2020-R047). Make no mistake, the big vote last night was on the CRB ordinance—the only ordinance of the bunch—and it passed unanimously. So, while the majority of discussion and disappointment falls around the failure of the resolution to begin defunding the police, the fact of the matter is that RES. 2020-R047 was just that: a non-binding resolution, and one that just asked the CAO for a report on a fairly limited slice of the Richmond Police Department’s operational budget. It didn’t in any way actually reduce the RPD’s budget. We can do better! The real meat of defunding the police begins with the budget the (potentially new) Mayor submits to (the potentially new) Council next spring. While it certainly sounds like the sitting Council has no real interest in defunding the police, conveniently, when the majority voted against this resolution last night, they gave their electoral opponents an easy issue to run on. So, if I were to plot out some next steps on how to defund the Richmond Police Department it’d be: 0) Demand a detailed report on how the RPD currently spends their $100 million budget; 1) Ask every single candidate running for City Council or Mayor to go on the record about how they’ll treat the police’s line item in the next budget or two; 2) Work with the newly elected folks in the winter and spring to build the support and cover that they’ll need to vote on a slimmer police budget. Also, keep in mind that the money freed up by reallocating money away from the police will most likely not be enough to provide the actual services the City actually needs. That kind of money can only come from increasing the property tax, so get ready for that conversation, too. Oh, also! The Public Safety committee will meet today at 12:00 PM after a several month hiatus. They’ll consider RES. 2020-R048, which would ask the RPD to ban the use of certain chemical and less lethal weapons to control unlawful assemblies. If you holler at the City Clerk before 10:00 AM you can get on the list to speak for this paper (CityClerksOffice@richmondgov.com).
    Over the weekend, the RTD’s Sabrina Moreno had a good piece about the Mending Walls RVA project that’ll throw up murals on 16 new walls across the City. The three that have already gone up focus on Black lives and you can check them out on the Mending Walls RVA instagram before putting together your own mini mural scavenger hunt

    Good morning, RVA: 958↘️ • 3↗️; protests return to Richmond; and a packed City Council agenda

    Good morning, RVA: 958↘️ • 3↗️; protests return to Richmond; and a packed City Council agenda

    Good morning, RVA! It’s 77 °F, and, wow, big surprise, we’re headed into another day with temperatures in the upper 90s and lots of humidity. Enjoy!
    Water cooler
    As of this morning, the Virginia Department of Health reports 958↘️ new positive cases of the coronavirus in the Commonwealth and 3↗️ new deaths as a result of the virus. VDH reports 74↘️ new cases in and around Richmond (Chesterfield: 28, Henrico: 29, and Richmond: 17). Since this pandemic began, 280 people have died in the Richmond region. I’m interested to hear what the Governor will have to say this week and what actions he may take as the Commonwealth continues to see about 1,000 new coronavirus cases each day. On Saturday, he said “We will be watching the public health data closely over the weekend—if the numbers don’t come down, we may have to take additional steps to blunt the spread of this virus.” The numbers, particularly in Eastern Virginia, do not look to have appreciably come down. I still think that he’ll be extremely hesitant to move even a single region fully back to Phase Two, and, if I were to guess, I’d say he’ll modify Phase Three in some of the most impacted regions by re-banning indoor dining and reducing the number of people allowed at public gatherings. Kate Masters at the Virginia Mercury has the details on the statewide picture. I guess we’ll learn more today or tomorrow, and, until then, make sure you stay home if you can, mask up and keep your distance if you cannot.
    This past weekend saw two nights of protests return to the streets of downtown Richmond and VCU-adjacent parts of the Fan. I don’t want to speak for any of the folks involved, but the vibe on Saturday was weird and different. Literal White Supremacists with assault rifles led the march for a portion of the night, I saw video of an angry white man shoot his gun into the street to intimidate someone (content warning: n-word), police again used chemical weapons on crowds, and members of the press were manhandled by the Richmond Police Department. You should read the recap in the Richmond Times-Dispatch by Sabrina Moreno and Ali Sullivan as Moreno was one of the reporters thrown to the ground by police. As Saturday night’s crowd made its way through the City, protestors shattered dozens of windows along Grace Street causing, according to VCU President Rao, over $100,000 of damage. Sunday night was, again, weird and different. After the previous night of property damage and scary gun violence, to an outside observer it felt like the RPD were much more on edge. Police harassed, detained, or arrested four people who have been involved in covering the protests for the last 60 days. The Commonwealth Times’s Eduardo Acevedo was harassed despite loudly and prominently showing his press pass. The CT’s Andrew Ringle was detained and handcuffed. @GoadGatsby—who, while not press, has provided the most consistent coverage of the last 60 days—was arrested and released. And @socialistdogmom—also not officially press but has covered recent events in Richmond and has a long history of covering city government in Charlottesville—was arrested and, at least as of this moment, has not yet been released. As you can imagine, I feel very protective of folks who are not quite press but still fill important roles in helping people stay informed about what’s going on in their city. With City Council set to vote on some of the police-reform legislation tonight(more on that below), this weekend’s protests have left me feeling confused and unmoored.
    City Council does in fact meet tonight for their regularly-scheduled meeting and has a few items of note on their agenda. First, RES. 2020-R044 expresses Council’s support for the semi-new Department of Public Works policy to always provide a safe, alternative path through when sidewalks and bike lanes are

Top Podcasts In News

Listeners Also Subscribed To