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Good morning, RVA: TIFs are back, the opioid epidemic, and have a great Thanksgiving!

Good morning, RVA! It's 25 °F, but expect temperatures to double after lunch. Tomorrow looks even warmer and like a great day to throw the football around in your nearest green space—be it backyard or local park. Temperatures drop a bit on Friday and over the weekend but nothing we can't handle.
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Good morning, RVA! It's 25 °F, but expect temperatures to double after lunch. Tomorrow looks even warmer and like a great day to throw the football around in your nearest green space—be it backyard or local park. Temperatures drop a bit on Friday and over the weekend but nothing we can't handle.
Water cooler
City Council's Governmental Operations committee meeting will not meet today, but take a look at RES. 2021-R082, the one thing on their agenda. Patroned by Councilmember Addison, this resolution would ask the CAO to develop a process "for the designation of development project areas...to be funded through tax increment financing." TIFs! Remember TIFs?? To recap, in case you've blocked the entire Navy Hill saga out of your mind, a TIF draws a box around an area of town and then captures future revenue from inside that box to pay whatever thing you want in the present. TIFs are a little bit of a four-letter word around Richmond lately, but, like semicolons, TIFs are not inherently positive or negative and can be used for either good or evil. Unlike Navy Hill's TIF, the TIFs recommended in RES. 2021-R082 (the Diamond District, City Center, the port, and Southside Plaza), are all fairly confined areas. Also unlike Navy Hill, the goals of these TIFs are not massive arenas, but neighborhood-scale issues like: affordable housing, infrastructure, and transportation. I think, pending more details, I'm into it! There are, of course, about a million and one steps between this ordinance and the City actually drawing up some new TIFs, but I'm interested to follow along.
Something to keep an eye on: The Richmond Times-Dispatch's Ali Rockett reports that RPD's former interim Chief of Police, Jody Blackwell, is suing the City of Richmond for wrongful termination and breach of contract. It's been at least 10 years since the summer of 2020, when Blackwell resigned as Chief after just a handful of days, so it's hard for me to remember everything that was going on back then, but Rockett's recap has some new-to-me details. Apparently, according to Blackwell, the Mayor asked him to resign after he wouldn't get the RPD involved in taking down the Confederate monuments: "Stoney requested that RPD officers stand watch while private contractors removed various monuments. Blackwell told Mayor Stoney that he refused to allow RPD officers to stand watch as such action would violate Virginia law and could expose his officers to criminal liability." Fascinating. That's definitely just one side of the story, so, like I said, something to keep an eye on.
Jeff South at the Virginia Mercury has a piece full of numbers and graphs on the opioid epidemic currently burning across the state. Look at this terrifying stat: "The rising number of drug deaths represents the continuation of a trend that started in 2010, when 690 Virginians died of drug overdoses. Back then, the state recorded about two drug fatalities a day. Now the average daily toll is more than seven." In fact, "drug deaths in the commonwealth increased 22 percent during the first half of this year compared with the corresponding period of 2020," and "about 2,620 Virginians will die from overdoses of fentanyl, cocaine, heroin, prescription opioids, methamphetamine and other drugs in 2021 — a 13 percent increase from the previous year." Make sure you tap through and scroll down to the graph that breaks the data out by locality—Richmond, Henrico, and Chesterfield all have a lot of work to do.
Dang! It's already year-in-review season, and I am such a sucker for a Year in Photos piece. Here's Richmond Magazine's 2021 in Photos by photographer Jay Paul.
Logistical note! I'll be taking tomorrow and Friday off from GMRVA, work, and life in general to spend time riding bikes, eating carbs, tinkering with my todo system, and sorting through a backlog of interesting reader emails. I hope you're able to find at least some time for yourself—and at least one reason to eat gravy—over the next couple of days. Enjoy and rest up: 2022 is just weeks away!
This morning's longread
Mike White Accepts the Criticism
Here's an absolutely wonderful interview with Mike White, creator of The W
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