Outside the Novahood


What a change in administrations can mean!

President Joe Biden is returning billions of dollars to a series of military projects, including funds to upgrade safety violations at a 64-year-old Norfolk Naval Shipyard building. The previous President had redirected those monies from the Department of Defense to pay for the southern border wall. Of more than $2 billion still left from the $3.6 billion diverted, Biden set more than $26 million for the shipyard building.

White House stated, “The prior Administration’s failure to repair this building has left military personnel working in a high risk environment and undermined Navy operations at the facility.” 

Fixing the safety issues means the nuclear containment and life raft shops can be moved from an existing building that would require even more repairs. The Norfolk life raft inspection and repair operation is the only such facility on the East Coast, and handles 750 raft inspections, repairs and certifications a year, with 50-100 rafts in active maintenance at any time. All in all, Biden’s order returns more than $2 billion to 66 construction projects in 11 states, 3 territories and 16 foreign bases. 

Quoth the raven of the border wall: Nevermore.


80,000 pennies on the lawn, 80,000 pennies. Pick one up and throw it around, 79,999 pennies on the lawn. . . .

So, a father–yes, an “adult”–paid his last child-support payment to his ex-wife–$800.00–in pennies. 80,000 of them. Dumped on the lawn of the home where she lives, outside Richmond, with her 18-year-old daughter, who hasn’t spoken to him in years.

“It’s not just my mom he’s trying to embarrass, it’s also me and my sister and it’s upsetting that he didn’t consider that before he did that,” she said. The father later said that his emotions got the best of him and he regrets the decision. Ya think?

The women gathered up the pennies and donated them to Safe Harbor, a domestic abuse center. Talk about turning copper and zinc into a kind of gold. . . .

A penny for your thoughts. . . .


Thanks to a $3 million donation from The Secular Society, a Blacksburg-based nonprofit, through a partnership with New York-based RIP Medical Debt, more than 26,000 people in Southwest Virginia will soon have overdue bills owed to Ballad Health and its legacy companies discharged, with no strings attached.

Using donations, RIP purchases unpaid medical accounts for pennies on the dollar and then forgives the debts. Those helped included thousands in the coalfields region of Virginia.

RIP was founded by two former debt collection executives in 2014, who decided to use their expertise to create a way to forgive unpaid and unpayable medical debt by using donations to buy large bundles of discounted debt and then forgive it.

The Secular Society was founded in 2013 and donates private funds to a host of community organizations and efforts, many of which benefit women. The Roanoke Times, which first reported this story, has received a three-year, $300,000 grant from the society to fund investigative reporting.

Creative genius in the pursuit of direct financial assistance to people.


A review of operations at Fluvanna Correctional Center for Women reveals the state isn’t close to meeting the terms of a five-year-old legal settlement over poor health care and a spate of inmate deaths. The report, filed earlier this year in a federal court case that’s closing in on a decade of litigation, says medical care remains spotty and questions the state’s practice of isolating mentally ill inmates for 23 hours or more a day.

One of the monitor’s biggest concerns is that the Department of Corrections (DOC) still relies on paper medical records to provide and track health care for prisoners. It is likely impossible for the state to meet its court-ordered benchmarks for improving medical care without upgrading to the now-industry-standard technology, citing records that show nurses don’t always provide inmates medication they’re prescribed and inmates arrive at medical appointments to learn staff don’t have their charts.

DOC has been in discussions about upgrading from paper to electronic medical records for years, but the effort has been bogged down by failed procurement efforts that in once case saw a vendor back out at the last minute over a dispute about the state’s security standards. A second procurement attempt advanced in 2018 but was apparently aborted. The department issued what is at least its third request for proposals earlier this year.

The report, which followed a three-day inspection of Fluvanna in March, made clear that problems go beyond technology. The state recently agreed to pay $150,000 to settle a lawsuit filed by a mentally ill inmate who allegedly was held in solitary confinement for 600 days. According to a U.S. District Court judge, “The settlement agreement was approved in 2016. We are now over five years after settlement, and all the parties should take the opportunity and redouble their efforts to quickly and sustainably hit the benchmarks.”

We can have no patience for threats to health. These are people, after all.





Categories: CIVIL RIGHTS, crime and punishment, Health Care, Issues, Local, prisons

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