In brief: Debtors’ prison, slush fund and more

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Modern-day ‘debtors’ prison’?

The Legal Aid Justice Center sued the Department of Motor Vehicles July 6 in federal court in Charlottesville, claiming that suspending the licenses of nearly 1 million low-income Virginians for failure to pay unreasonable court costs and fines traps them in debt, makes it impossible for them to legally drive to work and is unconstitutional.

Dubious nod for Batten School

Breitbart cited UVA’s Frank “Bratten” School of Leadership and Public Policy for its report that daylight savings time reduces “robbery by 51 percent, murder by 43 percent and rape by 56 percent during the ‘extra’ hour of evening daylight.”

Wrong side of the tracks

A Charlottesville-bound Amtrak train from New York got on the wrong track July 6 outside of Alexandria and was headed to Richmond for about 10 minutes before the mistake was noticed. Passengers tell NBC29 the train backed up to get back on track and was more than an hour late.

False alarm

Waynesboro police advised residents to stay clear of a construction site behind Edwardian Lane on the morning of July 8, when contractors found what appeared to be dynamite on the site. Virginia State Police’s special unit of bomb technicians determined it was just a rock with wires sticking out of it.

Bears close trails

Unusual bear activity in the southern part of the Shenandoah National Park closed Big Run Loop Trail, a section of Big Run Portal and 2.5 miles of the Appalachian Trail at Browns Gap July 7 until further notice. An “unusually assertive” bear approached an AT hiker for food and would not take “no” for an answer until the hiker whacked it with hiking pole

Let them eat cake

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Former UVA Board of Visitors rector Helen Dragas has accused university administrators of hiding in “plain sight” a $2.3 billion “slush fund” to support strategic initiatives and enhance
UVA’s reputation—at the same time tuition skyrocketed and support for low-income students plummeted. In a July 6 Washington Post op-ed, Dragas alleges:

  • Administrators duped the BOV into approving the slush fund while the board had no idea how much was at stake.
  • Tuition has increased for new students 30 percent since 2013.
  • In-state tuition jumped 74 percent since 2009.
  • More than $100 million went to financial aid for out-of-state students.
  • Some secretaries and administrators outearn Governor Terry McAuliffe, who makes $175,000 annually, while the state’s median family income is in the mid-$60,000s.
  • The $2.3 billion fund could pay four-year tuition for 44,000 Virginians, and its annual earnings of $100 million could cut the tuition of all in-state undergrads by 70 percent.
  • BOVers, deans and administrators dine on crab cakes, filet mignon and designer desserts at the Boar’s Head Inn while a UVA student begs online for funds to pay tuition and buy food.

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Quote of the week

“It’s easy for accomplished and wealthy board members—including me—
to sit around a fancy oval table and pass judgment about what’s affordable or what’s not.”—Former UVA rector Helen Dragas on increased tuition costs denying admission to Virginia students.