Author

Ned Oliver

Ned Oliver

Ned, a Lexington native, has been a fulltime journalist since 2008, beginning at The News-Gazette in Lexington, and including stints at the Berkshire Eagle, in Berkshire County, Mass., and the Times-Dispatch and Style Weekly in Richmond. He is a graduate of Bard College at Simon’s Rock, in Great Barrington, Mass. He was named Virginia's outstanding journalist for 2020 by the Virginia Press Association. Contact him at [email protected]

Virginia seals 64,000 marijuana distribution charges

By: - October 15, 2021

Virginia has sealed records documenting more than 64,000 misdemeanor marijuana distribution charges since the state legalized the drug in July. The figure came out Thursday during a meeting of the legislature’s Cannabis Oversight Commission. Officials said the records were scrubbed from the state’s criminal record database, which is used by employers like school boards, state […]

Virginia moves to immediately sever ties with prison health care contractor. ‘The relationship has degraded significantly.’

By: - October 13, 2021

The Virginia Department of Corrections appears headed toward a messy breakup with the company that provides medical care in about half of the state’s prisons. DOC director Harold Clarke announced in July he intended to bring all health care services in-house, ending its $90-million annual contract with Miami-based Armor Correctional Health. But rather than let […]

Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring. (Ned Oliver/Virginia Mercury)

Federal judge presses AG to weigh in on election calendar. ‘I want him to do his job.’

By: - October 12, 2021

A federal judge is urging Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring to issue a formal opinion on the state’s election calendar after U.S. census delays forced members of the General Assembly to run in outdated districts this year. Herring has steadfastly declined to weigh in despite receiving a formal request for an opinion five months ago […]

‘We have had the airing of the grievances’; Va. Redistricting Commission moves on to Congressional maps

By: - October 11, 2021

Members of the Virginia Redistricting Commission said Monday they’ll move on to redrawing the state’s 11 congressional districts after efforts to reach a compromise on General Assembly maps ended in a stalemate last week. Monday’s meeting was nonetheless dominated by grousing from both Democrats and Republicans about the commission’s implosion Friday, where three Democratic members […]

A year into legal sales, medical marijuana patients see high prices and long waits

By: - October 11, 2021

As Virginia’s medical marijuana industry closes out its first year of sales, some patients are complaining about long waits to register with the state and high prices once they get into dispensaries. “A month’s supply costs me between $600 and $700 — and that’s not covered by insurance,” says Tamara Netzel, a former schoolteacher from […]

Two drywall companies working on new General Assembly building face first worker misclassification charges

By: - October 6, 2021

Two drywalling subcontractors working on the new General Assembly office building rising over Capitol Square are facing 10 counts each of felony embezzlement for allegedly misclassifying their employees as independent contractors to avoid paying payroll taxes. Attorney General Mark Herring announced the indictments Wednesday. He said they are the first brought by a new Worker […]

State still deciding whether to reopen circle around remains of Lee Monument

By: - October 6, 2021

It’s been a month since crews removed a massive statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee in Richmond, but the grassy traffic circle that had become a rallying point for protesters last year and a magnet for tourists remains off limits to the public. State officials say they haven’t yet decided when or if they […]

Democrats on defense as their new House majority faces its first electoral test

By: - October 4, 2021

Virginia Democrats are playing defense in nearly a dozen competitive House of Delegates districts this year as they defend their new majority against GOP challengers hoping to win back ground lost during Donald Trump’s presidency. Commentators, observers and strategists across the political spectrum say they would not be shocked if Democrats lost between two and […]

Virginia delays launch of new unemployment system after auditors warned of ‘major risks’

By: - September 28, 2021

The Virginia Employment Commission says it’s delaying the launch of a new unemployment insurance system. The announcement comes a week after legislative auditors warned of “major project risks” associated with the upgrade. Among potential problems, the Joint Legislative Audit and Review Commission noted that the agency was struggling with incomplete and inaccurate conversions of existing […]

Protesters call for investigation into judge who jailed witness in domestic violence case

By: - September 23, 2021

Protesters outside the Loudoun County courthouse Thursday denounced a local judge who sent the alleged victim in a domestic violence case to jail on a contempt charge. “This judge shouldn’t be on the bench,” said Lisa Sales, a women’s rights activist and domestic violence survivor who organized the gathering of about 30 people. Sales called […]

Many state employees remain unvaccinated despite mandate

By: - September 22, 2021

Last month, Gov. Ralph Northam gave state employees a choice: get vaccinated or submit to weekly testing for COVID-19. Many, it appears, have chosen testing. While comprehensive figures aren’t available yet, a survey of some of the largest state agencies reveals employee vaccination rates range from just over 50 percent at the Department of Corrections […]

In numbers: Virginia’s struggle to distribute unemployment benefits

By: - September 20, 2021

Lawmakers on Monday got their second report from legislative auditors on the Virginia Employment Commission’s struggle to meet the massive demand for unemployment benefits amid the pandemic. Here’s a look at some of the statistics and figures presented in the interim update by the Joint Legislative Audit and Review Commission, which plans to wrap up […]