News » Bouquets & Brickbats: local heroes and zeroes

Bouquets & Brickbats

They get what they deserve

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Justice Bernette Joshua Johnson

of the Louisiana Supreme Court will be honored with a Spirit of Excellence award by the American Bar Association's Commission on Racial and Ethnic Diversity in the Profession. As an African American in the city's then-segregated school system, Johnson faced numerous challenges as a young student, but she became her high school's valedictorian before graduating from Spelman College and LSU law school. She was the first woman elected to Orleans Civil District Court and the first African-American woman elected to the state Supreme Court.



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Scott S. Cowen,

president of Tulane University, was honored in the most recent issue of TIME magazine as one of America's 10 best college presidents. Cowen, who arrived at Tulane in 1998, is credited for his nimble work bringing back the university since Hurricane Katrina, as well as instituting service programs for students and helping rebuild the New Orleans public school system. The article noted, "Despite having to cut undergraduate enrollment by about 600, fire professors and either eliminate or combine academic programs, Cowen reports that applications have more than doubled in the years since Katrina."



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Joan Benge,

a former district judge in Jefferson Parish, violated judicial ethics and was removed from the bench in a unanimous Louisiana Supreme Court ruling. Benge was named in the FBI's "Wrinkled Robe" investigation into the Jefferson Parish courthouse. The investigation led to the conviction of then-Judge Ronald Bodenheimer. A former Jefferson Parish prosecutor, Benge was caught on an FBI wiretap being lobbied to rule in favor of one of Bodenheimer's cronies, and her remarks to Bodenheimer indicated her ruling was not based solely on the law and the evidence.



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Fox News Channel

this week featured former U.S. Sen. John Breaux of Louisiana as an expert on health care — without disclosing that Breaux is now a lobbyist for Big Pharma. Interviewer Carl Cameron introduced Breaux only as a "prominent Democratic centrist and former Louisiana senator. In the third quarter of this year, the Breaux Lott Leadership Group (Breaux's company with former Mississippi Sen. Trent Lott) accepted $150,000 from Big Pharma to lobby Congress. It was a bad week for Fox, which also was caught falsifying images of a Nov. 7 "tea party" event to make it appear larger than it really was.

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