News » Bouquets & Brickbats: local heroes and zeroes

The Best and the Worst of the Week

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Myrtis L. "Jeri" Nims ,
a native of Pontchatoula, has pledged $10 million to the University of New Orleans' arts program. The philanthropist's gift is the largest financial endowment in UNO's 44-year history. University officials plan to use the money to fund scholarships for students studying the arts, pay for a new art gallery and create the Jeri Nims School of the Arts.

Cindy Connell and Ava Lee ,
both Orleans Parish School System teachers, have won national grants allowing them to participate in unique summer education programs. Connell, of Benjamin Franklin Elementary, was selected by the National Endowment of the Humanities to study "Cultural Diversity in the American South" at the University of Tennessee. Lee, of Lafayette Elementary, will study in Japan after winning a Fulbright Memorial Teachers' Scholarship.

Terrebone Parish President Bobby Bergeron
admitted the parish acted unconstitutionally when it threatened to fine resident Joseph Pinero if he didn't remove a sign reading "Anybody but Bobby," a reference to Bergeron, from his business property. Officials had claimed that under parish law, it was an outdated and illegal campaign sign. The parish council has rescinded the order and agreed to review local sign laws to ensure that residents are not denied their right to free speech.

Katherine Maraldo and Michael Stump ,
an ex-member of the Sewerage and Water Board and the former head of a company that had operated two S&WB water treatment plants, respectively, were convicted on federal charges relating to bribery. A Texas jury found that Maraldo used her board position to push for a contract extension for Stump's company, Professional Services Group, in exchange for thousands of dollars in cash and legal assistance.

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