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The Best and the Worst of the Week

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Eric Paul Julien,
a local photographer, won the Excellence Award from the B&W Magazine 2008 Portfolio Contest Awards for his photographic series "Isle of Hispaniola." Julien traveled twice to Haiti to shoot the series, which explores life in the Haitian-Creole culture. B&W Magazine, which showcases fine photography for collectors, selected eight of Julien's photos for a spread in a special issue of the magazine. Samples of Julien's work can be found on his Web site, www.e-pauljulien.com.

Rebuilding Together
New Orleans, a nonprofit that utilizes volunteer labor to rebuild the houses of low-income elderly and disabled homeowners, recently completed its 100th building since the storm. In less than three years, RTNO has grown from two full-time staff members and an $800,000 annual budget to a staff of 28 and a yearly budget of $2.8 million. Fittingly, the 100th finished home went to Broadmoor resident Evelina Rodriguez, an 81-year-old retired nurse who, honoring the request of a dying woman, raised her four children as her own.

State lawmakers
last week defied reason and their constituents by pushing a plan to give themselves a 200 percent pay raise, which would have cost the state $5.3 million a year and made them the eighth-highest-paid solons in the country. While legislative base pay has not been raised in 20 years — and we agree that $16,800 a year is too low — the massive raise passed in the Senate with little debate outraged the public and demonstrated a tin ear for the public mood. Any raise should take effect after the next statewide elections.

Mayor Ray Nagin
used a taxpayer-financed credit card to pay for numerous lunch dates with his wife, according to a recent article by Times-Picayune reporter Gordon Russell. The mayor and two of his aides, Ceeon Quiett and Kenya Smith (who resigned before the story appeared), haven't provided any written explanation for credit card expenses. Nagin's credit card expenditures from September 2007 to January 2008 were $6,628. We don't have a problem with Nagin taking his wife to lunch, but he shouldn't do it on our dime.

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