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Bouquets & Brickbats

They get what they deserve


Start the Adventure in Reading (STAIR),

a nonprofit children's literacy organization, is celebrating its 25th anniversary of improving the reading skills of New Orleans kids. STAIR trains volunteers as tutors, who provide one-on-one reading instruction twice a week for second graders who are below grade level for literacy. Since its inception, the group has taught more than 6,000 children, and 350 tutors now teach 250 children. Last year, STAIR students showed a 94 percent improvement in their reading skills. For information on becoming a STAIR volunteer, call 899-0820, or visit


Tawn Fox,

a 1993 McDonogh 35 High School graduate, chose her alma mater to receive an $8,000 media center makeover as part of her winnings from the 2009 Coca-Cola/Family Dollar Computer Sweepstakes. The contest selected Fox as one of three grand prize winners, and she was given a new computer notebook as well as the chance to choose a school for the computer upgrade. The high school will receive five new desktop computers and a 46-inch LCD television.


The U.S. Chamber of Commerce,

acting through its Institute for Legal Reform (ILR), failed to use objective social science methods when it conducted a survey that rated Louisiana the second-worst state for businesses' legal climate. The study surveyed a relatively small number of attorneys and business execs from large corporations but, as noted in a 2009 study by Cornell University professor Theodore Eisenberg, it did not require them to have had any experience in the states they rated. Directorship magazine recently rated Louisiana as the 14th-best liability climate in the nation.


Jelpi Picou,

an attorney and former director of the nonprofit anti-death penalty organization The Capital Appeals Project, pleaded guilty to five counts of felony theft in Orleans Parish Criminal Court after admitting he stole more than $202,000 from the group between 2005 and 2009. Picou took over the agency in 2004 and resigned last November amid allegations of missing funds. The Louisiana Supreme Court suspended Picou's law license in December, and he faces sentencing for the crimes on April 30.

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