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The Best and the Worst of the Week


Hazel Sinclair
of St. Tammany Parish is among seven 2005 National Wetlands Award winners honored by the nonprofit Environmental Law Institute and several federal agencies. Sinclair was recognized for her 'activism and galvanization of the community' in spearheading efforts to prevent developers from destroying local wetlands, the awards committee said. Sinclair successfully won court cases ordering sustainable development in wetland areas.

District Attorney Eddie Jordan
broke federal anti-discrimination laws when he fired 43 employees in 2003, a federal jury has decided. Jurors accepted the plaintiffs' complaint that shortly after he took office, Jordan fired white workers en masse and replaced them with black employees. The jury ordered the DA's office to pay $1.9 million in lost wages and damages. Jordan says race was never a factor in his staffing decisions, and that his office will appeal.

Edwin Burks,
a former assistant city attorney and onetime interim Municipal Court judge, admitted he took a bribe last year from a federal agent posing as a corrupt cabbie. Burks, who prosecuted motorists for traffic violations, pleaded guilty to taking $1,000 in exchange for dismissing several tickets. Burks, a 12-year employee in the city attorney's office, is the fourth municipal worker to plead guilty in an ongoing federal probe into misdeeds in New Orleans Traffic Court.

St. John the Baptist Parish school administrators
failed to keep a responsible eye on the system's finances, a state audit has found. A legislative auditor's report says Superintendent Michael Coburn put $53,017 in questionable charges on school-system credit cards, and that the system wasn't able to produce adequate documentation to support his spending. Coburn says the charges were legitimate business expenses, but he could not substantiate that claim.

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