Dr. Regina Benjamin
was nominated last week as surgeon general by President Barack Obama. Benjamin studied in New Orleans, receiving a Bachelor of Science degree from the Xavier School of Pharmacy and an MBA from Tulane before setting up a small community clinic in the shrimping village of Bayou La Batre, Ala. After her clinic was twice destroyed by hurricanes, including Katrina, Benjamin mortgaged her home to rebuild. In a job that has been largely ceremonial and symbolic, she should be a strong advocate for patients' rights.
Dr. Joe Omojola,
a professor of mathematics and physics at Southern University at New Orleans, recently conducted a math and science summer camp for elementary school students. Omojola received the 2006 Presidential Award for Excellence in Science, Mathematics and Engineering Mentoring from the National Science Foundation and was presented with a $10,000 grant by then-president George W. Bush. He used the grant money to put on two sessions of the free two-week summer camp.
recently pleaded guilty in Criminal District Court to 16 felony counts of contractor fraud in a case prosecuted by assistant DAs Matthew LaStrapes and Laura Cannizzaro. Unlicensed as a contractor in Louisiana, the Georgia native took deposits on Katrina-related home repairs from local homeowners and never did the work. His victims were mostly elderly, and some had property liens placed on their homes. Ferguson will be sentenced by Judge Keva Landrum-Johnson next month. He faces 10 years in prison on each charge.
an algebra teacher and assistant basketball coach at Woodlawn High School in Baton Rouge, was charged with aggravated arson last week after allegedly setting fire to a couch in the lobby of the Westin Hotel in the French Quarter. Messenger, a guest at the hotel, was taken into custody by cops, firemen and ATF agents. If convicted, Messenger could face six to 20 years in jail and fines up to $25,000. Kudos to the Westin security staff, which put out the fire before anyone was hurt.