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Bouquets & Brickbats 

They get what they deserve

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The New Orleans Hornets

made a difference for recycling and disabled citizens at the team's Feb. 21 game, when the organization encouraged fans to bring their unwanted Mardi Gras beads in exchange for tickets to a future game. The beads were collected for the Arc of Greater New Orleans, which provides services for intellectually disabled adults and their families in Orleans, Jefferson and St. Bernard parishes. The Arc plans to sort and resell the beads at a discount as part of its Mardi Gras Recycling Program, which will benefit both next year's float riders and Louisiana landfills for years to come.



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Joshua Smith and Sue Zemanick,

the chefs at A Mano and Gautreau's, respectively, were named semifinalists for the 2010 James Beard Award in the category "Rising Star Chef of the Year." Lilette's Beth Biundo received a nod in the pastry chef category, while the semifinalists in the "Best Chef: South" category included Scott Boswell (Stella!), Aaron Burgau (Patois), Adolfo Garcia (Rio Mar), John Harris (Lilette) and David and Torre Solazzo (Ristorante Del Porto). Finalists will be announced next month, and the winners will be named May 3 at a ceremony in New York's Lincoln Center.



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Gayle Porter

was sentenced to three years' federal probation on Feb. 18 for the theft of more than $10,000 she received in Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) assistance shortly after Hurricane Katrina. Fraudulent FEMA claims were common after the hurricane, but Porter's case was unique, as she was a resident of Buffalo, N.Y., when the storm hit. According to Assistant U.S. Attorney Aaron Mango, who prosecuted the case, Porter claimed to have been a New Orleans resident who had escaped the city after Katrina, but she had actually been living in Buffalo the whole time.



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HANO,

the Housing Authority of New Orleans, was the subject of a scathing 70-page report issued this week by the Department of Housing and Urban Development. Among HUD's findings: the agency is understaffed and overly dependent on contractors; pay scales are out of whack; performance evaluations are cumbersome and meaningless; and "given the high-profile ethical and criminal allegations against various past HANO officials, the agency's employees have been poorly served by lack of ethics education and training." One bright note from HUD: "Based upon our experience working to rejuvenate troubled public housing programs, it is our view that HANO is eminently 'fixable.'"

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