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The Best and the Worst of the Week 

Curtis Thomas Jr. ,
a student at New Orleans' Audubon Montessori School, has been selected to participate in the Junior National Young Leaders Conference in Washington, D.C. The middle-school student will join other youths from around the country at the program Oct. 4-9 to learn from the examples of leaders throughout American history. Curtis was chosen based on his maturity, academic excellence and leadership potential.

Denise Parker,
manager of the state Disability Determination Services office in New Orleans, has won the 2002 Social Security Administration Commissioner's Citation Award for outstanding service. Parker has run the office -- a branch of the state Department of Social Services (DSS) -- since 2001. DSS administrators praise Parker's management, saying the New Orleans office is far more efficient and offers better quality care since she took over.

The Board of Examiners for Nursing Facility Administrators,
a state Department of Health and Hospitals panel, admitted it was not in compliance with state regulations governing its finances and professional contracts. Board executive director Kemp Wright concurred with the findings of a state audit that said the board made payments in excess of its professional services contract limit, did not have sufficient controls over its revenue, and did not properly manage employee leave time and attendance.

House Speaker Charlie DeWitt
acknowledged that the owners of the New Orleans Fair Grounds gave him an interest in two racehorses in 2001 -- but told The Times-Picayune the gift had nothing to do with his longtime support of the racetrack or a bill he authored this year. The bill, which didn't pass, would have nullified a state Supreme Court ruling that the Fair Grounds shorted horsemen their share of video poker money. DeWitt's acceptance of such a gift smells worse than a dirty horse barn.

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