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The Best and the Worst of the Week 

Dr. Mabel Blaché
has won the American Dental Association's Geriatric Oral Health Care Award for 2003. The ADA recognized Blaché's work with the Mobile Dental Van Program, which brings full-service dental care to senior citizens. The national award comes with a $2,500 prize to supplement the Mobile Dental Van. Under Blaché's guidance, the city-sponsored program provided services to nearly 1,400 low-income patients last year.

Phyllis Diecidue,
who teaches reading to 9th and 10th grade students at St. Bernard High School, has been named one of 100 Milken Foundation National Educators for 2003. The honor for teaching excellence, which comes with a $25,000 prize, was presented to Diecidue and two Baton Rouge-area teachers last week. Diecidue has only been teaching for six years and is credited with helping at-risk students make major strides in their reading skills.

New Orleans' Public Schools system,
in another embarrassing financial disclosure, is being accused of payroll and insurance errors that may have cost the system $27 million or more, says a consultant hired by the school board to analyze its books. Consultant Stuart Piltch told the board last week that sloppy recordkeeping resulted in the system continuing to pay salaries to about 1,000 former employees and insurance premiums for about 2,000 more ex-workers.

Baton Rouge Metro Councilman Pat Culbertson
adopted a "love it or leave it" attitude during a recent debate over flaws in the local property tax system. Responding to Councilman Jim Benham's complaint about how Louisiana's irregular tax systems drive businesses to Texas, Culbertson said: "It's called Interstate 10. Take it west." If that's Culbertson's best response to a discussion about government problems, perhaps he should reconsider staying in public office.

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