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The Best and the Worst of the Week 

Lois C. Hawkins,
classical arts benefactor, bolstered the New Orleans Opera Association (NOOA) by offering to match donations dollar-for-dollar, with a cap of $100,000. NOOA has a fundraising goal of $200,000, with an April 15 deadline. Hawkins previously served as the first female president of NOOA.

Gov. Kathleen Blanco
risked political controversy in exchange for Louisiana's economic gain when she visited Cuba last week. The state's historic economic ties to the island nation -- suspended under an American trade embargo -- are expected to resume following Cuba's promise to purchase $15 million of products from the state over the next 18 months.

New Orleans firefighters
for the second time in a year, put out the fire in a burning car -- but failed to notice the body of a murder victim inside the vehicle, fire officials acknowledge. The latest incident involves a murdered 250-pound man found by a passerby in the back of a burned-out car near Audubon Park -- six hours after firefighters had extinguished the blaze. Superintendent Charles Parent is awaiting the results of an internal review.

Charles Rice,
the city's chief administrative officer, oversaw a flawed process for choosing high-tech parking meters that could cost the city hundreds of thousands of dollars a year. The winning bid by Standard Parking, a national firm, and local partner Parking Solutions LLC, was neither the lowest bid nor the one ranked highest by a city evaluation committee -- nor did it meet all the bid specifications.

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