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The Best and the Worst of the Week 

Laura Maloney,
executive director of the Louisiana SPCA, recently was named "Woman of the Year" by CityBusiness newspaper. Maloney, who helped coordinate the sheltering of 15,000 animals from the streets of New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina, was chosen from among 50 outstanding local women for the honor. She and her staff joined other organizations to set up the Lamar-Dixon Expo Center animal shelter in Gonzales after Katrina, and their efforts helped reunite more than 1,000 pets with their displaced owners.

National Youth Advocacy Coalition
has provided $25,000 for grants of $500 each to youths aged 16 to 25 who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or questioning to help them recover from the effects of Hurricane Katrina. Grant applications are due by Feb. 15. The funds can be used to help with housing, clothing, transportation, furnishings or other items lost to the storm. Information is available at www.noaidstaskforce.org or by calling 737-2502.

Terry Songy,
former project manager for Johnson Controls Inc., pleaded guilty last week to federal felony charges of conspiracy to commit mail fraud and tax evasion in connection with an $81 million energy-conservation contract awarded by the Marc Morial Administration. Songy and five Johnson subcontractors have pleaded guilty in the ongoing federal investigation. Songy allegedly conspired with several others to skim more than $1 million from the contract.

The Bush Administration
dealt a blow to Louisiana's recovery last week when it announced its opposition to the Baker bill. Republican U.S. Rep. Richard Baker of Louisiana wanted to create an agency authorized to sell government-backed bonds to finance voluntary buyouts in hurricane-ravaged parishes. The agency would have guaranteed property owners 60 percent of their equity, after insurance, and negotiated mortgage payouts. Baker's proposal was a centerpiece of local recovery plans.

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