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The Best and the Worst of the Week 

Harry Shearer,
actor, comedian and part-time New Orleans resident, recently became the first celebrity to appear in a series of videos and public service announcements for Levees.org. The group hopes to attract supporters and attention to America's defective levee systems. In the PSA, Shearer notes that U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has admitted that more than 120 of its levees may be vulnerable. "What happened here in New Orleans could happen anywhere — to you," Shearer says. "Don't we all deserve levees that work?" Amen.

The Hyogo Prefecture of Japan
has donated $200,000 to the New Orleans Museum of Art for a children's art initiative. Southern Hyogo was devastated by the Kobe Earthquake of 1995, which killed more than 6,000 people, and the prefecture dedicated part of the international aid it received in the wake of that disaster to help cities facing similar situations in the future. Hyogo has given NOMA the money to help local kids heal and recover from Hurricane Katrina through the visual arts.

Greg Meffert,
the city's former chief technology officer, allowed the city to pay an exorbitant amount of money — at least $170,000, according to The Times-Picayune — for a bodyguard who also served as Meffert's chauffeur during and after Hurricane Katrina. To make matters worse, the aide, Jimmy Goodson, was provided by Imagine Software LLC, a software company with close ties to Meffert and a history of city contracts that Meffert doled out. Kudos to the T-P's Gordon Russell for exposing another Meffert boondoggle.

Donald Battiste,
a former New Orleans cop, pleaded guilty last week to malfeasance in office for ripping off people he had arrested while a police officer. Battiste's guilty plea came in a deal worked out with prosecutors, who dropped a simple robbery charge against him. NOPD's Public Integrity Bureau reportedly had received numerous complaints about Battiste from Hispanic laborers who accused him of taking cash from people he arrested. He was caught in a PIB sting operation and sentenced by Judge Terry Alarcon to one year in prison.

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