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The Best and the Worst of the Week 

Sarah Usdin,
founder and president of New Schools for New Orleans, was named "Entrepreneur of the Year" by the NewSchools Venture Fund. Usdin was praised for her prompt action after Hurricane Katrina in assessing public schools' needs, particularly public charter schools, and establishing an organization to support them. She has been involved in public education since she joined Teach for America (TFA) in 1992. NewSchools Venture Fund works to improve public education for low-income urban students nationwide.

Starbucks Coffee
recently donated $95,000 to the Louisiana Children's Museum to provide free admission to families on the first Sunday of each month from June through November and to extend the museum's "Play Power" program in St. Bernard Parish. The first free Sunday allowed 620 visitors to enter the museum for free. The "Play Power" program brings relief to impacted children through therapeutic play. Starbucks employees also painted and built the museum's new "Fetch" exhibit, based on the popular PBS children's series.

Judy Weitz,
owner of Compucast Interactive, a local Web design and marketing firm, was recently honored by the National Association of Women Business Owners as one of five finalists for the "2007 Woman Business Owner of the Year" award. Weitz was cited for her efforts to help establish connections between businesses and their employees after Hurricane Katrina, along with her development of a complimentary employment engine (NewOrleansHospitalityJobs.com) for the New Orleans hospitality industry.

Mayor Ray Nagin
stubbornly refuses to release $600,000 from the city budget to the New Orleans Redevelopment Authority. Everyone agrees that NORA is a key player in the city's recovery, but Nagin keeps trying to extract concessions from the agency before releasing the money NORA needs to get moving on thousands of blighted and abandoned properties. Nagin claims NORA, whose board he appointed, is "high maintenance," but it's hizzoner who's playing the role of a political Paris Hilton.

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