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The Best and the Worst of the Week 

Paul Pastorek,
the new state superintendent of education, last week announced the names and locations of five public schools that will be rebuilt in time for the 2008-09 school year. Pastorek's announcement comes months before the Recovery School District's much-anticipated master plan, which is slated to be finished in mid-2008. The five schools will serve as an impetus for more school construction and renovation, and each also will help its surrounding neighborhood recover from Katrina.

Volunteer New Orleans,
a coalition of local businesses that promote employee volunteerism, has launched an interactive Web site to help connect volunteers with local nonprofits and volunteer organizations. The Web site, www.volunteerneworleans.com, allows people to search a comprehensive volunteer organization database and "book" volunteer hours online. Volunteer New Orleans was founded by a local Cox Communications employee and has grown into a network of business and nonprofit supporters.

The New York Life Foundation
donated more than $220,000 earlier this year to help rebuild eight Boys and Girls Club of America computer facilities that were destroyed by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. Local clubs recently held ribbon-cutting ceremonies at their brand-new tech center at the Boys and Girls Club of Southeast Louisiana in Gretna. The foundation's grant helped the clubs acquire computer software and hardware as well as support services, allowing the clubs to restore their tech services to pre-storm levels.

Royal Alexander,
a Shreveport Republican who is running for attorney general, pressured private health-care executives for campaign contributions when they asked him to help them fend off cuts in Medicaid and Medicare payments. Alexander is the former chief of staff to Congressman Rodney Alexander (no relation) and thus has some experience in lobbying federal officials. However, his email exchanges with the folks who asked him for help show a heavy-handed approach to campaign fundraising that smacks of a shakedown.

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