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The Best and the Worst of the Week 

Starbucks employees,
who gathered this week in New Orleans for the company's 2008 North America Leadership Conference, participated in dozens of service projects around the city. Ten-thousand volunteers joined in painting, landscaping and building playgrounds in Broadmoor, Gentilly, the Garden District, City Park and Hollygrove. The company estimates the workers donated 54,000 volunteer hours, making it the single largest block of community support for hurricane-related relief.

Marla Chapotel,
a teacher at Archbishop Chapelle High School in Metairie, was named "Volunteer of the Year" by the Humane Society of Louisiana. The group's executive director, Jeff Dorson, said that Chapotel was honored for a variety of contributions, including volunteerism, direct animal-rescue action and raising funds for the Humane Society's cruelty prevention and investigation programs.

The Deep South Center for Environmental Justice,
based at Dillard University, has received the "Environmental Justice" award from the Environmental Protection Agency. The agency recognized 12 groups and organizations across the United States this year. The Dillard center won for its work mobilizing minority residents and contractors in the ongoing cleanup after Hurricane Katrina. The center will sponsor a seminar titled "Rebuild the Gulf Coast — Rebuild America" Nov. 14-16 on the Dillard campus.

Jay Blossman,
chairman of the Louisiana Public Service Commission, accepted $1,546 worth of meals on 49 occasions from utility companies the commission regulates. According to a report from the state Legislative Auditor's Office, between September 2003 and June 2006, PSC members accepted $16,277 in food and beverages from a variety of utilities including Entergy, BellSouth and Cleco. The report was a follow-up to a 2003 audit of the PSC that made numerous recommendations to the commission, none of which were fully implemented.

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