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The Best and the Worst of the Week 

Student social workers
at Louisiana State University and Tulane University's schools of social work tied for first place in the annual civic activism awards by the national social-work group Influencing State Policy. LSU was cited for pushing for a new state law making it illegal for men to rape their wives under any circumstances, and Tulane was honored for getting legislators to study alternate living options for the elderly and disabled.

Louisiana,
unlike some states whose tight budgets forced cuts to state preschool programs, increased spending for early education for 2004. The National Institute for Early Education Research (NIEER) praised Louisiana for shifting federal money to preschool programs, saying good pre-K funding saves money on other state programs in the long run. Of the 26 states surveyed by NIEER, only Louisiana and New Jersey raised early-education funding.

Lynne Marino,
who became an outspoken victims' advocate after her daughter's murder and who pushed for a competent investigation of the Baton Rouge serial killer, recently won the Alliance for Good Government's highest honor, the Citizenship Achievements in Excellence Award. Marino, the mother of serial-killer victim Pam Kinamore, is now a public speaker on personal safety and is closely following the prosecution of suspect Derrick Todd Lee.

Baton Rouge Mayor Bobby Simpson
blames the Baton Rouge area's ongoing failure to meet federal clean air standards on everything but the numerous local industries that routinely emit toxic chemicals. Simpson wants the federal Clean Air Act changed so as not to penalize regions that suffer from ozone drifting in from other cities. He also blames trees and plant life for producing about half the region's ozone. The area's air problems have led state environmental officials to consider further restrictions on legal industrial emissions.

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