5) Soul Fest at the Zoo
Audubon Zoo will host the sixth annual Soul Fest this weekend on Saturday, March 7 and Sunday, March 8. The festival celebrates African American culture with food, music and crafts and promotes healthy living with free health screenings. The event is from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. each day and festival admission is included with regular zoo admission. Musical performers scheduled to appear include Kermit Ruffins, Walter “Wolfman” Washington, Phillip Manuel and the Thelonious Monk Ensemble. For information on Soul Fest, go to www.auduboninstitute.org.

4) Xavier Defends Pharmacy Program
A U.S. district judge will hold a conference Monday with attorneys involved in Xavier University’s bid to overturn a probation ruling applied last month to its College of Pharmacy. The Accreditation Council for Pharmacy Education put Xavier on probation because it says the college didn’t have enough teachers and didn’t provide enough information about student activities. Xavier says outdated information and paperwork errors are to blame. Accreditation of the college is necessary for federal grants and for its graduates to take licensing exams to practice in the U.S. Xavier’s is one of just two pharmacy colleges in Louisiana.

3) Corps Meetings on Plans for New Orleans, St. Bernard
The Army Corps of Engineers will hold a pair of meetings this week to outline and get feedback on plans to reduce storm damage in New Orleans and St. Bernard Parish from future hurricanes. A meeting on Tuesday, March 3, concerns the lakefront levees and the Industrial Canal. The meeting convenes at Lindy Boggs International Conference Center 2045 Lakeshore Dr., beginning at 6 p.m. A second meeting on Thursday, March 5, concerns a proposed surge barrier on Lake Borgne. This meeting convenes at the Port of New Orleans, 1350 Port of New Orleans Pl., beginning at 8 a.m. For more information and meeting schedules, go to www.nolaenvironmental.gov.

2) Obama Advisors to Tour Region 
Two high-ranking members of President Obama’s new administration are expected in town this week as they tour the Gulf Coast. Obama asked Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano and Housing and Urban Development Secretary Shaun Donovan to visit the region on March 5 and 6 to assess rebuilding efforts. The administration has requested funding for continued improvements to  the region’s  storm protection systems and the restoration of Louisiana’s massively damaged coastal wetlands. Last week, the president  signed an executive order to extend the Office of the Federal Coordinator for Gulf Coast Rebuilding. The office was originally scheduled to expire last week, but Obama’s move authorized it to remain in service through the end of September.
1) Report on Local FEMA Office
The Federal Emergency Management Agency expects a report on its Gulf Coast recovery office this week concerning allegations ranging from sexual harassment in the workplace to cronyism and nepotism in the organization. The agency has had a lead role in marshalling and funding recovery efforts in the region since the 2005 hurricanes and has been under criticism from politicians for the pace of the work here. At a congressional hearing on recovery efforts last week, FEMA officials disclosed that an internal investigation was underway after multiple complaints were lodged against its Gulf Coast office. Congressman Anh "Joseph" Cao and Senator Mary Landrieu have called for the resignation of the chief of the staff the regional office.

Ian McNulty is a freelance writer in New Orleans and contributing writer for New Orleans Magazine. Reach him at imcnulty@cox.net.