MAZA

Our first category of the evening: Best Protester of the Year. Many of you will recognize our first nominee from numerous political campaigns.

Yes, Dave Mazza: An old hand at turning his pen into a sword against injustice, this plucky editor of the Portland Alliance found a formidable foe in Police Chief Kroeker. Last October, Mazza discovered decade-old audio tapes from a speech Kroeker gave in California. In frank, unmitigated terms, the tapes revealed Kroeker's cruel side in which he vilified homosexuals and recommended disciplining children with canoe paddles.

The tapes justifiably triggered a series of community meetings where the activists demanded Kroeker's resignation. But alas, the heroic Dave Mazza's plan to rid Portland of the sinister Kroeker was foiled by a mayor too spineless to pull the plug. Regardless, three cheers for Mazza!

Now on to our second nominee. Jack Cox took on the big boys when he proposed a change to the administrative rules at the Oregon Health Department (OHD). For the past three years, OHD has been working to change their policy for HIV testing: Instead of allowing them to remain anonymous throughout the process, OHD wanted to require test subjects to give their names. OHD argued that they needed names in order to improve the way they track treatment.

But Cox objected to the change, pointing out that similar policies in other states led to the leaking of AIDS patients' names to the public which, in turn, terminated patients' jobs and insurance. Cox brought together two dozen advocacy groups, including the ACLU, to fight the decision.

Unfortunately, the decision was still made: Dr. Mark Wasserman, head of the OHD, decided to activate names reporting and turn a deaf ear to protesters. All was not lost, though. Shortly after his decision, Wasserman resigned, citing "fundamental differences" between himself and the rest of OHD. So good riddance to him and congratulations to our nominee, Jack Cox!

Our final nomination goes to a person shrouded in mystery. Last April 1, an anonymous artist left a series of faux corporate logos all along NE Alberta. Posted on boarded-up windows and low slung buildings, picture perfect replicas of the most maligned yuppie corporations--faux Starbuck and Sharper Image signs--fooled passers-by into thinking that the working class neighborhood was under siege from corporate America. With wry and subtle humor, the signs drove home their point with far more aplomb than a paddy wagon filled with window smashing WTO thugs. So let's raise a glass to Anonymous Artist, anti-gentrification crusader and our nominee for Protester of the Year.

And, now to announce our winner! The Portland Mercury Protester of the Year is Anonymous Artist!!! (Applause, cue music)

Wait! Hold on! No one is accepting the award? Umm, scratch that. In that case, the winner is Dave Mazza! (Applause, cue music)