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Slant 11-06-2014

It was ugly out there across America Tuesday night, but let’s give a cheer for Oregon, Washington and California, the left bank. Our state voted for legalized marijuana, for equal rights for women and against top-two primaries. We made some mistakes such as voting against increased student financial aid and denying legal driving to immigrants. We held the Democratic Legislature and supported reasonable people like Phil Barnhart, Peter DeFazio, Jeff Merkley and John Kitzhaber. And now it’s time for Willamette Week and The Oregonian to stop whining about Cylvia Hayes so she and the governor can sort out their lives and carry on their work for the global environment. As for GMO labeling in Oregon, it’s remarkable that the vote was so close considering the outrageous amount of money spent to defeat it.

Republicans are gloating over their wins in Congress, but Congress has been paralyzed for years and Republicans are unlikely to do much going forward other than position themselves for the big elections in 2016. (Hey Repubs, you broke it, you bought it.) They don’t dare vote for anything that will offend their conservative base. Meanwhile, four states Tuesday voted to raise their minimum wage, contrary to Republican ideology. Change will come from the bottom up.

Mark Harris told City Club of Eugene Oct. 31 that Oregon had been a Southern state in the Northwest, and he made us ponder how much of the country is now a “Southern state.” Harris is a counselor and instructor at LCC and has long been a leader in this community on issues of race and diversity. He was sharing the stage with Judith Mowry, policy analyst with the city of Portland, who said a disproportionate percentage of the homeless are people of color. Race was on the ballot this election from constant attacks on President Obama to overblown Ebola scares to limiting of voting rights, even allowed by some courts. It’s so important that Harris and Mowry and City Club keep telling this story.

• This week’s Best of Eugene is one of the most spectaculous issues we do each year. It’s our way of celebrating and flaunting all the great reasons we choose to live here instead of all the other obvious places, such as Paris, Hawaii or Lakeview. Thousands of our readers take a chunk out of their valuable time to fill out ballots on paper or online. No big surprise. Eugeneans really care — about our businesses, our politics, our arts, the naughty stuff that goes on when nobody’s looking (wait, that’s our Love issue). Despite speculation to the contrary, the winners are chosen by our readers, not our staff cabal, and ballot stuffing doesn’t get by us. Well, hardly ever. Thanks to our Special Issues Editor Amy Schneider for overseeing this huge project. We hope you enjoy it and be sure to vote next year, and even suggest new categories. Best pole dancer? Best school janitor? Best jail guard?

• As long as we are touting what’s best in town, we thought we’d toot our own kazoo. EW grabbed a bundle of awards this year from the Society of Professional Journalists for 2013 writing. Sometimes we surprise ourselves with how much we can do with a small, albeit slightly warped, staff. In the SPJ Region 10 contest, which is made up of Oregon, Washington, Alaska, Idaho and Montana, Alex V. Cipolle (née Notman) nabbed first place for her first-ever ArtsHound special issue, and Camilla Mortensen’s “Climate is the Disaster” took first in environmental reporting. Also in Region 10, Mortensen was third in government and political reporting for “Ire of the Tiger: the Legacy of Wayne Morse” and investigative reporting for “Trainwreck: Trainloads of Oil and Toxics in Town.” Richard Kidd (aka Rick Levin) grabbed third in health reporting for his “Getting Clean in Eugene” exposé on opiates. 

Jake Klonoski’s “Dispatches” column took second in editorial and commentary, beating out much more experienced professional journalists and it took third in the SPJ Oregon and Southwest Washington contest. In that contest Cipolle was third in profiles for “The Magical World of Shanna Trumbly” and second in lifestyles for “The Growler Rush.” Mortensen took third in environment reporting for “Climate is the Disaster,” and Amy Schneider celebrated her first year on the education beat with a second place in that category for “Collapsing Schools: A Looming Earthquake Threatens to Topple Oregon Schools.”