Steve Lopez, a 36-year-old columnist and staff writer for the Philadelphia Inquirer, has won this year's H.L. Mencken Writing Award.
The award, which includes a $2,500 prize, is presented annually by the Baltimore Sun to the newspaper writer whose column best captures the excellence of the newspaper commentary by the former Evening Sun editor and columnist.
Judges said Lopez won for three columns in which he "confronts public officials head-on, reflects the irritations and anxieties of people at all levels, and arouses Philadelphians."
In one, he scorched an assistant to the executive director of Philadelphia's Parking Authority, who managed to get most of his parking tickets dismissed in court thanks to his "special authorization."
"Hamilton . . . had a pretty good day in court," Lopez wrote. "He was looking at 13 tickets and $518 in fees and penalties. He paid $60 and hit the highway an unburdened man."
"Arrogance has its privileges," Lopez concluded. "Or is it the other way around?"