Odds stacked in favor of Budnicks for 25 years (so far)

File photo

The light patch in the bricks above the Benewah County Jail windows is where two inmates dug their way out this summer, dropping to the ground with torn-and-tied bedsheets. Other patches show previous escape attempts.

January 1, 2013 - Updated: 11:22 a.m.

Welcome to the “silver” anniversary of the Budnick Awards.

Yes, today is the 25th airing of the awards that I bestow on my favorite oddball, dubious or quirky newspaper stories of the previous 12 months.

The Budnicks are named in honor of Thomas P. Budnick, a former Massachusetts social worker who was obsessed with filing mining claims for the planet Mars.

I broke the Budnick story when I discovered that Spokane County was the only government willing to officially file the man’s interplanetary claims.

And so the stories I select for this auspicious award must be Budnick worthy.

Speaking of which, let’s give a shout out to my pal (and former features editor) Rick Bonino, who graciously collaborated with me in creating today’s Budnick headlines.

How long will this crazy Budnick thing continue? That remains to be seen. An ancient Etruscan calendar, thought to be much more accurate than that Mayan nonsense, shows no Budnicks appearing in unlucky 2013.

So will this be The End?

Tune in 12 months from now to see.

Until then, kick back and enjoy the 2012 Budnick Awards.

Kind + gentle = still screwed

Spokane’s new kinder/gentler parking enforcers won’t be any more lenient, says Jan Quintrall, who oversees the city’s meter maid makeover.

Two tarantulas shy of a party

A Craigslist post sends wildlife agents to an apartment on Spokane’s lower South Hill, where they seize pot, piranhas and a small alligator.

It’s a small, small galaxy after all

A witness claims the giant crop circles appearing in a wheat field near Wilbur look like Mickey Mouse ears.

One tough case to crack

Arrested on burglary charges, Kenneth Hooper denies ownership of his groin as well as the golf-ball-size bags of a methlike substance that Spokane Valley sheriff’s deputies remove from the 45-year-old’s nether region.

Yellow (bellied) journalism

The Spokesman-Review joins 60 other newspapers in refusing to publish a controversial Doonesbury comic series that deals with the Texas abortion law.

Can’t offend boozing polygamists

Five Wives Vodka is deemed too offensive for state-operated stores, say Idaho’s liquor regulators.

These stackers ain’t slackers

Towering picnic table pyramids mysteriously begin appearing at several Spokane city parks. “With hard work anything is possible,” reads a note found taped to the summit of a 30-foot pyramid.

Drive for show, shank for dough

Five years of negotiating ends with Spokane paying $215,000 plus free golf for life to a golfer who sprained his ankle at Esmeralda Golf Course.

Spokane: Near Nature. Near Nookie.

An episode of TV’s iconic “COPS” features Spokane police officers responding to a report of two people having sex on the front lawn of a stranger’s North Side home.

He’s the Re-puff-lican filter-buster

Rep. Bob Nonini, a Coeur d’Alene Republican, holds the dubious distinction of being Idaho’s last lawmaker who regularly feels the urge to step outside the Boise Statehouse for a smoke.

No use for an unwelcome Matt

The 4th Legislative District race takes a weird turn when Matt Shea, the Republican incumbent, posts a Facebook photo of himself standing in the driveway of the Spokane Valley home of his opponent, Amy Biviano.

So that’s what it’s like to live in Seattle

With rain still falling, March is declared the all-time soggiest since 1881, when Spokane started keeping precipitation records.

Time out for bad maintenance

Benewah County Jail’s shabby and crumbling condition makes escape too easy for inmates looking for early release.

Wrecking the Spo-conomy thrice weekly since ’85

“Doug Clark’s column negates all the hard work we do as organizations and individuals to bring new business to our city which in turn spells jobs for our citizens,” writes Karen Kearney in a letter to the editor.

Plight of the Living Coug

Disgusted by his team’s losing ways, Washington State University head football coach Mike Leach calls his players “empty corpses” and “a zombie convention.”

The Stackers that Stole Christmas

City workers are bummed about being called out on Christmas morning to untangle a mess of tangled tables that occurred when the latest picnic pyramid came crashing down at Riverfront Park. “This one turned ugly,” observes the park’s labor foreman, Dave Randolph.

Is he a Jehovah’s Witless?

Spokane Valley fire Capt. Jon Sprague is canned for refusing to stop sending religious-themed messages from his taxpayer-funded department email account.

You know, just like lynching

Shaun Winkler, a white power activist running for Bonner County sheriff, defends his cross burning with the Klan as a historic Christian ritual.

No bombs, just a buncha duds

Panic is averted when a bomb squad discovers that the suspected explosive device tied to the Kardong Bridge is actually a homeless man’s suitcase.

Screw that – buy local!

A group of traveling prostitutes tell cops they are making good money in Spokane because the local competition is so ugly.

Turn off the Lampert, the party’s over

Barb Lampert, Spokane’s perennial candidate, announces she’s too busy to mount her 17th-straight losing bid for office.

Smooth move, (bleep!) head

Lewis and Clark High School senior Nick Cashaw says he’s been suspended indefinitely and can’t attend his graduation ceremony because he ended a speech to his classmates with: “(Bleep) this establishment!”

The fire’s definitely out now

Three floors are flooded at Spokane Valley’s Pleasant Hill Inn after a fight between a couple celebrating their first anniversary leads the man to break the hotel room sprinklers.

The markers of the beast

More than 70 tombstones and statuettes stolen from Eastern Washington cemeteries are recovered from the home of a self-avowed Satanist.

Thin blue pickup line

Spokane police Officer Alan Edwards is fired after lying to a co-worker to obtain the address of a woman he met at a valley sports bar.

(Insert “crocked” gag here.)

Ryan Crocker, the former U.S. ambassador to Afghanistan, is charged with drunken driving and leaving the scene of a Spokane Valley accident.

Those bills should be vetoed

Idaho’s unoccupied governor’s mansion costs taxpayers $177,000 a year including maintenance and electricity.

Five years of excessive farce

Since 2007, Spokane Police Department investigators have sided with every officer accused of brutality and excessive force.

Our car deals still a steal

Once again, Spokane tops the state and is fourth in the nation for auto theft.

Doug Clark is a columnist for The Spokesman-Review. He can be reached at (509) 459-5432 or by email at dougc@spokesman.com.


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