Arrow-right Camera


Skip the drum roll, just raise a glass to Budnicks

Sun., Jan. 2, 2005

Greetings from the depths of the dark, dank past.

You probably thought you were cruising into 2005 with all your fancy plans to lose weight or save money or dump that loser (job/spouse/friend…) that keeps you from achieving your vastly inflated sense of potential.

Let’s hold off on the New Year’s delusions a moment.

We have unfinished monkey business to attend to. And that monkey business is the annual giving of the Budnick Awards.

This is the 18th edition of the Budnicks, which commemorate the area’s top dubious newsmakers of the previous 12 months.

The Budnicks are selected through an unbiased scientific screening process whereby I: 1) read the newspaper, 2) cut out the stories that make me snort coffee out my nostrils, 3) place the stained clippings in a file folder, 4) except when I forget and 5) have to spend vast hours of work time trying to hunt them down.

As always, it is my sworn duty to tell you that the Budnicks are named in honor of a former Massachusetts social worker who devoted much of his adult life to filing mining claims for the planet Mars.

Thomas P. Budnick.

This man became forever yoked to Spokane almost 20 years ago when our county auditor’s office enabled Budnick’s cosmic pipe dreams by officially stamping and filing his Martian mining claims.

Budnick had previously been rejected by governmental entities scattered across the nation. Yet only Spokane County had the foresight, lack of scruples and avarice to take the poor loon’s money.

Budnick therefore towers as our Misfit Mount Everest by which all other crackpots, ne’er-do-wells and ill-advised behavior must be compared. And so it is with shrill fanfare that I offer you the 2004 Budnick Awards:

New at Denny’s: Grand Slam Salami

A naked jaunt through a Spokane Denny’s restaurant backfires for three male streakers when a customer exits the diner during their performance and steals the still-running getaway car – which contains all their clothing.

Monsoon season at Camp Damp Tramp

Spokane parks chief Mike Stone adamantly denies that the increased use of water sprinklers on a Riverside Avenue parkway is meant to douse and oust an encampment of homeless people protesting a city ordinance against building or occupying a transient shelter on public property.

Are you sure it didn’t hit his head?

“Sweet. Can I go snowboarding tomorrow?” says Moses Lake contractor Steven Faber when told by a Spokane emergency room physician that a malfunctioning nail gun has shot a 26 1/8 -inch nail into his heart.

From CdA to Hell’s Highway

Mere months before his death, Richard Butler, ailing 86-year-old founder of the racist Aryan Nations, participates in his final white-power parade through downtown Coeur d’Alene. Butler rides the route perched in a lawn chair set in the bed of an old pickup, uplifting his neo-Nazi compadres with stiff-armed, heil Hitler salutes.

He passed it all – Eddie Ray Hall

During a jailhouse strip search, Spokane Valley criminal legend Eddie Ray Hall allegedly plucks a small suspicious bag from his nether regions… and swallows it.

And those are the valedictorians

Caught for vandalism, six Post Falls High School seniors tell police they were trying to “fire up the Post Falls football team for their homecoming game” when they spray-painted their own school’s football field with the blue and gold colors of Timberlake High.

The green, green grass of home

“This is my city,” declares jazz singer/pianist Diane Schuur during a concert at The Met. “I got so much independence here… I dipped my toes in the Spokane River. I smoked my first joint here.”

Now that’s a mad cow

A bovine’s great escape through Spokane Valley streets and yards comes to a bloody end when it takes police multiple shotgun blasts to bring the beast down. The black Angus began its rampage after being shot in the head by a butcher.

Oh, come, get a face full

A Christmas squabble lands a Spokane woman in jail after she hurls a turkey at her roommate. Police arrive to find one of the women covered in gravy.

Another proud graduate high on life

Less than a month after graduating Adult Felony Drug Court, where he was hugged by a judge and photographed for the newspaper, Spokane’s Christopher J. Rusho is arrested on charges of possession of methamphetamine with intent to deliver.

Round up the Post Falls seniors

“My first thought is it certainly wouldn’t be a WSU student,” says a Washington State University construction engineer after the 50-by-50-foot Cougar banner he helped put up for the Apple Cup mysteriously disappears.

Says the real dumb cluck

“You’ve gotta be careful with guns,” observes a Medical Lake High School senior who accidentally shoots himself with a .22 rifle while trying to grab a live chicken to use as bait for a coyote hunt.

Can’t trust nobody these days

David S. McConnell and James R. Kalez are arrested in a north Spokane Home Depot parking lot after they allegedly attempt to trade methamphetamine for a machine gun. The arms merchant is an undercover cop. The meth, tests later show, is rock salt.

Yeah, like who can?

“I can’t control my mom,” says a chagrined Spokane County Commission candidate Matt Ewers after his mother is caught spreading dirt about an old bankruptcy that was declared by her son’s primary election opponent, Mark Richard.

The Drug Court entrance exam

After crashing his pickup through the front of a south Spokane home, the 17-year-old driver tells police he’d been drinking alcohol and smoking marijuana earlier in the evening and was driving at a high speed “to see how fast the car could go.”

Mr. Tooth Decay wins again!

The city of Spokane apologizes to fluoridation supporters for a misunderstanding that causes the group to be about 5,000 signatures shy of what it needs to get on the November ballot.

Sounds like a FOX reality show

With attacks on Coeur d’Alene’s artsy 125-pound fiberglass moose statues mounting, video surveillance cameras are installed to catch moose abusers in the act.

Either way the Kenyans kick ass

Nearly every Bloomsday runner’s time is reported as 30 seconds slower than it really was thanks to a foul-up in the Lilac Bloomsday Association’s system for recording finish times.

Maybe the grub was under-seasoned

The Old Country Buffet is evacuated after two diners refuse to pay for their meal and then discharge a can of pepper spray inside the north Spokane restaurant.

Add a Frito Lay truck, and it’s a party

Traffic on Interstate 90 near the Maple Street exit is plugged up due to an accident involving a beer truck and an outhouse that tumbled off a flatbed truck.

Another shiftless loser going nowhere

A Spokane carjacking is thwarted when the 18-year-old suspect can’t drive the car he steals because it has a stick shift.

Plus we’re Cougs. We suck!

“Look, you’re either a fan or you’re not. We’re doing the best we can,” barks Washington State University basketball coach Dick Bennett at a student who questioned his coaching moves during another disappointing loss to Oregon State.

Badder Santa strikes again

Christmas Fund workers receive a stolen, worthless check for $8,463 with a note: “Please accept this check as my contribution to the less fortunate of Spokane.”

Look out! He’s got a derrier-inger

During a strip search at the Spokane County Jail, a .22-caliber handgun is discovered hidden between the buttocks of 6-foot-3, 280-pound assault suspect Thomas J. Franklin.

Iraqi vote can only run smoother

Nearly two months after the election – following recounts, lead changes and partisan nastiness on each side – Democrat Christine Gregoire wins Washington’s governorship by 129 votes out of nearly 3 million cast. Or does she? Republican challenger Dino Rossi won’t quit yet, citing 3,500 King County mystery voters as ample reason to continue the fight.

And that’s the long and short of it

“I just reacted by spraying him in the wiener,” explains Myria Ragland on how she used pepper spray to discourage a morning flasher who showed up with his pants down at Java Jump, Ragland’s Spokane Valley espresso joint.


Click here to comment on this story »