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Raise a glass to this year’s Budnicks

Get ready for the 19th bestowing of the Budnick Awards. Today we celebrate the area’s foremost dubious achievers of 2005, which turned out to be one glorious goofball year.

How weird was it?

It gave us a piece of mayoral miracle toast and a batch of despicably defiled brownies, for starters.

Even Thomas P. Budnick – whose mining claims for the planet Mars are the toxic waste dump upon which this annual ceremony is built – took a pratfall back into the national spotlight.

Budnick made headlines last spring when he blamed his lawyer’s incompetence for his 2002 assault conviction.

Crazy thing is, Budnick represented himself in court.

The Massachusetts man’s argument was that “the trial judge never should have allowed Budnick to defend himself against charges of trying to poison a friend by lacing a bottle of beer with nitric acid,” the Associated Press reported.

Poisoned beer?

I can see the ad campaign now: “Hey pal, this Budnick’s for you!”

I don’t know why Budnick was sore. For a lunatic, he made a pretty good litigator. A jury cleared Budnick “of the more serious charge of attempted poisoning because the liquid spilled on (the victim’s) leg and burned him before he could drink it,” the story stated.

I prefer the benign Budnick of yesteryear – back when I broke the story of how he was using the Spokane County Auditor’s Office to file his interstellar mining claims. And it is in that non-poisonous spirit that I give you the 2005 Budnick Awards:

It’s the toast of the clown

A slice of toast bearing the supposed image of scandalized Spokane Mayor Jim West is put up for sale on eBay, the online auction site. “This guy is all over the news,” boasts the seller, “and now he’s found on my toast!”

Twinkie, Twinkie little perv

A male teenage prankster faces criminal charges for sending semen-frosted brownies to a fellow Coeur d’Alene High School student on Valentine’s Day.

Crime’s Energizer dummy

Police announce that Eddie Ray Hall – the notorious Spokane Valley burglar who has racked up some 48 arrests and cost taxpayers $1 million-plus in medical bills and legal fees – is wanted again.

Now he collects legal briefs

The case could be closed on a rash of unsolved underwear thefts in Pullman and elsewhere when investigators discover more than 3,400 bras and panties in the Oregon home where Washington State University grad Sung Koo Kim lived with his parents.

The gunman was out-gummed

“I didn’t have my teeth in or nothing, so I couldn’t bite the bastard back,” says Coeur d’Alene resident Ray Fink, 56, of how he vanquished an armed intruder who, during the fight, chomped onto the veteran’s thigh.

Roll out the red condom for Ron

“He’s just coming to speak; it’s not like he’s going to have sex onstage,” says a student on porn star Ron Jeremy’s visit to Eastern Washington University.

You’re No. 1! You’re No. 1!

Annoyed by a rowdy section of University of Washington student fans, Washington State University hoops coach Dick Bennett flips the bird at his trash-talking detractors.

H2Oil is oh, so depot-licious

The BNSF railroad refueling depot at Hauser, Idaho, springs yet another oily leak over the aquifer.

Who was the cop, Barney Fife?

Eddie Ray Hall is stopped in Spokane Valley by traffic cop for driving without his headlights on. Not being able to produce a valid driver’s license, Eddie makes like a rabbit and hops away into the night.

Why, it’s Pepe Le Puke

A dreadful smell befouling items in a UPS warehouse is traced to a frozen skunk that thaws before reaching its destination – a natural science facility in Bonners Ferry, Idaho.

Doing two to five (minutes)

“They want to see their boyfriends, or they want drugs, and all of a sudden, bam, bam, bam, people are taking off on us,” says Leon Long of the eight inmates who have escaped from Geiger Corrections Center or been improperly released or run away from officers during transport since he became the prison’s director.

Whole tooth and nothing but the tooth

Spokane’s Leslie Willmann, 44, attempts to sell advertising space on her dentures through an eBay auction.

The King Jones Version

A meth-filled Bible is almost smuggled into the Pend Oreille County Jail.

Yellow alert! Yellow alert!

Three out of every four commercial swimming pools in Spokane County have been cited for critical health code violations since 2003.

Freddie sang bass, Teddy sang tenor…

Freddie Joe Hall, older brother of Eddy Ray Hall, briefly escapes custody of the Geiger Corrections Center after he was taken to see his public defense attorney. In related news, Teddy Lee Hall (yes, another Hall brother) is in jail on multiple charges while the hunt for bail-jumping Eddy Ray drags on.

Garage Mahal swindles all

Built for $20 million, the Spokane Transit Authority’s downtown bus Plaza – with its waterfall, cougar statue and marble stairways – will barely fetch $4 million today, claims an appraisal.

Comet customers wiping him out

Spokane Councilman Bob Apple pulls toilet paper out of the restrooms of the Comet bar to combat TP thievery, which embroils the Hillyard saloon owner in a dispute with county health officers.

What a fanny-smooching gnat

“Mr. Mayor – hang in there – the local fishwrap is out to sell papers and you’re out to serve citizens,” writes Rocky Treppiedi, the city’s risk manager and a member of the Spokane Public Schools’ Board of Directors, in an e-mail to recall-bound Jim West.

Here come da judge…

A visiting federal judge tells the cops he was simply checking a mole on his upper thigh after two joggers spot the man in Riverfront Park with his pants askew and his arm in telltale motion.

Spare the bat, spoil the Zag

“Our staff has done everything they could, outside of physically beating them with a bat, which is probably what they deserve,” says Gonzaga University hoops coach Mark Few of his team after a half-hearted win over EWU. “But in this day and age, you can’t do that.”

Hey, look! Steve Hasson’s back

Spokane construction workers unearth human bones and an old coffin while digging into Division Street.

Once a vermin, always a vermin

Keith D. Gilbert, a neo-Nazi pus bag who once infected North Idaho, is arrested in Seattle on charges of possessing and selling machine guns to an undercover informant.

A one-man ‘COPS’ episode

North Idaho police officers chase a suspect who steals four vehicles, rips through fences and yards, hits parked cars and knocks down trees and light posts. “This is not a good day,” says a sheriff’s sergeant after the two-hour ordeal ends with William E. Pfaff in handcuffs.

It’s Harley har-har on us

Rosalia’s two-day summer motorcycle festival draws 10,000 bikers and nicks Washington taxpayers for a near quarter-million dollars, mostly for emergency worker fees.

More like a local schlock band

Three members of The Lost Tribe – a local rock band – are arrested at a Spokane night club for allegedly refusing to yield the stage.

The wrong arm of the law

Prank-pulling Spokane County sheriff’s deputies lead unsuspecting city police on a bogus chase that yields two damaged prowl cars and guns drawn at a plainclothes deputy.

Rotten to the Apple core

With the Cougars and Huskies combining for a 1-13 Pacific-10 Conference play record, interest in this year’s annual football rivalry wanes. “I might be taking crochet lessons,” laments a Husky fan, “anything but watching the Apple Cup.”

A felon family reunion

Police announce that Eddie Ray Hall has been captured again and will soon join brothers Freddie Joe and Teddy Lee in the hoosegow.

No tie? Definitely not a club man

A man clad only in red boxer trunks is arrested and jailed after running out a fire escape door at the Spokane Club.

DUI – dozing under the influence

Jon Ryan Molter has a good reason for missing an Idaho court appearance for his DUI case. It’s off to jail for Molter after a Spokane police officer finds the Tacoma man intoxicated and asleep in a car with the engine running.

Aw, he was just St. Nicked

The NorthTown Santa Claus is pelted in the face with a plastic pellet police believe came from a 13-year-old’s toy pistol.

C’mon guys, try harder!

Men’s Health magazine ranks Spokane No. 14 for male virility.

The 2005 Budnicks – in a nutshell

A dead coyote in a mailbox, a bowel-relieving burglar and a nude man soliciting roadside sex convince Spokane County deputies that weird things really do happen when the moon turns full.


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