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Year can’t end without a nod to the wayward

Tue., Jan. 1, 2008, midnight

Welcome to the Budnick Awards 20th anniversary. (Pause for ceiling balloon drop and confetti blizzard pandemonium.) Keep it down, please. Too much expression and the cops will cuff you like a Fourth of July protester. As always, the Budnicks commemorate the region’s zanier news stories from the past 12 months.

And by zanier I mean news involving peculiar sexual proclivities, betrayal of the public trust or a complete and utter disregard for common sense.

But enough about Larry Craig.

Before we sail the seas of discontent, a few words concerning our flounder, Thomas P. Budnick.

The former Massachusetts social worker became a news sensation after I wrote about the Martian mining claims he was filing through Spokane County.

It seems that out of the entire nation, only Spokane was greedy enough to accept the spaced cadet’s Mars money.

Budnick, alas, achieved more notoriety a few years ago when he was convicted of spiking a friend’s beer with acid.

So imagine my surprise when I blundered into work one day last September and discovered an early Christmas card from TB himself.

The card’s front shows a grinning green space creature who is building his snowman likeness. “Hark! The herald alien thing,” reads the caption. Har.

Budnick writes (I cleaned up his grammar): “Hi Doug, please excuse this bizarre card now, but I was ordered to the toughest mental hospital east of the Mississippi.

“… an awful lot of reputable astronomers/scientists believe there is extraterrestrial life on Saturn’s moon, Enceledas, which I am claiming.

“With best regards, Tom Budnick.”

On that cosmic note, I give you the 2007 Budnick Awards:

Next scheme: Sled the Manito Matterhorn

Area ski resorts launch national “Ski the Northwest Rockies” marketing campaign to make our slopes sound more exciting.

Not too hard up for thrills, are we?

Stalled at the Washington/Idaho border due to weight restrictions, a massive chunk of the Tacoma Narrows Bridge becomes big tourist attraction.

Hey, nobody loves a braggart

Spokane County sheriff’s deputies arrest man who claims to have a bomb in his pants.

Kicking Husky ass still no crime

Motivated by brawling frat boys, Pullman police seek ordinance that would ticket all participants in a fight.

He’s in Minnesota’s Stall of Flames, too

Despite being shamed nationally by a Minneapolis airport men’s room sex scandal, Sen. Larry Craig is inducted into Idaho’s Hall of Fame.

It’s called a leave of abscess

Spokane teacher Peter Perkins – who used Rogers High School computers to chat about his fantasies of having sex with (and even raping) teenagers – remains on payroll a year after being removed from the classroom.

Job’s so scary it’ll drive you to drink

A truck driver hauling hazardous materials across the Washington/Idaho border is cited by the WSP for having alcohol in his system from the night before.

And they called the wind Mary

The “winds of change” are blowing through Spokane, observes an upbeat Mayor Dennis Hession during annual State of the City address.

Is that what they call “team chemistry?”

Two Gonzaga University men’s basketball players, including star Josh Heytvelt, are suspended after a cop confiscates magic mushrooms and a bit of weed during Cheney traffic stop.

Funny, like yelling “bomb” at airport

A former drug court administrator says the flirtatious- sounding e-mails she sent to Kootenai County Prosecutor Bill Douglas – like how he should leave his wife and run away with her – were all just jokes.

Must stand for “Grand Old Pervert”

In Spokane for a GOP gathering, Republican state lawmaker Richard Curtis dresses in women’s clothing and, according to police reports, is seen at an adult bookstore engaging in oral sex with a cane-clutching man, and later at a hotel with a part-time male porn model.

At least nobody took her legal briefs

A Bonners Ferry woman is humiliated when security guards at the Coeur d’Alene federal courthouse tell her she’ll have to remove her underwire bra before going inside.

Enough fangs to pass for Congress

Summoned to a Spokane County residence, animal officials seize 15 reptiles, including two rattlesnakes and an alligator in a bathtub.

That? Oh, that’s just my Tampomb

Sylvia Ceniceros tells police she has no idea how the cigar-shaped explosive device got inside the backpack she carried into the Spokane County Courthouse Annex.

She was just conducting a push poll

Jane Hession, wife of then-Spokane Mayor Dennis Hession, is accused of pushing a protester before a mayoral debate.

Get straightjackets for these Vandals

Thinking they were exploring a haunted insane asylum, a dozen University of Idaho students face trespassing charges after they are nabbed roaming the halls of an abandoned Colfax hospital.

Hi, I’m Victoria’s dirty little secret

Caught with 93 pounds of stolen bras and panties, Garth M. Flaherty, 24, reportedly tells Pullman police he has “a problem.”

He’s an Army of One has-been

Four rifles, nine handguns, a switchblade, a Taser and night vision goggles are found inside the speeding black Mercedes that Blues Traveler front man John Popper is riding in.

Nepotism? Naw, that’s just cronyism

Cries of nepotism ring after Spokane County Assessor Ralph Baker creates a new management position and fills it with the 23-year-old son of his top aide.

Stick shifts can be hard to handle

A naked Liberty Lake man is arrested at gunpoint after wildly driving his minivan through lawns and into garages and a parked car.

Nerd alert! Nerd alert!

In a campus security move, students at Spokane’s Rogers High School must wear fluorescent orange traffic safety vests whenever they are in the halls while classes are in session.

Honey, what’s that on the upholstery?

A Spokane Valley car dealership worker is arrested for taking an unauthorized naked drive in a customer’s van.

Cop knows meaning of “gimme the bird”

After more than an hour-long chase, a Spokane County sheriff’s deputy finally catches runaway emu.

Whataya think this is, a frat house?

SWAT teams are called to deal with rowdy Geiger Corrections Center inmates drunk on hand sanitizer.

Even Budnick says they’re fake

Wilbur is abuzz after crude crop circles are discovered in a wheat field outside of town.

Can’t they pack iPods like normal kids?

The brothers Doty – Zach, 18, and Stephen, 15 – celebrate their right to bear arms by toting firearms to the Post Falls library, parks and all around town.

Agent Wanlust of Boneland Security

Darin Earl Wanless is fired from his guard job and charged with felony voyeurism for allegedly using high-powered security cameras to peep on women undressing in downtown Spokane condos and The Davenport Hotel.

Comatose sloth still Senate symbol

Washington senators unanimously declare a small noisy frog to be the state’s official amphibian.

Dummies thought they were in America

A Fourth of July Riverfront Park protest against police brutality ends with police arresting 17 young demonstrators, including some self-proclaimed anarchists.

Hey, I never said all the way open

After waging a campaign on the merits of open government, Spokane’s newly elected Mayor Mary Verner takes office and decides to keep names of her transition team a secret.

Miracle would be no pedophile priests

A lawyer for the Catholic Diocese of Spokane dubs the broad support for a sex-abuse settlement “a miracle.”

Egads, we’ve been Couged

Washington State University turns down offer for Spokane to host the only vice presidential debate in 2008, an event that attracted more than 43 million viewers in 2004.

Do you have to stir a latte with it, too?

Spokane County sheriff’s Det. Joseph Mastel can’t be fired solely for exposing himself to an Airway Heights barista, a civil service commission decides.

Hare today gone to sorrow

Some fiend steals Sugar Bunny, a pet rabbit at Spokane’s downtown Community Building Children’s Center.

That’s one way to make your point

A Geiger Corrections officer is arrested after holding a knife to another officer’s groin during an argument over a shift change.

Family preys together, stays together

A mother and son are arrested and charged in connection with an Athol City Hall burglary that saw the theft of more than $3,000 in Christmas gift cards and grocery money for the needy.

That’s the way the worm’s spurned

The giant, elusive and pale Palouse earthworm is denied an endangered species listing.


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