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Be glad this Budnick’s not for you

SUNDAY, JAN. 2, 2011

Gadzooks! Can it be that time again?

Yes, I believe it is. ’Tis time to bestow the Budnick Awards on my favorite dubious achievers from the past year.

This is the 23rd running of the Budnicks, so named for Thomas P. Budnick, a former Massachusetts social worker and interplanetary pioneer.

Budnick came to my attention nearly a quarter-century ago when a tipster told me the man was paying Spokane County to file his mining claims for the planet Mars.

I know. Even now it seems too spaced-out to believe.

But true it was. And my columns on America’s first Martian mining magnate put him in the national spotlight for a time. A year or so later I decided to honor Budnick by making him the namesake (prototype?) for an annual awards presentation.

The winners, as always, are picked through a scientific process of whimsy. This involves me waiting until the last minute to sift through a year’s worth of oddball stories that I clipped out of the newspaper and stored in a file folder.

Sure, I could manage the Budnicks in a modern, clean and computerized manner. But this low-tech, slipshod method seems more like the way Budnick himself would do it.

And so, my friends, I give you the 2010 Budnick Awards.

Where dollars flow like H2O

In an era marked by bitter economic news, the Spokane Water Department spends some $40,000 to publish its annual Water Quality Report for the first time as a full-color, glossy calendar.

Don’t (#$%!#)-ing walk!!

Spokane makes national news when the “Don’t Walk” hand on the crossing signal at Second and Walnut suddenly appears to be giving pedestrians the finger.

Mr. Tooth Decay says thanks

In a 4-2 vote, the Sandpoint City Council decides to stop adding cavity-fighting fluoride to its water system.

Another politician mouthing off

Democrat David R. Fox, a candidate for Eastern Washington’s U.S. House seat, complains to Spokane police about being roughed up by the man he solicited for oral sex. “I don’t understand,” Fox reportedly says. “I asked him nicely.”

Don’t let ’em get near Hanford

Bedbugs are reported in the Tri-City area, a spokesman for the Benton-Franklin County Health Department confirms.

Biggest boobs are in office

Sophomore Dakota Jewell is suspended from Riverside High School for wearing an “I (heart) Boobies!” bracelet to school in support of breast cancer research. Administrators eventually tell the 16-year-old he can wear his bracelet in school so long as he turns it inside out.

So much for bedbug panic

A radioactive rabbit is trapped on the Hanford Nuclear Reservation, reports the Tri-City Herald.

Kilo of coke’ll make anyone a booster

Jerald S. “Jerry” Carlson, an insurance agent and once-prominent Coeur d’Alene High School booster, pleads guilty to attempting to possess a kilo of cocaine with intent to deliver.

Ticket$ only stat that counts

Crashes and injuries go up at Spokane intersections where red light cameras were installed supposedly for safety.

Life sure ain’t no Disney movie

Tulips are ripped out, four out of six eggs are missing and feathers are found strewn about the planter that was home to a mama duck’s nest outside the Lincoln Building in downtown Spokane. “Something terrible happened!!!” reports Gary Grissom, a loan officer who had been monitoring the nest.

No noose is good news

Dianne Capps, an organizer of a weekend tea party gathering, draws applause from a crowd at the Asotin County Fairgrounds by saying she wants to hang Patty Murray. Capps later explains that she really wants to hang the U.S. senator by vote, not by rope.

They all say ‘roll over’ and ‘beg’

Gateway Regional Park, near Stateline, is a popular destination for pet owners and a hot spot for men to have sex in the open, often during the day.

Bonehead personnel move, Part 1

KREM-TV gets rid of Nadine Woodward, a popular fixture on the station’s nightly newscasts for 19 years.

The price of fleeting fame

Appearing on the “Judge Judy” reality court show brings Joshua J. Mulvey some new criminal charges after the 26-year-old Spokane man is spotted on the tube by a Snohomish County resident. The West Sider identifies Mulvey as the guy who allegedly conned him out of $2,500.

It’s a scumbag migration

An Aryan Nations member from Athol says he wants to set up a white supremacist headquarters and compound in John Day, Ore.

DUI = Dorn Under Influence

Randy Dorn, Washington Superintendent of Public Instruction, pleads guilty to one count of drunken driving and will spend a day in jail.

Lucky they didn’t use Kaboom!

The Spokane Bomb Squad removes about 30 railroad torpedoes from a Coeur d’Alene home after housecleaners spot the old, corroding explosives while tidying up the rental property.

Bonehead personnel move, Part 2

The Davenport Hotel lays off Tom McArthur, the company’s historian and communications director who generated as much good will for the hotel as Louis Davenport.

Everything about the place is (#$!$!)

E. coli, a bacteria that lives in the intestines of people and animals, is found in the tap water at Spokane County Raceway.

Was moon full or blue?

Ryan Lee Martineau, 43, is jailed on disorderly conduct and indecent exposure charges that include allegedly mooning an off-duty cop.

Only Cain vs. Abel debate ended worse

A heated religious argument ends with Shawn R. Smith, 18, jailed and accused of stabbing 24-year-old Adam L. Frantz.

Poor grub can’t catch a break

The elusive giant Palouse earthworm again loses in its quest for federal protection as an endangered species.

Oddly, the joint smells better

Spokane County Jail prisoners start returning to their cells after vandal inmates clog the commodes and flood the lockup with toilet water.

Hamburglar made him do it

Locked inside a Spokane Arby’s, Donald J. Mayberry, a homeless man, whips up some late-night cheese sandwiches in the microwave before police arrive to arrest him.

Next shooting, he gets a staycation

Spokane County sheriff’s Deputy Brian Hirzel is allowed to leave town on a scheduled weeklong vacation and postpone a key interview with investigators that might explain why he shot and killed Wayne Scott Creach, a Spokane Valley pastor.

A smokin’ story hot off the press

Douglas Mark Burmeister, 21, is reportedly “mad at the town” when he allegedly sets a fire that guts the historic Shoshone News-Press in Kellogg.

There’s no justice in the world

Steve Tucker is elected to his fourth term as Spokane County prosecuting attorney.

Doug Clark is a columnist for The Spokesman-Review. He can be reached at (509) 459-5432 or by e-mail at

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