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Doug Clark: Your yearly dose of Budnick quirk

Sun., Dec. 29, 2013

And now, for those who thought (hoped? prayed?) that the following impudence couldn’t possibly last more than, oh, 20 or 21 years, I bring you …

The 26th annual Budnick Awards.

Today we again commemorate my picks for the quirkiest, oddball or ironic local stories that appeared in The Spokesman-Review over the past 12 months.

But before that ship sinks, let’s give our traditional yearly shout-out to Thomas P. Budnick.

Budnick is the former Massachusetts social worker who inspired these awards by using Spokane County to file his mining claims for the planet Mars.


Does this say more about Budnick or the greed level of the county officials who were accepting his fees?

You can mull that that over while you’re wading through the 2013 Budnick winners.

It’s the half-pint tea-toddler

A 2-year-old boy is found wandering alone in a Coeur d’Alene bar and grill.

Pay the toll, toilet troll

Federal election regulators say Larry Craig should pay $140,000 in fines and return the nearly $217,000 that the former U.S. senator used from his campaign trove to fight his 2007 airport men’s room sex bust.

Spokane: Near Nature, Near Perverts

A 37-year-old registered sex offender is acquitted of indecent exposure charges after a judge buys defense arguments that the defendant was merely modeling his genitals to a photographer at Riverfront Park and could not be seen by other park users.

That’s why we call it March Madness

Witnesses blame visiting USC basketball players for a rolling brawl through downtown Spokane that sends four people to the hospital on a Sunday morning in March.

No fun being one and done

No. 1-ranked Gonzaga is knocked out of the NCAA men’s basketball tournament in the round of 32 by ninth-seeded Wichita State.

Ratepayer, thy name is S-U-C-K-E-R

The Washington attorney general’s office seeks more regulatory oversight of natural gas buys by utilities like Avista, which pass their hedging losses along to ratepayers.

Hey kids, this bud’s for you!

A survey shows that while more Washington youths are saying “No” to alcohol and cigarettes, plenty are saying “Yes” to pot.

He made the felon’s Hall of Shame

With 39 arrests, Mark W. Bush, career thief and drug user, is recognized by an exasperated Spokane County Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich as ranking right up there with that law-breaking gold standard, Eddie Ray Hall.

Flying ants next if Mosquito fails

To get rid of loitering rude youths, several downtown building owners install electronic “mosquito” devices that emit a high-pitched squeal that supposedly irritates young ears.

We called ’em neo-Nazis in the ’80s

Slimy gelatinous masses seen floating in Hayden Lake are identified as “bryozoans” by experts.

Time to wave white flag of surrender

Spokane County Raceway pushes a majority of its races to Saturday in an attempt to stem continuing losses at the county-owned track. “I can’t keep losing money like this,” complains track manager Craig Smith. “It’s crazy.”

Told ya SOOO!!!

Millions of creepy insects swarming the area are actually flying carpenter ants, says Tim Kohlhauff, horticulture coordinator at WSU-Spokane County Extension.

Life like a Halloween horror flick

A Spokane mom seeks answers after her 5-year-old son’s eye is injured by liquid dripping from a toy glow-in-the-dark Halloween eyeball.

North Idaho image woes, Part 1

A Dalton Gardens company makes national news by manufacturing pork-laced Jihawg Ammo as a “defensive deterrent to those who violently act in the name of Islam.”

Perils of higher education

Washington State University cops arrest a student suspected of giving pot-laced food to a teaching assistant.

Still, he slept like a baby afterwards

James N. Paxinos, a Western Washington assistant school superintendent, claims a bad reaction to the prescription sleep aid Ambien is behind the accusations that he burglarized the Davenport Hotel Tower penthouse while staying at the hotel and also heaved items off the roof.

So that’s why prisons are crowded

Authorities at Airway Heights Corrections Center investigate the second woman staff member to be accused of having sex with an inmate.

Avista finds new way to stick us

Avista customers and some 2,000 Coeur d’Alene homes are left in the dark after a nest-building osprey drops a stick onto a power line.

North Idaho image woes, Part 2

During a flight to Atlanta, Hayden resident and aerospace executive Joe Rickey Hundley slaps a crying black toddler after telling the child’s mother to “… shut that (N-word) baby up.” Hundley, 61, later pleads guilty for striking the boy.

Any guesses who the real boob is?

City Councilman Mike Fagan’s attempt to cover up Spokane bikini baristas falls flat.

Got his migraines covered through 2046

Paul Martsin, 25, is suspected of stealing some 200,000 pain pills while working as a pharmacy technician at Providence Sacred Heart Medical Center’s outpatient pharmacy.

It’s just Bubba’s friendship bracelet

Guards discover a handmade 350-foot rope hidden inside inmate Frank Uhyrek’s bed at the Spokane County Jail.

Politics really is a mental disorder

After losing to incumbent Spokane City Councilman Jon Snyder by 5,669, John Ahern pays for a futile recount of four precincts, which – even if he wins all 1,600 votes – will still make him a big loser.

North Idaho image woes, Part 3

A Bonners Ferry resident discovers 30 blasting caps and a one-pound block of military grade TNT in a box of household items purchased over the weekend.

Top pick for Hooligan Bowl

Washington State University football reaches the attention of national sports columnist Norman Chad, who notes that since last January: WSU has “had players arrested for a DUI, for underage possession of alcohol, for public intoxication and third-degree theft, for assault and battery, and for a hit-and-run, plus another cited for providing police with a false name and birth date. A WSU player even got arrested earlier this season on second-degree assault for an alleged locker-room fight.”

Better lay off the Ambien, too, little lady

Asked why she stole four rolls of toilet paper and 40 hand towels out of the Davenport Hotel’s lobby ladies room, the teenage commode criminal tells police she’s heard Davenport TP is “like wiping your butt with a cloud.”

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

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