I know. This was going to be the 28th running of the dubious achievement honors that I named for that former Massachusetts social worker who used Spokane County to file his mining claims for the planet Mars.
I thought that an intergalactic miner was the goofiest tale I’d ever heard of – until Rachel Dolezal came along.
Dolezal is the Spokane woman who fibbed about being ebony until her ivory parents blew the white whistle on her last spring.
Dolezal’s racial outing probably wouldn’t have turned into such a national media sideshow had she not been president of Spokane’s NAACP chapter or chair of our police ombudsman commission.
Both organizations gave her the boot.
Like the Budnicks, however, the Dolezals recognize my favorite offbeat or galling stories that appeared in The Spokesman-Review during the past 12 months.
This year I tried to stay away from the political embarrassments that have already received so much attention. Instead I stuck to those stories that made me laugh or snort coffee out my nose.
So without further adieu, I give you the 2015 Dolezals.
HAPPY POO YEAR, PEOPLE!
The year 2015 gets off to a slimy start in Hayden due to a broken pipe that spews 100,000 gallons of raw sewage on Honeysuckle Avenue, between Maple and Fourth streets.
ANOTHER NIGHT AT CRACKPOT THEATER
Failing to quiet the packed and boisterous Spokane City Council chambers, Council President Ben Stuckart closes the meeting early and storms out.
NEXT TIME I’LL ROUND UP A POSSE
Kootenai County Prosecutor Barry McHugh says he made a mistake when he requested an arrest warrant for a gum-stealing 9-year-old boy who twice failed to show for court.
BUT WHAT IF SHE STANDS ON HER HEAD?
North Idaho lawmaker Vito Barbieri draws national attention after asking if a woman can swallow a small camera so doctors can conduct a gynecological exam.
DOPE HOPES UP IN SMOKE
State licensed pot merchants find themselves struggling economically due to a glut of sun-grown Eastern Washington weed.
PUTTING FUN BACK IN FUNERAL
“We blame the Seahawks lousy play call for Mike’s untimely demise,” states the obituary for Michael Vedvik, a Seattle fan who suffered a fatal heart attack hours after Super Bowl XLIX. In truth, the 53-year-old Spokane native didn’t see the game. It was just his family having a laugh.
AND VITO IS THE OFFICIAL DUMB BUNNY
Idaho Gov. Butch Otter signs legislation declaring the Idaho giant salamander as the state’s official amphibian.
CRITTER CORPSE PILE GAVE IT AWAY
The new owner of a farm in southeast Spokane discovers 1,000 pounds of DDT, the long-banned pesticide, in an old grain silo.
WHAT? SLAPPING LAWYERS A CRIME?
Spokane mega-developer Harlan Douglass spends 24 hours in the Spokane County Jail for allegedly slapping an opposing attorney in a civil suit Douglass is involved in.
COPS SEE RIGHT THROUGH THEIR ALIBI
Shoshone County deputies say Saran Wrap Bandits are three boys who stretched Saran Wrap across Interstate 90 as a prank.
WHO DOES HE THINK HE IS, EDDIE RAY HALL?
Christopher J. Cannata, a career burglar with 31 felony convictions, returns to court for the second time in a week.
DAMN YOU, TOM SHERRY!
Strange milky rain falls on Spokane.
SCOTTY WARBUCKS RIDES AGAIN
Annual compensation for Avista’s top executive, Scott Morris, swells to $5.5 million, up 90 percent from the previous year.
OLIVER KLOZOFF, ANITA BATH GAVE IT AWAY
Spokane loses its chance to vote on a public nudity law when nearly half the signatures collected to put the measure on the ballot are found to be invalid.
IF IT WALKS LIKE A TRAITOR, AND QUACKS LIKE A …
Having announced his intent to play for Oregon, Eastern Washington University’s ex-star quarterback Vernon Adams Jr. is spotted wearing Ducks gear on the EWU campus.
WASHINGTON HAS A DUMB BUNNY, TOO
Mere days after the Spokane Regional Health District asks everyone to get vaccinated against measles, City Councilman and health board member Mike Fagan questions the efficacy of vaccinations.
DUDE, WHERE’S MY MILEPOST?
Mile markers bearing the numbers 420 (favored by potheads for their numerological significance) disappear so frequently that Washington and Idaho highway crews replace them with less-tempting 419.9 designations.
STILL JUST HALF WHAT SCOTTY MAKES
His $2.75 million salary puts Washington State University head football coach Mike Leach on top of the annual income list for all state employees.
PURPLE DAAAZE, ALL IN MY BRAIN
The quest for fresh huckleberries becomes so fierce that Inland Northwest pickers are seen fighting with each other for control of prize patches.
FIXING TACOMA AROMA BETTER CAUSE
Calling the 28th president a racist, Tacoma resident Dan Hasty asks Spokane Public Schools to change the name of the South Hill’s Wilson Elementary.
ANOTHER CORNDOG RUNS FOR FREEDOM
For the third time in six years an inmate escapes custody at the Spokane Interstate Fair. This time it’s Geiger Corrections Center resident Daniel F. Murinko, who was part of a “low risk” work crew picking up fairgrounds trash.
NEAR NATURE; NEAR HOT WHEELS
Spokane has the state’s highest rate for municipal vehicle theft.
JUSTICE IS DEAF, DUMB & BLIND
A man sent to prison for leading a police officer on a car chase will be released because there was no mention during his trial that the pursuing officer was in uniform.
NEXT UP: LAND MINES AND RAZORWIRE
To cut down on loitering and noise, the city installs large blocking boulders at Spokane’s scenic Cliff Drive overlook.
HANGIN’ OUT AT THE HOP
Ten Mt. Spokane High School students, dressed in formal finery, miss two hours of prom night being stuck in a windowed Steam Plant elevator that stops between floors after the group does some jumping.
HUNT FOR JOCKEY JUNK GOES ON
After allegedly ramming an undercover police car, Justin C. Hancock finds himself in more trouble after a strip-search by Spokane County jail officers finds what looks like black tar heroin in the 32-year-old’s underwear.
SHAKE-SHAKE, SHAKE THAT BOOTY
The Coeur d’Alene Casino Resort Hotel blames excessive dance moves by male beefcake performers with the show “Hunks” for a 10-day suspension of its liquor license.
‘BONEHEAD PROFS’ STILL OK
Three Washington State University instructors are accused of violating students’ First Amendment rights by attempting to ban such terms in the classroom as “The Man,” “illegal aliens,” “male” and “female.”
EVEN HERE TITO FELT UNAPPRECIATED
Whitworth University suspends five women soccer players who wore blackface and afro wigs to depict the Jackson 5 at a local bowling alley.
AND YOU CAN NOW SEE SPOKANE FROM NEPTUNE
Avista’s new brighter whiter LED street lights give Spokane the nocturnal ambiance of “a prison exercise yard,” observes a resident.
WHO NEEDS COFFEE WHEN YOU CAN DRINK YOUR CAKE?
Complaints roll in after I convey the recipe for a classic coffee cake dating back to 1944. Seems I told everyone to add 3 ¼ cups of milk to the ingredients instead of the correct ¾ of a cup. One unhappy baker left me a voicemail message about the vile pudding she wound up with. Another called her sad result “hot soup.” In my defense, however, I’ve never claimed to be Betty Crocker and I’m even worse at math.
Doug Clark is a columnist for The Spokesman-Review. He can be reached at (509) 459-5432 or by email at email@example.com.