Marion Barry and turkeys: A sad history

Yesterday Ward 8 Councilmember Marion S. Barry announced that his annual turkey giveaway will have a few rules: The turkeys are for Ward 8 residents only, parents of school-age children will have to attend PTA meetings to qualify, and people without school-age children will be required to attend three meetings of community groups Barry approves.


That might sound bad, maybe even a little contrary to the spirit of Thanksgiving. But if there's one lesson that can be gleaned from previous Barry turkey giveaways, it's that things can always go worse.

2010: Barry's turkey giveaway is compromised by an absence of turkeys. The issue: Barry hadn't paid Giant Foods in full for the 2,000 turkeys he'd ordered. 

"It’s simply pathetic and incomprehensible to me that a multi-billion dollar corporation, like Giant, would take a position that would deprive children, seniors and other adults of food for the Thanksgiving holiday," Barry said in a statement. "[W]e're disappointed in the Councilmember's comments," Giant responded.

2009: Hundreds of turkey-seekers are turned away, and the police are called, after Barry's turkey giveaway runs out of turkeys, yielding perhaps the saddest quote to run in the Washington Post in a pretty sad and lousy year:

"They made a promise that they couldn't keep," Linda Jackson said as she left Union Temple Baptist Church with only a crumpled piece of paper reading, "Councilmember Marion Barry's Ward 8 Turkey Giveaway."

2006: Victor MacFarlane, a San Francisco developer who had just purchased D.C. United, pays for the turkeys Barry will give away this year. It's goal (or, if you will, "goooooooal")-oriented charity: MacFarlane wants to build a new stadium for his team at Poplar Point (he was willing to pay up to 25 percent of the costs of doing so). MacFarlane's fortunes are later crushed by the recession: He lost $1 billion for his biggest client, the California Public Employees’ Retirement System on land deals in the Southwest, sold his part of the team in 2009, lost his penthouse in San Francisco, and generally became unavailable for future turkey provision.


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