Of course, a quick Google search reveals that Minnesota sportswriter Patrick Reusse has been selecting sports turkeys each Thanksgiving for more than three decades. But this is the Metro section, and he’s a thousand miles away, so I’m not sweating it.
My awards honor outstanding acts of foolishness or ineptitude, especially of a self-defeating variety. As always, area candidates abound. Here are the “winners,” in no particular order, except the No. 1 Turkey comes at the end.
Kwame Brown and Harry Thomas Jr. I have to start with these two former D.C. Council members, who both pleaded guilty to felonies in 2012. In six short months, the two Democrats managed to set a new low for illegal behavior by D.C. politicians. They became the first D.C. Council members to resign under duress in 37 years of home rule.
Brown, who was chairman of the council, is our first-ever Two-Time Turkey. He won last year for ordering an expensive Lincoln Navigator SUV at taxpayers’ expense — and sending it back because he didn’t like the seat color.
He’s here now for the rather more serious crime of bank fraud. He committed it partly to get a loan to buy a boat he almost never used.
Thomas, who was the Ward 5 council member, built his career partly on publicity over his support for youth sports. Now he’s in prison for embezzling more than $350,000 of taxpayer funds intended for youth sports programs.
Helen Dragas. The University of Virginia rector, who chairs the Board of Visitors, drew national notoriety for causing 16 days of needless and damaging turmoil at the state’s flagship campus.
First, Dragas secretly conspired to oust the school’s president, Teresa Sullivan. Then she retreated in humiliation and reinstated Sullivan in the face of growing protests.
Dragas and a fellow board member spent more than $250,000 on consultants for communications advice in a crisis that will be an excellent business school case study in disastrous communication.
Dishonorable mention to Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell (R) for reappointing Dragas after the fiasco.
Verizon. In the close-fought contest for which local utility performed worst in the derecho on June 29, the telecommunications giant edged perennial contender Pepco by letting its vital 911 service go down in much of Northern Virginia.
Verizon didn’t have enough working, backup generators to support 911 calls in the middle of a major storm when need for such service is highest. The company didn’t even know 911 was down in Fairfax until it was notified by county officials.
Maryland Democrats. The Free State’s dominant party grossly gerrymandered the map of new congressional districts. It did so to steal a seat from the GOP and, along the way, help Baltimore area Democrats at the expense of those in the Washington suburbs.