The Washington Post

Marion Barry’s free turkeys come with strings attached

(Congress Heights on the Rise)

This year, in Ward 8, the giveaway comes with a twist.

Council member Marion Barry (D) is requiring would-be turkey recipients to pre-register for a bird and meet a number of requirements before collecting one. (Hat tip to Congress Heights on the Rise for posting the above flyer.)

Parents of school-age children, for instance, will need to attend parent-teacher conferences and PTA meetings in the weeks leading up to the holiday. Other residents will have to prove they’re registered to vote and attend community meetings.

Says a flier: “Together, we can transform the Ward for you, your family and your neighborhood.”

“This is one way to break that cycle of dependency, of not being involved, not standing up, not fighting for your children,” said Barry, who has dipped his toe in such rhetoric in recent years — supporting, for instance, curbs on city welfare eligibility.

The pre-registration will also accomplish something else, Barry said: It should help his ward avoid last year’s turkey-distribution debacle, when Ward 8 residents were left turkeyless for a time after a billing dispute with the Giant grocery chain.

Barry said he’s aiming to hand out as many as 4,000 turkeys, with 2,000 of them reserved for public school and charter school parents. The turkeys will be paid for through private fundraising, he said.

He appears to be alone thus far in implementing turkey prerequisites. Member Harry Thomas Jr. (D-Ward 5), who also runs a popular giveaway, is requiring pre-registrations, but has no additional requirements, a staff member said.

Mike DeBonis covers Congress and national politics for The Washington Post. He previously covered D.C. politics and government from 2007 to 2015.


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