Reporters at a Friday night dinner in honor of Ward 8 Councilmember and new author Marion Barry‘s autobiography got an unexpected lesson in health policy, as Barry explained the evils of the nonexistent “yogurt tax.”
After a reporter asked Barry what he thought of the so-called “yoga tax” on yoga classes and gym memberships, Barry apparently thought the reporter was talking about yogurt, and he declared taxing the breakfast food “crazy.”
“Yogurt is really more healthy than some other things, as is cottage cheese,” said the 78-year-old ex-mayor.
Blame it on the D.C. Council’s hectic budget season or the dinner’s location at K Street NW’s Look lounge, where a noisy singles mixer was also going on. Either way, Barry went on to name a possible culprit behind the imaginary tax: Ward 2 Councilmember Jack Evans.
“I don’t know who proposed that,” Barry said. “I think Jack proposed that. I’m not sure. But whoever proposed it, it shouldn’t be.”
Barry, whose spokeswoman didn’t initially respond to a request for comment on the confusion (see update below), will be happy to find out that the tax doesn’t exist at all. Evans spokesman Tom Lipinsky confirms to LL that his boss hasn’t proposed a yogurt tax and doesn’t plan to.
Barry’s health advice at the dinner also included reading aloud the menu to the more than a dozen reporters, warning that the meat in a bolognese dish on the menu could stay in your body for 52 hours (Barry went for it anyway). As far as yogurt, Barry recommends organic varieties.
But don’t think that all dairy products are safe. Barry worries that hormones passed on from cows are affecting children in puberty, an idea he got from activist and comedian Dick Gregory that’s subject to some scientific controversy.
“Again, you notice what hormones do, are doing to our young people,” Barry said. “You find young ladies—-10, 11 years old, with fully developed breasts, fully developed bodies.”
Update, 2:40 p.m.: Barry spokeswoman LaToya Foster says that Barry did not mean to refer to the imaginary “yogurt tax.” Foster says she can’t find any evidence of a yogurt tax at the Council.
“I’m sure that’s not what he meant,” Foster says. “I’m sure that was just misheard.”
Photo by Darrow Montgomery