Milton Street for Mayor Again -- Seriously?

Political Commentary by Dave Davies

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    NEWSLETTERS

    TK
    AP
    T. Milton Street is seen before the "Stop the Violence Rally" outside City Hall in Philadelphia, in this file photo from March 1, 2007.

    I should be happy, I suppose.

    Nobody over the years has been more fun to write about than T. Milton Street, the city's ultimate bad boy who'll say the wildest, most provocative stuff in between his bad debts, bankruptcies and once, a prison term.

    But seeing that Milton had declared in a Facebook post he'll run for mayor again was just depressing. Like seeing your roommate bring out the leftover seven-layer nacho-cheese dip that's been uncovered in the refrigerator for well over a week. Come on, you gonna eat that?

    I find Milton a fascinating and sometimes likable guy. But he's 73, and has so thoroughly discredited himself again and again with his behavior that he just can't be taking seriously, even as a fringe candidate. If you're new around here, Milton is the older brother of former Mayor John Street, and you can get a short list of some his antics below from a piece I wrote when he ran for mayor in 2011.

    Milton will no doubt add some entertainment value to the mayor's race, but he'll suck up time and attention from a depleted media that needs to focus on covering this important race well, and he'll get some votes that could affect the outcome.

    It's a free country, and Milton has a right to run. I just wish he wouldn't. Because I know I won't be able to resist covering him.

    Some special moments from Milton Street's career:

    - In 1989, Republicans made Milton an assistant budget director in traffic court in return for help he'd given them in the state legislature. He lost the post for failing to pay $2,000 in traffic tickets. "Why the f--- should I pay?" he told an Inquirer reporter at the time.

    - In the 1990s, Milton returned to street vending. Despite numerous citations by the Department of Licenses and Inspections, the Rendell administration in 1996 and '97 put him in charge of controlling vending at the Penn Relays. The Penn's Landing Corporation eventually took Milton to court for unpaid vendor fees.

    - In 2000, political contributors got invitations to pay from $300 to $10,000 to sponsor a birthday gala for Milton's brother, then Mayor John Street. It turned out the money was to go to a new political committee registered to Milton and an associate, and the mayor didn't even know about the event. He pulled the plug on it.

    - In 2005, Milton admitted in court papers he'd been paid $30,000 a month as a "consultant" for three years by a company whose only business was a $13 million a year contract airport maintenance contract with the city, while Milton's brother was mayor.

    - Later that year, Milton declared bankruptcy. Though he kept a Philadelphia voting address, he listed his address in the bankruptcy filing as Moorestown, New Jersey.

    - In 2006 he was indicted by a federal grand jury on fraud and tax evasion charges. He was eventually cleared of everything but failing to file tax returns for three years, for which he served a 30-month prison sentence.