CLOUT, FORGIVING by nature, is a big fan of second chances.

So we are saddened that some readers are looking for ways to stop a recently released prison inmate from finding a job.

We speak, of course, of T. Milton Street's bid for mayor.

Some suggest Street, a former state legislator who spent 26 months in federal prison and a halfway house, can't hold elected office again because he was convicted of not paying taxes for three years. The state constitution bans felons from office.

But Street was convicted on misdemeanors and acquitted of more serious fraud charges.

Others point to the city's Home Rule Charter, which says, "The Mayor shall have been a resident of the city for at least three years preceding his election."

But that may be too vague because it doesn't explicitly say those three years must be immediately preceding the election. And what if you're away in prison?

The city Law Department punted a question about residency to Bob Lee, the City Commission's voter-registration administrator, who said Street has been registered to vote here since 2004.

Lee predicts the question will be settled in a legal challenge.

It took some time, but we finally found someone who said Street was a qualified candidate.

"Milton Street is a person who knows an awful lot about government," his brother, former Mayor John Street, said. "As far as I can tell, he's fully qualified to run."

Speaking of ex-offenders . . .

Michael Ta'Bon's brightorange prison jumpsuit and handcuffs really stood out among the sharp suits and snappy dresses at yesterday's Greater Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce's annual mayoral luncheon.

Ta'Bon was one of six people from the Ex-Offenders Association of Pennsylvania who crashed the party to protest what they call insufficient efforts by the city to help former inmates.

Mayor Nutter's speech, which covered a variety of employment and economic efforts by the city this year, included one sentence about the Office of Reintegration Services for Ex-Offenders (RISE).

"This is a silent protest," declared Malik Aziz when his group was asked to leave. "We have the right to assemble."

Ta'Bon said he served 7 1/2 years in prison for armed robbery and has been back in the city for nine months.

"If you want to create jobs, hire the convicts to stop the crime that we started," Ta'Bon said. "That's how you do it. You catch them when they're in the halfway house and you train them to go inside the schools to stop the violence that we started. We are the solution to the problem. You can't lock everybody up."

Nutter later said RISE has found jobs in recent years for more than 500 ex-offenders.

"We're looking to increase programs and services," Nutter said. "We need more employers to partner with us. But it is absolutely a commitment because it is part of a crime-reduction strategy. The best anti-crime tool is a job."

Honkala for sheriff

The race for sheriff so far has two Democratic candidates who want the job, state Rep. Jewell Williams and former police Capt. Alan Kurtz, and one who wants to eliminate the office, former city housing chief John Kromer.

A fourth candidate, community activist Cheri Honkala, says she will run as a Green Party candidate on a promise to prevent the Sheriff's Office from carrying out one of its main duties, the sale of homes in foreclosure.

Honkala, who heads the Poor People's Economic Human Rights Campaign, said she never dreamed her work on poverty and housing would lead her to seek a law-enforcement job.

Honkala hopes to exploit the attention the controversy-plagued Sheriff's Office is getting these days to draw attention to people losing their homes. She calls it the "zero-eviction platform."

"The last recourse is to become Philadelphia sheriff and have my deputies and myself not go out and put writs on doors and not throw families out," Honkala told us.

Quotable:

"The Honorable Marian B. Tasco is widely recognized as one of Philadelphia's most influential, politically savvy, and pro-active public officials."

- Councilwoman Marian Tasco's news release, saying that tomorrow she will announce her bid for a seventh term on Council. Tasco, a contender for the job of Council president, is enrolled in the controversial Deferred Retirement Option Plan. A Franklin & Marshall College/ Daily News poll released this week said 70 percent of city residents want that program eliminated.

Staff writer Wendy Ruderman contributed to this report.

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Have a news tip? Gossip? Suggestion? Call Chris Brennan at 215-854-5973 or Catherine Lucey at 215-854-4712. Or e-mail phillyclout@phillynews.com.