TO THOSE TOO YOUNG to recall, T. Milton Street can be an imposing figure. He's smart, has experience in politics dating back to the 1970s, and, at age 75, has lost none of his panache and quick wit.
Here are some other things you should know about him.
First, Street is a serial prevaricator, who lies early and often. Last week, for instance, as he faced a court challenge based on his residency and flaws in his nominating petitions, he testified on a Friday that he was married to a woman who lives in Moorestown, N.J. On Monday, he testified that he was not.
He said he had mailed in a change-of-registration form to switch from independent to Democrat, but no one at the Election Bureau ever saw it.
The truth is he does live in New Jersey - or did until a few months ago - and he did not mail in his change form. But Judge Chris Wogan gave Street the benefit of the doubt and let him stay on the ballot. (Wogan should know better than to give Street any benefit of any doubt.)
Second, if there ever is a Tax Deadbeat Hall of Fame, Street would be one of the first inductees. The list of taxes he has owed and tax liens on his properties is a long one. The capstone of his career came in 2008, when he was found guilty in federal court for failing to pay taxes owed on close to $3 million in income he earned early in the decade as a "consultant."
He was fined $413,704 and sentenced to 30 months in prison. He served his time at a federal prison in Kentucky. It was one of the few times we knew for sure where Street resided.
At his trial, Street's defense was that in his search of the law books, he found no clause that gave the IRS the right to collect taxes. The judge showed admirable restraint by not laughing when he ruled against Street's assertion.
Third, as to that "consultant" stuff, Street's glory years - in terms of income - were when his younger brother, John, was mayor (2000-08). Milton Street got a contract to run the food concessions at the River Rink ice-skating rink. Later, Penn's Landing Corp., which ran the rink, had to take him to court to collect vendor fees he owed.
In 2001, Street worked as a consultant for a Texas company that got a big contract at the Philadelphia Airport. The firm kept him on as a $30,000-a-month consultant after it got the deal to handle maintenance at the airport worth up to $3.2 million.
In gratitude for this sweetheart deal, Street tried to get the contract for himself in 2003.
Street formed a company called Notlim (Milton spelled backward), which went after the airport contract and also offered his services as a consultant to help clients get access to the mayor. His brother put the kibosh on that plan, but Notlim still exists as a company. (If elected mayor, maybe he will reactivate it and offer his services as a consultant to gain access to himself.)
Street's time in elected office was short. He began his career as owner of a food truck at Temple University. He protested for truck owners' rights and for housing for the poor. He had a flair for staging demonstrations and getting the media's attention.
In 1978, he was elected to the state House - and promptly pitched a tent on the Capitol lawn to complain about the office space he was given. In 1980, he was elected to the state Senate as a Democrat but raised hackles by immediately joining the Republican caucus to supply the one vote it needed to get control of that body. At the time, he described himself as a "Demlican" or a "Republicrat." It made no difference to him.
It did make a difference to his constituents in his North Philadelphia district, who ousted him in 1984 in favor of welfare-rights activist Roxanne Jones. (Street tried to get Jones knocked off the ballot by alleging she lived six blocks outside the district. At the time, he lived in Oak Lane, which was 3 miles outside the district.)
He was never elected to office again, though not for lack of trying. He's run for the U.S. House, for City Council, for the state Senate (in Pennsylvania, not New Jersey) and, in 2011, for mayor. Now, he is running for mayor again.
In the media, Street is often referred to as "colorful," which is our word for a clown. With his off-the-wall quotes and his "Anything Goes" antics, he can make you laugh. But, he's a menace. A self-proclaimed champion of the little man, he mostly champions one man: Milton Street.
You wouldn't trust him with the keys to your car, let alone the keys to City Hall. He has no money, no strong base of support and no chance of being elected mayor. He's in this for the attention, to be in the spotlight.