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Philly Clout: Uber driver 'Thomas' is better known as Milton Street

Former hot dog vendor, former state senator, and two-time mayoral candidate T. Milton Street Sr., 75, is now an Uber driver. But he's no longer endorsing Donald Trump.

You can't make money in this town by catching meteors with a net and selling them as "sky rocks," as T. Milton Street Sr. helpfully noted during last year's mayoral debate.

But you can earn some extra cash driving folks around in your Toyota Camry.

Street – the former hot dog vendor, former state senator, and two-time mayoral candidate, who did a stint in the federal pen for not paying his taxes – has found a new part-time career.

He's an Uber driver.

Street, 75, told us that his interest in the political struggle over whether to legalize ride-sharing services like Uber led him to check it out, and then apply to drive.

Maureen Garrity discovered Street's new job on Tuesday when he picked her up in Center City for a trip to New Jersey.

Garrity, a public relations consultant who served as press secretary to Republican mayoral nominee Sam Katz in 2003 when he challenged John Street's bid for a second term, said she thought it was the ex-mayor's brother behind the wheel but was thrown because the Uber app listed her driver's name as Thomas.

As it happens, the T in T. Milton Street stands for Thomas.

Garrity said a pleasant conversation ranged from the unseasonably warm weather to the "ridiculous things" being said in the presidential election to brother John's 2003 reelection campaign.

That's when Street confirmed her suspicions that she was being driven by the one and only T. Milton Street. They sat in the Camry outside her house for five or 10 minutes after the ride, still talking about politics.

Street said he told Garrity that the FBI listening device found in his brother's City Hall office had helped to tip public sentiment in his favor. John Street, a Democrat, was never accused of wrongdoing in a federal investigation that netted several others.

"I busted out laughing," Milton Street said about talking with Garrity about the FBI bug. "I said 'Thank God for the bug. Thank God for the bug.' We were laughing about it."

Maybe you're thinking, "Doesn't Uber do background checks on felons?" Well, Street is not a felon; he was convicted on three misdemeanor charges of not paying taxes on $3 million in income. Just a few mil. NBD, right? Also, Uber spokesman Craig Ewer tells us the company screens for violent crimes that could make a driver potentially dangerous, not a white-collar misdemeanor like Street's.

("If I have a couple free hours, I head out to make a few bucks. There's no boss. You're totally free as a bird," Street told PhillyVoice's Brian Hickey, who reported Wednesday on Garrity's ride and is quite the Free Bird himself.)

While Clout was chatting about Uber with our favorite non-felon, Street asked us to make a political point perfectly clear: He is a fan of Uber, but he is no longer a fan of Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump.

Street met with Trump in December in Virginia before a campaign rally and sounded pretty enthusiastic back then.

"That was before I knew he was 23 cans short of a full case," Street explained.

Now he's voting for Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton. Though he's not crazy about her, either.

"I think it's a damn shame that we're in America and the only thing we have to choose from is Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton," Street said. "It's just depressing."

Street wrapped up this enlightening conversation with: "Tell people I'm no longer a Donald Trump supporter."

An official Milton Street unendorsement. Talk about a game-changer.

Full disclosure . . . or not

If you were listening to WHYY on Tuesday during pledge week – full disclosure: Clout is a big fan of WHYY – you might've heard that two anonymous donors offered a $15,000 challenge grant "in honor of" Spark Therapeutics if the radio station received 400 donations.

What you didn't hear is that Spark, a for-profit gene-therapy firm, was cofounded and is headed by Jeffrey Marrazzo, the son of Bill Marrazzo, the former water commissioner of Philadelphia and currently well-compensated ($580,080 a year!) president and CEO of WHYY.

Probably a coincidence.

"The funding for the challenge came from two donors who asked to remain anonymous. Their gift was made in honor of Spark Therapeutics," WHYY spokesman Art Ellis emailed us Tuesday. "Although this donation came from individuals, not from the company, it's not unusual for us to have challenge grants from for-profit companies.

"Yesterday, for example, we had a challenge from Your Part-Time Controller," Ellis continued. "We decided not to disclose the Spark connection because Bill was not involved in soliciting the challenge and does not stand to gain personally from it."



Speaking of public radio, big ups to NPR's Korva Coleman for starting the week off strong by casually debunking Trump's desperate attempts to destabilize American democracy with phony claims of a rigged election.

During the Monday morning newscast, Coleman stated – in a rather cavalier tone, which Clout appreciated – that Trump "did not provide evidence for his claims, which are false."

That's cold as ice, Korva. Trump will probably write her off as just another #nastywoman. Sad!

And we'd be remiss not to mention this week's hometown hero, City Commissioner Al Schmidt, for calling out Trump with this meaty quote: "The real threat to the integrity of elections in Philadelphia isn't voter fraud, though it does rarely occur. And it isn't even Russian hackers, though they may certainly exist. The real threat to the integrity of elections is irresponsible accusations that undermine confidence in the electoral process."

It was refreshing to hear that someone like Schmidt, vice chairman of the city commissioners and the three-member board's lone Republican, has the backbone to stand up to Trump.

Unlike a certain Republican senator from Zionsville, Pa., whose last name rhymes with "boo me."

On Twitter: @ByChrisBrennan and @wbender99

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Phone: 215-854-5973 and 215-854-5255