Milton Street set for mayoral run, says time in prison gave him causes

Milton Street says he'll draw on an army of ex-offenders.
Milton Street says he'll draw on an army of ex-offenders.
Posted: February 08, 2011

T. Milton Street, 71, is rested and ready for action.

The former state legislator and brother of former Mayor John Street says he plans to challenge Mayor Nutter in the May 17 Democratic primary election.

Milton Street, sentenced in 2008 to 30 months in federal prison for three misdemeanor counts of tax evasion, was released to a halfway house in June and then to supervised release in November.

Street said his time behind bars made him more aware of the issues offenders face. He estimates there are 300,000 ex-offenders in the city. He hopes to use them as a political army to confront issues like crime, unemployment and poverty.

"I'm going to deal with those issues," Street said. "They deserve to be discussed. They have to be on the front line. They're basically being ignored."

A spokeswoman for Nutter's re-election campaign declined to comment yesterday.

Street's decision was first reported in yesterday's Metro.

Street said he would use cell-phone texts to mobilize his army of ex-offenders, a tactic he says will be "so much cheaper" than raising money to air television ads.

"My hope is to organize those ex-offenders and let them know that they have to be a viable part of the electoral process," he said. "What I found out in prison is all these offenders and their families, while they may not have a computer, they have cell-phones. And they text. That's all young people do is text, text, text."

There is one person Street won't be texting about his plans - his brother. Street said it would be "grossly unfair" to his brother to try to get the former mayor involved in his plans.

John Street said by e-mail yesterday that his brother had not spoken with him about his plans.

Milton Street's last shot at elected office came in 2007, when he finished 17th out of 19 candidates in a failed Democratic primary bid for a City Council at-large seat. He got 10,468 votes.

During that campaign, Street carted a coffin to City Hall to dramatize the number of homicides in Philadelphia. With organ music playing, Street draped himself over the coffin while singing the hymn, "If I Can Help Somebody."

Street was convicted for failure to pay $413,000 in taxes on $3 million in income from a consulting business from 2002 to 2004. A jury acquitted Street of the more serious fraud charges.

Street said federal officials would not allow him to be discharged from the halfway house to New Jersey, where he was living before his conviction.

He is now staying with family in the Mayfair section of Northeast Philadelphia.

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