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July 24, 2019

As mayor, Milton Street would use soda tax to pay 5,000 Philly residents to fight crime

The long-shot perpetual candidate thinks he'll get more support as crime and violence arrives in unexpected neighborhoods

Politics Crime
Milton Street Courtesy of Kyle Cassidy/for PhillyVoice

On March 1, 2007, mayoral candidate Milton Street hosted a press conference outside City Hall that instantly entered Philadelphia political lore since he used a coffin as a prop and sang a gospel song on stage.

With several social-media blasts, T. Milton Street Sr. – the city’s eternal candidate for public office, and current Independent mayoral aspirant – this week announced a community meeting at which he will promise 5,000 jobs “to help make Philadelphia SAFE again.”

Details from those posts about the jobs were scarce, but they will apparently pay $15 an hour. It remained unclear whether he was going to resuscitate his 2016 plan to form a Kung Fu-trained independent crime-fighting group, which would have been awesome.

With uncertainty lingering in the air, Street reached out on Wednesday afternoon to discuss the community meeting set for 3 p.m. Saturday at First Immanuel Baptist Church, 2438 Ridge Ave., North Philadelphia.

He also spoke about how his Herculean effort to defeat incumbent Mayor Jim Kenney and Republican challenger Billy Ciancaglini in November’s general election has been going thus far.

“No, no, no!” he responded when asked if this latest plan was the martial-arts initiative he’d offered as a way to address violence three years ago. But it does mirror his previous efforts, from assorted previous campaigns for public office, to mobilize residents to take back their communities on their own.

The “Mayor’s Street Patrol Initiative” would – if Street somehow becomes the 100th mayor in city history in the November 5 election – hire at least 5,000 people to “patrol the communities where they live.”

To offset the estimated price tag of $156 million, he said he would use funds from the beverage tax, which he himself refuses to honor.

“I’ve never paid that tax. I’ll go to the Giant up on Street Road or another supermarket outside the city. I’ll always see mobs of Philadelphia residents when I’m there and when we get to talking about it, we say that we can fund preschool without this,” he claimed. “We’re the only people who can stop violence in our communities, and the people need jobs, so I’m going to hire people from the communities where they live.”

“You have to be so tough that, if necessary, you’d remove a mosquito from your testicles with an axe." – T. Milton Street Sr.

Knowing full well that some will dismiss his efforts, Street said critics would be wise to note how “how violence has now boiled over into Center City, into the affluent neighborhoods.”

He cited a recent shooting near Broad and Sansom streets, ongoing problems with “flash mobs raiding drug stores,” and a Spring Garden activist being killed in front of his 2-year-old daughter.

“What’s going to happen is our financial foundations will start to erode if we don’t do something about this,” he said. “We can control that. The latest studies I’ve read say 92, 93 percent of people in the communities are good people, and it’s seven or eight percent creating all this havoc.

“It doesn’t make a lot of sense that 92 percent can’t control eight percent. That doesn’t compute in my mind.”

Street said the mayoral pulpit – which his brother John held from 2001 to 2009 – is ideal for taking the necessary stand against the growing violence in Philadelphia.

“You have to be compassionate and tough, so tough that, if necessary, you’d remove a mosquito from your testicles with an axe,” he said. “That’s how tough the mayor has to be.”

To that end, Street said he plans to file his petitions to run for mayor as an Independent on August 1. 

Knowing that he’ll again face legal challenges to his candidacy, he claimed to already have more than the necessary 3,200 signatures, and will collect more at Saturday’s meeting.

“Oh, I’m getting gobs of support, but will that translate into votes?” he asked. “Will Kenney debate me or not? That’s not my concern. I’m going to mobilize enough people who want to buy into this plan so it won’t matter if he’s arrogant enough to ignore me and the Republican until the tidal wave comes in.”

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