Does Milton Street live in Pennsylvania or New Jersey? Is he married or not? And, by the way, what does the fact that we have to ask these questions say about this mayoral candidate’s attention to detail?
Right now, the answers to at least two of those questions are murky and will be the subject of a court hearing on Wednesday afternoon.
The former state senator and (for-now) Philadelphia mayoral candidate continues to fend off an attempt to remove him from the May primary ballot.
An attorney representing Transport Workers’ union head Joseph Coccio Jr., alleges Street lives in Moorestown, N.J., at an address belonging to his common-law wife. Street maintains he lives on West Firth Street in North Philadelphia and that common-law marriages are valid in neither Pennsylvania nor New Jersey.
As Tom Ferrick Jr. pointed out in a recent column, Street has been facing questions about his legal residency going back to 1999 when he was first tied to a Moorestown address.
Street survived his most recent residency challenge in 2011 when he claimed it was merely the home of his “love interest.”
Now, here’s where things start to get even murkier.
Hang on tight, now
On Friday, Milton Street told reporters he and his “love interest” have gotten married since the 2011 challenge.
“My wife lives where she lives … in Moorestown,” he said, declining to give her name. “Her name is Mrs. Street. What else would it be?”
However, on Monday, when he was again asked if he is currently married, Street said no.
“Who me?” he replied. “I’ve never been married. I’ve said that three or four times. Never.”
That claim is refuted by a legal response Street submitted to Chris Wogan, the Common Pleas Judge presiding over the case.
In it, Street writes he “has been legally married twice and divorced” and is “not married to the individual in question who resides in Moorestown.”
Street also wears a wedding ring, which he said was from his marriage to his second wife who died. In fact, his first wife is also deceased.
But didn’t he tell a judge in writing that he was divorced?
“Well, that’s a mistake,” he said. “They passed. They’re deceased.”
Perhaps by now, you’re just as confused as NinetyNine is.
When asked to clarify these various statements about his marital status, Street became irate and told the handful of reporters around him they were asking “questions that have no value.”
So, amusing, but why care?
There are two big reasons why all this is important:
1) Pennsylvania law defines a candidate’s residence as wherever his or her spouse lives. If Milton Street is actually married to his “love interest,” that will give his challengers a pretty good case to knock him off the ballot, which will change the lineup of mayoral candidates on May 19. And Street’s presence in the campaign provides more than just touches of absurdity like the flap over this marital status. Remember, the man got 24 percent of the vote against Michael Nutter in the 2011 Democratic primary.
2) The underlying question here is about Street’s qualifications for mayor, a job that requires great attention to detail. When asked about his penchant for ignoring details, here’s what he had to say:
“There’s a lot of details, that’s why they give you the resource to hire people to keep up with them. … I never said and will never say that as mayor I will know everything. I won’t. That’s one of the things that attract people to me. I’m honest. I say, ‘I don’t know everything.'”