A councilman in Norristown says his fellow pols have snubbed his kids, weeks after they lost their mother to cancer.
Marlon Millner, says someone on the town's council deep-sixed his plans to bring his children on a public tour of the White House.
The dispute threatens to upend a cautiously built peace in a town that has a decades-long reputation for rough and tumble politics, and this most recent fight threatens to re-ignite infighting that many are convinced has scared away businesses and new residents.
Millner, a Pentecostal minister, whose has done advocacy work to help steer federal policy toward older suburbs, said he was notified of the tour Aug. 20th. His wife had died of complications related to breast cancer just one week before, and he was preparing for her funeral.
“I’ve been to the White House on business,” Millner said. “When you do that, you don't get a tour. You go to your meeting and leave.”
Still dealing with the realities of being a single-parent and trying to organize childcare, he put in a request to bring the kids. He believed he could arrange his own transportation and rely on friends he had in Washington D.C. to make sure the presence of his kids wasn't dispruptive.
He said he contacted the local congressman whose staff had handled the request to get a White House tour, and he received approval to take them on Sept. 11.
Related: Inside the White House on 9/11
A few days later, however, he got word from the town’s administration that his children weren’t welcome. Millner said he hasn’t figured out who squashed put the kibosh on the trip. He talked to the town’s full-time administrator, who told him that the request came from council.
On Tuesday night he resorted to using the public comment period — that’s the time when ordinary citizens bring their gripes to council — to complain. Still he got no answer, which led to Facebook rant.
"No, this is not official business, this is a field trip like the one I took in the fourth grade,” Millner said.
Linda Christian, the president of a council on which seats are all held by Democrats, said it is untrue that the trip to the capitol wasn’t geared toward business.
“It’s a work trip,” Christian said. The group plans on meeting high-level officials to raise the town’s visibility.
Asked why Millner didn’t know anything else about the trip’s Sept. 11 agenda, Christian said it was still being worked out.
The town, which has one of the highest poverty rates in the Philadelphia suburbs, has seen bruising politics over the years. In 2004 for example, some of the town’s politicians launched a special ballot initiative to change the town’s form of government entirely and eliminate the office of the mayor. In 2011, members of council censure Millner for using obscene language.