Friday, November 30, 2007

The Daily Numbers -- Nov. 30

The Daily Numbers: 12 hours that Philly Park Casino has now been closed since Thursday night because of a water main break. It’s not stopping people from showing up. And being bummed out on learning that they can’t lighten their pockets, at least not for awhile.

2,750 dollars, the amount apparently missing that has led to charges being filed against a former clerk in Folcroft District Court.

300 small businesses that will converge on Springfield Country Club on Monday seeking to get their mitts on government contracts at a procurement summit hosted by Rep. Joe Sestak.

200 people who showed up last night in Bucks County seeking to get their goods back. The stuff was ripped off by crooks in a burglary spree that specialized in car break-ins. More than 1,000 items were recovered.

1 dead and two wounded when gunfire erupted Thursday night at Eighth and Monroe streets in Philadelphia. No end to the violence.

1 school closing and about 15 others being merged as the Camden Diocese deals with declining enrollments in Catholic grade schools. It’s not just Delco dealing with this issue.

3 fishermen dead in still another boating accident off the coast of New Jersey. That’s four fatalities in just two days.

15, age of student stabbed in a bathroom in Bensalem High School. The school was locked down for several hours Thursday afternoon.

120 million bucks, what SEPTA wants to spend for new “smart-card” technology for paying fares on its buses and trolleys.

8 people now facing charges in a major computer hack job and attack that wound up crashing the system at the University of Penn.

1 penny higher for the cost of gasoline. The average price now sits at $3.13, tying the high point for the year set back on May 28.

2 huge high school playoff games this weekend. Best luck to both Ridley and Garnet Valley as they seek District 1 titles.

2 more days before the Eagles take the field again, and we see whether it will be Donovan McNabb or A.J. Feeley at quarterback.

0, how much of last night’s Dallas-Green Bay game you saw if you do not have the NFL Network TV package.

Call me a Phanatic: A look at the ups and downs of being a Philadelphia sports fan.
Hope the Eagles have their “mudder” shoes on for Sunday. The weather folks are calling for ice, snow, and rain. Couple that with new turf that was laid on the field and you could have the Mud Bowl.


I Don’t Get It: We’re still dealing with blatant racial prejudice, as can be witnessed in the ugly incident in Clifton Heights. I don’t get it.


Today’s Upper: Kudos to Chase Frost. He’s the 21-year-old Parkside volunteer firefighter injured in a blaze at a townhouse back in August. He’s been released from Crozer and his going to continue rehab and treatment at a facility in Texas near his mother’s home. We can’t wait to see you back again, Chase.


Quote Box: “Certainly if that kind of nonsense is going on we’re going to increase the patrols up there.”

-- Clifton Heights Police Chief Walter Senkow, after racial graffiti was discovered outside a local business.

Time's yours, Andy

The soap opera that we refer to as the Philadelphia Eagles continues.

Is it just me, or does Andy Reid seem awfully smug and arrogant for a guy who finds his team sitting at 5-6 for the second year in a row.

Reid was at his sarcastic best this week in telling the assembled media that Donovan McNabb remains the Eagles starter and that he will remind the scribes of just that every day.

Gee, thanks Andy. But that’s not really the question. The question is who will start Sunday against the Seahawks. That is still up in the air, although all indications point to A.J. Feeley getting a second straight start.

McNabb did not practice again yesterday. That’s almost two weeks now since he was last on the field as he nurses a sprained ankle and bum thumb.

Our Bob Grotz says you can pretty much put the house on Feeley being the starter.

Either today or tomorrow Coach Andy likely will tell the masses through gritted teeth that Donovan is not 100 percent and that Feeley will get the start.
So what happens if Feeley lights up the Seahawks and leads the Birds to a win that keeps their playoff hopes alive?

That will be one for our arrogant, smug coach to deal with next week.

A problem that won't go away

For some reason, we just never learn.

I am always amazed at how much trouble we as a society still have dealing with race. We like to think we have come a long way. I wonder.

The latest example of just how far we still have to go comes from Clifton Heights.
A couple of weeks ago, two black female entrepreneurs opened up a new shop on Baltimore Pike. They sell T-shirts and other items. You’d think the borough would welcome a new business with open arms. Most did.

Most, but apparently not all.

The store owners were stunned this week to learn someone had left a rather ugly un-welcome greeting on their business.

Racial graffiti had been spray-painted on the sidewalk outside the business. The implication was pretty clear. They were not welcome.

There is a bright spot to this sad saga. First, Pamela Williams and her business partner, Tylanda Whitney, have no plans of leaving, despite what they say have been several incidents in which they’ve been made to feel less than welcome.

“I’m not moving,” Williams said. “They’ve got to come a lot better than that, because I haven’t really begun to fight.

Good for her.

Now it’s time for the community to take action. Police Chief Walter Senkow said his department is taking the case very seriously.

Williams got phone calls from the mayor as well as state Rep. Nick Micozzie, R-163. Now it’s time for the community to chime in and let people know that the days of racial intolerance, bullying and trying to intimidate people are over.

In the words made famous in another racial incident from just a few years ago, “Can’t we all just get along.”

You have to wonder if we ever will.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

The Daily Numbers -- Nov. 29

The Daily Numbers: 3 people found shot to death this morning in a home in Easton. There seems to be no end to the violence.

62 schools in Delaware County that were honored by the state for meeting the bechmarks on the Adequate Yearly Progress. Well done.

1.8 million dollars worth of pot seized in a raid on a man’s apartment on City Line Avenue. Police say he was running a high-end drug operation with a very potent form of marijuana. They think much of it was being sold to kids on the Main Line.

5 years in the slammer for a scion of the famous Strawbridge retailing clan. Steven L. Strawbridge Sr. was snagged on child porn charges.

4.6 million bucks, that’s what federal prosecutors say the government was cheated out of by a group of people and businesses under the guidance of a Blue Bell tax preparer and lawyer.

27 schools across the state that are actually spending what a recent study indicates they should, according to newly elected Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter.

3 fishermen rescued from frigid waters after their boat capsized in Delaware Bay. Unfortunately one of them died.

2 more men, including one from Delco, snagged in another sting operation by the county’s Internet Crimes Against Children task force. They thought they were chatting with young girls. They sent them webcam shots of themselves in the nude. They were actually dealing with an undercover agent.

2 quarterbacks still in play for the Eagles. It’s either going to be McNabb or Feeley under center Sunday. We just don’t know which one.

2 home jerseys that will be worn by the Phillies at Citizens Bank Park next year. They will unveil their new alternate jersey at a noon press conference.

15 points for former Chester High standout Darrin Govins in helping Saint Joe to a win over Ball State. Get used to hearing the name. He’s the latest Chester product to hit the big time with the Hawks, following in the legendary footsteps of Jameer Nelson. Govins can flat-out shoot the ball.

4 wins against 10 losses for the Sixers after they dropped a 106-95 decision to Utah at home last night.

Call me a Phanatic: A look at the ups and downs of being a Philadelphia sports fan.
No, it’s not the Eagles. But there is a very important NFL game being played tonight. It’s the Cowboys vs. the Packers, each sporting just one loss. But you’re not going to see it, unless you happen to subscribe to the NFL Network. Get used to it. It’s the wave of the future. The free ride is ending. You’re going to have to pay to watch your favorite sports on TV.


I Don’t Get It: Two more men have been nabbed in the latest Internet sex sting. One more time: When exactly are people going to realize that you have no idea who that person at the other end of the computer really is. A 14-year-old girl? Or an undercover agent?


Today’s Upper: Kudos to Sen. Dominic Pileggi, R-9, of Chester, for pushing his open records law through the state Senate. Now the House needs to get on board.


Quote Box: “I think they’re jumping the gun and already have their foot in the door in terms of getting what they want and doing what they want according to their new plan.”

-- Ridley Park resident Jim Cantwell, on the increase in planes he’s noticing over his home.

Let the sun shine in

This newspaper usually reports the headlines. We try not to make them.

But that’s exactly what we did last week, and we couldn’t be happier. It also points to something that is near and dear to our hearts, and we believe should be likewise to every taxpayer. And that’s why every Pennsylvania resident should be paying very close attention to something one of our own is doing in Harrisburg.

It has to do with open records and the public’s right to know. Basically, one of the things newspapers traditionally do is act as the public’s watchdog, ensuring that the public’s business is actually performed in public.

To that end several years ago we filed a request under the state’s Right-To-Know Law seeking several documents from the Chester Community Charter School.

Chester Community Charter is becoming an increasingly large factor in the Chester Upland School District. As it stands now, a good chunk of the district’s elementary and middle school students attend the charter.

They’re a not-for-profit entity, but they use a lot of public money to run the schools.

For that reason we decided to take a closer look at their operation, and requested several financial documents.

School officials declined, basing their argument that the charter school was not covered in the same way as public schools under the state’s right-to-know laws.

We went to court to get the documents. That was three years ago. Delco judges backed our argument. So did Commonwealth Court. Last week the Pennsylvania Supreme Court did likewise, meaning that all charter schools in the state must follow the provisions of the state’s open records law.

It’s a win for us, and a win for the public. Chester Community Charter has indicated they will no longer appeal and will turn over the documents we have requested.

But that’s only part of the problem.

A bigger issue is that Pennsylvania is still in the dark ages when it comes to shedding light on the public’s business.

That’s where Sen. Dominic Pileggi, R-9, of Chester, comes in. Since assuming a leadership position in the state Senate, he has been making it his mission to throw open the doors and windows that keep too much of government functions operating in the dark.

On Wednesday the state Senate passed his plan to greatly expand the public’s access to government records. It’s a step in the right direction.

But, as all too often happens in Harrisburg, there is a hitch. The House has a competing plan, one that is not nearly as good as the version being pushed by Pileggi.

The House should get on board with Pileggi’s bill.

The public’s business must be conducted in public. And we shouldn’t have to engage in expensive, lengthy court fights to assure that it does.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

The Daily Numbers -- Nov. 28

The Daily Numbers: 49 bucks, that’s how much more the average Delco homeowner would pay under the proposed county budget. That likely will be pared down.

3.8 percent increase in county spending next year. Officials indicate most of it is not new county spending, but shortfalls in state and federal subsidies.

2 more years for the Geo Group to be at the helm of the Delaware County Prison under a deal OK’d by County Council.

39 million dollars, what the county will pay Geo the first year, increasing to $40 million the second. That’s a 4 percent hike in costs.

250 bucks, what some top-achieving Academy Park students will win this year in a new program being funded by a Johnstown entrepreneur in an attempt to boost students’ interest and skills.

500 thefts, mostly car break-ins, being tied to a Bensalem man police are calling a one-man crime wave. As many as 1,000 items, mostly GPS devices, iPods and laptop computers, were ripped off from cars in Bucks County.

400 laptop computers donated to the Wireless Philadelphia project by Wayne-based Shire Pharmaceuticals.

70 people who showed up for a public hearing on a new study of the state’s education funding system last night in Upper Darby. The costing-out study suggests the state is woefully underfunding the education of our kids. Not that all that many people apparently care.

15, age of youth being sought in connection with the shooting of a 5-year-old in a Kensington home. Four kids, ages 2 to 11, were in the home at 1 a.m. The mother was not.

3,000 resumes from people seeking positions in the new government of Philadelphia mayor-elect Michael Nutter.

46 bucks, average cost of a live Christmas tree last year. That could be going up this year. Blame rising gas prices.

1 penny more at the pump, what we could be paying because of a $100 million deficit in a fund to fix damage from leaking underground fuel tanks.

1 penny more, what we’re already paying for gas now, with the Philly average standing at a wicked $3.12 a gallon.

4 Flyers who have been disciplined by the NHL so far this year for hits on opposing players.

2 wins against 1 loss, Andy Reid’s record against his old mentor Mike Holmgren, the coach of the Seahawks, who visit the Linc Sunday.

Call me a Phanatic: A look at the ups and downs of being a Philadelphia sports fan.
Ya’ gotta love Jimmy Rollins. Predicts the Phils are the team to beat in the NL East last year. Backs it up by leading the Phils to a thrilling come-from-behind win over the Mets. Now he’s at it again. Rollins is looking for the Phils to win 100 games this year and steal the hearts of the city’s fans away from the Eagles. Uh, Jimmy, you may have already done that.


I Don’t Get It: Two teens are being sought for allegedly trying to set a homeless man on fire in the Kensington section of Philadelphia. Nice.


Today’s Upper: Academy Park has had its share of troubles. Now they’re going to try a new tack in getting kids interested in education. They’re going to put their money where their mouth is. Some high-achieving students could win $250 for doing well in school. If it works, we’re all for it.


Quote Box: “I still think that is excellent financial management. It’s unreasonable to expect the county to never increase taxes again.”

-- County Council Chairman Andrew Reilly, on the prospects of the county’s first tax hike in four years.

Budget blues

For weeks leading up to the November election, we were bombarded by a Republican ad campaign responding to a challenge from Democrats for three seats on County Council that warned of higher taxes if the Democrats were successful.

They characterized the Dems as big spenders who would run up county services, with the result being a need to increase taxes. They even closed out the ads with a tax collector knocking on residents’ doors, with the Dems saying they were bringing him along to save some time.

The image was pretty clear. Democrats equal more programs, more spending and thus higher taxes.

It turns out the GOP was right. At least about taxes going up.
This week the county rolled out its preliminary budget. And, indeed, taxes are going up.

The county is proposing to spend $11.6 million more in 2008 than it did in 2007. That’s a hike of 3.8 percent over 2007’s $304.8 million fiscal blueprint.

The result means the millage rate will go from 4.45 to 4.827. For the average resident with a home assessed at the average of $131,000, it will mean forking over another $49.

Of course, this is all preliminary. The current County Council has hailed itself for its ability to hold the line on taxes. These numbers likely will be whittled down before the actual budget is adopted in a couple of weeks.

But if they can’t eliminate all the increases, it will mark the county’s first tax hike in four years, and only the fourth in 11 years.

County leaders are already saying these hikes are not the result of extravagant county spending, but from cuts in state funding, specifically at the county nursing home, Fair Acres Geriatric Center; deficits in juvenile foster-care placements because of a change in the funding formula; and continuing red-ink flowing out of the county courts.

Council Chairman Andy Reilly even stated the county may consider suing the state, which he claims continues to be out of compliance with a state law that mandates it cover 100 percent of county court costs. Reilly said in reality the county is only getting a 40 percent reimbursement, which will cost Delco taxpayers $30 million this year.

None of this is going to make the numbers, as they stand now, any more palatable for home owners already under siege from rising property taxes and skyrocketing fuel and heating costs.

The current all-Republican County Council has its work cut out. It must look to slice and dice, where it can, spending in an attempt to ease the burden on taxpayers.

You can’t say you didn’t see it coming. After all, they warned us of a tax hike.
It’s just that with the funding shortfalls from the state that are in place, it doesn’t really make much difference who got elected.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

The Daily Numbers -- Nov. 27

The Daily Numbers: 32 years, that’s how long Cosimo ‘Sam’ Ferrainola headed the Glen Mills School. He is stepping down.

5 cars involved in a crash that has shut down the Pennsylvania Turnpike in both directions at Willow Grove this morning.

1 homicide this year in Chester Township. Police believe the fatal shooting of a teen Sunday is rooted in a gang turf war between one group in the township and another from Chester.

36 homicides recorded so far this year in the county. That’s on a record pace.

5 age of youth shot inside his home in Kensington around 1 a.m. Tuesday. He’s in stable condition.

24 age of Redskins star safety Sean Taylor. He died of a gunshot wound suffered in his Miami home.

33 age of grandmother who has been charged with abandoning a baby in Montgomery County. She left the newborn on the steps of a home, despite the fact that Abington Hospital was just down the street. The baby is doing fine.

10 people killed in car accidents over the Thanksgiving holiday in Pennsylvania, according to state police. There were more than 1,000 crashes investigated, resulting in 320 injuries.

1,000 bucks a plate, what the GOP faithful shelled out for dinner with Rudy Giuliani in Northampton County Monday. Later he made a stop in Delco, at the Oaks Ballroom in Darby Township.

3.5 percent pay hike, actually a cost of living adjustment, for all members of the Pennsylvania Legislature.

2,550 bucks, what the rank-and-file legislator will see in his or her paycheck. Base salary now is $76,163.

6,000 dollar pay hike for the governor, Ed Rendell, under the same plan.

800 million dollars, amount of expansion approved for Fox Chase Cancer Center.

100 percent healthy, that’s what Andy Reid says Donovan McNabb needs to be to start Sunday against the Seahawks.

3 goals given up by Martin Biron before he was lifted last night against the Bruins. The Flyers lost, 6-3.

Call me a Phanatic: A look at the ups and downs of being a Philadelphia sports fan.
Andy Reid says the Eagles don’t have a quarterback controversy. That’s one person who thinks so.


I Don’t Get It: A retailer in Philly is selling a T-shirt with Santa offering a middle-finger salute. Nice touch for the holidays.


Today’s Upper: Kudos to Sam Ferrainola, who is stepping down after more than 3 decades at the helm of Glen Mills School. He changed it from a reform school to a first-class educational facility.


Quote Box: “It is a lot of back and forth with insults.”

-- Chester law enforcement officer on gang tensions between a group of youths in the city and another in Chester Township.

Unfriendly skies

Jim Cantwell has a problem.

It’s one a lot of us could be facing in a couple of weeks.

Cantwell recently copied me an e-mail that he was also sending on to any politician willing to listen.

“Listen” is the key word here. Because, according to his e-mail, it was 2:15 a.m. and all Cantwell could hear was the sound of airplanes flying over his home.
Brace yourself. Cantwell’s nightmare could be one a lot of us will soon be facing.

That’s because our friends at the Federal Aviation Administration last week announced that they could begin implementing their airport redesign plan to alleviate traffic backups at Philadelphia International Airport as soon as Dec. 17.

That comes despite the efforts of U.S. Reps. Joe Sestak, D-7, of Edgmont, and Rob Andrews, D-N.J. Sestak had been banking on the FAA sticking to its word that it would not seek to institute the changes, which will increase the number of flights at low altitudes over the heart of Delaware County, until the results of an investigation of the process was completed by the Government Accountability Office.

That no longer appears to be the case.

County Council, led by Chairman Andy Reilly, also has been active in fighting the redesign. They likely will be in court trying to halt – or at least delay – the plan.

In the meantime, Cantwell is saying something I’ve been hearing since last spring, the belief by some Delco residents that planes already are using different flight paths over the county.

Cantwell says the noise is already having an effect on his life, and he may not have an option other than to sell his house.

In the meantime, the clock is ticking. And the dreaded airport redesign plan, which will have what many are calling a “devastating” effect on a wide swath of the county, from Ridley Park through Upper Darby and out into Haverford, gets closer with each day.

Those pricey noise-canceling headphones might be moving to the top of a lot of Christmas wish lists.

The great QB debate

Andy Reid has spoken.

He hasn’t said much, but Big Red has weighed in on the great quarterback debate.
Reid says there isn’t one. Controversy, that is.

That makes him a decided minority in Eagles nation. Most watched the way the Eagles offense operated Sunday night against the vaunted Patriots and immediately cast their vote for Feeley to be the Birds’ new starting QB.
Reid isn’t having any of it. He’s sticking with his stock statement, that if Donovan McNabb is healthy, he’s the starter.

Of course, the key to that statement lies in the “if.”
“If” Donovan is healthy.

That gives Reid a huge out. The guess here is that sometime this week, the team announces McNabb is in fact not 100 percent, and that Feeley will start Sunday at the Linc against the Seahawks.

Reid’s stance also brings up another – possibly even more important – question.
If McNabb’s status as the starter depends on him being 100 percent healthy, how does the coach and the team defend their decisions in the offseason that led them to start the year with McNabb behind center, when it was clear he was not yet fully recovered from major knee surgery.

When the Eagles decided they were not going to pay starter’s money to Jeff Garcia --- last year’s savior – to basically be McNabb’s backup, they were in effect telling Donovan and everyone else, “Hey, you better be ready because you’re going to be our starter.”

McNabb wasn’t ready. The Eagles struggled.

Now Donovan’s health is the key to him playing.

Sounds like that decision came about three months too late.

Monday, November 26, 2007

The Daily Numbers -- Nov. 26

The Daily Numbers: 3 interceptions from Eagles QB A.J. Feeley last night in the Birds wild 31-28 almost upset of the century loss to the Patriots.

5 million dollars, how much Media businessman Hal Taussig has given away, basically all the profits from his business, to a non-profit that offers low-interest loans.

23 new cardinals, including Bishop John P. Foley of Sharon Hill, who were installed in Rome over the weekend.

2 people shot to death and a convenience store clerk stabbed in another bloody weekend in Philadelphia. Not exactly a reason for thanks.

3.11 a gallon and holding, the price we were paying for regular unleaded as we drove to grandmother’s house for the Thanksgiving holiday.

3.65 a gallon, the price for diesel fuel, that’s a new record. And who do you think is going to wind up paying for those higher prices being shelled out by all those truckers hauling all those goods to market?

1 man shot and another wounded by University of Penn police who were called to a fight outside Club Wizzards on Chestnut Street early this morning.

2 weeks, that’s how long hunters have to hit the woods starting today in Pennsylvania in search of a deer with their rifles. Last year more than 360,000 deer were culled in the annual hunt.

78,100 dollars, what you would have to shell out this year to purchase the items in the “12 Days of Christmas.”

150 bucks for a pear tree. That’s up from $130 last year.

10.3 billion dollars, what shoppers dropped on Black Friday, the traditional start of the holiday shopping season. That’s up 8.3 percent from last year.

700 million dollars, what is expected to be spent today by online shoppers on what is now dubbed “Cyber Monday,” with people using their office Internet connections to do a little Web browsing.

3 points, margin of Eagles’ loss to the Patriots, same as three years ago in the Super Bowl.

27 of 42 passing for A.J. Feeley in a stellar start in place of the injured Donovan McNabb.

Call me a Phanatic: A look at the ups and downs of being a Philadelphia sports fan. The season is not over. Yes, the Eagles are now a less than sparkling 5-6. But the NFC is horrific, and the Birds remaining schedule is favorable. Besides, I didn’t fall asleep during last night’s game. That’s not something I’ve been able to say too many times this year.


I Don’t Get It: Everyone complains about the commercialism and shopping frenzy at the start of the holidays season. Then they get in line waiting for the malls and stores to open long before daylight on Black Friday.


Today’s Upper: Kudos to one of our own, Cardinal John Foley. The native of Sharon Hill was elevated to a prince of the Roman Catholic Church at the Vatican Saturday.


Quote Box: “Wearing the cardinal’s ring, you are constantly called to give your life for the church.”

-- Pope Benedict at special Mass where 23 new cardinals received their rings, including Cardinal John P. Foley of Sharon Hill.

The morning after

There are three things I know after watching what was supposed to be the Eagles being led to the slaughter on national TV against the vaunted – and undefeated – Patriots.

A.J. Feeley is the reason the Eagles almost did the unthinkable, winning a game no one gave them any shot of even being competitive in against the Patriots.

A.J. Feeley also is the reason the Eagles lost, making a bad throw on his first pass, which was intercepted and returned for a touchdown, putting the Birds in an early 7-0 hole and sparking a collective "Here we go" groan across the Delaware Valley. Another interception late in the game sealed the Birds’ fate.

And third, as if you didn’t know by now, Andy Reid has a quarterback controversy on his hands.

Here’s the key. Don’t ask me why because I don’t know, but this offense simply operates more efficiently when someone else is at the helm. Last year it was Jeff Garcia. Now it’s Feeley.

Maybe Donovan holds on to the ball too long. His scattershot arm -- even on his best day he manages to uncork a few balls that are too high or arrive on the second hop -- is not really tailored to this West Coast style of offense. Maybe Feeley and Garcia simply make their reads quicker and get rid of the ball faster. But it’s clear to me the offense runs better when Donovan is not behind center.

That may or may not be fair to McNabb, but there’s no longer any doubting that it’s the case.

So now the ball is in Reid’s court. He wanted no part of the question after what was easily the most entertaining Eagles game of the season, a game that pitted the two teams that clashed in the Super Bowl less than three years ago and which again saw the Eagles come up a field goal short.

There will be no way to avoid it later today, when Reid holds his day-after press conference. It will be Question One, in fact the only question.
Last week Reid made it clear that if he’s healthy, Donovan McNabb is the Eagles’ starting quarterback.

That was before A.J. Feeley did his best Jeff Garcia impersonation, breathing life into a season most had already given up on.

The fact is that as bad as the NFC is, the Eagles are still in the hunt for a Wild Card spot.

It says here they have a much better shot of capturing that prize with Feeley at quarterback.

Does that mean the McNabb era is over. Maybe, maybe not. But Feeley has earned another start.

And I’m still wondering exactly where the Eagles would be sitting today if Reid and the Eagles had not foolishly insisted McNabb was ready to go at the beginning of the year.

We await word from Chairman Reid. I think I know what he’s going to say.

And I think a lot of fans are going to be disappointed when he does.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

The dreaded Saturday pick

Nothing else has fit the expected norm during this Eagles season. Why should this week be any different.

The Birds are expected to be the sacrificial turkey as they head to New England and a Sunday night prime time offering in Gillette Stadium. And they will not get a pardon from President Bush. Those visigoth Patriots, led by their grump of a head coach Bill Belichick, are mad at the world, vowing revenge, and possibly an undefeated season, for all those who reacted with glee when it was determined the Pats were taping the opponents's signals.

Ever since the Patriots have been taking no prisoners.

The Eagles look like they will be next. QB Donovan McNabb is still hobbled with a sore ankle and bum thumb. A.J. Fely has taken most of the reps in pratice. McNabb looks like a game-time decision. But Feeley likely will get the call.

The Eagles are a whopping 23-point underdog.

It says here the lowly Eagles will not stun the world, unless you think covering the number is now something of a miracle for a team that just a few years ago came within a field goal and some bizarre clock management from Andy Reid of snatching a Super Bowl crown from the Patriots.

Oh, how far we've fallen.

Make this one Patriots 39, Eagles 17.

And as miserable as the NFC is, it still won't eliminate the Birds from playoff contention.

And heaven help us should Feeley play well or even keep the Birds in the game against the Pats. It could be the final nail in McNabb's proverbial coffin.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Black Friday? How about Thursday night?

Maybe it's me.

I go through this every year. And every year I find myself more and more turned off by the commercialism of Christmas.

Silly me. Here I thought this was supposed to be a time for families to gather and mark the many things for which they are thankful.

Not anymore. Now it's all about what store opens when. Call me Charlie Brown. I don't get it.

What once was something of a tradition in itself, heading out to the malls and big-box stores on Friday, once was a convenience since many people were off work and the kids were home from school. What a quaint notion.

Now the idea of shopping seems to have engulfed the very essence of Thanksgiving.

Stores started opening earlier and earlier. Malls threw open their doors at sunrise. The electronics giants -- destination of all those whose life wold simply be incomplete without a 60-inch flat screen plasma TV -- then started backing up into the pre-dawn hours.

Now you might have to forego the traditional holiday turkey and trimings so as to get your spot in the line outside Best Buy, Comp USA or Circuit City.

Something else strikes me about all this merchandising madness. Someone has to work al those hours, has to stock all those shelves, has to man the cash registers when those doors open at 3 a.m.

I guess it's all harmless. I still don't like it, nor what it says about us, and our priorities.

Hey, if you're going out there, by all means enjoy it. Joy to the world and all that. As someone whose livelihood depends in part on those stores advertising all those sales, I guess I will simply grin and bear it.

Call me a grinch, if you will. I just don't think you can find the meaning of the holidays standing in line outside a store at 3 a.m.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Reason for thanks at airport

As we head out over the hills and through the dales to grandma’s house, those using Philadelphia International Airport will have a new reason for thanks.

Actually, they’ll have 720 of them.

That’s how many new parking spots will become available in the airport’s economy lot. That brings the total number of parking spots in the economy lot to 6,753. And if you’re hung up on numbers, the airport now has 18,700 parking spaces available.

Of course, that’s not the number that’s on most Delaware County residents’ minds when it comes to the airport.

Their minds seemed locked on 3,000. That’s the altitude many planes will be at as they veer out over Delaware County, as opposed to hovering over the Delaware River, under the airport redesign plan being pushed by the Federal Aviation Administration.

To say it’s not a popular plan is to say the Eagles are a long shot to beat the Patriots Sunday night.

Delaware County hates this plan. It was one of the lead issues in the recent County Council race. The county has already gone to court to file a lawsuit to block the plan. One of their arguments is that the FAA did not take into account some of the environmental fallout from the plan, including the effect on the nearby John Heinz Wildlife Refuge. Another is that it’s flat-out unsafe to have flights going out at those altitudes over densely populated areas of the county.

It is also believed the plan will have a deleterious effect on property values, while making a huge swath of the county something akin to Tinicum when it comes to the noise of jumbo jets overhead.

And, if that’s not enough, the county believes the plan simply will not do what the feds claim it will do, that is make a dent in the persistent problem of flight delays at the airport.

Which is likely to be front and center in most travelers’ minds as we begin the mad dash that is the busiest travel holiday of the year.

To that end we will hear this afternoon from Rep. Joe Sestak, D-7, of Edgmont. He has been a partner with the GOP pwers in the county in the battle against the airport redesign plan. Sestak has been banking his efforts in getting the Government Accountability Office to review the way the FAA went about devising their recommended course of action.
Sestak and another Democrat, South Jersey’s Rob Andrews, are holding a press conference this afternoon to update their efforts to fight the plan.

Just in time for holiday travel. Gobble, gobble!

Monday, November 19, 2007

The Daily Numbers -- Nov. 19

The Daily Numbers: 13 cents, that’s how much more we’re paying for gas in the last two weeks.

3.09 that’s the national average for regular unleaded gasoline. Not exactly a reason for thanks.

82 cents a gallon, that’s how much more we’re paying for gas this year than last Thanksgiving.

80 percent of those traveling this Thanksgiving holiday who tell AAA they will get there in their car.

16,000 serious runners who converged on Philadelphia yesterday for the 14th annual Philadelphia Marathon.

4 killed in 3 separate shooting incidents in Philadelphia in still another violent weekend. One of those killed was from Upper Darby. The 23-year-old was shot in a parking lot at Front and Chestnut streets about 2 a.m. Sunday.

106 years of Catholic worship that came to an end this weekend with the closing of Most Blessed Sacrament Church in Southwest Philadelphia.

1 suspected robber shot when he confronted police as he exited a Rite Aid store in Northeast Philadelphia Sunday night. He pointed a shotgun at police, who fired on him.

6 inches of snow reported in some areas near Alentown and the Poconos. We’re just getting rain.

1 million dollars, what a judge in Chester County ordered a suspected child molester to pay the young girl he repeatedly abused.

4 prostitutes found slain outside Atlantic City one year ago. No one has been charged in the killings.

5 wins and 5 losses for the Eagles after they posted an ugly victory against the Dolphins Sunday.

3 consecutive years that Donovan McNabb has gone down with an injury in mid-November.

148 yards rushing for Brian Westbrook on 32 carries yesterday. Talk about putting a team on your back.

3 completions for Donovan McNabb before he went out with an injury. He also completed two passes to the Dolphins. They’re called interceptions.

Call me a Phanatic: A look at the ups and downs of being a Philadelphia sports fan.
As we expected, the Eagles are now 5-5. And on the horizon are those New England Patriots. They happen to be 10-0, fresh off their latest victim, a 52-10 annihilation of Buffalo. The Birds will try to avoid becoming roadkill on national TV Sunday night. Don’t bet on it.

I Don’t Get It: Why do people get such glee out of white flakes falling from the sky. I don’t go to school anymore. I’m not a teacher, or a TV weathercaster. I hate winter. That includes snow.

Today’s Upper: Kudos to Rebecca A. Brubaker of Kimberton. She’s a 2006 grad of Swarthmore College, and yesterday she was named a Rhodes Scholar

Quote Box: "We want to be proactive, considering that we are on the waterway with the fourth-largest petroleum port nearby."
-- Chester Police Capt. Joseph Bail, on the new boat city police will use to patrol the city’s waterfront.

One group is thankful

I know that there is at least one group of people who are thankful as we enter this holiday week.

Those would be the TV weather folks.

If you have not heard by now (and I guess maybe that’s possible if you lived on another planet), they got some snow yesterday in Allentown and the Poconos.

Stop the presses.

I haven’t seen such glee since the last time someone got handed one of those oversized checks for umpteen million dollars after hitting a record lottery jackpot.

What you don’t realize is that the TV folks have done just that. They’ve struck gold. We call it weather. They see it as ratings.

That is why, I believe, the mysterious "northern and western suburbs" now include places like Allentown and the Poconos.

That is why TV stations now have Lehigh Valley bureaus. Because it happens to snow there.

Imagine that. Snow in the Poconos. Who’d a thunk it?

Around here, it rained most of the day yesterday and into this morning’s Monday commute. That doesn’t mean the roads are not a mess.

The roads slow to a crawl around here in the summer when it’s raining.
That won’t stop the TV folks from breathlessly telling us all about the conditions about two hours north of here. You know, in the northern and western suburbs.

OK, maybe they got a few flurries in Pottstown. And yes, there might have been a few slick spots on the Pennsylvania Turnpike.

They actually are saying that some places up near Allentown might get as much as 5 inches of snow out of this storm.

Some schools are seeing a two-hour delay; one is even closed for the day.
But not here. At least not unless the northern and western suburbs, which I always thought was where Delaware County was located, somehow got transported to the Poconos.

Who knows, maybe it did. I’ll have to check the TV headlines.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

The dreaded Saturday pick

Yes, fans, it is once again Saturday, and time for the dreaded weekly Eagles pick.

A confession here. The Eagles actually surprised me last week by showing some backbone and rallying to beat the Redskins.

This week they get a bye. Actually, they play the Dolphins, which has been pretty much the same thing for most teams. The Dolphins are winless. They're getting Ricky Williams back, but he's not playing this week. You might want to look for him at some of those tailgates with a distintictive aroma wafting in the air.

The Eagles win this game and they're back to .500 and can puff out their chests for a week and talk about how "They're back" before facing the Patriots on national TV next Sunday night.

This one should be easy. The Eagles don't do anything easy.

They'll win ugly. Make it 23-16.

That puts them all even at .500 with a date at Gilette Stadium. It wil be the defining moment of their season.

I don't think it will be pretty. Enjoy this week while you can.

Friday, November 16, 2007

The Daily Numbers -- Nov. 16

The Daily Numbers: 150,000 bucks, that’s how much police believe a carjack ring is selling stolen SUVs ripped off here for in other countries.

3 suspects, all with ties to Sierra Leone, in custody in connection with a carjacking in Haverford in which a woman fended them off to protect her 7-year-old daughter, who was still in the car.

2 charges against former Penn-Delco School Board President Keith Crego that were dropped yesterday. He waived his preliminary hearing on the more serious charges of bribery and forgery.

640,000 dollars in premiums, that the Penn-Delco board is considering suing to get back after it got roped into a costly split-dollar life insurance policy for district employees.

13 years behind bars, and counting, for jailed lawyer H. Beatty Chadwick. He’s in the slammer on a contempt of court rap for refusing to disclose the whereabouts of what is believed to be a small fortune. He’s in a nasty divorce fight. Now a Delco judge has rejected his plea for a furlough to spend Thanksgiving with his family.

3.2 billion dollars for education, that’s how much state Rep. Nick Micozzie says his ‘Successful Schools Bill’ would raise for schools.

1 percent hike in the income tax, what Micozzie’s bill would amount to for most residents, in exchange for a break in property taxes.

2 people killed in a grinding multi-car crash that closed Route 202 South in the Chesterbrook area Thursday afternoon.

1 person killed in a hit-run accident overnight in New Castle County, Del.

6,500 members of the Philadelphia Police Force who have a new leader. Mayor-elect Michael Nutter has selected Charles Ramsey, the former top cop in Washington, D.C., and Chicago for the job.

2 people critically injured in the latest incidence of gunfire on Philly streets. It happened at 52nd and Jefferson streets. Ramsey has his work cut out for him.

2 Penn State football players who will not be making the trip to Michigan State this weekend. They’ve been charged with assault in connection with an on-campus fight a few weeks ago.

1 loss at home for the Flyers, who suffered their first setback of the season at the Wachovia Center last night in a shootout against the Rangers.

0 losses this year for Ridley, which puts its perfect record on the line in the PIAA AAAA football playoffs tonight against Glen Mills.

275 million bucks, what Alex Rodriguez is getting in his new deal with the Yankees.

Call me a Phanatic: A look at the ups and downs of being a Philadelphia sports fan.
The Eagles will be looking at a rookie QB getting his first start in the NFL Sunday when they tangle with the Dolphins. It says here John Beck will be thoroughly befuddled by Jim Johnson’s defensive schemes. Maybe the Eagles can finally get a few turnovers. Don’t look for next week’s foe to be equally confused. That would be the Patriots’ Tom Brady.

I Don’t Get It: Each year, after each sports season, we select an All-Delco team of outstanding high school athletes. And each year I get calls from disgruntled parents who believe their offspring got ripped off by not making the team. And they’re not bashful about bashing some of those selected ahead of their kids. I don’t get it.

Today’s Upper: President Bush says he’s taking steps to make sure the Friendly Skies are just that for the Thanksgiving travel crunch. Hey, it can’t hurt.

Quote Box: "If you are a female, and drive one of these vehicles, you must be aware of your surroundings."
-- Delco D.A. Mike Green, offering a warning in the wake of a series of carjacking incidents in which women have been confronted for their high-end SUVs.

Don't meet me in St. Louis

All eyes in the local soccer world this morning will turn to Washington, D.C.

Yeah, only a smartass would follow that with some snippy comment like: Sure, both of them.

Actually, there’s a ton of soccer zealots in the Delaware County region.

On Sunday, we are going to introduce you to some of them in our print edition. We are planning to take a long look at the Sons of Ben, the local group of soccer fanatics who have been pushing for a Major League Soccer franchise for the Philadelphia region. It’s part of a package we’re preparing on the hoopla surrounding the possible move by Major League Soccer into the Philadelphia market.

A big group of them is headed for Washington, D.C., this weekend for what amounts to their Super Bowl. It’s the MLS Cup title game being played at RFK Stadium Sunday afternoon.

Actually, they expected to have two reasons to party.

This morning MLS Commisioner Don Garber will deliver what amounts to his "state of the league" address. For several weeks it was expected that he would announce this morning that indeed the league would be putting an expansion team in Philadelphia. That team would play its games at a stadium to be built in Chester.

The word now is that won’t happen. At least not this morning. We’ll still be monitoring Garber’s speech. And we’ll let you know what, if anything, he has to say about the league’s next expansion team.
Earlier this week the league awarded a franchise to Seattle that will begin play in 2009.

Now everyone is wondering who will be the 16th team in the league. It looks like Philly/Chester is in a kickoff with a big push from a group in St. Louis.

Even if No. 16 goes to the city under the Gateway Arch, that does not mean we’re out of the running. Two more franchises are expected to join the league in the near future.

No one is quite what sure what Garber is going to say.

But there’s a lot of guys wearing scarfs who call themselves Sons of Ben who will be huddled around computers waiting for those words to dribble out of Garber’s mouth.

They might be disappointed. At this point, hearing nothing might be preferable to hearing this: Major League Soccer takes great pride in awarding its 16th franchise to …… St. Louis.

Oh, the indignities of being a Philly fan. Even when it comes to soccer, it seems like we’re always getting kicked around.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Danger on the Main Line

Used to be people moved to the suburbs to escape crime.

Not it follows them out to their tony new digs.

Don’t believe me? Talks to the folks in Haverford. That is sometimes referred to as the Main Line.

But it’s been the scene of some very un-upscale activity recently.

Last Thursday a man who just arrived home at about 10 at night answers a knock on his door. A woman is asking for help with her car. The Good Samaritan goes outside, where he is confronted by several thugs.

They take him back in the house, where he is assaulted and tied up. They ransack the house and then flee.

Then consider what happened to a mother yesterday in the middle of the afternoon. You can read the full story by Rose Quinn by clicking here.
She was leaving the day care facility on Belfield Avenue where she works when she was approached by several males asking her for information on employment.

It quickly went downhill from there. They took out a gun and demanded her car. She begged them to allow her to get her 7-year-old daughter, who was in the back seat.

Amazingly, the woman managed to fend off her attackers when she grabbed the gun. But they fled in her car.

Eventually they were apprehended in Southwest Philly after a confrontation and shootout with police.

Now an army of city and suburban cops, along with the FBI, are hoping the arrests of three suspects can break a carjacking ring that they believe is connected to as many as 30 incidents.

In many of them police believe women were followed from the city to their suburban homes, where they were confronted, sometimes at gunpoint, and their luxury cars ripped off.

It’s becoming more and more dangerous out there each day. And it’s not just limited to the city.

Even the vaunted Main Line is now a target, perhaps for exactly the status items such as the luxury SUVs that so many of us use to get around.

The lesson? Be careful out there.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

The Daily Numbers -- Nov. 14

The Daily Numbers: 2 Philadelphia police officers shot last night in Northeast Philadlephia. Both were treated and released at the hospital.

16, age of suspect who authorities said fired out of a window when the two undercover officers tried to serve a warrant.

5 Philadelphia police officers shot in less than 3 months, including Officer Chuck Cassidy, who was killed when he walked in on a robbery at a West Oak Lane Dunkin Donuts.

10.6 billion dollars, the amount that has been wagered in the year since the first Pennsylvania slots parlor opened its doors.

2.87 billion dollars, amount wagered at Harrah’s Chester Casino and Racetrack, where the slots have only been tinkling since January.

245.9 million dollars, Harrah’s gross revenue after paying out the winners at its Chester gambling mecca.

20 million dollars, the amount a group of investors is seeking from the state to be put into their proposal to build a stadium in Chester to lure a Major League Soccer franchise. The county already is kicking in $30 million, which by the way will come from some of that booty raked in at Harrah’s, not from taxpayers.

6 hours, how long a man held authorities at bay outside the Showboat Casino in Atlantic City overnight. The casino was evacuated for most of the night.

75 million taxpayers who apparently had a fee slapped on their tax returns when they filed electronically. Now a class-action lawsuit is seeking to have those fees refunded.

3 children rescued from their burning home in Wilmington when a quick-thinking sibling rousted them at 4 in the morning.

3 people shot overnight in the Ogontz section of Philadelphia. One person is believed to have died.

7 Pa. House Democratic staffers who are out of jobs today, part of the fallout into a grand jury probe into secret legislative bonuses.

2 cents more, what we’re paying for gasoline today. The Philly average for regular unleaded is now $3.07.

20,900 dollars, that’s what the war in Iraq is costing every U.S. family of four, according to a new Democratic report.

2 wins against five losses for the Sixers, who fell again last night in Dallas. Looks another winter of discontent for pro hoops fans.

Call me a Phanatic: A look at the ups and downs of being a Philadelphia sports fan.
It’s very easy for us as sports fans to spend someone else’s money. Still, it’s hard to sit here and listen to the Phils talk about how they’re likely not going to sign players like Aaron Roward and Kyle Lohse. Just once I’d like to see a team step up, spend what it takes and proclaim confidently: We’re looking to win now!

I Don’t Get It: SEPTA, which provides transit in a region that is under a scourge of gun violence and where no less than five police officers have been shot in recent months, is under fire for an advertising campaign adorning some of its buses. What are the ads for? A new movie. Called "Hitman." I don’t get it.

Today’s Upper: Who says kids don’t do anything good and when they do it’s ignored in the newspaper. Check out the Back Page of today’s paper, where we are kicking off the latest in our All-Delco selections. Look for outstanding examples of our young people all week.

Quote Box: "The study is supposed to give an objective idea of what it should cost so kids can perform to state standards."
-- Lawrence Feinberg, Haverford School Board member, on a new statewide costing-out education study to be unveiled today.

A pretty safe bet

If you build it, they will come.

And they likely will empty their pockets when they get there.

If you are building casinos, that is.

Pennsylvania is now one year into its grand slot-machine experiment. And the one-armed bandits are living up to their reputation.

As of Monday, more than $10.6 billion was wagered at the six slots palaces in operation in Pennsylvania. That comes to about $880 for every person in the state.

Gamblers came out on the losing end to the tune of $913 million.

Of course, Delaware County has a pretty big dog in this hunt.
Harrah’s Chester Casino and Racetrack is part of the economic revival taking root on the city’s waterfront. It has not been open quite as long as some of the other operations, but the numbers it has posted since throwing open the doors last January are equally impressive.

Since they opened their doors on Jan. 22, a cool $2.87 billion has been wagered at Harrah’s. It’s become a destination spot. People are driving into Chester for a night of entertainment.

What I am astounded by is just how much money is changing hands. Take this, for example. After paying off winners, Harrah’s gross revenue comes to $245.9 million.

It’s that chunk of money that is being divvied up between the casino and state for a variety of projects.

Yes, it’s hard to remember that the root of all this interest in gambling was supposed to be tax relief.

The verdict is in on the casinos. People will come. And they will drop their last quarter into the slots.

What is still unknown is how the tax benefits will eventually trickle down to home owners who have long been salivating for property tax relief.

Some of the money also is expected to make its way into development projects. Delaware County wants to use some of the slots money to help fund a proposed soccer stadium not far from Harrah’s in hopes of luring a Major League Soccer franchise to Chester.

Is there a down side to gambling? Sure there is. Is there a social cost that we likely will not face for years? Undoubtedly.

But it doesn’t change the fact that people are going to gamble. And they are going to find a place to do it legally. For too long Pennsylvania watched as its residents drove over nearly every border in search of gambling entertainment.

Now that money is staying here. In fact, just the opposite is happening. Residents from other states are now coming here to scratch their gambling itch.

And neighboring states are now looking enviously at the numbers being posted by Pennsylvania.

The danger now is to see gambling as a cure-all for every fiscal dilemma facing the state. Already there is talk of table games being bandied about in Harrisburg.

One thing has been proven by Pennsylvania’s foray into slot-machine gambling. People are going to wager. That’s a pretty safe bet.
And Pennsylvania is about to hit the jackpot when it comes to distributing all that booty into much-needed tax relief and economic development. Now they need to follow up and make sure they deliver on that promise.

Let the good times roll.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

The Daily Numbers -- Nov. 13

The Daily Numbers: 1 new franchise announced today by Major League Soccer. Unfortunately, that one is in Seattle. The decision on a franchise in Chester has been delayed.

3 Delaware County school districts that have reached new deals with their teachers. Tentative deals have now been struck in Chichester, Haverford and Chester Upland.

2 workers at the Houlihan’s restaurant in Christiana Mall that police say were stabbed by a co-worker last night. They’re hospitalized; he’s under arrest.

3 robberies of Drexel University students now believed to be the work of a 17-year-old. He’s believed to be part of a group of six teens involved in six such robberies that have been terrorizing students.

1 percent dip in prices for home prices in the city of Philadelphia. It’s the first decline in five years.

10,000 reward being offered for information in the murder of an oil company service man who was slain while making a call near Temple University last week.

150 people, including students and adults, believed involved in a huge brawl that broke out at a high school in Lakewood, N.J..

1 employee at Commerce Bank who is believed to have given out customer information, sparking concerns about possible ID theft. The bank believes only a small amount of its one million customers would be affected.

3 cents higher, that’s where gas prices went over the weekend. The Philly area average for gas is now $3.05. That’s still 4 cents below the state average and 5 cents below national levels.

6 wins on Wachovia Center ice for the Flyers this year. They’re unbeaten at home.

8 times Brian Westbrook has scored both a rushing and receiving touchdown in his sterling Eagles career.

4 touchdowns for the Eagles in just 16 minutes, including 20 unanswered points against the Redskins.

1 week, likely how long it will be before Simon Gagne can return to the Flyers’ lineup as he battles concussion symptoms.

1 goal in each period last night for the Flyers, as they beat the Isles, 3-2.

Call me a Phanatic: A look at the ups and downs of being a Philadelphia sports fan.
All aboard. Yep, the faithful are climbing back on board the Eagles bandwagon. A win over the Deadskins and Miami at home this week does wonders for fans. Call me after the Patriots game the following week.

I Don’t Get It: This Internet thing is more laden with problems than we imagined. It turns out the kid who went on a shooting spree in Finland last week had exchanged e-mails with the teen who was plotting a "Columbine" style attack on Plymouth-Whitemarsh High School. What do you think they were chatting about? The weather?

Today’s Upper: Wilmington is becoming the latest town to take a look at the style of young men to wear their pants around their knees, exposing their underwear and who knows what else. Is it the most pressing problem we face? No. Is it the right thing to do? It says here it can’t hurt.

Quote Box: "That was never cut in stone. That was just speculation. We’re pretty much on schedule to be the 16th team."
-- Charlie Kopp, spokesperson for investor group looking to bring pro soccer team to Chester, on likely delay in announcement awarding the city a franchise.

They're partying in Seattle

Hey, look on the bright side. At least we’re having Seattle weather.
But while we’re grumbling as we dodge the raindrops on the way to work, they’re having a party in Seattle.

Last night their NFL team shut out the 49ers on Monday Night Football. And today they are set to embrace the newest franchise in Major League Soccer.

The Seattle Sounders will be owned by Hollywood executive Joe Roth. They will become the 15th team in the league.

Of course, we expected some big news around here this week as well. We thought team No. 16 was going to be awarded to the Philadelphia area. The team is going to play its home games at a stadium to be constructed on the Chester waterfront.

It still might. But it doesn’t look like it’s going to be announced as expected this week.

The investors, headed by New York finance honcho Jay Sugarman, Swarthmore businessman James Nevels, Wilmington developers Christopher and Robert Buccini and David Pollin, are in line.

Delaware County is set to throw a cool $30 million into the $150 million project, so what’s the holdup?

Well, as with most things in Pennsylvania, you can turn to Harrisburg. The developers are looking for the state to kick in a chunk of money, but that hasn’t happened yet.

Now it looks like the expected announcement on Friday, during the league president’s "state of the league" address, is not going to happen. The announcement might not come until the end of the year.

But everyone believes it’s still going to happen.

Stay tuned. Whoever thought soccer could be such a kick?

Monday, November 12, 2007

The Daily Numbers -- Nov. 12

The Daily Numbers: 2 new franchises that were expected to be announced this week by Major League Soccer. One is going to Seattle. The other was expected to be in Chester. That announcement now has been delayed.

115 million dollars, what the project is worth that will build a stadium along the Chester waterfront to be the new home for the soccer franchise.

30 million dollars, amount Delaware County is ready to invest in the project.

2 brothers and veterans who were remembered yesterday during a re-enactment of a Civil War burial at Darby Methodist Meeting Cemetery.

2:30 a.m., that’s when a dance broke up on the campus of Villanova University early Sunday, and several scuffles escalated into gunshots. No one was injured and police continue to investigate.

6 hours, how long the Widener campus in Chester was locked down after a threatening note was discovered on Friday.

1 person killed and another 5 injured in a nasty crash on Route 896 in Delaware Sunday morning.

7 hours, how long the Schuylkill Expressway was closed westbound near the King of Prussia Mall Sunday afternoon when a tractor-trailer flipped over.

3.18 minutes, that’s how much time has been shaved off the average flight delay at Philadelphia International Airport in the last couple years.

3 more homicides in Philadelphia tied to a series of shootings over the weekend. One person was arrested.

3 touchdown passes for Donovan McNabb yesterday in the Birds’ come-from-behind win over the Redskins.

57 yards Westbrook scampered through the Redskins after taking in a screen pass from McNabb in what is easily the highlight of the season so far.

0 wins for the Dolphins, who come to the Linc next Sunday.

0 losses for the Patriots, who will host the Eagles in 2 weeks in a Sunday night game in New England.

Call me a Phanatic: A look at the ups and downs of being a Philadelphia sports fan.
This Eagles team continues to bore me. Maybe I’m getting old, but I continue to sit inside and wonder why I am wasting another gorgeous Sunday afternoon watching this dreck the team is offering its fans.

I Don’t Get It: What’s going on with our colleges? Friday a threatening note shut down Widener. Early Sunday morning gunshots rang out on the Villanova campus.

Today’s Upper: A huge thumb’s up to all those taking part in today’s huge Veterans Day Parade in Media.

Quote Box: "The Civil War defined us as a nation. Before the Civil War, people referred to the United States in plural terms. We became one nation after that."

-- Kevin Gavin, on the re-enactment held at a Collingdale cemetery Sunday for two Civil War brothers.

A kick in the pants

I spent a lot of time this weekend thinking about Washington, D.C.
No, I wasn’t preoccupied with Congress or President Bush.

I had more important things on my mind. Like sports, of course.

In case you were not aware of it, the eyes of the world’s sports community are about to turn to Washington, D.C. They won’t be trying to figure out how the Eagles managed to escape with a win.

Instead, they will be focused on RFK Stadium, where Major League Soccer will hold its MLS Cup this coming weekend. It amounts to the Super Bowl of the professional soccer world.

World is the key word here. The game continues to be much bigger around the globe than it is here at home in the United States. A huge group from this area, headed by a group of soccer fanatics who call themselves the Sons of Ben, will be headed to D.C. for the occasion.

It was thought that they would be celebrating two things this weekend. First would be the MLS Cup, but maybe even more important was the expected announcement that one of two new franchises would be awarded to the Philadelphia region.

That team is expected to make its home at a new stadium to be built in Chester.

But the announcement isn’t going to happen, at least not this week. The league will announce one of their two new franchises is going to Seattle. But the announcement on the second team has been delayed.

That’s apparently because the group of investors backing the Chester project, which already has received a commitment for some $30 million for the project from Delaware County, is still waiting to hear if the state is going to get on board.

So the project is in a holding pattern. Most believe this is merely a delay, not the death knell for Chester getting a MLS franchise.

If they don’t get the franchise, it’s very unlikely that the stadium project would go forward. The $115 million, 20,000-seat stadium would be built in the shadow of the Commodore Barry Bridge. It would be the latest jewel in what has been an impressive economic renaissance along the city’s waterfront. The project would create 1,000 construction jobs, and an additional 360 full-time jobs once it’s in operation.

The franchise in Seattle will be the league’s 15th club, and is expected to begin play in 2008. The MLS wants to have 16 clubs in operation by 2010. That 16th club could be the Chester franchise.

But that timetable may now be up in the air.

Of course, I couldn’t let the opportunity pass without mentioning the other big sports event held in D.C. over the weekend.
How ’bout dem Iggles?

Yes, I managed to get another prediction wrong. Actually, I thought I might have it just about on the money for the second week in a row (I picked them to lose, 19-13).

But then Brian Westbrook did what he seems to do each year, put the team on his back and single-handedly salvage a season. Remember the punt return against the Giants a few years back? Then the big win against Tampa Bay? Yesterday he was a show all to himself as he took a screen pass from Donovan McNabb and weaved his way through the Redskins’ defense to put the Birds on top.

Everyone will point to this game, and the fact that the Dolphins come to town next week, as evidence the season can be salvaged. Not me.
I still think this team lacks talent. They won yesterday because the Redskins did everything but put a pretty bow on the package.

McNabb still is frighteningly erratic for a veteran starting QB in the NFL.
Talk to me in two weeks, when the Birds face the Patriots in another prime-time Sunday night matchup. They win that game I’ll believe again. Hell, if they stay within 20 points of the Pats, I might be converted.

As it is, I don’t think this team is going anywhere.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

The Dreaded Eagles Pick

Yes, it is once again Saturday, and time for the dreaded Eagles pick.

I hate to admit that I saw last week's prime-time meltdown against the hated Cowboys coming. Bottom line, this team is not that good, something I have been harping on since the summer.

By the way, I suddenly hear a distinct loss of memory by all those who were braying about how this edition of the Birds was going to roll off 11, 12 or 13 wins on the way to still another NFC East title.

Tomorrow they truck down I-95 for another encounter with the Redskins, who have already dealt the Birds a loss at the Linc earlier this year.

This one will look like an instant replay. The Eagles will struggle on offense, make just enough mistakes on defense, and Andy Reid wil continue to talk about how close the Eagles are to turning it around.

In reality the only thing this team is close to is making tee times in some warm climate come January, when most fans, their teeth chattering as they stare at a pile of post-holiday bills and massive heating and gas prices, wonder where the playoffs went.

Make this one Redskins 19, Eagles 13.

But hey, how 'bout that Brad Lidge? How many days until Clearwater?

Friday, November 9, 2007

The Daily Numbers -- Nov. 9

The Daily Numbers: 2 young girls bludgeoned to death in their South Jersey home last night. Their half-brother is in custody.

13 years, that’s how long attorney H. Beatty Chadwick has sat behind bars on civil contempt charges in a bitter dispute with his ex-wife over money. That’s a U.S. record that he breaks every day he sits in Delaware County Prison. He’s hoping, once again, to be granted a holiday furlough.

40 guns, including handguns, rifles and grenades, found inside a home on State Road in Upper Darby. Two men face charges

20 years in the slammer, that’s the minimum sentence Gov. Ed Rendell wants to see enacted for anyone who shoots at a police officer.

3 people wounded after gunfire erupted Thursday night in South Philadelphia. Three young men were outside a house on Sigel Street when someone opened fire on them.

3,000 turkeys being sought by Philabundance to provide a Thanksgiving holiday dinner for the needy. For information on how you can help, log on to

205 acres of land in Bucks County being bought by the feds for a cemetery for veterans. The price tag is $10.5 million.

1,780 acres of land in Montgomery County that will not be developed, at least not right now. It’s currently the site of Graterford Prison.

100 million dollars given by an anonymous donor to the Erie Community Foundation. The money will be distributed among 46 local charities.

1 cent, that’s the increase overnight in the price of gasoline. Average in the Philly region is now $3.02 a gallon. That’s 13 cents higher than a week ago.

8 game road trip that ended last night for Flyers as it almost always does in New Jersey, with a 4-1 loss to the Devils.

10,000 people expected to jam into Phil Marion Field tonight to see Ridley battle Interboro in the PIAA AAAA football playoffs.

5 of his last 18 save opportunities that were blown by Brad Lidge, acquired by the Phils from the Astros.

2 million dollars in base pay, what the Eagles are paying under-achieving defensive end Darren Howard this season.

Call me a Phanatic: A look at the ups and downs of being a Philadelphia sports fan.
I hate to see the Phils lose another local kid, with Archbishop Carroll standout and 2002 Daily Times Player of the Year Matt Costanzo going to the Astros in the deal for closer Brad Lidge. But if it means solidifying the Phils’ leaky bullpen, and getting another big arm (Brett Myers) back in the starting lineup, I’ll live with it.

I Don’t Get It: Santa is arriving at Montgomery Mall this weekend. Two weeks before Thanksgiving. I don’t get it.

Today’s Upper: To the students and staff at Upper Darby High School, who this week dedicated a plaque to remember those who gave their life in service to the country in various wars.

Quote Box: "God forbid if there was a fire in the house. There were guns all over the house and a makeshift shooting range in the basement."

-- Upper Darby Police Superintendent Mike Chitwood, after officers found a small arsenal inside a home on State Road.

About that mandate

An anonymous poster is taking issue with my stance on the county elections.

That's one of the things I like most about this blog thing. Yes, I have an opinion. We all do. It's kind of like something else we all have. Enough said about that.

On Wednesday morning, tas the sun rose after another Election Day, I wrote in this space that the Republicans had basically cleaned the Democrats' clocks, at least on the county level. They took all three County Council seats up for grabs, as well as two seats on the Court of Common Please bench.

And the results weren't especially close.

In fact, if my addled memory serves me correct, I specifically said "How Sweep it is" for Delco Republicans.

Not enough, at least for Mr. Anonymous.

He (or she, how sexist of me) chided me and the staff at the "Daily Landau" and urged us to "drop your arrogant and smug attitude towards the voters of Delaware County."

Apparently what really got under the poster's skin was my talking about the notion of whether it is a good thing that one party so totally controls the courthouse.

The poster informed me that was indeed what this election was about and urged me to run a headline declaring it a "mandate."

Not exactly. Unless you consider the voice of one-third of the voters a mandate. That doesn't mean the results would not have been exactly the same if 100 percent of the voters had made it to the polls. Maybe it would have been. Then, indeed, it would have been a mandate.

As it stands, I'll stand by what I wrote, that Republicans cruised to easy wins by comfy margins in all the county races.

But take a look at what happened in Ridley Park. There four Democrats were elected to borough council even while the borough was going solidly Republican in the county races.

Dems also made gains in Sharon Hill. And in Marple, they took control of the township board of commissioners for the firt time in 25 years. Did the people of Marple issue a mandate of their own? Maybe.

I'm guessing all of this is rooted in the high-profile campaign run by Landau, who decided to take up a scorched-earth policy in terms of confronting the Republicans. There's no doubt he got their attention, and got under their skin.

Many of his events were covered in this newspaper. I don't happen to think that makes us the "Daily Landau." Yes, we did endorse him for council. We also endorsed two Republicans.

Yesterday, my anonymous friend posted another response. Inquired when he was going to see his "Mandate."

Here it is. At the county level, Republicans got a mandate from the 30 percent of voters who cast ballots on Tuesday.

GOP rules; editor drools (at the thought of ever thinking anyone would believe he actually tries to be fair and balanced in coverage.)

Don't be shy. If you disagree, post a response. That's the whole idea behind this blog thing. I have something to say, but I know the readers do as well. Post a comment. Join the dialog. Get involved!

Now it 's on to the weekend.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

The Daily Numbers -- Nov. 8

The Daily Numbers: 2 children in the U.S. who have been sickened after ingesting Aqua Dots, a toy made in China. Millions of the toys have now been recalled.

83 percent of voters who went to polls in Philadelphia who threw their support to Democrat Michael Nutter.

345 homicides so far this year in Philadelphia. Anyone not think crime needs to be Job 1 for Nutter?

42, age of oil service worker who became the city’s latest murder victim when he was gunned down Wednesday while making a call in North Philadelphia.

3 gunmen being sought after a man was critically wounded in a shooting inside a grocery store in Olney Wednesday night.

1 person killed, at least 7 injured, including several firefighters, when fire roared through an apartment complex in Norristown overnight.

120 stores set to lure shoppers at the new Philadelphia Premium Outlets, which opens today. It’s not in Philly though. It’s off Route 422 in Limerick, Montgomery County.

1 the number of women who have served as district attorney in Montgomery County. Risa Ferman became the first when she won at the polls Tuesday. She will succeed Bruce Castor, who won election as a county commissioner.

2 billion dollar casino being planned as the newest addition to the Atlantic City skyline. Revel Entertainment Group is building the new gambling mecca.

652 million dollars, what Nasdaq is going to spend to acquire the Philadelphia Stock Exchange.

39 billion dollar loss reported in the second quarter by General Motors. It’s the second-largest quarterly loss in U.S. history.

14 people claiming sexual abuse by archdiocesan priests who will not be able to pursue damages by claiming violations of RICOH statutes.

2 Democrats elected to the state Supreme Court. Judges Seamus McCaffery and Debra Todd will join the high court.

14 cents, that’s how much more we’re spending for gasoline, just in the last week, according to AAA.

9,317 the paid attendance for last night’s Sixers game at the Wachovia Center. It looked like a lot fewer people were actually in the seats.

5 player deal that sees the Phillies get a closer, Brad Lidge from the Astros. They gave up Michael Bourne, Geogg Geary and minor league third baseman Matt Costanzo to get him.

Call me a Phanatic: A look at the ups and downs of being a Philadelphia sports fan.
If the elections are over, it must be time to talk Phillies. Kudos to GM Pat Gillick for pulling the trigger on a deal and bringing a new closer. Acquiring Brad Lidge from the Astros puts Brett Myers back in the starting rotation and gives the team a 1-2 punch of Myers and Cole Hamel. When do we head for Clearwater?

I Don’t Get It: Think it’s about time companies start reconsidering the merits of saving money by moving manufacturing operations to China? Hello, any toy makers out there? Merry Christmas, indeed.

Today’s Upper: Kudos to all our Vietnam Vets on the 25th anniversary of the dedication of the Vietnam Wall in Washington, D.C.

Quote Box: "We’ll just have to work a little harder in those areas."

-- Delco GOP boss Tom Judge, talking about a couple of towns where Dems made inroads in Tuesday’s election.

Toy Story

Anyone remember when toys used to mean fun? Didn’t think so.

Now every time you hear the word "toy" you wait for inevitable word that follows it: Recall.

Now it’s happening again, just in time for the holiday shopping season.
But this one almost defies belief. And, of course, it involves a popular toy that is manufactured in China.

Seven weeks before Christmas, authorities yesterday announced they were pulling millions of something called "Aqua Dots," toy beads that can be arranged into designs or fused together when wet.

They are manufactured at a plant in Shenzen in the Chinese province of Guangdong.

Here’s the kicker. As you might expect, young kids have a propensity for putting things in their mouths. That includes Aqua Dots. That would be bad enough. What happens then is kind of hard to believe.

Authorities believe the Chinese manufacturers used a chemical coating on the beads. When the beads are ingested, the chemical converts into gamma hydroxy butyrate. If that sounds familiar, it should. And not for a good reason. That is GHB, otherwise known as the date-rape drug. It can cause serious illness when ingested, especially in young kids.

Already two kids have been sickened after putting the beads in their mouths.

It is just the latest in what seems like a procession of problems with toys, food and drugs that are manufactured in China.

And it might just provide the best reason ever to look for that "Made in America" tag when you’re out doing your Christmas shopping.


Michael Nutter is the mayor-elect in Philadelphia. He received an overwhelming 83 percent of the vote. That’s about the same margin who believe the city is no longer safe.

It seems emblematic of the city’s overriding problem that his election was overshadowed by the funeral services for a slain Philadelphia police officer.

It should be Job 1 for Nutter. If people no longer feel safe when visiting the city, that’s a problem for the entire region.

When Officer Chuck Cassidy was gunned down when he walked into a robbery at a West Oak Lane Dunkin Donuts, he became the third officer shot in a matter of days. It also came hours after another young tough, one with Delaware County roots, was sentenced to life without parole for the fatal shooting of another city officer.

There have been 345 homicides in the city so far this year.

Yesterday an oil company worker was murdered while making a service call in North Philadelphia. A man was critically wounded in an Olney grocery store.

Today Nutter is expected to make his first major policy announcement. We hope it’s about crime, about making the city safe, about easing fears of anyone thinking about paying a visit to our neighbor to the east.

Upon being elected Nutter said something that at one time would have gone without thinking. He said people have a right not to get shot.

You would think so. But people are starting to have their doubts.
That needs to be the first thing he tackles as the city’s new boss.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Some things don't change

How Sweep it is! At least if you’re a Republican in Delaware County.

The powerful county GOP has taken its lumps in the last few elections. They watched as the county backed the Democratic standard-bearer in the last four presidential elections.

And they got on board as the Ed Rendell juggernaut, backed by some serious GOP defections in the Philly suburbs, captured the governor’s mansion in Harrisburg.

Then last year came the TKO, a stunning defeat for 10-term incumbent Republican Congressman Curt Weldon. Delco Republicans took a standing 8 count.

They looked wobbly, wounded. And the Dems moved in.

But what they discovered Tuesday is that a wounded animal is very dangerous. Delco Republicans took a page out of the Flyers book and decided to "come back with a vengeance."

They crushed their Democratic opposition in every county-wide race.
One thing the GOP could always count on, even as their mighty edge in registration slipped, even as several towns went Democratic, even as the popular Weldon fell on his shield, was that they could always count on controlling the County Courthouse.

Some things don’t change.

For months Democrat David Landau, sensing for the first time in more than two decades the possibility of a Democrat being elected to County Council, made his "Case Against the Courthouse."

On Tuesday the jury returned its verdict. Attorney Landau – and Delco’s Democrats – lost again.

Republicans Christine Fizzano Cannon, Andy Lewis and Tom McGarrigle swamped their Dem counterparts Landau, John Innelli and Ann O’Keefe.

It wasn’t particularly close. Fizzano Cannon got almost 59,000 votes. McGarrigle was next with more than 56,000, Lewis collected a little better than 55,000.

Landau did win something. He was the top Dem vote-getter with 41,926, all according to unofficial returns.

The Democratic candidates for the other two county-wide jobs up for grabs, a couple of seats on the Court of Common Pleas bench, didn’t fare any better.

Frank Daly and Mike Farrell got clocked by longtime District Judge Greg Mallon and current County Council member Mary Alice Brennan.
Democrats offered no opposition to District Attorney Mike Green.

The courthouse remains firmly in the grip of the Delco GOP. Whether or not that’s a good thing is something that can be debated. What can’t be is that the people – at least the embarrassingly small percentage who bothered to go to the polls – have spoken.

And they rejected Landau’s argument.

I pretty much predicted that one yesterday. But I was wrong about one thing. Brennan was not the county’s top vote-getter. Fizzano Cannon was.

Congratulations to the GOP.

Now Democrats must mull a new strategy to do something they haven’t done since 1980, get a Democrat seated on Delaware County Council.

Good luck. They’ll need it.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

The Daily Numbers -- Nov. 6

The Daily Numbers: 6 days after Philadelphia Police Officer Chuck Cassidy was gunned down after walking into a robbery at a Dunkin Donuts, the suspect was arrested in Miami, Fla.

3 seats up for grabs today on the Delaware County Council.

6 candidates in the running, three Republicans and three Democrats.

1980, the last time a Democrat served on County Council, when the Home Rule Charter was adopted and mandated minority party representation went out the window.

2 seats on the state Supreme Court and 3 seats on the state Superior Court on the ballot today.

2 men, including one from Chester, now being sought in connection with the murder of a suspected drug dealer in Delaware. This is also believed to be connected to the murder of two Delaware women in Chester.

5,000 dollar reward being offered in Delaware as they unveil a new program to crack down on local dog-fighting operations.

1 dollar, amount stolen by a man who broke into a Delaware church during Sunday services, He’s now jailed on $14,000 bail. He could get 3 years in jail.

11, age of girl among a trio believed responsible in a series of thefts in South Jersey. They went from one job to the next in a stolen car.

1 million dollars, amount feared stolen by employees of the state Finance Department in Delaware. Officials are now investigating the missing money.

79 percent of flights at Philadelphia International Airport that arrived on time in September. That puts it in 23rd place among the nation’s 32 largest airports.

134,800 dollars, the amount of fire company funds believed used for his own business by a Bucks County fire company treasurer.

2.2 million dollars used for promotional items by the state’s student loan agency over the last five years.

0 goals for the Flyers last night, as they fell to the Rangers at Madison Square Garden.

4 shutouts in his last 8 games for Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist.

5 TD passes in the first half for Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger in the Steelers’ Monday night win against the Ravens. That’s a good month for the Eagles.

Call me a Phanatic: A look at the ups and downs of being a Philadelphia sports fan.
Let me see if I have this right. Pat Gillick says he is not going to address third base. Yes, pitching should be the focus, but is he serious about going into next year with the platoon of Wes Helms and Greg Dobbs? When will our misery end?

I Don’t Get It: It’s now official. I heard it on TV this morning. There’s a chance of some wet snow mixed in with the rain on Friday. Head for the hills. Winter approaches.

Today’s Upper: They dedicated a monument to the emergency responders who lost their lives on 9/11 yesterday at the National Emergency Training Center in Emmitsburg, Md.

Quote Box: "It’s a right and I was taught that if you didn’t vote, you didn’t have a right to complain."
-- Dot Sexton, of Morton, on why she’ll be at the polls today.

Delco goes to polls

The so-called "case against the courthouse" ends today.

It’s election day. The candidates can stop flapping their gums. And voters can being exercising their franchise.

Unfortunately only one in five will bother to do so. Oh, wait a minute. It’s raining out this morning. Make that one in six, or seven.

That, probably every bit as much as the seemingly endless wave of violence that is sweeping out society, is our national shame.

In Delaware County, three seats on the County Council are up for grabs, as well as two seats on the county Court of Common Pleas.

These are important jobs. And it’s not as if the campaign, as it too often has in the past, has been conducted in almost total anonymity.
Democrat David Landau has made sure of that.

Landau, a longtime Nether Providence fixture, has been in the face of the powerful GOP for months, railing against one-party rule and what he calls a system of patronage and party politics that is rampant in the County Courthouse.

Now the voters will decide between Landau, along with his running mates John Innelli and Ann O’Keefe, and the Republican ticket, Andrew Lewis, Christine Fizzano Cannon and Tom McGarrigle.

This newspaper has endorsed Fizzano Cannon, Lewis and Landau.
But there’s something else I would like to say, after meeting and interviewing all six candidates. I hope McGarrigle wins.

Why? That’s easy. Tom McGarrigle probably better represents the average person in this county than anyone I can remember running for office in recent years. He’s not a lawyer. Nor a high-dollar businessman.

He runs his own business, a service station, as he has for years. And he’s not without his warts. He freely admits he’s had some tax problems in the past when the economy soured and his business was in danger. He also points out he’s paid back every penny he owes.

In short, if you asked me who I’d like to sit down and watch an Eagles game with, the answer would be easy: Tom McGarrigle.

Does that necessarily make him the best person to sit on County Council? Maybe not. Then again, neither does haranguing the powers that be with your "case against the courthouse."

Democrats have not elected anyone to County Council since the Home Rule Charter was changed in 1980.

Here’s a prediction. They won’t this year either. Yes, it will be a lot closer than it normally is, and there will be some nervous moments at GOP headquarters tonight, wondering if their recent stunning setbacks (anyone remember Curt Weldon?) will continue.

But tomorrow morning the front page of the newspaper will carry a headline of "GOP Sweep."

Oh, and one other thing. Mary Alice Brennan, the current county council member seeking a seat on the county bench, will be the county’s top vote-getter.

Bet the house on it. But not with a bookie. You might end up in front of Judge Brennan for a whole different reason.

Monday, November 5, 2007

The Daily Numbers -- Nov. 5

The Daily Numbers: 21 age of suspect still being sought in the murder of Philadelphia Officer Chuck Cassidy.

3 times the suspect known as John Lewis has been arrested in recent the last 3 years. They were for minor offenses and drug problems, nothing like the murder charge he’ll now face.

153,000 dollars, the amount of the reward now being posted for information leading to the arrest and conviction of a suspect in Cassidy’s execution inside a Dunkin Donuts store in West Oak Lane.

2 people killed when a small plane crashed shortly after it took off Sunday from Cormans Airport near Farmington, Del.

1 person killed when flames roared through a home in the Tioga section of Philadelphia early Sunday. Just blocks away, a woman was found shot in the head inside her home.

15 years in the slammer, what the former boss of the Independence Seaport Museum in Philadelphia was sentenced to for defrauding the museum out of more than $900,000

1 dollar a barrel, how much oil prices fell in Asian trading early today. It actually fell $1.13 to $94.80 a barrel. Don’t wait for that savings to show up at the pump.

1,500 jobs being credited to a boost in Philadelphia region tourism. Visitors spent more than $10 billion.

26.39 million visitors arrived in the five-county region in 2006.

8 feet high, size of mesh fence movie director M. Night Shyamalan has gotten the OK to erect around his property in Willistown Township to war off pesky deer that are feasting on his gardens.

1 in 5, number of voters expected to actually go to the polls in Delaware County tomorrow.

10 catches for Terrell Owens as the Cowboys throttled the Eagles in prime time last night.

10 catches for all the Eagles wide receivers, not including running backs and tight ends. No, they don’t miss T.O. at all.

6 points for Mongignor Bonner as they fell to Archbishop Ryan Sunday, 36-6.

2 seed for Ridley in the PIAA high school football playoffs. They’ll meet Interboro in the first round.

Call me a Phanatic: A look at the ups and downs of being a Philadelphia sports fan.
The time between now and the start of spring training is going to feel interminable. Maybe the Flyers make the playoffs. The Sixers are going nowhere. The Eagles are going to be right beside them. Wake me when we get to Clearwater.

I Don’t Get It: Can we stop talking about Andy Reid the father and start talking about Andy Reid the GM and coach. This team doesn’t have enough talent, and gets outcoached on a weekly basis.

Today’s Upper: One more day for the incessant political commercials. And all to get maybe 15-20 percent of those eligible out to the polls.

Quote Box: "In the situation we’re in, you just have to do whatever you have to do to get in the playoffs."
-- Eagles QB Donovan McNabb, after the Birds got whipped by the Cowboys Sunday night.

End of an era

I have just one word for you this morning.

Actually, It’s more like two letters.


Just as I feared, the Eagles got smoked last night in prime time, before a national TV audience.

And the guy wearing No. 81 had a field day. Or I guess it would be field night.

Terrell Owens caught 10 passes for 174 yards and a touchdown. He was, as he almost always is when he’s on the field, a difference-maker. A star. Something the Eagles have very little of these days.

Owens strikes fear into opponents. He’s someone you have to game-plan for. Think any defensive coordinators stay up at night trying to figure out how to stop Reggie Brown?

Of course, for one magical season, Owens made that kind of a difference here. That also happens to be the year the Eagles went to the Super Bowl. It also was Donovan McNabb’s best year as a pro.

The Eagles had something they only talk about now: Swagger.

They knew they were going to beat you. Their opponents knew they were going to beat them. They just didn’t know how.

A big part of that was Owens. He was something that could not be contained. He was a threat every time he took the field.

After the Super Bowl season, the unity between Owens and his teammates, his coaches, and front office gradually cracked. Owens was driven out of town.

The Eagles have not been the same team since.

Now they are something that couldn’t even be imagined when T.O. was lining up for the Eagles. They are mediocre. They are a yawn. They are an after-thought.

They play a plodding, boring style, even with an outstanding talent like Brian Westbrook in their lineup.

What’s missing is the sizzle, the show, the anticipation of what Owens might do.

This has nothing to do with Andy Reid’s kids. It has everything to do with Andy Reid the coach and general manager.

This team no longer has the talent that used to overwhelm inferior foes and put them on an even playing level with the league’s elite teams.

After watching the Patriots-Colts, then seeing the Cowboys dismantle the Birds, anyone think the Eagles belong in that lofty grouping?

They are the epitome of average.

Yep, T.O. doesn’t play here anymore.

Saturday, November 3, 2007

The dreaded Eagles pick

Yes, if it's once again Saturday, it's time for the dreaded weekly Eagles pick.

Take this for what it's worth. Plainly put, if I took this act to Vegas, I'd be wearing a barrel and sleeping on a park bench.

I stand 1-6. I pick them to win, the Birds promptly lose. I think they fall, Gang Green promptly puts one in the win column. Last week I picked the Birds to once again collapse, but the Vikings were even worse than I thought, allowing the Eagles to escape with another boring win.

That is the overriding emotion I am carrying about this season. I can never remember being as bored by an Eagles team as I am with this one. There's just no pizazz.

That should change Sunday night, with the arrival of the Cowboys, and, of course, a certain gentleman wearing No. 81.

You may remember that I happen to be of the opinion that one Terrell Owens is the best player -- period -- to ever wear an Eagles uniform. Yes, for that one Super Bowl season, I think Owens was that good. More importantly, he made the team --- including Donovan McNabb -- that good.

The Eagles no longer thought they would win. They knew they would. That, in essence, is the difference Owens made. And it's something the team has sorely lacked since the nasty breakup that saw T.O. banished.

Now it's prime time at the Linc. We turn the clocks back Saturday night. Too bad we can't turn the clocks back on this team. The Super Bowl is a distant memory.

This Eagles team just isn't that good.

The rest of the country, after watching the two best teams in the universe, the Pats and Colts, go at it for three hours, will then get a chance to see how dreadfully mediocre the Eagles are.

Yeah, I still bleed Eagles green. But Sunday night, the Eagles will just bleed, period.

Make it Cowboys 31, Eagles 13.

It might be time to start warming up Kevin Kolb.

Friday, November 2, 2007

The Daily Numbers -- Nov. 2

The Daily Numbers: 8 to 23 months for Britt Reid, son of Andy Reid, for his role in a road-rage incident in which he brandished a gun.

2 to 23 months for his older brother Garrett for his role in a crash in which he was under the influence. Both men also are now facing new drug allegations.

115,000 dollars, the amount of the reward now posted for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the gunman who shot and killed Philadelphia Officer Chuck Cassidy when he walked in on a robbery at a Dunkin Donuts.

12 million dollars in advertising planned by the Greater Philadelphia Tourism Marketing Corp. in an effort to change the city’s persistent blue-collar image.

2 cent spike in the price of gasoline. We’re now paying an average of $2.87 a gallon. Want some good news? That’s still 5 cents below the state average, and 4 cents below the national average.

2 sons in Newark, Del., and their father who are now charged in the baseball-bat beating of another teen. Just one more happy family.

0.29 the blood-alcohol level of a man charged in a hit-run accident in Bucks County that killed a 14-year-old boy. And that was taken three hours after the crash. It put the driver almost three times over the legal limit.

2.9 billion dollars up in smoke, sort of. That’s what Altria is paying to buy a local cigar company, John Middleton.

60 to 80 mph, what police believe a woman was doing in her SUV when she slammed into several cars and a state police cruiser on the shoulder of the Schuylkill Expressway several weeks ago. She now faces charges of driving under the influence.

10,000 dollars a year, what a bill now in front of Mayor John Street would pay in tax credits to businesses who hire ex-offenders.

195,000 dollars, what a consumer group wants Comcast to pay for every affected subscriber in the flap over interfering with file sharing.

5 million frozen pizzas being recalled by Totino’s and Jeno’s brands in still another fear over E. coli contamination.

3 losses in last 5 games for the Flyers, who are now struggling after their hot start.

5 goals they gave up last night in a loss in Montreal to the Canadiens.

3 to 2 win for the Springfield Volleyball team over Pennsbury, which puts them into the District 1 title game. They’ve already qualified for next week’s state PIAA tourney.

Call me a Phanatic: A look at the ups and downs of being a Philadelphia sports fan.
For some reason it doesn’t really feel like Dallas week. Maybe it’s the Reid family saga. Maybe it’s because the Eagles aren’t all that good. Maybe it’s because I think there’s a good chance the Birds get smoked on national TV. Maybe it’s all of the above.

I Don’t Get It: Andy Reid’s just going to walk out on that field Sunday night, in front of a national TV audience, like it’s another game? I don’t get it.

Today’s Upper: Kudos to all the Delco police officers we talked to yesterday in the wake of the fatal shooting of one of their brothers in Philadelphia. And for reminding us it’s something they face every day, on every call.

Quote Box: "I’m at the point in my life where I have already made the decision that I don’t want to die doing drugs."
-- Garrett Reid, eldest son of Eagles coach Andy Reid, in court yesterday for his sentencing.

A family in crisis

"A Drug Emporium."
That’s pretty strong language.

It wasn’t uttered by Upper Darby tough guy Mike Chitwood, describing the latest scumbag residence targeted in his war on drugs.

No, the comment was made by Montgomery County Judge Steven O’Neill. It was directed to Andy and Tammy Reid, as a way of describing their home. You’ve probably heard of Reid. His first name is usually preceded by his title, head coach of the Philadelphia Eagles.

But he wasn’t at practice yesterday. He was in a Montgomery County courtroom where his two sons were being sentenced for a couple of traffic incidents that involved drugs and in one son’s case, brandishing a weapon.

The picture of the Reid household that unfolded inside that courtroom is not pretty. It is startling. O’Neill referred to the Eagles’ first family as "a family in crisis."

O’Neill seemed genuinely taken aback, as just about everyone now is, at the conduct of Garrett and Britt Reid, two grown men still living under the roof of their parents.

He flatly questioned how the activity of their two eldest sons, clearly a longtime pattern of drug abuse and gun activity, could have gone so long without intervention by the parents.

O’Neill made it clear he also believed both Reid boys had been overmedicated much of their lives. Britt Reid, 22, who was in court to be sentenced for a road-rage incident in which he brandished a gun at another motorist, who happens to be from Delaware County, had been prescribed as many as five drugs at a time, including Valium, Prozac, Adderall as well as some anti-addiction medicines.

Britt Reid got eight to 23 months in jail. His older brother Garrett, 24, also received jail time, two to 23 months for a serious accident in which he blew through a stop sign and slammed into another car, seriously injuring the woman driver. He admitted being under the influence at the time, having used heroin earlier in the day.

For the first time, both Andy Reid and his wife, Tammy, were in court with their sons. They had no comment as they quickly left the courthouse, while their sons returned to jail.

The judge pretty much said it all. At one point, O’Neill made it clear he wasn’t sure if the Reid house is where the two sons should be once they have done their time.

Today Andy Reid likely will be back at the NovaCare Center.

This is a huge week for Eagles Nation. It is the biggest home game of the season. The Birds play the hated Cowboys, along with Terrell Owens, in a prime-time matchup Sunday night.

Andy Reid is expected to be on the sidelines.

But after hearing what transpired inside that Montgomery County courtroom Thursday, I’m left with only one question.


Thursday, November 1, 2007

The Daily Numbers -- Nov. 1

The Daily Numbers: 4 Philadelphia police officers who have now been shot in just over a month. And 3 just since Sunday.

3 children now wondering if their father, Officer Charles Cassidy, is going to survive after being shot when he walked in on a robbery at a Dunkin Donuts in East Oak Lane.

11 cents more, that’s what we’re paying for gasoline since Oct. 1.

2.85 the average price for gas now in the Philadelphia region. Prices have now increased 4 consecutive days.

95 dollars a barrel, where the price of crude oil is hovering. That’s an all-time high. Don’t expect prices at the pump to be coming down any time soon.

2 sons of Andy Reid expected in Montgomery County court this morning to be sentenced for incidents involving cars, guns and drugs.

50,000 reward posted for arrest and conviction of those responsible for the attack that resulted in the death of a Rowan University student in New Jersey.

4 Delaware teens who have been charged in a burglary spree that has been going on for months in the Magnolia area. They have specialized in computers, stereos, jewelry and iPods.

11 million dollars, what a fundamentalist Kansas church has been ordered to pay a father from York, Pa., after they protested at the funeral of his soldier son, who was killed in Iraq. The group believes the war deaths are God’s punishment for America’s tolerance of homosexuals.

121 miles per hour, the speed of a chase involving a police officer being tailed by state police near Bloomsburg, Pa. The suspect officer is now suspended without pay.

2,100 restaurants in Bucks County that will have their health code inspections displayed online.

1 loss for the Sixers, who dropped their opener last night against the Raptors. It won’t be the last.

1 goal for the Haverford girls as they fell in PIAA field hockey to Mount St. Joseph’s.

6 weeks since Brian Dawkins has been in the Eagles lineup. He’s expected to play Sunday against the Cowboys.

13 tackles last week for defensive end Trent Cole, who was named the NFC defensive player of the week.

Call me a Phanatic: A look at the ups and downs of being a Philadelphia sports fan.
0-1. Anyone care to place a wager on when the Sixers, who dropped their opener last night in Toronto, will see the .500 mark again?

I Don’t Get It: Gun restrictions? Stop and frisk? It’s time to do something to quell the violence on Philly streets. I just don’t get it.

Today’s Upper: Kudos to the memory of young Sharon Hill firefighter Michael Reagan, who was killed while fighting a garage blaze last month. County Council this week added his name to the plaque in the courthouse honoring fallen firefighters.

Quote Box: "There is a criminal element in this city and around the country that have completely lost any respect for authority."

-- Philadelphia Mayor John Street, after still another police officer was shot yesterday.

Mean streets indeed

There’s a word for what happened inside a Dunkin Donuts store in the East Oak Lane section of Philadelphia yesterday.


Veteran Police Officer Charles Cassidy, the married father of three, never had a chance. He walked into a robbery in progress. And was gunned down seconds later, never having an opportunity to go for his weapon. He is now clinging to life in the hospital.

It is eerily similar to what happened to Officer Gary Skerski. Much like Cassidy, Skerski entered a bar during a holdup back in May 2006. He paid for it with his life, when the robber opened fire on him without warning at close range, striking him in the throat.

Ironically, the gunman in that case, a former Darby Township resident named Solomon Montgomery, was in court Tuesday to be sentenced. He told Skerski’s family he was sorry. He’ll have the rest of his life behind bars to think about it.

A few hours after Montomery was sentenced, still another officer was shot in the ankle during a confrontation in the city.

In total, there have now been four Philadelphia police officers shot in just over a month. Officers have been fired on 29 times so far this year, as the homicide rate in the city soared over 300.

This isn’t Philadelphia, and it sure isn’t the City of Brotherly Love. This is the Wild, Wild West.

It seems like it’s open season on cops. And it seems like every disagreement, no matter how minor, is now decided with a gun.

The city, in fact the entire region, is now simply shaking its head, wondering who will be next and what can be done to stop this mindless violence.

One place to look would be Harrisburg, where legislators have consistently turned a deaf ear to every effort to get a grip on the avalanche of guns that has poured into the city.

The fact is, no one is safe in the city. Not citizens, nor the police officers who take a vow to protect them.

And guns are a big reason for it. Yes, I believe people have a right to own a gun. But I also think the 2nd Amendment was never intended to protect the kind of insanity playing out every day on our streets.

The time has come. Enough is enough.
Is anyone in Harrisburg listening?
No doubt Andy Reid today will be hip-deep in preparation for Sunday night’s prime-time matchup with the Cowboys.

I’m guessing he will not be at the Mongtomery County Courthouse.
But his two sons will be.

Both Britt and Garrett Reid are due to be sentenced for incidents involving cars and drugs last January. Both have had problems since then. And both have spent the last few days in prison after straying even after entering pleas on the initial charges.

The incident involving Britt Reid involved a road-rage incident in which police said he brandished a gun at another motorist after some kind of confrontation.

That other driver happened to be from Springfield. He’s expected to tell his side in court today before Britt Reid is sentenced.

We’ll let you know what he has to say.