Tuesday, June 30, 2009

The Daily Numbers - June 30

The Daily Numbers: 3.3 million dollars in his war chest as Joe Sestak mulls a run against Arlen Specter Dem primary. Specter has $6.7 million stashed.
70,000 dollars in 7 days, how much Sestak was hoping to raise leading up to today’s financial reporting deadline.
2 luxury SUVs ripped off from the lot at YBH Audi on West Chester Pike in Edgmont.
297 teachers awaiting fact-finder’s report in Interboro as their contract with the district expires today.
100,000 dollars, how much the Delaware County Community Foundation needs to raise for its Sunshine Lady Fund in order to get a matching 100 grand from a fund run by the wife of financier Warren Buffet.
1 person shot in the parking lot of the train station in Claymont, Del., last night.
7 straight years Pennsylvania has failed to put a budget in place as of the July 1 deadline. Doesn’t look like this year is going to be any different.
4 contracts with city workers’ unions that expire at midnight in Philadelphia. None of the unions has indicated as yet whether it will strike.
1 day in jail for a Main Line elementary school teacher from Wallingford who was convicted of possessing child porn.
1 Montgomery County father charged with murder in the shooting death of his son during an argument in their Horsham home.
1.67 billion dollar award for Centocor against Abbott Laboratories in a patent-infringement case.
5 Philadelphia police officers left injured after three different crashes
4 kilos of cocaine and $100,000 in cash found in the apartment of a woman who was gunned down execution style, along with her companion, in an upscale Northern Liberties complex.
12, age of child struck and killed by a tractor-trailer in the Mayfair section of Philly yesterday.
85,000 Pennsylvania adults who would qualify for government-subsidized health care under a plan approved by the state House yesterday.
25,000 Pennsylvanians who are facing the prospect of seeing their unemployment compensation run out in mid-July.
80,000 dollars believed ripped off from the Atlantis Inn hotel in Rehoboth Beach. The former manager faces charges.
1,000 people who showed up to protest the firing of the superintendent in the Owen J. Roberts School District last night.
5 minute standing ovation for that Super, Myra Forrest 39, age of teacher in Delaware who now faces charges of having a sexual relationship with a student.
29 billion dollar budget – including tax hikes – approved in New Jersey yesterday.
.254 on-base percentage for a struggling Jimmy Rollins, who will return to the lineup tonight in Atlanta.
4 year contract for Eagles draft pick running pick LeSean McCoy.
1 draft pick still be signed by the Birds. That would be top pick wide receiver Jeremy Maclin.
Call me a Phanatic: A look at the ups and downs of being a Philadelphia sports fan.Looks like the Eagles will have all their key parts on hand when they go camp in late July. Their only unsigned draft pick is No. 1 choice Jeremy Maclin. Still to be determined is whether star running back Brian Westbrook will be on hand.
I Don’t Get It: Bernard Madoff’s wife gets to keep almost $3 million dollars while her husband’s victims are picking up the financial pieces of the nightmare his Ponzi scheme he left them in. How does that work?
Today’s Upper: The Delaware County Community Foundation is looking to raise $100,000 so it can receive a matching $100,000 grant for its Sunshine Lady Fund, which benefits those who find themselves in dire circumstances.
Quote Box: “People like conversions, but they are also skeptical and will want to know why he did what he did.”
- U.S. Rep. Joe Sestak, talking about the switch of Arlen Specter to Democratic Party.

All signs 'go' for Joe

All signs continue to be “go” for Joe.

That would be Congressman Joe Sestak. He wants to add a new title. That would be U.S. Senator.

Standing in his way is longtime Sen. Arlen Specter. That comes as a surprise to a lot of party leaders who were thrilled when Specter saw the writing on the wall that his days in D.C. as a Republican were numbered. He simply switched parties – and was welcomed with open arms by Democratic leaders, including Gov. Ed Rendell, Vice President Joe Biden and even President Barack Obama.

Sestak’s not on that list, and it doesn’t exactly come as a surprise to those who know him.

Sestak hasn’t been enamored with the way party leaders welcomed Specter, and what he thinks is the heavy-handed way they shoved his “coronation”
down the rank-and-file’s throat.

All that’s left now is a formal announcement. Sestak is playing coy with that one. But it seems like each day, another drip comes out of the Sestak faucet that says he’s running.

A recent e-mail to contributors tells of Sestak asking his father if he should run, and his dad answering in the affirmative.

He also apparently has the blessing of his wife to take on Specter in what will be a grueling, statewide battle. Sestak had indicated a few weeks ago that he wanted to sit down with his family and talk about their plans before signing off on a decision to run.

That now appears done. Sestak says he will also talk it over with his 8-year-old daughter, a brain cancer survivor.

Sestak faces an uphill battle, but not an impossible one.

He had to be boosted by new polling last week indicating a dip in Specter’s favorable ratings.

Sestak’s biggest challenge is his lack of name recognition outside the Philly suburbs and the 7th Congressional District. Walk down the street of any town west of West Chester and ask who Joe Sestak is and you’ll likely get a blank stare. Which I suppose says something when we’re agog over the antics of Jon and Kate Gosselin, the troubled marriage at the heart of the reality TV show, “John & Kate Plus Eight.”

There’s one sure cure for a lack of name awareness. Money. And Sestak is furiously raising lots of it.

This one could get very interesting.

Now about that announcement, Mr. Sestak……

Budget blues in Harrisburg

It’s the last day of June, do you know where your new state budget is?

That gives you something in common with our representatives in Harrisburg.

State law mandates that Pennsylvania new fiscal plan be in place on July 1. Barring a miracle, that’s not going to happen. Instead, for the seventh straight year, not coincidentally each year of Gov. Ed Rendell’s reign, the state’s budget talks will go into overtime.

This is a battle that pits the governor vs. Senate Republicans, including Sen. Dominic Pileggi, R-9, of Chester. Whatever Rendell wants to do will fly in the House, where Democrats hold a majority. That’s not the case in the Senate, which has already passed a budget measure of their own, one that holds the line on spending and taxes.

Buffeted by a historic economic downturn, the state is looking at a $3 billion budget shortfall. With no other alternative, Rendell wants a temporary three year hike of a half percent in the state’s personal income tax.

Pileggi and Republicans in the Senate say that’s exactly the wrong thing to do when so many people are already struggling to pay their bills.

So here we sit. To be decided are the fate of state workers, funding for schools, and spending on health care.

None of it is going to likely to happen anytime soon. Don’t cancel those July 4th barbecues. This thing is almost guaranteed to drag into next week, if not beyond.

Technically, the state loses the ability to spend money tomorrow unless they have a budget in place. They could pass a stopgap measure, but no one seems terribly inclined to do so.

Tens of thousands of state employees likely will get only partial paychecks on July 17 and 24. After that they may not get paid at all.

Legislators aren’t as lucky. They get paid at the beginning of the month. That won’t happen without a budget in place.

This is old hat in Harrisburg. For the rest of us, it’s just old. The rest of the civilized world deals with budgets every day, at home, at work, at school.

It’s only in the state Capitol where this seems to be a novel idea. The state deserves better. Don’t hold your breath waiting for it to happen anytime soon.

Sending a message to Rollins

Now batting leadoff and playing shortstop for the Phillies … yeah, the MVP guy.

Jimmy Rollins will be back in his familiar perch at the top of the Phillies batting order, and in the middle of the infield tonight in Atlanta. He’s been out of the lineup for the last four games, getting a rest Manager Charlie Manuel hopes will shake him out of the doldrums he’s been in this season.

Simply put, Rollins has been anything but MVP material. Incredibly, he’s still second in the NL All-Star voting, trailing only the Marlins’
Hanley Ramirez. At least he’s still not leading the shortstop voting.
Having him start in the Midsummer Classic would be just embarrassing, both for Rollins and for baseball.

That’s not the Phillies problem right now. What is vexing them is just what is behind Rollins steep decline. The perennial All-Star and one-time MVP is hitting just .211 for the season. His on-base percentage is a paltry .254. Instead of the guy who makes the Phillies engine go, he’s been a faulty spark plug, a big reason behind the Phils’ recent struggles.

Maybe more troubling is that this isn’t just a slump. It’s a trend, And a most troubling one for the Phils. Since he was named National League MVP 19 months ago, Rollins numbers have paled. He’s hit just .254 in 205 regular season games. He didn’t exactly light things up in the playoffs last year either, hitting .237 as the Phils captured a World Series title.

One thing he has going for him is that the Phils are on the road tonight in Atlanta as Rollins returns to the lineup and tries to scratch his way out of his funk. He won’t be hearing from the fans if he strikes out, or boots a ground ball.

The Phillies need him to be the straw that stirs their drink at the top of their lineup. It’s pretty simple, when Rollins is on base and scoring runs, the Phils win.

But that means he needs to get on. That means working the count, drawing walks, laying down an occasional bunt, being patient. Those are not the hallmarks of the free-swinging Rollins.

That needs to change. Either by Rollins’ will – or the Phillies’.

Monday, June 29, 2009

The Daily Numbers - June 29

The Daily Numbers: 5 Delco school districts that are raising taxes as they move to pass budgets before the end of the month.
2.37 percent millage increase in Garnet Valley.
3.92 percent tax increase in Chichester.
4.1 percent hike in Marple Newtown.
4.37 percent increase in Wiliam Penn.
3.39 percent hike in Penn-Delco.
4 Philly police officers injured in 2 separate traffic incidents. In one a man charged with DUI slammed into 2 officers in an SUV. One of the officers remains in critical condition.
2 people found shot to death execution-style in a new upscale apartment complex in Northern Liberties section of Philly.
3 people killed, 5 hurt in 3 different crashes in New Castle County, Del., over the weekend.
23, age of victim who was shot to death during some kind of confrontation in the parking lot of a shopping center in Newark, Del.
5, age of child believed abducted in Delaware. Police believe the boy is in the custody of his father.
2 percent dip in travel expected this Fourth of July holiday because of the rising cost of gas, according to AAA.
24, age of Wilmington woman who was killed in an early-morning crash today. Police believe two cars were racing at the time. She was a passenger in a car that went out of control on I-495.
50, age of TV pitchman Billy Mays, who was found dead in his home on Sunday.
15 percent of teens who responded to a survey who believe they will die young.
50 percent of Philadelphia working-age residents who do not have the basic reading and arithmetic skills to fill the majority of jobs, according to a new study.
380,000 pounds of ground beef that is being recalled by JBS Swift Beef Co., of Greeley, Colo., in another e-coli scare.
2 out of 3 for the Phils over the weekend in Toronto. They now head for Atlanta for a series with the Braves.
6 wins and 12 losses for the Phils in interleague play.
10 straight plate appearances in which Jayson Werth safely reached base over the weekend.
Call me a Phanatic: A look at the ups and downs of being a Philadelphia sports fan.It says here the Phils don’t repeat unless they can manage to get Jimmy Rollins going again at the top of their lineup, or find someone to fill the leadoff role.
I Don’t Get It: Just what we need as we head into the July 4th holiday weekend, a big recall of ground beef. Hold the burgers, folks.
Today’s Upper: Ponzi scammer Bernard Madoff is due in a New York courtroom to be sentenced for the massive Ponzi scheme he ran that swindled so many out of their life savings. Prosecutors want him to spend the rest of his days behind bars. Sounds just to us.
Quote Box: “Once the stimulus money expires we needth cover those expenses with state tax revenue.”
- Sen. Dominic Pileggi, R-9, of Chester, on the looming state budget impasse.

Justice for Bernie Madoff

The King of Pop is gone. Unfortunately, the king of the Ponzi scam is still around.

Bernard Madoff will be sentenced today in a New York courtroom. But not before he – and the judge – hears from some of the people whose lives he ruined with his financial schemes.

Madoff swindled untold numbers of people out of their life savings.
Here’s hoping the judge sees the correlation, and keeps him behind bars for the rest of his life.

Of baseball and radio

I have written many times about my favorite summer pastime, listening to the Phillies on the radio out on my porch on a steamy, humid night.

Just me, the lightning bugs and the Phils, with the rest of the family safely ensconced inside in the air-conditioning wondering if I had suffered heat stroke.

Turns out I’m not the only one with a love of baseball on the radio. The Inquirer’s Frank Fitzpatrick wrote a piece in the Sunday paper about the unique connection between baseball and radio and used some comments I had e-mailed him after the death of Harry Kalas, including some things I wrote both in print and on my blog.

Here’s a link to his column.

Time for Rollins to heat up

The Phillies welcomed closer Brad Lidge back this weekend. Lidge got the save yesterday as the Phils managed to do something they have not done since the beginning of June. That would be actually win a series. The Phils beat the Blue Jays, 5-4, taking two of three in Toronto.

Now it’s Jimmy Rollins’ turn. The one-time MVP shortstop who has been struggling horrendously this year found himself on the bench for the weekend in Toronto. Rollins is not hitting, and not getting on base. Not a good combination for a leadoff guy.

Manager Charlie Manuel says Rollins will be back in his familiar spot Tuesday night when the Phils open a series in Atlanta.

They can only hope that Rollins heats up in Hot-lanta. His numbers are scary. He’s hitting just .211 for the season and his on-base percentage is not much better. That’s a killer at the top of your lineup.

Rollins is the guy who makes the Phillies go. Over the last two seasons the team is 70-22 when he scores.

His replacement, Eric Bruntlett, didn’t exactly light it up in his spot.
Bruntlett went 1-for-15 in the last four games.

The Phils need a productive Rollins at the top of their lineup if they want to repeat as World Series champs. Of they need to find a new leadoff man.

That process starts Tuesday night in Atlanta.

Future now for Flyers

It has been a long time since anyone wearing orange and black was seen circling the ice holding hockey’s Holy Grail – the Stanley Cup.

The Flyers won back-to-back Cups in ‘73-’74 and ‘74-75. They have a rich heritage. But they don’t have a title in the last 34 years.

We have seen any number of prospects come and go. Two of the latest group include Joffrey Lupul and Luca Sbisa. They were thought to be two of the building blocks that could return the Flyers to the winner’s circle. Not anymore.

For the Flyers, the future – which included Lupul and Sbisa – is now.

Paul Holmgren wants to win now. That’s why he pulled the trigger on the deal that sent these two young stars, along with two future first-round picks, to the Anaheim Ducks for bruising All-Star defenseman Chris Pronger.

Pronger is believed to be exactly the physical presence the Flyers needed in front of new goalie Ray Emery. Specifically, he will be called on to keep superstars such as the Pens’ Sidney Crosby and Yevgeni Malkin, as well as the Caps’ Alexander Ovechkin from getting too comfy in front of the net.

He’s also 34 years old, with a contract that expires next year.

Make no doubt. This isn’t about building, or the future. This is about now.

Holmgren wants to win a Stanley Cup now. He thinks Pronger is the final piece of the puzzle that will allow the Flyers to do that.

You have to give him credit for that. Too often sports franchises build for a future that never arrives.

Holmgren’s move makes it clear: The Flyers’ future is now.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Rest in peace, Faith

Maybe now Faith Sinclair can rest in peace.

But for her family and friends, there remains a gaping hole where once there was an ebullient young girl, full of life and promise.

At least now they know the man responsible for that hole in their lives, that emptiness that once was filled by Faith, will not be able to do that to another famiy.

Lemuel Payne stood in a Delaware County courtroom yesterday and admitted what most already believed. He was behind the wheel of the car that struck and killed Faith Sinclair last summer as she tried to cross Chester Pike in Sharon Hill.

Worse, Payne did not stop. Instead, he fled the scene, leaving Faith to die in the arms of her friends.

It is ironic that the victim in this horrific case was named Faith. In a way, it's perfect.

It was Faith, both the spirit of her daughter, and a deep religious faith, that got her mother thruogh a period of grief that has yet to end. It never does for someone who loses a hcild.

In court yesterday, Kim Ferrell, uttered two simple words amid the tears as Payne admitted his guilt.

"Thank God," she said.

Her faith never wavered during this ordeal.

Her Faith never did, either.

Rest in peace, Faith.

Friday, June 19, 2009

The Daily Numbers - June 19

The Daily Numbers: 4 hours of deliberations last night without a verdict in the case of Ramir Steve, on trial for the murder of Upper Darby cabbie Greg Cunningham.
5 mile run on tap tonight in Media. It’s one of the highlights of the summer in the county seat.
11 straight days of rain. The record is 12. Looks like the sun if finally returning this morning. Don’t put those umbrellas away. Showers are in the forecast for the weekend.
41-35 lead for Joe Sestak in a Senate matchup with Republican Pat Toomey, according to a new Rasmussen poll. Of course Sestak has to win the nomination first.
50-39 lead for Arlen Specter over Toomey in the same race.
53 percent favorable rating for Specter with voters. Sestak checks in with a 42 percent rating.
46 million dollar Powerball prize claimed yesterday by a Montgomery County woman.
17,700 more jobs lost in Pennsylvania in May, bringing the state jobless rate to 8.2 percent.
2.72 a gallon, what we’re paying for gas after prices jumped still one more penny overnight Thursday.
5 businesses in West Philly that have been targeted by an armed robber who is toting an Uzi.
6-1 ruling by Commonwealth Court that knocked down several gun laws in the city of Philadelphia. The court ruled only the state has the authority to regulate gun sales.
1,000 Philadelphia city workers who rallied outside City Hall Thursday night as their contracts are about to expire and the city braces for a possible strike.
3 swine flu deaths in New Jersey after a 10-year-old boy became the latest victim to succumb.
500 jobs being axed by Exelon, the parent company of Peco Energy Co. Most of the jobs are in Illinois.
7 runs scored by the Phils yesterday. Not enough. They fell to the Blue Jays, 8-7.
3 straight losses to the Jays, who swept the series.
13 wins and 19 losses for the Phils at Citizens Bank Park.
12,000 to 15,000 dollars a month, what the mother of his child is asking from Sixers star Andre Iguodala.
2 straight Hart Trophies as the NHL MVP for Capitals star Alex Ovechkin.
Call me a Phanatic: A look at the ups and downs of being a Philadelphia sports fan.Rod Barajas? Rod Barajas? The former Phil stuck the knife in his old teammates yesterday with a homer in the ninth, answering the boos that rained down on him.
I Don’t Get It: Can someone please tell Jon & Kate their 15 minutes are up. The reality stars of something called “Jon & Kate Plus 8” are supposed to be making a “major announcement” on the show on Monday. I don’t get it. Nor do I care.
Today’s Upper: Some serious kudos to the DeCaros, Bill and Marie, of Springfield. They are celebrating a milestone today, 80 years of wedded bliss. Both also turned 100 this year. Our hat’s off to them.
Quote Box: “I do think experience matters to some degree. Someone once said that to then-state legislator President Obama, and look what he’s done.”
- U.S. Rep. Joe Sestak, addressing county Dems Wednesday night.

The McCusker Affair

I have met Dr. William McCusker several times. I always ask him the same
question: “How are we treating you?”

His response is always to extend a hand to shake mine and offer a warm smile. “Oh, fine,” he always replies.

I bring this up for a couple of reasons.

McCusker is president of Cardinal O’Hara High School. There is a fairly vocal contingent out there who believe that this newspaper for some reason has it in for O’Hara.

They say we never miss an opportunity to take a shot at the dominant parochial high school in the county. Sure to always come up is the case of disgraced former NBA referee Tim Donaghy, who recently was released from jail in connection with a betting scandal.

Donaghy is an O’Hara grad, as were a couple of his cronies. That’s how they get referenced in the newspaper. For us, that is part of what makes the Donaghy case an important local story. He grew up here and went to Cardinal O’Hara.

Some people point out that we never mention the high schools of other stars who run afoul of the law. They sometimes point to the Michael Vick case as an example. “Where did he go to high school?” they wonder. My reply? I have no idea. But I can tell you this. He did not go to high school in Delaware County. That is what makes it a local story for us.

Of course, this week McCusker has been in the news for another reason.

His picture appeared on the front page after he was picked up by Springfield police on suspicion of drunken driving after he allegedly struck a parked car.

I have had several conversations with readers who disagreed with that decision, who believe we once again are simply piling on O’Hara, delighting in another negative portrayal of the school. I have had some callers who go so far as to intimate that we are anti-Catholic in our news coverage. I always get a chuckle out of that one.

On the McCusker story that appears online, readers can post comments, and there have been no shortage of them.

McCusker is getting beat up pretty good in the cyberworld. Don’t look for me to join in.

Instead I was most impressed with the way McCusker handled the incident.
It’s not unusual for people in very public positions such as McCusker to clam up, deny everything or simply send media requests to their lawyer when something like this occurs.

McCusker didn’t do that.

Instead, he told reporters how profoundly “embarrassed and ashamed” he was at what happened. He said of the incident, “this gets me deep in my soul.”

It seems everyone has an opinion of what happened to McCusker. Every person who has some kind of grudge against him or O’Hara is delighting in his arrest.

I think I just might have even more respect for him now than I did before.

It doesn’t take much for most of us to imagine ourselves in McCusker’s shoes.

Now I suppose everyone is waiting for the next shoe to drop, to hear what kind of action – if any – the archdiocese will take against McCusker. Many out there are calling for his head, for him to lose his job.

Not me. Should he be punished? Sure. My guess is the public humiliation he is now enduring is about the worst punishment he could get.

Do I think he should lose his job? No.

Dr. Richard McCusker is a good man who did a bad thing. A stupid thing.

I don’t know what would be gained by removing him from his post.
Instead, why not let this be an opportunity for kids to learn a real-life lesson. That our actions have repercussions.

Dr. William McCusker likely now can tell kids exactly how much is at stake when you make a bad decision.

At the same time, he can also show them something else. That your true character is sometimes revealed at the very worst of times.

Specter vs. Sestak, Round 1

As heavyweight bouts go, this one was not exactly Ali vs. Frazier.

But then again this was only Round 1.

Sen. Arlen Specter and Rep. Joe Sestak were in the same room last night, just not at the same time.

Both appeared before county Democrats meeting in Marple.

Specter recently bolted the Republican Party when he realized he likely was going to be shown the door by conservative former congressman Pat Toomey.

Sestak has all but announced that he will challenge Specter in the Democratic Primary, upset that state and national party leaders are trying to shove Specter down the throat of the party’s rank-and-file.

No knockdowns were scored last night, unless you count the fact that Sestak received a standing ovation when he entered the room about 45 minutes after Specter left.

For his part, Specter pointed out that no one ever anointed him as the candidate and he never asked for any kind of guarantee that he would not have a primary foe.

Apparently, Sestak is going to see to that. About the only question left is when Sestak will make his formal announcement.

It’s about that time the gloves could come off in this heavyweight bout.

Take the money and run

I hate to say I told you so, but I told you so.

Things are getting serious out in Harrisburg. The fine folks who represent us are trying to come to grips with a $3.2 billion budget shortfall.

Gov. Ed Rendell is asking for a temporary, three-year hike in the state personal income tax of a half-percentage point.

Yesterday he also was asked about new legislation introduced in both the House and Senate that would give the green light to expanding gambling in the state’s casinos to include table games.

Rendell said that while he remains opposed to it, if per chance a bill to that extent was placed on his desk he would sign it. I imagine he had to try pretty hard not to wink at the reporter as he told of his opposition to this plan.

I said earlier this week that you could pretty much bet on table games being added to the mix in Pa.

Nothing has happened to change my mind. Bet on it.

Or, as they say in Harrisburg, take the money and run.

The McCusker affair

I have met Dr. William McCusker several times. I always ask him the same
question: “How are we treating you?”

His response is always to extend a hand to shake mine and offer a warm smile. “Oh, fine,” he always replies.

I bring this up for a couple of reasons.

McCusker is president of Cardinal O’Hara High School. There is a fairly vocal contingent out there who believe that this newspaper for some reason has it in for O’Hara.

They say we never miss an opportunity to take a shot at the dominant parochial high school in the county. Sure to always come up is the case of disgraced former NBA referee Tim Donaghy, who recently was released from jail in connection with a betting scandal.

Donaghy is an O’Hara grad, as were a couple of his cronies. That’s how they get referenced in the newspaper. For us, that is part of what makes the Donaghy case an important local story. He grew up here and went to Cardinal O’Hara.

Some people point out that we never mention the high schools of other stars who run afoul of the law. They sometimes point to the Michael Vick case as an example. “Where did he go to high school?” they wonder. My reply? I have no idea. But I can tell you this. He did not go to high school in Delaware County. That is what makes it a local story for us.

Of course, this week McCusker has been in the news for another reason.

His picture appeared on the front page after he was picked up by Springfield police on suspicion of drunken driving after he allegedly struck a parked car.

I have had several conversations with readers who disagreed with that decision, who believe we once again are simply piling on O’Hara, delighting in another negative portrayal of the school. I have had some callers who go so far as to intimate that we are anti-Catholic in our news coverage. I always get a chuckle out of that one.

On the McCusker story that appears online, readers can post comments, and there have been no shortage of them.

McCusker is getting beat up pretty good in the cyberworld. Don’t look for me to join in.

Instead I was most impressed with the way McCusker handled the incident.
It’s not unusual for people in very public positions such as McCusker to clam up, deny everything or simply send media requests to their lawyer when something like this occurs.

McCusker didn’t do that.

Instead, he told reporters how profoundly “embarrassed and ashamed” he was at what happened. He said of the incident, “this gets me deep in my soul.”

It seems everyone has an opinion of what happened to McCusker. Every person who has some kind of grudge against him or O’Hara is delighting in his arrest.

I think I just might have even more respect for him now than I did before.

It doesn’t take much for most of us to imagine ourselves in McCusker’s shoes.

Now I suppose everyone is waiting for the next shoe to drop, to hear what kind of action – if any – the archdiocese will take against McCusker. Many out there are calling for his head, for him to lose his job.

Not me. Should he be punished? Sure. My guess is the public humiliation he is now enduring is about the worst punishment he could get.

Do I think he should lose his job? No.

Dr. Richard McCusker is a good man who did a bad thing. A stupid thing.

I don’t know what would be gained by removing him from his post.
Instead, why not let this be an opportunity for kids to learn a real-life lesson. That our actions have repercussions.

Dr. William McCusker likely now can tell kids exactly how much is at stake when you make a bad decision.

At the same time, he can also show them something else. That your true character is sometimes revealed at the very worst of times.

Phils lose ugly

It’s one thing to lose. It’s one thing to lose at home. It’s another entirely to lose at home and be sloppy and lackadaisacal while you’re at it.

That’s what Charlie Manuel has on his hands today, after the Phils got swept by the Blue Jays, who capped things off with an 8-7 yesterday afternoon.

It wasn’t so much that the Phils lost again at Citizens Bank Park, dropping their home record this year to a less-than-scintillating 13-19.

It’s how they looked while they were doing it.

I saw something happen in yesterday’s game I literally have not seen since Little League.

Blue Jays shortstop Marco Scutaro drew a walk in the third inning. But Scutaro wasn’t walking, he was running. He turned the corner at first and kept right on going. In the meantime, most of the Phils were either asleep at the switch or hanging their heads. No one seemed to notice that Scutaro did not stop at first until it was too late. Scutaro promptly scored on a Vernon Wells double.

This is a team that desperately needs a wake-up call. And there’s only one man who can deliver it. Manuel needs to deliver a quick kick in the pants to his slumping World Champs.

It will be very interesting to see the lineup Manuel trots out there tonight when the Orioles come to town. These are the same O’s who did the Phils a huge favor last night by ralling to beat the Mets, thus preserving the Phils lead in the NL East at three games.

Manuel has been pretty good about letting his team know it when he’s not pleased with the effort. Tonight would be a good time to remind them.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

The Daily Numbers - June 18

The Daily Numbers: 2 candidates who want to be this state’s next Democratic U.S. senator in Delco tonight when Arlen Specter and Joe Sestak address county Democrats in Marple.
1 month in a jail in Dubai for Michael Joslin, of Glenolden, after a gun and prescription medicine was found in his checked luggage. Some pols are working to get him free.
500 million dollars in new cuts being ordered by Gov. Ed Rendell as the state continues to battle a $3 billion budget deficit.
13 million dollars in federal stimulus funds that will go to beef up police and courts in Philadelphia.
22 million dollars in fed funds that will be used to monitor traffic on I-95 and Vine Street in the city.
3 million dollar the Philadelphia Eagles will pay the city to resolve a dispute over revenue from skyboxes at Veterans Stadium. The original number was $8 million, but a judge ruled the city owed the team $5 million for revenue lost when a preseason game had to be cancelled because of field conditions at the Vet.
200,000 dollar Powerball lottery prize claimed by a man in Philadelphia yesterday, one day before his claim would have expired.
5 students at the Milton Hershey School who are believed to have been sickened with swine flu.
3 years, 10 months in the slammer for a man arrested for possession of child porn just 2 weeks after being placed on probation for another sex offense.
6 months behind bars for two Pennsylvania men convicted of simple assault in a fatal attack on an illegal Mexican immigrant. They were acquitted on more serious charges.
3 tattoo stars, what a girl in Belgium says she wanted on her face. She wound up with 56. She says she fell asleep during the procedure. Now she wants to press charges. The artist says he misunderstood her request.
50 straight days the price of gas has risen nationally.
2.71 a gallon, average price at pump in Philly region, after the price kicked up another penny Tuesday night.
11 strikeouts for the floundering Phils as they fell to the Blue Jays last night, 7-1.
13 wins and 18 losses for the Phils so far this year at Citizens Bank Park.
6 runs on 10 hits in 6-plus innings from Phils starter Jamie Moyer.
6.35, where Moyer’s ERA is sitting these days.
Call me a Phanatic: A look at the ups and downs of being a Philadelphia sports fan.A rainout this afternoon might not be the worst thing that could happen to the Phis. Misery seems to reign on the team at their South Philly playpen.
I Don’t Get It: Disgraced former NBA ref and Delco native has left prison for a Tampa halfway house. He’s apparently now penning a tell-all book about his rise and fall in the NBA tied to gambling. I don’t get it.
Today’s Upper: Kudos to the Bacon Brothers, including famous actor Kevin, who brought their band to their home town to record a song they are hoping will help out the struggling Mummers Parade. Some people don’t get where they’re from.
Quote Box: “I will listen and be respectful of the senator, but I’ve made my choice in the race. I’m supporting Joe Sestak.”
- Marple Democrat Tony Campisi, who tonight’s visit to county Dems by both candidates.

Specter vs. Sestak: Round 1

Ladies and gentlemen, this is your main event.

In this corner we have Snarlin’ Arlen Specter, longtime senior senator from Pennsylvania and newly minted Democrat.

In the other corner is Admiral Joe Sestak, second term congressman who became a local Democratic hero when he showed 20-year veteran Congressman Curt Weldon the door in 2006.

Now Sestak has his eyes on higher office. Standing in his way might be the Democrat-turned-Republican-turned Democrat again Specter.

Specter recently moved across the aisle – at least physically – when his polling data told him he likely would be hitting the exit door himself in a Republican Primary against former congressman Pat Toomey.

So Specter did what every good politician does. He turned to his survival instincts.

Voila! Specter became a Democrat again. That avoided a battle with Toomey.

And it thrilled Democrats who have courted him for years. He was welcomed by a who’s who of the party, including Gov. Ed Rendell, Vice President Joe Biden (a longtime Senate and train-riding commuter pal) and even President Barack Obama.

Nobody bothered to invite Sestak to the Specter coronation. Ever since he’s been making noise about challenging the longtime Republican.

Sestak doesn’t especially care for the way this thing got jammed down the rank-and-file’s throats by party leaders. He’s not alone in that belief. And he also has some doubt about just how much of a true Democrat Specter will be. He’s not the only one with those kind of doubts, either.

Today the two men will be in the same room when Specter arrives here on Sestak’s turf to speak to county Democrats in Marple.

He’ll be followed by Sestak.

Don’t look for much in the way of fireworks. They may not even be in the same room together.

Sestak still has not formally declared he’s running for the Senate, but he has done just about everything but say the words.

It’s going to be an uphill race. A new Rasmussen poll shows Specter continuing to enjoy a comfortable edge over Sestak in a Democratic primary, holding a 51-32 edge.

Sestak sounds undeterred.

And so we have it, a heavyweight political bout.

Round One is tonight in Marple.

Hooping it up at Senior Games

It’s official. I’m old.

I participated in the Delco Senior Games yesterday morning. It was a blast.

I was joined by a couple of colleagues here at the Daily Times, columnist Gil Spencer and sports columnist Jack McCaffery, in a basketball match against some Delaware County officials at the Rocky Run YMCA.

First things first. I was stunned when I got there. The place was mobbed. Maybe I need to get out more. I couldn’t believe how many people were there of all ages.

When I walked into the gym, it was packed with a lot of people older than I am shooting hoops.

It made me realize that there are a plenty of folks out there who actually have lives. I sometimes forget that. I have a tendency to think the world begins and ends here in front of this computer screen in Primos.

It doesn’t. I should get out of the office more often.

I can not tell you the last time I was on a hardwood basketball floor.
It has to be 25 years ago, back when I played on a team at the first paper I worked at out in Chester County.

I’m happy to say I survived. So has my shot. I still have a little game, although I was glad no one decided to play full court.

As for the game, we prevailed, but really who cares. I was having too much fun to keep track.

County Councilman Tom McGarrigle captained the county team, joined by Treasurer Jack Dowd and Network Supervisor John Barton. They got an assist off the bench from a sharp-shooting Mark Manfre, from parks and recreation. I’m glad I didn’t draw the job of guarding him. He would have worn me out.

So I’m over 50. In fact I am bearing down on 54 at the end of the summer. I don’t feel like it. Yesterday morning proved that to me.

Now I just have to get out there more often and prove it.

Players included, from left, Delaware County Treasurer Jack Dowd, Councilman Tom McGarrigle, Daily Times Editor Phil Heron, columnist Gil Spencer, sports columnist Jack McCaffery and John Barton, the county’s network supervisor.

Misery reigns for Phils

The beat goes on for the Phillies. Or maybe that should be beatings.

Everything seems to be working against the World Champs when they play at Citizens Bank Park these days. Now ever the weather is turning against them. You could call it misery reigns.

The Phils got flogged again last night at a soggy Citizens Bank Park.
The Blue Jays posted four runs in the top of the first against aging Jamie Moyers and never looked back, cruising to a 7-1 win.

It continues the improbably struggles of the defending World Champs on their home turf.

The Phils are now 13-18 in South Philly. Last night’s loss means they lost another series as well. They have won only two series at home, both of those against the lowly Nationals.

In fact, the Phils might want to get down on their knees and thank the baseball gods for the Nats. They’re 5-1 against D.C. at the Bank, against everyone else they’re now a paltry 8-17.

Last night was over before most fans could find their seats. Not a good night for Moyer, who after several solid starts in a row, last night looked every bit the 46-year-old junkballer. He gave up six runs on 10 hits in going his usual six innings and change.

The Phils’ offense was once again missing in action. Continuing their recent trend, they fanned more than folks at a packed graduation ceremony without air conditioning.

A fairly unknown hurler names Scott Richmond struck out 11 Phils in eight innings. The Phils whiffed 10 times the night before.

They’re supposed to finish off this series in a Businessperson’s Special this afternoon. Mother Nature might have something to say about that.
The way the Phils are going about their business at Citizens Bank Park these days, a rainout might not be the worst thing that could happen to them.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

The Daily Numbers - June 17

The Daily Numbers: 39, age of former state Trooper Albert Silveri III, who is on trial after being nabbed in an online sex sting.
.5 percent tax hike, what Gov. Ed. Rendell wants over the next three years.
5 bucks, what the governor says the hike in the personal income tax it will cost most state taxpayers.
1,000,000 dollars acquired for a rec center at the site of the former Haverford State Hospital.
5 foot alligator confiscated from a home in South Philly. The owner said it was only 18 inches long when he got it a few years ago.
52 federal counts filed against a West Chester firm by prosecutors yesterday saying they skirted FDA regulations in using a bone cement in some surgical procedures.
350 pot plants found growing in the Woodland Beach Wildlife Area near Smyrna, Del. Two men are under arrest.
10 million dollar fee that would be slapped on casino operators to establish table games under a proposal introduced in Harrisburg yesterday.
2 Pa. teens who face sentencing today in the death of an immigrant last summer. They were found guilty of simple assault, but acquitted of more serious charges.
1 would-be rap singer convicted in Chester County of killing a man in what police described as revenge for stealing his gold chain.
14, as in July 14, sentencing day for former state Sen. Vince Fumo on corruption charges. A judge declined to delay the sentencing.
6, age of victim of sidewalk crash that took four lives who was the first to be laid to rest yesterday.
100,000 dollars believed ripped off from a fire company in Greentown, Pa., by one of the volunteers.
49 straight days across the nation that retail gas prices have gone up.
2.70 a gallon, average price at pump in Philly region, after the price kicked up another penny Monday night.
30, as in Aug. 30, date of Britney Spears concert at the Wachovia Center. Tickets go on sale Friday.
5 runs surrendered by Phils relievers last night as they fell to the Blue Jays in 10 innings.
2 hits for former Phil Scott Rolen, who drive in the go-ahead run.
30 pitches thrown off the mound in a practice session yesterday by injured closer Brad Lidge.
30 days in jail for former Eagles wide receiver Donte Stallworth, who pleaded guilty yesterday in Florida to charges stemming from fatally striking a pedestrian while he was under the influence.
Call me a Phanatic: A look at the ups and downs of being a Philadelphia sports fan.Geez, did it have to be Scott Rolen who drove in the winning run?
I Don’t Get It: What exactly is the holdup in passing a law in Pa.
against using a hands-held cell phone while driving? Seems like common sense to me.
Today’s Upper: Kudos to Ronny Tanner of Haverford High, our pick as the All-Delco Baseball Player of the Year. All-Delco selections will continue all week.
Quote Box: “I don’t see any reason to think that this year will be different than the last six.”
- Sen. Dominic Pileggi, R-9, of Chester on still another protracted budget battle with Gov. Ed Rendell.

Budget wars

Despite this miserable, cold, wet weather, I’m fairly confident I can predict a long, hot summer.

At least in Harrisburg.

For weeks Gov. Ed Rendell and Republican members of the Senate have been trading jabs about how to attack the state’s daunting budget gap.

Yesterday, Rendell took off the gloves. And Republican senators did not flinch before returning fire.

Pennsylvania is somewhere in the vicinity of $3.2 billion in the hole.
To address the problem, and to avoid draconian budget cuts, Rendell yesterday called for a temporary hike in the state personal income tax.

I know, I know. I can’t remember the last tax hike that was temporary either.

For the next three years, Rendell wants to raise the state income tax half a point, from 3.07 percent to 3.57 percent. The guv says the move would cost most families making $50,000 a year about five bucks a month.

Rendell will get his way in the Democratic-controlled House. It’s in the GOP-dominated Senate that the battle cry is being heard. And they’re being led by Delco Sen. Dominic Pileggi, R-9, of Chester. He made it clear yesterday his caucus has no appetite for Rendell’s tax-hike plan, saying it’s a bad idea when people already are struggling in this economy to pay their bills.

Pileggi also made a point yesterday to point out that many taxes still on the books once started out as “temporary.”

There’s nothing about this battle royal that’s going to be temporary.
State law mandates a budget has to be in place by July 1. They’ll give you odds down at Harrah’s on the chances of that happening.

Right now it’s a standoff between Rendell and the Senate. Ali-Frazier has nothing on this “Thrilla on the River,” as all eyes on the Susquehanna turn to the state capitol.

Yep, it’s going to be a long, hot summer, especially if you happen to work for the state.

Payless paydays? Budget cuts? Layoffs? They’re all in play. As they also say at Harrah’s, don’t bet against them.

Of cell phones and driving

Of the many phobias I’ve suddenly developed, this is the one that continues to come up.

Maybe it’s because I’ve suddenly discovered that one of the big challenges of my day is actually driving home at night. Yes, I find myself sometimes drifting off behind the wheel. It is not all that unusual now for me to get a short, discreet beep from the car behind me as I sit at a red light that has turned green.

I’ll admit that just changing the radio station can at times distract me from the task at hand – driving.

Which is one of the reasons I make it a practice not to talk on the phone while I’m driving. I think I’m in the minority. Is it just me or does almost every other driver out there have a hands-held cell phone against their ear?

All of this is prelude to a tragic story playing out in Chester County.
Police investigating a fatal crash that took the life of a young teen and her unborn baby have determined the young driver of the car – who survived – was speeding as well as text-messaging on a cell phone at the time she slammed into a school bus.

The school bus driver was not seriously injured. Neither was the driver of the car. Her passenger, just weeks away from delivering a little girl, was not so lucky.

Nicollette “Nikki” Pomon, 17, of Downingtown, was a day away from giving birth to her first baby. Friends say she had planned to name the little girl Lillian Grace.

The driver, Meghan Obendorfer, now faces charges including homicide by vehicle, involuntary manslaughter, speeding and other charges.

The case is now being used as the latest springboard to push a law in Pennsylvania to ban the use of hands-held cell phones while driving.
Similar measures already are in place in both Delaware and New Jersey.

Here’s a suggestion. Once our legislators deal with this budget impasse, why don’t they go to work passing a bill that would probably affect a lot more lives. They should pass a law that makes it illegal to use a hands-held cell phone while you’re behind the wheel.

And they should call it “Lillian’s Law,” after a little girl who never got a chance at life, in part because of a young driver who likely was distracted from the road by trying to send a text message.

If it saves one life, it will be well worth it, and a deserving legacy for Lillian Grace.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

The Daily Numbers - June 16

The Daily Numbers: 61, age of suspect charged in the killing of 84-year-old Jane Morgan in her Upper Darby apartment. Police say he brutally beat and raped the woman, then stole $1,200 from the apartment.
He was a neighbor in her building.
277 graduates of Academy Park High School who picked up their diplomas last night.
18, age of driver charged with being under the influence when the car he was operating slammed into a car full of Ridley teens. The crash left a Ridley High grad paralyzed. Robert Smith Jr. waived his preliminary hearing in Ridley court yesterday.
100 people packed into an intersection at Crosby Square Apartments in Chester last weekend when a teen was shot. No one is reporting seeing anything and the crowd interfered with officers trying to get to the victim. Nice.
20, age of Ramir Steve, who is now on trial in the shooting death of an Upper Darby taxi driver back on Christmas Eve 2007.
18 million dollars in federal stimulus funding that will be used to revitalize the Croydon train station on SEPTA’s R7 Trenton line.
8.5 million, what Sunoco is paying for an ethanol manufacturing facility in Volney, N.Y.
1 death now being blamed on swine flu in New Jersey.
4 cent hike in the price of gasoline in the Philly region over the weekend. Average price at the pump is now $2.69.
2 recent chemical releases being investigated at the Valero refinery near Delaware City, Del.
9,000 dollars in stolen clothes found in a car during a routine traffic stop in Rehoboth Beach, Del. Two suspects are in custody. The loot is believed to have been stolen from the nearby outlet stores.
2 men charged in a plot to get a gun on board a US Airways flight at Philly International who now face new charges in the case.
26 million dollars in stimulus money to upgrade the baggage security at Philadelphia International Airport.
20 to 40 years in jail for the man who ran his pickup truck into a couple of employees of a Bucks County bar after he had been refused service. One of the workers died.
3 people stabbed after a soccer game in Anne Arundel, Md.
39, age of school principal in Sudlersville, Md., charged with having sex with a 14-year-old girl.
3 Phillies who are now leading the vote tallies at their positions in the All-Star balloting. They are Chase Utley, Jimmy Rollins and Raul Ibanez. Utley is the leading vote getter in the NL.
8 million viewers who tuned in Friday night for Game 7 of the NHL Stanley Cup finals between the Red Wings and Penguins on NBC. That’s the highest-rated NHL game on TV in 36 years.
950 million dollars in bailout funds being sought by Lincoln Financial, the Radnor company whose name adorns the Eagles stadium.
70 to 95 bucks, what it will cost you for one of those single-game tickets the Eagles will put on sale this morning.
Call me a Phanatic: A look at the ups and downs of being a Philadelphia sports fan.I want as many Phils to make the All-Star game as possible, but does anyone really think Jimmy Rollins deserves to be the starting shortstop this season? That’s the problem with fan voting.
I Don’t Get It: It’s hard to listen to what police say happened to a dog in Vineland, N.J., that was tied up and dragged behind a truck.
Today’s Upper: Kudos to police in Upper Darby for using DNA evidence to track down a suspect in the brutal beating, rape and murder of an elderly resident in her apartment.
Quote Box: “He knew everything. Even the placement of her body was staged. Williams laid her on the bed to make it look like a natural death.”
- Upper Darby Detective Capt. George Rhoades Jr., on the arrest of Billy Williams in the murder of Jane Morgan.

Table games? Bet on it

I have just two words for you as the state careens toward a looming budget deadline at the end of the month.

Table games.

Don’t bet the house against them. A few years ago Gov. Ed Rendell ushered in a new era of legalized gambling to combat skyrocketing property taxes.

Now the state finds itself staring down the barrel of one of the worst budget crises in recent history. Pennsylvania is more than $3 billion in the hole. State workers might be looking at payless paydays. Budgets are being slashed in just about every department. There’s even talk of what was once considered unthinkable – tax hikes.

Rendell will hold a summit with his Cabinet this afternoon and then make a budget statement.

In the meantime, the talk of adding table games to the state’s slots parlors will not go away.

The latest to chime in is Republican Senate leader Joe Scarnati. He also serves as lieutenant governor, which gives him Rendell’s ear.

The arithmetic is pretty simple.

“Here we are with over $3 billion and a few hundred million in the hole, looking to fill that hole, and I think that we need to look at whatever options, non-tax options, there are,” Scarnati said.

Notice the key words there: Non-tax options.

That kind of limits the field. Rendell is talking about a temporary tax hike, possibly hiking either the sales or personal income tax.

When’s the last time you remember a tax hike that was temporary? Thought so.

Greg Fajt, the new boss at the state Gaming Control Board, paid a visit to Harrah’s in Chester last week, and he also seemed open to at least considering the idea of adding table games.

This one is a matter of when, not if. The state is swimming in red ink.
No one wants to raise taxes in one of the worst economies in recent memory.

That doesn’t leave a lot of options.

Me? I’m betting on table games.

Open season on cops?

You have to wonder why anyone would want to be a cop these days.

It seems like it’s open season on officers.

First we heard of a crowd in Upper Darby that showered beer bottles on an officer who was trying to arrest a police suspect.

Now there is word of a similar situation in Chester. And it’s not the first time.

Police in the city responded to a report of a shooting in the Crosby Square Apartments in the city early Saturday morning. The incident occurred in a one-block area where more than 100 people gathered.

But when officers tried to make their way through the crowd to get to the shooting scene, they found their path blocked by the crowd, according to Detective Capt. Joseph Massi.

Eventually officers had to use tactical weapons to make their way through the unruly crowd and get to the shooting victim.

Oh, and of course one other thing. Even though the intersection was packed, no one saw anything. Police report no witnesses have come forward with information in the case.

It’s the second week in a row officers were called to the Crosby Square Apartments. Police believe the trouble is a result of a feud between factions from Crosby Square and the William Penn Housing Development.

Explaining the behavior of the crowd is not as easy. It just makes you shake your head.

Dialing for dollars at Lincoln Financial

This one is too good to resist, and should bring a frown to the brow of Eagles fans.

Opening day for the 2009 season is less than three months away. And while the Birds do not head for Lehigh and training camp until the end of July, today is football season for many fans.

That’s because the team puts single-game tickets on sale today. The old tradition of camping outside the stadium ticket office has gone by the boards. We’re way too high-tech for that quaint old practice.

You can only buy tickets, starting at 10 a.m., on the phone or online.
Why do I think that stacks the deck in favor of brokers who inevitably seem to wind up with lots of tickets?

But here’s a little nugget to consider while you are frantically dialing the phone or trying to log on to the team’s Web site or Ticketmaster.com for the chance to enter Lincoln Financial Field this fall.

The company whose name adorns the Eagles stadium is looking for a handout.

Lincoln Financial Group, based in Radnor, made a splash a few years back when it dropped a ton of money for the naming rights to the Eagles stadium.

It’s hard to argue with them. Every time the stadium gets mentioned, their corporate brand is out there.

It does not mean they have been recession-proof. The company is seeking $950 million from the federal bailout program as they look to raise $2 billion.

Lincoln Financial has posted two straight losses in the last two quarters. That’s almost as bad as the Eagles’ first two quarters in the NFC title game against the Cardinals.

Maybe they should ask Donovan McNabb for a loan. The Eagles QB got the final two years of his deal reworked, and a $5 million raise to boot.

Monday, June 15, 2009

The Daily Numbers - June 15

The Daily Numbers: 15 Boy Scouts who had to be rescued from the Brandywine River in Chadds Ford yesterday after their canoe got stuck under a fallen tree limb. No serious injuries were reported.
25 Haverford residents who recently held a street protest to voice their displeasure at the possibility of huge billboards being erected on West Chester Pike.
6, as in No. 6 for Radnor Township. That’s on the list of least affordable suburbs to live in the U.S., according to Business Week magazine.
23, age of man charged in the stabbing death of a 23-year-old woman in Wilmington.
98 dollar tax hike on tap for home owners in the Upper Darby School District.
85,000 people who could be added to the state’s health care rolls under a measure that will be voted on by the House this week. They would be added to the state’s adult basic health care.
100,000 dollar grant that could be nabbed by the Delaware County Community Foundation from a fund run by the sister of Warren Buffet, but only if the non-profit can match the funds on its own.
235 confirmed cases of swine flu now being reported in New Jersey.
3 people feared dead after a small plane plunged into the Mohawk River in upstate New York.
37, age of customer shot and killed during a holdup in a North Philadelphia convenience store.
29 counts of child porn filed against a man in Felton, Del.
3 shootings on the streets of Philadelphia early Saturday.
2.50 a gallon for gas in New Jersey. That’s still cheap compared to the
$2.65 average cost in Pa.
1 win and 2 losses for the Phils in their weekend set with the Red Sox.
6 runs scored by the Phils in the seventh to put the game away.
4 world titles for Kobe Bryant, 1 without Shaquille O'Neal.
Call me a Phanatic: A look at the ups and downs of being a Philadelphia sports fan.Every time you think this Phillies team is about to falter, they put on their rally caps and do something you weren’t expecting. Show of hands:
How many thought yesterday was going to be another long day after J.A.
Happ struggled early? Thought so.
I Don’t Get It: Police in Vineland, N.J., are looking into a case of animal abuse in which a dog was dragged behind a car. I don’t get it.
Today’s Upper: Kudos to all those who took part in Sunday’s Walk for the Wounded in Rose Tree Park. Great cause.
Quote Box: “I think billboards are unsightly, dangerous to drivers passing through, and to children crossing the street.”
- Daria Salvetti, who took part in protest against the huge billboards proposed for West Chester Pike in Havertown.

Dollars and sense at Harrah's

I have been fascinated by what is going on at Harrah’s Chester Casino & Racetrack.

What is going on is that while the rest of the state is going great guns, revenue on the Chester waterfront has been down. It’s been that way since last summer.

In May revenue at Harrah’s was off 6 percent compared to the same month a year ago. The casino also dropped from its normal No. 2 spot behind only Philly Park in terms of casino revenue.

I have been puzzled as to why, and have addressed it several times in this space. My last writing on the issue carried a headline that probably did not accurately describe what is going on. I wish I could blame someone else, but I can’t. I write the headlines on my blog.

I wondered if maybe Harrah’s was crapping out. They’re not.

And several people called to let me know. Doug Harbach, from the Gaming Control Board, e-mailed me to let me know that Harrah’s still was doing better than the original projections for revenue at the casino.

Vince Donlevie, Harrah’s senior vice president and general manager, also noticed the blog, in particular the headline. He didn’t particularly care for it.

Hey, at least I know people are reading it. Sometimes I wonder about all this online business.

I will offer Donlevie’s response to my blog below.

On Friday, we were invited down to Harrah’s to talk to the new head of the state Gaming Control Board. Greg Fajt was touring some of the casinos. I thought maybe it would be a good opportunity to quiz him about what is going on at Harrah’s.

Fajt downplayed the dip in revenue, instead stressing the positive aspects of casino gaming in the state, in particular the reductions in property taxes. Can’t really blame him for that.

But I wonder about more and more gambling, and at what point we’ll reach the saturation point. Delaware is now preparing to dive into legalized sports gambling, as well as table games. Most observers believe it’s only a matter of time before table games arrive in Pa. Harrah’s actually on Friday rolled out an electronic version of a table game.

The Sands Bethlehem Casino has now opened its doors. Eventually two slots parlors will open in Philadelphia.

Finally, I got a legitimate explanation as to why Harrah’s was down. I won’t say where it came from, but I tend to believe him.

He believes that the actual amount of money wagered at Harrah’s is not down at all, but that the casino is spending a lot more money on promotional play to lure people into the casino.

Makes sense to me. Or should that be cents.

A response from Harrah's

As I said, a recent blog item on the downturn in business caught the eye of Vince Donlevie, Harrah’s senior vice president and general manager.
And a Delco guy, by the way.

We’ll run Donlevie’s response on our op-ed page in print, but because he was responding to my blog, I am going to run it here as well.

June 12, 2009

Mr. Phil Heron
Delaware County Daily Times

Dear Mr. Heron:

I read your article, "Crapping out at Harrah's?" and felt compelled to respond with the answer, "Absolutely not." In fact, Harrah's Chester has been extraordinarily successful by every meaningful measurement.
There are many factors that impact casino revenues, including competing facility openings and expansions, the addition of slot machines to existing locations and, yes, the worst economic environment in 50 years.
Yet our performance has exceeded every pre-opening projection, as well as the expectations of the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board, the leadership of the City of Chester and the leadership of Delaware County.

In our relatively short history, Harrah's Chester has paid more than $30 million in taxes to support the city government and another $30 million to Delaware County government. These payments have allowed the city to lower taxes, provide additional services for Chester residents, make long overdue capital investments and hire more police officers. These tax revenues have also been the catalyst for further economic development in the area, such as the construction of the Philadelphia Union Major League Soccer stadium.
Harrah's Chester has been instrumental in re-establishing Chester as a leisure and entertainment center for the greater Delaware Valley. We have added high level headline entertainment with acts such as Tony Orlando, Dave Mason, Little Anthony and the Imperials, Jefferson Starship, and Chubby Checker to name a few. We have introduced world-class gaming to Chester with the premiere brand in casino entertainment, Harrah's. We have brought back live harness racing to the Delaware Valley with a world-class facility that has produced 12 World Harness records. We have created a fabulous array of outstanding dining experiences, and we have attracted more than eight million visitors to Chester in our short history.

As the city's largest private-sector employer, we provide over $37 million in wages and benefits to more than 1,000 city, county and regional residents. In addition, Harrah's Chester paid more than $354 million to local businesses during construction of our new, permanent facility, which incidentally turned a Brownfield site into a scenic waterfront environment.

Harrah's Chester has also demonstrated a deep commitment to the community. We have donated $250,000 to Delaware County Community College to support the new science, technology, engineering and mathematics complex. Just this week, we issued the second phase in our two year $200,000 college scholarship awards for Chester residents as an indication of our belief and commitment to the young adults of Chester.
At the ground breaking of our facility, we extended a check in the amount of $500,000 to the Workforce Investment Board for a workforce readiness program for Chester residents.

We built a computer lab at the YWCA, renovated the college resource center at Chester High School, and our employees participate in countless local volunteer efforts, such as the Mayor's Chester City Clean Up, Chester Senior Center Care & Share Day, and Relay for Life.
Members of our executive team serve on the boards of directors of most major philanthropic organizations in the city and county in an effort to share our intellectual resources.

These actions are in keeping with the legacy of parent company Harrah's Entertainment, which has been honored for it's philanthropic, community service and pioneering responsible gaming efforts.

The simple fact is that Harrah's Chester is providing a first-class gaming and entertainment venue, good careers and economic development opportunities to the residents of this community, significant taxes to the city and the county just as other Harrah's Entertainment properties do in their home communities. Simply put, your article couldn't have been further from the truth, and in fact it "Crapped Out".

Vince Donlevie
Senior Vice President and General Manager Harrah's Chester Casino & Racetrack

Never say die with this team

Home, sweet home?

Well, not exactly when it comes to the Phils. For some reason this team continues to play much better on the road than it does in the friendly confines of Citizens Bank Park.

The Phils came off a sizzling road trip only to go ice cold once again in South Philly.

It looked for all the world yesterday like the Phils were about to be swept in their big weekend interleague set with the Red Sox. Their pitching was suspect, and their fielding was worse.

On Saturday it was rookie Antonio Bastardo who put the Phils in a hole in the first inning when he could not find the strike zone and the Phils kicked the ball around the infield. They were down 5-0 before coming up to bat. Bastardo was lifted after just the one inning of work – and after a rain delay of more than an hour.

Yesterday started off like an instant replay. After J.A. Happ put the Red Sox down in the first, and the Phils staked him to a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the inning, he went out and promptly coughed it right up. The Red Sox put four on the board, and the Boston faithful were looking for their brooms.

Not so fast.

That’s the thing about this Phillies team. They are never out of a game.
Happ settled down, and the Phils calmly went about the business of pecking away at the Sox’ lead.

They broke the game open with six in the seventh and cruised home with an 11-6 win.

In the meantime the Mets were being demolished by the Yankees, 15-0.

Bottom line? Phils still lead the NL East by four games.

Keep an eye on Bastardo. One more shaky start will ratchet up the pressure for the Phils to do something to address the gaping hole in their rotation caused by the hip surgery that has put Brett Myers on the shelf for the season.

For now, just don’t count this team out.

Friday, June 12, 2009

The Daily Numbers - June 12

The Daily Numbers: 6 high schools in Delaware County that held graduations ceremonies last night.
11 other entities that had joined with Delco in the suit to halt the new flight paths at Northeast airports. The effort was shot down in federal court.
3 people held for trial in a home invasion case in Concord in which the female victim was robbed and then tied up after they waived their preliminary hearing yesterday.
4 counts of murder filed against two suspects in the crash that took the lives of 3 children and a woman in Kensington.
2, age of little girl in Wilmington who was attacked by a pit bull.
She’s listed in stable condition after surgery.
2,100 Pa. driver’s licenses that could be cancelled because Social Security numbers do not match up with names listed on the licenses.
2 police officers in Philly injured overnight when a car slammed into the side of their cruiser.
150 businesses that were targeted by a man who ran a burglary ring that hit stores from Connecticut to Virginia.
5 months in prison for a man from Lansdowne convicted of trying to persuade a witness not to testify against him in a home-invasion case.
24.5 million dollars, how much Donovan McNabb is now set to make over the final two years of his deal. The team reworked his contract.
5 million dollar raise for McNabb, and the money is guaranteed.
7 wins and 3 losses for the Phils on the road trip.
58 RBI for Raul Ibanez after his 3-run shot in the top of the 10th led the Phils over the Mets last night.
6 innings for Jamie Moyer, who gave up 3 runs on 8 hits.
Call me a Phanatic: A look at the ups and downs of being a Philadelphia sports fan.OK Donovan, you got what you wanted. Now no more whining. Just win something.
I Don’t Get It: If you were going to Afghanistan through the United Arab Emirates, don’t you think you’d be pretty sure what the regulations were about packing an unloaded gun in your luggage?
Today’s Upper: Kudos to the city of Chester, which made good on its promise yesterday by breaking ground for a new Boys and Girls Club in the city.
Quote Box: “It is a shame that another branch of the federal government has put the interests of the airline industry and government bureaucracy ahead of the safety and health of its citizens.”
-- Delco Councilman Jack Whelan, on court ruling against county’s suit vs. the FAA.

Score one for the FAA

Score one for Goliath. David just got knocked on his kiester.

No one should be surprised that a federal court backed the Federal Aviation Administration’s position in implementing new flight paths at Philadelphia International Airport.

In almost every instance when the FAA has been challenged in court, the little guy has lost.

Delaware County threw just about everything but a couple of 747s at the FAA in attempts to ground the unpopular plan that allows planes to veer out over heavily populated areas of the county at much lower altitudes than before.

U.S. Reps. Joe Sestak, D-7, and Rob Andrews, D-N.J., also joined the fray.

Didn’t much matter.

What happens now? The focus likely will turn away from the redesigned flight paths to a battle brewing with the city of Philadelphia, which wants to acquire land in Tinicum in order to expand runways at the airport.

Reducing delays at the airport is a good thing. No one is arguing that.
What has been argued is whether the flight path change would actually do that, and if it could not be accomplished by diverting more planes to other regional airports.

But you can’t mandate the way people like to travel. They are going to continue to use Philadelphia International. Which means flights there need to run on time.

Which means we likely need to get used to our noisy neighbor. Talk to the folks down in Tinicum. They’ve been doing it for years.

Budget war comes to Delco

The state’s budget war is coming to Delaware County today.

Gov Ed. Rendell will be at Ridley High School to talk about education funding. He’s for it. You’re surprised, I know.

Everyone likes the idea of spending more money on education. The state last year unveiled a new funding formula that would get more money into the hands of districts that need it more than some of their wealthy counterparts.

But since then the economy has gone to hell. The state is now looking at a $3 billion deficit. Something has to go – or be cut.

Rendell doesn’t want it to be education. He’s been traveling the state pushing his plan. He’s in Delco today.

He won’t be alone. Matt Brouillette from the Commonwealth Foundation has been shadowing the governor, offering another version of the budget battle. Brouillette insists Rendell’s numbers simply don’t add up.

All of this is prelude to what will be happening in Harrisburg over the next two and half weeks. State law mandates the budget be in place by midnight July 1.

As they say down at Harrah’s, don’t be on it.

Stay tuned.

Donovan a happy camper

Donovan McNabb no doubt is a happy camper this morning. In fact, he has about 5 million reasons to be happy.

He and his boss, Andy Reid, will stride to the microphones this morning to talk about his new deal to be quarterback of the Eagles.

The team announced last night they were reworking the final two years of the $120 million deal McNabb signed a few years back that two years to go.

McNabb is now in line to get another $5 million over those final two years, and the money is guaranteed. He was due to make $20 million.

There’s a couple of interesting things about this new deal – none of which I expect to see answered when Reid and McNabb talk this morning.
I’ll be surprised if Reid does not try to review the injuries first.

One thing he likely will not review is why the Birds decided to do this deal with McNabb, when they slammed the door in the face of Lito Sheppard last year, and Sheldon Brown this year. Both made it clear they were unhappy with their contracts and wanted to renegotiate them.

The Eagles’ response: Shut up and play.

In a way, they’re saying the same thing to McNabb, but they’re sweetening the deal along the way. In other words, the team is saying to McNabb, “OK, here’s the deal you wanted, you’re our guy, all is forviven, no more bad vibes, no more whining, now go out there and win.”

The team’s relationship with McNabb has been a bit dicy seen he was benched at halftime of a game in Baltimore last season.

McNabb, never one to let a criticism go unnoticed, has been sulking ever since. He said he wanted a meeting after the season to talk about his status with the team. And then he said he would hold off on any future plans until he saw what the team was going to do to improve in the offseason.

Now it appears all those questions have been answered. You can count on seeing No. 5 behind center at least for the next two years.

There is, however, one person who may not be doing cartwheels over McNabb’s deal. That would be backup QB Kevin Kolb. The team at some point is going to need to make a decision on Kolb. His deal is about to expire, and all they have to judge him on is some meaningless exhibition games, his work in camps, and that one not exactly scintillating half against the Ravens.

Kolb let it slip earlier this year that he would be “disappointed” if the Eagles gave McNabb a new deal.

He’ll have to get over it. McNabb is once again “the man.”

Now he needs to play like it.

Ibanez's answer

Raul Ibanez answered his critics last night – with an exclamation point!

Ibanez has been targeted by some bloggers who question his eye-popping increase in production this year, and have suggested – without any facts – that maybe he’s getting some help.

An angry Ibanez fired back, saying he would take any kind of test to prove he is clean.

Last night he took some of that anger and frustration out on the New York Mets.

Ibanez crushed a pitch in the top of the 10th into the bullpen for a three-run homer, lifting the Phils to their second straight come-from-behind, extra-innings victory over the Mets.

The Phils now head back down the Jersey Turnpike with a comfy four-game cushion over the Mets.

Interleague play kicks in again tonight and all eyes will be on Citizens Bank Park, where the Phils will entertain the equally hot Red Sox.

Hopefully Ibanez will be able to provide a few more exclamation points this weekend.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

The Daily Numbers - June 11

The Daily Numbers: 3 people killed in Philadelphia last night when a car being chased by police went up on the sidewalk and slammed into a group of children.
4 weeks in a Dubai jail for a man from Glenolden on charges of carrying a weapon and prescription medicine into the country.
4,000 delinquent trash bills the city of Chester voted last night to collect.
30 residents who objected to the bills at last night’s council meeting.
103 kids home sick with flu at Ithan Elementary School in Radnor Wednesday. That’s down from 140 Tuesday.
5.7 percent tax hike coming to residents in Southeast Delco School District.
140 dollars a year more in taxes for the average resident in the Ridley School District.
424 graduates of Chester High School who received diplomas last night. In the meantime, 237 kids got diplomas in Chichester, and another 306 picked up theirs in Radnor.
2 brothers killed while kayaking on the rain-swollen Brandywine Creek in Chester County. One was a minister from Wilmington.
15 percent dip in revenues for Atlantic City casinos in May as their woes continue.
20, age of woman still being sought for kidnapping a 1-year-old in Philly. The tot was found safe in Maryland. The woman is still on the loose.
16, age of teen believed sexually assaulted by Jose Carrasquillo, who also is charged with the rape of an 11-year-old girl in Philly.
2 Philly teens charged with breaking into North Cedar Hill Cemetery and stealing remains from a mausoleum. The bones and skull apparently were going to be sold for use in some kind of cult practice.
9 hour standoff that ended peacefully at a New Jersey motel between police and a man wanted in a shooting in Maryland.
3 men charged in a $2.5 million meth ring that was based in Philly and sold drugs throughout the region.
38,763 clean-energy jobs in Pa., which gives us the third-highest ranking in the nation.
18, age of girl charged with stabbing a 15-year-old girl in a fight in the parking lot of the Christiana Mall.
11 employees laid off at Comcast-Spectacor, including the PR manager for the Sixers.
1 cent hike in price of gas, which is now selling for average of $2.63 in the Philly area.
30 vehicles involved in a pileup in heavy bog on a California highway yesterday.
2 home runs for Chase Utley to lead the Phils to a 5-4 come-from-behind win over the Mets last night.
11 hits surrendered in just 5 innings by Cole Hamels.
2 scoreless inning turned in out of bullpen by Chan Ho Park.
Call me a Phanatic: A look at the ups and downs of being a Philadelphia sports fan.Chase Utley proved once again last night what he is the hearbeat of the Phillies. First he stared down Mets starter Mike Pelfrey. Then he point an exclamation point on the Phils rally with his second dinger of the night.
I Don’t Get It: Hate isn’t going away anytime soon. Hence you have the kind of thing that happened at the National Holocaust Museum in Washington, D.C., yesterday.
Today’s Upper: Kudos to Upper Darby, which is taking steps to keep kids safe this summer by cracking down on speeders on crowded residential streets.
Quote Box: “This is literally hell on earth.”
-- Michael Joslin, being held in a Dubai jail.

The Ibanez Affair

Raul Ibanez is ticked off. And I don’t blame him one bit.

This is a blog. It appears on our Web site. It does not appear in our print edition. I don’t think it makes a lot of difference. I use the same parameters about posting material on this blog as I would in print.

If something doesn’t appear to be backed up by the facts, it likely will not make print. Same goes for the material I post online.

Not everyone works that way. It’s one of the problems of the online world. And one of its real dangers.

Ibanez is learning the dangers of the online world. It’s a world I troll around in every day. I don’t like everything I see out there. The Ibanez case is one reason why.

Ibanez is putting together an MVP type season. He’s also 37 years old.
After putting up solid numbers in his career, Ibanez has exploded this season.

He’s got 19 home runs and 54 RBIs. He’s second in the NL home run race, and tied for the lead in driving in runs. Those numbers are considerably better than his lifetime averages.

However, it also can be pointed out Ibanez is now playing on a winning team, batting behind Ryan Howard and playing in a very hitter-friendly ballpark.

But a blogger recently raised another possibility. Seemingly out of nothing more than his own curiosity, he suggested maybe Ibanez was getting a little help from other methods in this baseball era that seemingly is always looking over its shoulder at the shadow of steroids and performance-enhancement drugs.

The blog by itself likely never would have caused a ripple. That’s another thing about the Internet and blogosphere. There’s no shortage of voices out there. Most of them are simply screaming in the darkness.
That likely would have been the fate of the Ibanez item, right up until the moment it was mentioned in a metropolitan newspaper. When that item left the blogosphere, when it became ink in print, it took on a whole new dimension.

It’s something I deal with every day. My favorite thing about the Internet is that it is constantly changing. You post information as soon as you get it. You can update it. You can correct it.

But as I tell my staff, print is forever. It has a permanence that gives it legitimacy. Once we slap that ink on paper and it leaves the building, we cannot change the information.

That is both good and bad. One of the problems with the Internet is the tendency to simply throw stuff out there, regardless of whether it has any merit.

At this point the matter about Ibanez is merely conjecture. That did not stop it from taking on a life of its own.

Ibanez yesterday angrily denied any suggestion that his performance was being aided by an illegal substance.

He offered to take a drug test, to do whatever he had to do to prove the numbers he is putting up are legitimate.

Unfortunately, the same parameters don’t always apply to what gets posted online.

Hate in America

You like to think that we are past the kind of blind hate that too often has been a part of this proud country’s history.

Then another incident occurs that leaves you shaking your head and wondering about all the “progress” we’ve made.

A man opened fire at the U.S. Holocaust Museum in downtown Washington, D.C., just a stone’s throw from the White House, yesterday afternoon. A long-time, beloved security guard was killed. The suspect was wounded when other guards returned fire. He is hospitalized in critical condition.

A quick check on the suspect turned up the kind of hate we like to think no longer exists in this country.

James W. von Brunn is an avowed white supremacist. His Web site is full of anti-Semitic writings. He urges the creation of something called the “Holy Western Empire.”

Von Brunn did 11 years in prison for a plot he took part in trying to take over Federal Reserve.

This country no doubt has come a long way when it comes to racism and civil rights. Somebody like von Brunn just proves how far we still have to go.

The Phils very own Belushi

When did John Belushi join the Phillies?

Remember the classic scene from “Animal House” where the Delta House guys are sitting around dejected because they’ve been booted out of school. Belushi goes off on his “it’s not over” rant.

That’s the Phils.

Last night they were staring down the barrel of another brutal loss to the Mets. They watched as their ace, Cole Hamels, didn’t have his best stuff, giving up 11 hits as the Phils fell into a 4-1 hole.

But they didn’t fold their tent. Instead, Chase Utley and Jayson Werth took things into their own hands.

Werth saved the game in the botttom of the 10th with a diving catch on a liner into the right-center gap.

Then Utley came to the plate and smashed his second homer of the game into the right-field seats.

Bottom line? The Phils took what seemed like a sure loss and turned it into a win.

They are once again three games up on the Mets, assuring they will leave New York with no less than a two-game cushion after tonight’s finale.

This team is never out of a game, even when they get less than a stellar effort from Hamels.

Earlier in the game, Utley may have set the defiant tone for the Phils when he got into something of a testy exchange with Mets starter Mike Pelfrey. Utley stepped out when Pelfrey was ready to pitch. Pelfrey waved his arms and told Utley to get in the box. After Utley grounded out sharply, the two came brushed past each other and exchanged angry glances as they left the field.

Maybe the Phils should start calling Utley “Belushi.” Over? It’s not over ‘til Chase Utley says it’s over.

As Mike Pelfrey and the Mets learned last night.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Salute to a grad

I have a friend who lives in Ridley Park. She is one of my wife’s oldest and dearest friends. She also has a nose for news.

A month ago she sent me an e-mail on a Friday morning wondering why there was nothing in that day’s newspaper about a serious accident that involved some kids from Ridley High School. It apparently was the talk of the town.

We actually had heard of the accident, but did not realize how serious it was. It was very serious. We had all the details in the next day’s paper.

That was the first time I heard about Steven Jewell. For him the accident would prove more than serious. It would prove life-altering.
But it would not keep him from a very important date Tuesday night.

Back in May, Jewell was a passenger in a car that was slammed into by another vehicle. The driver of that car was found to be more than 11 times over the legal drinking limit. He now faces a slew of charges.

Meanwhile, Steven Jewell likely faces life in a wheelchair. Jewell was paralyzed in the accident.

Jewell was unable to walk, but he was not about to miss walking with his classmates Tuesday night as they graduated from Ridley High School.

His two best friends, Andrew Pidgeon and Troy Foster, pushed Jewell’s wheelchair up to the podium to join the other 536 members of the Class of 2009.

Then he will head back to Magee Rehabilitation to continue his therapy.

If the graduating class at Ridley High was looking for an inspiration as they head off into the world, they didn’t have to look far.

Actually, all they have to do is pick up the print edition of today’s Daily Times. Steven Jewell is on the cover, getting a congratulatory kiss from his mom.

Well done, Steven.

The Daily Numbers - June 10

The Daily Numbers: 1,000 lightning strikes recorded in the Philadelphia region during yesterday morning’s wild weather.
2 kayakers feared killed after going out on a swollen Brandywine River near West Chester yesterday. One is dead and the other is missing.
140 students who were absent from Ithan Elementary School in Radnor yesterday as a flu bug rages through the school.
72 burglaries believed to be the work of a Lancaster man in a ring that spread across four counties.
536 graduates who picked up their diplomas last night at ceremonies at Ridley High School.
20 customers who were buying new cars yesterday at Weathers Dodge, their last day as a Chrysler dealership. Their franchise has been terminated by the automaker. They start selling used cars today.
2 brothers, members of Chester County’s infamous Johnston Gang, who are seeking a new trial because of revelations in a new book.
111 women who have given $111,000 that will be used to house 25 homeless families in Philadelphia.
99 bucks, what you can now pick up a splashy iPhone for as Apple cuts the price.
2 additional assault cases now believed to be the work of Jose Carrasquillo, who will be charged in the rape of an 11-year-old girl in Philly after a DNA match. He was beaten by a mob that held him until police arrived.
1,000 dollar reward posted in a case in which vandals went on a rampage in Bucks County, egging and “keying” cars, slashing tires and even setting one vehicle on fire.
4 DUI charges for a man in Delaware who led police on a high-speed chase. He has been nabbed for DUI 3 times before.
3 people fatally shot on the streets of Philadelphia late Monday or early Tuesday.
6 of the next 9 Army-Navy games that will be played in Philadelphia after a new contract was inked on Tuesday.
1, age of child kidnapped in Philadelphia who was found safe in Maryland. Police believe he was taken by a 20-year-old woman who may have been trying to replace her own son who is in foster care.
2.62, average gas price in the Philly region, up another penny.
18 people charged in an elaborate $500,000 scam involving funds that were supposed to go to home heating assistance. One city worker used public funds to pay for her wedding in Costa Rica.
4 home runs for the Phils off Johan Santana, and they still lost.
38 homers hit in the Mets’ new Citi Field Park in 26 games up until last night. The Phils and Mets combined for 7.
15 days on the DL for Phils closer Brad Lidge.
7, as in a Game 7 Friday night between the Red Wings and Penguins for the Stanley Cup.
2-1 edge for the Lakers in the NBA Finals after the Magic took Game 3 on their home court last night.
Call me a Phanatic: A look at the ups and downs of being a Philadelphia sports fan.Something about this Brad Lidge move does not smell right. If Lidge’s knee is really bothering him, that’s one thing. But then why was Rich Dubee on national TV Sunday night saying they didn’t think his problem was anything physical?
I Don’t Get It: Yesterday was not the day for a kayaking trip on the Brandywine. It had tragic results.
Today’s Upper: Kudos to Steven Jewell, who joined his classmates graduating from Ridley High despite being paralyzed in a car accident just a month ago.
Quote Box: “His spirits are very high right now, but he’s dealing with a lot. He’s adjusting to his new body.”
-- Karen Sacco, mother of Ridley High grad Steven Jewell, who made the event in a wheelchair after suffering injuries in a car crash that left him paralyzed.

A wild weather morning

One of my pet peeves is the weather, and the way the local TV stations handle it.

Yesterday was not, however, a day for such complaints.

Simply put, we got hammered.

Luckily I was safely in the office before all hell broke loose early yesterday morning.

Not everyone was that lucky.

We had downpours, high wind, thunder, lightning and even a little hail.

There no doubt was a lot of people wondering “what the hail” Mother Nature was throwing at us.

Me? I was left to ponder the wisdom of a local traffic reporter who pulled out the tried and true tune we usually hear reserved for snow storms.

If you don’t have to go outside, don’t.

That likely didn’t come as much comfort to drivers huddling in their cars during the downpours that reduced visibility to near zero.

It apparently also did not deter two adventurers from deciding to tangle with a raging Brandywine River near West Chester. That decision cost them their lives.

One kayaker was pulled from the river. He died at a local hospital. The other remains missing in the swollen river.

The forecasters tell us we could face more storms rolling across the area later this afternoon.

I can hardly wait to hear the breathless accounts.

Step up, Mr. Ace

The Phils hit four home runs against Mets’ ace Johan Santana last night.

And lost.

It’s just the second time in 221 major league starts that a team had taken Santana yard four times in a game. And it still was not enough for the Phils to get the win.

The Mets hit three home runs of their own. Phils’ starter J.A. Happ was not especially sharp, but he had the lead when he left the game, thanks to a two-run homer from Jimmy Rollins that propelled to the Phils to a
4-3 lead in the sixth. But reliever Clay Condrey could not hold the lead and the Mets went on to a 6-5 win.

The loss cuts the Phils lead over the New Yorkers to 2 games.

They send Cole Hamels to the hill tonight to face Mike Pelfrey. Two of Pelfrey’s four wins this year have come against the Phils.

Tonight the Phils need their ace to pitch like one. Hamels needs to be the stopper. A win and the Phils are back up by three and know that at the worst they will leave New York up by two.

Lose tonight and the lead is down to one game and the Phils start to wonder about their hold on the NL East.

The ball’s in your court, Mr. Hamels.

The Lidge dilemma

Something doesn’t quite add up concerning the Phils’ move to place struggling closer Brad Lidge on the 15-day disabled list.

Was I in a delusional state or did I hear pitching coach Rich Dubee say on a between-innings chat with broadcasters on the Sunday night national ESPN game that he didn’t think Lidge’s problems were anything physical?

I also get the impression that the move to the DL was not Lidge’s idea.
Hence you have GM Ruben Amaro’s comments that the team took the decision “out of the player’s hands.” Took the words out of his mouth as well.
Lidge is not talking and was not available after the announcement Tuesday afternoon.

Clearly, Lidge has not been the dominant closer he was last year. But then it’s doubtful that anyone would be. All Lidge was last year was perfect, slamming the door 41 straight times.

This year he’s already blown six saves, including the only two games the Phils lost on their West Coast trip.

But that doesn’t mean he’s been horrible. He does have 13 saves in 19 opportunities, and prior to those two hiccups in Los Angeles he appeared as if he was putting it together.

Now the Phils might have an even bigger problem than an unhealthy Lidge.
They might have an unhappy Lidge.

Maybe he’ll come back in two weeks better than ever. The Phils are hoping so.

The last thing they need right now is a closer with a sore head, as well as a sore knee.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

The Daily Numbers - June 9

The Daily Numbers: 70 students sickened with flu-like symptoms at Ithan Elementary School in Radnor Township.
26, age of woman who died of swine flu in Philadelphia. The Delco incident is not believed to be related to swine flu.
1 year in Iraq that ended for an Upper Darby officer. John Redheffer was one of 800 soldiers who returned home to Fort Dix this past weekend.
438 graduates who picked up their diplomas during festivities held by Haverford High School last night.
3 people now in jail connected to a horrific child porn ring operating out of Colwyn. Concetta Jackson yesterday had her bail revoked in the case. Two others, including ringleader John Worman, already are behind bars.
2 men facing charges connected to a street robbery in which they held a gun to the head of a motorist they accosted in Aldan.
22 days until the deadline and not much in progress to report in terms of a state budget. The House Appropriations Committee yesterday shot down a budget plan passed by Senate Republicans.
40 stab wounds suffered by a man in Harrisburg.
40,000 dollars in drugs and cash a former Philadelphia police officer has been convicted of ripping off. He drove the getaway car.
13 million dollars from the feds to be used for street repaving efforts in Philly.
1 to 2 percent of viewers who the feds say are likely not ready for Friday’s switch to digital TV.
60, how old the suspect is believed to be in the holdup of a bank in Center City yesterday. The robber fled with an undisclosed amount of cash.
8 million dollars, how much a judge ruled yesterday the Philadelphia Eagles owe the city of Philadelphia tied to revenue from skyboxes at Veterans Stadium.
13, age of girl killed in a drive-by shooting in Trenton, N.J.
2 daughters, both of whom were fatally shot, lost by a woman in Wilmington, Del.
25 times, how many bullet wounds were suffered by a man gunned down near 21st and Reed Streets in South Philly.
24, age of suspect who led police in Wilmington on a wild car chase through the city.
4 stitches received by a student at Swenson Arts and Technology High School in Northeast Philly, apparently after a teacher threw a stapler and struck him in the head.
42 percent of people polled who believe the Gosselin kids are being exploited by their parents, who are starring in a reality TV show.
3 key games for the Phillies vs. the Mets starting tonight in New York City.
2 defensive backs now missing from the Eagles organized team activity.
Asante Samuel decided to skip this week’s voluntary practices. Coach Andy Reid is now amused.
Call me a Phanatic: A look at the ups and downs of being a Philadelphia sports fan.It’s times like this you appreciate Charlie Manuel. While everyone else is trying to figure out what’s wrong with Jimmy Rollins and Brad Lidge, he’s keeping his country cool and going about his business. It’s that kind of demeanor that was key to Phils run last September that wound up in a World Series crown.
I Don’t Get It: People who can resort to victimizing children. I just don’t get it.
Today’s Upper: Thumb’s up to Officer John Redheffer, who returned home yesterday after a tour with his National Guard unit in Iraq. Welcome home, soldier.
Quote Box: “He’s a true hero. He left a difficult job for a difficult job. I salute him as a hero.”
-- Upper Darby Police Superintendent Mike Chitwood, on the return of Officer John Redheffer.

How low humans can go

In my line of work, you get used to seeing the worst aspects of our communities.

You find yourself struggling for a positive, for some aspect of a story that would seem to redeem those involved.

Then there are the cases like the child-porn case in Colwyn involving John Worman.

I can’t think of a single redeeming factor in this horrific case, which made even hardened federal law men and women blanch when presenting how low humans can sink.

Several months ago, federal prosecutor Michelle Rotella admitted she struggled in presenting the evidence against Worman, and his two co-horts, Dorothy Jackson and Concetta Jackson.

Several jurors had to turn away when photos of children in the worst possible situations were displayed in front of them.

All three individuals in this case which stunned little Colwyn have been convicted.

Worman, who was described as a “monster” who preyed on neighborhood children, is awaiting sentencing.

Prawdzik, who along with Jackson served up kids for Worman’s deviant behavior, was sentenced to 30 years in jail.

Yesterday, it was Jackson’s turn. Her sentencing was delayed, but a judge did revoke her bail.

She apparently had been going about her business in Delaware County, shopping and doing other activities.

Not any more. Yesterday a federal judge revoked her bail and sent her to prison to await sentencing, which now likely will take place in August or September.

After returning a guilty verdict, several jurors referred to Worman as “Satan.” I suppose that would make Prawdzik and Jackson the devil’s helpers.

None of them is likely to be back on the street of Delaware County anytime soon.

Finally, something good to come out of his nauseating case.

A battle that's for the Birds

Yes, that was a smiling Mayor Michael Nutter standing in front of the microphones, pronouncing victory over the Philadelphia Eagles in their protracted battle stemming from revenue from skyboxes at Veterans Stadium.

It’s a heavyweight turf fight over a place that isn’t even there anymore.

Trying to figure out just who won is almost as difficult.

A judge yesterday ruled the Eagles must pay the city $8 million owed from skyboxes at the dearly departed Veterans Stadium. You might call that Round 1.

Of course Mayor Nutter rushed to the closest available microphone.

“I’m so pleased that today’s favorable court ruling has resolved a key part of this long-standing lawsuit between the city and the Eagles, and I appreciate the hard work on all sides,” the mayor pronounced, presumably all on one breath.

Of course he then added this small note: “I am also hopeful that the judge will rule shortly in the last final phase of the case so that this entire matter can reach a final conclusion.”

Translation? Don’t spend that money just yet, Mr. Mayor.

You see, a judge is likely to rule next week that the city also owes the team several million dollars stemming from an exhibition game at the Vet against the Baltimore Ravens that had to be canceled.

The whole thing could work out to be a wash.

Next week it likely will be Jeff Lurie and Joe Banner heading in front of the microphones saying how glad they are this whole thing has been settled in their favor.

Which leaves me with only one question. Why would the Eagles insist on this public spectacle, which simply reinforces fans’ image of them as penny-pinching bean counters?

Don’t expect to hear anyone stride to a microphone to answer that one anytime soon.

Charlie not losing his country cool

So much for the preliminaries. Now it’s time for the Main Event.

The Phillies, fresh off a successful road trip that could have been perfect were it not for two blown save opportunities by last year’s perfect man, closer Brad Lidge, hit the Big Apple tonight.

They play three games against the Mets, with the chance to either bury them, or limp out of town all even. Right now the Phils lead the Mets by three games.

For his part, Charlie Manuel says he’s not worried about two of his slumping stars, shortstop Jimmy Rollins and the aforementioned Lidge.

Manuel dropped Rollins down in the batting order Sunday in L.A. in an attempt to get him going. He didn’t seem to think it’s any big deal and it is likely Rollins will be back in his familiar spot at the top of the batting lineup tonight.

Same goes for Lidge. When the 9th inning rolls around tonight, look for Lidge to head for the mound.

That’s one of the best things about Manuel. His calm, down-home demeanor is not an act. That’s the way he goes about his job. It paid dividends last summer, when Manuel stayed the course, and the team responded in September.

Maybe the fans should take a clue from the manager.

Monday, June 8, 2009

The Daily Numbers - June 8

The Daily Numbers: 1 Pa. state trooper shot and killed after a 40-mile chase of a suspect from Easton to Tobyhanna last night.
21.9 percent, unemployment rate for teenagers across the country. Many teens are finding traditional summer jobs filled by adults seeking work.
400 applications, how many most job postings for new college grads are drawing these days.
35 to 90 years in jail for a man involved in a fatal home invasion in Chester.
335 graduates who picked up diplomas yesterday at ceremonies honoring Garnet Valley High School Sunday.
12, age of boy to whom a man exposed himself in the restroom of the Macy’s store in Exton Square Mall over the weekend.
20 million dollars, who much a Broomall man has now admitted ripping off from investors in a Ponzi scam.
6 hours, 24 minutes, 4 seconds, winning time for Andre Greipel in men’s Philly International Championship bike race yesterday.
2:22.33.5, winning time for Ina Teutenberg in the women’s Libery Classic race.
33, age of woman found shot to death slumped inside her SUV on a Wilmington street.
2 teens who drowned in the Gunpowder River in Aberdeen, Md., while celebrating their high school graduation.
50 pounds of pot seized in the bed of a pickup truck in New Castle.
15,000 dollar grant awarded to the Schuylkill Center for Environmental Education to develop urban farming.
1 person struck and killed by a New Jersey transit bus in Burlington County, N.J.
3 alarm blaze that rocked an industrial chemical plant in Bucks County.
2 suspects who accosted a man and took off in his Jaguar in Overbrook Saturday night.
24 arrests, though no incidents of violence, as police stepped up their presence after last weekend’s violent incidents on South Street in Philly.
3 homers for the Phils, as they beat the Dodgers on Sunday to salvage a split in their 4-game series.
6 blown save opportunities this year for closer Brad Lidge, who was perfect last year.
2 wins for rookie Antonio Bastardo, who gave the Phils 5 strong innings Sunday in L.A.
Call me a Phanatic: A look at the ups and downs of being a Philadelphia sports fan.Geez, we certainly do have short memories. So Brad Lidge has blown a few saves this year, including two games in L.A. over the weekend. Do we forget that all he did last year was run the table, the perfect season?
I haven’t.
I Don’t Get It: You’d be hard-pressed to know that Arlen Specter was ever a member of the Republican Party the way he was talking to state Dems over the weekeend.
Today’s Upper: Looks like we’re finally getting a little summer weather. Hot & humid, just the way I like it.
Quote Box: “Recent graduates are facing a far wider range of competition.”
-- Dr. Ellen Sloss, of Neumann University, on the job market new graduates are entering.

Specter, Sestak & the Dems

Snarlin’ Arlen is turning on the charm.

And Joe Sestak is no doubt about to turn on the heat.

Sestak made his first appearance in front of state Democrats over the weekend at a party gathering in Pittsburgh.

You’d be hard-pressed to know the guy was ever a Republican, if not for his own admission that he fled the GOP and is now “pleased and proud” to be a card-carrying member of the Democratic Party.

Specter joked that he had often been mocked in some GOP circles as a RINO – Republican In Name Only. Now he’s not ever that.

Also on hand was Sestak, the two-term Delco congressman who has Specter squarely in his crosshairs.

Sestak continues to question just how much of a Democrat Specter will be, noting he has yet to fully endorse the agenda of President Obama.

Sestak says that while the party leaders are solidly in the Specter camp, he heard from many on the floor that they would like another choice.

Stay tuned. This one is going to get interesting.

Meet the new boss

How does the classic song go? Meet the new boss, same as the old boss.

Don’t kick Tom Judge Sr. to the curb just yet.

A few months back the head of the Delco GOP announced he was stepping down. It set a lot of tongues wagging as to who would take over the top spot.

Here’s the answer: Judge, at least for a little while longer.

Judge announced he would stay on as the party leader through the November elections. He’s also setting up a board to come up with an interim leader in November. His term runs until 2012. The members of the panel are Upper Darby Republican leder John McNichol, Springfield leader Michael Puppio, and Kenneth Miller of Concord.

No doubt there will be lots of motives assigned to the decision by Judge not to leave the stage just yet. He says he wants to keep the same together through the November election.

Democrats, boosted by increasing registration numbers, have been making a few inroads into what was always reliable GOP turf recently. But one thing they have not been able to dent is the Republican fortress known as the County Courthouse.

This November two seats on County Council are up for grabs, as well as the sheriff’s post and a new seat on the county bench.

It appears unlikely at this point that Democrats will be able to crack the lineup in Media.

At least not yet. Maybe Judge just doesn’t feel like taking any chances.

Phils armed & dangerous

While everyone tries to figure out what’s wrong with Brad Lidge, something else the Phils are doing is flying a little bit under the radar.

They may be having trouble at the end of games, but their shaky starting pitching is starting to round into form.

Last night they got a second straight solid outing from Antonio Bastardo, who gave them five solid innings to pick up his second win.

Yes, Brett Myers is lost for the season. And the Phils likely will look to add a veteran arm to their rotation before the trade deadline. But the fact is their starting pitching is looking pretty solid.

Jamie Moyer seems to have righted his ship after he started the year looking every bit the 46-year-old journeyman junkballer.

Joe Blanton has now strung together a series of solid starts.

And Cole Hamels has been looking very much like the ace of the playoffs last fall.

Then there’s that ninth inning. Brad Lidge, who was only perfect last year, is continuing to have his struggles.

If not for two Lidge hiccups – helped Friday night by a rare miscue by third baseman Pedro Feliz – that cost the Phils tow games, they may have just rolled undefeated through the Left Coast. Lidge followed his Friday night problem by serving up a game-tying homer in the bottom of the ninth Saturday afternoon. He was a strike away from sealing the deal.

The question now is what to do with Lidge? Here’s the easy answer: Nothing.

Lidge was perfect last year. That was an anomaly. This year he’s already blown six save oportunities. So what.

Lidge is still effective. Leave him alone.

In the meantime, the Phils continue to be three games up on the Mets and heading for a showdown in New York starting Tuesday night that would allow them to stick a dagger in the heart of Gotham City.

Friday, June 5, 2009

The Daily Numbers - June 5

The Daily Numbers: 69 jobs being lost as layoffs hit Southco out in Concord Township. The firm is cutting 250 jobs worldwide.
72 break-ins admitted to by a Lancaster County man charged in Delco and
3 other counties. He pulled off the heists with his son.
6 men and 6 women picked for the jury in the case of Ramir Steve, charged in the murder of an Upper Darby cab driver on Christmas Eve 2008.
65 years ago Saturday, when U.S. troops, including Angelo Marsella of Brookhaven, took part in D-Day to start the liberation of Europe.
.298 blood alcohol level for a woman charged with DUI after she nearly struck a police officer in Chester.
190 graduates who picked up diplomas yesterday at Archbishop Prendergast; another 355 were handed out at festivities at Penncrest High.
6 Delco high schools that have graduation exercises planned for today. Hope they weren’t planning to have them outside.
2 men – including a US Airways worker – charged with trying to sneak a gun and ammo on a flight to Phoenix at Philly International yesterday.
4 men who pulled off a daring smash-and-grab robbery inside the swanky Boyd’s Men’s Store in Philly yesterday afternoon. They skated with $500,000 in watches.
50 students at Pennsauken Intermediate School who have been sickened by flu-like illness.
1 person in Berks County killed by swine flu, the first fatality reported in Pennsylvania. She had other health factors.
2 men shot to death overnight in Philadelphia.
3 people charged in a home invasion that turned fatal in Delaware.
6 school principals being removed from their posts at the end of the school year in Philadelphia.
138,700 dollars stolen from a non-profit by its former executive director at The Colours Organization.
110,000 senior citizen homeowners in Pa. who will see their property taxes wiped out by revenue from the state’s slots parlors.
97 pitches, all Cole Hamels needed to shut out the Dodgers last night.
7 straight wins for the Phils, as they now have opened up a 4-game lead over the faltering Mets.
2-2, all even between the Penguins and Red Wings in the Stanley Cup Finals. The Pens won again last night. The home team has won all 4 games.
1-0 in favor of the Lakers after they hammered the Magic in Game One of the NBA Finals last night.
40 points for the pride of Lower Merion, Kobe Bryant.
Call me a Phanatic: A look at the ups and downs of being a Philadelphia sports fan.What feels better? Watching the Phils win 7 straight, or watching the Mets fall apart in front of your eyes. Touch choice, no?
I Don’t Get It: I’m still stunned at how many people see no problem with the mob justice that was carried out on that Kensington street in collaring and beating a man wanted for questioning in the horrific rape of an 11-year-old girl.
Today’s Upper: I’m told the rain is going to stop and it is actually going to be a very nice weekend. Honest.
Quote Box: “Southco was always such a special place to work.”
-- Worker who learned his job was one of 69 being eliminated at the Concord facility.

Crapping out at Harrah's

The state sent out a lovely little press release earlier this week heralding how things are going great guns in the gambling business.

Money continues to flow into the state’s new slots casinos at a record clip. The “take” in May was up 18 percent, bolstered in part by the arrival of the latest palatial gaming parlor, the Sands Casino on the site of the old Bethlehem Steel plan in the Lehigh Valley.

The state’s eight casinos generated $178 million in revenue in May. Not a bad month.

But there’s another story here, one that is not exactly highlighted in the state’s release.

Something strange is going on at Harrah’s down in Chester. Revenue is down. And it has been for about a year. For the most part, revenue has been off 2 or 3 percent a month. A trickle, especially when you consider the fact that Harrah’s Chester Casino & Racetrack still takes in about $30 million a month.

But in May things took a turn for the worse. A serious turn for the worse. Revenue was off 6 percent.

Don’t lose sleep for Harrah’s. They aren’t going broke. They still took in $29,355,459 in May, but that was down from $31,283,315 in May of last year.

And that’s not all. They also surrendered their normal No. 2 spot in terms of overall casino revenue. They usually trail only Philly Park, but in May they also slipped behind The Meadows Racetrack and Casino.

And one final ominous sign for the state’s foray into gambling, one that should be noticed since it appears that table games are merely a matter of when they get the green light, not if.

Up until now, every state casino with the exception of Harrah’s has posted increased revenue each month since they opened. Harrah’s was the first to hit negative numbers. They are no longer alone.

Two other casinos also were off in May. Presque Isle was down 4.5 percent. Mount Airy was off a whopping 9.7 percent. I guess some of that can be written off by the arrival of the mighty Sands in Bethlehem.

But I still don’t have an explanation for Harrah’s and why they’re struggling. I’d love to have someone at Harrah’s address the issue, but they simply do not want to talk about it. I guess I can’t blame them.

Is it just the general downturn in the economy? Is it more competition around the state? Are Atlantic City and Delaware casinos luring customers back? What is going to happen if and when those two casinos planned for downtown Philly ever get off the ground?

No one is talking.

We’ve been invited to Harrah’s next week to talk to the new chairman of the state Gaming Control Board. Greg Fajt is on a tour of the casinos. I plan to have someone ask him about why Harrah’s is down. Don’t know if he’ll answer, but someone should start talking about it.

Lament of a Boy of Summer

Where the hell is summer? Yes, I know the calendar still tells us it’s spring. Don’t go getting all technical on me.

I’ll make this easy. I like it hot and humid. The hotter the better.
Those muggy nights where the air feels like a wet towel sticking to your neck? I love them.

My idea of a great summer night is sitting in shorts and T-shirt on my porch, listening to the crickets and owls with the Phillies game on the radio.

So what do I get. Wet and cold. And for a change, cold and wet. I have yet to be able to stumble out onto my screened-in refuge and simply simmer the night away. I love it when all I can hear are the hum of air-conditioners, and the occasional knock on the door from my family tucked comfortably inside in their air-conditioned comfort to be sure I have not slipped into a coma. Not that you could actually tell.

We’re now in June. I’m feeling cheated on my porch time. It rained on and off most of the day yesterday. It is pouring out this morning.

I am told it’s supposed to clear tonight and actually be fairly nice for the weekend.

But I don’t see the magic numbers anywhere in the near future. That, of course, would be the 90-degree mark.

Bring it on. Where’s summer?

Totally cool Cole

Leave it to Hollywood to bring out the ace in Cole Hamels.

The Phils’ left-hander is the prototypical California kid, a cool surfer dude who has been transplanted 3,000 miles away.

But last night Hamels must have felt at home as he strode to the hill against the Dodgers as the palm trees swayed in the background in Chavez Ravine.

Hamels was masterful, throwing a complete game shutout. In the process he needed only 97 pitches to shut down the Dodgers on just five hits, striking out five and walking none.

It was the Phils seventh straight win and they are in the process of opening a gulf between themselves and the Mets, who fell to the Pirates.
The Phils now lead by four full games.

After being swept in Pittsburgh, the Mets appear to be falling apart at the seams, with Carlos Beltran openly questioning the effort of some of his teammates.

Too bad.

Jamie Moyer will look for win No 251 tonight in L.A. We might actually get a chance to see the Phils again this weekend. We get a break from all this late-night action, with a 4 p.m. start Saturday afternoon. The two teams hook up as the ESPN national game Sunday night at 8.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

The Daily Numbers - June 4

The Daily Numbers: 63 percent in a recent poll of Pennsylvania voters that wanted Sen. Arlen Specter to have a primary opponent. That most likely will be U.S. Rep. Joe Sestak.
125 to 70, vote by which nurses at Fair Acres decided to join a union.
65,000 dollars in drugs and equipment stolen from a Chester pharmacy.
Police have a man in custody.
450 graduates awarded diplomas yesterday by Cardinal O’Hara High School.
2 more high schools, Archbishop Prendergast and Penncrest, that hold their graduation exercises today.
40, age of Philly man charged in a bizarre murder-for-hire plot.
40 new low-income homes unveiled by the Women’s Community Revitalization Project in North Philly.
1,267 pot plants seized during a raid on a Bucks County home. Two men are now charged. The drug ring extended to Chester County.
51, age of dentist in Philadelphia charged with possession of child porn.
1 person killed in a motorcycle accident last night on Parrish Street in Philadelphia.
6 dogs at 2 PSPCA centers in Philly that tests show died of a virus called “strep zoo.”
52 pound runaway tortoise from West Chester recovered in Lancaster County.
4 juveniles in custody after a campus lockdown yesterday at Princeton caused by what some thought was a person with a gun. It turned out to be a toy that kids found in a dumpster.
1 penny hike in price of gas. Average price in region now is $2.56 a gallon.
45 jobs being cut by Adolor Inc. in Exton, Chester County. That’s 28 percent of its work force.
7.6 percent unemployment rate in the region in April, down from 8 percent in March.
7.8 percent decline in passenger boardings reported by US Airways in May.
22,000 new jobs being created at Wal-Mart, which is looking to open 150 new stores this year.
2 teachers in Sussex County, Del., now under arrest on charges involving sexual relations with students.
1 TSA officer at Philly International now charged with stealing items from suitcases.
6 to 8 weeks on the shelf for Brian Westbrook, who will have an operation on his ankle.
6 straight wins for the Phils, who rolled over the Padres during a 3-game sweep.
7 strong innings for Phils rookie starter J.A. Happ, who did not give up a run.
2 run homer for Ryan Howard in the first to kick-start the Phils attack.
50 game suspension now over for reliever J.C. Romero, who pitched an inning and a third last night.
Call me a Phanatic: A look at the ups and downs of being a Philadelphia sports fan.Imagine that, another injury to Brian Westbrook. Hey, how ‘bout them Phillies?
I Don’t Get It: Kendra Wilkinson is getting her own reality TV show.
Who’s Kendra Wilkinson? Good question. She’s a former Playboy bunny who used to hang out with Hugh Hefner. And she’s engaged to Eagles wide receiver Hank Baskett. Swell.
Today’s Upper: Yes, I’m glad the community got involved and collared the suspect in the rape of an 11-year-old girl in Philly. No, I’m not thrilled with the way they went about it.
Quote Box: “I have the greatest respect for President Obama, and the entire Washington political establishment – in fact, I’m running fully in support of President Obama’s agenda.”
-- Joe Sestak, on his possible challenge to Sen. Arlen Specter, over the objections of party leaders.

Vigilante justice

Go ahead, admit it. When you first heard the news that the “person of interest” in the rape of an 11-year-old girl in Philadelphia had been collared, you smiled.

When you heard that he was actually roughed up by a crowd that spotted him on a Kensington street and tracked him down, you cheered just a bit, didn’t you?

Join the crowd, or mob, if you will.

For months now we have been hearing pleas from law enforcement and community leaders that they need help in the war on crime. Too often all they got was a wall of silence when seeking information about the crime.

They got more than that in the case of Jose Carrasquillo. A lot more.
What they got can best be described as vigilante justice. I’m just not sure that’s what we want.

Look, I’m glad Carrasquillo is off the street. But in retrospect I’m not all that thrilled about what happened to him before cops arrived on the scene.

Carrasquillo wound up in the hospital in critical condition. I hear all the impassioned pleas about how “he got what he deserved” or how “it should have been worse.” I can understand those feelings. I just don’t agree with them.

Remember this one, minor item. Carrasquillo has not been charged in the rape of that little girl. At least not yet.

What if this just happened to be someone who looked an awful lot like Carrasquillo? Would we feel the same way about that mob descending on him with the intent to do harm?

For the most part, city and police officials are walking a fine line here.

Here’s my take. I’m glad Carrasquillo is in custody. I hope he’s charged and if convicted is put away so he can never do to anyone else what was done to that little girl. It’s easy to forget her in this process. And that would be a mistake.

But I think officials would be wise to step back from the kind of “justice” that was delivered to Jose Carrasquillo.

The crowd could have done any number of things. They could have alerted police to Carrasquillo’s whereabouts. They could have held him until police arrived. They likely did both those things. But they also did a lot more. They beat and kicked him before police arrived, sending him to the hospital.

It’s hard to work up a lot of sympathy for Jose Carrasquillo. He has a long record, some involving previous sexual assaults. That’s not what this is about. This is about who and what we are as a society. And some of the basic tenets of our justice system.

That wasn’t justice delivered on that Kensington street. It was mob rule. And that’s a very dangerous thing.

Six straight for Phils

Break up the Phillies!

The Phils completed a sweep of San Diego on the Left Coast last night, fueled by another show of power from Ryan Howard and a gem from rookie hurler J.A. Happ.

With the Mets being rained out, the Phils now lead the NL East by three full games as they head up the coast to L.A., and a weekend set with the NL West-leading Dodgers. The Phils have now won six straight as they continue their amazing play on the road.

Now it’s time to get greedy. Is anyone else wondering about all those starts the Phils gave Chan Ho Park, who was declared the fifth starter after a training camp battle with Happ? How’s that decision look now?

All Happ did was last night was throw seven scoreless innings in dominating the Padres. The Phils got back-to-back strong efforts from two rookies, Happ and Antonio Bastardo. Their starting pitching, which has looked shaky much of the early going, is looking better by the day, even with Brett Myers headed toward surgery and the shelf for the rest of the season.

The Phils also welcomed back set-up man J.C. Romero from his 50-game suspension. He pitched an inning and a third, giving up two hits and one unearned run.

There is a touch of bad news. Hey, it wouldn’t be Philly without a dark lining would it?

Center-fielder Shane Victorino left the game in the sixth with a strained hip. He’ll have it examined today.

For now, it’s bring on L.A.

Westbrook hurt again

The Eagles were last on the field playing a meaningful football game in January. Maybe you remember, that game when they forgot that it might be a good idea to cover Larry Fitzgerald?

Supposedly, no members of the team have had any serious contact in the last five months, if you don’t count Donovan McNabb and Sheldon Brown jousting with the front office as they seek new contracts.

So how is it exactly that Brian Westbrook showed up for this week’s “organized team activity” – does that name drive anyone else crazy? – with an ankle injury?

That’s right, the Birds star running back is on the shelf again. And this one not only has a touch of mystery to it, it is beginning to sound like it could be a problem.

Usually, an ankle injury in June is no big deal. Training camp is still two months away.

But the team announced that Westbrook will need surgery on his right ankle. A doctor referred to the procedure as a “debridement” of the ankle. Sounds like a divorce. The recovery period - six to eight weeks - would likely keep Westbrook out of a lot of those drills in Lehigh.

What Westbrook can’t divorce himself from is the persistent belief that he is injury-prone. Couple that with the knowledge that Westbrook is now 30, no longer a young buck out of Villanova, and you have some concerns.

Maybe it’s all for the best. Westbrook probably doesn’t need to be banged around every day at Lehigh. So long as he’s ready to go on opening day.

In the meantime, the team will get a long look at draft pick LeSean McCoy, out of Pittsburgh.

He won’t make the worry over Westbrook disappear, but he is a better insurance policy than the team has had in the past.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

The Daily Numbers - June 3

The Daily Numbers: 8 times a man was shot outside his apartment in Darby Township. He survived.
2 weeks since an explosion and fire rocked the Sunoco plant and neighborhood in Marcus Hook. A probe into what happened continues.
50,000 dollars in damage caused by a man with a hammer inside Chichester High School over the weekend.
4.1 percent budget hike under the proposed budget in Marple Newtown School district.
55 percent for Chris Christie to 42 percent for Steve Lonegan as Christie wins GOP gubernatorial nod in New Jersey. He’ll face Gov. Jon Corzine in the fall.
508,000 ballots cast in Jersey, that’s a turnout of about 10 percent of registered voters.
26, age of “person of interest” who was seized by a crowd, roughed up and held until police arrived in the rape of an 11-year-old girl in Philadelphia.
1 more person struck and killed by a hit-run driver. A woman in her 30s was hit as she tried to cross Roosevelt Boulevard early Wednesday.
26, age of teacher in Delaware charged with having sex with a 10th grade student.
76 mph winds that accompanied damaging storm that blew through parts of northern Delaware Tuesday afternoon.
10,000 dollars in uniforms and equipment stolen from a football team in New Castle County, Del.
3 years probation for a woman in Philly who police say got her daughter involved in prostitution.
18,000 dollars believed stolen from taxpayers by the owner of a private tutoring company in Philly.
18 percent increase in revenue for Pa.’s slots casinos in May.
6.2 percent decline in revenue from slots at Harrah’s in Chester. Two other casinos also were down for the month.
500 million in new cuts being sought by Gov. Ed Rendell as the state’s budget crisis worsens.
15 percent dip in revenue collected in Pa. in May. Year-to-date revenue collections are off almost 11 percent.
2 home runs for Raul Ibanez last night to power the Phils to another road win.
200 and 201 home runs in his career for Ibanez, who hit them on his 37th birthday.
6 strong innings for Phils rookie starter Antonio Bastardo as he got the win last night against the Padres.
1 inning for Padres ace Jake Peavy, who left with the flu.
2-1 lead for the Red Wings after the Penguins took Game 3 of their Stanley Cup Final series last night.
Call me a Phanatic: A look at the ups and downs of being a Philadelphia sports fan.It’s time to start thinking about Raul Ibanez in terms of an MVP. And to think he’s not even leading the All-Star ballot. Has anyone had a better first half?
I Don’t Get It: Someone explain this one to me. You are against abortion as murder, but fatally shoot and kill a doctor who performs abortions. I don’t get it.
Today’s Upper: Kudos to all those who wasted no time in alerting police to the ID of the woman who is believed to have pocketed two $100 dollar bills a woman dropped in the Upper Chi Wal-Mart. Her act was captured on videotape and her picture appeared in the paper. Police got no shortage of calls.
Quote Box: “It’s inevitable. We’ve come to terms with it.”
-- Marcus Hook resident in the aftermath of the explosion and fire at the local Sunoco plant, as experts try to figure out what went wrong.

A little vigilante justice

Tell me if you saw this one coming.

An 11-year-old girl is snatched off the street and brutally raped as she walked to school in Kensington.

Police first issue a composite sketch, then follow up with a press conference with a photo of a person they refer to as a “person of interest” in the case. They urge the suspect to turn himself in and seek help from the community.

They got it.

The suspect was spotted by a crowd as he walked along the street. You can pretty much guess what happened next.

We hear the laments every day of the culture of “no snitching” and a lack of cooperation police get from the community.

This is the other side of that coin. In this instance, the crowd took matters into their own hands, roughing up the suspect and holding him until police arrived.

He has not yet been charged in the rape. He is in critical condition in the hospital.

Justice? Vigilante justice? Probably yes, on both counts.

The killing of Dr. George Tiller

We find ourselves swimming in media these days.

Andy Warhol was right. Everyone will be famous for 15 minutes. That’s why we have Paris Hilton. And Kim Kardashian. And reality TV.

Now I suppose we are supposed to care about Jon and Kate Gosselin. I have to admit I could care less. I just wish they would go away. But I’m not naïve enough to believe that’s going to happen anytime soon. They’re
15 minutes is not up just yet. That’s because their ratings are up – way up.

No less than an authority than the “Octomom,” Nadya Suleman, is now weighing in on the parenting skills of the Gosselins. By the way, Suleman is now in line for a spot on a reality TV show of her own. I don’t know if she’s going to have hired actors doing all the work for her on that front, much as she now does at home, as well. You can’t make this stuff up.

But you can put it on TV. Or the Internet. And if you can squeeze it into 140 characters or less, it might end up on Twitter.

Someone once said television caters to the lowest common denominator.
The question then becomes, how low can we go?

I have no idea, other than this. I don’t think we’ve hit the bottom yet.
Not by a long shot.

But there are consequences to our 24-hour media world. There is a cost to being constantly plugged in.

Media outlets, this one included, now realize that while it is nice to literally have no limits to what you can put out for public consumption, the bottom line is that you have to fill up those airwaves.

Talk radio gets shriller. TV becomes more base. Newspapers veer form reporting to opinionating. I do it every day in this blog. I’m not saying it’s right. I just wonder where we’re headed, and if it’s possible to unplug from all this media, and the consequences when you don’t.

I’ll admit that some of this self-examination comes on the heels of something that happened on Sunday.

A man who opposed abortion, who professed to be “pro-life,” shot and killed a doctor who legally provided late-term abortions.

I’m not about to get into an argument about abortion. I’ll just say that I’m personally opposed. At the same time, I realize that legal abortion is the law of the land.

We just went through this argument with the visit of President Barack Obama to the Unversity of Notre Dame. The school came under withering criticism from those who believe they should not have offered that platform to the president, based on his pro-choice beliefs.

I disagreed with that position. If that makes me a bad Catholic, so be it.

I’m even more troubled by the murder of Dr. George Tiller. Our media world, saturated with cable TV, talk radio, newspaper columns, blogs and Web sites, have been filled with references to the doctor as a “mass murderer.”

He legally provided late-term abortions for women. Again I’m not here to argue the circumstances involving those abortions, and the grounds under which the women chose to abort their pregnancy and Tiller performed the procedure.

I’m worried about the heated rhetoric that surrounds this kind of issue, and the blow-torch effect the media can have in further heating up an already simmering passion.

The truth is I don’t know what was going through the head of Scott Roeder when he walked into a church in Wichita, Kan., and gunned down Dr. Tiller.

I’m still trying to get past someone who opposed abortion as murder gunning down another human being in cold blood.

And what – if any – role out media-saturated world played in that fateful decision.

Raul & Bastardo: Magnifico

Maybe we should start calling them Road Warriors. Or more appropriately, Raul Warriors.

While you were sleeping, Raul Ibanez was at it again last night in San Diego. The man who is making us forget Pat Burrell hit two more home runs as the Phils continued their winning ways on the road.

He was not alone in the heroics department. The Phils sent untested rookie pitcher Antonio Bastardo to the mound to take the turn of injured Brett Myers.

Bastardo was magnifico. He pitched lights out for six innings, striking out five and giving up just one run on four hits.

Significantly, Bastardo was opposed by Padres’ ace Jake Peavey, who many people would like to see in a Phillies uniform. Peavey may or may not be being shopped by the Padres. What he was last night was anything but an ace. Apparently suffering from the flu, Peavey left after just one inning. By then the Phils had already staked Bastardo to a 4-0 lead.

For Ibanez, it was something of a birthday party. He celebrated his 37th birthday by hitting homers number 18 and 19, number 200 and 201 in his career. Both were two-run shots.

The Phils continued their red-hot ways on the road, and now lead the Mets by 2 and a half games in the NL East.

We might have to get used to calling Ibanez something other than the “Rauuuuuuuuul” chant that now greets him at Citizens Bank Park.

We might have to start calling him MVP.

Brown out for Eagles

Kiss Sheldon Brown goodbye.

The disgruntled Eagles cornerback just committed the cardinal sin. He showed up Andy Reid and the brass down at NovaCare Nation.

Last we heard from Brown, he was complaining about the way he was being treated by the Eagles, and that he either wanted his contract redone or a trade.

But at the same time the starting corner also indicated he planned to be a good soldier, to go about his job and not make waves.

That ended yesterday.

Brown apparently took the “voluntary” aspect of the Birds voluntary organized team activity literally. He was a no-show yesterday for the final mini-camp before the team heads off to training camp at Lehigh.

Andy Reid did not look especially happy about it as he talked through clenched teeth.

“Sheldon is doing what Sheldon thinks he needs to do,” Reid said.

Now the Eagles will do what they think they need to do. Anyone remember Lito Sheppard?

The Birds traded for Ellis Hobbs, who was unhappy himself in New England before the Eagles picked him up in a deal.

Hobbs was taking Brown’s snaps yesterday.

Just another day in the never-ending saga of “How the Eagles Turn.”

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

The Daily Numbers - June 2

The Daily Numbers: 3 to 23 months in prison, jail term started Monday by former Folcroft District Judge Anthony Truscello.
100 dollar bills, 2 of them, pilfered after they fell out of a woman’s purse at a local Wal-Mart. The suspect was captured on videotape.
28 write-in votes for challenger Michael Boyle in the race for county sheriff, not enough to get him listed on the November ballot.
98 dollar tax hike for average home owner in Upper Darby under the proposed budget being looked at by the Upper Darby School District.
2 assembly plants to be closed by General Motors, including the Boxwood Road facility in Wilmington, Del. The facility will shut down for good in July.
2 school buildings being closed in York, Pa., due to an outbreak of swine flu.
11, age of girl brutally raped on her way to school in the Kensington section of Philadelphia.
10,000 dollar reward posted in the case.
50 illegal immigrants employed at a Horsham-based series of car washes.
The owner has pleaded guilty.
1 suspect wounded and an officer injured in a police-involved shooting in the Kingsessing section of Philadelphia early this morning.
65 million dollars, what Sunoco is getting for the sale of a refinery in Tulsa, Okla.
300,000 dollars paid for a water system in Kratzerville, Pa., by Aqua America Inc.
3 teens charged in a rash of graffiti incidents in Rehoboth Beach.
6 dogs killed by an outbreak of canine influenza at a PSPCA shelter on Erie Avenue in Philly. A quarantine has been put into effect.
221 point rally yesterday on Wall Street as the market jumped almost 2.6 percent.
15 percent dip in revenue collected in Pa. in May. Year-to-date revenue collections are off almost 11 percent.
7 out of 10 young Americans who are unfit to serve in the military, according to a Pentagon study.
2.54 a gallon, what we’re paying for gasoline in the Philly region.
Summer must be here.
7 strong innings for Phils starter Joe Blanton as he got the win last night against the Padres.
2 home runs, back-to-back, for Chase Utley and Ryan Howard.
13 saves for Brad Lidge, who shut down the Padres in the 9th.
Call me a Phanatic: A look at the ups and downs of being a Philadelphia sports fan.Somebody named Antonio Bastardo will be on the mound for the Phils tonight in San Diego. He’s been called up from AAA to take the start that would normally belong to Brett Myers, who is looking at hip surgery that could sideline him for the season.
I Don’t Get It: Some knuckleheads with a spray can have targeted a synagogue in Northeast Philadelphia and decorated it with swastikas. I don’t get it.
Today’s Upper: We’re about to plunge head-first into high school commencement season. First up is Cardinal O’Hara on Wednesday.
Quote Box: “Joe (Sestak) should not run for the Senate in the Democratic Primary. He would get killed.”
-- Pa. Gov. Ed Rendell, urging Delco U.S. Rep. Joe Sestak not to challenge the Republican-turned Democrat senator.

End of line for Truscello saga

Our front-page teaser headline today perhaps best sums up the long-running saga of Anthony Truscello.

Judge-ment Day.

For a very long time, Anthony Truscello was the law in Folcroft. He served seemingly forever as the town’s district justice, earning the nicknames “Tough Tony” Truscello and “Tony the Just.”

Today the man who left the bench only to become the borough manager is getting a different view of the justice system.

Truscello is behind bars at the George W. Hill Correctional Facility, serving three to 23 months for his conviction in an infamous borough wiretapping case. He’s not alone. Also reporting to the county jail Monday was former borough council Vice President Joseph Zito.

The duo actually were acquitted on charges tied directly to surveillance equipment installed in the borough police headquarters. But they were convicted of preparing false bills in an attempt to hide the purchases.

Truscello’s attempts to stay out of jail went all the way to the state Supreme Court. But the justices ruled against him last month, refusing to hear his case.

He was left with little choice. Truscello reported to prison Monday.

I suppose you can make the argument that it does not do a whole lot of good to put a 72-year-old man in failing health in jail.

Except for this. It reminds us once again that no one is above the law.
Not even Tony Truscello. Not even in Folcroft.

Good & Bad Internet

I’m about to delve into something I deal with every day – technology.

Look, I’m a print person. If that makes me a dinosaur, so be it. I am learning new things about technology every day, and embracing the way it helps us deliver the news.

That does not mean I don’t have grave concerns about some of the technology we find ourselves swimming in every day.

Take, for instance, what happened over the weekend in Philadelphia.

A group of young thugs want on a rampage on South Broad Street, vandalizing car and businesses, and basically terrorizing anyone who got in their way.

This was just a few blocks south of City Hall along the Avenue of the Arts, one of the city’s showcases, and a place it would be easy to see any of us traversing on a Saturday night.

That young people would resort to this kind of activity is shocking in itself, but what is especially nefarious is the way it came about, you might even say organized.

Police believe the young toughs actually used several online networking sites to alert others of their intention to gather on South Street near Broad.

More than 100 youths wound up in the area, most of them up to no good.
What happened next was a series of attacks, including a hijacked taxi, a couple of assaults and a ransacked store.

Police say it’s a new twist, one they have yet to figure out how to attack, other than to beef up patrols in the area.

Wonderful. There’s a lot I’m learning to like about the Internet. This is not one of them.

A birthday for Beaver

Here’s one you might want to avoid if you are of a certain age.

Jerry Mathers is 61 today.

If that does not strike a bell, let me phrase it another way. “The Beaver” is now into his sixth decade.

That’s right, the actor who played Beaver Cleaver on the classic TV show “Leave it to Beaver” is 61.

Geez, how old does that make Tony Dow.

And don’t even get me started on Eddie Haskell.

West Coast Blues

This is one of those weeks I’m especially grateful for the Internet.

That’s because the Phils are on the West Coast. As one of those dinosaurs who still makes his living for the most part printing ink on paper, that creates some problems for me.

It’s pretty simple, really. The game in San Diego started at 10:05. It took two hours, 39 minutes to play. Our deadline is 11:40. You do the math.

Yes, it means some of the most dreaded words in sports journalism. No, not “I don’t get it,” with apologies to sports columnist Jack McCaffery.

Instead it’s the disclaimer, “Last night’s Phillies-Padres game ended too late for this edition.”

That’s right. We don’t have the luxury of simply waiting for the game to end before starting our press. The truth is they could play all night.
We are faced with the unappetizing prospect of printing papers without the game result.

We do, however, have the ability to stop the press as soon as the game is over, update our coverage with details from the game – including getting the fact that the Phils won on our Back Page – and then restarting the press.

I believe we actually got the game into most of the papers last night.
We sent out the replates with the game result at 12:43 a.m.

With the wonders of the Internet, I can now post the result of the game online immediately. It’s one of my favorite things about the technology we’re embracing in our alter ego in the cyberworld. The truth is there are no actual deadlines when you’re working in the Web world, other than trying to post information as quickly and accurately as you can.

In effect what the Internet is allowing us to do is become a 24-hour newsroom. News doesn’t take a break. Our ability to post news online doesn’t either. We’re now doing it 24 hours a day, constantly updating, developing, and posting new information.

Our Web site this morning has full coverage of the Phillies game – including the details of another solid start from Joe Blanton and back-to-back homers from Chase Utley and Ryan Howard in a 5-3 win – even though it does not appear in all editions of our print product.

Who says you can’t teach an old dinosaur new tricks.

Monday, June 1, 2009

The Daily Numbers - June 1

The Daily Numbers: 0 promises Sen. Arlen Specter says he got from Democratic Party leaders that they would clear the way for him to the party’s nomination.
1 challenge still being mulled by Rep. Joe Sestak.
3 bullet wounds suffered by Upper Darby man in an incident on a Stonehurst playground. A Yeadon man has now been charged.
2 men now charged in the robbery of an Upper Darby bank.
36 years at Swarthmore College capped off at Sunday’s commencement by outgoing school President Al Bloom.
80 years of service coming to an end at Our Lady of Peace School in Ridley. They offered a fond farewell to the Sisters of St. Joseph who served so well there on Sunday.
2.8 percent tax hike in the budget proposal given the green light in Wallingford-Swarthmore School District.
20 to 30 teens being sought in a series of ugly vandalism incidents on Broad Street in Philly early Sunday.
3 trials for a former Philly cop charged with using his badge to rip off drug dealers. Two earlier trials ended with hung juries.
94 people locked up over the weekend as Philadelphia police continue to push Operation Pressure Point.
30 days for the Pennsylvania Legislature to approve a budget plan. By law the budget must be in place by June 30.
100,000 dollar cash bail for the Bucks County mom who police say pulled off an elaborate abduction hoax. Now they say she may have stolen money from several sources to finance her lavish lifestyle.
6 months of house arrest that ends today for former CBS-3 TV anchorman Larry Mendte.
3 West Philadelphia families chased out of their homes when fire erupted late Sunday night. No injuries were reported.
18 dogs confiscated from a home in Overbrook, and 1 man faces charges that he was breeding pit bulls for a dog fighting ring.
7 cent hike in gas prices over the weekend. The average price in the region is now $2.53 a gallon.
15 to 30 year sentence, what some lawmakers want for a second violent offense in Pennsylvania. They’re introducing new legislation to beef up penalties.
23, age of man whose body was discovered in Lake Nockamixon in Bucks County. He had been missing several days. A fishing boat was found on the shore.
97, age of final survivor of Titanic, who died on Sunday.
60 percent ownership in GM for the government as the battered automaker files for Chapter 11 bankruptcy today.
250 wins for Phillies pitcher Jamie Moyer.
11 left-handers in Major League Baseball history who have racked up 250 wins.
7 straight wins for the Phils against the Nats, and 10 of the last 12.
2-0 lead for the Red Wings as they have won the first two games of their Stanley Cup Finals series against the Penguins.
Call me a Phanatic: A look at the ups and downs of being a Philadelphia sports fan.The Eddie Jordan Era starts today for the Sixers. Don’t hold your breath for a stampede at the ticket office.
I Don’t Get It: We’re likely never going to agree on the abortion issue.
But it strikes me as odd that someone bothered by a person’s position on abortion would resort to murder as a way of expressing it.
Today’s Upper: Kudos to Al Bloom, who capped off an illustrious career at Swarthmore College with Sunday’s commencement. Bloom now goes to Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, as vice chancellor of New York’s University’s new campus there.
Quote Box: “I didn’t ask that the field be cleared. There was no discussion of that …. Everybody ought to run if he or she wants to run.
And I’m ready to take on all comers.”
-- Arlen Specter, talking about a possible challenge for the Democratic nomination for his Senate run in 2010.

Snarlin' Arlen is back

Say what you want about Arlen Specter – and lots of people are saying lots of things about him these days – he’s never backed away from a fight.

He’s survived decades in the U.S. Senate, and overcome several tussles with cancer.

For some reason I don’t think a primary challenge is going to faze him.

You may remember Specter has been in the headlines recently for bailing on the Republican Party, crossing the aisle and joining the Democrats.

In doing so he did something some Republicans have been trying to do for years. There is a big portion of the GOP that never particularly cared for Specter. They considered him too middle of the road, someone who could not be counted on to vote their wishes.

This year the veteran senator pushed the buttons of the conservative wing of the party by providing the crucial vote that cleared the way for President Obama’s stimulus program. The thunder from the right was palpable.

Conservative former congressman Pat Toomey, who almost got the best of Specter a few years back, announced he would challenge him again. The polls said he likely was going to win. Even Specter’s own polling data had him losing.

So what was snarlin’ Arlen to do? Voila! Reinvent himself as a Democrat.

Obama welcomed him with open arms, as did Vice President Joe Biden, an old friend from the Senate, and Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell. It seemed like they were preparing a coronation for Specter as the party’s Senate candidate.

Not so fast. No one bothered to tell our very own Congressman Joe Sestak.

The 7th District Democrat, the man who showed 20-year incumbent Curt Weldon the door, is not all that thrilled with the way party leaders have fallen all over themselves to anoint Specter as their guy. It represented an often thought – but rarely spoken – sentiment among many in the party.

Sestak has basically said he’s going to run against Specter in the primary; he merely wants to sit down with his family to talk things over.

For the most part Specter has not responded to the possible challenge from inside his new party.

Not any more. On Sunday, Specter made it clear he never expected nor was he promised a clear path to the nomination.

And he has a message for Sestak: Bring it on.

Now the volley goes back to Sestak. The next big thing will be his formal announcement.

This one could get real interesting.

The Jordan era, Eddie not Michael

If there was ever a team in need of some sizzle, it would be the Sixers.

They aren’t going to get it today.

And that’s too bad. Because today is the day they will unveil their new head coach. Eddie Jordan, long considered the front-runner because of his relationship with the GM Ed Stefanski, will be named the new boss on the Sixers’ bench.

Don’t expect a stampede on the ticket windows.

Eddie Jordan may turn out to be exactly the right guy for the job. But today he is putting Sixers fans to sleep, something this team has done all too often the last couple of years.

Stefanski has a coach, the guy he likely wanted all along. Now he needs to get him some players.

Jordan envisions a motion offense similar to the one made famous by legendary Princeton coach Pete Carrill.

It needs two things to work: A great point guard to run the show, and an outside shooter to draw the defense out and allow cutters and backdoor passing as guys slash to the basket. Right now the Sixers have neither.

Andre Miller is a question mark. Maybe he’ll be back, more likely he will not. The team has not had a legitimate outside shooting threat since jettisoning Kyle Korver.

Stefanski will roll out Jordan today. Then he needs to get to work giving him some players.

Otherwise, the team will continue to spin its wheels, an afterthought year after year as the playoffs reach their pinnacle with the NBA Finals, something the Sixers have not been a part of since that magical year of 2001.

Remember Allen Iverson stepping over a fallen Laker as they won Game 1 at an electric Wachovia Center?

It was only eight years ago. Seems like a lot longer.

Moyer & Gibson

At first glance it would not appear that Jamie Moyer has a lot in common with legendary Cardinals’ pitcher Bob Gibson.

Moyer is the Phils’ ancient left-hander. Watching him pitch you get the itch to grab a bat and take a couple of hacks against him. The frustrated high school baseball player in you insists you could probably hit the junk Moyer throws up there.

Moyer is all about finesse, locating his pitches, changing his speeds.
He really is a pitcher, not just a thrower.

Gibson, on the other hand, was a different animal. The longtime star of the St. Louis Cardinals was one of the most feared pitchers in the game.
He threw hard, and would put one under your chin if he thought you were crowding the plate on him. And heaven help you if you did manage to make contact and he thought you were showing him up. Gibson would not forget such antics. In fact he was likely to remind you during your next at-bat.

So what exactly is it these two longtime hurlers share? Gibson won 251 games in 17 years, all with the Cardinals.

Yesterday Moyer collected win No. 250. It’s an impressive number. Of course, Gibson posted all those numbers for one team. He was 251-174, for a winning percentage of .591. He won 20 games five times and 19 once.

Moyer is 46. He is now in his 23rd season, and has toiled for eight major league clubs, some more than once, compiling a mark of 250-190 during that time.

Moyer says he wants to pitch until he’s 50. A few weeks back, that was looking unlikely. Moyers was struggling. But Sunday he looked like his old self, dazzling the Nationals with an assortment of slow and slower offerings.

Moyer is only the 11th major league left-hander to win 250 games.

At some point, Moyer’s numbers say he will have to be considered for a spot in Cooperstown. Moyer doesn’t want to hear it. Yesterday, after win No. 250, he admitted he has not thought all that much about it. His focus was on helping the team win.

He had been stuck on 249 for a couple of weeks.

By just about any mark, Moyer is a Hall of Fame kind of guy. Maybe more important, he’s probably more impressive off the mound than on it.