Friday, July 31, 2009

The Daily Numbers - July 31

The Daily Numbers: 75, age of woman charged yesterday in a hit-run crash that injured a teen two weeks ago in Bryn Mawr.
5, age of Collingdale girl viciously attacked by a pit bull this week.
It appears as if she is going to be OK.
3 years probation for the former top aide to then-U.S. Rep. Curt Weldon.
Russ Caso will do 170 days on home monitoring and 100 hours of community service.
3 teen suspects believed responsible for a wave of vandalism at Mount Jacob Cemetery in Darby Township.
10,000 dollar fine, what residents who ignore the new open burning ban in Middletown Township could face.
15 years in federal prison for a Brookhaven man busted by the feds in an online sex sting in which the man thought he was “chatting” with a 13-year-old boy.
3,000 workers in Philadelphia that could be axed, according to Mayor Michael Nutter, if the state does not approve its budget plan. That includes 739 police officers, closing all rec centers, and ceasing all operations at city libraries.
416 million dollars in state aid for schools that is now in limbo because of the state budget impasse.
120 million dollars up for grabs in the Saturday night Powerball drawing.
200 dollar fine now in place in Dewey Beach, Del., for things such as littering or being caught with alcohol on the beach.
30 bags of heroin bought by a Minquadale., Del., man while he had his 7-year-old daughter in the car with him, police say.
300,000 dollars being put up by local philanthropist Gerry Lenfest to save the SS United States, the rusting ocean liner that now sits rusting at Penn’s Landing.
2 guilty pleas now entered by suspects in the fatal beating of Sean Conroy on a SEPTA subway platform in the middle of the day.
25 people who showed up at a Center City bar last night to hold their own “teachable moment” on race relations as the president held his own on the White House lawn.
40,000 dollars spent so far by a South Jersey couple who are involved in a bitter dispute over custody of their dog.
2 gunmen now in custody in the double-slaying at the Piazza apartment complex in Northern Liberties.
42, age of Lancaster County funeral director who was convicted yesterday of killing his wife.
22,782 vehicles purchased through the new federal “cash for clunkers”
program. They have already gone through $96 million and now the program is broke.
2 straight losses for the Phils, first time that’s happened since back on July 1.
3 errors by the Phils as they played one of their sloppier games of the season, losing 7-2 to the Giants.
7 runs surrendered in just 4 innings by Phils starter Rodrigo Lopez, who was victimized by the poor defense.
3.14 ERA taken to the hill tonight by Cliff Lee, who will make his debut in a Phillies uniform.
2 starting offensive tackles who are already on the shelf for the Eagles. Both Jason Peters and Shawn Andrews came up lame yesterday.
1 player still not in Eagles camp. That would be first-round draft pick Jeremy Maclin.
Call me a Phanatic: A look at the ups and downs of being a Philadelphia sports fan.The Eagles do not start hitting until today, and already they have a long injury list.
I Don’t Get It: Does the NFL really a month-long camp and four exhibition games? I don’t get it.
Today’s Upper: There’s just something about the sound of the pads popping that can mean only one thing. It’s football season.
Quote Box: “This shouldn’t be theater. This shouldn’t be a circus.”
- Pa. Gov. Ed Rendell on Thursday, clearly irked at stalled budget process.

Another teachable moment

The nation last night was treated to what is being billed as a “teachable moment” when it comes to race relations.

This week I’ve been having one of my own.

I did not get to share a beer with the president, or a professor, or even a local cop, although I’m sure Mike Chitwood would be more than willing to share a brew.

However, I have spent some time discussing race. I’ve been getting overnight voice-mail messages from a frequent critic who believes we have an inherent bias when it comes to crime and how it is portrayed in the newspaper.

Here’s the short version. Derek believes if a suspect is black, they are more likely to find themselves splashed all over the front page. If they are white, the story will get kicked inside.

I, of course, could not disagree more. The truth is, when I make the decision to put a story on Page One, I very often have no idea the race of the suspects, nor do I care.

Derek specifically took me to task for Thursday’s newspaper. He questioned why the story about three men charged with “savagely beating”
a fan during a brawl outside Citizens Bank Park was buried back on Page 11. He noted that on Page 1 that day we featured a story on the county’s billboard controversy as well as a reward fund for a cat that had been shot with a BB gun.

He openly questioned if the beating story had been placed inside because the suspects were white.

“If they had been black, they would have been on Page One,” he said.

Of course I did not hear from him on Tuesday, two days earlier. That was the day we had splashed the story of the arrest of the three white suspects all over our front page, including their photos.

The Thursday story is what we refer to as a “folo,” when we revisit something we have already reported, usually with new information. That’s why it ran inside. There’s also the matter that technically, this was not a Delaware County story. Neither the victim nor any of the three suspects was from here on our turf in Delco. That’s usually where we place most of our focus. We covered the story because it was what everyone in the region was talking about.

Ironically, Derek also did not mention the lead story on Thursday’s front page. It was about the arrest of three suspects in a big credit-card theft operation. We ran photos of all three suspects, two of them black, one white.

I kind of doubt I will hear from him today either concerning our story on the arrest of the 75-year-old woman on the Main Line in a hit-run accident.

That’s here right there on the front page.

I’m not saying we don’t sometimes make mistakes. I’m not saying there are instances when someone could infer that we appear to have a bias.

I’m saying that is not our intent. I’m saying that I don’t care what color a person is when I make the decisions about Page One.

Maybe that’s a teachable moment as well.

A tale of two hit-runs

I have to admit I was a bit taken aback yesterday as I watched Suzanne Lammers turn herself in to face charges in a hit-run accident.

Lammers is 75. The slight woman tried to cover her face from the cameras as she arrived at the Police Administration Building in Ardmore to be charged in the hit-run crash that seriously injured a 13-year-old teen back on July 15 in Bryn Mawr.

The Villanova woman looked every bit the Main Line matriarch. Police say she struck the teen, who was riding his bike, then left the scene. She apparently went down the road a bit, slowed down and looked back at the scene, then proceeded to drive home.

Once there police say she put her Volvo wagon in a garage and covered it up. That’s where it stayed until it was towed away by police this week, a huge hole on the passenger side of a smashed windshield seeming to offer plenty of evidence of what had happened. Lammers has been seen since tooling around the Main Line in an older pickup truck.

Police say Lammers indicated she thought she hit a deer. She said she had not been watching TV or reading newspapers, and was unaware that she had in fact struck and injured a teen.

That seems like a reach. Still, it was hard not to feel bad for her yesterday.

Then something struck me. I don’t remember feeling any of the same kind of feelings toward Lemuel Payne.

He’s the 27-year-old who a few weeks ago was sentenced to two to five years in jail for another hit-run crash.

Of course, there is a big difference. Payne’s victim died. It appears the Main Line teen will recover fully.

I’ll admit I do not know all of the details that led up to these two incidents, including the conditions of the drivers and the speed the cars were driving. Payne’s collision occurred about 10 at night. The one Lammers is now accused of occurred in the middle of the day.

But there are some similarities. Both fled. It appears both tried to stash the suspect vehicles. Both failed to come forward for weeks, until police came looking for them.

Yet there is a feeling of sympathy for Lammers, while most heaped only scorn on Payne.

And that bothers me.

Injury bug is for the Birds

The Eagles put on the pads today. At least some of them.

Officially this is the first day players don helmters and shoulder pads and knocked heads at their Lehigh training camp.

Unfortunately, a lot of players won’t be putting on the pads.

The Eagles already have a long injury list, and they haven’t even hit anyone yet.

The much-ballyhooed new and improved offensive line, which was supposed to be using this time to gel into a cohesive unit? Don’t look for them today. Both of their new tackles are on the shelf.

Newly acquired Jason Peters has a quad spasm yesterday. Shawn Andrews, moving from guard to tackle while his brother slides in next to him, developed back spasms. At least he seems OK emotionally.

It might be Andy Reid’s emotions that bubble over. He’s got a long list of injuries without a single block or tackle being made, and he has yet to see his first-round draft pick on the field.

Wide receiver Jeremy Maclin remains unsigned, although everyone seems to think it’s “close.”

Probably a lot closer than seeing all the Eagles healthy and taking part in full-contact drills.

Sloppy effort from Phils

The day after they failed to get Roy Halladay, the Phils’ defense took a holiday.

Maybe they were still celebrating the fact that they managed to acquire AL Cy Young Award winner Cliff Lee without having to give any of their top young prospects.

For whatever reason, the Phils looked lifeless last night in dropping the first of a weekend set in San Francisco. It was the first time since July 1-2 that they’ve lost two games in a row.

They looked sloppy in making a loser out of Rodrigo Lopez in what might have been his last start. Lee assumes his spot in the starting rotation tonight.

Jayson Werth misplayed a fly ball in the first inning, leading to two runs.

Pedro Feliz seemed to surprise Chase Utley with a throw to second base instead of first in the fourth inning. The ball sailed past a flinching Utley into right field, fueling a four-run fourth.

It was Utley who showed about the only sign of life for the Phils. In the sixth, Giants’ starter Jonathan Sanchez whizzed a ball over Utley’s noggin. Utley took a long, hard look at the pitcher from the batter’s box. Two pitches later, he stepped out of the box while Sanchez was in his windup. Then he put an exclamation point on the standoff by sending Sanchez’s next pitch over the right-field wall. Unfortunately, it was a solo shot, and it was about the only life the Phils showed all night.

Lee will deliver a little CPR tonight when he makes his much-anticipated debut.

Hopefully, the team will shake off the doldrums that plagued them last night. It shouldn’t be hard to do. They can’t look much worse.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

The Daily Numbers - July 30

The Daily Numbers: 3 people arrested in a huge credit card and ID theft scam busted up by county detectives.
400 legitimate credit card numbers recovered in the Chester apartment being used by the suspects.
2,600 blank credit cards, 50 finished cards and 2,500 blank check documents seized.
600 dollar reward now being offered by the SPCA for information on who shot a cat with a BB gun.
230,000 embezzled from a medical firm by a Clifton Heights woman. She will begin serving 9 to 23 months in jail for the crime.
4 million dollars in state funds that needs to be released for a project to build the city of Chester’s first supermarket in years.
33, age of suspect being sought in connection with the sexual assault of a 19-year-old woman who he followed to her home from a Wal-Mart store in Montgomery County.
3,500 dollar reward being offered for information in a fatal hit-and-run that took the life of a pedestrian on Kelly Drive in Philadelphia last weekend.
120 million dollars up for grabs in the Saturday night Powerball drawing after no one hit the jackpot last night.
6 people now under arrest in that double-slaying at the upscale Piazza apartment complex in Northern Liberties. Police say they now have collared the suspected shooter.
15 to 20 bicycles seized in Norristown in what authorities are calling a bicycle chop shop.
10,000 people without power last night in the Poconos after a series of storms – including a reported tornado – roared through the region.
80,000 state workers who might be paid next week if the governor goes ahead and signs a stopgap spending bill.
2 death warrants signed by Gov. Ed Rendell yesterday.
5 percent increase in earnings reported by SAP, which has its North American HQ in Newtown Square.
7.8 percent drop in margins being reported by Pennsylvania general acute-care hospitals.
161 million dollar loss reported by Lincoln National Corp., the parent firm of Lincoln Financial, yep, the people whose name adorns the Eagles stadium.
0 runs scored by the Phils last night as they fell to the Diamondbacks.
6 losses in their last 25 games for the Phils.
2 runs surrendered by Phils’ starter J.A. Happ, whose name was bandied about in trade talks all week.
4 minor league players sent by the Phillies to the Indians for Cy Young Award winner Cliff Lee.
7-9 with a 3.14 ERA this year for Lee. Last year he was 22-3.
Call me a Phanatic: A look at the ups and downs of being a Philadelphia sports fan.Hat’s off to Ruben Amaro, who got a quality starting pitcher and did not have to part with any of the Phils’ top prospects to get it done.
I Don’t Get It: They’re holding happy hour at the White House tonight.
They’ll be talking race relations. That’s not a bad thing, but shouldn’t they be talking about health care?
Today’s Upper: Good news for beachgoers. A report out yesterday gave good grades on the condition of Jersey and Delaware shore resorts.
Quote Box: “No apologies will be expected or conveyed.”
- Lawyer for Harvard professor Louis Gates, on tonight’s meeting at the White House with President Obama and Cambridge police Sgt. James Crowley.

The elephant not in the room

All eyes will be on Russ Caso Jr. in a Washington, D.C. courtroom today.

But that won’t be the name on most people’s minds.

Caso is the former chief of staff to longtime Delco Congressman Curt Weldon. And it is the 7th District Republican who will literally be the elephant that is not in the room.

Caso is due to be sentenced in federal court on a conspiracy charge. The feds say he intentionally failed to disclose $19,000 his wife received for work she did for a non-profit connected to Weldon.

All of this is fallout from a federal investigation of the former congressman.

It is a probe that, to this point, has resulted in zero charges being filed against Weldon.

It was just a few months before election day back in 2006 when a tight race between Weldon and Democrat Joe Sestak was rocked by a leaked report that Weldon was the target of a federal investigation.

The homes of his daughter and one of his close allies, then-Springfield GOP boss Charlie Sexton, were raided. A lot of material was seized.

Weldon lost the election, crying foul about the timing of the raid. That was alomost three years ago. Nothing much has come of the probe, nor the raids.

Cecilia Grimes, a lobbyist who also had ties to Weldon, got three years probation after she admitted destroying evidence about her connections with the congressman.

Caso is due to be sentenced today. A memorandum filed in connection with his sentencing hails Caso’s “extraordinary” cooperation in federal investigations. He is expected to be sentenced to home monitoring and a fine, less than the recommendation, and due in part to his cooperation.

Some are interpreting the fact the Caso’s sentencing is going forward today as a sign that the federal investigation is at an end. The thinking is that if Caso were needed to testify at any upcoming trial, his sentencing would not occur until after that happened. Others downplay the timing of the sentencing altogether.

Papers filed by federal prosecutors say only that their investigation remains “open.” It also mentions they are “not public.”

I think it’s about time they were. If the feds have something on Weldon, it’s time to lay it on the table. If not, they should tell the public that and consider the matter closed.

Of course, that would also mean explaining the timing of those raids just weeks before the 2006 election.

That’s why I’m guessing all we’re going to hear today is that the investigation is “open” and “ongoing.”

Just as it’s been for almost three years.

Happy Hour at the White House

They’re having happy hour at the White House tonight.

It remains to be seen just how happy everyone is.

Seated at a picnic table just outside the Oval Office will be the commander-in-chief, Harvard Professor Henry Louis Gates, and Cambridge, Mass., police Sgt. James Crowley.

The triumvirate will raise a glass of beer together, while trying to head off the nation’s latest racial disagreement.

All of this was predicated by the confrontation between Gates and Crowley at the prof’s home. He had just arrived from a trip to China.
When he had trouble getting a jammed front door open, he summoned his limo driver to give him a hand. A neighbor apparently spotted the two men and called 911 to report a possible break-in.

Of course, Gates is black. The responding officer, Crowley, is white.

Words were exchanged. Tensions elevated. Eventually Gates was handcuffed and arrested for disorderly conduct.

Then the president was asked about it at a nationally televised press conference. He threw a little gas on the fire when he described the Cambridge police as “acting stupidly.”

The nation has been talking about little else since.

I find lots of blame to go around in this thing.

I blame Gates for seeming to jump to conclusions concerning the white officer. I blame Crowley for seeming to overreact after Gates showed him the proper ID. He was in his own house, after all. Most of all, I blame Obama for using a most ill-conceived word to describe the whole thing.

However, I for one am once again glad that we’re having the discussion, or at least the beginning of one.

Maybe I’ll join these three in raising a glass to the idea of talking about race relations in this country.

It’s being reported that the president prefers Bud Lite. Guess it was too much to ask for him to request a Beck’s. But then that’s another race topic for another day.

Mission accomplished, Ruben

Perhaps this is the best barometer of just how far the Phillies have come as an organization

The team yesterday acquired the reigning American League Cy Young Award winner.

And some fans were disappointed.

The pitcher they got was Cliff Lee. Not Roy Halladay.

Here’s a few other names to consider: J.A. Happ, Kyle Drabek, Michael Taylor, Dominic Brown. They are all still the property of the Phillies.

Halladay, the ace of the Blue Jays, was considered by most the best pitcher in baseball. But the Blue Jays wanted a truckload of talent in exchange for him. That would have included both Happ and Drabek, the minor league phenom who is now considered the top arm in the Phils’ farm system.

Phillies GM Ruben Amaro Jr. tried to coax Toronto into other players.
They weren’t biting. So he moved on.

Yesterday Amaro sent minor league pitchers Kyle Carrasco (last year’s untouchable player) along with highly thought of prospects infielder Jason Donald, catcher Lou Marson and another minor league pitcher, Jason Knapp to the Indians for Lee.

In exchange they got a horse of a left-hander who is 7-9 this year with a 3.14 ERA in 22 starts. Last year Lee went 22-3 with a 2.54 ERA. They also picked up a valuable right-handed bat in outfielder Ben Francisco.

Amaro seems to have done what many thought was not possible. He managed to shore up the Phils’ starting rotation – adding the Cy Young winner will do that for you – without giving up two young stud pitchers.

And he’s still taking heat in some quarters. That’s what happens when you win a World Series. Suddenly, fans get greedy. Just winning is no longer good enough. Making the playoffs was last year’s goal. Now we want another parade.

Amaro might just have taken a huge step toward that goal yesterday.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

The Daily Numbers - July 29

The Daily Numbers: 3 women from Delaware County killed when their car collided with a street sweeper near Baltimore, Md.
50,000 dollars believed ripped off from a relative by 58-year-old Michael Dellavecchio of Glen Mills.
97, age of the woman he is believed to have targeted.
75, age of woman believed to be the hit-run driver who struck a teen on a bicycle in Bryn Mawr. She could face charges this week.
19, age of woman followed home from a Wal-Mart in Montgomery County and then attacked in her home.
96 Viagra pills stolen from a pharmaceutical storage facility in Springfield. This shouldn’t be a hard case to crack.
10,000 dollar reward posted for information in the critical shooting of a Philadelphia Housing Authority worker.
10,000 dollar reward that remains in effect for information in the death of 17-year-old Ollie Cloyd of Darby.
1 person killed when a car and train collided in Waterford, N.J., yesterday afternoon.
79, age of Sen. Arlen Specter, who caused a bit of a stir yesterday when he mentioned his teary eyes were the result of chemotherapy. He quickly added he is not suffering any relapse in his fight against cancer.
200 foot fall into a quarry in Bucks County, believed to have killed a 21-year-old Plumstead man.
10.9 million dollars in federal stimulus funds brought to Philly yesterday by VP Joe Biden. It will result in 50 new police officers.
5 new cops for Chester from the same money.
363 million dollar contract for the Triumph Group Inc. of Wayne for work on Bell Helicopter’s new copter.
62 years of car making that came to an end yesterday as the last auto rolled off the line of the GM plant on Boxwood Road in Wilmington.
27 foot humpback whale that washed up on the beach at Monmouth Beach, N.J., yesterday.
1,151.85 fine for the Camden company where a worker was killed several weeks ago when he fell into a vat of chocolate.
51, age of Williamsport man charged with pointing a laser at a police helicopter in Northeast Philly. He wasn’t at Saturday’s Phillies game, was he?
867-5309, the famous phone number from Tommy Tutone’s classic “Jenny”
that is now up for grabs with a Philly prefix on Ebay.
3 in 10 Americans who say the recession has added stress to or even ruined their marriage/relationship.
75 pounds dropped this year by a newly svelte Andy Reid.
22 years in the NFL for Jim Johnson, who died of melanoma Monday.
Johnson was the master behind the Eagles defense for 10 eyars.
26 players who went to the Pro Bowl under Johnson’s guidance.
8 strong innings for Cole Hamels, looking very much like an ace in blowing away the Arizona Diamondbacks last night.
1 shaky 9th inning from Brad Lidge, who gave up a walk and home run before settling down to get the save.
3 hits, including a home run, for Shane Victorino.
Call me a Phanatic: A look at the ups and downs of being a Philadelphia sports fan.Anyone else beginning to wonder if the Phils biggest problem is not with their starting pitchers, but rather with their closer?
I Don’t Get It: Another study is out stressing the dangers of texting while driving. Duh! I don’t get it.
Today’s Upper: Thumb’s up for James London and his message of anti-violence. Now if only young people would listen.
Quote Box: “This whole Eagles-Andy Reid regime here that’s taken place wouldn’t have been possible without Jim.”
- Eagles coach Andy Reid, on the passing of his longtime defensive coordinator Jim Johnson.

The problem with the Philly fans

The fallout continues in the aftermath of the death of a Phillies fan who was stomped to death in a parking lot.

A 22-year-old man lost his life. Three men now face charges in connection with the brawl.

All of this apparently started over a spilled beer in McFadden’s Restaurant, which is attached to Citizens Bank Park. Gives a whole new – darker, sadder – meaning to the term “beer muscles.”

The victim was with a group that was celebrating a bachelor’s party. He was the brother of the bride. They got into an altercation with another group of fans, who likewise had arrived at Saturday night’s game early on a bus from a Fishtown tavern.

There is no doubt that both groups were partying. They both were inside Citizens Bank Park. They both wound up in McFadden’s. They both got tossed out after fighting inside. And they both wound up in a parking lot. With deadly results.

Much is being said about this incident. Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey is calling for a law requiring bars and taverns to report fights to 911, instead of simply tossing the combatants out on their ear. Too often the problem does not go away simply because those involved do.
That was the case here, with deadly results.

But what I am more interested in is this whole idea of the image of a Philly fan, both locally and nationally.

Many are lamenting this latest black eye for a group many of us consider the best, most knowledgeable, most passionate sports fans in the country.

Coupled with the anonymous knucklehead who managed to use a laser pointer to distract several Cardinals’ batters during Saturday’s national TV game, this can now take its rightful place beside the booing of Santa Claus, cheering an injured Michael Irvin, pelting Jimmy Johnson with snowballs, throwing batteries at J.D. Drew, and booing the drafting of Donovan McNabb.

Our reputation is well-earned. The question remains, is it fair? Are the majority of us unfairly tarnished by a few neanderthals?

There are a few things that I no longer question. There is an element – not the majority, but certainly a sizeable one – who do not go for the thrill of the game. They go for another darker reason. They are looking for trouble, and they too often find it.

I used to see it all the time in the 700 level of the Vet during Eagles game.

They tore that place down. They haven’t vanquished some of that sentiment.

And, of course, it would be foolish to ignore the common theme that runs through almost all of these incidents. Alcohol.

Should there be tighter controls on beer sales at games? Maybe. But that wouldn’t prevent fans from tanking up before they enter the gates.

I believe the black eye Philly fans get from the national media is unfair. I’m not sure there are not the same problems in every other town.

But I don’t think there is any sense in trying to deny that there is a problem here. The question is merely how big is it? And what can be done about it?

If you have another view on this issue, I'd love to hear it. Post a comment below.

Preferably before another life is lost.

Cops looking for hardened criminal

As someone who has something of a reputation for writing headlines, I have to admit my fondness for one story that appeared in Tuesday’s print edition.

It was all of two graphs, and detailed a theft from a pharmaceutical storage facility in Springfield.

It wouldn’t at first glance seem to provide much grist for a pun-happy fool like me, until you notice what was ripped off in the heist.

The thief made off with a case of Viagra pills, worth more than $1,000 dollars.

No doubt this criminal is looking at some hard time.

Another tough loss for Eagles

He was likely the person most feared on the Philadelphia Eagles. At least by opposing quarterbacks.

Jim Johnson never put on a uniform. He didn’t throw a single pass. He never carried the ball. Not once. But he likely had as much to do with all those winning seasons, all those playoff appearances, that trip to the Super Bowl, as Andy Reid.

Johnson was the genius behind the Eagles’ swarming, blitzing defense. He lost his battle against melanoma Monday. He was just 68 years old.

During the 10 years that Johnson commanded the Eagles defense, they became one of the most feared units in the NFL. The Eagles made the playoffs seven of those 10 years. From 2000-2008 his defenses ranked second in the NFL in sacks. He sent 26 different players to the Pro Bowl.

He was Andy Reid’s security blanket. Andy worried about the offense; he always knew Johnson would take care of the other side of the ball.
Rarely did Johnson’s teams ever let him down.

The Eagles’ defense now must carry on under Sean McDermott without its architect, as well as its public face.

Brian Dawkins is now toiling in Denver. He remembered his old boss as a guy who was “tailor-made to coach in Philadelphia.”

Eagles fans love defense. It fits this town. Johnson was the latest in a long line of defense gurus who toiled here. Marion Campbell. Buddy Ryan.
Bud Carson. Jim Johnson.

Training camp no doubt will continue. The Eagles will go about their work. Sean McDermott will pick up the torch.

But make no mistake. Jim Johnson will not be replaced. He was that kind of person, on and off the field.

The Philly sports scene has been rocked by an especially tumultuous year. We lost our “voice,” Harry Kalas. The man many believed to be the heart and soul of the Eagles, Brian Dawkins, is now wearing orange in Denver.

And Jim Johnson won’t be plotting out intricate blitz packages to foil opponents on Sunday afternoons.

Johnson now gets to do something his defense never did.

Rest well, Jim.


Cole aces a test

Cole Hamels last night sent a message to all those Phillies fans clamoring for an “ace,” a No. 1 stud in their rotation, perhaps Roy Halladay or Cliff Lee.

Remember me?

Hamels looked every bit the horse who mowed down opponents in the playoffs last fall as he blew away the Arizona Diamondbacks.

Hamels went eight strong innings, giving up just one run on four hits.

And it still turned into a white-knuckle affair. That’s because his partner in slamming the door on all those playoff games, closer Brad Lidge, continues to struggle.

Lidge came on in the ninth, promptly walked a batter and then gave up a two-run homer. He settled down to close the door, but not before raising manager Charlie Manuel’s blood pressure a few degrees.

Maybe the Phils are going about this trade deadline all wrong. Maybe it’s not the front end of the rotation they should be looking to beef up. Maybe it’s the back end.

Don’t look for that to happen. They are going to live and die with Lidge. Last night they almost died.

But not before getting very much an “ace”-like performance from Hamels.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

The Daily Numbers - July 28

The Daily Numbers: 3 people now under arrest in the beating death of a fan in a parking lot outside Citizens Bank Park Saturday night.
2 of the three men under arrest who have prior convictions in assault cases linked to partying and drinking.
3, as in 3 terms, which is not in the plans for U.S. Rep. Joe Sestak. He will give up his seat as he challenges Sen. Arlen Specter for the Democratic nomination.
34,000 dollars in scholarship money awarded to Widener University by the W.W. Smith Charitable Trust.
3 council members who once again failed to appear at a meeting of Yeadon Borough Council Monday night. At issue is filling the seat vacated when a Delco judge ordered the ouster of Councilman Terry McGirth.
3 trucks and at least 1 other vehicle involved in a crash Monday afternoon on I-95 in Chester.
1, as in No. 1, for Penn State. Unfortunately, it’s not Joe Paterno’s football team that earned that lofty ranking, instead the Nittany Lions have been ranked the nation’s top party school.
15, age of student at Emmaus High School charged with taking photos and video up the skirts of female teachers and students and posting them online.
48, age of man who had just celebrated a birthday dinner who was struck and killed on Kelly Drive in Philly. He was walking with his girlfriend after dinner at The Water Works. She was not injured. The driver fled.
48, also the age of a man struck by a car as he tried to cross Magee Avenue in the Tacony section of Philly.
5 suspects now in custody in that double-murder of a woman and man in the upscale Piazza apartment complex in Philly.
50 law enforcement jobs that could be created in Philly with arrival of fed stimulus funds. VP Joe Biden will make the announcement today.
2 people dead when a man chased down his girlfriend, shot her in the street, then turned the gun on himself in the Overbrook section of West Philly.
36, age of teacher at North Penn High School already charged with having sex with a student now facing additional charges that she tried to cover up the situation by asking the youth to delete messages from his Facebook page.
5 DUI convictions for a 50-year-old man in New Castle, Del., who is under arrest again for drinking and driving.
2 more shows added for the Spectrum by Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band. That makes 4 shows to bring the curtain down at the South Philly sports palace in October.
237 million dollars paid for Harleysville National Bank by First Niagara Financial Group.
10 cent tax on soda being looked at as a way to fund the national health care program.
2.54 a gallon, what we’re paying on average at the pump. Price of gas is up a penny overnight.
26 home runs for Ryan Howard, who went yard last night to lead the Phils to a 6-2 win over the D-Backs.
6 innings for Phils starter Jamie Moyer, who picked up his 10th win.
7 game lead for the Phils in the NL East.
33 touchdowns in his career at Missouri for Eagles first round draft pick wide receiver Jeremy Maclin. He continues to be MIA at Lehigh because he has not signed a contract.
Call me a Phanatic: A look at the ups and downs of being a Philadelphia sports fan.Looks like maybe Ruban Amaro Jr. is looking for some insurance in case the Roy Halladay talks don’t work out. His name is Cliff Lee. He won the Cy Young Award with the Indians last year.
I Don’t Get It: Alcohol – specifically too much alcohol – continues to be a problem at the South Philly sports complex. How a spilled beer can lead to a fatal beating is almost beyond belief. I don’t get it.
Today’s Upper: A thumb’s up for former Philly Councilman Rick Mariano.
Instead of being bitter at the seemingly light sentence bestowed on Vince Fumo, he’s rejoicing, saying he actually prayed for Fumo. Good for him.
Quote Box: “I’ve seen some pretty wild things but it’s shocking to think that something like that could happen over a dumb thinig like that.”
- Phillies Matt Obenski, of Prospect Park, on word that a fight over a spilled beer resulted in the death of a fan in a parking lot outside Citizens Bank Park.

When fans turn fanatics

A spilled beer.

That is apparently what precipitated a brawl that started inside McFadden’s at the stadium Saturday night. After the two combating groups got kicked out of the pub, the fisticuffs continued in a parking lot.

With fatal results. A 22-year-old Lansdale man who was attending a bachelor’s party with some friends was basically stomped to death. Three men are now in custody. At least one of them has a record of a similar previous attack.

There might not be any point crying over spilled milk, but today a lot of people are simply shaking their heads over what can result from a spilled beer.

But ask me if I am surprised, and I will tell you – very quickly and very bluntly – not in the least.

I spent a lot of years as a resident of the 700 Level at Veterans Stadium watching Eagles games – and their fans.

I shudder at some of the things I witnessed there. Most involved some naïve out-of-town fan who had the temerity to wear his team’s colors into that rarefied – and volatile – air.

But it’s more than that. I always thought that much of the behavior I witnessed was right on the borderline, regardless of who was being targeted.

Sure, the opposing fans always got their share of abuse, but at the same time I witnesses any number of fights among guys who had come together.

In particular, I always remember one of the most dangerous times attending any Eagles game at the Vet was trying to get out of the parking lot after the game.

Alcohol makes people behave in strange ways. And lots of alcohol makes them that much weirder. Lord help the poor sap who made the mistake of tapping his horn as a horde of drunken fans crossed in front of his car, despite the fact that the car clearly had the right-of-way.

Having said all that, it’s important to remember that these incidents involve a tiny fraction of those who attend games.

The Phils are packing 45,000 into Citizens Bank Park just about every night this summer.

Now all them are being painted with the same brush because of a fight that got way out of hand.

Instead of painting the town red, or green, depending on what team we’re talking about, Philly is once again being painted as a city of louts, of fans who simply can’t comport themselves within the law.

No one will mention the 44,950 who behaved themselves. Instead we’ll focus on the 50 or so who crossed over into the hooliganism so many had hoped had disappeared when they knocked down the Vet – and its infamous 700 Level.

What’s next, a court manned by Judge Seamus McCaffery at Citizens Bank Park?

The 700 Level is long gone. Problems with a minority of Philly fans clearly are not.

Time's yours, Andy

Joe Banner is now on record as saying the Eagles have the best roster in the NFL.

Give yourself a hand, Joe.

His statement no doubt brought a smile to Eagles Nation, which continues to hunger for a Super Bowl trophy to stick next to that World Series title the Phillies captured last October.

But there is one person who might wind up looking at Banner’s words a little differently.

Maybe you’ve heard of him. His name is Andy Reid. Big guy. Red hair.
Happens to be the head coach of the Eagles.

Here’s my take on Banner’s statement.

Is there a chance that was directed at Reid? As in, I’ve put together the best roster we’ve ever had, now go out and win the damn thing?

You might remember that Banner offered some prescient comments after the Eagles disappointing loss in the desert to the Ariozona Cardinals in the NFC title game last winter.

He talked about insanity and doing the same thing over and over again, in reference to the Birds’ penchant for getting to a certain point, then falling short of the prize, that being the Super Bowl.

So Banner went about the business of doing things a bit differently in the offseason. The team jettisoned both its starting offensive tackles and signed top-flight replacements.

They corrected the error of going into last year without a legitimate fullback by going out and corraling the best one on the market, Leonard Weaver.

The Eagles veered away from their normal mode and used their top pick on still another wide receiver for Donovan McNabb.

Speaking of the QB, they smoothed his ruffled feathers by giving him more money over the final two years of his contract.

All of which is pointing to one thing. Banner and the Birds want to win.

Time’s yours, Andy.

Let Michael Vick go back to work

This one might surprise you.

Let Michael Vick go back to work.

That does not mean I don’t think what he did – bankrolling a dog-fighting operation – was reprehensible.

But he paid his debt. His livelihood, as a quarterback in the National Football League, was taken away from him. He spent time in prison.

Now he’s out. Yesterday the NFL agreed to allow him to be reinstated, although he likely won’t be available until several games into the regular season. But he could sign with a team, go to camp and get ready for the season.

The key question now is whether a team will roll the public relations dice and sign the poster boy for bad behavior by pro athletes.

Maybe not now, but I have no doubt Vick will be back in the league.

Club owners may speak harshly about Vick and how they want no part of him. For now.

Most of them are exactly one crumpled knee – that being attached to their starting quarterback – from singing a different tune.

Expect to see Vick back in the NFL this year.

Don't jump off Cliff, Phils fans

How does Cliff Lee sound to you, Phillies fans?

No, he’s not Roy Halladay. But he did win the American League Cy Young Award last year. The left-hander is the ace of the Cleveland Indians staff, and he just might be the “big addition” GM Ruben Amaro Jr. uses to cement the Phils’ rotation.

That’s because Amaro’s talks with the Toronto Blue Jays aren’t going particularly well. None of which should probably be taken all that seriously.

This amounts to a big-time game of chicken. The Blue Jays will simply wait to see who blinks first, and wind up dealing with that team. They continue to seek both minor league phenom Kyle Drabek and solid starter J.A. Happ as the linchpins to any deal with the Phils. Amaro does not want to part with both of them. In particular the team seems loathe to jettison the promising Drabek.

So as something of a Plan B, Amaro is also talking with the Indians about Lee, who is 7-9 with a 3.14 ERA.

Don’t hyperventilate if nothing happens today, despite last week’s pronouncement from Blue Jays GM J.P. Ricciardi that his deadline for making a deal was today.

The league deadline is 4 p.m. Friday. Expect to hear something about 3:55.

In the meantime, the beat goes on for the Phils. After some early-inning struggles, they got a solid outing last night from Jamie Moyer, another homer from Ryan Howard, and cruised to a 6-2 win over the Diamondbacks.

They now lead the NL East by a full seven games.

One other interesting note. After this set with Arizona, the Phils fly on to San Francisco for a weekend encounter with the Giants. As it turns out, the Blue Jays also are in town. They play in Oakland.

Both the Phillies and Blue Jays are staying in the same hotel.

Think maybe Amaro and Ricciardi might meet up in the hotel bar Thursday night?

Paul Owens would be proud.

Monday, July 27, 2009

The Daily Numbers - July 27

The Daily Numbers: 2 people in custody and a third likely to be charged in the beating death of a fan in a parking lot outside Citizens Bank Park Saturday night.
200 kids who will be in Darby, Lansdowne and Yeadon this week rehabbing houses as part of a summer camp run by Community Action Agency.
4 people shot in a deadly weekend on the streets of Philadelphia.
107 million fewer miles driven by Pennsylvanians in May. That’s down 1.2 percent from last year.
2.54 a gallon, what we’re paying on average at the pump in the Philly region today.
1 woman killed while trying to cross Roosevelt Boulevard in Northeast Philly Sunday night.
4 feet long, Sarmuai sword police say a Del. man used to kill his girlfriend.
39, age of man charged in the indecent assault of a woman while they rode the Market Frankford El.
8 DUI offenses racked up by a Newark, Del., man.
900 dollars in change apparently ripped off by a parking meter attendant in Wildwood, N.J.
15 million dollars being sought to build an “energy campus” at the South Philly navy yard.
25, age of former “American Idol” contestant from Allentown who was struck and killed by a car n Ocean County, N.J.
18 contestants left in the Delco Idol Jr. contest after 5 more were shown the door last night.
102 million dollars up for grabs in the Powerball drawing Wednesday night after no one hit over the weekend.
8 people killed in a wrong-way crash on the Taconic State Parkway in New York last night.
4 homers for the Phils yesterday as they blasted their way past the St.
Louis Cardinals, 9-2.
8 strong innings for Joe Blanton, who gave up just 2 runs and struck out 6.
1 inning in a minor league rehab stint that was interrupted by rain for Pedro Martinez.
Call me a Phanatic: A look at the ups and downs of being a Philadelphia sports fan.It’s beginning to look more and more as if the Phils are not going to get Roy Halladay unless they are willing to part with both J.A. Happ and Kyle Drabek. That’s a steep price. But Halladay just might be worth it.
I Don’t Get It: Once again, Philly fans are sporting a bright shiner after a couple of ugly incidents at Citizens Bank Park over the weekend.
Today’s Upper: The Philadelphia Zoo has its bird back. The sun conure flew the coop last week, but was recaptured after it was spotted in nearby Fairmount Park.
Quote Box: “It’s like we lost a family member.”
- Carol Baxter, administrator at Granite Farms Estates, on the death of co-worker Andrea Arrington.

More ugliness for Philly fans

Citizens Bank Park is now the place to be in the summer in these parts.
The Phils are red-hot, and their fans are painting the town red.

But not all is hunky-dory in South Philly.

Once again, the actions of some Philly fans are giving the region a bit of a black eye.

And of course one of them had to be featured on national TV. The Fox cameras clearly picked up a green laser light that was pointed at several Cardinals batters during Saturday’s game. The action was halted while a section behind the Phils’ dugout was searched for the offending fan. It turned up nothing.

Maybe it was an exasperated Eagles fan upset that the Birds are now taking a back seat to the Phils, looking to get the green back in the picture.

After the game, one St. Louis player wondered out loud if the laser was fixed to some kind of gun and it he might be in danger.

You don’t usually think about Citizens Bank Park as a dangerous place.
That was something that we left behind at the Vet, and all those raucous sessions in the 700 level by Phillies and Eagles fans.

Unfortunately, the Phils’ new playpen is beginning to get a bit of a reputation for rowdy, boisterous fans as well. And just an hour or so after the laser incident, things turned deadly.

Police say it started as a disagreement between two groups who were inside McFadden’s, the restaurant that is attached to Citizens Bank Park.

Apparently a beer was spilled, words were exchanged. A fight broke out.
After the brawlers were expelled, the fisticuffs spilled out into the parking lot.

That’s when some blood was spilled as well. With deadly results.

Police say David Sale, 22, of Lansdale, was fatally beaten in the parking lot. Sale was found on unresponsive on the ground. It is believed he was part of a bachelor’s party that spent the afternoon at the stadium.

Police say they have two suspects in custody and are looking for at least one more.

The two incidents will no doubt add to the national villification of Philly fans.

It is OK for fans to paint the town red. It’s just plain ugly when it involves a green laster pointer.

And it becomes no less than tragic when that kind of behavior morphs into the ugliness of blood red.

Remembering Andrea Arrington

To many of us, the murder of Andrea Arrington last week was a senseless tragedy.

To Leeta Geist and Edith Giersch, it was more than that. They lost a friend, and a caregiver.

Geist and Edith Giersch are residents at Granite Run Estates in Middletown. That’s where Arrington worked.

Geist and Giersch didn’t know Arrington as just a picture in the newspaper or a headline. They knew her as the caring, loving nursing assistant who helped them get ready for bed each night.

Her co-workers also spoke glowingly of the woman whose life was snuffed out in a murderous rage by her estranged boyfriend last Monday night.

So damn sad.

See you in September, guys

Interesting dilemma for Andy Reid, Joe Banner and Jeff Lurie these days as the Eagles head to camp again at Lehigh.

The Birds are an after-thought. When’s the last time you could say that?

Most years the green-faced zealots would be counting the days until they could head up the Northeast Extension for the pleasure of sitting in stifling heat and humidity for the pleasure of seeking huge men grunt and sweat in the summer sun.

That’s because for so many years the Phillies were a lousy team playing in an even lousier stadium.

Not anymore.

The Phillies are now defending World Series champs. They have a six-game lead in the NL East. Citizens Bank Park is packed every night. The town continues to be painted red. Phillies red.

The Phillies have supplanted the Eagles as the lead sports story in this football-crazed town.

That’s something the Eagles aren’t used to. If the Phils are able to land Roy Halladay this week, the Eagles just might be able to go about their business at Lehigh in anonymity.

Call us in September, guys.

All Roy, all the time

Forget the pennant race. At least for a few days.

The Phils seemed to take umbrage at the way they lost to the St. Louis Cardinals Friday night. They got their revenge the next two days, pummeling a series of St. Louis pitchers.

The Phils used the long ball to batter the Cardinals into submission.
Jimmy Rollins hit a grand slam Saturday, and Shane Victorino followed with a solo shot.

Then yesterday no less than four Phils went yard, including a monster shot from Ryan Howard that caromed back onto the field after hitting the brick wall in dead center field.

Now the Phils wing it west for sets in Phoenix and San Francisco.

But the news this week is likely not going to be made on the field.

Brace yourself for all-Roy, all the time. The Major League Baseball trade deadline is Friday afternoon. Blue Jays ace Roy Halladay continues to be the apple of everyone’s eye, including the Phils.

The Blue Jays apparently have rejected a couple of different offers from the Phils, the latest one including pitchers J.A. Happ, Carlos Carrasco, outfielder Michael Taylor and shortstop Jason Donald.

The Phillies are trying to avoid losing both Happ and their top minor league pitching prospect, Kyle Drabek.

So far the Blue Jays aren’t biting.

This one is likely to go right to the 4 p.m. Friday trade deadline, despite the fact that Toronto had indicated last week they want something done by Tuesday.

Friday, July 24, 2009

The Daily Numbers - July 24

The Daily Numbers: 18 billboards being proposed in 3 townships across the county by Thadeus Bartkowski III.
672 square feet, size of the double-sided billboards that could rise as high as 45 feet in the sky.
8 hours after they went on sale, you could still get some standing room only tickets for this year’s eight regular season Eagles games.
297 members of the Interboro teachers union that approved their tentative new contract with the district.
7 to 23 months in jail for an Upper Darby woman convicted of beating an 87-year-old Alzheimer’s patient at an Upper Merion care facility where she worked.
17 months, age of toddler from Newtown Square who drowned in a pool while visiting his relatives in South Jersey. The tot apparently crawled through a dog door to get access to the pool.
10 years in prison, what former N.J. state Sen. Wayne Bryant could be looking at today when he’s sentenced on bribery and pension fraud charges.
44 officials in New Jersey busted by feds yesterday in a huge corruption probe. Several rabbis also were arrested.
12 inches, length of brightly colored sun conure bird that is missing from the Philadelphia Zoo.
7.25, that’s the minimum wage, effective today. In Pennsylvania and New Jersey, that means a hike of 10 cents an hour.
25,000 dollar reward being offered for information on a missing New Jersey man suffering from Alzheimer’s who has been gone since walking out of his home a month ago.
66, age of man in Chalfont, Bucks County, charged with growing pot at his home. Police say they went to the home after the man’s girlfriend, 21, called in a report of an intruder.
30, age of pregnant hospice nurse in Talleyville, Del., charged with stealing pain medicine that was meant for her dying cancer patient.
16, age of teen being investigated in Philadelphia for the sexual assault of a 11I-year-old girl.
10, age of boy in Camden who stands accused of robbing another child at gunpoint for his skateboard.
58 million dollar profit posted in the second quarter by US Airways.
7 percent dip in suburban bus and rail ridership being reported by SEPTA.
2 teens who are believed to have attacked a bicyclist on a Norristown biking/hiking trail. The man fired a gun at the kids, now he faces charges.
20 minute ride on the Market Frankford El that turned into a nightmare for a young mom with a child who reports she was groped by a man who sat next to her and held a knife to her side.
0.4 percent increase in number of crimes reported to state police in 2008, while violent crime is down 1 percent.
10,000 dollar ATM scam believed to be the work of a woman who targeted patrons at the new Sands Casino in Bethlehem.
19, age of suspect charged in $220,000 watch heist at Boyd’s Men’s Store downtown.
9,000, where the Down Jones industrials finished higher than yesterday, the first time since January. The Dow was up 190 points, to 9,069.29.
6.5 game lead over the Braves in the NL East for the Phils.
15 wins in their last 17 games for the Phils.
8 runs on 9 hits in just 3 and a third innings for Padres starter Kevin Correia.
9.5 runs per game, what the Phils have averaged in Cole Hamels’ six wins this year.
0 hits, 0 runs, 0 errors for Mark Burhrle of the White Sox in hurling a perfect game yesterday against the Rays.

Call me a Phanatic: A look at the ups and downs of being a Philadelphia sports fan.The Phils go right back to work and start another win streak in crushing the Padres. J.A. Happ goes to the mound tonight. No doubt the Blue Jays will be paying close attention.
I Don’t Get It: What do you think the chances are that former N.J. state Sen. Wayne Bryant gets the same kind of justice that was doled out to former Pa. Sen. Vince Fumo?
Today’s Upper: There will be no work stoppage in Interboro. Both the district’s teachers and school board have now signed off on a new contract.
Quote Box: “The biggest nightmare my whole career was baby deaths.”
- Former Delaware County Medical Examiner Dr. Dimitri Contostavlos, on the difficulty of reaching a definitive cause of death in such cases.

Another discussion on race

Glad to see we’ve resolved all our differences about race in this country.

Yeah, right.

I wrote about this last week in my print column. I indicated I was somewhat taken aback at the tone of the comments that were being posted on our Web site. The fact of the matter is, too many of them were little more than racist drivel. We can delete those we find objectionable. That usually infuriates the commenters, who accuse us of being censors, Nazis or worse. Tough.

They are dealing with a similar situation in Philadelphia, where members of the Guardian Civic League representing black police officers sued a Web site that they alleged was littered with racist comments, some of them posted by other officers. This was men and women in blue talking blue.

Earlier this week the group racheted up the pressure, seeking an injunction to ban officers from using the site while on duty and to have the site shut down.

It appears they got their wish. It looks like the lights have been turned out on the site, The site currently is displaying a message that says, “Until further notice, all services have been suspended.” The site is not an official city site, but it is believed to be administered by a city police sergeant. It is popular with city police officers.

The site may be shut down, but the ripple effects are still being felt.

The president of the Guardian Civic League now has been the target of threats. Rochelle Bilal now has her own security detail while the threats are being investigated.

We’ve elected a black president, but we still struggle when it comes to race.

Speaking of President Obama, he has his own race issues. Instead of being knee-deep in the discussion about health care, instead he’s talking about the arrest of a distinguished black Harvard professor.

Professor Henry Louis Gates Jr. wound up in handcuffs last week after an officer arrived at his home responding to a report of a burglary. Gates and his limo driver, both black, were trying to force open his front door, which was jammed. A neighbor apparently called it in as a possible break-in.

When the officer arrived, Gates was already inside his house. He showed his Harvard ID and driver’s license as proof of residency.

He did not obey the officer’s order to step outside. Words were exchanged, became heated, and Gates wound up being ushered away in handcuffs, charged with disorderly conduct.

Now the nation is discussing the way black men are treated, and whether or not there is an assumption of guilt, as opposed to a constitutional right to the presumption of innocence until proven guilty.

Then President Obama threw a little gas on the fire during his nationally televised, prime time press conference the other night when he described the Cambridge police as “acting stupidly.”

Probably not the best choice of words.

The officer is something of an expert on racial profiling, so much so that he was hand-picked by his black boss to instruct recruits on how to avoid just such labels.

His friends and fellow officers – black and white – are standing behind him.

For his part, Obama seems a bit taken aback by the controversy, and has moved to temper his remarks.

I don’t know why he would be surprised. This is about race.

We’ve elected a black man commander-in-chief. That does not mean we’ve solved the race issue in this country.

Bryant vs. Fumo

What do you think the chances are that longtime New Jersey state senator and political powerbroker is wishing he could be going before federal Judge Ronald Buckwalter this morning?

Bryant will be in court in Trenton to be sentenced for his convictions on bribery and pension fraud charges. He could be looking at up to 10 years in prison.

His counterpart across the river, the former powerful state Sen. Vince Fumo, got a break when he appeared before Buckwalter.

Prosecutors were seeking 15 years in prison for Fumo, who had been convicted of all 137 counts against him connected to ripping off the Senate and a couple of non-profits of millions of dollars.

But Fumo had a slew of political and civic heavyweights write letters asking the judge to show mercy and consider Fumo’s long public service.

It worked. Buckwalter veered away from even his own guideline and sentenced Fumo to just 55 months in prison. This week he did likewise for Fumo’s partner in crime, trusted aide Ruth Arnao. She got a year and a day in jail.

Bryant might not be that lucky. And if he’s not, what kind of message does that send? Is there in fact two different kinds of justice, one for white collar criminals in New Jersey, and another for those in Pennsylvania?

It will be very interesting to see what kind of sentence Bryant receives.

Phils rain on Padres

Didn’t take long for the Phils to get back on track and start a new winning streak.

All it took was the arrival of a dog-tired Padres team.

The Padres played an afternoon game Wednesday in San Diego, then flew across the country for a weekend series in D.C. with the Nationals. But once they got to D.C. they piled into a train and headed north to make up a game with the Phils that got rained out back in the spring.

Then the Phils rained hits on Padres starter Kevin Correia. He only went three and a third, giving up eight runs on nine hits, his shortest outing in 20 starts this year.

It was the Phils 15th win in their last 17 games, and puts them six and a half up on the second place Braves.

The Cardinals are in town for the weekend.

Wise Guy

This morning sports fans are all talking about Mark Buehrle. They’re probably not as familiar with DeWayne Wise. And that’s too bad.

The White Sox pitcher achieved perfection yesterday. He retired 27 straight Tampa Bay Rays. No runs, no hits, no errors. Hell, no baserunners.

But it wouldn’t have happened without Wise. Or, I suppose, White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen.

Guillen inserted Wise in center field in the ninth inning for defensive purposes. It didn’t take long for Guillen to look like a genius, and Wise to win the award for best performance in a supporting role.

Wise likely wasn’t even warmed up when the Rays’ Gabe Kapler led off the ninth with a rocket to left-center. This one had home run written all over it. That’s when Wise got involved. On a dead sprint, he leaped at the wall, extended his glove over the 8-foot expanse, and snared the shot. He turned a home run into an out, and preserved Buehrle’s date with history.

But he was not done. On the way down, Wise actually juggled the ball before snaring it with his bare hand.

Buehrle retired the final two batters easily.

It was the 18th perfect game in Major League Baseball history, and the first since Randy Johnson uncorked one back in 2004.

And it was made possible by a perfect defensive play. “Wise” decision by that Ozzie Guillen.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

The Daily Numbers

The Daily Numbers: 2 children that Aaron Michael told friends he killed, just moments before he was killed in confrontation with Chester police.
67 counties across Pennsylvania visited by U.S. Rep. Joe Sestak as he continues to lay groundwork for run against Sen. Arlen Specter for Dem nomination.
55 percent to 23 percent lead for Specter over Sestak in a recent Quinnipiac University poll.
45 to 44 percent margin for Specter in a general election race against Republican Pat Toomey, according to same poll.
146,000 dollars in bonuses over several years that former Radnor Manager David Bashore paid himself.
5 more contestants eliminated at last night’s Delco Idol competition. That leaves 15 still in running.
6.3 percent dip in median home sale prices in the Philadelphia region in the first six months of 2009, according to Prudential Fox & Roach.
2.53 a gallon, what we’re paying for gas in Philly region. That’s down another penny.
6,495 bags of heroin seized during a car stop in Wilmington.
10,000 dollars in damage done by vandals who “turfed” several youth soccer fields in Kirkwood, Del. That comes the day after vandals did $100,000 in damages to an elementary school.
400 speeding citations issued by police in Delaware as they continue their crackdown on aggressive drivers.
8 days after a woman driver struck a teen riding his bike at a Bryn Mawr intersection and no word on her ID. The boy is recovering.
12 million dollar loss posted by Susquehanna Bancshares in 2nd quarter.
2 more Target stores opening in the region this weekend. New stores are set in Cheltenham and Pottstown, and will employ 365 workers.
30 months in prison for a roofer who pleaded guilty to a kickback scheme involving work at Gwynedd-Mercy College.
88 million dollar jackpot up for grabs Saturday night in the Powerball drawing after no one hit Wednesday night.
2,000 state workers that likely would have been permanently laid off if the Senate GOP budget had been approved, according to Gov. Ed Rendell.
2, age of toddler who was left in back of hot car outside Bucks County day care center. The parents are now suing the center and the owners.
5 felony counts of criminal neglect filed against a woman charged with abusing students who came here under a foreign exchange program.
10 game win streak for the Phils snapped yesterday when the Cubs dropped 10 runs of their own on them.
5 runs on 8 hits over 5 innings surrendered by Phils starter Jamie Moyer.
40 sellouts for the Phils, in 48 home dates so far this year as they have already gone over the 2 million mark for attendance.
28 of July, the deadline imposed by the Blue Jays for offers for their ace, Roy Halladay. The Phils are expected to make an offer.
40 sellouts after this afternoon’s finale with the Cubs.
Call me a Phanatic: A look at the ups and downs of being a Philadelphia sports fan.What do you mean we’re not going to win every game the rest of the season? They’re bums. Uh, not exactly.
I Don’t Get It: Another tale of cruelty involving an animal. This time it was a defenseless cat targeted by someone with a BB gun. I don’t get it.
Today’s Upper: What would we do without these do-gooders telling us everything we eat is bad for us. Now it’s hot dogs. Spare me.
Quote Box: “In a 4-month-old, it’s so easy to smother these children and leave no clue. If you can’t prove it, then at best you call it undetermined and leave the door open should further info come forward down the road.”
- Delaware County Medical Examiner, on the death of Lamar Patrick. The boy’s father, Aaron Michael, has now admitted he was responsible for the death of two of his sons.

Searching for answers

Whenever tragedy strikes – especially the punch-in-the-gut kind that was inflicted on families in Ridley and Chester this week - we look for answers.

Surely there must be an explanation for the kind of rage that snuffed out the life of Andrea Arrington, and then drove Aaron Michael to confront Chester police, the same police officers who worked side by side with his father.

We wonder what could have been done to prevent this kind of tragedy.

We want a tidy way to explain the unexplainable.

It doesn’t work that way.

You wonder why Michael wasn’t picked up earlier when he violated the protection from abuse order that Arrington had gotten against him.

Then you learn more about the process and find out that there is truth to that old axiom about the wheels of justice turning slowly. In this case, that was just slow enough.

You wonder about the fact that two children had died previously while in Michael’s care. When you hear that moments before his fatal encounter with Chester police that he had called friends and admitted he was also responsible for their deaths, you wonder why no red flags were raised when the second incident occurred.

Then you learn that there were. And you learn that proving that, from the officers who investigated the case, to the D.A.’s office and the Medical Examiner who could not reach a definitive conclusion, leaving them both “undetermined,” is another matter altogether.

And you’re left to simply shake your head at what happened, at the four lives lost, and the families and communities shaken to their core.

And you ask why, only to realize there is no easy answer.

See Joe Run

The Joe Sestak “I’m Running But I’m Not Ready To Formally Announce It Yet Tour” continued yesterday.

Sestak, who has done everything but announce the fact that he plans to challenge Sen. Arlen Specter for the Democratic nomination, recently visited all 67 counties in Pennsylvania. No doubt part of that was to introduce himself to the residents in the 62 counties who likely have never heard of him.

At the same time, Sestak, who cruised to election for a second term in the Congress, has been fending off some fairly forceful calls by powerful state Democrats – including Gov. Ed Rendell – that he get out of the race.

Sestak doesn’t want to hear it, but Rendell does make one legitimate point.

It took 20 years for Democrats to oust entrenched Republican Curt Weldon from the 7th District Congressional seat. And there are many who believe they still would not have done it without the help of a leaked federal probe and raid on the offices of his daughter and longtime backer that has yet to bring about any criminal charges against any of them.

The fear is that if Sestak vacates the seat to take on Specter, it could fall back under the GOP flag.

State Rep. Bryan Lentz, D-161, has indicated he will run for the seat if Sestak seeks higher office. On the GOP side, attorney Craig Williams, who was drubbed by Sestak in 2008, could take another shot. Montco entrepreneur Steve Welch has already declared he’ll seek the GOP nomination.

So what did Sestak learn on his jaunt across Pennsylvania? Mainly that many Democrats still have serious concerns about both the economy, as well as health care.

Sounds very senatorial.

Sestak says he’ll make his formal announcement in about a month or so, but there’s little doubt that he’s running.

Not exactly music to Specter’s ears. Or a lot of other Dems, both in the state and around the county, either for that matter.

The Birds are back

Anybody remember the Eagles? You know, those guys in the green shirts?
Draw a lot of fans with faces painted green?

Last seen the Birds – and their fans – were melting in the Arizona desert, losing an NFC Championship game most people thought they were going to win, punching their ticket to the Super Bowl.

Since then the town’s been painted red. It’s been all-Phillies, all the time. Don’t think for a moment this has escaped the notice of the folks down at NovaCare nation.

They don’t like being unceremoniously booted off the Back Page.

The Eagles will head back up the Northeast Extension to their training camp at Lehigh University this weekend, and thousands of their loyal zealots will follow them.

Today, the Eagles will show everyone that the Phillies aren’t the only team in town that can sell tickets.

Sure, the Phils have sold out 40 dates at Citizens Bank Park. Today the Eagles will put on sale a limited number of “standing room only” ducats for their home dates at Lincoln Financial Field.

Look for these $55 bargains to go in a matter of minutes.

If it’s mid-July, it must be football season.

Welcome back, guys.

Snap, crackle, plop for Phils

What, did you think they were going to run the table?

The baseball season is a marathon, 162 games long. The fact that the Phils ran off 10 straight wins is a bit of a marvel, even as most of their fans continued to clamor for the team to add an “ace” to their starting rotation.

Less than 24 hours after Jayson Werth stuck a dagger into the Cubs with his 13th inning, walk-off homer, the Cubs returned the favor, knocking off the Phils 10-5 and snapping the Phils 10-game streak.

No doubt on a lot of minds today will once again be the fact that the Cubs smacked five straight hits off Jamie Moyer to jump out to a 4-0 lead in the fourth. The Phils tried to scratch their way back into it, but could get no closer than 5-3. The Cubs touched Phils’ reliever Chad Durbin for three more runs in the seventh and that was more than enough.

The Phils did send Ryan Howard to the plate with the bases loaded in the eighth, but this time there was no game-tying bomb. Howard grounded out.

The Phils will look to start a new streak tonight in the single-game makeup date with the Padres. Then the Cards arrive for the weekend.

None of this will silence the talk about whether or not the Phils should acquire Blue Jays ace Roy Halladay and how much they should be willing to part with to do it.

Outings like the one put up by Moyer yesterday won’t make any of that talk go away.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

The Daily Numbers - July 22

The Daily Numbers: 2 people killed after a Chester man, the son of a city police officer – gunned down his wife and then himself was shot when he confronted a city cop.
2 children that Aaron Michael confessed to being responsible for their deaths in the minutes before he made the fatal decision to confront Chester police.
724,000 dollars being dole out to Philadelphia International Airport in federal stimulus funds to rehabilitate a runway.
45 to 90 years in prison for a man convicted in a brutal Chester home invasion that led to the death of O’Neill Blackwood in front of his wife and kids.
3 employees in Colwyn Borough who have been suspended as controversy continues to roil the tiny town.
1 year and 1 day in jail for Ruth Arnao, the trusted aide to former Sen.
Vince Fumo. Federal prosecutors say they likely will appeal the sentence, which they ague, like the 55 month doled out to Fumo, is too light.
50, age of social worker in Montgomery County who is headed to jail for lying about his credentials when he testified at several criminal cases.
700 million dollar budget hole still staring at city officials in Philadelphia, even after the state agency that oversees their fiscal situation signed off on a 5-year spending plan.
45 to 44 percent lead for Sen. Arlen Specter over Republican challenger Pat Toomey if the 2 square off for Specter’s Senate seat. The good news for Specter is that he still has a comfortable lead of Joe Sestak for the Democratic nomination, according to the latest Quinnipiac Poll.
39 percent of voters who now approve of the job being done by Gov. Ed Rendell. 53 percent say they disapprove. That’s down from the 54 percent backing Rendell got in a Quinnipiac poll in May.
197 to 1 vote in state House to extend jobless benefits to state residents whose lifeline is expiring. That includes 760 people in Delco.
The move is now stalled in a Senate committee.
100 million dollar ‘Philly Live’ entertainment and shopping center that is envisioned for the spot where the Spectrum now stands at the South Philly complex. The plans were unveiled to city planners yesterday.
300 days a year when there is an event scheduled at one of the South Philly sports palaces, according to the Cordish Company, which is developing the site.
100,000 dollars in damage done to a school in Delaware by rampaging vandals.
1 suspect slain and 2 officers injured last night in Olney when police confronted a man who was exposing himself on the street. He was shot and killed when he tried to grab an officer’s gun.
2 teens killed in 2 separate shootings in South Philly last night.
3,000 dollars stolen from a safe in a Rite Aid store in South Philly during a recent holdup.
94,000 dollars awarded to the University of Delaware to battle avian flu.
20, age of University of Delaware coed Lindsey Bonistall, who was raped and murdered back in 2005. The state Supreme Court overturned the conviction of her killer and ordered a new trial.
48 million dollars up for grabs in Friday night’s Mega Millions jackpot after no one hit Tuesday night.
9 women who took the stand yesterday against a man charged with 14 robberies in Northeast Philadelphia.
5 percent cut in pay for execs at Harrah’s Entertainment. 15 percent cut for managers making more than $150,000 at Wynn Resorts.
10 straight wins for the Phillies after Jayson Werth’s dramatic walk-off homer in the 13th inning last night lifted them to 4-1 win over Cubs.
18 years, how long it’s been since the Phils won 10 in a row. Their all-time record is 13 in a row back in 1991.
21 home runs for Werth, but it’s his 1st career walk-off homer.
7 solid innings for starter Joe Blanton, and scoreless work from 4 relievers, including 3 innings from Chan Ho Park.
39 sellouts for the Phils, who have already gone over the 2 million mark for attendance this year.
40 sellouts after this afternoon’s finale with the Cubs.
Call me a Phanatic: A look at the ups and downs of being a Philadelphia sports fan.Anyone remember that the Eagles start training camp Sunday? Oh, how things have changed. Who ever would have thought the Eagles would be an afterthought. The Phillies are painting the town red.
I Don’t Get It: One year and one day for Ruth Arnao. I don’t get it, just as I didn’t get 55 months for her boss, Vince Fumo.
Today’s Upper: Admittedly, I don’t like this unusually cool, wet summer weather. Then again, I have to admit I don’t mind not running the air conditioner. Or paying the bill.
Quote Box: “She was very strong. She fought ‘til the very end.”
- Audra Thornton-Arrington, mother of shooting victim Andrea Arrington.

The Aaron Michael case

As we tracked the horrific, incredibly sad details yesterday in the wake of the carnage that followed Aaron Michael, we were struck by three overriding sentiments.

One was, after learning that Michael, the son of a Chester police officer, had used his father’s service revolver in what amounted to an execution of his estranged girlfriend outside her Ridley home, then went home and wound up in a confrontation with Chester police – his father’s colleagues – that wound up with him being shot to death, that the story couldn’t possibly get worse.

We were wrong.

At an afternoon press conference, District Attorney G. Michael Green indicated that in the minutes before he walked out of his Chester home to confront officers, Michael had called several friends and admitted he was responsible for the deaths of two sons.

Lamar Patrick, 4, died on Sept. 29, 2005. Another son, Alijah Townes, just 4 months old, died July 21, 2007. That would have been exactly two years ago yesterday.

The second was just how incredibly sad all of this was. Michael, 29, was the son of a Chester officer. Ironically, it was a Chester officer who fired a single shot at him when he raised a gun and pointed it at officers.

The third is a haunting feeling that this could have been prevented.

Michael was not a stranger to the law. He had once pleaded guilty to theft charges. He was acquitted back in March 2002 of indecent assault and voluntary deviate sexual intercourse.

Then there was his volatile relationship with Andrea Arrington. Their relationship apparently had gone south, and she obtained a protection from abuse order on July 2. It is also believed that after Michael became violent, she had sought help from Michael’s father.

Michael apparently violated the protection from abuse order on July 14.
A warrant was issued for his arrest the next day. That is six days before he confronted her outside her home on Constitution Avenue Monday night and pumped 12 bullets into her. A mortally wounded Arrington, who earned honors at Delaware County Community College while holding down a full-time job, managed to tell police it was Michael who had attacked her. Her dream of attending Temple University to major in communications ended a few hours later when she succumbed at Crozer Chester Medical Center.

Arrington learned something too many victims of abuse face, that a protection from abuse order very often does not stop a person intent on doing them harm.

Finally, there is the previous deaths of Michael’s two sons. Both cases had been ruled “undetermined” by the Delaware County Medical Examiner’s Office. Green yesterday stressed there was no indication of trauma in the two boys’ deaths. He added, however, that both mothers were suspicious of Michael’s role in their deaths. Michael was questioned in both cases, but no evidence was found linking him to the deaths, according to Green. Both cases are now being reviewed in light of the new admission by Michael.

Four people dead. Several families torn apart. And a police department shaken to its core by the agonizing - but necessary – decision to used deadly force against the son of one of their own.

It’s enough to leave you shaking your head, and wondering if anything else could have been done to stop Aaron Michael’s murderous rage.

Rendell vs. Sestak

Joe Sestak, meet Ed Rendell.

Maybe you remember him. Governor of Pennsylvania. Leader of state Democrats.

He’s been a little tied up with this state budget thing recently, but he’s been keeping tabs on your idea of running against Sen. Arlen Specter for the Democratic nomination in 2010.

Here’s a hint. He’s not thrilled about it. A little while back he was wondering what you were thinking of and said you would get annihilated by the longtime senator.

Yesterday he was at it again.

The governor again is making it clear he wants you out of the race. It sounds an awful lot like a demand.

In a radio interview, Rendell couched his comments by saying Sestak is needed in the House, and offering concern about whether Democrats could hold the 7th District Congressional seat if Sestak vacated it to tangle with Specter.

Sestak, who has yet to actually formally announce his Senate run (although he’s done just about everything else), fired right back. He maintained he’s upholding the long tradition of rising to a steep challenge.

“The people of Pennsylvania don’t want to hear that someone won’t face a challenge because it is too difficult,” his spokesman said in a statement. “We should demand more from our leaders.”

Doesn’t sound like he’s going away anytime soon.

Sestak is holding a conference call this afternoon to talk about his recent 67-county jaunt across Pennsylvania to introduce himself to the huge group of voters who have never heard of him.

Don’t look for a formal announcement just yet, however. Not that Ed Rendell is holding his breath waiting for it.

The Phils are on fire

Somebody call 911. The Phillies are on fire.

One night after blowing out the Cubs, 10-1, in an offensive onslaught, the Phils proved they can do more than occasionally bludgeon an opponent into submission.

Instead, the Phils got strong pitching from starter Joe Blanton and a series of relievers in holding the Cubs to a single run.

The problem was that the night after they put double digits on the board, the Phils could only muster a single run themselves.

And that’s the way it stood – right up until Jayson Werth stepped into the batter’s box with two men on in the 13th inning.

Game-winning, walk-off, three-run dinger. It was the first walk-off homer of Werth’s career.

That’s 10 straight wins for the red-hot Phils.

Winning’s not the only consistent aspect of what’s going on down at Citizens Bank Park. So is the dizzying motion of the turnstiles.

The place was packed again last night. Somebody forgot to tell Phillies’
fans there is a recession going on.

There were 45,214 “phan-atics” jammed into the park last night. That makes 39 sellouts so far this year in 47 home games. They have now surpassed the 2 million mark in attendance. Last year they drew more than 3 milion and appear well on their way to shattering that mark this season.

No doubt this afternoon’s finale with the Cubbies will make it an even 40 sellouts. Fans are even gobbling up the standing-roon-only tickets for most home games.

The Phils continue to lead the NL East by 6 and a half games. Their pitching looks solid, their hitting timely. And we haven’t even mentioned the name of Roy Halladay yet.

It’s enough to make you forget the Eagles start training camp Sunday in Allentown.

There was a time when Lehigh became the place to be as soon as the Eagles hit town.

Not anymore.

All eyes are on Citizens Bank Park.

Mother Nature hasn’t provided much in the way of heat this unusually cool summer. The Phils are intent on supplying plenty of their own.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

The Daily Numbers - July 21

The Daily Numbers: 2 people shot – at least 1 fatally – last night in an incident that started in Ridley Township and ended up in Chester.
2 to 5 years in jail for Lemuel Payne for the hit-run death of Ridley teen Faith Sinclair last August.
250 dollars in peaches stolen from a tree out in Edgmont Township.
That’s one hungry thief. And it’s certainly not peachy.
2 people, a father and son, who escaped injury when fire broke out in their Brookhaven home Monday.
755,000 dollars in office supplies at the heart of conflict of interest charges filed against an employee of the U.S. Mint from Upper Darby.
10,000 dollars in donations that have come in to help keep the doors of the historic Darby Free Library open. It is still far short of the $30,000 goal.
70 to 81 months in prison, what federal prosecutors are seeking today for Ruth Arnao, who was convicted along with former Sen. Vince Fumo. He got 55 months. It’s more likely she’ll get something like 30 to 55 months.
27 percent of the Pa. voters who approve of the job being done by the state Legislature, which finds itself mired in still another budget impasse. Gov. Ed Rendell’s rating has sunk to 39 percent.
1 woman killed when fire broke out at a Bala Cynwyd high-rise condo yesterday. The woman was trapped on the 10th floor.
18,000 Pennsylvanians losing their jobless benefits as an extension remains stalled in Harrisburg.
400,000 believed ripped off from a Philly charter school by a former city detective who was an exec at the school. He entered a plea in the case Monday.
2 Atlantic City casinos that are vowing to hire replacement workers to keep the doors open should dealers vote to strike this week.
30,000 dollars in cash police say was stolen from the Lord & Taylor store in the King of Prussia Mall by a former employee. They say he stuffed the money in a couple of bags, then got on a SEPTA bus to make his getaway. He didn’t get very far.
2 Chester County businessmen who pleaded guilty in fed court yesterday for their role in illegal clinical trials involving use of a bone cement.
3 men charged in a $1 million jewel heist that left a policeman dead in New York.
2.54 per gallon, average price at the pump in the region after prices dipped another penny overnight. It’s even cheaper elsewhere in the state, at $2.48 on average.
50 percent decline in venture capital reported during the spring. It’s the 2nd straight quarter for a 50 percent decline.
6 strong innings for Rodrigo Lopez last night, leading the Phils to a 10-1 win over the Cubs.
9 straight wins for the Phils, and 13th win in their last 14 games.
3 run homer in the first by Raul Ibanez to get the party started. That’s 25 for him; Ryan Howard hit his 24th later in the game.
Call me a Phanatic: A look at the ups and downs of being a Philadelphia sports fan.The din is getting louder every day. Don’t expect it to die down before the July 31 trade deadline. Until then, we’re all going to be on the Roy Halladay watch, this despite that the Phillies have now won 9 straight.
I Don’t Get It: Please tell me it is not possible for Ruth Arnao to get more time in jail than her mentor, former Pa. Sen. Vince Fumo.
Today’s Upper: A big thumb’s up to comedian Tyler Perry, who is paying to send those kids from the Creative Steps camp who were booted from a Huntingdon Valley swim club to Disney World.
Quote Box: “Mr. Payne, I forgive you.”
- Kim Ferrell, mother of hit-run victim Faith Sinclair, to the man who took her daughter’s life as he was sentenced yesterday.

Honoring Faith

Lemuel Payne yesterday was sentenced yesterday to two to five years in jail for his role in the hit-run death of Faith Sinclair.

Kim Ferrell continues to deal with her sentence – a lifetime of pain.

Ferrell is Faith Sinclair’s mother. Since the life of her daughter was snuffed out as she tried to cross Chester Pike last August by the driver of a black Mercedes who then fled the scene, Ferrell has been a model of restraint, of empathy, and of understanding.

Yesterday she took that to a whole new level.

Ferrell was joined by her husband and many of Faith’s friends – they all wore special T-shirts saluting the vibrant teen – in shedding tears as they talked about what they had lost.

Then she did something I’m not sure many people would do. I know I doubt if I would find it in myself to do it. I’d like to think I could, but the truth is I’m not sure.

Kim Ferrell looked into the eyes of Lemuel Payne, the man who took the life of her daughter, and uttered three simple words.

“I forgive you.”

She’s a better person than I am. Maybe we could all be just a little more like her.

That would maybe be the most appropriate way to honor the life of a teen taken way too soon, and a mother who mourns her loss, while carrying on the way Faith no doubt would her to.

Justice for Ruth Arnao

How’s this one for irony.

Ruth Arnao will be sentenced in federal court today. She is the aide convicted along with longtime powerbroker and former Pa. Sen. Vince Fumo.

Arnao was one of his closest and most trusted aides.

Recently she has filed papers in court saying she now realizes her devotion to Fumo crossed the line and that she knows she did wrong. She told the court she was unable to go against the wishes of her mentor.

She was convicted, as was Fumo, of all the charges brought against her.
She went down on 45 counts, including conspiracy, fraud and obstructing justice.

For her loyalty to Fumo, Arnao could conceivably be sentenced today to more time in jail than her boss.

Federal Judge Ronald Buckwalter sentenced Fumo to 55 months, setting off howls of protest that it was not enough and sent the wrong message to those involved in white-collar crime and public corruption.

Federal prosecutors are seeking a sentence of 70 to 81 months for Arnao.

It would hard to fathom that she could actually bet more time behind bars than Fumo. It’s unlikely that she will.

It certainly would not be just, almost as unjust as the 55 months doled out to Fumo.

Not cool, Jack

Everyone knows that Citizens Bank Park is now the place to be in the summer in Philly.

It’s a destination point. Party Central. And, by the way, they also play baseball games there.

Last night it became official. Citizens Bank Park received the ultimate emblem of a place that has arrived.

Jack Nicholson was in the house. Now that’s cool. The star was right there in his field box. You almost expected a Lakers game to break out.

Nicholson is in town to film a movie.

Only one problem. Nicholson was wearing a white Yankees hat.

What’s up with that?

Yo, Jack. This is Philly. We don’t do Yankees.

Last night as you might expect, the Phanatic got into the act, doing a takeoff on Nicholson’s Riddler character from the “Batman” movies. And Nicholson went along with the joke. Of course, the Phanatic did not dump a box of popcorn on Nicholson, as he sometimes does with fans wearing the attire of other teams.

That would not be cool. Neither is that Yankees’ cap, Jack.

A call to arms for Phils

Somebody better tell the Phillies they need Roy Halladay to become a serious contender to defend their World Series crown.

These guys almost seem intent on shouting, “We ain’t exactly chopped liver.”

The red-hot Phils made it nine wins in a row last night by torching the Cubs, 9-1.

And once again they teamed solid hitting and effective pitching. This time it was Rodrigo Lopez on the hill. Lopez threw six effective innings, giving up five hits and just one run. By that time the game was long over, with the Phils jumping out to a big lead in the first inning on the strength of a three-run bomb from Raul Ibanez.

But don’t expect the din crying out for Halladay to die down anytime before next week’s July 31 trade deadline. Especially if the Blue Jays do not make a move before then.

Add Times’ sports columnist Jack McCaffery to the list of those who believe the Phils should add Halladay to the rotation. Jack makes the solid argument that this core nucleus of Phillies, including Jimmy Rollins, Chase Utley, Ryan Howard have a window of opportunity of being a dynasty. And Jack believes Halladay would be the final piece to that puzzle.

He won’t be the only one. Pedro Martinez also threw a simulated game at their minor league complex in Clearwater yesterday.

For their part, the Phils admit that despite the fact that they have now won 13 of their last 14 games, they are still looking to improve. And that leads to talk of Halladay.

He won’t come cheap. Expect names such as J.A. Happ and young phenom Kyle Drabek to be involved.

Guess you could call it a “Call to Arms.”

Monday, July 20, 2009

The Daily Numbers - July 20

The Daily Numbers: 625,000 dollars, the asking price for the home of the late Phillies broadcaster Harry Kalas. The home is now on the market.
1,500 dollars believed ripped off from the Children’s Place store in Granite Run Mall for a former manager.
16 credits short of graduating from Ursinus College, where a student from Lansdowne found himself before being booted out of school after his arrest on pot-selling charges.
3 people rescued from the Atlantic Ocean off Barnegat Light after their fishing boat caught fire.
2 alarm fire that destroyed a home in Haddon Township, N.J., Sunday night. The family was able to flee.
1 man stabbed in the head around 10 p.m. Sunday in West Oak Lane.
1 dead, 4 injured in a crash Sunday afternoon on the Atlantic City Expressway.
29, age of suspect now being charged in a series of pharmacy robberies in Delaware.
45, age of teacher’s aide in Burlington County, N.J., convicted of sexually assaulting a teen male student.
32, age of woman electrocuted when she fell into third rail of subway line in North Philadelphia.
2 teens in Reading now found shot to death a day apart in the same alley. One was found Saturday, the other Sunday.
27, age of woman in custody for the shooting death of a store owner who was shot and killed outside her North Philadelphia shop on Saturday.
17,800 Pa. residents who exhausted their unemployment benefits as of Saturday.
2.56 a gallon, what we’re paying on average for gas in the Philly region.
7 wins and 0 losses for J.A. Happ. He went 7 innings yesterday as the Phils blanked the Marlins, 5-0.
2.68 ERA for the young Phils’ left-hander.
2.73 ERA for Blue Jays ace Roy Halladay, who is the focus of trade talks that might include the Phils. Halladay pitched a complete game over the Red Sox to lift his record to 11-3.
8 straight wins for the Phils, who now lead the NL East by 6 and a half over the Braves.
29 wins, 15 losses for the Phils on the road, best mark in the majors.
3 hits yesterday for Jimmy Rollins, who had a single, double and triple by the third inning.
Call me a Phanatic: A look at the ups and downs of being a Philadelphia sports fan.J.A. Happ certainly is not making the Phillies’ decision on Roy Halladay any easier. Happ is one of the names being bandied about in deals that could bring the Phils the Blue Jays ace. But Happ is starting to look ace-like himself. He’s now 7-0.
I Don’t Get It: Well, we’re now more than half way through July and there’s still no sign of a budget in Harrsiburg. Sounds like business as usual.
Today’s Upper: Some kudos to the county and Sheriff Joe McGinn for their attempts to offer a home foreclosure diversion program that will allow people to stay in their homes.
Quote Box: “The old fogey almost did it.”
- Tom Watson, 59, after coming within one putt of winning the British Open, the losing in a playoff.

Keeping the Faith

Maybe the pain will stop today for Kim Ferrell.

The pain is likely just beginning for Lemuel Payne.

Payne is the Upper Darby man who will be in court this morning to be sentenced for the hit-run death of Faith Sinclair. Ferrell is Sinclair’s mother.

It has been nearly a year since Sinclair, a popular Ridley High student, was run down as she tried to cross Chester Pike on a Sunday night last August. The car that struck her did not stop.

Eventually, the car was found. Then police turned their focus on the owner, Lemuel Payne. They knew it was his car, and they were confident it was the car that snuffed out the life of Faith Sinclair.
But they just weren’t sure who was driving. It took a couple of months, but eventually Payne was charged.

He pleaded guilty back in June.

I have no doubt Ferrell will be there, just as she’s been there every step of the way, trying to keep alive the memory of her daughter.

You might call it “Keeing the Faith.”

I hope, in some small way, her pain can end today. I know, of course, it will not. There will always be an emptiness there. That’s what happens when you bury a child.

It’s been Kim Ferrell’s faith that has driven her this past year. And her Faith.

One giant void

This one is kind of embarrassing.

In this business, you sort of make a living marking historic events.

Today we are taking note of just such an occasion.

One small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.

And one giant void for a newspaper editor.

For whatever reason, and I wish I knew why, I have absolutely no recollection of July 20, 1969. That was the day Neil Armstrong stepped out of the lunar landing module – dubbed the Eagle – and into history.

But I don’t remember it at all.

I would have been going into my freshman year of high school. Getting ready for the start of football practice.

Maybe I was still trying to figure out what I was going to wear for my first day at school. After all, for eight years I never had that problem. I knew what I would be wearing. Blue pants, white shirt, blue ABVM tie (usually with whatever I had for lunch yesterday still splattered on it.) I attended parochial school for eight years.

Maybe I was camped in front of the TV along with everyone else as Armstrong’s boot landed in the moon dust. But for the life of me, I don’t remember it.

Call it one giant void.

Happ-y Days for Phils? Sort of

There was an interesting dichotomy no doubt playing out for the Phillies brass watching J.A. Happ again pitch lights out yesterday afternoon in blowing away the Marlins.

Happ pitched another seven strong innings, scattering just five hits while shutting out the Fish. He struck out four and walked one in pushing his record to a sparkling 7-0. His ERA is now 2.68.

Meanwhile, Ruben Amaro Jr. had to have one eye on the scoreboard. In Toronto, Roy Halladay went the distance to beat the Boston Red Sox. He pitched a six-hitter in raising his record to 11-3 and lowering his ERA to 2.73.

Halladay is currently being offered to several teams – for the right package in return. The Phillies are one of those teams. The thought of adding Halladay as the hammer in their rotation would make them the favorite to return to the World Series from the National League.

The problem is at what cost. It’s likely Happ would have to be in that mix. And maybe currently minor league phenom Kyle Drabek as well.

Happ makes that decision a little tougher with every start. Right now he might be the best pitcher in the Phils’ rotation, and that includes Cole Hamels.

The idea of adding Halladay is certainly intriguing, but it’s pretty clear that will not happen without giving up Happ or Drabek, or both, along with some other prospects.

Happ-y Days? Not for Amaro. All eyes will be on him as the days click off toward the trade deadline on the 31st. Will he pull the trigger? And if he does, will the Phils live to regret giving up on a kid like Happ.

It’s a decision I’m glad I don’t have to make.

The agony of defeat

There’s a new face to put on that old adage of “the agony of defeat.”

It belongs to Tom Watson. Only in this case I guess you could call it the agony of defeat, as well as the agony of watching it.

I suppose I should admit here that Tom Watson is one of my all-time favorite golfers. I just have always like the way he comports himself on the course.

Sunday was no exception. Even if it was for all the wrong reasons.

Watson had managed to turn back the clock this weekend at Turnberry, Scotland, for the Open Championship.

Only us blokes in the USA call it the British Open. To the rest of the globe it is simply the Open Championship.

And Tom Watson is one of its favorite sons. He has won the fabled claret jug five times. Miraculously, a sixth seemed to be in his grasp.

All weekend you waited for Watson to go away after a bracing first round left him just one shot off the lead. But the links-style of golf fits Watson’s game to a tee, you might say. He wasn’t going anywhere.
Instead, he bullishly held the lead. Tiger Woods was dispatched for the weekend after failing to make the cut.

Early on Sunday, it appeared as if Lee Westwood might interfere with Watson’s date with destiny.

But Watson stood on the 18th tee with a one-shot lead.

Tom Watson is 59 years old. He has not played on the regular PGA Tour in years. This is not supposed to happen.

It didn’t. And watching it come undone is about as sad as it gets.

It started off fine. Watson striped his tee shot into the middle of the fairway. Then he flushed his iron into the green. Only he hit it a little too well. It bounced hard on the green, then rolled through it and up against the collar. That’s when you started to get a bad feeling in the pit of your stomach.

His putt from the edge ran about 5 feet past the hole. If you know anything about golf – and Watson – you know this is precisely the kind of putt that has dogged him much of his sterling career.

Yesterday was no different. His putt had no shot, coming up short and right.

It dropped him into a tie with Stewart Cink and forced a four-hole playoff.

It was not pretty. Basically, the wheels came off. Watson looked every bit the 59-year-old on those four holes.

It was hard to watch.

I suppose I should feel good for Cink, who managed to capture his first major.

Instead all I felt was horrible for Watson, who came so close to doing something so improbable it would be laughed at if you presented it as a movie script.

You could see the disappointment all over Watson’s face as he hacked it around the course during the playoff. He knew it was over. You knew it, too.

That didn’t make it any easier to watch.

Tom Watson presented golf fans with a very special memory this weekend in Scotland. If only we could re-write the ending.

Friday, July 17, 2009

The Daily Numbers - July 17

The Daily Numbers: 408 properties in Delaware County scheduled to on the block at a sheriff’s sale today. Most of those are getting a reprieve.
168 homeowners who already got a break back in May who may not be as lucky today.
5.9 million dollars in unpaid taxes due the William Penn School District.
88 percent of the available property taxes in the district that actually gets paid.
30 Darby residents who stepped up Thursday night, volunteering to serve as town watch members in the aftermath of the shooting death of 17-year-old Ollie Cloyd.
2 firefighters who suffered minor injuries battling a house fire in Brookhaven that also sent a resident to the hospital for smoke inhalation.
3.7 percent tuition hike staring at students in the 14 state-owned universities, including West Chester and Cheyney. That means a $196 boost, to $5,554 for students in the state.
103 votes against, 95 for as the state House shot down a $27 billion GOP budget plan that would not hike taxes.
33,000 state employees who will be seeing only 70 percent of their usual pay in their check starting today. They may not get any check at all in the future if the budget impasse drags on.
13-13 tie vote in the state House Gaming Oversight Committee on a bill to legalize video poker in taverns. That means it does not pass.
14 months, age of child a man and woman in Warminster are charged with viciously abusing, including being burned on a stove and stuck with a hypodermic needle.
11 people charged in a raid by the feds on a South Philly drug operation. They say it was being run out of a local bar.
3 construction workers in Philly run down by a man police say was angry about the traffic delay.
16 people charged in a crackdown in South Jersey on downloading child porn.
43 employers at a job fair held at Citizens Bank Park yesterday targeting veterans.
3,400 jobs lost in Pa. in June. That’s the smallest numbers since last August.
9.2 percent unemployment rate in New Jersey in June. That’s the highest level in 32 years.
10 percent unemployment rate nationally, what is now being predicted by the Fed, although they also claim the economy is not sinking as fast as first feared.
2.58 a gallon, average price of gas in the Philly region. That’s down another penny.
4.07 a gallon, the all-time record high we were paying exactly 1 year ago.
8 dead and 50 wounded as 2 bomb blasts rock a luxury hotel in Jakarta, Indonesia.
7 dynamite innings last night for Phillies starter Jamie Moyer as the Phils kick off the second half with a 4-0 win. He gave up just 1 hit.
13-2, Moyer’s lifetime mark against the Marlins. He’s never lost to them in Florida.
200 career home runs for Ryan Howard. He reached that milestone faster than any other player in baseball history, in just 658 games.
2 home runs last night for Raul Ibanez.
5 game lead for the Phils over the Marlins.
Call me a Phanatic: A look at the ups and downs of being a Philadelphia sports fan.Imagine what would happen if Jamie Moyer could face the Marlins in every outing. He just owns them.
I Don’t Get It: It must be the anonymity of so much that gets posted online that emboldens people to make racist comments. I don’t get it.
Today’s Upper: Delaware County continues to react to keep people from losing their homes. More than 400 were set to go on the block at a sheriff’s sale today. But another 168 who already got one delay back in May likely will not be as lucky.
Quote Box: “With more people out of jobs, more properties are becoming delinquent. Those that aren’t, it’s more difficult for them to pay those taxes.”
- Joe Otto, chief operating officer of the William Penn School District, on the problem of delinquent taxes.

'Racing' into the online world

Looks like I’m not the only one struggling with the idea of “comments”
posted on Web sites.

It’s been quite the week here at in terms of comments.
The good news is that more and more people are using our Web site as a community forum to share their ideas and comments.

The bad news is that much of it amounts to little more than racist rants. As you can imagine, it did not take long before the conversation about the issues swirling around the Valley Swim Club descended into the gutter.

The same goes for many of the crime stories we report each day.

We try to police the comments, and remove those we find objectionable as soon as we can. Repeated comments we deem to be over the line can earn a “poster” a ban.

But the fact is that we can’t monitor the site 24 hours a day. We ask people to register, but that does not stop them from posting things that we would never allow in our print edition. Amazing what people are willing to say when their name does not appear beside it. Posters are identified only by their online nickname.

Me? I’ll always put my name next to what I write. That doesn’t mean I’m always right. I make mistakes every day. I’m also willing to admit those.

But that’s just one of the differences we’re encountering as we co-mingle in these two journalistic worlds – print and online.

Readers who find a comment objectionable can send us an e-mail alert and ask us to review the comment and possibly remove it. I will tell you that not every objection results in a comment being removed. In some instances, people simply disagree with what’s being posted. That’s not the same as something that is objectionable.

I will focus on this issue in my print column this coming week. Look for it Monday morning.

In the meantime, some black police officers in Philadelphia are railing against a similar situation. Their target is an Internet discussion forum on which they believe some city police officers are posting racist comments. They have filed suit against the Philadelphia Police Department.

The want the Web site shut down and sanctions against those allegedly involved.

I wish them luck.

There are many things I like about the Internet. Racist comments are not one of them.

More on Terry McGgirth

Yesterday I wrote about the case of Yeadon Borough Councilman Terry McGirth.

Or I suppose I should refer to him as former Councilman Terry McGirth. A Delaware County judge ruled he must be removed from office because of an old felony conviction in his past.

I wrote that I wondered about such a ruling, and what it tells us about the idea of rehabilitation, the notion of justice and offering people a second chance.

Today, my colleague Gil Spencer weighs in on the matter. In talking to Gil yesterday morning, I will admit he made a point I had not considered.

One reason for having such a law is because it is not outside the realm of possibility that voters would routinely return popular crooks to office.

Exhibit A would be one Vince Fumo. Gil correctly theorizes that there’s little doubt the people of his South Philly turf would return Fumo to his seat in Harrisburg if that was a possibility.

I’m still not sure what is happening to McGirth is the right thing to do. Is it justice? Absolutely. Is it just? I’m not so sure.

A blip on road to more more gambling

The mad rush to offer more and more legalized gambling in Pennsylvania just hit a bit of a speed bump.

You might remember that Gov. Ed Rendell proposed the notion of legalizing video poker in bars and clubs. The governor rationalized that it was occurring anyhow, so why not legalize it and cut the state in on some of the revenue?

Rendell wanted to use the money to provide increased education funding to kids attending state universities.

Don’t hold your breath, kids. Rendell rolled the dice – and came up snake-eyes.

The House Gaming Oversight Committee was deadlocked 13-13 on the measure. But in this case, the tie does not go to the House. The measure did not pass.

The committee chairman says he will give it another shot soon.

One thing you can count on when it comes to gaming in this state. It’s not going away anytime soon.

In fact you could say it’s a pretty good bet that increasing legal betting in Pennsylvania is a pretty good bet.

You can put the house on it. Or in this case the House, as in the Pa. House.

Life's a gas

Your wallet feeling a little heavier today than it did this time last summer?

Not surprising.

One year ago Thursday, Pennsylvania drivers were reeling under the all-time record-high gas price. It was costing an average price of $4.07 a gallon at the pump, according to AAA.

Fast-forward a year. As we head into another summer weekend, prices are on the decline.

Average price in the Philly region now stands at $2.58, that’s down another penny. More importantly, it’s more than dollar a gallon less than we were forking over last summer.

Who would have thought that one day paying $2.58 a gallon for gas would be considered a bargain?

Jamie & Ryan show powers Phils

If only Jamie Moyer could face the Florida Marlins every time he takes the mound.

Simply put, the 46-year-old left-hander owns the Fish. Moyer got the second half of the Phils season off to a sparkling start by dazzling the Marlins, allowing just one hit over seven innings. The Phils rolled to an easy 4-0 win.

The victory makes Moyer 13-2 against the Marlins, and he has never lost to them in Florida.

Moyer barely hit 80 mph with most of this pitches, but he still managed to mow down the Marlins, retiring them in succession in six of his seven innings.

Moyer was backed by the power hitting of Raul Ibanez and Ryan Howard.

Ibanez looked like a man intent on making up for the stint he spent on the DL before the break, hitting two home runs. That gives him 24 on the year.

Howard added a solo shot, the 200th of his career. Not only was it a milestone dinger for the slugger, it also made him the fastest player in baseball history to hit the 200-homer plateau.

Howard hit homer No. 200 in just his 658th game. It took Ralph Kiner 706 games to reach the same mark. Kiner starred in the ’40s and ’50s.

The win puts the Phils five up on the Marlins in the NL East.

Roy who?

Thursday, July 16, 2009

The Daily Numbers - July 16

The Daily Numbers: 100,000 dollars, how much Yeadon Councilman Terry McGirth admitted stealing from his Chester County employer back in 2003.
That conviction means he can’t hold his seat on council.
100 years later, two Medal of Honor winners who are buried in separate Delco cemeteries got their just due yesterday, honored by members of the Herbert W. Best VFW Post 928 in Folsom.
2 residents in Darby Borough being sought after a raid on a home turned up a marijuana-growing operation.
79 votes missed this year by U.S. Rep. Joe Sestak, according to Steve Welch. He’s the Montco businessman who has announced his candidacy for the 7th District seat. Sestak may have other fish to fry. He’s still eyeing a run against Sen. Arlen Specter for the Dem Senate nomination.
4,000 people in Chester who have received notice of unpaid trash fees. A citizens group has now gone to federal court asking for an injunction against the city’s attempts to collect.
297 members of the Interboro Education Association and the school board who have reached a tentative accord on a new contract.
985 to 19, margin by which union employees at Acme Markets last night approved a tentative deal with the supermarket.
4,000 workers in 41 stores in the region covered under the new deal.
13, age of teen struck by a hit-run driver at a Bryn Mawr intersection yesterday afternoon. The youth is in critical condition. A woman driving a station wagon is being sought.
12 days for each of the 137 felony counts he was convicted of, what the
55 months in jail prison sentence for former Sen. Vince Fumo amounts to.
2 17-year-old boys who testified yesterday against a former math teacher at North Penn High School. One said he had sex with the 36-year-old female teacher, the other said she sent sexually explicit texts to him.
75, age of man attacked by robbers in New Castle County, Del.
3 people taken into custody in South Jersey for a series of incidents in which they placed metal spikes in the road.
4 aliases for the man now under arrest charged as the mastermind in the double-slaying of a party planner and her friend in an upscale Northern Liberties apartment complex.
42 million in federal stimulus funds that must be shared with 4 state-related universities.
200,000 dollar watch ripped off from the Macy’s store in Christiana Mall. Police are looking for suspects.
3 to 8 months in jail for one of two brothers who once starred in gay porn films in connection with a series of rooftop burglaries.
29 billion dollar spending plan being pushed by Dems in the state House. A $27 billion alternative offered by Republicans.
1.5 billion dollars being sought from Boeing in a class-action lawsuit alleging age bias at plants in Kansas and Oklahoma.
15 percent increase in foreclosure rates across the nation in first half of 2009.
211,162 households in Pa. worth more than a million dollars. That’s down from last year.
2.59 a gallon, average price at the pump in the Philly region. That’s down another 2 cents.
4 games this weekend for the Phils against the 2nd place Florida Marlins.
4 game lead for the Phils, which could be 8 – or 0 – on Monday morning.
Call me a Phanatic: A look at the ups and downs of being a Philadelphia sports fan.The Phils sign Pedro Martinez and immediately put him on the disabled list. Not to worry. Pedro is merely going to get a few rehab starts in the minors before joining the team. The question remains, how much does he have left?
I Don’t Get It: A Philadelphia man is charged with posing as a priest. He actually visited a wounded police officer in the hospital and ministered to him. I don’t get it.
Today’s Upper: Today’s forecast: More heat and more humidity. Good.
That’s more like summer.
Quote Box: “He is absolutely a model for the prison system, because he has been rehabilitated. He’s a poster boy, a perfect example of what true rehabilitation is.”
- Yeadon Councilwoman President Vivian Ford, on fellow council member Terry McGirth, who has been ousted from his post because of an old felony conviction.

The Terry McGirth case

Terry McGirth never tried to hide from his past.

The Yeadon Borough councilman never tried to cover up or lie about his criminal conviction.

He was upfront with the voters. He said he had turned his life around.
The felony conviction stemmed from a theft charge in which he pleaded guilty in 2003 in Chester County to stealing more than $100,000 from a kidney dialysis company.

When his record was revealed during his campaign for a seat on borough council, McGirth met the situation head-on. He was up-front with voters.

They decided to give McGirth another chance, and voted for him anyhow.

Turns out the law isn’t so forgiving.

State law prohibits someone convicted of an “infamous crime” from holding public office. Strangely, it doesn’t mean you can’t run for office. You just can’t actually take the seat if you win.

McGirth’s conviction falls under the fairly wide umbrella of “infamous.”

Somebody notified the county district attorney’s office and they went to court seeking McGirth’s ouster from the seat he has held since 2007.

Delco Judge George Pagano weighed in Wednesday, and the news was not good for McGirth. He’s out. Apparently McGirth will not appeal the ruling.

Council will now have to fill McGirth’s seat. In the ever-simmering world of Yeadon politics, that may be easier said than done.

Ironically, council meets tonight.

McGirth’s troubles are not over. He still faces trial on charges brought against him by another borough employee.

There’s something troubling about what happened to McGirth. Our society is supposed to be all about offering those who have strayed a second chance, a shot at turning their lives around.

McGirth did that.

Then there is the notion, forwarded by McGirth’s attorney John F.
Licari, that the decision on whom should represent them should be made by Yeadon residents.

They made their decision at the polls when they voted for McGirth.

But they’ve been overruled by the courts, and McGirth’s past.

I guess some debts are harder to repay than others.

The rich feel the pinch

Times are tough all over.

Struggling to make the car payment? Wondering where the next rent/mortgage payment is coming from?

You’ll be happy to know we’re not the only ones suffering in this economic downturn.

Turns out the seven-figure crowd is feeling the pinch as well.

A study by Phoenix Marketing International shows that the millionaire’s club in Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Delaware has declined.

In Pennsylvania, there are 211,162 households worth more than $1 million this year. That amounts to 4.3 percent of all households. That puts us in 24th place when it comes to fatcats, down from our perch in the 21st spot last year.

The numbers are down in both New Jersey and Delaware, too.

New Jersey fares better. They have fewer households worth a million (197,694), but it represents a bigger percentage of their population
(6.22 percent). That puts them third in the nation.

Delaware ranks 11th, with 16,763 households topping the million mark.
That’s 4.93 percent.

Guess I better keep buying those lottery tickets.

The feel & sound of summer

Stick your head outside this morning. Feel that? That’s called summer.

The air’s getting a little thicker. Your clothes stick to your body.
Some people might actually be moved to flip on the air-conditioner later today.

Not me. That doesn’t’t mean the air won’t be on in my house. I just won’t be sitting in it. I’ll be safely tucked away on my screened-in porch, enthralled with the sounds – and feel - of summer.

That, of course means baseball.

The weather’s not the only thing heating up. The Phils get back to business tonight. They will kick off a four-game set in Florida against the team in their rear-view mirror. The Marlins now trail the Phils by four games.

By the end of the weekend, the Phils may either have blown open the race, seen their lead disappear, or somewhere in between.

And I plan to catch as much of the action on radio as I can. You can have the TV. And the air-conditioning. I will be on the porch, with the sounds of baseball on the radio in my ear.

And a smile on my face.

Flyers do Fenway

Philly is going to Fenway.

No, not the Phillies, although a World Series matchup between them and the Red Sox remains a distinct possibility.

I’m talking about the Flyers.

NHL boss Gary Bettman yesterday made official what had been rumored for a couple of months.

The Flyers and Bruins will be featured in what is now referred to as the “Winter Classic.” They’ll play on an outdoor rink at Fenway Park on New Year’s Day.

It’s something many of us can remember doing as kids. We called it “pond hockey.”

A lot of NHL stars likely first laced on their skates while shivering beside a frozen pond.

At yesterday’s press conference, several members of the Flyers and Bruins talked about just that.

“We’re lucky to have boards here, because back home we played outside and instead of boards we’d have bales of straw and hay to keep the puck from going too far off the ice,” said Flyers defenseman Braydon Coburn.

I remember a different problem on the ponds we played on. Not all areas of the pond froze as solid as others. So there was always the problem of the puck sliding into an unfrozen section. Even worse would be if it slid toward the unfrozen end, but then sat there on the thin layer of ice daring some brave would to come and get it.

Conditions probably won’t be quite that stark come New Year’s Day. It’s unlikely there will be any bonfires roaring next to the ice. Players will still dress in the locker room and retreat there between periods.

We also didn’t have the Green Monster as a backdrop.

But they will be playing outside, regardless of the weather, on a rink constructed on the field at the hallowed home of the Red Sox.

Here’s hoping for snow.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

The Daily Numbers - July 15

The Daily Numbers: 55 months in jail for former state Sen. Vince Fumo on corruption charges.
10 years doled out to former city Treasurer Corey Kemp, who also was caught with his hand out. How’s that work?
0 calls that have come in to Darby Borough Police in the investigation of the murder of Ollie Cloyd, this despite a $10,000 reward in the case.
50 state workers who rallied yesterday outside the state Welfare Office in Darby, protesting the lack of a new state budget that means they face payless paydays.
33,000 state workers who are staring at pay cuts beginning Friday if a new budget is not in place. That would grow to 44,000 the following week. 77,000 workers would get no pay at all if a budget is not in place by July 31.
0, how much our state legislators are being paid in lieu of a budget deal, but they do retain their per diem expense fees.
1 million dollars raised in the second quarter by likely Senate candidate U.S. Rep. Joe Sestak.
1.7 million raised in the same period by his likely foe, Sen. Arlen Specter.
7.5 million dollars now in Specter’s war chest, compared to $4.2 million for Sestak.
4 terms in Congress for Rep. Jim Gerlach, R-6, of Chester County. He’ll give up his seat to seek the Republican nomination for governor.
8 families left homeless after fire roared through a home in Roxborough last night.
24 live chickens, a dead snake and a box marked “black bunny” found dumped along a road in Bucks County. There’s a $500 reward for information.
50 percent increase in recycling reported in Philadelphia in the past 12 months.
13.6 percent dip in revenue for Atlantic City casinos in June, compared to a year ago.
300,000 dollars in damage to a barn near Lewes, Del., in a fire that for a time blocked traffic on busy nearby Route 1.
365 tickets doled out for speeding during a recent crackdown by police in Delaware.
1 hit for the 5 Phils in last night’s All-Star game. That belonged to Shane Victorino, who also scored a run.
1 million dollars for Pedro Martinez, who will be unveiled by the Phils today as their newest pitcher.
13 straight losses for the National League.
Call me a Phanatic: A look at the ups and downs of being a Philadelphia sports fan.Vote for Pedro. It’s not like we have a choice. The Phils today will formally announce they have signed Pedro Martinez. He will make a couple of minor league starts, then likely assume the fifth starter’s spot in the Phils’ rotation.
I Don’t Get It: 55 months in jail for Vince Fumo. I don’t get it.
Today’s Upper: Five Phillies in the All-Star game and one hit. Hey, it was still refreshing to see all those Phils at the game. And another president who can’t throw.
Quote Box: “He didn’t need to steal. He stole because he could, because he was drunk with power.”
- Federal prosecutor John Pease, before Vince Fumo was sentenced to 55 months in jail.

The Fumo sentence

Vince Fumo liked the idea of using what he referred to as “other people’s money.”

But he had little use for other people’s justice. That’s the kind of justice meted out to most of us. Not Fumo.

Apparently Judge Ronald Buckwalter agreed.

The judge yesterday stunned a federal courtroom – and in particularly federal prosecutors – by sentencing the former powerful state senator to
55 months in jail.

That’s less than five years.

It came as a shock to many.

I’m guessing it might come as a shock to Corey Kemp as well. Name ring a bell? He was the former Philadelphia city treasurer snared in the federal corruption probe of the Street Administration.

As best anyone can tell, Kemp got a couple of tickets to the Super Bowl and a deal on a deck on his house. He was convicted of conspiracy to commit honest services fraud, extortion and other charges.

For betraying the public trust, Kemp got 10 years in jail, where he sits today.

Then there’s former City Councilman Rick Mariano. When he finally came down from that perch atop City Hall, where some people thought he might have dire plans, Mariano was sentenced to six and a half years in prison for taking bribes.

And maybe most interested might just be John S. Carter. You probably never heard of him. He used to head the Independence Seaport Museum. He was convicted as part of the investigation into Fumo’s shenanigans. He pleaded guilty to stealing about $1.5 million from the museum. For his larceny he was sent to prison for 15 years.

Not the self-proclaimed one-time most powerful politician in Pennsylvania.

Fumo went on the offensive Tuesday during his sentencing hearing in front of Buckwalter.

He said he never intended to steal anything, that he was addicted to his job, and boasted of the things he and his staff got done. They even had a saying for it. They called it WGTD. That stands for “We Get Things Done.”

Too bad that very often WGTD involved OPM. Other People’s Money.

There is no arguing the benefits Fumo brought to the region and his long service to the state.

None of it lessens the seriousness of what he did, the 137 counts that a jury convicted him of without blinking an eye.

The only thing lessened yesterday by Buckwalter’s sentence was the belief that justice is blind, that she does not see who is standing in front of it, that we all get the same justice.

That didn’t happen here.

Most of us get other people’s justice.

Vince Fumo got a break.

He is to report to jail by Aug. 31. He likely will actually do less than the 55 months behind bars.

It’s an outrage.

Dead silence in Darby

Apparently 10,000 bucks doesn’t buy what it used to.

At least not in Darby Borough.

Police Chief Bob Smythe was at a press conference in Media Monday with D.A. Mike Green and representatives from the Citizens Crime Commission, where they announced a $10,000 reward for information into the killing of 17-year-old Ollie Cloyd last week.

Smythe noted that although Cloyd was just a block from home around 11 p.m. when he was accosted by several youths on bikes, no one is coming forward with information.

It was hoped that maybe increasing the reward fund from the initial $1,000 put up by the borough, then to $2,000 and now to $10,000 would loosen some lips.

Not so far.

The only noise Smythe is hearing is the sounds of silence.

You might call it dead silence.

Another vote for Pedro

Vote for Pedro?

Sure, count me in.

Pedro Martinez will become a Phillie today. The team has apparently reached a deal with the former Mets and Red Sox all-star pitcher that will pay him $1 million dollars. And it won’t cost the Phils any players, merely money. In today’s baseball economy, $1 million is like working for minimum wage. I know, it makes you shake your head. Just remember, they don’t operate in the real world.

Martinez likely will make a few starts in the minor leagues before joining the big club and holding down the fifth spot in the Phils’ rotation.

Some scouting reports indicate Martinez was bringing it up there around
93 mph in a couple of outings witnessed in his native Dominican Republic.

Of course that’s not the most intriguing question involving the Martinez signing. The real deal remains what – if any – effect the Martinez signing has on the Phils’ reported interest in Blue Jays ace Roy Halladay. You know, that guy who started for the American League in last night’s All-Star Game.

The Blue Jays might have cooled – at least temporarily – some of the red-hot talk surrounding Halladay when they indicated they would not entertain any deals until the July 31 trade deadline.

That won’t stop the talk. Nor the Phils’ interest.

The price for Halladay won’t be cheap. It likely will involve young phenom Kyle Drabek or J.A. Happ. Maybe both. And more.

The question is whether the Phils are willing to ransom a big chunk of their future for the chance to win now.

And we likely have two weeks to mull it over.

How TV ruined the All-Star game


That is when Tim Lincecum uncorked the first pitch of last night’s Major League Baseball All-Star Game.

This might have come as a bit of a surprise to you if you tuned in for what was billed as an 8 p.m. game.

Of course, that listed time usually has little to do with the actual start of the game. That’s when the TV coverage starts. And we got plenty of it last night.

Of course Fox did not disappoint. We got all the usuals. The extended introductions of the lineup. And a phalanx of local dignitaries. And President Obama throwing out the first pitch. Weakly, as a matter of fact.

The question is why all that didn’t start at 7, allowing the game to start at 8?

The answer, of course, is because that’s not what TV wants. And when it comes to sports, what TV wants, TV gets.

So you have a game that starts at 8:52. Refreshingly, once the game started, it moved at a brisk pace. It took two hours, 31 minutes. But it still meant the crucial moments late in the game happened after 11 p.m.
Forget that. I for one was long gone. The game ended around 11:30.

Not that it much mattered. Even the addition of no less than five members of the defending World Series champion Phillies could not halt the NL’s skid.

The Senior Circuit has now lost 13 in a row. In fact the last time the NL was victorious, the game was played right here in Philly in 1996.

Shane Victorino got a hit and scored a run. The rest of the Phils were blanked, and Ryan Howard did not look especially good when he came up with two runners in scoring position in the eighth. He struck out on a horrible pitch while trying to check his swing.

Now it’s on to Florida and a weekend set with those Florida Marlins.

Thank goodness those games are supposed to start at a much more manageable time.

Not that TV wouldn’t start them later if they had their druthers.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

The Daily Numbers - July 14

The Daily Numbers: 10,000 dollar reward posted for information in the killing of Ollie Cloyd in Darby Borough.
4,000 dollars in damage at Montrose Cemetery in Upper Darby by vandals who toppled gravestones over the weekend.
11 to 14 years in jail, the likely sentence today for former powerful state Sen. Vince Fumo.
250 letters of support that have poured into the judge who will sentence Fumo from his supporters, including Gov. Ed Rendell.
40, age of man who turned himself in to police in Philadelphia. They believe he was the mastermind of a double-slaying of a party planner and her friend in Northern Liberties.
1.3 billion dollars in higher education subsidy that could be moved out of the Pa. general fund in the latest budget gambit by House Democrats.
2 rallies today by state workers in Delaware County who are upset with the budget impasse and the possibility of payless paydays in their future.
14, age of teen charged yesterday with groping 4 women on subway platforms in South Philly.
21, age of transgender woman who died in South Jersey during what authorities say was some kind of a voodoo cleansing ceremony.
5 people injured in a crash on Route 1 in Delaware just west of Rehoboth Beach.
1.4 million dollar tab that officials in Los Angeles say they will pay in connection to the memorial service for Michael Jackson.
37, age of Pedro Martinez, who will be in town to take a physical today and who very likely will sign with the Phils tomorrow.
4.98, ERA for the current Phils’ starters.
5 wins and 6 losses along with a 5.61 ERA compiled last year by Martinez with the Mets.
2, as in No. 2 in the batting order, where Chase Utley will hit tonight in the All-Star Game.
7, as in the 7th slot, and starting in center field for Shane Victorino.
5, as in the No. 5 spot in the order, for left fielder Raul Ibanez.
Call me a Phanatic: A look at the ups and downs of being a Philadelphia sports fan.
Looks like the Phils are about to add Pedro Martinez to the fold. The big question is whether that takes them out of the Roy Halladay sweepstakes. Try not to watch tonight as the ace of the Blue Jays staff – and apple of the Philllies’ eyes – takes the hill as the AL starter.
I Don’t Get It: Sad to think that it takes money for people to come forward and offer information in a case in which a 17-year-old kid was gunned down on the street.
Today’s Upper: Let’s hear it for Charlie Manuel and the five Phillies who will be making St. Louis kind of like Philly west tonight for the All-Star game.
Quote Box: “We’re just begging, if you have information, please come forward.”
- Anna Marie Goodwin, sister of murder victim Ollie Cloyd, at press conference yesterday announcing $10,000 reward.

Seeking justice for Ollie Cloyd

At first, Darby Borough Police Chief Bob Smythe tried the standard route as he sought witnesses to the killing of Ollie Cloyd.

He asked the public, including those he believe either saw or knew about what happened last Wednesday night when a few kids rode up to the 17-year-old as he walked his dog and opened fire, to come in and talk to police.

The chief and the borough even put up $1,000 in attempts to lure people to come forward.

He was greeted with the sounds of silence.

Now the chief and others are upping the ante. Literally.

At a press conference yesterday at the Media Courthouse, Smythe joined D.A. Mike Green, and a representative from the Citizens Crime Commission in announcing the reward fund now stands at $10,000.

Maybe that will be enough to loosen some lips.

There were two other people at the press conference yesterday. Two people who also put forth a heartfelt plea for witnesses to come forward.

Ollie Cloyd’s mother and sister joined the chorus of those begging anyone with information on his murder to speak to police.

The family is hoping to cut off any further bloodshed. They’re afraid someone may be considering retaliating for Ollie’s death.

There was one other irony involved in yesterday’s press conference.

It would have been Ollie Cloyd’s 18th birthday. The best present his family could get right now is for those who know what happened to their loved one to come forward and talk to police.

More choppy water at swim club

Fingers continue to be pointed in all directions in the debacle that is slowly sinking The Valley Club in Huntingdon Valley.

You might have noticed the swim club has been in the news recently after their decision to revoke a deal they had with a kids’ camp to use their facilities.

One visit from the Creative Kids camp was all some of the folks at the club needed to see. They were informed they could not return and were given their money back. Then the swim club president mentioned something about the kids changing the “complexion” of the facility.

Then, of course, all hell broke loose.

Here’s the latest. The Valley Club has apologized and invited the campers to come back.

No thanks, was the response. See you in court.

The day camp has indicated they will seek legal action against the camp, while saying that parents had rejected the offer to return to the swim club.

This morning I received an e-mail from woman who sees someone else at fault in all this. I’ll admit it’s someone I had not considered.

She believes part of the fault for all this lies at the feet of Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter.

And why is that, you might ask? I know I did. The woman argues it’s because of Nutter’s decision to close some city pools, forcing camps such as Creative Steps to find alternative pools.

I’m not sure I’m buying her argument. Nutter was faced with monumental budget problems. And the mayor’s decision really had nothing to do with the essence of the problem that arose at The Valley Club, that being exactly why the kids from Creative Steps were told they could not come back.

But she did offer another suggestion I would concur with. She wants all swim clubs, in Delaware County and elsewhere, to “open the doors and the pools and allow people who need to swim to come.”

You might call it getting in the swim of things.

The cost of 'Other People's Money'

Other People’s Money.

Today Vince Fumo will find out just how much using “Other People’s Money” costs.

Fumo, once one of the most powerful politicians in Pennsylvania, will be sentenced in federal court for fleecing the state Senate and a couple of non-profits out of millions.

Basically, Fumo was convicted of stealing from you and me, the taxpayers.

There’s little doubt that the former senator is going to jail. What is in question is for how long.

The “Other People’s Money” tag, ironically, comes from Fumo himself.
According to testimony at his trial, that was the term he used for how he paid for many of the luxuries he showered on himself.

Certainly Fumo, even in his worst nightmare, never thought this day would ever come.

Surely he never imagined that eventually he would be called to account for all of that spending of “Other People’s Money.”

He was wrong.

Today he will learn just how expensive using “Other People’s Money” can be.

Manuel is seeing stars

We’ll have to forgive Charlie Manuel if the Phils’ skipper has stars in his eyes tonight.

Manuel will be managing the National League All-Star team at the Mid-Summer Classic in St. Louis.

But it’s one particular star that no doubt will be the apple of Charlie’s eye.

When Manuel watches the American League team take the field, no likely will be staring intently at the man on the mound.

That’s because starting for the AL tonight is none other than Roy Halladay.

The ace of the Toronto Blue Jays is currently at the epicenter of baseball’s trade talks. The team has indicated they are willing to listen to offers. The Phillies are interested, but it remains to be seen if they are willing to part with enough young talent to pry Halladay away from Canada. Names of blue-chippers like Kyle Drabek and Michael Taylor are being bandied about, as is currently 6-0 lefthander J.A. Happ.

In the meantime, about 1,500 miles away, a former All-Star is expected in town.

Pedro Martinez is believed to be in Philly and will take a physical today. Some people believe the former Mets and Red Sox star will sign with the Phils on Wednesday. Martinez is about two weeks away but could become an option for the fifth starter’s role. The spot has almost been jinxed ever since Brett Myers went down for the year after hip surgery.

Antonio Bastardo was first in line, but he came up with a bum shoulder.
Then Rodrigo Lopez took the hill. He left his last start with inflammation.

Martinez is seen as little more than a stopgap. Phils fans no doubt would welcome the former Met, but not if it means the Phils are bailing on the Halladay sweepstakes.

In the meantime, pity poor Charlie Manuel. He’ll be sitting in the NL dugout looking longingly out at the mound.

No doubt with stars dancing in his head.

Monday, July 13, 2009

The Daily Numbers - July 13

The Daily Numbers: 1 person of interest now in custody in connection with the shooting death of 17-year-old Ollie Cloyd of Darby. The person is being held on an unrelated gun charge.
75 dollar fee being slapped on students in Marple Newtown School District to take part in extra-curricular activities or sports in light of budget cuts.
4.1 percent tax hike in Marple Newtown, even with the new fees.
38, age of Linwood woman facing DUI charges after the car she was driving veered off I-495 in Delaware and landed in a ditch. Her 2 toddlers were still strapped into their car seats.
33 Delco kids vying for the title of Delco Idol Jr. this summer at Media Theatre.
61, age of attorney who was charged over the weekend with trying to smuggle drugs into the Delco prison.
1 million dollars raised just this spring by U.S. Rep. Joe Sestak for his run against Sen. Arlen Specter.
5 police officers injured and 17 people arrested Saturday night when a large crowd became unruly on South Street in Philadelphia.
2 suspects being sought in connection with the execution-style slaying of a party planner and her friend at the Piazza at Schmidts upscale apartment complex in Northern Liberties. The alleged mastermind of the attack is supposed to turn himself in today.
10 percent tuition hike that could be staring at students and parents as Penn State awaits to see just how bad the Pa. budget will affect their funding.
2 dead, 9 hurt over the weekend in a series of car crashes in Delaware.
20, age of victim in what police are calling a voodoo cleansing ceremony that ended up going horribly wrong in South Jersey.
100 people who report being stung by jellyfish at the Delaware beaches last week. Officials say they are battling a higher then usual number of the pesky critters.
2015, when Pennsylvania will start using graduation exams for high school students. The exam will account for a third of the student’s final grade.
6 people rescued after 2 sailboats overturned in the surf off Ocean City, N.J.
2 people being sought in a series of armed robberies in New Castle, Del.
20 consecutive days that gas prices have dropped nationally. In the Philly region we’re now paying an average of $2.56 at the pump.
9 wins and just 1 loss for the Phils at Citizens Bank Park on their homestand as they head into the All-Star break.
7 strong innings Sunday for starter J.A. Happ, giving up just 1 run on 4 hits.
6 wins and 0 defeats for Happ, who took over in the starting rotation for Chan Ho Park.
5 Phillies will be taking part in the All-Star game Tuesday night in St.
Call me a Phanatic: A look at the ups and downs of being a Philadelphia sports fan.I know how good Roy Halladay would look in the Phils’ rotation. But I’m still leery of how much the team would have to give up to get him. It hurts, but I think I would pass.
I Don’t Get It: A mother is charged with DUI after her car careened off
I-495 and landed in a ditch. Her two young toddlers were still strapped into their car seats. I don’t get it.
Today’s Upper: It probably never should have happened, but The Valley Club is doing the right thing by re-inviting some minority campers who were turned away from use of the pool.
Quote Box: “When 70 percent of your costs are tied to compensation that is rising 3 or 4 percent every year, you have to see the state share rise at a similar percentage or local taxes will inevitably keep going up.”
- Phil Hopkins, finance committee chairman of the Haverford School Board, on the budget process.

Public life, private grief

There is something wholly unnatural about a parent burying a child.

I thank God every day I have not had to face that kind of heartbreak.

Some of us aren’t that lucky. Add in the fact that you must endure your grief while trying to function in the public spotlight, and you have an even more trying ordeal.

We are supposed to grow old and watch our children grow into adults. All the care we have showered on them is then returned as they often look after us in our golden years.

Trying to reverse that system, with a parent left to bury a child gone way too soon, is about the worst life has to offer.

Our hearts and prayers go out to state Rep. Bryan Lentz, D-161, and his family on the loss of his son.

Joseph Thomas Lentz lost his courageous battle against brain cancer. He was 2 years old.

Just too damn sad.

Most fitting for a public servant, the Lentz family is now hoping that the tragic loss of young Joseph will help in the battle against cancer.

They have set up a foundation in his name. Contributions should be made to The Joseph Lentz Fund for Pediatric Brain Cancer Research, The Foundation and CHOP, The Wanamaker Building, 100 Penn Square East, Eighth Floor, Suite 8050, Philadelphia PA 19017, att. Richard Breslin.

Rest well, Joseph.

Feeling old yet?

Here’s my daily effort to make us all feel ancient.

It was 24 years ago today that the eyes of the music world were focused on Philadelphia and London for the Live Aid concert to battle conditions in Africa.

How long ago was that? The venue is no longer there. That’s right. They tore down JFK Stadium years ago to make way for what was the then the Core States Center, which then became the First Union Center, and which today is the Wachovia Center.

The concert was split between Philly and Wembley Stadium in London. Phil Collins actually played in London, then flew on the Concorde across the Atlantic to appear in Philly.

Where have you gone, Bob Geldof?

Swimming against tide of racial stereotypes

It’s taken a week in a media firestorm, but it looks as if the members of The Valley Club are going to do the right thing.

The Valley Club is the swim facility in nearby Huntingdon Valley that first invited several groups of mostly minority kids to use their pool, then rescinded the invitation when it became clear that members had some …. ahem … concerns.

Just what those concerns were obviously depends on whom you talk to – and when you talked to them.

The president of the club, John Duesler, could not possibly have picked a worse word in his first comments about pulling back the invitation to the kids, most of whom were black or Hispanic.

Duesler indicated that some club members had objected, saying that the kids changed the “complexion” of the club.


Open mouth. Insert foot.

Or, if you wish, light match, touch fuse. Kaboom.

Duesler and the club soon found themselves at the center of a racial tsunami.

They then indicated that the move to rescind the invitation was not done out of racism, but rather safety. They said the club simply was not prepared to handle the number of kids (65) who were part of the program.

Well, at least it’s a better explanation than his first offering. Then again, it couldn’t have gotten much worse.

Here’s what I think happened. Duesler never consulted with his board or members when he offered the invitation. Some members likely were taken aback when the kids showed up, and told Duesler so.

Some of the kids indicated they overheard some members making racial comments when they arrived.

Now, all seems forgiven. The club Sunday night moved to re-invite the kids to use their facilities. Whether or not the camp takes them up on their offer remains to be seen. It would be nice if they did. But I’m not betting on it.

That’s because while we have elected a black man president of the United States, race still defines way too much of us as a society. Are we a melting pot? Sure. But that does not mean tired, old racial beliefs and stereotypes have gone away.

If nothing else, the week that was at The Valley Club only points out how far we still have to go.

Examining Phils at the break

To hear some people talk, you would think the Phillies are four games back in the National League East.

In fact, as baseball takes its annual mid-summer break for the All-Star game, just the opposite is true. The Phils are four games up., with most of the rest of the NL East in full retreat.

After struggling much of the first half to play well in the comfy confines of Citizens Bank Park, the Phils went 9-1 in their last home stand before the break.

Jimmy Rollins looks like he’s turned things around. J.A. Happ is beginning to look like a very solid addition to their starting rotation.
Yes, we wonder about that decision to offer the starting spot to Chan Ho Park coming out of spring training. But even Park has gotten into the act, proving effective coming out of the bullpen.

No less than four Phillies will be in St. Louis for the All-Star game.
Raul Ibanez and Chase Utley were voted to the starting lineup. Ryan Howard was added by Manager Charlie Manuel. Shane Victorino won the Internet fan voting for the final spot. And when Mets’ slugger Carlos Beltran was scratched because of an injury, Manuel again looked to his own squad for a replacement, tapping red-hot Jayson Werth. That means all three members of the Phils’ starting outfield will be on the team.

So, what’s the problem. Why so much angst among fans, on talk radio, and around the office water cooler?

Well, Cole Hamels for one. He’s been ineffective, and proved it again on Saturday when he gave up three home runs to the Pirates. The Phils ralled to win, but Hamels is giving more and more credence to the theory that all those innings he pitched last year are catching up to him.

Which brings up the entire notion of an ace. And Roy Halladay. Look up “ace” in the dictionary and you just might see Halladay’s picture beside it.

The Blue Jays are in the process of entertaining offers for their gem.
He won’t come cheap. And that’s the dilemma for the Phils – and their fans.

Acquiring Halladay would make the Phils the prohibitive favorite to win the National League and make a return trip to the World Series. It also likely would cost them a slew of prospects, almost certainly including Kyle Drabek. Happ also might have to go, along with highly touted outfielder Michael Taylor.

There’s a part of me that loves the idea of Halladay in red pinstripes, a true No. 1 at the top of their rotation. Hamels and Blanton would offer a formidable post-season rotation.

But there’s another part of me that is very leery of giving up all those prospects. I’m not sure the Phils don’t get back to the Series without making a move, although winning it might be another story.

Does everyone forget how the Phils handled the Dodgers in their last West Coast trip?

I’d love to get Halladay, but in this instance I’d take a pass. Keep the kids, develop them and go to war with the ones that brung you.

I know that is not going to be a popular opinion.

The ball’s in Phils GM Ruben Amaro’s court. Will he pull the trigger?

That’s the biggest question hanging over the Phils at the break.

Friday, July 10, 2009

The Daily Numbers - July 10

The Daily Numbers: 17, age of Ollie Cloyd, who was gunned down in Darby Borough Wednesday night. He would have turned 18 next week.
4 kids on bikes who are believed responsible for the shooting.
61,000 dollars believed ripped off from the snack bar by the former vice president of the Norwood Athletic Club.
90 fugitives from Delaware County scooped up by the feds yesterday in Operation Falcon. They nabbed 338 suspects across the region.
4,000 workers at 40 Acme stores in the region who will head back to work today despite an impasse with the supermarket chain over a tough new contract the company wants to implement.
4 women who report they have been groped by a man at Broad Street line subway stations in South Philadelphia.
3 people who face trial for a string of thefts from churches in Montgomery County. They raided poor boxes and stole musical instruments, apparently to feed their drug habit.
10, age of boy charged in Norristown with brutally beating a puppy on a Norristown street.
10 p.m., the suggested curfew being put in place for the beach in Ocean City, N.J.
11, age of boy struck by a stray bullet just after 8 last night in Wilmington.
4 execs placed on leave by Sunoco amid a federal investigation of its oil supply and trading practices.
30 dollars, dirt cheap one-way fare being offered by Southwest Airlines for flights up to 400 miles.
1.7 billion dollars in new cuts that might have to be made under an austere Senate budget plan for Pa. that is now being taken up by the House.
15, age of girl a retired pastor from the Lehigh Valley has admitted to sexually propositioning.
4 straight games in which Jayson Werth has homered. His dinger was part of Phils’ 9-6 win over the Reds last night.
7 home runs in 12 games now for Werth, who has 20 on the season.
15 million votes for Shane Victorino as he captured Internet voting for the last spot on the NL All-Star team.
4 Phillies who have hit 20 home runs before the All-Star break. It’s only the 2nd time in history that’s been done.
3 scoreless innings thrown by Chan Ho Park in relief of Jamie Moyer, who was shaky, giving up 6 runs on 8 hits over just 5 innings.
Call me a Phanatic: A look at the ups and downs of being a Philadelphia sports fan.Shane Victorino is an All-Star. That’s four Phils headed to St. Louis.
It might be too much to ask Manager Charlie Manuel to add Jayson Werth to the spot vacated by an injured Carlos Beltran, but if he did it would be “werth” it. Jayson is playing that well.
I Don’t Get It: Another young life has been cut down in Upper Darby. But no one is willing to come forward and tell what they know to police. I don’t get it.
Today’s Upper: The state Senate yesterday OK’d a bill to make it illegal in Pa. to “text” while driving. Now it goes to the House. They should pass ASAP. And we’re not LOL.
Quote Box: “Let my brother be the sacrificial lamb. Let it stop with him. Please don’t take another life. Let it stop.”
- Anna Marie Goodwin, sister of murder victim Ollie Cloyd of Darby Borough, at a vigil held last night.

Silence is deafening in Darby

Bob Smythe has been chief of police in Darby Borough a long time. He’s seen and heard just about it all.

But it’s what he’s seen – and what he’s not hearing – this week that has given him pause.

Earlier this week Smythe took a suspect into custody in connection with a vicious attack on a cat. It’s one of those cases that leaves you shaking your head. The little tabby was brutally beaten and then set on fire. Despite the efforts of vets, it could not be saved.

Then comes the real gut-punch. The suspect is 9 years old. Smythe didn’t even file charges against the kid. He turned him over to the county Children and Youth Services in hopes that he will get the help he needs.

Smythe then moved on to the next crisis in his tough little town.

A group of kids on bikes rode up to 17-year-old Ollie Cloyd Wednesday and night and opened fire. Cloyd, going into his senior year at Penn Wood High, was killed. He would have turned 18 next week.

It’s a shocking crime, leaving a family and a town in mourning.

But what’s happening now is equally as stunning.

Smythe believes there was no shortage of people who saw what happened or know something about the incident.

Cloyd had just walked his girlfriend home and was walking his dog. He was less than a block from his home when he was confronted by a group of teens on bikes.

Those gunshots spoke volumes about the problems in the borough. Now, so is the silence. Smythe has heard it before, both the gunshots and the silence. No one wants to get involved. No one is willing to come forward to talk to police.

A meeting has been set for next week at Borough Hall to talk about violence in the town. Residents shouldn’t wait that long. If they saw something, or know something, they should call Smythe today.

Ollie Cloyd deserves that.

Same old 'Seng' in Norwood

The anonymous phone calls and e-mails had been coming in for months.

“You need to look into what’s going on at the Norwood Athletic Club?”

Now we know what was going on. Police say the former vice president of the board was skimming from the snack bar.

Kevin Seng yesterday turned himself in to face charges that he ripped off more than $61,000 over a five-year period.

It’s the same sorry story. A person trusted to watch over the operation gets caught with his hand allegedly in the till.

Of course the losers in all this are the kids.

Ironically, this is not the first time the borough athletic club has been victimized. They got ripped off in a similar manner back in 2001.

If there is a bright spot in this story, it belongs to Norwood Police Officer Jeffrey Finley, who is also a member of the club’s board.

He noticed that while the snack bar was doing a booming business, the revenue did not seem to match up. He started checking things out, and that led him to Seng.

Good work, officer.

Seng has apparently tried to make restitution of $2,400 he says he took to cover a couple of mortgage payments. But that leaves almost $60,000 unaccounted for, money the youth club could use.

Talk about “seng-ing” the blues.

Copters over Upper Darby

Yes, those were helicopters you heard over Upper Darby last night. You weren’t having a nightmare.

Police converged on Wingate Road on reports of gunshots being fired as well as a burglary. This all happened shortly after 1 a.m.

Suspects were spotted on a roof and police called in a helicopter.

Several suspects were taken into custody.

Look for full details in tomorrow’s Daily Times.

And here’s hoping you get a better night’s sleep tonight.

Stars align for Shane, Phils

Shane Victorino is an All-Star. And he continues to play like one.

Victorino won that goofy Internet fan voting sham run by Major League Baseball to select the final member of the NL and AL All-Star squads.
But there’s nothing Mickey Mouse about the way the Phils centerfielder is playing.

Last night Victorino had a key hit to drive in two runs as the Phils won a wild one over the Reds, 9-6.

Victorino was joined in the offensive outburst by fellow All-Star Chase Utley, who crushed a ball off the wall in the deepest part of center-field, then circled the bases when the ball caromed into right-center field.

Then there’s Jayson Werth. He’s not an All-Star. Yet. But he’s certainly playing like one. Werth is making a push for the spot that has opened up with the injury to Carlos Beltran. Last night Werth crushed his 20th homer of the season. Werth has now gone yard in four straight games.
That gives him seven dingers in the last 12 games. The Phils now have four players who have hit 20 homers, all before the All-Star break.

And just to cap things off, the Phils are toying with the idea of adding a former All-Star to the roster. Reports are the team are very close to signing former star pitcher Pedro Martinez. The three-time Cy Young winner with the Red Sox and Mets will pitch another simulated game for Phils’ scouts today in the Dominican Republic.

The Phils now have a weekend set with the Pirates before heading for the All-Star Break.

St. Louis will look like Philly west, with Victorino, Utley, Ryan Howard and Raul Ibanez all going prime time under the direction of Manager Charlie Manuel.

Charlie could put the icing on the cake by selecting Werth to take that open spot.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

The Daily Numbers - July 9

The Daily Numbers: 70, age of woman charged with ripping off $51,000 from her employer, the Drexelbrook Aparments.
2 years probation for a former Delco deputy sheriff in a road rage case.
202,000 in fines slapped by the feds on Sunoco for workplace violations that they say put workers in danger.
40 Acme supermarkets where the company and union are involved in a contract impasse that will come to a head tonight at midnight. Acme officials say they will not lock out workers, but they are going to start implementing a new contract that has been rejected by the union.
57 percent more likely to get into a car crash. That’s the description of drivers in the Philadelphia region in a study done by Allstate Insurance. They put us among the worst drivers, ranking 188th out of 194.
6 people in Pa. who have now died of swine flu after a teen succumbed in Montgomery County.
5 percent cost of living raise for Philly council members, some of whom are debating giving the money back.
31,000 people who have had their electric service cut off by Peco Energy because they aren’t paying their bills. The company says 20,000 are now back, thanks to some assistance programs.
1 employee killed when he was pulled into a vat of boiling chocolate at a plant in Camden, N.J.
1 teen dead, 1 critical after fire swept through a home in Camden County, N.J., yesterday morning.
3 kids hurt in a partial structure collapse at a day care center in Overbrook yesterday afternoon.
25, age of Del. man charged with punching and kicking his ex-girlfriend, who is 10 months pregnant.
1,980 tuition increase for out-of-state residents at the University of Delaware this fall. In-state residents will only have to pony up an additional $760.
2.68 a gallon, what we’re paying at the pump today after the price of gas went down a penny.
38 million dollars up for grabs in Saturday night’s Powerball drawing after no one hit last night.
50,000 dollars in assets listed by former Phil Lenny Dykstra, to go with $50 million in debts. He’s filed for bankruptcy.
2 hits for Shane Victorino last night, including a key single in the 9th to drive in the game-winning run.
2 percentage points, how far behind Victorino is believed to trail Giants Pablo Sandoval for final NL All-Star spot. It’s being voted on by the fans.
5 innings for Phils’ starter Rodrigo Lopez before he left the game with inflammation in his shoulder.
2 scoreless innings thrown by Ryan Madson out of the bullpen. He got the win.
19 home runs for Jayson Werth, who went yard again last night.
Call me a Phanatic: A look at the ups and downs of being a Philadelphia sports fan.Players like Roy Halladay don’t become available every day. He’s the best pitcher in baseball. You weigh that against “potential.” Make the deal. Halladay could be the key to the nucleus of this club winning a couple more World Series rings.
I Don’t Get It: So much for that noted financial genius Lenny Dykstra.
He filed for bankruptcy yesterday, listing assets of $50,000 and debts of $50 million. That doesn’t add up, bro.
Today’s Upper: Kudos to those running several fund drives to aid those driven out of their homes last week in Marcus Hook. That’s being a caring neighbor.
Quote Box: “She was a trusted employee. It’s a shame.”
- Drexelbrook Apartments owner William Kay, on the arrest of a 70-year-old on charges of stealing $51,000 in security deposits.

The bizarre case of H. Beatty Chadwick

There’s a part of me that believes it’s ridiculous that H. Beatty Chadwick has spent 14 years as a guest of the Delaware County Prison on a civil contempt charge.

But there’s also a part of me that believes Chadwick should make himself comfortable, that he shouldn’t be going anywhere.

The newspaper this morning editorializes that it is time for Chadwick to be set free.

That matter is now in the hands of Judge Joseph Cronin. I’m glad I don’t have to make the ruling.

Chadwick sets what is believed to be a U.S. record every day he wakes up behind bars at the George W. Hill Correctional Facility. No one has ever spent more time in jail on a civil contempt charge.

It boils down to this. Chadwick, embroiled in a bitter divorce battle with his ex-wife, continues to resist efforts to determine if he in fact has as much as $8 million in assets, as his ex claims. Chadwick says it’s just not so, that the money was wiped out in bad investments.

But he continues to resist signing off on anything that would allow power of attorney to be shifted in the search for the funds to give access to his tax returns dating back to 1994.

That’s not even what’s being debated now. The issue raised by Chadwick’s attorney, Mike Malloy, now centers on the issue of contempt and whether the jailing of the lawyer has now gone beyond coercive to punitive.

Malloy argues that’s not what contempt sanctions are for. He also points out there are very few crimes Chadwick could have committed in which he would have spent as much time in jail as he has on this contempt rap.

Think about it. Chadwick never been convicted of any crime, yet he’s spent 14 years of his life in prison. The flip side, one his opponents are eager to point out, is that Chadwick holds the keys to his jail cell. But he stubbornly refuses to offer the information he needs to in order to win his freedom.

And so there he sits.

Let him go? Keep him in jail? I can see both sides.

Good luck, Judge Cronin.

Labor pains

Want a feel for whether or not the recession is over?

Talk to some of the workers at Sunoco’s ethylene unit at their Marcus Hook plant. Or the union workers at Acme Markets. Or teachers in the Interboro School District.

At Sunoco, they announced earlier this week they will shut down the ethylene unit that was damaged in an explosion and fire back in May.
Sunoco says the unit simply wasn’t doing enough business to merit the investment to rebuild and reopen the facility. Bottom line? Fifty people are going to lose their jobs.

At Acme, union workers, members of the United Food and Commercial Workers Local 1776, are locked in a staredown with the supermarket giant, one of the few left in the region that still utilizes union employees.

Acme says that’s part of the problem. They say they need cost concessions to stay competitive as other outlets continue to peck away at their perch as the top grocer in the region. Workers have been on the job without a contract, and about a month ago Acme upped the ante, putting their last, best and final offer on the table. Just to add an exclamation point, the company said it was implementing the deal July 10 – this Friday – regardless of the union’s position. The union responded by rejecting the deal.

Yesterday Acme said it would not lock out employees, but added they still hoped to start implementing the new deal. They said union workers are welcome to report to work – under the new terms.

Looks like the ball is back in the union’s court. Union boss Wendell Young IV says his members “will do everything to avoid a job action.”

All eyes will be on Acme markets tomorrow morning to see how this plays out.

Then there’s the situation at Interboro School District. Teachers and administration failed to reach a contract accord, so both sides agreed to submit the issues to a fact-finder.

That report came out this week. The school board approved it. But the teachers union balked. They believe there are some mistakes in some of the salary calculations, but they do not believe it will be a major roadblock.

Here’s the interesting thing at Interboro. One of the things the administration wanted was to have teachers start to contribute to health care costs, which they have not done up until this point. That apparently will be included in the new deal.

Welcome to the world most of the rest of us live in, folks.

Count me out on this vote

No one can argue that Shane Victorino does not have a flair for the dramatic.

The Phillies center-fielder finds himself at the center of the fan voting frenzy to determine the last spot on the National League All-Star team, which is being done by Internet voting.

Last night Victorino put an exclamation point on the campaign with a dramatic, two-out single in the bottom of the ninth to drive in Pedro Feliz and power the Phils to a 3-2 win over the Reds.

Good for Victorino. You can certainly make the argument that he deserves a spot on the All-Star team.

But am I the only one who finds this entire “Vote for Shane” push just a tad unseemly?

Maybe I’m old-fashioned. To be honest, I’m not even all that thrilled about fan voting in the first place. I think it too often devolves into a popularity contest, or on a player’s reputation or what he did last year, as opposed to selecting the players who have had the best numbers this season. How else do you explain the number of votes Jimmy Rollins got this year? Anyone want to argue that he’s having an All-Star first half, despite what he’s done the last few days?

But the lengths to which the push behind the effort to get Victorino on this team has gone from over the top, to a spot in the gutter.

The team is in on it. They have fans sitting in the press box literally punching their votes into a computer non-stop. Some local radio stations have jumped on the bandwagon. The team has taken out ads to urge the fans to get on board. Even Mayor Nutter and Gov. Ed Rendell have gotten into the act.

The voting ends at 4 o’clock this afternoon.

I hope Victorino makes it. Right now he’s still trailing Giants’ third baseman Pablo Sandoval. Victorino actually surged to a slight lead Tuesday night before Sandoval fans rallied during the day Wednesday.
Sandoval is now up by about 2 percentage points.

Let the best man win. Unfortunately, that has little to do with the way this vote is being conducted.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

The Daily Numbers - July 8

The Daily Numbers: 14 years in a Delaware County jail cell on a civil contempt charge for lawyer Beatty Chadwick. That’s believed to be a U.S.
record. He is once again seeking his release.
2.5 million dollars many believe still believe the eccentric attorney has stashed somewhere in his bitter divorce case.
4 to 16 months in jail for the Ridley man whose attorney admitted he was “trying to be a pain in the butt” when he stalked and harassed a Ridley police officer.
2 people, a Chester man and his live-in girlfriend, charged in the holdup of a Brookhaven bank Tuesday afternoon.
2,800 tons of trash a day that is taken in at the Delaware County-owned landfill in Berks County.
4 hours, how long the Commodore Barry Bridge was shut down yesterday after a tanker truck carrying propane overturned on the span.
16,000 dollars, how much police charge former Penn-Delco School Board Member John Green ripped off from a sports club at Sun Valley High School. He waived a hearing yesterday.
9, age of person of interest taken into custody in connection with the brutal beating and torching of a cat that led to its death.
800 jobs that could be on the chopping block as Pennsylvania’s budget impasse continues.
500,000 dollars collected from 36 people who took advantage of a program in Montgomery County to get caught up on child support payments.
13 million dollars in federal stimulus funds being used to put in new curb cuts in the five-county region.
29 pot plants found in a home in Lansdale. The man who owned the home is behind bars.
11 houses in the Nicetown-Tioga section of Philadelphia discovered to have illegal electric hook-ups.
133 million dollar jackpot in the Mega Millions drawing Tuesday night and 1 winning ticket.
300,000 dollars the city is still owed for services tied to this year’s Welcome America holiday celebration. The July 4th fest’s total tab comes to $1.7 million, down from $2.1 million the year before.
10,000 dollar campaign contribution being returned by former U.S.
Attorney Pat Meehan as he continues to mull a run for governor.
11 people charged with diverting public funds for political uses in Harrisburg will go on trial in January.
1 vote in the Pa. Senate against a move to beef up anti-corruption measures tied to the state’s new gambling law. It includes a ban on cash contributions to political campaigns by industry execs.
21 to 27 years in jail, what former Sen. Vince Fumo is staring at. He’ll be back in court today in his push to seek a new trial. His sentencing is set for next week.
1.84 billion dollars in sales posted last year for the state Liquor Control Board. That’s a record.
2.69 a gallon and holding, what we’re paying for gas.
4 game win streak snapped when the Phils blew a 3-0 lead and lost to the Reds last night, 4-3.
2 consecutive homers for Ryan Howard and Jayson Werth to get the Phils rolling in the second.
12 runners left on base by the Phils, including having the bases loaded with nobody out in the third and not getting any of them home.
0 for 5, what Phils hitters were last night with the bases loaded and less than two outs.
7 decent innings for J.A. Happ, who probably deserved a better fate.
34.9 million dollar extension for new Flyer Chris Pronger. It’s a 7-year deal.
Call me a Phanatic: A look at the ups and downs of being a Philadelphia sports fan.Hate to say I told you so. Why did you just know the Phils would desperately need a run last night, after laying a 22-1 licking on the Reds Monday night?
I Don’t Get It: I’m always stunned at what people are capable of, never more so than in what happened to a defenseless cat in Darby Borough.
Tell me a 9-year-old kid is involved, and it gets even sadder. I don’t get it.
Today’s Upper: Kudos to all those involved in the Michael Jackson memorial service yesterday. It was very well done.
Quote Box: “Ever since I was born, Daddy has been the best father I could imagine. I just want to say I love him so much.”
- Paris-Michael Jackson, 11, memorializing her father at yesterday’s service.

A service fit for a King

Saying Michael Jackson had issues is a little like saying there are seven days in the week. Ya think?

Having said that, and being a person who will admit to being torn about the King of Pop, someone who admired his music while questioning his bizarre lifestyle, I can also admit this: The memorial service to honor him on Tuesday was mesmerizing.

I know people are going to question offering this kind of treatment to a person who carried the kind of baggage Jackson did. There are those who simply will sniff that the whole thing was a perfect example of media overkill.

And even after all that, it was hard to look away.

All of this culminated at the end of the service, when Jackson’s 11-year-old daughter approached the microphone.

At first I felt a touch of revulsion that a child would be put in that position. Then I heard what she had to say. I’ll leave it to others to argue whether or not it was exploitive. All I know is that I couldn’t take my eyes off the TV.

“Ever since I was born,” Paris-Michael Jackson said in a cracking voice, “Daddy has been the best father I could imagine. I just want to say I love him so much.”

It was all she could do to get the words out before collapsing into the arms of her aunt, Janet Jackson.

Tell me you weren’t welling up when you watched that scene.

Hey, I get paid to be impartial, to be cynical, and I’m telling you I was close to tears.

This morning, I can go back to trying to figure out the riddle, the enigma, the mystery that was Michael Jackson.

But for one afternoon, his family, friends and fans provided a service fit for a King.

Steamed about the weather

Call it the summer of my discontent.

I am sure a lot of people are raving about this sunny, crisp weather.
Just think of the money we are all saving on air-conditioning.

Don’t count me among them.

I like it hot. And humid.

I’m glad I don’t own a pool. I’m not sure I would have used it yet this summer.

First there was the cool, rainy weather that hugged the region like a wet blanket for most of June.

Now that has cleared out and been replaced by sunny days. And cool nights.

And that’s my problem. I’m a porch guy. Give me the Phillies on the radio and a steamy, humid summer night and I’m a fairly happy camper.

And that’s the problem. By the time I get home, the weather is already turning. It’s chilly out. I wind up heading inside. Sometimes I even turn on the TV. Sacrilege for true connoisseurs of the game who know it was meant for radio.

I actually find myself closing windows at night to ward of the chilly air.

Tonight they are talking about the possibility of the overnight low dipping into the 50s. Which would be fine – for April.

We’re supposed to get a dose of heat and humidity this weekend. I’ll be on the porch if you need me.

Baseball is a crazy game

You just knew this was going to happen.

One night after the Phillies annihilated the Reds, 22-1, they direly could have used some of those runs in losing to the same team, 4-3.

Monday night everything the Phils hit either dropped in or landed in the bleachers. Last night they hit a couple more balls into the bleachers, but came up agonizingly short in several key instances.

It’s not so much that the Phils lost. That happens. It’s the way they lost, and the opportunities they squandered to break the game open, just
24 hours after they rolled to a record-setting offensive output.

Take the third inning. Please. The Phils were leading on the stength of back-to-back homers from Ryan Howard and Jayson Werth in the second. In the third, Chase Utley doubled home a run to push the lead to 3-0. The Phils then loaded the bases with nobody out, one hit away from breaking the game open. Then nothing. Werth struck out. Greg Dobbs hit a weak infield pop up, and Pedro Feliz grounded out.

The very next inning Carlos Ruiz led off with a triple, only to be stranded there. The Phils left 12 runners on base and went a collective
0-for-5 with a runner on third base and less than two out.

That’s the way baseball works, especially after a laugher like the one the Phils laid on the Reds Monday night.

And one other thing about last night’s game. Brad Lidge entered a tied game in the ninth, and gave up the winning single.

Crazy game.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

The Daily Numbers - July 7

The Daily Numbers: 40 to 50 jobs that will be eliminated as Sunoco decides not to rebuild the ethylene unit at their Marcus Hook refinery that was damaged in a May blast and fire.
1,600 dollars in reward money posted for information on the person responsible for setting a cat on fire in Darby Borough.
30, age of woman charged in a hammer attack on her mother in Lower Chichester over the holiday weekend.
8 Delaware County communities where homeowners contract on their own for trash collection.
17 Delco towns that offer trash collection as a municipal service.
23 Delco towns that contract with private haulers for trash collection.
20,000 Pennsylvania residents who will see their unemployment compensation benefits expire in July.
20, age of man suspected in a miniature crime spree in Delaware, a rash of car break-ins.
1 case of West Nile virus now being reported in the Philly region, the first of the summer, in the Lansdale area.
7.3 percent dip in boardings for US Airways in June.
2 Delco residents charged in a shooting incident that left 3 men wounded early Sunday in the Old City section of Philadelphia.
20 minutes, how long the talks lasted in Harrisburg yesterday in efforts to reach a budget deal.
20,000 Philadelphia workers who will see no pay increases in a plan announced yesterday by Mayor Michael Nutter.
24 percent hike in tax revenue from the state’s slot machines in the fiscal year that ended June 30.
3.96 percent dip in gross terminal revenue recorded at Harrah’s Chester.
6.44 percent dip in revenue at Harrah’s in June compared to last year.
9 people killed and 206 injured in 447 crashes investigated by Pennsylvania state police over the holiday weekend.
2 serial bandits who police believe are responsible for a string of scams that have ripped off senior citizens in Berks County. A 74-year-old woman lost her life savings.
5, age of girl who was raped in Taylor, Pa. A man who was a neighbor in the trailer park where they both lived has been arrested.
22 runs scored by the Phils last night as the romped over the Reds.
10 runs in the first inning, including 3 home runs.
7 strong innings for Cole Hamels, who gave up just 1 run on 3 hits.
4 straight wins at Citizens Bank Park on this home stand for the Phils, who now lead the NL East by 2 games.
0 for 2 in a rehab start in Reading for Raul Ibanez, who was voted a starter in the All-Star game next week.
Call me a Phanatic: A look at the ups and downs of being a Philadelphia sports fan.Why do I get the terrible feeling that after exploding for 22 runs against the Reds last night, the Phils lose 2-1 tonight. I know. Call it Neg-a-delphia.
I Don’t Get It: Anna Kournikova remains an incredibly popular figure on the tennis scene for someone who has never won much of anything on the tennis circuit. It’s not hard to see why.
Today’s Upper: Call us the state of champions. They will display the hardware captured by the Phillies, Steelers and Penguins in the state Capitol rotunda in Harrisburg today. Only thing missing is the Sixers.
Quote Box: “It is never easy to take steps that impact the lives of workers and their families.”
- Sunoco spokesman Thomas Golembeski in announcing layoffs and the closure of the ethylene unit at the Marcus Hook refinery.

Another blast at Sunoco

No one was injured when an explosion and fire ripped through part of the sprawling Sunoco plan in Marcus Hook back in May.

Until yesterday.

Now we know the true cost of the blaze. It will cost 50 people their jobs.

Sunoco yesterday announced it would not rebuild the ethylene unit where the blast rocked the area back on May 17. They say the demand for ethylene products does not justify the money they would have to put into the project.

They notified 40 to 50 union workers that the closure would cost them their jobs. Exactly who will be laid off has not yet been determined. It likely will go according to seniority at the plant.

It’s another downturn for Sunoco as they try to deal with the souring economy, which has put a dent in those huge profits that were rolling into the company.

The firm went through very contentious labor negotiations with the unions that represent workers at their Philly and Marcus Hook refineries.

They were unsuccessful in achieving the layoffs and savings they were looking for from their unioni workers. So they turned their sights elsewhere.

A couple of weeks later, the firm announced it would lay off 750 salaried workers, most of them at their downtown headquarters.

The move was criticized by Gov. Ed Rendell, who blasted the company’s decision to enact such steep layoffs when they had posted huge profits just the year before.

But Sunoco made it clear that the economy had since gone south, and their business was affected the same as everyone else.

That meant in order to remain competitive and offer return for their investors, they needed to make cuts.

It’s the same thought process that looked at the demand for ethylene products, compared it to the cost involved in rebuilding the damaged unit at the Hook plant, and decided the prudent thing to do would simply be to shutter the facility.

That explosion back in May was heard and felt all over lower Delaware County.

Yesterday’s announcement didn’t make a sound. But the message came through loud and clear.

Michael Jackson's final act

It will only seem like the eyes of the universe will be on Los Angeles today.

The eyes of the media universe certainly will be, as the nation prepares for Michael Jackson’s final act.

Count me out.

I don’t mean that as any disdrespect to Michael Jackson. I loved the guy’s music. I would put him on my musical Mount Rushmore with Sinata, Elvis, the Beatles and Springsteen.

It’s just that I have no interest in the hysteria that has accompanied his unfortunate death at age 50.

No one is exactly sure how many people are going to show up at the Staples Center in Los Angeles for the public memorial. Police are urging those who do not have tickets to stay away. What do you think the chances are of that happening?

A total of 8,750 people were picked to receive two tickets each after registering online. More than 1.6 million people logged on in attempts to snag the rare ducats. My guess is most of those will be milling around outside the Staples Center.

It is without question that Michael Jackson was a musical genius. But like so many other geniuses, he was a tortured one, something that manifested itself in his increasingly bizarre behavior in life.

That’s not what I’ll remember. Neither will I linger on today’s final farewell.

Michael Jackson has left us, but his music never will. I’ll still smile every time one of his signature songs comes on the radio.

That’s how I’ll remember him. Not the sideshow and increasing spectacle that surrounds his death.

I guess that’s why God created 24-hour cable outlets.

Getting serious, Harrisburg-style

Things are really getting serious in Harrisburg.

You might remember the state was supposed to have a new spending plan in place by midnight on June 30. It is now July 7, and a budget deal is nowhere in sight.

The two sides, that would be Gov. Ed Rendell and legislative leaders, actually sat down to talk dollars and cents yesterday afternoon.

The meeting lasted about 20 minutes before adjourning.

Sounds about right.

What world do these people live in? Is it possible to lock them in a room and not allow them food or water until they’ve hammer out a new budget?

Phils provide the fireworks

The July 4th fireworks arrived two days late at Citizens Bank Park.

The Phils lit up the night sky over South Philly Monday by lighting up the Cincinnati Reds, 22-1.

That’s not a misprint. The Phillies hit three home runs in the first inning alone, jumping out to a 10-0 lead and never looked back.

Cole Hamels, with plenty of room to breathe, breezed through seven innings, giving up just one run on three hits.

Up until the Mets arrived last Friday, the Phillies season had been marked by their puzzling inability to play well in their home park.

Then they swept the New Yorkers. And last night they put an exclamation point on the turnaround, jumping all over promising young Reds’ starter Johnny Cueto.

This one was over before many fans even had the chance to meander from Ashburn Alley to their seats. Shane Victorino, Chase Utley and Greg Dobbs all homered in the first. Even Hamels got into the act, lashing a two-run double down the right-field line.

Jayson Werth capped things off in the eighth with a grand slam.

Before it was over, the Phils had pounded out 21 hits. They hit four home runs. They tied a club record for the most runs scored in the first inning. Their 22-run onslaught was the most they’ve scored since they dropped 26 on the Mets back in June 11 at Veterans Stadium. It was easily their biggest offensive output at Citizens Bank Park.

It was what is usually referred to as a laugher. Or maybe it was better put by Reds manager Dusty Baker. “We got slaughtered as they used to say,” he succinctly noted.

So put away all those thoughts about how the Phils can’t win at home.
They’ve now reeled off four straight victories and have three more games against the Reds before the Pirates arrived for the last weekend before the All-Star break.

The only nagging feeling is the same one you always have in these blowout affairs. Any chance they can stash some of these runs for a game in which they need them?

Let’s hope they don’t lose 2-1 tonight.

Monday, July 6, 2009

The Daily Numbers - July 6

The Daily Numbers: 200,000 dollars cash bail for a man charged with running a meth operation in his Chester home that is believed to have sparked a fire.
2 people in critical condition after a crash involving the motorcycle they were riding early this morning. Police tried to stop the motorcycle in Tinicum, but it sped off, crashing in southwest Philly.
3 Delaware County teachers who are on their way to Space Camp in Huntsville, Ala., courtesy of the Boeing Educators to Space Camp program this week.
5 people killed across the country in fireworks accidents this July 4 weekend.
19, age of employee of fireworks company killed in a premature explosion during a holiday display in Quakertown, Bucks County.
1 employee of Disney World in Orlando killed when two monorails collided over the weekend.
5 people believed killed in a little more than a week by a serial killer in a small town in South Carolina.
5 people wounded by gunfire overnight in Philadelphia.
2 17-year-old teens killed in Delaware when the Jeep they were in went through a red light and was struck by a pickup truck.
1 of 2 men believed responsible for a fatal shooting on an Upper Darby playground under arrest. This despite the fact that police got no information from the 100 people who were present at the time.
11 year-old boy who drowned in Delaware River Friday night after he fell out of a boat. A man who jumped in to try to save him also perished.
Police say neither was wearing a life vest.
3.2 billion dollar budget deficit that continues to hang over Pennsylvania.
1 percent hike in sales tax being pushed by Mayor Michael Nutter as a way to ease the city’s own budget deficit.
13 straight days in which the price of nation has dropped nationally.
2.63 cents a gallon, average price we’re paying at pump in Philly region.
3 straight wins for the Phils as they swept the Mets over the holiday weekend.
2 Phils voted by fans to starting lineup for the National League All-Star team. Second baseman Chase Utley and outfielder Raul Ibanez are headed to St. Louis, as is first baseman Ryan Howard, who was selected by Manager Charlie Manuel to fill out the lineup.
7 hits in 15 at-bats over the weekend for leadoff hitter Jimmy Rollins as he busted out of an 0-for-27 slump.
30 times Rollins has led of a game with a home run, as he did against Mets’ ace Johan Santana Sunday.
7 and a third strong innings for Phils starter Joe Blanton.
3 straight strikeouts in the 9th for closer Brad Lidge, who looked like his old self in recording two straight saves vs. the Mets.
68 wins on the PGA Tour for Tiger Woods, who won his own tourney, the AT&T National, which will relocated to Aronimink in Newtown Square next year.
15 major titles for Roger Federer, whose win at Wimbledon yesterday made him No. 1 all time, passing Pete Sampras’ mark.
36, age of former NFL star quarterback Steve McNair, who was found shot to death in Nashville, Tenn. His death has been ruled a homicide. A woman was found with him also had been fatally shot. Her cause of death has not yet been determined.
Call me a Phanatic: A look at the ups and downs of being a Philadelphia sports fan.Nothing quite like a visit by the New York Mets – and their fans – to snap the Phils out of their doldrums.
I Don’t Get It: I really don’t want to think that someone is capable of doing what apparently happened to cat over the weekend in Darby Borough.
Today’s Upper: Brace yourself for the Year of the Tiger. That’s right.
Tiger Woods will be in Delco next July 4 weekend as his tournament, the AT&T National, comes to Aronimink Country Club in Newtown Square for the next two years.
Quote Box: “It’s a power plant, just the fuel is different.
- Timothy Gregan, facility manager at the Covanta waste-to-energy plan in Chester that burns most of Delaware County’s trash.

A sickening case of animal cruelty

Some days in this job you just sort of shake your head and wonder.

That’s about all you can do when you try to make sense out of the kind of thing that happened over this July 4 weekend in Darby Borough.

Apparently the fireworks were not enough for someone.

They decided it might be a good idea to set a cat on fire.

I’m not making this up. Animal Control Officer Dave Schlott discovered the badly injured orange tabby Sunday morning.

It had been badly burned and also possibly beaten.

Schlott rushed the kitty to Ole Marple Veterinary Hospital, but it succumbed to its injuries Sunday night.

There is a part of me that hopes there is some other possible explanation for what happened to this cat, other than the obvious one.

There’s a part of me who wants to think that no one is capable of that kind of cruelty.

I’m hoping we hear today that there is another reason for why this happened to this defenseless animal.

I’m not optimistic.

Instead I think I know what we will learn. It was some kind of sick prank that spiraled out of control.

Like I said, some days you just sort of shake your head and wonder.

On the trail of the Tiger

Tiger Woods collecting another trophy on a late summer Sunday afternoon hardly even registers as news these days.

Except that yesterday, when Woods won his own tournament, the AT&T National at Congressional Country Club in D.C., there was a Delco angle to the story.

That’s because Tiger’s tourney is moving for the next couple of years while they get Congressional ready to host a U.S. Open. And where might the tournament wind up?

Right here in Delaware County. That’s right. Tiger Woods could very well be collecting a trophy on the 18th green at Aronimink Country Club in Newtown Square next July 4 weekend.

The tournament will call Delco home for the next two years.

We’d love to hear from any club members who have tidbits to share with us about the preparations the club will undergo to host the tournament.

One thing in particular intrigues me. Tiger apparently has never played Aronimink. At his pre-tournament press conference in Washington earlier this week, he spoke glowingly about the course. Apparently one of the people who filled him in on the legendary Delco tract is tour player Sean O’Hair, who lives in West Chester and has played Aronomink several times.

I’m thinking that since Tiger has to see and play the course some time, and since he was just down the road at Congressional this weekend, what are the chances that he pops into Delco today to get a first-hand look at Aronimink?

As I said, we’d love to know when Tiger is going to show up here in Delco. The folks out at Aronimink are notoriously secretive about the place. Maybe we can change that a bit over the next year. I’d love for us to develop a series of stories about the club and its preparations to host Tiger and the rest of the PGA Tour.

It’s something of a tryout for the Philadelphia region, which has not been home to a PGA Tour event since the ill-fated SEI Classic closed up shop several years ago. That tourney had actually flipped back and forth between Waynesborough Country Club in Paoli and a club outside Pittsburgh.

Jim Furyk has always brought a few pros in for his Exelon Invitational each summer, but that event is now on hold, in part because of the arrival of the tour at Aronimink.

Before that you have to go back to the Bell Atlantic senior tour spot and all the way back to the IVB Classic that was held at Whitemarsh Country Club to find connections between the golf-rich Delaware Valley and the regular and senior PGA tours.

In the meantime, we’re on the trail of the Tiger as all eyes will be on Newtown Square. Let us know if you hear anything.

The cure for what ails Phils

There’s nothing quite like a visit by the New York Mets to cure what ails the Phils.

After struggling mightily at home most of the season, the Phillies flipped the switch at the sight of those hated New Yorkers – and their fans.

All the Phils did this weekend was get three excellent efforts from their starting pitchers, Rodrigo Lopez Friday, Jamie Moyer Saturday and then Joe Blanton yesterday. All Blanton did was outduel Mets’ ace Johan Santana, shutting out the Mets in seven and a third strong innings.

Two other things should be noted about the Phils reversal of fortune at Citizens Bank Park this weekend.

One obviously would be the return of Brad Lidge, who slammed the door in the Mets’ faces both Saturday and Sunday, earning two consecutive saves.

On Sunday Lidge struck out the side to seal the deal.

The other would be a return to form of Jimmy Rollins at the top of the Phils’ lineup. The Mets seem to be just what Rollins needed to turn his season around.

It didn’t take Rollins long to put his stamp on yesterday’s game. He sent the second offering from Santana into the seats in the left-field corner to stake the Phils to the only run they would need. It was the 30th time in his career Rollins has started a game with a dinger.

It was a strong weekend for Rollins, who went 2-for-3 yesterday and
7-for-15 since snapping out of his 0-for-27 slump Thursday.

It really is pretty simple. The Phils are largely dependent on the guys at the two ends of their lineup. Rollins makes this team go. When he’s getting on base, the Phils are a very good offensive team. He is the straw that stirs their drink.

On the other end, Lidge is the hammer Charlie Manuel needs to slam the door in opponents’ faces.

This weekend, maybe for the first time this season, both were working perfectly.

That’s a very good sign as we head into the heart of summer.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

The Daily Numbers - July 2

The Daily Numbers: 3 people charged with stealing copper wire from an emergency communications tower in Eddystone.
185 feet high, the height of the tower they scaled to get to their booty.
2.8 on the Richter Scale, the magnitude of the earthquake the shook the region yesterday morning. No damage was reported.
9 p.m., that’s the new curfew in Lower Chi for those 18 and under.
12 years at the helm of the Villanova Law School for Mark A. Sargent, who announced his resignation.
8 full-time employees and 4 part-timers laid off in Radnor Township.
Officials say the cuts will save the township as much as $1 million a year.
4.4 percent tax hike included in the budget recently adopted by the Haverford School Board.
3 men beaten by Philly police in an incident captured on videotape who were acquitted on all charges stemming from their arrests.
2 execs of a Philly charter school who have been charged with mail fraud and honest services fraud.
8 mile stretch of beach in New Jersey from North Surf City to Barnegat Light where medical waste washed up yesterday. Just what they need for the holiday weekend.
11 states other than Pennsylvania that also have yet to pass a new state budget. California has declared a fiscal emergency and ordered state offices closed three days a month to save money.
15.5 percent decline in revenues collected in Pa. in June. That won’t help the budget crunch.
1 person killed in a motorcycle crash in Bucks County after the driver hit the back of a pickup truck.
5 white firefighters who the city of Philadelphia will pay $275,000 to settle their discrimination complaints.
3 bank heists in New Jersey believed to be the work of a 20-year-old woman from Sicklerville.
17, age of Philly teen police are charging in a one-man crime wave, including shootings that left four people wounded.
15 DUI charges for a man in North Jersey. He’s had his license suspended
78 times.
12 people nationwide suffering kidney failure in connection with a possible E. coli outbreak in beef suspected of being contaminated with salmonella.
20 days out of 30 in June in which we had rain.
4 innings, how long Phils’ starter Cole Hamels lasted last night. He got shelled for 7 runs on 9 hits.
4.98, where Hamels’ ERA sits these days.
2 hits for the Phils, 0 through the first six innings.
27 at-bats without a hit for Jimmy Rollins, who did reach with a walk last night.
5.6 million dollar deal for Mike Knuble, who signed with the Caps yesterday.
Call me a Phanatic: A look at the ups and downs of being a Philadelphia sports fan.The Phils aren’t hitting and aren’t pitching. Kind of hard to win games that way.
I Don’t Get It: A thief swiped a tandem bike from outside the home of a woman in Newark, Del. The 59-year-old victim is blind. She sits and peddles in back while a friend navigates in front. Nice.
Today’s Upper: A little extra jingle in the pockets of those who park in Philadelphia. The city Parking Authority has rescinded a planned fare hike, from $2 to $3 per hours, when revenues showed an increase.
Quote Box: “I wanted to, uh, I am going to get into the race against Arlen Specter.”
- Joe Sestak, in an interview with a paper in northeastern Pennsylvania.

Say it's so, Joe

The great Joe Sestak tease continues.

Call it the world’s longest political announcement. We’ve been reporting for some time that Sestak is going to run. Earlier this week we noted that he has received the green light from his wife and is still talking with his young daughter about it.

That has not stopped him from kicking off a 67-county tour of the state to let everyone know that he is kind of, sort of, you know, getting ready to announce that he is going to get into the race against Arlen Specter for the Democratic nomination for the U.S. Senate.

All that remains is for Sestak to call a press conference and make if official.

During one of his interviews yesterday Sestak again tossed out the kind of quote that makes reporters salivate.

“I am going to get into the race against Arlen Specter,” he told the Wayne Independent in northeastern Pennsylvania.

Sounds like he’s running, right? It’s what he’s been saying for weeks now, ever since Specter bailed on the Republican Party and was welcomed with open arms by most in the Democratic Party, including its leaders, but not Sestak.

The blogosphere picked up the quote and soon it was rattling around the cyberworld. I’m guessing that’s pretty much exactly what Sestak intended.

Except that it was not a formal announcement. Who knows when that is coming.

But for a guy whose biggest problem is a lack of statewide recognition, every story that gets picked up on the wires or linked to on the Internet is another chip in that wall.

At this point, I don’t really think Sestak has much choice. He’s going to run. All that’s left is the announcement.

But not before a few more teases.

On Tuesday our front page carried this lead headline: Joe to Go! The story was Sestak taking one more step toward a formal announcement.

Call it 99.999 percent.

Expect another quote that he’s getting into the race any day now.

All shook up

What’s shakin’? We are. Or at least the ground underneath us was.

That’s right. That wasn’t something you are for breakfast rumbling yesterday morning. We had an earthquake. Check out our reporting on it.

As temblors go, this one was pretty minor. We didn’t feel a thing here in beautiful downtown Primos. But some folks down in the lower end of the county near Chi and the Delaware border got pretty shook up.

No damage. No injuries. Just the way I like them.

I did learn something yesterday. The fact that we had an earthquake is not all that unusual. In fact, we apparent sit on a huge fault that runs up and down the East Coast.

Beach front property in Chester? Gotta love that.

Michael Jackson: Remember the music

We’ve now been one week without Michael Jackson.

I loved the guy’s music. I’m aware that he had some personal problems.

There was the whole plastic surgery thing. You can’t look at a picture of him as a kid, or at the shot of him reclining on the cover of the “Thriller” album (for my money still one of the best of all-time), and wonder how he managed to morph into the odd, almost plastic appearance he took on as an adult.

If there is one thing I have always wanted to do, it’s blow up the huge, reddish blog of a nose that sits square in the middle of my face and have someone build me a new one. But if the alternative is winding up looking the way Jackson did as an adult, I’ll take a pass.

Then there’s his bizarre personal life, including the allegations of child abuse.

Know what? All that should die along with him. What remains is his music.

And the guy undoubtedly was a genius. Find me an album with as many classic songs on it as “Thriller.” Oddly enough, I still find myself singing along to some of those songs on the radio. They are timeless, and will be played along with Sinatra, Elvis, the Beatles and The Boss forever.

Unfortunately, here’s what also likely will go on forever – the ugly, vulture-like obsession with him and his death.

He’s gone. Let it go.

What do you think the chances are of that happening? Thought so.

That’s the glory of 24-hour cable news shows. You soon realize that you need something to fill those 24 hours. So we get all-O.J. all the time.
Followed by all-Chandry Levy all the time. Followed by all-Natalee Holloway all the time.

Now it’s Jackson’s turn. Don’t expect the spotlight to shine anywhere else for months.

Just try to remember the music.

No end to June swoon for Phils

June is over for the Phils; their June swoon is not.

If anything, things managed to get worse last night. The Phils sent their ace to the mound last night. And for the second straight outing, Cole Hamels came up small.

Hamels again failed to get past the fifth inning, last night he only managed four. It wasn’t pretty. Hamels gave up nine runs on seven hits.
Seven of the runs were earned. His ERA is now a decidedly un-ace-like. 4.98.

Just to complete the picture, the team is not hitting either. Last night somebody named Jair Jurrjens continued his mastery of the Phils, no-hitting them for six innings. He’s now 3-2 against them with an ERA of 2.50 in six career starts. The Phils managed all of two hits last night.

And of course no mention of the Phils’ struggles would be complete without a mention of Jimmy Rollins. The leadoff man continues to spin his wheels. Hey, he actually got on base once last night. He managed to work a walk. But he is now hitless in his last 27 at-bats. Not good.

Forget the Mets. The Phils now are clinging to a half-game lead over the hot Marlins.

They get one more shot at the Braves tonight before returning to Citizens Bank Park for a weekend set with the Mets.

They announced that Rodrigo Lopez will get a start Friday night in the spot vacated by Antonio Bastardo, who was filling in for Brett Myers.
Fans no doubt would rather see one of their young hotshots, such as Carlos Carrasco or Andrew Carpenter get the call.

Not going to happen.

The Phils have squandered a great chance to put a huge cushion between themselves and the rest of the NL East. Now they are in another dogfight. Yes, it’s a long season. We’re not even at the All-Star break yet.

But the Phils have problems. They’re not pitching or hitting. Kind of tough to win that way.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

The Daily Numbers - July 1

The Daily Numbers: 0 crimes committed by former state Trooper Albert Silveri III, despite his creepy online chats with an undercover officer.
3 months old, age of tot an Upper Darby man pleaded guilty to beating.
2 teens from West Chester who have been cited for disorderly conduct after police say they were observed urinating on the side of a Wawa in Thornbury.
16 hours, how long the ramp from the northbound Blue Route to westbound Schuylkill was closed after a tanker truck overturned.
2 people, a mother and child, who drowned in rough current last night in North Wildwood after lifeguards had gone off duty for the day. A third child was pulled from the rip current.
6 area McDonald’s that have been targeted by a gang of thieves. None of them are in Delco.
2 people, a brother and sister, from the Mayfair section of Philly who have been charged with ripping people off at their used car dealership.
24 years, how long it has been since we endured a June that was as cool as the one that ended yesterday.
71, our average temperature for June, which is about 1.5 degrees below our normal mark.
2.72, what we’re paying for a gallon of gas as we head into the July 4 holiday travel period.
113 million dollar jackpot up for grabs in the Mega Millions lottery game. The next drawing is Friday night.
1,236 residents who left Philadelphia in 2008. That number is down from previous years. Philly now ranks as the 6th biggest U.S. city.
23,000 dollars ripped off from a school fund at Germantown High by a former worker. The woman paid full restitution in returning the money and was sentenced to 5 years probation.
2 billion dollars in higher taxes being proposed by Gov. Ed Rendell to solve the state’s budget crisis.
2 days in a row a child has been struck and killed by a vehicle in Philadelphia. A 7-year-odl girl was hit Tuesday night, also in the Mayfair neighborhood.
0 for 5 last night for Jimmy Rollins, who continues to struggle in one of the worst slumps of his career.
0 hits in his last 24 at-bats for the Phils shortstop.
.207, Rollins’ batting average after last night, which actually prompted a chant by Braves fans mocking him in his final at-bat. Rollins promptly struck out.
4 hits and 4 RBI for Braves martin Prado to leave Atlanta to a 5-4 win in 10 innings.
Call me a Phanatic: A look at the ups and downs of being a Philadelphia sports fan.Here’s a tip for Charlie Manuel. Should Jimmy Rollins continue to struggle the next two nights in Atlanta, get him out of the leadoff spot before coming back to Citizens Bank Field Friday night for a crucial series with the Mets.
I Don’t Get It: So former Trooper Albert Silveri’s online chats were not illegal. That doesn’t make them any less creepy.
Today’s Upper: Kudos to Harrah’s, which will kick off the July 4 holiday with a free fireworks spectacular along the Chester waterfront Thursday night.
Quote Box: “The intensity of these communications and the specificity is alarming. These aren’t fantasies. These are far beyond that.”
- Delco Judge Frank Hazel, describing the online chats of former state Trooper Albert Silveri III.

'Intent' and the Silveri verdict

No one is arguing that what former state trooper Albert Silveri III was doing online was creepy.

But it apparently was not illegal.

Delaware County Judge Frank Hazel Tuesday returned a verdict in the case against Silveri, who had spent several hours on the stand in his one-day trial detailing – often graphically – his activities in the cyberworld.

Silveri had opted for a jury before Hazel instead of taking his chances with a jury of his peers. Good choice.

It’s hard to hear Silveri’s testimony, in which he freely admits conversations with a woman he believed was a mother offering to set him up with her young daughters for a sexual liaison.

Silveri says it was all a fantasy, that he never actually intended to go through with any of his perverse online chats.

And for proof he notes that even though he set up several meetings with an online “mom” who turned out to be an undercover officer, he didn’t show up for any of them.

On a legal basis, there was no crime, hence Hazel’s verdict.

But “not guilty” is not all the judge had to say. He blasted the former trooper’s actions, even if they were just a part of his online “fantasy.”

“These aren’t fantasies,” Hazel said. “These are far beyond that.” The judge suggested that Silveri is in need of professional help, which his attorney says he is getting. Hard to argue with that.

Silveri is no longer working as a trooper. For that I suppose we can all be glad, although I now wonder what kind of case he would have if he decided to get his old job back.

But I remain intrigued by this burgeoning cyberworld and the undercover officers who prowl it.

Whenever we have interviewed these officers, they have admitted it is fairly depressing work, akin to shooting fish in a barrel. They log into a chat room, and in no time they are getting online proposals.

Too often it’s the same thing, a guy interested in having sex with her and her children.

A meeting is set up, the suspect shows up, and is arrested.

That seems to be the key difference from the Silveri case.

It all revolves around intent. The fact that he never showed up for any of the rendezvous that he had set up with the undercover officer means – at least legally – that he had no intent of going through with it. I notice in his testimony, however, that Silveri did indicate that he at least did drive past one meeting point. But he never pulled in.

So here’s what I’m wondering. Some pervert sets up one of these meetings, pulls into the convenience store parking lot expecting to meet a mom and her young daughters, and is instead greeted by the undercover officer and her pals. The fact that he showed up indicates his intent to go through with it.

So what happens if his response is, “Yeah, I’m here, and my intent is to walk into the store and buy a cup of coffee.”

I’m told this kind of challenge already has been offered and failed.

I’m trying to figure out exactly what the suspect is guilty of, other than talking dirty online.

I also wonder about what the officers say about their work, about how easy it is to lure these guys in. And I wonder if that’s the case, then how much of this is going on that is not caught.

And one other thing. Exactly when are these guys going to realize that you really have no idea who that person on the other end of the chat line is, and who might actually be waiting for you should you actually show up for one of these meetings.

My guess is Hazel’s ruling is going to be wildly unpopular with most people, even while it is legally correct.

When it comes to setting up these kinds of deals with kids, even if there is no “intent,” most people have a few “intents” of their own.

And not all of them are legal either.

Another 'struggling' casino

Another interesting development in the Pennsylvania slots business.

And this time it does not involve Harrah’s Chester Casino & Racetrack.
By the way, you can click here to see the response of Harrah’s boss Vince Donlevie to one of my recent blogs about the dip in revenue at Harrah’s.

What is interesting is where this story – which is about another casino where revenue is down – comes from.

The brand-spanking-new, glittering Sands Casino Resort in Bethlehem opened a little more than a month ago to packed houses. Even Emeril Lagasse was on hand to open his new restaurant.

But a strange thing happened in the days and weeks after the opening hullaballoo.

Revenue has been dropping.

The state Gaming Control Board says the Sands took in $4.18 million last week. Not bad, right? Except for the fact that it marks the fifth straight week where revenue went down.

That figure is for gross terminal revenue, the money left in the slots machines after the winners get their share. Last week the Sands took in a little more than $55 million and paid out almost $51 million.

Back in its first full week of operation on May 25-31, the Sands took in
$5.94 million in gross terminal revenue.

The Sands, expected to be a blockbuster addition to the state’s new slots biz, was expected to be a big player, drawing players from North Jersey and New York who otherwise might head to Atlantic City or even some of the other Pa. casinos.

But it now ranks as only fifth busiest casino in the state, trailing both Philly Park and Harrah’s Chester, and even three other facilities.

Don’t expect the folks at Harrah’s to shed any tears. They have troubles of their own.

According to the state, revenue there has been down nine straight months. Play was off 6.2 percent in May.

But to keep this in perspective, Harrah’s is still raking in a ton of money, money that funds a lot of projects in the county as well as providing tax relief in the state.

For instance, for the week of June 22-28, gambler wagered a cool $74 million at Harrah’s. They paid out $67 million. It also provided nearly
$2 million in state taxes.

That’s in one week.

We should all be struggling like that in this economy.

No end to Rollins' woes

Jimmy Rollins returned to the Phillies lineup last night.

So did his struggles.

The one-time MVP’s woeful season showed no sign of turning around after his four-game “vacation,” the decision by skipper Charlie Manuel to bench him that Rollins no doubt wasn’t entirely thrilled with.

Rollins went an unproductive 0-for5 last night as the Phils fell to the Braves in 10 innings, 5-4.

If there is such a thing, it was not a good 0-for-5. That now makes Rollins 0 for his last 24 at-bats.

Not good.

Rollins is now hitting a measly .207 and his on-base percentage is a tiny .250.

The Phils leadoff man was actually mocked by the Hot-Lanta fans during his final at-bat as they chanted his batting average at the time, “2-0-8!” After he struck out it was actually a point lower.

Rollins has two more nights in Atlanta to figure this thing out and try to right his ship.

After that, Manuel will have to decide if he wants to come back to Citizens Bank Park for a key weekend series against the Mets with Rollins as his leadoff man.

There might be as many fireworks in the Phils’ dugout as in the skies over the city this weekend.