Monday, November 30, 2009

The Daily Numbers - Nov. 30

The Daily Numbers: 200 people who turned out Sunday night for a vigil in Upper Darby for three young students injured when they were struck by a car as they walked home last week.
5-1 vote of council by which Media Borough has decided to remove a plaque honoring Jay Johnson, the co-writer of the famed Elvis holiday ditty “Blue Christmas.”
4 police officers shot dead in Washington state in what authorities are describing as a targeted ambush in a local coffee shop.
87,403 dollars, what you would have to shell out for the items listed in the “12 Days of Christmas.”
5,250 dollars for the most expensive item, 7 swans a-swimming.
96 million people who are expected to go online and do some shopping today, on “Cyber Monday.”
4 young girls struck by a car in Darby Borough Friday. They’re expected to be fine.
2.72 a gallon, what we were paying for gas yesterday on the busiest travel day of the year.
2.00, average price a year ago.
50, age of blind woman who was beaten and raped during an attack in her home in the Mayfair section of Philadelphia Sunday.
12 day deer season for gun hunters that kicks off this morning in Pennsylvania.
2 straight 4th quarter rallies for the Eagles, who beat the Redskins, 27-24, on Sunday.
16 straight field goals made by Eagles kicker David Akers. His 32-yarder was the difference yesterday.
2 Eagles now suffering from concussions. DeSean Jackson joined Brian Westbrook after he got dinged in the 3rd quarter yesterday and did not return.
90 yards, how far Donovan McNabb drove the Birds for a TD and 2-point conversion to tie the game.
143 games as the Eagles QB for McNabb, that eclipsed the record held by Ron Jaworski.
22 points for Tim Duncan as the San Antonio Spurs beat the Sixers last night, 97-89.
5 straight road losses for the Sixers, who are now 5-12 on the season.
Call me a Phanatic: A look at the ups and downs of being a Philadelphia sports fan.
Anybody have a feel yet for just how good – or bad – this Eagles team is? Beats the hell out of me.
I Don’t Get It: A couple who crashed that presidential dinner is now looking to sell their story to the highest bidder. Talk about your 15 minutes of fame.
Today’s Upper: Kudos to the Upper Darby community for coming out in force Sunday night to support the families of three young students struck by a car last week.
Quote Box: “Thank you for praying for our son. We appreciate it very much.”
- Demoz Beyene, father of most seriously Beverly Hills Middle School student struck by out-of-control car last week.

A Tiger by the tail

As a frustrated hacker – that’s a golfer for you non-linksters – there are any number of times when I would love to walk in Tiger Woods’ shoes for just five minutes.

This weekend was not one of them.

The greatest golfer – and perhaps most recognizable athlete – on the planet has been in the headlines all weekend. But not for his incredible feats on the golf course. Instead, he’s all over the news for something that happened in his driveway.

Woods was involved in a minor car crash. That’s the last time anything about this story was minor. It has exploded into national headlines and become fodder for the tabloids.

Questions are being asked about Woods’ private life, about his marriage and about the circumstances that led him to leave his exclusive Florida mansion at 2:20 in the morning.

So far Woods has declined to speak to police. Yesterday he released a statement on his Web site, saying that the accident in which he plowed over a fire hydrant and than slammed into a tree was “his fault.” He admitted it was very embarrassing to his family, but that he preferred to keep the rest of the story private.

We’ll see how that goes. Tiger Woods has managed to make the miraculous seem mundane on the golf course. His fans show up, and tune in, to see him do something that no one thought was possible.

Seeing him extricate himself from this public relations nightmare might just be his biggest challenge yet.

But Tiger can’t fend off this situation with a driver, or his magical putter.

Instead he likely will have to lay bare part of his personal life, something he seems bound and determined not to do.

This story, the way it’s covered and the way people talk about it, tells us much about us as a society, the way we treat our sports heroes and celebrities, and about the industry I toil in every day.

Tiger Woods was involved in a minor car crash. Early reports that he had been “seriously” injured proved unfounded. He was treated and released from the hospital.

But that’s only what appears on the surface of this story. It’s what is underneath that we crave.

Tiger Woods believes he can keep that part of his life – and this story – away from everyone, even the police.

I’ll never hit a drive quite like the cannon shots Tiger Woods routinely delivers.

Hopefully, I’ll also never take a drive quite like the one Tiger took in his drivway the other night.

For once, I’m glad I’m not in Tiger Woods’ shoes.

U.D. pulls for one of its own

It was a weekend for giving thanks. In Upper Darby, it also marked something else: Hope

Nearly 200 people gathered at an Upper Darby church Sunday night to offer their prayers and support for the families of three young students who were injured when they were struck by an out-of-control last week.

In particular their thoughts rested with Philmon Beyene, the most serious of the injured Beverly Hills Middle School students.

Beyene’s father, Demoz, attended last night’s vigil and was clearly buoyed by the love and support that enveloped him from the community.

Among those attending were residents, classmates and their families, as well as Upper Darby Police Superintendent Mike Chitwood, Mayor Tom Micozzie and schools Superintendent Lou DeVlieger.

“I see my son every day,” Demoz Beyene told those gathered. “Every day he’s improving. I see for myself. Thank you for praying for our son. We appreciate it very much.”

The true meaning of Thanksgiving, played out on the streets of Upper Darby.

Get well soon, Philmon. Your town is pulling for you.

For the Birds

I think I can now authoritatively make the following statement about the
2009 Philadelphia Eagles: I still don’t know how good they are.

Yesterday the Eagles struggled mightily to beat a banged-up Redskins team with almost nothing to play for. The Birds were a 9-point favorite over the ‘Skins, which makes you wonder if the oddsmakers had watched this team at all this year. How could they be a nine-point pick over anybody?

This was a game where the Eagles simply should have lined up and beaten an inferior team. It was not a day for trickery and gadget plays.

Then you remember this is Andy Reid’s team. So of course the Eagles delighted their fans with an onside kick on the opening kickoff, which winds up in the hands of a Redskin, who immediately bolts through the charging Birds and sets up the ‘Skins at the Eagles’ 20. A few plays later and the Eagles are looking up at a 7-0 deficit. Thanks, coach.

To their credit, the Eagles battled back. And it’s also time to give some serious credit to Donovan McNabb, who for the second straight week led the Birds to victory by coming from behind in the fourth quarter. So much for that rap on the 11-year veteran.

The win makes the Eagles 7-4, and in very good position to make the playoffs. But realistically, do you expect them to do much when they get there? I don’t.

But they are light years ahead of last year, when it was about this time of year that they limped back up I-95 in total disarray after a loss that saw the benching of Donovan McNabb at halftime.

This team has a lot of new weapons, DeSean Jackson, Jeremy Maclin, LeSean McCoy and Brent Celek. That’s now been clouded – along with Jackson’s head – by a concussion that forced the star second-year wideout from the lineup in the third quarter. He did not return. He now joins Brian Westbrook in battling the concussion demons that suddenly are hounding the NFL.

But it is on the other side of the ball that the Birds are really struggling. On defense they have developed a sudden inability to stop foes on third down, including third and long.

This week will make the return of the Eagles’ own redemption project, Michael Vick, to Atlanta. It will be talked about at length. But it has little to do with what this team is all about.

That’s the problem. I’m still not really sure what this team actually is all about, nor how good they really are.

What I know is that they are 7-4 and likely headed for the playoffs.
Been there, done that.

Let’s see what happens down the stretch. I’m not exactly dreaming of a Super Bowl bid.

But then again, this is the NFL. Stranger things have happened. They almost happened to the Eagles last year.

The return of A.I.?

There was a time when this story would have been a blockbuster. It would have dominated the headlines, and been talked about endlessly on sports talk radio.

Now it is met only by snickers, the rolling of eyes, and the wonder of just how far the Philadelphia 76ers have sunk on our sports radar.

The Sixers apparently are toying with the idea of bringing back a certain former all-star. Maybe you’ve heard of him. His name is Allen Iverson.

That’s right, brace yourself for the return of A.I. Maybe.

The Sixers certainly have a need. They lost young point guard Lou Williams for six to eight weeks last week when he suffered a fractured jaw.

But that’s not really what this move is about. The Sixers have a much bigger need. They need to put some fans in the seats. And they need to matter again.

A.I. would certainly do that. But I’m not sure what else it would accomplish, other than delay the inevitable, that the Sixers are in the midst of a massive rebuilding. It is not going to happen overnight.

The Sixers are a bad team, and they’re not going to get better overnight.

Then again they’re not going to get all that better by adding Iverson, either. Instead they will blunt the development of any other players, as Iverson once again becomes the focus of their universe.

Since leaving the Sixers, Iverson has had mostly unsuccessful stints in Denver, Detroit, and then finally an almost comical stop with the Grizzlies. That one lasted about three games. Iverson made it clear he had no desire to come off the bench, which apparently is the reason Memphins acquired him. And yes, you would think maybe that topic might have been discussed before the Grizzlies signed Iverson.

Would he come here and be content to be an offensive presence off the bench? Unlikely. Instead he more likely would be a disruptive presence, bringing coach Eddie Jordan’s motion offense to a stop as all roads would go through Iverson.

Jordan over the weekend looked to downplay talk of the Sixers acquiring their former all-star.

Good for him. Allen Iverson’s time is over. The Sixers need to move on.
Sure, they likely would sell a few more tickets with Iverson in the lineup.

But it would be a mistake, something this organization has made all too many of in recent years.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

The dreaded Saturday Eagles pick

Let’s say this up front. The Eagles should not be a nine-point pick over anyone.

Yet here we are, with the Birds looking at a huge spread vs. the Redskins.

First things first, D.C. might just be called the Deadskins. They are very banged up and likely not terribly interested in what has been just one more disaster in the Dan Snyder era.

But they still always manage to give the Eagles fits. The Birds beat them, 27-17, just a few weeks ago. But I look for this one to be a lot closer.

It won’t be pretty, but the Eagles, powered by just enough Donovan McNabb, DeSean Jackson and LeSean McCoy, get another close win over the Redskins.

All together now, “Hail to the Redskins.” Or as the fans in D.C. might be singing to Snyder, “to hell with the Redskins.

Make it Eagles 17, Redskins 16.

Last Week: I was on the money again in thinking da Birds would prevail over da Bears. But I have to admit I did not see the fourth-quarter comeback coming.

Season Record: 6-4, I'm even with the Eagles. And I’m starting to get my playoff face on for the stretch run.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

More than wins & losses

I have a very special place in my heart for Chichester football.

No, I am not a Chi grad. I went to Oxford High School. We have something
of an infamous link. And I was part of it.

I was a member of the first-ever varsity football team at Oxford High.
Our coach, Fred Green, was a Chichester alum, and had played under the
legendary Tony Apichella. Their football field is now named for him.
Apichella, not Green.

I kind of doubt there is a plaque to mark our visit there.

Back in 1970, when I was a sophomore, the student decided to challenge
his mentor. Oxford would play Chichester in our first ever varsity
football game.

It was the year after Billy “White Shoes” Johnson graduated. We actually
had gone as a team the year before to watch him play. A year later, we
ran onto the field on an ungodly hot Saturday morning against the
Eagles. It didn’t go too well. We lost 72-3. A guy named Joe Miller ran
all over us. I think he scored five touchdowns, including returning the
opening kickoff for a TD.

I did, however, hold the ball for that solitary field goal on the Oxford
side of the ledger.

I was a safety/backup quarterback, and weighed maybe 110 pounds sopping
wet with all my gear on. The summer before my senior year, our starting
QB moved down South. That left me as the starter. That gives you an idea
how good we were.

We didn’t win a single game. We went 0-10. I can only be blamed for the
first four losses, until I broke my collarbone, ending my season. It
matched the separated shoulder I suffered in my junior year.

Today Chichester and Sun Valley will meet for the 42nd time on
Thanksgiving Day.

Neither one of them has won a game.

Doesn’t matter. Instead, two communities will come together in a
tradition that bonds them forever. Alumni will flock back home for the
game. Bragging rights will be decided for another year. Those on the
field will remember it – and the guys they played with - for the rest of
their lives.

Wins and losses don’t really have anything to do with it.

I know exactly how they feel.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

The Daily Numbers - Nov. 25

The Daily Numbers: 3 Beverly Hills Middle School students struck by a car as they waited to cross the street yesterday. The driver could face charges.
15 years in jail for Broomall money manager Joe Forte for running a huge Ponzi scheme.
35 million dollars in restitution a judge ordered him to pay. Investors are unlikely to ever see any of it.
38.4 million hitting the road this year as they travel to Thanksgiving destinations.
4.8 percent decrease in the Philly area of people who are traveling for the holiday.
4 percent dip in ridership on SEPTA after the strike by city workers shut down the system for a week.
4,433 individuals who were vaccinated against the H1N1 flu over the weekend at the Penn State Brandywine campus.
1 more H1N1 clinics being held today at the state health center in Chester.
235,000, how much a Ridley Park man ripped off from his employer, a Concord surgical center. He was sentenced to 2.5 to 5 years in prison 33, age of elementary school teacher in Wilmington, Del., charged with selling cocaine.
5, where Pa. ranks for the most global warming pollution, according to the environmental group PennEnvironment.
2 fireworks shows being planned for the Philly waterfront on New Year’s Eve this year. There will be one at 6 p.m. and another when the clock strikes midnight.
2 teens killed and 5 others injured in a horrific crash on Route 724 in Chester County.
5 people charged in what police are describing as a revenge kidnapping in Delaware.
17 percent dip in cost of natural gas this winter, according to PECO.
23, age of John Lewis, sentenced yesterday to death for the murder of Philly Officer Chuck Cassidy.
110,000 Toyota Tundra trucks recalled because of problems with rust.
26 points for Louis Williams, but the Sixers lose to the Wizards, 108-107.
2 game suspension for Flyers Danny Briere for a hit on a Colorado player after the Avalanche player scored.

Call me a Phanatic: A look at the ups and downs of being a Philadelphia sports fan.Jon Runyan is now a San Diego Charger. The Eagles yesterday gave a four-year extension to Winston Justice. I get it, but I still don’t get it.
I Don’t Get It: A crossing guard near Scranton admitted making pornographic videos with a 16-year-old boy. He’s 86. I don’t get it.
Today’s Upper: Mayor Nutter is fighting back. He’s threatening to start the city’s own regatta with local and other college crews to replace the departed Dad Vail Regatta, which is rowing upstream to Rumson, N.J.
Quote Box: “I want to look you in the eye … When you face the ultimate judge in his courtroom, may you burn in hell.”
- Rose Wilson, to Joseph Forte, as he was sentenced to 15 years for swindling her and others out of millions.

Not exactly Madoff

A lot of people are referring to Joseph Forte as Delaware County’s version of Bernard Madoff. Hardly.

Forte doesn’t even amount to mini-Madoff, the man who swindled New York’s elite out of several not-so-small fortunes. He’s a wannabe.

Forte, a Broomall money manager so craved acceptance among the elite class he wanted to run with, he concocted a fantasy investment world in which he took their money and promised fabulous returns.

Except the fantasy was a lie. And it turned into a nightmare for those who entrusted their life savings to Forte.

Forte was in federal court yesterday, where he was sentenced to 15 years in prison and ordered to make restitution of $35 million.

He’s got a pretty good shot at the 15 years. He has almost no prayer of returning the money.

Also in court were many of his victims, people who befriended him, who trusted him, who never thought twice about turning over millions to him.

They told powerful stories of lives turned upside down.

Forte yearned to be part of their circle. For a few years, he was. Then it all came crashing down.

Now he’ll be joining another circle of friends. They’re called federal prisoners.

And his victims are in a prison of their own, a prison of dashed dreams and financial ruin, all due to their wannabe “friend.”

Thanksgiving wish? Slow down

It is a day for Planes, Trains & Automobiles.

The Wednesday before Thanksgiving is the busiest traffic day of the year.

Here’s a tip, and maybe a suggestion. Can we all just slow down? Maybe we’ll actually get there sooner, and in one piece.

Three young students at Beverly Hills Middle School did not make it home from school yesterday, apparently in part because of a speeding car.

The three students were struck by a car along Marshall Road as they waited to cross the intersection.

The 42-year-old female driving the car tried to weave around traffic, police said. Witnesses say she was driving at a high rate of speed.
Police say charges in the case could be filed today.

Two of the youths suffered non-life-threatening injuries. But the third is in very serious condition at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.

Let’s make this the rule of the day: Slow down.

Runyan's a Charger

How difficult is this to hear? Jon Runyan wants to take one more shot at winning a Super Bowl. So he signed with the San Diego Chargers.

Runyan became something of an institution at right tackle for the Eagles. He signed as a big-time free agentback in 2000. All he did after that was play in 144 consecutive games.

In a world where you can count on almost nothing, you could count at Runyan trotting out onto that field on Sunday afternoon. Nothing kept him away, not a cranky knee, nor a painful tailbone.

When the ref blew the whistle, Runyan lined up at right tackle.

Runyan had indicated he was looking for one more shot at the playoffs and a possible Super Bowl shot, and was waiting for an opportunity. That came when the Chargers’ right tackle, Jeromey Clary, was placed on injured reserve with ligament damage in his ankle, ending his season.

Enter Runyan.

Big Jon also is still toying with the idea of running for Congress next year in South Jersey.

For now, he’ll be a temporary resident of the Left Coast.

In the meantime, his replacement with the Birds, Winston Justice, was given a four-year extension.

Maybe the Eagles will meet the Chargers in the Super Bowl. Now that would be Justice delivered.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

The Daily Numbers - Nov. 24

The Daily Numbers: 6 to 23 months in prison for the teen convicted of setting a cat on fire. Rishawn Morrison will serve his sentence on electronic home monitoring.
19, age of Morrison, who admitted his guilt in the killing of Cuddles the cat, a 6-week-old tabby.
7 adults and 1 child chased from their home in Darby by fire. All escaped injury.
34 years, how long Tom Judge Sr. led the Delco GOP. He was feted at a dinner last night at Springfield Country Club that saw a who’s who of Delco politics in attendance.
20 million dollars, how much federal probers say Broomall investor Joseph Forte fleeced from his clients.
32, age of instructor at Pennsylvania Institute of Technology in Media charged with sexual assault of a female student.
2 more H1N1 clinics being held today and tomorrow in the county, after 3 was jammed last weekend on the campus of Penn State Brandywine.
11 percent tax hike proposed in Aston.
0.7 mill property tax hike on tap in Parkside.
75 million dollars awarded to a couple who sued Wyeth Pharmaceuticals in connection with breast cancer and a hormone-replacement drug.
10 percent spike in existing home sales in October, as the housing biz shows signs of a turnaround.
132.79 point jump on Wall Street, fueled by those rosy housing numbers.
2.1 million dropside cribs made by Storm Craft Manufacturing that are being recalled for safety problems.
5 men charged in a terror plot in which they tried to buy anti-aircraft missiles in Philly and ship them overseas.
6 men charged in gang rape of woman that started in a West Philly take-out restaurant and then continued when she was dragged into a home next door.
2 reported sexual assault now under investigation on the campus of the University of Pennsylvania.
1, as in No. 1, that’s the dubious spot as the most dangerous city in the country that belongs to Camden, N.J.
17 percent spike in earnings at Campbell Soup.
3 straight losses for the Flyers on their West Coast loop. They lost, 5-4, in Denver last night.
3 more starters lost for the season by the battered Washington Redskins, who come to the Linc on Sunday.
Call me a Phanatic: A look at the ups and downs of being a Philadelphia sports fan.Yes, that was Donovan McNabb leading the Eagles to a come-from-behind fourth quarter win on Sunday. Another reason for thanks.
I Don’t Get It: A man in Pittsburgh told police he kicked a puppy to death because it would not behave before the start of the TV broadcast of Sunday’s Steelers game. I don’t get it.
Today’s Upper: Two more H1N1 clincics today and tomorrow in Chester. If you’re in the at-risk groups, you need to get a vaccine.
Quote Box: “We went in, we talked it over, we came out unanimous. That is the secret of success here in Delaware County.”
- Outgoing Delco GOP leader Tom Judge Sr., at dinner last night in his honor.

Judge-ment Night

I mentioned recently to my colleague Gil Spencer that he might want to write something about retiring county GOP boss Tom Judge Sr. He came back with an interesting anecdote.

He took my advice and talked to a few county GOP political leaders, including Upper Darby GOP boss John McNichol.

“He told me it was the easiest ticket he ever sold,” Spencer said about the dinner to honor Judge.

I’m not the least bit surprised.

They gathered last night to honor and bid farewell to the man who has led the powerful county GOP for more than three decades.

A literal who’s who of Delco politics was at Springfield Country Club.
And it wasn’t just Republicans. There were plenty of Democrats on hand to pay homage to their longtime foe. Among them were newly minted Sen.
Arlen Specter, his foe in the upcoming Democratic Senate primary U.S.
Rep. Joe Sestak, and party leader Cliff Wilson. I’m not sure if it was Wilson’s job to stay between Specter and Sestak, who have already started firing verbal salvos at each other.

It’s something Judge can certainly appreciate. This gentleman was probably as much a peacemaker as dealmaker for the last 34 years.

GOP legends such as longtime Springfield GOP boss Charlie Sexton and McNichol all lauded the quiet man from Darby Township who carefully guided the party to one win after another.

The times, and the politics, are changing in the county. Andy Reilly will now take over as the party leader. He faces a daunting challenge as county Democrats pose a growing challenge. The county has started drifting Democratic in presidential and gubernatorial races, and they even managed to depose Curt Weldon in the 7th District congressional race.

No doubt it was a night for stories. Judge deserved every one of them.
But one. It was left to McNichol to toss out a decidedly off-key comment concerning the tragic shooting at Springfield Mall.

Not funny, Mr. McNichol.

It’s something Tom Judge, a gentleman to the end, never would have done.

Justice for Cuddles

Rishawn Morrison has spent 46 days in prison since his arrest on charges that he first threw rocks at a cat and then set the kitty on fire.

The 19-year-old Upper Chichester teen was in court yesterday, where he admitted his role in the gruesome death of Cuddles, a 6-week-old tabby.

Morrison entered an open guilty plea to cruelty to animals, which is a first-degree misdemeanor.

The judge in the case was Judge James Nilon Jr., an admitted animal lover.

The sentence for Morrison might raise a few eyebrows, but it really shouldn’t. It’s a misdemeanor offense. Morrison has been in jail for 46 days.

Nilon sentenced him to six to 23 months, and will allow Morrison to serve out the remainder of his sentence on electronic home monitoring.

He also has been sentenced to two years probation and 64 hours of community service.

No doubt there will howls of protest concerning the sentence.

There really shouldn’t be.

Nilon offered a stern warning to Morrison, calling his behavior shocking and disgusting.

“You better not look at a dog or cat crookedly,” Nilon told the teen.

Cuddles has used up one of his nine lives. So has Morrison, in a way. We hope he’s smart enough to take Judge Nilon’s advice and leaves that life behind.

More H1N1 shots

Suddenly Delaware County is Ground Zero in the war against H1N1 flu.

The state Health Department was so successful – and so busy – in offering three clinics over the weekend on the campus of Penn State Brandywine, they are offering two more clinics today and Wednesday in Chester.

The same ground rules apply. You must call to register for the sessions.
And you must be in one of the at-risk groups targeted for vaccinations. Get all the details here.

Over the weekend it is believed more than 8,500 people made their way to the Middletown campus to get vaccinated.

It’s a little short notice, with word just being released yesterday afternoon and residents needing to register for their shots, but having a clinic in Chester is a good idea.

The two-day session comes as state health experts say it appears problems connected to H1N1 flu are on the wane in the state. They make it clear we’re not out of the woods just yet, but it looks like we’re getting the upper hand.

Bottom line is this: If you’re in one of the at-risk groups, you should get a vaccination. You’ve got two more shots today and tomorrow in Chester.

Bust to boom

It there’s one thing I know about business – and it’s not much – it’s this.

Even in bad times, the kind of economic doldrums we’ve been battling the last couple of years, sex sells.

So I was not the least surprised to see a casino executive offer a less than unique solution to the problem of declining revenue hammering Atlantic City Casinos.

Less business? How about less clothes?

Don Marrandino is a senior exec with Harrah’s Entertainment. He told Reuters that the solution to the Jersey shore gambling mecca’s woes is more skin.

He wants to make Atlantic City more like Las Vegas. Specifically, he wants Atlantic City to amend its codes to allow topless acts and sports betting.

Harrah’s also owns the slots parlor in Chester. Pennsylvania’s push into expanded legalized gambling is a factor in the struggles of Atlantic City. But up until last month, when they reversed a nearly year-long trend, Harrah’s Chester was having some struggles of its own in terms of declining revenue.

Would skin work there as well?

It’s apparently working for the owner of a sports bar in Bucks County.
The Just Sports Bar & Grill in Warwick Township has added topless dancers during daytime in the last month. Business has gone from bust to boom, or even more bust, so to speak. Residents are not amused, and are asking township leaders to shut down the risque act.

Don’t look for centerfolds in the newspaper.

At least not yet.

Monday, November 23, 2009

The Daily Numbers - Nov. 23

The Daily Numbers: 6 wins and 4 losses for the Birds after they delivered on their ‘must-win’ mantra with a victory over the Bears Sunday night.
99 yards on 20 carries for LeSean McCoy, ably filling the void left by the absence of Brian Westbrook.
3 days of H1N1 flu vaccine clinics held this weekend at Penn State Brandywine. Officials will announce just how many got the vaccine later today.
5 percent tax hike looming for residents in Edgmont. It’s a 3.5 percent increase that’s being discussed in Haverford. In Media, they’re pushing to hold the line on taxes.
2.72, what we’re paying on average for gas in the 5-county Philly metro area, just in time for the big Thanksgiving travel crunch.
4 percent dip in those expected to travel 50 miles from home this holiday, according to AAA.
30, age of man from Horsham who faces charges of attempted murder after leading police on a high-speed chase in which he hit two police cruisers on the Capital Beltway in D.C.
21, age of man shot and killed by an off-duty police officer during a confrontation outside a party in the Port Richmond section of Philadelphia Saturday night.
4 months old, age of baby police in Del. allege a dad took with him as he went on a drug buy at a New Castle apartment complex.
21 people injured when flames roared through an apartment complex in the Lawndale section of Philly early Sunday.
1 Rhodes Scholar from Swarthmore. Henry Spelman is now a senior at the University of North Carolina. His girlfriend also was named to the prestigious list.
150 employees sent home after a radiation leak at the Three Mile Island nuclear plant near Harrisburg Saturday.
7,700 dollars ripped off from Lehigh University by a former employee. She’s been sentenced to house arrest and full restitution.
140 million dollars pulled in over the weekend by the new teen vampire flick, “The Twilight Saga: New Moon.”
23 of 32 in a good night for Donovan McNabb in win over Bears last night, including twice bring the Birds back from deficits.
21 points for Scottie Reynolds as Villanova beat Mississippi State to take the Puerto Rick Tip-Off crown.
12 points for Garrett Williamson, but Saint Joe’s fell to Purdue, 85-60.
Call me a Phanatic: A look at the ups and downs of being a Philadelphia sports fan.Brace yourself for the Andy Reid extension controversy. It would make perfect sense for the Eagles, off their win vs. the Bears and sporting a 6-4 mark, to extend their head coach in this short holiday week.
I Don’t Get It: Forget the calendar. We haven’t hit Thanksgiving yet but it seems like the Christmas crush is in full swing.
Today’s Upper: Looks like weather will not be an issue for those about to hit the highways and byways to grandmother’s house this week.
Quote Box: “We’re hopeful that we’ll get more vaccine so we can continue to push that out.”
- Stacy Kriedman, of the state Department of Health, on this weekend’s
H1N1 flu shot clinics at Penn State Brandywine.

A town on edge

The normally tranquil community of Bethel remains on edge.

That’s because parents continue to wonder if there is a man targeting their children.

That’s the fallout from an attempted abduction a couple of weeks ago.

Things like that aren’t supposed to happen in Bethel.

Not anymore.

A 13-year-old reported that she was waiting for her morning bus when a man dressed in black, wearing a mask and wielding a knife jumped out of the bushes and accoster her in the Trotter’s Lea development.

Luckily for her, the bus rounded the corner a few seconds later and the man fled.

The story had the community buzzing, with parents wondering if their kids were safe in their seemingly comfortable suburb.

There also was an unmistakable undercurrent of doubt surrounding the story, despite authorities saying several times they had no reason not to believe the girl’s story.

The doubters were quieted a bit when a few days after the reported attack, a woman walking her dog on Trotter’s Lea Lane found a mask that matched a description of the one the suspect was wearing.

The mask was forwarded on to the FBI for analysis.

Tonight police and township officials will try to further ease residents’ concerns at a meeting set for 6:30 at Bethel Springs Elementary School.

The focus will be on the state’s Megan’s Law Web site, along with child predator prevention and education.

The recent attack was just the most recent in several instances going back to the summer.

On hand tonight will be state Rep. Steve Barrar, R-160, Claude Thomas of the state Attorney General’s Office, Magisterial District Judge Richard Cappelli, representatives from the Pennsylvania State Police, and Bethel Police Chief John Cairo.

The school is located at 3280 Foulk Road.

I expect the place to be packed. That’s what happens when fear starts to grip what seemed like such a safe place.

Delivering a 'must win'

The Eagles proved several things last night.

They proved they can win on Sunday night. If you hadn’t noticed, they had been a less than scintillating 0-7 in prime time affairs on Sunday night going into last night’s game against the Bears.

They also seemed to get a handle on their red-zone struggles. The Birds managed to punch the ball into the end zone on a couple of occasions.

They also gave a hint of how they might handle those pesky third-and-short situations. Last night they brought in Michael Vick, who promptly reeled off a 34-yard jaunt.

And maybe more important, they served notice that they can indeed come from behind to win a game in the fourth quarter.

After taking an early lead, the Eagles took a nap in the second and third quarters. In the process, the Bears erased an early 10-0 Eagles lead and actually took a lead of their own, 20-17, heading into the fourth quarter.

Donovan McNabb twice marched the Eagles down the lead to overcome deficits in the second half, the most important being capped by a 10-yard jaunt by rookie LeSean McCoy to put the Birds back in the lead for good with 5:31 left.

It was a good night for McNabb, who backed up his talk about this being a “must win” for the Birds. Also shining was wideout DeSean Jackson and McCoy, who rushed for 99 yards on 20 carries filling in ably for injured Brian Westbrook.

The win lifted the Birds to 6-4 and kept them one game behind the Cowboys, who somehow managed to go three and a half quarters without scoring a touchdown before putting up all of 7 points to take a 7-6 win over the Redskins. That comes after they were shut out the week before.

With the Eagles now at 6-5, look for something to happen on that much-talked-about contract extension for Andy Reid this week.

The Eagles could drop it late Wednesday and then shut down for the Thanksgiving holiday.

The mood this morning seems less than enthralled. Yes, the Eagles won.
Hey, we’ll take it. Beats a loss anytime.

But will the fans be enamored enough to accept an extension for Reid.

The Eagles might be about to find out.

Kicking & screaming

It was an interesting night at the Oakmont National Pub in Havertown last night.

The local watering hole, naturally, was buzzing with Birds playing a national TV game against the Bears.

But there was something else at work as well.



The Pub is a soccer hotbed as well, and last night was the Super Bowl of the MLS, with the L.A. Galaxy and Real Salt Lake competing for the MLS Cup ’09.

Next year, the Philadelphia Union, which will play its home games in a stadium being constructed on the Chester waterfront, enters the league.

Our Tim Logue reports the TVs were split half and half between the Eagles and soccer.

Ain’t that a kick.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

The dreaded Saturday Eagles pick

Up and down the Eagles squad, from Donovan McNabb to ailing Sheldon Brown, these Birds seem to agree on one thing. Sunday night's prime time affair with the Bears is a "must-win."

I didn't know there were any NFL games that were not must-win. They only play 16 of them,.

But the Birds find themselves in crisis mode. And they have only themselves to blame for it. If nothing else, this team personifies its coach, who insists on never seeming to learn from past mistakes.

So the Eagles fail to convert on short yardage situations, they simply won't run the ball, instead throwing 55 passes, as they did last week against a team that was ranked 26th against the rush all year and had been carved up in the red zone by most teams. The Eagles get to the red zone and see red lights, grinding to a halt. They continue to take lousy penalties at the most inopportune times.

Bill Parcells once said you are what your record says you are. The Eagles are 5-4. Seems about right. I have this team pegged as slightly better than .500.

That said, I still think they win Sunday night. But they had better get an early lead. If they fall behind, you can turn out the lights, as opposed to waiting for Reid to use all his timeouts by the middle of the fourth quarter and watching another team run out the clock from the 4-minute mark on.

For some reason, I think the Eagles rise to the challenge Sunday night.

Make it Eagles 24, Bears 23.

Last Week: I was on the money thinking another trip across the country to the West Coast would be too much for a team that continues to shoot itself in the foot with the same mistakes over and over again..

Season Record: 5-4, I'm even with the Eagles. Let's face it, this team is a possible playoff contender, but they really aren't going anywhere.

Friday, November 20, 2009

The Heron's Nest - Nov. 20

The Daily Numbers: 2 teen suspects charged yesterday in the stray-bullet death of Kathy Stewart in Chester.
1 of the suspects who managed to commandeer a police car from in front of the county prison and lead cops on a wild chase back into Chester.
2 suspects, dubbed Upper Darby’s Bonnie & Clyde, busted in an undercover police sting. A cop posed as the delivery guy and shot the suspect when he rushed him with a gun.
2 men being sought by police in Lower Chichester after they approached schoolkids and asked where their mother was.
40 foot Colorado blue spruce donated by an Upper Darby family as the township’s official Christmas tree.
1,250 signing bonus awaiting union members of SEPTA’s city division as they vote on a new contract today.
2.5 hours, how long it took a jury in Philadelphia to convict John Lewis of first-degree murder in the shooting death of Officer Chuck Cassidy.
Today they will take up whether to impose the death penalty in the case.
9, as in the 9th most regressive tax system in the nation. That’s where Pennsylvania ranks, according to a new study.
242 days in jail under a plea deal for the Coatesville fireman charged with setting 2 small fires. It amounts to the time served.
8.8 percent, where the Pa. jobless rate remained in October.
3 people charged with hacking into the Comcast Web site and diverting traffic.
17 seconds left when Villanova hit a 3-pointer to edge ahead of stubborn George Mason for the win yesterday.
78-68 loss for La Salle at the hands of South Carolina.
5 interceptions thrown by Bears QB Jay Cutler in a loss last week. He’ll be facing the Birds Sunday night.
Call me a Phanatic: A look at the ups and downs of being a Philadelphia sports fan.Is it just me or has sports suddenly hit a lull. The Eagles can show up any time now. Or at least whatever version they will be this week in their Jekyll & Hyde act.
I Don’t Get It: Can someone explain to me exactly how a handcuffed prisoner manages to commandeer a police car when he’s being accompanied by two officers?
Today’s Upper: Thumb’s up for Chester residents for coming forward and offering key information that led to the arrest of two suspects in the shooting death of Kathy Stewart.
Quote Box: “We thought it was important to you, to the William Penn family, to come out on this very street and let you know what took place.”
- Chester Mayor Wendell Butler, announcing the arrest of two teens in the murder of Kathy Stewart.

Taking back the streets

They started taking back the streets in Chester yesterday.

It’s not going to be easy. Just how tough was proved by two incidents that happened after two suspects were arrested yesterday for the “stray-bullet” death of Kathy Stewart.

You can read all the details here.

But here’s what most impressed me. D.A. Mike Green made it clear the arrests were the result of people in the community coming forward and giving information to police.

Maybe the tide is turning.

Or maybe the senselessness of Stewart’s death finally struck a nerve.
Stewart was simply doing part of her daily routine, stopping at her ailing 85-year-old mother’s home to care for her. Stewart would stop every day and help her mom get cleaned, dressed and makes sure she’s taking her medicine. Her mom is battling cancer.

That’s what she was doing there Sunday night. Stewart, herself a mother of three, was resting on a bed chatting with her fiancee on a cell phone when gunshots rang out from the street outside. It’s an all too familiar sound to residents of the William Penn homes.

Incredibly, one of the bullets went through the wall of the home, through a headboard, and struck Stewart in the head. She was rushed to Crozer-Chester Medical Center, where she died the next day.

The community was outraged. They marched in the street.

But they did more than that. They did something police and city officials have been begging residents to do. They told them what they knew.

As a result, Dominique Smith, 19, of the 400 block of Gilbert Street in Trainer, and Abdult Johnson, 17, of the 1100 block of Curry Street in Chester, face a slew of charges including first-degree murder.

As officials announced the arrests, a crowd of 100 residents broke into cheers.

At a window above, Stewart’s ailing mother looked on as authorities announced charges against the two teens for snuffing out the life of her daughter.

Maybe it marks a turning point in the city’s war against street violence.

They have their work cut out for them.

Just hours after he was charged, the 17-year-old Johnson incredulously got another short taste of freedom.

As the unmarked police car sat at the entrance to Delaware County Prison, both officers got out to secure their weapons, as is standard procedure. At that point, a handcuffed Johnson managed to get into the front seat and take off.

He led officers on a wild chase back into Chester, where the pursuit ended when Johnson ran the car into the front porch of a house at Sixth and Highland.

And a few hours later, a familiar sound rang out on a Chester street.

A man was shot and killed just after 11 p.m. on the 1300 block of Crosby Street.

One step forward, two steps back.

But make no mistake. The people of Chester sent a message this week.
They no longer will tolerate the lawlessness and gunfire that riddle too many of their streets.

They will work with police and city officials to take back their streets.

And they will do it Kathy Stewart’s name.

Justice delivered

This one gives a whole new meaning to “justice delivered.”

Working to solve a string of holdups targeting delivery men for local pizza shops, Upper Darby police literally took matters into their own hands.

You can get the full story here.

Here’s the abridged version. When a pizza shop got another suspicious call, they handed the cheesesteak to an undercover cop. Officer Scott Pecko was approaching the house where the order was supposed to go when a guy jumps out of the bushes and demands cash.

He had no idea that his “mark” was an undercover cop. He was about to find out.

The suspect’s bad decision was about to get worse. He was brandishing a pistol. It turned out to be a pellet gun. Pecko told him to drop his weapon. The suspect kept coming at him. Pecko drew his own service revolver and shot the suspect once in the arm.

A woman also was arrested. Police believe she was driving the getaway car.

Upper Darby top cop Mike Chitwood promptly branded them duo Upper Darby’s own “Bonnie & Clyde.”

And he offered a warning for anyone considering preying on delivery people who are just trying to make an honest buck. Be careful.

“The next person they rob may be an undercover cop,” Chitwood said.

Justice delivered indeed.

Deer me

They are thinning the herd in Lower Merion.

They want to do the same in Valley Forge National Historical Park.

And now Rose Valley is looking to do the same.

Their target is deer. There are too many of them. And they are marauding over the landscape, destroying vegetation and upsetting the environmental balance.

Personally, I have a little more visceral response to deer.

It stems from my seemingly daily game of early-morning dodge-ball with the critters as I drive to work.

The latest came this week. Of course, I encountered this animal not on a straight stretch of dry road. Instead I was coming up over a hill, on a rainy morning, when there it was, standing right in the middle of the road.

I swerved to avoid it, and luckily it never moved.

I’m not talking Bambi here. I’m talking a full-grown buck, with a magnificent rack. This thing could have been the spokesman for the Hartford Insurance Co.

It wasn’t my first close encounter. No doubt it will not be the last.

It’s not the deer’s fault. I know we have over-developed. I don’t especially care. All I know is that one of these mornings my luck is going to run out.

I say thin the herd. Now.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

The Daily Numbers - Nov. 19

The Daily Numbers: 6 feet, 6 inches. That’s how tall Joe Sherlock stood.
The victim in the fatal crash on Route 352 is being remembered by family and friends as a “gentle giant.” Sounds about right.
50 vaccinations her hour, how many likely will be performed at this weekend’s H1N1 vaccine clinic. By the way, the clinic now has a new location. It will be held at Penn State Brandywine, not Chichester Middle School.
1 suspect shot by police during a sting operation late last night in Upper Darby that targeted a gang that was ripping off pizza delivery guys.
2 suspects busted in a car break-in in Clifton Heights. Police are asking residents to check their cars; they think the duo may have hit more victims.
15, age of girl to whom the former head coach of the Plymouth Whitemarsh High School’s girls swim team admitted sending sexually explicit text message to, as well as offering her money for sex.
60 percent of the cocaine going into Norristown that police say was the result of one guy Dontay Rayshaw Brewer, known as Cornbread. He was busted yesterday.
0 cost of living hikes for our elected officials in Pennsylvania this year, because the rate of inflation is down.
31 years, how long Dave Roberts has been delivering the weather on Channel 6. He’s hanging it up, and will deliver his last forecast on Dec. 11. His career spanned 56 years.
4 women raped in the Kensington section of Philadelphia. Police believe the same person is behind all the attacks.
50,000 dollars that will go to a local non-profit organization in a push by the Eagles and Tev Pharmaceuticals to honor community involvement.
30, age of driver in New Castle, Del., who survived after his car was struck by a train. Police say he ignored flashing lights and tried to get through the crossing anyhow.
50,000 dollars allegedly ripped off from a mentally and physically disabled man by the owner of a Germantown personal care home.
62, age of local business leader Constantine Pavlides, who was killed in crash on Route 322 Tuesday. He founded the Greater Philadelphia Senior Executive Group.
3 neighborhoods in Philly that are now getting FIOS TV service from Verizon, in a challenge to local cable giant Comcast.
105,000 dollars, how much was collected by Boeing union boss Tony Forte in a loan scam tied to the company credit union. He pleaded guilty in federal court.
32 million dollars up for grabs in Saturday’s Powerball drawing after no one hit the numbers Wednesday night.
849 billion dollar health care bill introduced in the Senate last night. Republicans are vowing to filibuster to keep it from even being debated.
19 points, 11 rebounds last night for Elton Brand, flashing his old form as the Sixers beat Larry Brown and the Bobcats.
21 shots turned away in the 3rd period last night in L.A. by Flyers goalie Brian Boucher to preserve a 3-2 win.
600 dollars per seat, how much extra some folks will have to pay to keep their spots in Beaver Stadium at Penn State, according to a new seating plan.
Call me a Phanatic: A look at the ups and downs of being a Philadelphia sports fan.Maybe it’s just me, but I find it hard to believe anyone is seriously talking about Brian Westbrook actually playing again this year for the Eagles. The question seems to be if Westbrook will ever play again – period.
I Don’t Get It: Ed Rendell says he wants to be an advocate for government reform in his final year in Harrisburg. I think he said that with a straight face.
Today’s Upper: Thumb’s up for those who took to the street last night demanding change in the wake of the senseless death of Kathy Stewart.
Now the rest of the city needs to join them, and come forward with information on who is responsible for the shootings.
Quote Box: “It hasn’t really set in that she’s gone.”
- Sunday Hollman, sister of shooting victim Kathy Stewart, at vigil in her honor Wednesday night.

Taking back the streets

They took to the streets last night in Chester – in an effort to take their streets back.

Residents outraged by the random gunfire and stray bullet that snuffed out the life of Kathy Stewart held a vigil in her memory.

Stewart was killed when a bullet from another street gun battle about a block away went through the wall of her mother’s home, through a headboard, and struck her in the bed as she chatted on a cell phone while in bed.

Residents are right to be outraged. This kind of gun violence is all too common in Chester, and lots of other towns in this county.

They also should be doing something else. We editorialized about it today.

The face of the weather

There is a comfortable anonymity that comes with working for a newspaper.

Yes, we come into your house every day. Both in print and online. And my picture does appear in the newspaper every Monday, along with my print column. I have opted instead for a logo to accompany this blog, The Heron’s Nest.

But for the most part, we ink-stained wretches toil in the background.

Every once in a while, someone will approach me in the Wawa or out on the street. I can always tell what’s coming next by the way they look at me. “Aren’t you the editor of the Daily Times?” they ask. I always offer them my stock response: “That depends on who wants to know.” Along with a smile. Hopefully they smile back. That’s not always the case.

On the other hand, those who make their living on TV, especially in this market, become much more familiar to their audiences.

The fact is that it’s a completely different medium. People on TV enter people’s homes and make a different, more personal connection with their audience than folks who write for a newspaper. They become like family, sharing meals, offering accompaniment. Their voices – and faces – become part of our conversations, and our lives.

I can admit that TV news folks make a connection that a newspaper editor for the most part simply does not. It’s the visual element that does it.
I’m sure that fans of a local TV newscast believe they really know the people delivering the news. They welcome them into their home each night. They become like trusted family members.

In this market, I’ve always been a bit taken aback by how we treat the folks who do TV news. They become like our own little celebrities. And they get covered in a way that newspaper people simply do not.

That’s not always a bad thing, at least as far as I’m concerned.

Dawn Stensland recently graced the cover of the Daily News. She used to be an anchor at Fox 29. Her contract was not renewed. She also happens to be married to Larry Mendte, the Delco native who made a slew of headlines of his own the past couple of years.

I have to admit that during his travails, I did not envy Mendte’s celebrity one little bit.

We now will go through this process once again, but for a different reason.

Dave Roberts is leaving Channel 6. I wish I could count how many times I’ve watched as Roberts gave me the nightly forecast. The truth is I can’t. But for most of my life, Roberts has been the guy who gave me the weather.

He’s been on Channel 6 for 31 years, the majority of his 56 years in the business. His face and voice are the equivalent of a favorite blanket. I suppose you might say for some of us he would be considered a security blanket.

I always liked Roberts for another reason. He seemed to resist what has happened all too often in recent years when it comes to weather in this market. But that I mean the hype that accompanied even the slightest possibility of snow. Now they seem to do the same thing when it rains.

Roberts announced on the 11 p.m. Action News show that he is calling it quits. He will serve as always as the co-anchor of Channel 6’s coverage of the annual Thanksgiving Day Parade, and his last forecast will be on Dec. 11.

No doubt the sun will come up on Dec. 12. But make no mistake. As a community will be a little bit different. A very familiar figure will no longer be a part of our lives, will not come into our homes each night.

I’m guessing it will be a cloudy day.

Thanks for a million forecasts, Dave. And for being a constant, soothing presence in an increasingly stormy world.

The loneliest job in Pa.

It is the Pennsylvania equivalent of being vice president.

Here’s a quiz. Anybody know who is the current lieutenant governor of Pennsylvania?

Thought so. Actually it’s Senate President Pro Tempore Joe Scarnati. He took the post of runner-up in state government after the death of Catherine Baker Knoll. Scarnati will serve out the remainder of her term, which runs until January 2011.

The anonymity of the position does not seem to stop people from seeking it.

The lieutenant governor’s job is a little odd, in that the candidates run on their own, as opposed to a ticket with the governor. We vote on them separately, and elect a person to the post every four years.

There’s no shortage of people seeking the job.

So far I have met two of them, both Republicans.

First it was Dauphin County Commissioner Nick DeFrancesco. He’s a Republican who immediately impressed me with his idea of visiting all 67 counties in the Commonwealth – on his Harley.

He also seemed like a good guy, and a good candidate.

The same goes for another Republican who stopped by the office yesterday. Steve Johnson is a York County businessman and son of a senior Naval officer from Carlisle. He followed in his dad’s footsteps in the military, joining the Army Reserve, and serving in Operation Desert Shield/Storm in Iraq.

He founded his own building inspection company, where he’s CEO.

It’s that business background that is at the heart of Johnson’s campaign. He thinks the state’s problems – and there are lots of them – will be solved by business and the people, not government.

If elected he would push for the government to “stand down,” in military parlance.

He wants to see more leadership in Harrisburg, something he says he is not seeing in the final years of Gov. Ed Rendell’s reign.

And Johnson has a specific warning for residents and taxpayers. It comes in the form of the ticking time bomb that is the public employees pension crisis that is looming.

Johnson has some bad news for those teachers and government employees whose retirements are tied up in these plans.

They likely will not be getting what they expect in their retirement plans.

It’s either that or a 30 percent tax hike to cover the shortfalls in the plans.

Johnson is correct in saying that’s not likely to fly.

No doubt we’ll be hearing a lot more from guys like Johnson and DeFrancesco next spring.

The job may be fairly anonymous. But they’re not. And that’s not a bad thing.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

The Daily Numbers - Nov. 18

The Daily Numbers: 6 p.m. tonight, when marchers will take to the streets in Chester to mark the death of Kathy Ann Stewart.
kids and a fiancee left behind by the death of Stewart, who was killed by a stray bullet that entered her mother’s Chester home Sunday night.
2 teens charged in 6 daytime burglaries in Drexel Hill. Police say the brazen teens videotaped their antics.
1 person killed in a crash on Route 322 in Concord yesterday.
85 employees of the state Historical and Museum Commission that are targeted in the latest round of job cuts. It is not expected to have any effect on shaky operation at Brandywine Battlefield.
5.73 percent increase in the Swarthmore budget, which translates to a tax hike for borough residents.
56 years, how long the Dad Vail Regatta has been held on the Schuylkill River in Philly. Not any more. It’s moving to Rumson, in North Jersey.
250,000 dollars in corporate sponsors put forth by the folks in Rumson to lure the regatta from Philly.
1 suspect shot and killed by a clerk when 3 men tried to hold up a liquor store in Wilmington, Del., last night.
1.5 million dollars allegedly ripped off from a client by an accountant who just happens to also be the treasurer of Whitpain Township in Montgomery County.
11 burglaries in 2 weeks that have put several Main Line communities on edge.
18, age of teen who was shot and killed on basketball court in South Philadelphia Tuesday night.
100,000 dollars ripped off from Winterthur Museum in Delaware. A former employee has been charged.
41, age of woman slain in her home in a home invasion in Southwest Philly.
5,000 to 10,000 dollars in small business loans being made available through the National Urban League in several cities, including Philadelphia.
3 GOP candidates now looking to be the next governor of Pa. State Rep.
Sam Rohrer of Berks County announced yesterday.
18 points for Carl Jones as he helped Saint Joe’s hold off Holy Cross yesterday.
19, as in No. 19 Georgetown, which topped Temple, 46-45.
Call me a Phanatic: A look at the ups and downs of being a Philadelphia sports fan.So what will it be Sunday night, sports fans, the Eagles vs. the Bears, or the MLS Cup title game. Uh, thought so.
I Don’t Get It: So much for tradition. The Dad Vail Regatta and Philly just seemed to go together. Not anymore. They’re taking the money and heading for Rumson, N.J.
Today’s Upper: Join the push to bring the World Cup to Philly. The city and our new MLS team, the Philadelphia Union, are trying to bring the biggest sporting event in the universe to the city in 2018 or 2022.
Quote Box: “It’s just tragic all the way around.”
- Thomas Ramsay, attorney for Jonathan Trueheart, charged in fatal crash on Route 352 last week.

More on The Civera Watch

It is the budget crisis that never ends.

For those of you who lost track, it has been more than a month since Gov. Ed Rendell signed a state budget, ending a standoff that had dragged on for more than 100 days.

But five weeks later, all the i’s have yet to be dotted and not all the t’s have been crossed.

For one, there is the matter of table games. Expansion of the action at the state’s slots parlors is supposed to provide a huge chunk of revenue for the beleaguered state coffers.

But the legislation to enact table games has not yet been crafted.

And while the drama has been decidedly low-key since the budget deal was cut in Harrisburg, the trickle-down delay is starting to create some rumblings in Delaware County political circles.

Upper Darby Democrats are now concerned that longtime state Rep. Mario Civera, R-164, of Upper Darby, is reneging on his campaign promise to give up his state House seat if he won election to Delaware County Council.

Of course Civera cruised to a win along with fellow Republican and incumbent councilman Jack Whelan.

But Civera says there are some things he wants to accomplish in Harrisburg before he bids farewell to the place that has been his second home for a couple of decades.

Specifically, he wants to make sure the budget deal – including the legislation on table games – is a done deal. He also makes clear his desire to be sure fellow Delco Republican Rep. Bill Adolph, R-165, of Springfield, slides into his position as minority chair of the key Appropriations Committee.

On the other hand, Delco Democrats see politics at work. They believe Civera and GOP powers are now leery of him giving up his House seat, and putting the seat in play for a special election that would be held on primary day next May.

That’s because there likely is going to be a huge turnout by Democrats interested in both the U.S. Senate battle between Congressman Joe Sestak and Sen. Arlen Specter, as well as state Rep. Bryan Lentz trying to find off at least two challengers for the nomination to run for Sestak’s 7th District seat in Congress.

Nonsense, says Civera. He said he would give up the seat and that’s exactly what he plans to do, but not before he completes some unfinished business in the state capitol.

“The quicker I can get out of here, the better it is,” Civera told our Alex Rose. “It is not my intention to stay there until November or to drag this thing out at all. I said I would leave and that’s what my intentions are.”

Even a never-ending state budget mess seems to be able to stop that.


Money talks and … ahem … everything else walks.

Or sometimes it rows.

A longtime tradition on the Philadelphia sports scene is literally going up the river.

And Mayor Michael Nutter is not one bit happy about it. He should know better.

Nutter and the city was swimming upstream in their efforts to keep the Dad Vail Regatta on the Schuylkill River, where it has been held for 56 years. The Dad Vail is the largest collegiate rowing event in the country. And for every one of those years, on the second Saturday in May, it has called Philly home. Right there along Boathouse Row on the Schuylkill.

Not any more.

The organizers of the Dad Vail are taking the money and running – or rowing – to Rumson, N.J., at least for a year. Rumson is in North Jersey, about 90 miles away.

Rumson’s deal included securing $250,000 in corporate sponsorships for the event, which costs about $500,000 to put on.

Nutter, who is up to his neck in red ink, was red-faced as well at the prospect of losing the Dad Vail.

“This was a bogus process, leading to a bogus outcome,” Nutter said.
“The fact of the matter is that the Dad Vail organization took money from the other city before they met with us.”

Nutter’s in a tough spot. He has been hitting all kinds of groups up for money for parades and other events in the city, everyone from the Mummers to the Columbus Day Parade. He even told the Phillies that if they had won a second World Series, they would have been on the hook for the cost of another parade.

Of course, he doesn’t have that worry anymore. He doesn’t have the Dad Vail anymore either. They followed the money.


A question for soccer fans

Here’s a question for all those die-hard local soccer zealots known as the Sons of Ben?

Does your love of futbol trump your feelings for the Eagles?

Let me try to explain.

Major League Soccer holds what amounts to its Super Bowl this weekend.
Of course, the newest team in the MLS, the Philadelphia Union – who will play their home games in Chester – make their league debut next spring.
The Sons of Ben is the local booster group that pushed to bring a pro soccer team to the region for years. In other words, it’s a huge weekend for soccer buffs, here and across the country.

The battle for the MLS Cup pits the glitzy Los Angeles Galaxy and their superstar David Beckham vs. Real Salt Lake. The game will be played Sunday in Seattle and televised on ESPN.

At 8:30 p.m.

Locally, there’s another event that might be getting a little attention.
The Eagles play the Chicago Bears.

On a Sunday night game, beginning at 8:30.

Here’s my question: How many people do you think will be tuned in to the MLS Cup?

How many sports bars will have their big-screens beaming the images of the L.A. Galaxy vs. Real Salt Lake? Maybe even one screen?

I’ll also be interested to see what kind of ratings ESPN gets here in Philly for the MLS Cup. I am guessing they will be tiny.

That’s not a knock on the Sons of Ben. In fact, I don’t have any doubt that they are already planning their “Super Bowl” parties.

Are there any viewing parties set for here in Delco?

Drop me an e-mail at and maybe we’ll drop by. In the meantime, we’ll sample opinions in the county as to who will be watching what on Sunday night.

I already know the answer to that question.

Here’s part of the challenge the Union – and in fact MLS – faces in pushing to break into mainstream sports.

How many people do you think even know who is playing in the MLS Cup Sunday night?

Hopefully, one day the Union will be sitting in that perch, and we won’t have to ask this kind of question any more.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

The Daily Numbers - Nov. 17

The Daily Numbers: 49, age of mother of 3 who is now on life support after a bullet traveled through wall of home in Chester and hit her in the head.
29, age of man in Collingdale who now faces charges after police say he went on a rampage, stabbing himself and 2 others.
2 x 4 board, what police say an Upper Darby man used to beat his son. He was apparently upset that the son had been suspended from school.
8 DUI raps against a man in Claymont, Del. He was arrested again early Monday.
10,000 dollars in donations that will keep the oldest library in the U.S., the Darby Free Library, from closing its doors.
90 more parking spaces coming to Elwyn Train Station. Ground was broken yesterday on the project, being paid for with $900,000 in federal stimulus funds.
319 Pa. workers being laid off in the latest round of budget cuts.
58 deer per square mile in Lower Merion. Officials are looking to thin the herd by holding a controlled hunt for deer each night this week.
2 Philadelphia police officers hurt when their cruiser was involved in a collision at Cottman and Summerdale in the Northeast Monday afternoon.
15, age of student in Burlington County, N.J., who died after an altercation in which he was repeatedly punched in the chest. An 18-year-old has been charged in the fight.
50, age at which new study now recommends women start getting mammograms, and then have one every 2 years. The plan is being criticized.
30 million dollar Ponzi scheme alleged by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission run by 4 individuals and the 2 principals of Mantria Corp. in Bala Cynwyd.
447,000 dollars fleeced from his victims by a 47-year-old man who sold sham partnerships in bogus real estate investments.
8 game winning streak for the N.J. Devils snapped last night by the Flyers in a 3-2 win at the Wachovia Center.
33 saves for goalie Ray Emery to preserve the win.
103-65 blowout win for No. 5 Villanova over Penn to kick off another season of Big 5 City Series hoops last night.
30, age of Brian Westbrook, an 8-year veteran whose future is now in jeopardy because of 2 concussions.
.171 batting average for Eric Bruntlett for Phils this year. He’s becoming a free agent and will not be back.
3 games, how long Allen Iverson lasted with the Memphis Grizzlies. His contract with the team was terminated yesterday by mutual agreement.
Call me a Phanatic: A look at the ups and downs of being a Philadelphia sports fan.They honored Dave Schultz last night by inducting him into the Flyers Hall of Fame before the game vs. the Devils. “The Hammer” was the face – and the fists – of the Broad Street Bullies, who captured two Stanley Cups while terrorizing the NHL.
I Don’t Get It: A cross was burned outside the home of a white family who took in a black teen near Pittsburgh this week. I don’t get it.
Today’s Upper: Just a few more days wait before the H1N1 flu vaccine arrives in the county with a clinic set at Chichester Middle School.
Quote Box: “Every time you’d see her, all she would do is smile.”
- Tina Johnson, president of the William Penn resident council, on Kat Stewart, victim of stray gunshot in Chester.

Another victim in Chester

She was there, as she was most nights, to offer companionship and care to her mother.

Now she is the one who lies in bed, in need of care.

It gives new meaning to the term “senseless shooting.”

Kathy Ann “Kat” Stewart this morning is on life support in critical condition at Crozer-Chester Medical Center.

Sunday night she was doing what she did most nights, stopping at her ailing mother’s home in the William Penn Housing Development. Her 85-year-old mother is battling cancer.

Then her familiar routine was tragically interrupted by something that is also all too routine in that section of Chester.


Police believe a dozen shots were fired by more than one gunman at Union Street and Whittington Place, about a block away.

One of the bullets went through the brick wall of the home, through the headboard of the bed, and struck Stewart in the head as she rested on the bed chatting with her fiance on a cell phone.

It is not the first time street violence has haunted the Stewart family.
Kat Stewart’s fiance, the father of her three children, was gunned down in a drive-by shooting in 1995 at Eighth and Lloyd Streets.

Now her family holds a bedside vigil for Kat.

Stewart’s elderly mother is battling cancer.

But the Stewart family and many others in Chester are battling another killer scourge.

Gun violence. It has claimed another victim.

Oh, deer!

They are suddenly Public Enemy No. 1.

They are the target in Valley Forge National Historical Park. For now that plan has been shelved by lawsuits.

Not so in Lower Merion, where they were the target of hunters last night, and will be each night this week.

And they might be in the crosshairs in Rose Valley next.

They, of course, are deer. They are everywhere. And, at least for me, they are too often right in front of my car, darting out from the darkness and coming all too perilously close to a collision.

The planned hunt in Lower Merion went off on schedule, despite protests from activists who believe the hunt is the wrong way to thin the herd.

Tonight Rose Valley Borough Council will hold a public meeting on what to do about their deer problem, and a proposal to hold a bow hunt to cull the marauding Bambis.

The meeting is set tonight at 7:30 at the Old Mill.

Finally, there is one more deer item to discuss. In Delaware, a driver struck a deer, which apparently lodged in the front grill of the car.

This happened last Saturday night, about 9 p.m. in New Castle.
Amazingly, the deer survived, but could not wriggle loose from the grill of the car. The stunned driver actually drove the car – with the deer still wedged on the front - to the New Castle Police headquarters.

They managed to free the deer, which apparently was not seriously hurt.
They took it to a local farm to be released. That’s when things got even weirder.

As the deer was making its way into the woods, authorities saw a SUV pull up and then heard what sounded to them like gunshots. The driver has been charged with endangerment and weapons violations. Police say he took a few shots at the deer. He denies it. The deer was not injured.

Kind of makes my morning game of “dodgeball” with the local deer on the drive to work seem kind of mundane.

Two stars are shorn

They were two of our sports heroes, and a reminder of how fast things change.

Wasn’t it just yesterday that Allen Iverson was stepping over that fallen Laker as the Sixers won Game 1 of the NBA Finals? Actually is was 2001.

Wasn’t it just last Sunday when Brian Westbrook was returning that punt against the Giants, marking his debut as one of the most feared weapons in the NFL?

Now both have entered the twilight of their careers. For Westbrook, it is literally the same eerie twilight that has derailed the careers of other local stars such as Eric Lindros and Keith Primeau.

Westbrook suffered another concussion Sunday in San Diego. It is the second concussion he’s suffered in as many games. The star running back took two weeks off after being knocked out cold by a knee to the head in a Monday night game against the Redskins. He was cleared to play Sunday, but left the game with concussion symptoms after the first series of the second half.

Westbrook now faces a murky future. He will not play Sunday. And it is possible he will not play again this year. What is being debated is whether Westbrook should play again at all.

So much is unknown about concussions and the effect they have on players years later.

For Iverson, it has been a few years since he so dazzled us in a Sixers uniform. In the interim there were stops in Denver and Detroit.

Yesterday Iverson was waived by the Memphis Grizzlies. Iverson played just three games with Memphis. It was clear he was chafing at the idea of coming off the bench. Iverson still considers himself a starter.

It may be the end of the line for Iverson.

Two stars, both looking at question marks instead of the exclamation points they so often provided.

Such is the nature of sports. Remember that the next time you rip some big-time athlete for taking the money. You bet they did.

They burst on the scene with a flourish, but shine for only a few years, only to be cast aside as their skills eroide and the newest star arrives.

That doesn’t mean we forget them, or what they did.

Especially those exclamation points.

Monday, November 16, 2009

The Daily Numbers - Nov. 16

The Daily Numbers: 3 trips into the red zone for the Eagles in the first half yesterday, and they came away with 3 David Akers field goals. Not good enough.
3 people stabbed in a home in Collingdale Sunday.
2 Upper Darby bars shut down by police after they had to respond to a host of incidents in the past year.
49, age of woman shot inside her Chester home by a gunshot fired from outside.
5.31 or 9.47 percent tax hike looming in Nether Providence under the proposed budget.
1,500 to 2,000 people who attended a rally over the weekend in Harrisburg to push for fiscal responsibility.
6 N.J. counties declared emergencies in the wake of the powerful Nor’easter that battered the shore over the weekend.
2.73 a gallon, average price at the pump in the Philly metro region.
22, age of man found slain on sidewalk in the Holmesburg section of Philadelphia.
576 deer that officials in Lower Merion hope can be killed as they schedule a hunt this week to thin the herd.
323 feet high smokestack atop the old Pennsylvania Railroad steam plant near 30th Street Station that was knocked down early Sunday.
2 people, a father and son, killed when their small plane went down shortly after takeoff Saturday morning near Woodbine Municipal Airport.
2 concussions now suffered by Brian Westbrook. He likely will be out indefinitely after being forced out of his 2nd straight game.
450 yards passing for Donovan McNabb, but the Birds still came up short in San Diego.
96 yards rushing for Chargers running back LaDainian Tomlinson, who had struggled so far this year.
6 to 8 weeks, how long 76ers forward Marreese Speights is expected to be out with a knee injury.
Call me a Phanatic: A look at the ups and downs of being a Philadelphia sports fan.Someone should ask Joe Banner about that definition of insanity he offered after last year’s NFC title game. He said it was doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result. Yep, sounds crazy to me. And familiar.
I Don’t Get It: Why some people are so quick to doubt a person’s story when they report a crime to police.
Today’s Upper: Hey, maybe this is going to be winter this year.
Afternoon highs in the 60s, cool nights. Yeah, I know, it can’t last forever.
Quote Box: “I think in the past two years we’ve made a lot of progress …. Although we realize there is still a lot of work to be done.”
- Bill Tyson, president of the board of the Delco SPCA.

The Civera Watch

There’s an interesting situation developing in county politics.

It involves the newest member of county council, longtime state Rep.
Mario Civera, R-164.

It’s that title before his name that is now causing some raised eyebrows, particularly among Upper Darby Democrats.

Civera made it clear during the campaign that he would give up his seat in the Legislature should he be successful in his bid for county council. Like there was ever any question of that. Democrats have not had a representative on the county’s ruling body since the Home Rule Charter was passed in the early ‘70s.

Civera indicated he would alert the speaker of his decision to leave the seat shortly after the election.

Now there are some rumblings that might not be the case.

Upper Darby Democrats have sent a letter to Civera urging him to be good to his word and give up his state House seat.

For his part, Civera is saying he intends to do just that. But first there are a few things he needs to sign off on in connection with the seemingly endless state budget saga. He also has indicated he wants to try to help fellow Delco Republican Rep. Bill Adolph, R-165, of Springfield, fill his seat as the minority chairman on the Appropriations Committee.

But some conspiracy theorists see some political angles at work.

Here’s the problem for county Republicans, and why they might not be all that keen on Civera giving up his seat. Once Civera resigns, the seat likely would be settled by a special election.

The speaker has already set up a special election to fill a couple of other vacant seats. It will be held on primary day in May.

That might not be especially advantageous to the Delco GOP. There is likely going to be a big Democratic turnout on primary day, tied to the primary fight between U.S. Rep. Joe Sestak and Sen. Arlen Specter for the Democratic Senate nomination. There also will be a primary battle between state Rep. Bryan Lentz and two other challengers for the party nomination to run for Sestak’s 7th District congressional seat.

On the other hand, it will be business as usual for Republicans. They are already behind Pat Meehan as their guy in the 7th District race, and Pat Toomey has a clear path for their Senate nod.

In other words, there won’t be a lot of motivation for the GOP faithful to get to the polls. A huge turnout could cost them that 164th District House seat that Civera has held for decades.

Civera had already indicated that the shifting demographics in the district sort of made him see the writing on the wall.

If he decides to hold both offices, he won’t be the first. Mary Ann Arty was both a member of county council and a state rep back in the ‘80s.

I have heard nothing as yet that makes me believe that Civera has had a change of heart. He still is indicating he intends to give up his seat.

But I’m now wondering if he’s getting a little political heat from his own party to hold down the fort, and avoid that special election on primary day.

This is one we’ll keep a close eye on.

We've seen this before, eh Joe?

I am reminded this morning of Eagles President Joe Banner’s now infamous quote after the Birds fell on their sword last January in the NFC title game in Phoenix.

A perplexed Banner defined insanity as doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result.

As for this year’s Eagles, this is just plain crazy.

Once again the Eagles flew across the country to the West Coast and once again they struggled.

It’s the same old cast of characters. Andy Reid shunning the run, eliminating the possibility of controlling the game and instead deciding to match offenses against the potent Chargers. Stupid penalties.
Questionable time management. And, of course, that old standby, an inability to convert on third and short, in particular an inability to punch the ball into the end zone once in the red zone.

The Eagles fell behind early yesterday in San Diego, looking suspiciously like the team that tried to chase away the jet lag earlier in the season in Oakland. Once they dusted off the cobwebs, they got the ball into the red zone on three different occasions.

And what did they have to show for it? Three David Akers field goals.

That includes one galling series that started with first-and-goal from the 1-yard line in which the impotent Birds were unable to cash in.

In the end, that’s what cost them the game against the Bolts. Sure they struggled a bid defensively, but everyone expected that with all the injuries they have incurred and the shuffling they were forced to put in place.

Yes, Donovan McNabb threw for 450 yards. In a loss.

And the Eagles likely now face the immediate future without Brian Westbrook, who left the game early in the third period suffering with another concussion.

The Eagles staged a valiant rally in the second half, but once again found themselves out of timeouts and unable to stop the clock as the seconds ticked away.

They finally got the ball back with about 30 seconds left in the contest.

Did anyone expect McNabb to take the Eagles the length of the field for the win? I didn’t think so. Instead, on the last play of the game, he heaved a ball into the end zone that was intercepted.

We’ve seen that before, too. In fact, we’ve seen all of it before.

Haven’t we, Joe?

Another concussion for Westbrook

It is what we don’t know about concussions that is as scary as what we do.

No one is exactly sure what happens to the brain when you suffer a concussion like the one that left Brian Westbrook motionless on the turf in Washington a few weeks ago.

What is known is that doctors speak in grave terms when a concussion leaves someone out cold, as happened to Westbrook.

No doubt we will be hearing a lot of concussions again this week because of what happened to Westbrook in D.C., what happened since, and what happened yesterday in San Diego. Westbrook left the game after a single series in the second half. The diagnosis? Another concussion.

Westbrook was cleared by the Eagles medical staff to play against the Chargers. Actually, he had been cleared to play the Sunday before against the Cowboys. But when he developed headache symptoms late Friday afternoon, he was scratched from that game.

Not everyone agreed with the decision to allow Westbrook back on the field yesterday. Even the medical opinions are split.

The NFL has been looking into the issue of concussions and how teams handle them.

No doubt they will review the Westbrook case.

The team is now indicating they will take every precaution with Westbrook.

The whole thing brings up bad memories of another local superstar, Eric Lindros, and the concussions that cut his career short.

One of the things that is not known is just how susceptible you are to another concussion after suffering an initial one.

What is known is this: Don’t look for Brian Westbrook to be back on the field any time soon.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

The dreaded Saturday Eagles pick

I have a bad feeling about this game. Which some fans no doubt will rejoice at, since the Birds seem intent on confounding this humble prognosticator.

The last time the Eagles flew to the West Coast, they should have saved the air fare, offering their worst performance of the year in losing to the hapless Raiders.

This time they’re off to sunny San Diego. We know this: They won’t play as bad as they did in Oakland.

But will they play well enough to win? I don’t think so.

This is a banged-up team, especially on defense. That does not bode well against Philip Rivers and one of the league’s best tight ends, Antonio Gates.

What the Eagles need to do is control the ball, and keep Rivers and his mates off the field. Unfortunately, that’s not the Eagles forte. They’re a quick-strike outfit.

That sounds like a shootout to me. And I like the Chargers chances in that kind of game.

Make it Chargers 26, Eagles 24.

Last Week: The bad Eagles showed up again in a lousy effort in prime time against the Cowboys.

Season Record: 4-4, I'm perfectly mediocre, kind of like the Eagles. OK, they’re actually a game better than I am at 5-3.

Friday, November 13, 2009

The Daily Numbers - Nov. 13

The Daily Numbers: 5 to 10 years in prison for Roisin O’Neill, who was driving drunk the wrong way on the Blue Route when she hit another car, killing the woman driver from Massachusetts who was headed to see family members in Media.
3 Democrats now seeking the nomination in the 7th District congressional race. As expected, state Rep. Bryan Lentz tossed his hat in the ring yesterday.
100 ‘Women for Sestak’ who gathered yesterday in Philly to hear a woman who once ran against Sen. Arlen Specter throw her support to Rep. Joe Sestak. Lynn Yeakel lost to Specter in 1992.
0 tax hike coming in Upland borough, which managed to balance its books in a tough economy.
7 people hurt in a two-vehicle crash yesterday morning at the intersection of Route 3 and Providence Road in Edgmont.
41, age of Ridley man who pleaded guilty to a child porn charge.
10 Republicans charged in the latest indictments handed down in Harrisburg’s Bonusgate probe. Biggest to be hit is former state House Speaker Rep. John Perzel of Philadelphia.
21, age of John Lewis, who pleaded guilty yesterday to the murder of Philly Officer Chuck Cassidy, who interrupted a burglary.
3 people still missing after their fishing boat sank in stormy waters off Cape May. The search has now been called off as a nor’easter batters the shore.
22 million in U.S. sickened by swine flu in 6 months, according to CDC. They now estimate 4,000 deaths, mostly children.
7,000 non-union city workers in Philadelphia who are getting a new health plan. The self-insured deal will cost workers more, but is expected to save the city $6.3 million a year.
1,500 deer that could be shot under a plan to thin the herd in Valley Forge State Park. Two animal-rights groups are now suing to block the planned hunt.
150,000 toys, that’s the goal for this year’s Toys for Tots holiday campaign.
5 straight wins for the Flyers, who beat the Senators last night, 5-1.
22 saves for goalie Ray Emery in turning back his old team.
23-7, margin by which the Flyers have outscored their opposition during the win streak.
5-3 records for both the Eagles and Chargers as they go into their game Sunday in San Diego.
0 games played at middle linebacker by Chris Gocong, who likely will find himself starting in the middle on Sunday.
Call me a Phanatic: A look at the ups and downs of being a Philadelphia sports fan.Why do I have a bad feeling about a very banged-up Eagles squad once again flying across the country to play on the West Coast? Things do not bode well for the Birds in San Diego. Maybe they’ll prove me wrong.
I Don’t Get It: In reading the final saga of the O’Neill family, with Roisin O’Neill sentenced to five to 10 years in prison for the DUI crash in which she was driving the wrong way on the Blue Route, then slammed into a car, killing a woman, I’m left with this thought. It’s just incredible how much tragedy has enveloped this family. Of course, they have only their own actions to blame. And when I start to feel sorry for them, I listen to the family members of the woman killed. Two families torn apart. Just tragic.
Today’s Upper: Yes, the weather is lousy, but it could be worse. You could be spending the weekend at the Jersey shore.
Quote Box: “Each day, I wake up and I’m reminded I’ve taken an innocent life. I am beyond sorry for causing so much pain.”
- Roisin O’Neill, as she was sentenced in a fatal DUI crash.

A visit with Arlen Specter

There was a Democrat in the building Thursday.

Stop snickering. Some no doubt would tell you that’s not exactly news.

Our critics would harrumph that it might be more earth-shattering if a Republican turned up in our midst.

But this wasn’t just any Democrat. This was a newly minted United States senator.

Yes, Sen. Arlen Specter found his way to beautiful downtown Primos.

And I have to tell you this: For a guy who is approaching 80 and has been through the health battles Specter has waged, he looks great.

Specter wanted to chat, and we were more than willing to listen. We’ll offer a full story on Sunday from staffer Alex Rose.

Here’s my quick cheat sheet:

* First, of course, I got to the important stuff. I asked him about his frequent appearances on WIP. Specter never batted an eye. He does it because “it’s fun.”

But he’s not a Donovan McNabb fan. He made it pretty clear he doesn’t think McNabb will ever lead the Eagles to a Super Bowl.

Some other choice thoughts from the senator:

* He feels “pretty good” that the Senate will vote on health care legislation before the end of the year – and that it will have a public option.

* He made the switch, jumping from the Republican side of the aisle to Democratic, because of “irreconcilable” differences with the GOP. He admitted his vote for President Barack Obama’s stimulus package made him a target.

* He did not specifically look at his own polling numbers, which showed there was no way he would beat GOP challenger Pat Toomey, before making his decision to flip.

* He did not talk to President Obama, Vice President (and former Senate and Amtrak chum) Joe Biden or Gov. Ed Rendell before making his decision. And he absolutely never got any guarantee that they would clear the path for him in the Democratic primary.

* He does not support increasing troop levels in Afghanistan, unless the mission can be directly tied to eliminating Al-Qaeda. That puts him in fairly direct opposition to his foe in the Democratic primary, Rep. Joe Sestak.

* He is for the Employee Free Choice Act, but he will not vote for a version that contains the card check provision. He instead wants to find some kind of compromise.

* His health is fine and he doesn’t especially want to talk about age as an issue in this campaign. He also will not indicate that, should he be re-elected, this would be his last term. He’ll be 86 at the time.

He left me with one overall impression. Joe Sestak is on a suicide mission.

I can only hope I look that good – and make that much sense – when I’m 80.

Mr. Lentz goes to Washington - maybe

Lentz looks to go to D.C.

In what was the least surprising development on the political scene in weeks, state Rep. Bryan Lentz Thursday finally said what everyone else has been saying for months.

He’s running for Congress.

It’s not the first time Lentz has looked to Washington. He actually was ready to challenge longtime 7th District Congressman Curt Weldon back in 2006, but he moved aside when Joe Sestak entered the race.

So Lentz instead trained his eye on Harrisburg, and in the process showed longtime state Rep. Tom Gannon, R-161, the door.

There are those who believe Sestak and Lentz are setting up the Democrat Party for a huge fall. I happen to be among them. It took Democrats 20 years to topple Weldon. Likewise, Gannon served the 161st District towns of Ridley and others for years.

Now the Democrats might be watching both seats slip away. Lentz should prevail in a primary against two challengers, setting up a heavyweight match against Republican Pat Meehan in the fall. Meehan is no stranger to Delco voters. He’s a former county D.A. and U.S. attorney who gathered a reputation as a crimebuster. Lentz will be the underdog, probably a hefty one.

It’s not Mission Impossible, but it will be an uphill fight.

In the meantime, it’s entirely possible that 161st District seat in the state House also falls back into Republican hands.

For now, Lentz, a former member of the 82nd Airborne Division who saw action in both Bosnia and Iraq, is saying he’s ready to go to battle for the “regular people,” taking a stand against “powerful interests.”

“I’ve been an Airborne Ranger, I’ve been a prosecutor and I’ve been a legislator,” he told a crowd gathered to hear his announcement at an Upper Darby VFW Post.

But is he ready to do battle with the Delco GOP in a countywide race? It likely will be his toughest fight yet.

Ailing Eagles lose 'Captain'

You may not recognize the Eagles when they take the field Sunday in sunny San Diego.

Especially on defense.

The Birds’ defense has been battered by injuries, which does not bode well as they try to ground the Chargers’ high-flying defense.

Lineback Chris Gocong, himself just back from missing a game due to a bad hamstring, will be at middle linebacker. Will Witherspoon, acquired to fill the hole in the middle by injuries to both starter Stewart Bradley and Omar Gaither, will slide outside. That’s because Akeem Jordan looks like he might be able to go.

And that doesn’t even count the Eagles’ secondary, which will be without two of their key backup corners. Ellis Hobbs is out for the season with a neck injury; Joselio Hanson has been banned four weeks by the league for violating the NFL substance abuse policy over his use of a diuretic.

The Chargers don’t run the ball very well, but they have a fairly prolific pass offense led by QB Philip Rivers and tight end Antonio Gates. The Eagles best bet might be to send the house against Rivers, rather than let him go after an ailing Eagles secondary.

One other thing you probably won’t see on Sunday. Should Eagles tight end Brent Celek find the end zone again, don’t look for his “Captain Morgan” act that he unveiled last week.

In case you missed it, Celek did something of a caricature of the popular rum producer’s TV ad, featuring their trademark swashbuckling pirate with his leg up.

The NFL – which some mock as the No Fun League – has rushed in to squash the celebration when they learned it apparently was part of a wider deal to promote the image throughout the league.

Celek is pleading his innocence, but an account executive told Yahoo!
Sports that the Eagle was in on the deal.

No more posing. Aye, aye, captain!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

The Daily Numbers - Nov. 12

The Daily Numbers: 13, age of girl who told police a man tried to abduct her as she waited for her school bus in the Trotter’s Lea development in Bethel Township.
50 years of Veterans Day parades which was continued yesterday in Media Borough.
2 gunshots suffered by a police K-9 during a confrontation with a man in New Castle County. The pup is expected to survive. The suspect also was wounded in the standoff.
1 count of third-degree murder filed against the teen driver of the car that allegedly ran a light in Middletown and slammed into another car, killing the driver.
7, as in 7th District congressional seat, for which state Rep. Bryan Lentz will formally announce his candidacy this morning.
48 percent hike in taxes being proposed in Upper Providence. The average bill would go from $782 to $1,157.
3 sex assaults on the Main Line that have the community on edge. The latest was reported on the campus of Haverford College last weekend.
600 pounds of pot seized from a row home in North Philadelphia. Police say it was a huge pot-growing operation in the house. The 600 pot plants seized have a street value of $5 million.
3 people missing after their fishing boat sank in stormy waters off Cape May Wednesday night. The Coast Guard is conducting a search.
3 to 8 inches of rain and 50 mph winds pounding the shore in Virginia.
The remnants of Tropical Storm Ida are expected to give us 3 days of rain.
16 vehicle thefts, the latest being a truck full of a band’s musical instruments and equipment, from the parking lot of a South Philly hotel in recent weeks.
3 week shutdown on tap for the Valero refinery in Paulsboro, N.J.
82 jobs that will be lost when GE closes its solar panel manufacturing facility in Glasgow, Del.
1 winning ticket sold in last night’s $96 million Powerball jackpot. It was sold in Kansas.
4 week suspension for Eagles cornerback Joselio Hanson for violating the NFL drug policy. He used a diuretic before last year’s NFC title game.
20 points for Thaddeus Young as the Sixers held on to beat the Nets last night, 82-79.
0 wins this year for the Nets, who have now lost 8 straight.
3 consecutive Gold Gloves for Phillies shortstop Jimmy Rollins, and 2 straight for center fielder Shane Victorino.
273 million dollars, what a Forbes magazine study says the Flyers are worth. That’s No. 5. Tops in the NHL? The Toronto Maple Leafs, at $470 million.
Call me a Phanatic: A look at the ups and downs of being a Philadelphia sports fan.What do you think is worse news for the Eagles: The loss of Ellis Hobbs for the year with a neck injury, the 4-week suspension of corner Joselio Hanson, or the news that star young wideout DeSean Jackson has hired Drew Rosenhaus as his agent?
I Don’t Get It: A former Eagle also is making news. Longtime right tackle John Runyan apparently is being wooed by the GOP to run for Congress in South Jersey. Isn’t Runyan more used to clearing the way for runners?
Today’s Upper: Good to see people turn out in the rain in Media to honor veterans.
Quote Box: “People are certainly not happy about this and they are all worried about their children.”
- Bethel resident after report of attempted abduction of 13 year-old waiting for her school bus.

Judge-ment Day

It’s the end of an era in Delaware County politics.

The reins of power have been passed. It remains to be seen if the reign of power of the county GOP will go with it. But if so, it will have to get by without the gentleman who has headed the party for more than three decades.

There are no shortage of Republicans in this county who believe – wrongly, I might add – that the mission of this newspaper is to knock them off their perch. They believe we never miss an opportunity to focus on their foibles, and overlook the same kind of shenanigans from Democrats. Very simply, they believe we are biased in our coverage and tilt consistently to Democratic beliefs.

It has led to some fairly colorful conversations and some raised voices.

Not once did I ever have such a conversation with Tom Judge Sr. I can think of no other word to describe the longtime boss of the county GOP than gentleman. Maybe in private he ruled with an iron fist. But to me he never as much as uttered a harsh word.

I have met Judge at countless events and functions over the years. He never shied away once. In fact, at times he seemed to seem me out.
Unfailingly, he offered a warm smile and a handshake.

I would always ask him the same question. “How are we treating you?” His response was always the same. He’d simply smile and say, “Oh, fine.”

Judge ended 34 years as the leader of the county Republican Party Monday night, handing over the torch to former County Council Chairman and Middletown Republican leader Andy Reilly.

Judge now becomes “chairman emeritus,” but he made it clear that ship is now Reilly’s to run.

He will be hard-pressed to match the record put together by Judge.
During his reign Republicans, helped in no small part by what until recently was an overwhelming edge in voter registration, have held sway over the county courthouse and most of the county.

Democrats have been chipping away at their fortress, making gains in registration and winning some towns, but have been unable to as much as dent the GOP stranglehold on the courthouse.

Judge is now 80. He had led the GOP since 1975.

He leaves a political legacy that the party will be hard-pressed to match as the demographics of the county continue to shift.

But that’s not what I will miss most. I will miss that smile and those warm handshakes.

I will miss a true gentleman in a business that features far too few of them.

Another town on edge

It’s the dateline that grabs you.

We have become all too accustomed to seeing these stories in Chester, and Upper Darby, and Darby Borough.

But it’s becoming pretty clear that crime no longer respects any borders.

A community in Bethel Township is on edge this morning after the attempted abduction of a schoolgirl right outside her house.

The girl was waiting for a bus in the Trotter’s Lea development when she says a man all dressed in black, and brandishing a knife, leaped out of the bushes and accosted her.

At the time she was the only child at the bus stop, just before 7 a.m.
on Monday.

Luckily for her, the bus came around the corner and the man fled.

Now the hunt is on for the suspect. Police yesterday were in the neighborhood passing out fliers and telling neighbors what they needed to know.

On Monday the Garnet Valley School District also used its phone chain to alert the community to the attack.

Police talked to at least one suspect but later released him.

In the meantime, a community that no doubt considered itself far from the problems of so many towns is now wondering just how safe it really is.

Police are urging anyone with information on the case to contact Bethel Township Police Department at 610-558-0929.

Oh, and be careful out there. Regardless of where you live.

Tough day for Reid

Think you had a bad day? Pity Andy Reid.

Just two days removed from a bitter loss in prime time Sunday night against the Cowboys and with a cross-country trip to play the pass-happy San Diego Chargers looming, Reid and the Eagles sort of “cornered” the market on bad news.

In the process they managed to lose two key members of their defensive secondary.

Cornerback Willis Hobbs, who also doubles as the Birds’ lead kick returner, is out for the season with a neck injury. Hobbs returned a kick for a TD against the Cowboys, only to see it wiped out by a penalty. Now the rest of his season has been wiped out.

Then Reid learned that key nickel back Joselio Hanson has been suspended for four games for violating the NFL’s substance abuse policy.
Apparently Hanson used a diuretic before last year’s NFC title game against the Cardinals to ease some bloating he says was caused by eating Chinese food. I’m not making this up.

The Birds are seriously short-staffed in the secondary.

But it’s actually a development on the other side of the ball that, in the long run, may cause more of a headache for Reid and the Eagles’
front office.

Star wide receiver DeSean Jackson made a little news. He has a new agent. Maybe you’ve heard of him. His name is Drew Rosenhaus. Yep, the same guy who represented Terrell Owens during his high-profile disputes with the Birds.

Who can forget Rosenhaus’ classic “next question” performance during one press conference in front of Owens’ South Jersey home.

One thing is clear. Right now Jackson, a second-round pick last year, is a bargain.

How long do you think Rosenhaus will let that last?

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

The Daily Numbers - Nov. 11

The Daily Numbers: 50 years, how long they have been celebrating Veterans Day in Media. Unfortunately it looks like it might rain on their parade. No doubt that won’t stop them.
20 years, how long Harry Kalas served as the emcee of the Media Veterans Day Parade.
18, age of teen from Ambler who was driving the SUV at a high rate of speed on Route 352 in Middletown yesterday when he allegedly ran a red light and slammed into a car, killing a 33-year-old Upper Providence man.
100 mph, how fast the teen was believed to be driving at some points after he was first spotted by police going too fast in a school zone in Parkside Borough.
34 years, how long Tom Judge Sr. served as head of the Republican Party in Delaware County. He officially stepped down last night when Andy Reilly took the helm.
2 people, a son and his mother, facing charges in Upper Darby in connection with the brutal stomping of a man outside a township bar that is right across the street from the police station.
13, age of girl in Bethel Township who reported that a man wearing a mask and wielding a knife tried to abduct her yesterday.
100,000 dollars, how much a former employee is believed to have ripped off from a business in Collingdale.
34 million dollar loss reported by Sunoco in the 3rd quarter. They are continuing cost-cutting measures, including freezing pensions and phasing out medical coverage for retirees.
42 percent increase in contracts for homes reported by Toll Brothers in the quarter, but revenue is still down.
6.5 percent dip in revenue reported by casinos in Atlantic City. That’s actually being considered good news, less than losses in recent months.
32, age of high school teachers in South Jersey charged with sexually assaulting a high school student.
2 more death in New Jersey being attributed to swine flu.
850,000 in restitution that a defunct New Jersey wedding photographer owes his former clients after pleading guilty to not delivering his work.
3 Philadelphia bank heists that are believed to be the work of the same robbery suspect.
30 inch water pipe that burst this morning in Southwest Philly, flooding streets and some basements.
2 people hurt, 24 homeless and 16 units damaged when fire swept through a condo complex overnight in Cherry Hill, N.J.
28 and 27, age of man and woman in Dover who face charges after police found their newborn in a trash dumpster. They say the baby was stillborn.
79 percent of what men make, what women in Pa. earn, according to a new study.
4 percent dip in travel expected by airlines this Thanksgiving.
21, age of partner in Delaware glass-blowing business who is wanted for the stabbing of his partner after an argument.
60 counts of child porn lodged against a Delaware man who sometimes portrayed Santa and who ran photography business that specialized in child portraits.
1.3 million dollars, what it might cost Pa. for a recount of a very close race for state Superior Court.
35,000 folks in Pa. who might get extension of their jobless benefits.
16 million dollars in signing bonuses that a judge ruled Michael Vick does not have to pay back to the Atlanta Falcons.
Call me a Phanatic: A look at the ups and downs of being a Philadelphia sports fan.The Phillies are throwing cold water on some reports that they might be willing to part with Cole Hamels to get Roy Halladay. I don’t blame them. I think Hamels bounces back big time next year when he doesn’t have nearly the distractions he faced after being both the World Series and NLCS MVP last year.
I Don’t Get It: A pilot was pulled from the cockpit of a U.S-bound flight in London before he could take off and charged with being drunk.
It was the second time it’s happened recently.
Today’s Upper: Let’s hear it for Danny Murtaugh, the pride of Chester and Ridley who will be on the ballot for consideration by the Hall of Fame Veterans Committee in December.
Quote Box: “Delaware County has been the envy of all the counties – there are 67 counties in this great commonwealth – we’ve always been on top and I ask you to do me one favor, and that is keep us there.
- Tom Judge Sr., outgoing leader of the Delco GOP, on handing the reins to Andy Reilly last night.

A final salute for Harry

They will gather today in Media, just as they have for the past 50 years.

They convene every Nov. 11 to remember – and honor – those who have served in defense of their country.

It is Veterans Day.

But something will be different today in the county seat. No doubt some old soldiers who were there last year will not be present for this year’s festivities.

One in particular.

Phillies fans knew him as “the voice of summer.”

But for the past 20 years, Harry Kalas also served as the emcee for the Veterans Day Parade in Media. Harry was a veteran himself and did it out of respect for the men and women who served, and his deep, abiding feelings for the town he called home.

We lost Kalas last April. Summer - and Phillies baseball – will never quite be the same.

Neither will the Media Veterans Day Parade.

Rest well, Harry. On this day when we salute all veterans, we salute you one more time.

Death of a sniper

I’ve never considered myself a proponent of capital punishment. I’m not really an “eye for an eye” kind of guy.

They executed John Allen Muhammad in Virginia last night. He was the “D.C. sniper” whose three-week reign of terror in October 2002 left 10 people dead in the Washington-Virginia area.

Didn’t bother me one bit.

Muhammad’s actions were especially menacing, specifically because the targets were so mundane.

His victims were doing what each of us does every day – running errands, walking across a shopping center parking lot, filling up the car at the local gas station.

They are things we do reflexively, not even really thinking about them, as we go about our busy daily lives.

But not for those three weeks. Suddenly, every seemingly routine action was frought with danger.

That is the hell Muhammad unleashed on us, that terrible thought that we – and our loved ones - are not safe even in doing the most routine drudgeries of daily life.

Muhammad and his teen son used a rifle to terrorize the D.C. area. Last night prison officials used a needle and stuck it in his arm to snuff out his life.

One of the witnesses who lost his wife when she was gunned down as she vacuumed her car at a Maryland gas station, said Muhammad’s death brought a sense of relief.

“I feel better. I think I can breathe better,” he said.

I’m not sure about that. But I’m not in the least bothered by the fact that John Allen Muhammad is no longer breathing on this Earth.

A big win for Michael Vick

They say every dog has its day.

Yesterday Michael Vick had his.


The Eagles lost a brutal contest with the Cowboys Sunday night. But the newest Eagles QB, the guy who doesn’t consider himself a “Wildcat” kind of guy, but who is inserted into each Birds’ game to run it anyhow, Vick won big time in court.

A judge ruled Vick does not have to repay $16 million in roster bonuses paid to him by the Atlanta Falcons.

The Falcons, of course, were lefe high and dry when their superstar quarterback was sent to prison for two years for his role in a dogfighting ring. The court ruled Vick had already earned the bonus money before the conviction, hence it was not subject to being forfeited back to the team.

I’m sure that’s going over real well with fans in Hot-Lanta who are trying to scrape together the bucks to pay their season tickets.

There’s no word on whether the NFL or the Falcons will appeal the ruling.

In the meantime, Vick is $16 million richer. He’s making a comparably paltry $1.5 million this year after he signed with the Birds.

In the meantime, here’s a date to circle on the calendar. Dec. 6. That’s when the Eagles and Vick go into the Georgia Dome to face the Falcons.

Every dog has its day? I can hardly wait.

Giving Murtaugh, Mauch their due

There will be a couple of very familiar names to local fans on the ballot when Major League Baseball’s Hall of Fame Veterans Committee gazes at their ballots next month.

The pride of Chester, the late Danny Murtaugh, will be on the ballot. So will Gene Mauch.

The two men no doubt will be remembered for different reasons.

Murtaugh, a graduate of Chester High, resided in Ridley after he retired from baseball, which included four different stints as skipper of the Pittsburgh Pirates.

During that span Murtaugh’s clubs won two World Series titles, including a dramatic 1960 victory over the New York Yankees on a home run by Bill Mazeroski in the 9th inning, and four National League East crowns.

Murtaugh became synonymous with the excellence of those Pirates clubs, which included a young phenom from the Dominican Republic named Roberto Clemente.

Murtaught finished with a career .540 winning percentage, going 1,115-950 with the Bucs, and being named NL Manager of the Year in 1958, ’60 and ’70.

On the other hand, Phillies fans will always remember Mauch as “The Little General,” the baseball wizard who led the star-crossed 1964 Phils.

That, of course, is the team that blew a six and a half game lead with
12 to play. Along the way, Mauch adopted a two-man rotation with Jim Bunning and Chris Short. Didn’t work out.

The shadow of that fateful summer followed Mauch through much of his career.

The results of the voting will be announced on Dec. 7.

Here’s hoping both make it. Murtaugh should be a no-brainer. He’s a legend, whose roots are right here in Chester.

And Mauch? Maybe we can finally exorcise those demons of 1964, which for so many years branded the label of losers on Philly’s sports mentality.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

The Daily Numbers - Nov. 10

The Daily Numbers: 160,000 dollar fine slapped on the county Solid Waste Authority tied to rainwater problems at the county-owned Rollings Hills Landfill.
50 years of Veterans Parades that will be celebrated once again Wednesday in Media.
20 dollar credit being offered by SEPTA to riders with transpasses who could not use them last week during the city strike.
31 million dollar deficit looming in the city of Philadelphia. More cuts are expected.
8.9 percent tax hike looming for Delaware County residents, under the proposed budget.
2 days after the election, when the budget and tax hike was revealed.
17 animals, some injured or emaciated, taken from a house in South Philadelphia.
8 suspicious fires in Doylestown that officials believe are the work of an arsonist.
13, age of bike rider struck and killed in New Castle, Del., Monday night.
174 jobs being cut by drug maker Johnson & Johnson at their Spring House, Montgomery County, plant.
68 billion dollar purchase of Wyeth by Pfizer. Now Pfizer is saying some jobs will be lost at the former Wyeth site in Collegeville.
203 point spike on Wall Street yesterday to close at 10,226.94. That’s a 2-year high.
61, age of man in the Frankford section of Philly who police believe killed his autistic 16-year-old son, then turned the gun on himself.
1 Philadelphia police officer dragged several feet by a car following a traffic stop last night.
5 million dollar settlement between city of Easton and widow of officer who was shot and killed inside police headquarters.
32,000 acres of additional state forest land to be opened to leasing by gas drillers.
30 years in prison for a former Philly police officer who used his gun and badge to rip off a drug kingpin of $40,000.
8 point lead for the Sixers with 7 minutes in last night’s game against the Suns.
119-115 win for Phoenix as Steve Nash had 21 points and 20 assists.
1-8-1, Eagles record in their past 10 games decided by a touchdown or less.
2 of their 3 losses this year that have been decided in the 4th quarter.
30 bucks, what they were charging to park for the game Sunday night around Lincoln Financial Field.
Call me a Phanatic: A look at the ups and downs of being a Philadelphia sports fan.Andy Reid needs some new lines. If I hear that “I have to do a better job” routine one more time….
I Don’t Get It: Funny how the county budget pops up with a tax hike just a couple of days after the election.
Today’s Upper: Offers thanks to a veteran over the next couple of days.
It’s the least we all can do for their service.
Quote Box: “We’re sitting here with a decent record, and we have eight big games left.”
- Andy Reid, looking ahead after disappointing loss vs. Cowboys.

Timing is everything (on budgets)

They say timing is everything. Tell me about it.

A day after a deal to end the mind-numbing idea of SEPTA’s city division workers going on strike, the transit agency announces riders can look forward to a rate hike. Of course, there’ no connection between the two, the fare hike was already in the works before workers hit the bricks.

While riders in the city prepare to dig deeper, so is their government.
The sea of red ink is getting deeper at City Hall. It was expected the cuts enacted by Mayor Michael Nutter would help stem the deficit. They didn’t.

Now the city is back in the hole, to the tune of $31 million. And Nutter will have to deal with several city unions that is looking at that deal just hammered out with the SEPTA union and whetting their lips.

Philly will get no sympathy from the suburbs, especially here in Delaware County.

In case you missed it, County Council rolled out their preliminary budget last week.

Guess what? It includes a tax hike. Funny how we did not hear about that before the election. Jack Whelan and Mario Civera rolled to big wins in what is almost considered routine, the Delco GOP ruling the roost when it comes to the Courthouse.

Two days later, the preliminary budget is out, and the news is not good.
Taxpayers will be on the hook for anywhere from $48 to $680.

Council insists they hope to whittle down the hike before the final spending plan is approved.

Officials point to the usual culprits, rising costs of both the court system and the county prison, and corresponding cuts in state and federal aid.

That won’t make it any easier for residents to stomach, coming as it does amid the worst economy since the Great Depression.

And just two days after an election in which there was no hint of a tax hike waiting in the wings.

Nothing fare about it

The SEPTA strike is over. The same cannot be said for the fallout.

You can pretty much guess what is coming next. Yep, fares are going up.

But the transit giant wants everyone to know that the two are not necessarily connected.

SEPTA officials say the fare hike was already in the works long before Transport Workers Union Local 234 hit the bricks, shutting down buses, trolleys and subways in the city for almost a week.

Instead, the transit folks say the looming fare hike is the result of a state commission a few years back that actually recommended that they have routine, periodic fare hikes, rather than trying to hold out and then having to put a steep hike on the backs of riders.

No doubt that will come as less than soothing news to riders, fresh off a week when they were left stranded, and got hassled in terms of getting value for the transpasses they bought, and which did them no good for most of last week.

To their credit, SEPTA is vowing to make good on the transpasses.

In the meantime, it soon will cost more to get on the bus.

There’s no such thing as a free ride.

Reid it and weep

I’m trying to determine what is worse, the agony of another brutal Eagles defeat, or listening to Andy Reid try to explain it the next day.

Here’s a stunner. Reid says the loss to the Cowboys Sunday night is “on him.” And yes, he has to do a better job of putting players in position to make plays.

It probably wouldn’t hurt if he won a couple of those challenges he’s been fumbling with. Reid’s record on challenges is horrendous, and he lost two more against the Cowboys Sunday night. That was a big reason why he found himself with no timeouts left with more then nine minutes left in the fourth quarter.

The Cowboys got the ball back with four minutes and change left in the game. One first down later, they were in the process of taking a knee, a victory assured, and another bitter loss guaranteed for Eagles fans.

The inconsistent Birds showed all the same signs that have been their
trademark: Poor clock management; inability to convert on third and short; or third down in general; a wildly erratic Donovan McNabb, who too often remains unable to hit a receiver in stride on slants, when he’s not firing the ball into the ground.

It’s at this point that you might think things are pretty dismal for the Birds. Actually, they aren’t in that bad a shape. In part because of the thoroughly mediocre nature of the NFL, they remain in the thick of the playoff hunt.

They were in much worse position last year, and they wound up one drive away from going to the Super Bowl.

So let’s not look back; let’s instead look forward.

Which brings us to Sunday, and another cross-country trip, this time to San Diego. You might remember that last time the Birds went to California, the result was not pretty. They basically failed to show up for a game in Oakland.

A repeat performance would not be a good idea. Of course, if they do, we already know the culprit.

Andy will tell us it’s on him and he has to do a better job of putting players in position to make plays.

Now if only he could actually do that, instead of just talking about it.

Monday, November 9, 2009

For the Birds

This wasn't the Eagles team that lost to the dregs of the NFL in Oakland.

Nor was it the juggernaut that dismantled the Giants last week.

It was somewhere in between. Which pretty much sums up this year's Eagles. Thoroughly mediocre. In a league that has always preached parity, the Eagles are now the poster boys for average.

The Birds were just average enough to blow a perfect opportunity to beat the Cowboys and take a strangle-hold on the NFC East in a dismal prime time performance at the Linc.

The dynamic duo, Andy Reid and Donovan McNabb, were in vintage form. They managed to score all of one touchdown a week after marching up and down the field against the Giants.

Without Brian Westbrook, who was out after developing a headache on Friday after being cleared to play, the lingering result of a concussion, you would have thought the Birds still had enough weapons to win.

Not quite.

Instead, in a game in which they literally came up inches short on several occasions, they lost to the Cowboys, 20-16.

This was supposed to be the game that cured our hangover from the Phillies' loss to the Yankees in the World Series.

Instead we saw Reid lose two more challenges and play the last nine minutes of a close game without any timeouts.

Poor time management. We've never seen that before from this group, right?

And that brings us to the quarterback. Donovan McNabb once again showed his propensity to be maddeningly frustrating, especially when he's missing open receivers and firing passes into the grond.

Hey, look at the bright side. The SEPTA strike is over.

It's just that the Eagles remain strikingly mediocre.

Roll 'em

The SEPTA strike is history.

As you board your bus, trolley or subway for your morning commute, there are two people you should remember.

Those would be Gov. Ed Rendell and U.S. Rep. Bob Brady.

You know things must have been getting serious. Rendell actually gave up the Eagles game to remain locked in talks with the Transport Workers Union Local 234 to end the 6-day strike.

And by his side was the closer, Brady. The city Democratic Party boss has a long labor background and specializes in making deals. This one just proved more elusive.

After a deal on Saturday night appeared to fall through and we were staring down the barrel at a long, ugly work stoppage, instead Brady and Rendell rolled up their sleeves and hammered out a tentative contract.

They emerged just after midnight - maybe they were actually watching the Eagles game on TV - and said a deal was in place. More importantly, the city transit system would be back in operation at 4 a.m., in time for the morning rush.

Just in time to get pick up all those people jumping off the Eagles' bandwagon.

Thanks, governor. Thanks, congressman.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

The dreaded Saturday Eagles pick

OK, which Eagles team will show up this week, the one that trounced the Giants last week and looked like the class of the NFC, or the one that flew across the country and laid a giant egg against the hapless Raiders?

That is the Eagles' mantra this season: Consistently inconsistent.

Now they're back in the Linc for a prime time Sunday night showdown against the hated Cowboys.

The NFL schedule makers have given Philly fans a huge present. The Cowboys are the perfect antidote for the hangover many fans are suffering from with the Phils defeat in the World Series.

The Cowboys are in twn, the teams are tied for first place in the NFC, and all is right with the sports world.

This one is a game of matchups. The Eagles powerful, quick-strike offense should be able to put points on the board aagainst the Cowboys, even if Brian Westbrook is not operating on all cylinders. If nothing else, last week proved just how many weapons this team now features on offense, including rookie running back LeSean McCoy.

The big qeustion for the Birds will be on defense and if they can put enough pressure on Dallas QB Tony Romo to get him out of the rhythm he's been on the past three weeks. Romo has not thrown an interception during that span, but he'll be facing a lore more pressure this week. Look for a couple more turnovers for the Birds' opportunistic defense.

It says here the Eagles prevail. The Birds take control of the NFC East, and it's on to the playoffs. The Phillies' disappointing loss will be a thing of the past.
It's football season.

Make it Eagles 29, Cowboys 19.

Last Week: Who knew? The Eagles unloaded on the Giants in a game that was supposed to be a lot closer but was really over after the Eagles first drive of the day.

Season Record: 4-3, I'm now a game behind the Birds, who are cruising at 5-2.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Green with envy

Go ahead. Admit it. Something is different this morning. Something just doesn't feel right. Something is definitely missing.

And not all those buses, trolleys and subways serving the city. They may be back on the street by this afternoon.

There's no Phillies game to talk about over the watercooler this morning.

One of the great things about sports is the way it unifies us as a community. We spent the last month painting the town red.

Now it's over, and all we have to look forward to is watching those damn Yankees parade down the canyons of Manhattan.

Uh, not exactly.

Remember that big edifice across the street from Citizens Bank Park. It will be packed Sudnay night.

The hated Cowboys will be in town.

Red October gives way to Green November.

The Eagles win, and they're alone in first place in the NFC East.

Are there more important issues than our preoccupations with sports? Sure. But they're not nearly as fun.

Go Birds!

End of the line for strike?

There aren't many better people to have around in times of labor strife then Congressman Bob Brady.

The burly, South Philadelphia Dem leader, who actually represents a portion of Delaware County, is no stranger to the bargaining table.

Ask the guys at Boeing, or Sunoco. Brady, D-1, is a dealmaker.

The longtime city Democratic leader wields real political clout. And he doesn't mind using it, even if that means hitting you over the head with it.

So it is entirely good news to see Brady, along with his pal Gov. Ed Rendell, emerging from all-night SEPTA talks sounding confident that a deal may be within reach to end the strike by SEPTA city division workers that is going into its fourth day this morning.

It's a strike that likely never should have occurred. The fact that it happened in the middle of the night, with little or no warning to riders, only makes it that much more egregious.

Thousands of riders who depend on the system to get around have been put out. The region's economy has taken a hit. And all this with a deal on the table that most workers today would love to get instead of hearing of the latest cuts and givebacks.

Here's a tip to the TWU Local 234. Take the money and run.

And thank Congressman Brady on the way out.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

The Daily Numbers - Nov. 5

The Daily Numbers: 84 mph, what Pedro Martinez’s first pitch was clocked at last night. Not a good sign.
7-3 loss by the Phils to the Yankees, thus ending the quest for back-to-back World Series titles.
27 world titles on that crowded mantle now for the Bronx Bombers.
74, combined age of last night’s starters, Pedro Martinez for the Phils and Andy Pettite for the Yanks.
6 RBI for Hideki Matsui, including another homer last night off Pedro. Matsui was named the Series MVP. He may not even be with the Yankees next year.
7 World Series rings for 79-year-old Yankees’ owner George Steinbrenner.
1 season, 1 World Series title for the Yanks at their 1.5 billion new stadium.
.174 batting average and 13 strikeouts – a dubious record – for Ryan Howard in the Series.
18 postseason wins for Yanks’ starter Andy Pettite. That’s also a major league record.
3.79 percent hike in revenue for Harrah’s Chester Casino in October over the same month last year.
25,625,358.31 dollars raked in at Harrah’s this year, as opposed to
$24,689,003.86 last year.
3, as in Day 3 of a strike by SEPTA’s city division workers. That means no buses, trolleys or subways in the city.
0 negotiating sessions between TWU 234 and SEPTA management. Nice.
32, age of woman in Kensington brutally beaten and raped. They’re on the hunt for a suspect.
1 person killed in a fire Wednesday in a home in Mercer County, N.J.
7 million dollar loss reported by Radian Group.
3 Wilmington men busted in the robbery of a teen in a restroom at Christiana Mall.
2 people injured when a car careened into a Wilmington restaurant.
140,000 dollar settlement for woman who wound up wearing adult diapers to work because she was now allowed to take bathroom breaks.
22 percent boost in profits at Comcast, even though they lost 132,000 TV customers.
80 million dollar jackpot up for grabs Saturday in the Powerball drawing.
Call me a Phanatic: A look at the ups and downs of being a Philadelphia sports fan.Let’s go, Eagles.
I Don’t Get It: No talks are yet scheduled to end the strike by city division workers at SEPTA. I don’t get it.
Today’s Upper: How many days until spring training?
Quote Box: “It feels better than I remember it. It’s been a long time.”
- Yankees star Derek Jeter, after they won the World Series last night against the Phils.

Summer's over, Phillies fans

Let the football season begin.

Red October has turned into Dread November.

Instead of painting the town red, we instead are seriously blue.

I’m not really sure why.

The Yankees are the world champions. It’s not the first time. It was, however, the first time a team was making a bid to win back-to-back world titles in decades.

But there will be no parade down Broad Street this year. They will convene instead on Broadway.

This will be the most un-Philadelphia thing to do. Or maybe it’s actually precisely Philadelphia.

I don’t feel all that bad this morning. Instead I choose to salute the Phils, despite failing to repeat as champions.

Do I wish maybe Charlie Manuel had given J.A. Happ a chance to start one game, preferably last night? Sure. It was clear last night after one pitch – clocked at 84 mph – that Pedro Martinez was a shell of the pitcher that once struck fear into opposing batters. I imagine Yankees hitters were falling all over themselves as they grabbed bats and lined up to take their whacks against their old nemesis.

I come not to bury the Phils, but instead salute them.

Thet gave us a great ride. It starts when we are still wearing long underwear and heavy coats. The Phillies’ arrival in South Florida means a rebirth, and the hope that spring can’t be far behind.

This year they took something else with them to Clearwater, a World Series Trophy.

Winter gives way to spring. Spring to summer. Summer to fall. Through it all there is baseball.

This year, we lost not only our bid to root home a second straight title, we also lost our “voice.”

In early April, Harry Kalas died. For many of us, he was the “voice of summer,” a trusted companion whose lilting baritone carried us through summer nights, along with the chirping of the crickets. Slowly but surely, I’m beginning to hear Scott Franzke and Larry Anderson in the same way. Just the sound of their voice warms me, reminds me of hot, muggy sweltering summer nights with my trusted radio sitting on the porch.

The Phils honored Kalas, in particular with their play on the field.
They raced to the front of the National League East and never looked back.

I see no reason why they will not do the same next year. Their nucleus is solid. Surely Cole Hamels and Brad Lidge will rebound.

It is now time for fall, and winter can’t be far behind. Red October gives way on the calendar to Gang Green.

A Philly fan can be left with only one thought: Hey, how ‘bout dem Iggles.

And a Phillie fan can be left with only this: How many days until spring training? And can summer be far behind?

Better luck at Harrah’s

The luck is changing at Harrah’s.

No, not for the customers. I’m talking about the house.

I’ve made it a point to wonder why Harrah’s revenue has been slumping for almost a year. The slots parlor on the Chester waterfront ran off a streak of eight straight months where their take was down from the same month the year before.

That ended in October. Harrah’s fortunes went up 3.79 percent compared to last October. Talk about your trick or treat. That’s a lot of goodies.

Harrah’s took in $25,625,358.31 in October, according figures released by the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board. (I’ve always wondered exactly where the 31 cents comes from.) That compares with $24,689,003.86 in October of last year. It also keeps Harrah’s in its lofty No 2 perch when it comes to slots gambling in the state, trailing only the $29.5 million raked in at Philly Park.

Across the state, gambling revenue rose 31.97 percent over the year before, although some of that is attributable to the fact that there are simply more casinos online now. The nine operating casinos in the state hauled in better than $177 million in gross revenue in October.

As is their usual custom, Harrah’s is not talking about their revenue.

A couple of things struck me about the uptick in fortunes at Harrah’s.
It comes at the same time that Delaware was instituting sports parlay betting on NFL games, and advertising it on billboards right outside Harrah’s front door on I-95.

And it comes as word arrives that it appears as if finally the path has been cleared for the SugarHouse casino on the Philly waterfront to kick in. They now hope to be up and running next spring or summer.

The competition is only going to increase to shake the last final few coins from their customers’ pockets.

And if that’s not enough, table games are on the way, if the clods in Harrisburg ever get around to finishing the work on the legislation to put it in motion.

Welcome to Pennsylvania, where we make “slots” of memories.

Sic Transit

I think I have a way of solving the Philadelphia budget crunch.

How about a pay-per-view match between Mayor Michael Nutter and Transit Workers Union Local 234 boss Willie Brown? You could call it the “Thrilla in Phila.”

These two guys don’t like each other even a little bit.

Nutter started all this when he responded angrily to the surprise strike called by the union at midnight Monday night. Nutter had indicated over the weekend that a strike was off the table. That apparently came as news to the union.

The union walked, shutting down the system at 3 a.m. and offering something of a sucker punch to its customers. Most went to bed with no idea that their ride would not be there in the morning. Some who work the overnight shift actually used SEPTA to get to work, then were stranded when they finished their shift in the morning.

Nutter went off on the union on morning news shows, calling their move to hit the bricks “despicable” and an “ambush” on commuters who depend on the system.

Yesterday Brown responded, referring to the mayor as “Little Caesar” and saying he would not sit down at the bargaining table with Nutter.

Brown also added he did not feel nearly the same enmity toward Gov. Ed Rendell, who also was critical of the union’s move. Maybe that’s because, in Brown’s own words, the governor brought something to the table. That would be money.

Brown now believes most of the media coverage of the strike has been misleading, referring to himself as “the most hated man” in Philadelphia.

Now it likely will be up to Rendell to get these sides together and put an end to what appears to be a totally unnecessary strike.

That likely isn’t going to happen if it means getting Brown and Nutter at the table.

In the meantime, the riding public looks at the bleak prospect of Day 3 of a shutdown of the region’s transit lifeblood.

Nutter and Brown need to put their war of words behind them, and instead focus on duking it out at the bargaining table.

What’s at stake is bigger then either one of them.

Settle this thing now. Get the buses, trolleys and subways back in operation.

Sic transit? Yeah, we know all about it.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

The Daily Numbers - Nov. 4

The Daily Numbers: 2 seats on Delaware County Council captured by the powerful GOP. Nothing new there.
1 new position on the county Court of Common Pleas that also went GOP, with Linda Cartisano set to don the robe.
53,116 votes for Cartisano, the top vote-getter in the county
3 county row offices captured by the GOP simply because the Democrats did not field any challengers.
3 city council spots in Chester captured by Democrats, first time that’s happened since 1991.
1 school board in the county now controlled by Democrats. That would be William Penn, where Dems captured 2 seats yesterday.
21.4 percent of voters who bothered to exercise their rights yesterday. Disgraceful.
529 votes for incumbent Democrat Darby Mayor Helen Thomas, who fended off a challenge from Dem-turned-Republican former Mayor Paula Brown.
2, as in Day 2 for strike by union members of SEPTA’s city division. Still no bus, trolley or subway service in the city.
0 trains running this morning on the R5 Paoli-Thorndale line after a fire in a train this morning, forcing riders to flee near Overbrook station.
8, age of twin sisters struck by hit-run driver in Philadelphia.
5, age of child who has become Pa., first victim of H1N1 flu. The child lived in Adams County.
12 million dollars more spent by Democrat Jon Corzine than the GOP’s Chris Christie. Didn’t help. Christie dumped him.
1 black D.A. in Philly history, with the win yesterday by Democrat Seth Williams.
6, as in crucial Game 6 of the World Series tonight in Yankee Stadium. The Phils need to win to stay alive.
31 point loss for the Sixers last night at the hands of the Celtics.
12 goals scored by the Flyers in their last 2 games.
Call me a Phanatic: A look at the ups and downs of being a Philadelphia sports fan.Vote for Pedro. The Phils’ fate will be in the right arm of the ageless one as Pedro Martinez takes the mound in Yankee Stadium tonight.
I Don’t Get It: It’s now Day 2 of the strike by SEPTA’s city division workers. And no talks are scheduled. I don’t get it.
Today’s Upper: A win tonight by the Phils and we’ll all be in 7th Heaven.
Quote Box: “This is unusual. And the message that is being sent from the community is that they are tired of the old way of doing politics and they want change to come to Chester.”
- Democrat Portia West, victorious along with John Linder.

Vote for Pedro!

On the day after the election, there really is only one vote that still matters to most folks here in the Delaware Valley.

Vote for Pedro!

Pedro Martinez will carry the fortunes of the Phillies Phaithful on his shoulders as he strides to the mound tonight as the Phils’ starter in the pivotal Game 6 of the World Series tonight in the new Yankee Stadium.

For Pedro and the Phils, the task is obvious. They need to win to force Game 7.

Win tonight, and suddenly it’s one game for all the marbles as the Phils seek to defend their World Series crown.

Pedro will be seeking to silence the fans in a city that has long been his nemesis. No doubt he will again be serenaded by chants of “Who’s Your Daddy?”

But should he pitch well, and the Phils bolt to an early lead, the House the Ruth did not build (he played in the old park) will become silent as a tomb.

And should the Phils win, Phillies nationa will be in 7th Heaven.

Even if you voted yesterday, you need to vote again today.

Vote for Pedro!

A sucker punch from SEPTA union

There’s a word for what SEPTA’s city division union did to riders in the city Monday night.

It’s called a sucker punch.

After agreeing not to strike over the weekend, at the same time the nation’s eyes were fixed on the city for three World Series games in South Philly, Tranist Workers Union local 234 reversed course literally minutes after Game 3.

They walked out of talks around midnight and said they would shut the system down at 3 a.m.

Unfortunately, that left a lot of people already out and and about – and dependent on the system - out of luck. Lots of riders who work overnight shifts left their jobs only to find out they had no ride home. Those who work in Delaware County learned they would somehow have to get to regional rail lines to get back into the city.

In addition, all across the city residents went to bed Monday night completely unaware their normal rides would not be available come Tuesday morning.

The union certainly has the right to strike. Although for the life of us we can’t figure out why they would turn down the SEPTA offer, especially in these perilous times. Union officials are expected to explain their stance later this morning.

First they should apologize to those who depend on the system for leaving them in the lurch – without warning.

Then they should get back to the table and end this ill-conceived walkout as soon as they can.

The Obama effect

So much for the Obama effect.

In the first election since his historic win last November, the president made several visits to New Jersey to boost the chances of incumbent Gov. Jon Corzine.

It didn’t help. Corzine fell to Republican Chris Christie, and this despite a strong third-party candidate who was expected to hurt the GOP standard bearer.

Obama was in the Garden State on Sunday.

But voters showed Corzine the door.

Dems on the march in Delco

If you put your ear the ground and listen intently, you can hear the rumble.

That’s the sounds of Democrats on the march in Delaware County.

No, they did not make a dent in the last bastion of GOP power, the fortress known as the Delaware County Courthouse.

The county seat remains firmly in Republican control. Incumbent Jack Whelan and longtime state Rep. Mario Civera easily outdistanced their Democratic challengers, Nancy Baulis and Keith Collins.

In the race for a new seat on the County Court of Common Pleas, it was much the same song, with current Republican Council Chairman Linda Cartisano turning back a spirited campaign from Nancy Rhoads Koons. The popular Cartisano was the top vote-getter in the county, with more than 53,000 votes.

In general the county GOP slated took a nearly 2-1 edge over their Dem counterparts.

But it was in other parts of the county where Democrats made some noise.

And nowhere was that tremor any louder than in the city of Chester.

Democrats Portia West and John Linder stunned the city GOP by capturing two seats in city council. It was the first wins for Democrats since 1991.

Perhaps most surprising is that it came at the expense at one of the most beloved figures in the city. Topping the GOP ballot was Fred Pickett, the legendary former hoops coach at Chester High. He teamed with Marsha Taylor.

But they got slam-dunked by the Dems. The unofficial vote totals show Linder as the top vote-getter with 3,287, followed by Taylor with 2,181.
Trailing were the GOP duo, with Pickett getting 1,949 votes and Taylor 1,920.

In conceding defeat, Pickett offered the idea that many people voted a straight Democratic ticket in the city. That once would be almost unthinkable in a town Republicans have controlled for almost a century.

And Chester was not the only advance by Dems.

Charlotte Hummel led a Democratic charge in the William Penn School District. In the process they captured control of the board for the first time in 30 years. They also become the only school board among the county’s 15 public schools districts to be controlled by Democrats.

In Millbourne Borough, council shifted into the hands of Democrats.

At this point you have to wonder how long the GOP can fend off their castle, the Media Courthouse, from the Democratic hordes making advances all over the county.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

The Daily Numbers - Nov. 3

The Daily Numbers: 3-2 deficit for the Phils after they blasted the Yankees, 8-6, last night in Game 5 of the World Series.
2 straight wins in Yankee Stadium, what the Phils now must do to defend their World Series crown.
2 home runs last night for Chase Utley, tying him with Yankees legend Reggie Jackson for most homers in a single World Series at 5.
.333, what Utley is hitting in the Fall Classic, a cool 6-for-18, with 5 homers and 8 RBI.
7 strong innings for Cliff Lee, who got the win, his 2nd of the World Series. He says he will be available if there is a Game 7 Thursday night.
18 RBI in the post-season for Yankees cleanup man Alex Rodriguez.
928,000 trips each day provided by SEPTA’s city division of buses, trolleys and subways.
0 rides offered this morning after SEPTA’s city union went on strike.
33, age of Ridley Park man charged with trying to rob a disabled vet in a wheelchair.
50, age of woman mauled by a pit bull that was menacing her granddaughter. She suffered a mangled leg and thigh.
100,000 dollars in bogus Phillies merchandise seized by police during a raid on the Sneaker Junction store in Old City.
2.5 million dollar pot ring that operated from New York to the Easton area by state drugbusters.
0.6 percent decline in revenue collected by Pennsylvania in October. That won’t help the budget crunch.
2 deaths that officials now believe may be tied to contaminated beef products.
Call me a Phanatic: A look at the ups and downs of being a Philadelphia sports fan.Chase Utley has a new nickname. Just call him Mr. November.
I Don’t Get It: SEPTA workers are on strike this morning, meaning there is no mass transit in the city of Philadelphia. I’m not sure what kind of economic climate union members operate in, but they might want to join the rest of us in the real world.
Today’s Upper: Philadelphia is now enforcing a ban on hand-held devices while driving. Good. Not it’s time for the state to follow suit.
Quote Box: “It’s going to be terribly disruptive.”
- Richard Maloney, SEPTA spokesman, on this morning’s strike that has idled all buses, trolleys and subways in the city.

About that Inky ad

You would think I would take any opportunity to mock the Philadelphia Inquirer.

After all, they are our major competition.

The Inky made a little news of their own yesterday. It seemed to give everyone – including many in the media – quite a chuckle.

Not me. I know exactly what happened. And I know it is a newspaper’s biggest nightmare.

What happened is this. The Inquirer ran an ad that was obviously not supposed to run. At least not yet.

Yesterday was the day after Game 4 of the World Series. My guess is some time ago, Macy’s booked ads tied into the possibility that the Phillies might have swept the Yankees and they would be celebrating, along with the entire region, by selling special World Series champion T-shirts.

Of course, the Phils did not sweep. In fact, after losing Sunday night they were actually down 3-1.

No doubt another ad was supposed to be substituted for the one that appeared in the paper.

Instead, an ad appeared congratulating the Phillies on their back-to-back world championships and selling special World Series T-shirts.

We routinely get placements for ads – one if the Phils win, another if they lose. You better believe everyone is aware of the ads and which one actually gets into the newspaper.

There’s nothing deliberate here. It was simply a mistake. Should it have been caught? Probably. It’s part of the vagaries of the technology that we in the newspaper business swim in these days.

The ad no doubt was placed on the page by a computer. I don’t know if it was actually visible on the screen when the news desk was putting that page together.

If not, it likely sailed right through the normal checks, the final one being someone noticing it as soon as the presses started printing papers. No one did. The ad appeared on the Back Page of the front section of the newspaper.

Many media outlets got quite the chuckle out of it. Some TV types could be seen holding up the ad on the newscasts last night. Some joked that the paper was simply being optimistic.

I’m sure no one at the Inquirer was smiling. They offered a quick apology.

They don’t have to apologize to me. I know exactly how they feel. And know that the next time it could be me.

In these days of the Internet, Facebook, Twitter and other instant media, it reminds me of something I am always stressing to my staff.

Simply this. Print is FOREVER.

I think everyone in the media can look at what happened at the Inky and offer a sigh of relief that it did not happen to them. I know I did.

I feel for you, guys.

Mr. November

Just call him Mr. November.

The Phillies this morning are still alive in the World Series.

And they have Chase Utley to thank for it.

Utley blasted two homers and Cliff Lee went seven solid innings last night as the Phils made sure the World Series would go back to the Big Apple for Games 6 and 7 Wednesday and Thursday nights.

His two dingers last night puts the unassuming Utley in some fairly high-profile company. Utley is now tied with Yankees legend Reggie Jackson for most homers in a World Series.

All Utley is doing is hitting .333 against the Bronx Bombers, with five homers and eight RBI.

Jackson of course earned the moniker of Mr. October. Today, of course, the World Series has stretched into the same month as Thanksgiving.

Meet Chase Utley. Mr. November.

Agony of de-feet for SEPTA riders

You have to hand it to SEPTA’s city division union. Their sense of timing is impeccable.

Last week the union threatened to bring the city’s transit system to a halt by going on strike, just as the eyes of the nation focused on the city for three World Series games at Citizens Bank Park.

Cooler heads prevailed. Gov. Ed. Rendell entered the talks, got the two sides back to the table, and got the union to say they would not walk out while the World Series was being played.

They were good to their word. They waited until a few minutes after Game
5 of the Series was over last night before announcing that talks had broken down and they would be on strike as of 3 a.m.

At least they allowed all those fans who used the Broad Street subway to get back on the system and back to their destination before hitting the bricks.

So as the region's Phillies fans this morning are enjoying the 'thrill of victory,' for SEPTA's city riders it will instead be the "agony of de-feet."

Here’s a few hints on what things will be like this morning. About the only thing running into the city will be the regional rail lines.

Here’s a tip. If you normally use regional rails, consider going farther west to get on. The trains likely will be packed. If you wait for trains to get to the eastern end of the county, they likely will be full.

If you use the Market-Frankford El to go downtown, make another plan.
It’s not running.

Once in the city, you’re basically on your own. You have two choices – a cab or your two feet. Wear comfortable shoes. Cabs will be hard to come by.

Foot power might be your best bet.

And finally this. Expect the afternoon commute to be a nightmare as well.

We survived the Series. Now we’re going to have to survive a “series”
transit mess.

Be patient.

It's Election Day

It’s election day. Try to stifle the yawns.

No, there is not a real grabber race out there. No historic presidential faceoff such as the election of Barack Obama that captivated us this time last year.

Instead this is what is called the off-year municipal election.

In Delaware County, the ballot is highlighted by a race for two seats on Delaware County Council, as well as a new position on the county Court of Common Pleas.

Stop yawning.

Voters also will elect representatives to their municipal government and school boards.

Go ahead and snicker. But it’s likely these people have a bigger effect on your everyday life than many other votes you cast.

And remember, you forfeit your right to complain if you don’t take the time to exercise your basic civic rights.

Look on the bright side. It means an end to those incessant ads for the New Jersey gubernatorial race.

By the way, what does spending all that money get you? Apparently a dead heat. It’s going to be a long night in the Garden State.

Monday, November 2, 2009

The Daily Numbers - Nov. 2

The Daily Numbers: 3-1 deficit, what Phils are staring at after a devastating loss in Game 4 of World Series last night.
2 stolen bases in 1 play for Yankees Johnny Damon, who stole second in the 9th, then kept going when he realized no one was covering third for Phils.
3 straight wins, what Phils must do to defend their World Series crown.
42 teams that have taken a 3-1 lead in World Series history. Of those 36 went on to win the crown.
0.54, post-season ERA for Cliff Lee, who takes the hill tonight with the job of keeping the Phils alive.
16 runs, all the Phils have managed to score in 4 games vs. the Yankees.
.308 batting average in the Series for Jayson Werth with 2 homers.
Unfortunately, he’s the only Phil hitting better than .267.
2 for 11 with runners in scoring position, what the Phutile Phils were Sunday night.
2 outs in the 9th, when Damon came up and things went down the drain for the Phils.
1-2-3, what the Phils went once again in the 9th vs. Yankees closer Mariano Rivera.
10 a.m., when talks will resume this morning between SEPTA and its city division union.
19, age of student found dead inside his suite at Yale University.
1,277 deer currently in Valley Forge State Park. A plan to thin the herd to 185 over 5 years is drawing protests.
2.73 a gallon, what the Philly region is paying on average at the gas pump. That’s a nickel jump in the past week.
1 woman bound with duct tape after a home invasion in the Kingsessing section of Philly early this morning.
545,699 pounds of ground beef sold at several local stores that is the focus of a recall.
3 people rescued Sunday from capsized boat in the mouth of the Delaware Bay.
80, age of woman in Del. charged with abusing her husband. He’s 82.
3 killed, 2 injured in weekend violence on Philadelphia streets.
4 people shot outside a party in Long Pond, Pa., in northeast Pa.
Call me a Phanatic: A look at the ups and downs of being a Philadelphia sports fan.Hey, how about those Eagles. Yeah, I know. It doesn’t exactly lessen the sting of that Phils’ loss last night.
I Don’t Get It: Police in Del. are looking for the suspect who broke into the home of a slain police officer and burglarized the place over the weekend. I don’t get it.
Today’s Upper: The USS New York is scheduled to sail up the Hudson River today. It was made with some of the steel salvaged from the carnage of the World Trade Center.
Quote Box: “I know that we’re going to come out tomorrow and play tomorrow to win. I knot that. I’ve seen us go through it before.”
- Phillies Manager Charlie Manuel, on do-or-die mission facing Phils.

Another night of infamy

Manny Mota now has company.

His name is Johnny Damon.

It was Mota who drove a stake into Phillies’ fans hearts on “Black Friday” in the late ’70s, starting a series of events that led to a devastating loss against the Dodgers.

Fast-forward three decades. The Phils had just electrified Citizens Bank Park courtesy of a Pedro Feliz homer in the bottom of the eighth inning to tie the Game 4 of the World Series against the Yankees.

That only set the stage for the same problem that has bedeviled the Phils all season long.

In other words, Brad Lidge.

Lidge started the ninth by promptly giving up a base hit to Damon. What happened next is one of those moments that will live in Philly sports infamy.

With the shift on against Mark Teixeira, Damon steals second. But with Feliz taking the throw at second, it dawns on Damon that no one is covering third. After a split-second pit stop, Damon bolted for third.
I’m not sure at what point it dawned on Lidge that he needed to cover third, but once he did he had no shot of beating Damon to the bag.

Of course the Yankees went on to score three times to seal the deal.

The Phils now find themselves with their backs to the wall. Oddly enough, that’s where they have played their best ball this year.

They will send their ace, Cliff Lee, to the hill tonight to extend the Series against A.J. Burnett, again starting on short rest.

Can the Phils win tonight to send the Series back to New York. Sure. Can they run off three straight wins? That’s a tall order.

None of which will change what happened last night, another dagger in the heart of a sports town that has suffered so many.

See Andy run

Here’s what on the minds of Philly fans this morning.

How ‘bout Dem Iggles?

OK, so went went one-for-two in our all-day sports fest with the Evil Empire from New York. And no doubt most fans would probably have swapped the results, gladly suffering an Eagles loss vs. the Giants for a win by the Phils in that crucial Game 4 last night.

Wasn’t going to happen.

Instead, we witnessed one of the rare laughers when it comes to Gang Green vs. Big Blue. These contests usually come down to the last possession.

Not yesterday. This one was over early.

I have been a frequent critic of both Andy Reid and Donovan McNabb. Not this morning.

My hat is off to both of them. They put together a brilliant game plan on a short week after a Monday Night Football appearance in D.C., and completely throttled the Giants.

And they did it without Brian Westbrook. But with a new emphasis on the running game.

Andy Reid rolled out a game plan featuring fullback Leonard Weaver and substitute starter Sean McCoy. That’s right, Andy Reid decided to run the ball. Both the Birds’ backs reeled off long touchdown runs.

It is something fans have long clamored for – the long-lost fullback position. The Birds signed Leonard Weaver in the off-season, and he promptly seemed to fall into that black hole Andy Reid reserves for the position.

Until yesterday. With Westbrook on the shelf recovering from the lingering effects of a concussion, Weaver stepped up and into a starring role. He set the tone in the Birds’ first drive, when he burst through a hole and rumbled 41 yards into the end zone.

His run was book-ended by flashy rookie tailback Sean McCoy in the fourth quarter. His 66-yard bolt finished off a 40-17 destruction of the Giants.

Maybe Reid has turned a corner. For some reason, he decided to run the ball at the Giants. And guess what? It worked. It put the Giants on their heels and set up McNabb’s passing game.

DeSean Jackson continued to blossom into the league’s latest superstar, hauling in still another 50-plus yards TD strike.

It was almost enough to make you forget what happened across the street a few hours later.