Friday, January 29, 2010

The Daily Numbers - Jan. 29

The Daily Numbers: 5,000 dollars raised by family of Chester murder victim as they seek information in his murder.
556,000 dollars ripped off from the trust fund of their kids by a Bethel man and their stepmother. They pleaded guilty this week.
32 million dollars in bonds OK’d by Chester Upland School District for several renovation projects.
275,000 dollar contract to run the Milwaukee School District for Chester Upland schools boss Dr. Gregory Thornton. The Board of Control that runs the district now will reopen talks in an attempt to keep Thornton here.
5,300 for 4 bulletproof vests that Colwyn Borough will pay gun dealer Dusty Rhoads to settle their dispute.
2 dead pit bulls removed from separate homes in Chester.
15 years, how long those Blue Route ramps to meter traffic entering the highway have been in the works. They’re about to go back into service in February.
25.6 million in federal stimulus funds coming to Pa. to fund high-speed rail projects. That’s out of $8 billion being spent nationally.
2 winning Powerball tickets worth $1 million each sold in Pa. Relax, they weren’t around here. One was sold in York, the other in Beaver Falls.
40 to 45 feet, how much deeper dredging project in the Delaware River will do to the channel.
6 members of a sorority at Rutgers after a pledge complained she was consistently paddled in a hazing incident.
50,000 dollar reward now posted for info in shooting deaths of two pet dogs in Chadds Ford.
12,000 dollars worth of computer equipment stolen by thieves who tunneled through the wall of Cecil B. Moore Branch of the Free Library of Philadelphia.
1 more robbery now linked to man wielding hypodermic needle he says contains HIV-infected blood. That’s now 2 in Delco, and 2 in Delaware.
79 million dollar loss in the 4th quarter posted by US Airways, down from $543 million the year before.
8,000 jobs being slashed by drug giant AstraZeneca, which has its U.S. HQ in Wilmington. That’s 12 percent of its work force.
150 jobs being axed by Barclaycard US in Delaware.
2 goal lead coughed up by the Flyers, who lost to Atlanta, 4-3.
634 games played as a Flyer for Simon Gagne.
19 days until pitchers and catchers report to Phillies spring training in Clearwater on Feb. 17

Call me a Phanatic: A look at the ups and downs of being a Philadelphia sports fan.Can anyone explain to me why local fans hold such a grudge against Kobe Bryant? He’s only the greatest basketball player on the planet.
I Don’t Get It: A man getting groceries what violently attacked for no reason in an Acme market in Vineland. I don’t get it .
Today’s Upper: Kudos to the Chester family that have raised $5,000 in hopes someone will come forward with information about the murder of their loved on.
Quote Box: “We know who did it, but we need somebody to come up and to say what they saw or what they know.”
- Mohammed Habib, family friend of murder victim Abulaash Ansari.

Table games wars

This is what they call upping the ante.

Brace yourself for “table games wars.”

A few weeks ago, the Pennsylvania Legislature finally got on board and approved a measure that would add games such as poker, blackjack and roulette to the offerings at the state’s new slots parlors.

That would include Harrah’s Chester.

Of course, that did not sit especially well with our neighbors a few miles south on I-95. That would be Delaware.

They were the first to challenge Atlantic City as a gambling destination when they added slots parlors.

Pennsylvania then matched them. Revenues have been sinking at both Atlantic City and Delaware gambling halls ever since.

So Delaware added sports betting. Their original plan got shot down in the courts, so they were left with parlay betting, packaging bets on three games.

Then, faced with a staggering budget deficit last summer, Pennsylvania legislators decided to expand once again, giving the OK to table games.
Of course, it took them more than 100 days to finalize the budget, and a couple months longer to actually sign off on the table games legislation.

Now it looks like you’ll be able to sit at a poker table on the Chester waterfront sometime this summer.

Obviously, Delaware is envious. The First State, which was first in slots, was second in table games. But they’re not wasting any time in getting in on the action.

Gov. Jack Markell Thursday signed legislation putting the state in the table games business.

Now the race is on. Delaware believes they should be able to get table games up and running in four months. That might put them slightly ahead of Pennsylvania, which has targeted mid-summer as their start date.

Why do I think it might be sooner.

Can you say Memorial Day weekend?

Bet on it.

Let's get in Pileggi's ear

Maybe someone can explain this one to me.

The Pa. House this week approved a bill that would ban the use of hand-held devices while driving by a 189-6 vote. It now goes to the Senate.

You’re be hard-pressed to find anyone who does not believe this legislation is necessary, a simple piece of common sense that is long overdue.

Remember when a lot of people actually eschewed the use of seat belts?
Now most of us buckle up when we get in the car as a matter of routine.

Unfortunately, that sentiment may or may note be shared by the denizens of the Pennsylvania Senate.

Erik Arneson, top aide to GOP Senate Leader Dominic Pileggi, R-9, of Chester, says he’s not sure the legislation has enough support to pass.

Pileggi earlier voted for a measure that would have limited texting while driving. He’s apparently still up in the air on the wider ban.

Delaware County’s three other senators, Democrats Anthony Williams and Daylin Leach, as well as Republican Ted Erickson, are all solidly behind the bill.

Maybe it’s time to show Pileggi how much we need this legislation.

Call him. E-mail him.

Urge him to push for support of this law.

You can reach him through his Web site at

The Greatest

The greatest basketball player on the planet will take to the hardwood at the Wachovia Center tonight.

Unfortunately, he will be wearing a Lakers’ jersey.

Yes, the pride of Lower Merion, Kobe Bryant, will lead the Lakers into his home town for a matchup with the struggling Sixers.

Bryant, son of Sixers and Philly legend Joe “Jelly Bean” Bryant, is the native son Philadelphians love to hate.

I’ve never been sure why.

Maybe it’s because he was considered something of a suburbanite, instead of a city kid.

Maybe it’s because he grew up in Italy, where his dad played for years, and speaks fluent Italian.

Maybe it’s because he wears that hated yellow Lakers jersey.

It probably didn’t help back in 2001, when Allen Iverson and the Sixers took Game 1 of the NBA Finals vs. L.A., only to see Kobe and the Lakers flip the switch and sweep the next four.

And his comments about “cutting the heart out of the Sixers” undoubtedly didn’t endear him to the locals.

But the truth is if Bryant put on a Sixers jersey, he’d likely be a hero here. Pete Rose in baggy short pants. Not with everyone, but with most. For some reason some people just have it in for Bryant.

Maybe it’s time for that to change. Maybe it’s time for Philly to open its heart to one of the greatest players ever to step on the court.

Sixers fans certainly don’t have anything else to cheer for in this wretched season.

If you’re going to the game tonight, consider this. Consider rising to your feet and offering a standing ovation to a local kid who has earned it.

Kobe Bryant is the best basketball player in the world. And he is one of our own.

It’s about time we recognized that.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

The Daily Numbers - Jan. 28

The Daily Numbers: 2 robberies in western part of Delco in which the suspect threatened clerks with hypodermic needle he said contained HIV-infected blood.
4 day manhunt for Corey Cooper, suspect in Chester stray-bullet shooting, that ended when he turned himself in yesterday.
2 year veteran of the Philadelphia Police who faces charges of domestic assault in Upper Darby.
36, age of man who police say jumped in a Ridley Township Police SUV and fled. He was captured, along with the SUV, in Upper Darby.
1st degree murder charge against Darby pastor that was dropped yesterday in shooting death of his son on Christmas Day. He still faces third-degree murder and other charges.
1,000 in merchandise police say was ripped off from the Babies ‘R’ Us in Springfield.
499 bucks, what it will cost you to get your hands on one of those swanky new iPad tablet computers rolled out yesterday by Apple.
4 billion dollars in damages being sought by local developer Brian O’Neill in a suit against Citizens Bank.
116,000 dollar fine slapped on Foxwoods by the state Gaming Control Board for failing to meet the deadline to submit construction plans for planned Philly casino.
1.02 billion in revenue reported by software giant SAP, with its HQ in Newtown Square, in fourth quarter. That’s down from last year.
2 people and a dog who have now been attacked by raccoons in Wilmington. A similar raccoon attack in Philly also is under investigation.
50,000 dollar reward now posted for info in shooting deaths of two pet dogs in Chadds Ford.
90 million jackpot now up for grabs Saturday night in the Powerball drawing. No one hit last night.
1 of 3 men charged in brutal home invasion slaying in Montgomery County who took the stand and admitted his role in the killing yesterday.
10 months in prison for former pal of longtime state Sen. Vince Fumo.
Howard Cain of Wayne pleaded guilty for not filing income tax returns.
3 teens found dead in a car in a frozen pond in Zelionople, Pa.
15 days in the rubble for a teen in Haiti who was pulled to safety yesterday.
19-1 start for No. 3 Villanova, who beat Notre Dame in Big East contest last night.
15, as in No. 15 Temple, which fell last night at Charlotte.

Call me a Phanatic: A look at the ups and downs of being a Philadelphia sports fan.Does that goofy smile that Donovan McNabb is always flashing bother anyone else, or is it just me?
I Don’t Get It: You walk out of the police station after booked and released on a pot possession charge. What do you do? Jump in a red police SUV and take off, of course. I don’t get it.
Today’s Upper: Kudos to those residents of Chester who turned up the heat on the suspect in a street shooting that left an innocent bystander in critical condition. Corey Cooper turned himself in yesterday.
Quote Box: “It was a whole yar’s worth of tears that wenated to flood, to see that my boy was coming off the bus.”
- Dori Oliver, on shedding a few tears as she greeted her Marine son yesterday in Ridley after he returned from Iraq.

Two odd cases

Was their something in the water yesterday?

It was a day for some strange stories.

First there was the saga of one James Bolton.

He had been arrested on a fairly minor pot possession charge in Ridley Township. Bolton, 36, of Philadelphia, was booked and then released at the township police station.

Bolton’s car was in the impound lot – just a short walk from the police station. But apparently Bolton was not in the mood for a stroll.

Instead, for some reason, police say he decided to use someone else’s wheels. Theirs.

Bolton bolted – in a bright red Ridley Police SUV. He eventually was nabbed at an Upper Darby intersection.

Ridley police say Bolton searched the inside of the car until he found the keys, which were there for the next officer to use on his shift.
Might want to rethink that policy.

Odd is not the word for the next story. Creepy is. Or maybe just scary.

Police are looking for Kevin Michael Cox in connection with two robberies of businesses along Route 202 in Concord Township.

What makes his case alarming is the weapon he allegedly displayed in holding up the joints.

Police say he would enter the businesses – usually where there was only one female employee working – confront her and demand money.

They say Cox would reach into his pocket and grab a hypodermic needle, and then inform the clerk that he is HIV-positive and that the needle contains infected blood and that he will stab them with the needle if they do not turn over the cash.

Nice guy.

Cox remains on the lam. He is 36 and is believed to be from the Wilmington, Del., area. He may be in the company of a female who drives the getaway car. Cox also is suspected of using a similar ruse in a hest in Rehoboth Beach, Del.

They can’t get this guy off the street fast enough.

Gives a whole new meaning to the words “Stick up.”

Hence our P. 1 headline this morning.

The State of the Union

Nice speech, Mr. President.

Of course, that was pretty much what was expected, isn’t it?

This was Barack Obama in his element. Faced with a crisis, battered by recent political setbacks, he would fall fack on the one given about his presidency – the man can flat-out give a speech.

But this was a different Obama, clearly a more modest one, a politician who has taken his lumps after a couple of games of ‘hardball.’

Obama talked a lot about jobs, and less about health care, not that he’s abandoning what his been the signature issue of the first year of his presidency.

But he clearly has heard the public. They angry – and worried. Too many of them are out of work. And they’re wondering when the jobs are going to start coming back.

What they did not need to hear was the nearly non-stop ovations that interrupted the president’s speech.

By most counts, Obama was interrupted 68 times.

Was this the State of the Union, or the Academy Awards?

Actually, it might have been a combination of the two, with Congress looking to capture best performance in a supporting role.

And the best actor award? That one is still to be decided. Obama has three more years to grab the statue.

The Donovan McNabb show

Brace yourself, Donovan McNabb is talking again.

The Eagles QB was having some fun in the sun yesterday as he started practice sessions for Sunday’s Pro Bowl in Miami.

McNabb just couldn’t contain himself while answering questions from the media, including several scribes who made the trip from Philly.

McNabb apparently does not do this act locally. He saves this for those occasions when he can perform on the national stage.

Yesterday he talked about how much he loved it in Philly and that he appreciated Coach Andy Reid’s statement that McNabb would be back as the Eagles signal-caller for a 12th year.

So far, so good. But McNabb wasn’t done, especially when asked about the fact that he is going into the final year of his contract and whether he would seek an extension.

McNabb said he was sure he was staying with the Eagles. And how exactly did he know? A psychic told him.

Honest, that’s what he said.

And of course it was accompanied by that McNabb signature - that goofy smile. You know the one. The same one he used while playing air-guitar before his team was dismanteld by the Cowboys. The same one he flashes every time he misses a wide open receiver behind the opponent’s secondary, or when he throws one of his classic two-hoppers to a receiver open in the flat.

We should be used to it by now.

Here’s something else we probably should get used to, Donovan included.

Word from Phoenix indicates Kurt Warner is likely to announce his retirement today. McNabb lives in Phoenix in the off-season. Let the rumors begin.

McNabb says he wants to stay in Philly. Reid says McNabb will be his guy. But neither is saying anything about a contract extension, and it is unknown if McNabb will play without one.

This soap opera is about to hit the spin cycle.

Good news, bad news on hoops front

What Sixers game would be complete without watching Andre Iguodala clang the final shot of the game – and a potential game winner – off the rim.

Happened again last night as the Sixers fell on the road to the Milwaukee Bucks, 91-88.

Of course, we shouldn’t be too hard on Iguodala. Elton Brand missed on a layup – what he referred to as a “choppie” – in the final seconds. Why he didn’t just slam dunk the ball might be interesting to know.

Take heart, hoops fans.

So the Sixers are in the tank.

They’re not even the best team in town.

That honor just might go to the Villanova Wildcats, who beat Notre Dame in a Big East game last night in a jam-packed Wachovia Center.

The Wildcats are now 19-1, the first time in history they’ve held that lofty record.

They are currently ranked No. 3 in the nation, and likely will move up to No. 2 next week since No. 1 Kentucky was toppled earlier this week.

The’Cats look like they are prepping for a long NCAA run.

Good thing. Because the Sixers are going nowhere.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

The Daily Numbers - Jan. 27

The Daily Numbers: 9 p.m. tonight, when President Obama will deliver his 1st State of the Union address to a joint session of Congress – and the nation.
15 minutes, how long it took police to corral a suspect who escaped this morning in a Ridley Township police SUV.
50 dollar fine for anyone caught using a hand-held cell phone while driving, under measure passed by Pa. House yesterday.
39, age of janitor at Beverly Hills Middle School charged with corruption of minors after he allegedly tried to woo a 12-year-old student.
18, age of Philadelphia teen who now faces charges after he allegedly punched a Yeadon cop in the eye while the officer was trying to disperse a crowd.
27 dollars an hour, what full-time nurses at Fair Acres make. Their union is asking county council to lift salary freeze and give them a pay raise.
30-13 lead for Arlen Specter over Joe Sestak in latest Franklin & Marshall poll in the Pa. U.S. Senate race.
50 percent of those polled who say they remain undecided in the race.
45-31 lead for Republican Pat Toomey over Specter in a general election.
41-19 percent lead for Toomey over Sestak.
2 teen girls arrested after a security guard was stabbed while breaking up a fight at Trenton Central High School.
100 pounds of pot seized during a car stop on Route 222 in Berks County.
20, age of suspect police call a serial flasher busted in Bethlehem. He’s been charged in 6 incidents in which he exposed himself in public.
1991, when a man fled a double-murder charge in Sacramento, Calif. He was arrested yesterday after living without incident for 2 decades in Elkins Park.
24 years, how long Joe Hoeffel has been in public service. The Montgomery County commissioner yesterday tossed his hat in the ring for the Democratic gubernatorial nomination.
3, as in No. 3 for Villanova, and they may be moving up because No. 1 Kentucky was toppled by South Carolina last night.
50 pounds lost in the offseason by Phillies manager Charlie Manuel.
2, as in the No. 2 spot, where Manuel says he likely will use new third baseman Placido Polanco.
21 days until pitchers and catchers report to Phillies spring training in Clearwater on Feb. 17

Call me a Phanatic: A look at the ups and downs of being a Philadelphia sports fan.Charlie Manuel yesterday admitted he would have loved to have had both Cliff Lee and Roy Halladay in his lineup. The Phils skipper talked openly about his feelings, and about how tough it was to call Lee after he was deal to Seattle. Think Andy Reid would have shared that with the fans?
I Don’t Get It: A suspect in several store robberies in Glen Mills is wielding a new – and troubling – weapon. Police say he threatened employees with a hypodermic needle.
Today’s Upper: The Pa. House is moving to fine drivers who use hand-held cell phones while behind the wheel. It’s about time.
Quote Box: “This isn’t about punishing someone after-the-fact, this is about preventing the accident from occurring.”
- Rep. Josh Shapiro, author of bill to band use of hand-held cell phones while driving in Pa.

The State of the Union, & Senate race

There’s lots of political news today.

First and foremost, President Barack Obama will talk to the country tonight in his first State of the Union Address.

For the last couple of weeks it’s been the other way around. The country has been talking to Obama. Actually, they’ve been shouting at him. Or, in the case of Massachusetts voters, they’ve offered a cold slap in the face.

The nation has for the most part told the president they are not happy, with his policies, with his move to reform health care, with deficits over a trillion dollars, with bailing out failing businesses, with a federal government creeping increasingly into our lives.

Basically, they’ve said the State of the Union remains worried. They are still wary of a shaky economy, and wondering when the stimulus is going to trickle down to them. There are too many people out of work, and they continue to wait for the much-ballyhooed stimulus plan to ease that problem.

The night should be magic. In part, because this will be Obama in his element.

Let’s face it. Regardless of how you thought about President George W.
Bush, public speaking often was not his forte.

On the other hand, Obama has clearly shown the ability to rise to the moment. The man can flat-out deliver a great speech. Which is why I am looking forward to the State of the Union.

Locally, there’s another poll out today. And that means more bad news for Joe Sestak.

The State of Sestak’s Union – and his uphill campaign to snag the Democratic Senate nomination away from Sen. Arlen Specter – is becoming only more so.

A Franklin & Marshall College Poll shows Sestak trailing Specter 30 percent to 13 percent. If he’s looking for a silver lining, Sestak can take heart in the fact that the poll also showed 50 percent of voters remain undecided.

The surprise in the Senate race is that likely Republican nominee Pat Toomey now is leading over either Specter or Sestak in a general election race.

Toomey leads Specter 45-31, and Sestak by 41-19.

Don’t expect Sestak to as much as blink in the wake of the bad polling.
He’s nothing if not determined. After all, he was trailing Curt Weldon by similar numbers before ousting the longtime incumbent in the 7th District Congress race. Granted, he was helped in no small part by a probe into Weldon and raid by federal agents on the homes of a key ally and a family member, a raid that has yet to result in any charges.

Instead look for Sestak to hammer away at Specter’s electability, which continues to suffer in the wake of his party-switch.

In the meantime, Toomey can sit back and wait for November.

Why we love Charlie Manuel

It turns out Charlie Manuel is just like the rest of us.

No, not because he has battled a bulging belly. The newly svelte Manuel lost 50 pounds in the offseason.

He met with the media yesterday for the first time since losing the World Series to the Yankees.

Manuel indicated he would have loved to be able to look at his starting pitching rotation and see both Roy Halladay and Cliff Lee. Didn’t happen.

The Phils signed Halladay, whom Charlie called the best pitcher in baseball. But they dealt Lee to Seattle for some prospects, touching off an emotional backlash from the fans.

Charlie feels your pain. Turns out he felt the same way.

No wonder people like Charlie Manuel.

Tiger's tale

I don’t have a lot in common with Tiger Woods.

For instance, I don’t live in a mansion in a gated community outside Orlando, Fla. Then again, I am not a current resident at a clinic for an apparent sex addiction in Hattiesburg, La., either.

However, we do both play golf. Actually, I play golf. And not particularly well. As the saying goes, Tiger plays a game with which I am not familiar.

But I am also not all that enamored of a lot of the technology that I find myself increasingly swimming – or is it sinking? – in every day.

I only recently have started carrying a cell phone with me. Of course, I don’t always remember to turn it on. I’m told that kind of defeats the purpose.

I also do not text. I’m thinking right about now Tiger wishes he were maybe a little more like me.

It seems that his penchant for texting led to the collapse of his marriage and the most famous fender-bender, in which Tiger lost a one-on-one battle with a fire hydrant, in U.S. history.

The story now goes something like this. Tiger apparently was forced to confide to his wife, Elin Nordegren, that the National Enquirer was going to publish a story that he was cheating on her with a woman named Rachel Uchitel. Tiger actually called Rachel and had her talk to Elin to deny the story, saying they were just friends.

Tiger then took an Ambien and decided to call it a night. Elin apparently was not convinced. With Tiger zonked, she took his cell phone and started going through it. She sent a text to Rachel, under the guise that it was from Tiger. Rachel responded. Elin then called her on the phone.


She then confronted Tiger, who fled the house – and a golf club wielding Elin, jumped in his SUV, headed down the driveway and into tabloid infamy.

I have said many times that, just once, I would like to get my hands around the neck of the person who keeps telling me, “This technology is going to make your life so much easier.”

I think Tiger might agree.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

The Daily Numbers - Jan. 26

The Daily Numbers: 12, age when the suspect in a Chester drive-by shooting had his first encounter with the law.
2 incidents in which Chester residents have now become innocent victims of stray bullets from city gun battles.
30 percent tax hike being considered in Norwood, where borough officials are dealing with a deficit of $718,000.
100 residents who packed a borough council meeting Monday night to air their concerns about the situation.
0 tax hike in Glenolden, where borough council managed to hold the line on spending in approving their new budget.
5-4 vote by which the William Penn School board accepted the resignation of principal of Aldan Magnet School. Sherrell Mickens says she’s the victim of racial discrimination in the district.
3 people held for trial in the beating of a man outside an Upper Darby pub. The victim, who was nearly stomped to death, has no recollection of the incident.
2 inches of rain and 60 mph wind gusts that wreaked havoc across the county Monday.
7 local firefighters who were honored by Middletown council Monday night for their efforts in rescuing a woman whose car had run off a slick road and into a rampaging Chester Creek.
275,000 dollars, how much Chester Upland Schools Superintendent would likely make if he takes the post heading the Milwaukee schools. He makes $211,150 to lead CU.
5 to 10 dollar fee hikes for parking in Eddystone that have been overturned by borough council.
3 Lower Chi police officers who have come under attack during recent incidents in the township.
50 dollar fine that would be slapped on anyone caught driving while using a hand-held cell phone, according to new bill being considered by state House.
2 people shot during a disturbance in the parking lot of a bowling alley in Wilmington, Del.
2 raccoon attacks in recent days in Delaware. The attacks included a woman and child, and another where the critter went after a security guard.
10,000 workers being laid off by Sam’s Club, a division of Wal-Mart.
17 percent increase in applications to the University of Pennsylvania.
3.3 percent hike in tuition at Princeton this year.
8.7 million iPhones sold, fueling Apple’s best quarter in history. But sales of iPods are down, in part because they are included in the popular phone.
35 percent dip in sales of existing homes in the region in December.
2 game winning streak for Sixers snapped as they fell to the Pacers last night at home.
22 points for Andre Iguodala to lead Sixers; Allen Iverson chipped in 20.
9 Eagles now headed to the Pro Bowl this weekend in Miami.
22 days until pitchers and catchers report to Phillies spring training in Clearwater on Feb. 17

Call me a Phanatic: A look at the ups and downs of being a Philadelphia sports fan.Donovan McNabb and Quintin Mikell are headed to the Pro Bowl. You’re thrilled, I know.
I Don’t Get It: Everyone laughed when Lower Chi tried to regular use of hand-held cell phones while driving. Now the state is trying to do the same thing.
Today’s Upper: Kudos to the emergency responders lauded at Middletown Council last night for their efforts to rescue a woman and her daughter after their car went into Chester Creek.
Quote Box: “In the real world of driving, I fear it’s going to make us all into criminals.”
- Rep. Greg Vitali, D-166, opposing law outlawing use of hand-held cell phone while driving in Pa.

Pa. catches up to Lower Chi

Looks like Pennsylvania is trying to keep up with Lower Chichester.

You may remember a few years back the good folks down in Lower Chi decided to take matters into their own hands by outlawing the use of hand-held cell phones while driving on township streets.

They took a lot of heat for the move, with many wondering if they had the authority to do so (many think that regulating driving lies solely with the state Legislature), whether or not they could enforce it, and if they did if any fine or penalty would hold up in court.

What no one argued is that township officials were trying to make their streets safer.

Now, it looks like the state agrees.

The state House yesterday gave preliminary approval to a bill that would ban use of a cell phone that does not utilize a hands-free device. That, of course, would include today’s ubiquitous technology du jour, the text message.

The measure, which would include a fine of $50 for violators, could get a final vote in the House today. It then would move to the Senate, where its fate is still up in the air.

One of the votes against comes from right here in Delaware County.

Rep. Greg Vitali, D-166, believes the measure is a little heavy-handed.

“In the real world of driving, I fear it’s going to make us all into criminals,” Vitali said.

He may be right.

But if it’s going to mean one less person out there texting while eating lunch and cruising down the Blue Route at 70 mph, I’m all for it.

The folks down in Lower Chi were right. Now it’s time for the state to get on board.

Tense times in Norwood

Things are getting a little tense in Norwood these days.

That’s what happens when you discover that the town is $700,000 in debt and that bills have not been paid.

At times like this, you can pretty much count on two other things happening. Fingers start getting pointed. And taxes likely will go up.

The new borough council is saying this problem got dumped in their lap by the former council.

And last night, they unveiled what they plan to do about it.

A packed house showed up for the council meeting. As you can imagine, most were not happy about their town’s plight. And they were even less thrilled about the 30 percent boost in taxes council is looking at as a way to plug the hole in their budget.

The borough has until Feb. 15 to finalize a budget for 2010. Expect fireworks in the meantime.

Wandering in the sports desert

A couple of nuggets to past the time until the Phillies head to spring training on Feb. 17, exactly 22 days from today. Or until the Stanley Cup playoffs begin, which doesn’t happen until April.

The Sixers played last night. Try not to yawn. The locals had a chance to win three straight games for the first time this season. Didn’t happen. Instead, they lost badly to the Indianapolis Pacers, a team they handled on the road last week.

Look at it this way. Each loss gets the Sixers a little closer to a lottery pick in the NBA Draft. Yes, that’s how far the Sixers have fallen.

And it’s only going to get worse.

Of course, you could always be cheered by the NFL’s Pro Bowl, which will take place this Sunday.

The geniuses at the NFL figured that we needed something to get us through the wilderness of the “off week” between the AFC and NFC title games and the Super Bowl. So they decided to uproot the Pro Bowl from Hawaii and plunk it down in Miami, where the Super Bowl will be played, this Sunday.

Of course, none of the players on the Saints and Colts, the two teams actually still playing in the NFL, will play in the Pro Bowl. So lots of new names are being added to the rosters.

Those would include Eagles QB Donovan McNabb and safety Quentin Mikell.
That brings to nine the number of Eagles in the game.

McNabb may find himself fending off questions about a possible trade.

And Mikell? Someone explain to me how a season that almost everyone believes he struggled in earns him a trip to the Pro Bowl.

Actually, he should fit right in. No one tackles anybody in this game anyhow.

Monday, January 25, 2010

The Daily Numbers - Jan. 25

The Daily Numbers: 64, age of Chester grandmother caught in crossfire of gun battle. She was hit in the back and is in critical condition.
2 incidents in which Chester residents have now become innocent victims of stray bullets from city gun battles.
18, age of teen being sought in connection with the latest incident.
2 killed, 1 shot and 1 stabbed in a violent weekend in Philadelphia.
35,000 grant that will be used to demolish the former VFW Post in North Morton Avenue in Morton.
20,000 dollars in red ink that is still swirling in Ridley Park. The new council is trying to get a handle on borough finances.
150,000 victims of the Haiti earthquake who have now been buried in mass graves. Authorities believe as many as 50,000 more may still be buried in debris.
1 challenger for U.S. Rep. Pat Murphy in Bucks County. Former Congressman Mike Fitzpatrick.
22, age of Marine from South Jersey killed in Afghanistan.
187 pairs of shoes recovered in Delaware that police believe may be the haul of a man charged in a series of thefts.
15 million dollar fundraising goal by the Philadelphia Orchestra as it tries to avert bankruptcy.
2.82, average price of gasoline in the Philly region. That’s down a penny from the week before.
5 yard penalty for too many men in the huddle that cost the Vikings a shot at winning NFC title game in regulation. They lost in OT.
6 fymbles and 2 interceptions that did not help their cause.
1 Super Bowl appearance for the Saints, who beat the Vikings to advance to Miami.
4 to 4.5 point favorite, what Vegas has installed the Colts over the Saints in the Super Bowl.
8.85 million dollar extension for Phillies catcher Carlos Ruiz.
500,000 dollars, what he made last year.

Call me a Phanatic: A look at the ups and downs of being a Philadelphia sports fan.Good for New Orleans, and good for the Saints. And to top it off, head coach Sean Payton is a former Eagles assistant who at one time lived in Newtown Square. Who Dat?
I Don’t Get It: A guy trying to rob a sandwich shop in Rehoboth Beach, Del., over the weekend used a unique weapon. He was wielding a syringe and told the employee he was infected with the AIDS virus. Nice.
Today’s Upper: Hey, look on the bright side this morning. All this rain could be snow.
Quote Box: “She’s a very nice, giving woman who loves God.”
- Tara Lee, daughter of Chester shooting victim Andrea Lee.

It's happened again in Chester

It has happened again.

For the second time in the past couple of months, an innocent life has crossed paths with the violence that continues to torment Chester’s streets.

Back on Nov. 15, it was Kathy Ann Stewart, who was sitting on the bed of her mother’s home talking on a cell phone when the mean streets of the city intruded, snuffing out her life.

This weekend a 64-year-old grandmother was caught in the cross fire.
Police say Andre Lee was hit by bullets from two warring factions of young men near her home on Seventh Street near Yarnall. Lee was listed in critical condition.

Police have issued an arrest warrant for Corey Wyatt Cooper, 18. He is considered armed and dangerous.

Just ask Lee.

Police believe Cooper fired several shots at an SUV that was driving in the 2200 block of West Seventh Street around 4:30 Saturday afternoon.

Lee had just parked her car and was walking around it when she was struck in the back by at least one bullet.

Investigators said neighbors angry over the shooting came forward with information on Cooper.

Good for them. Chester is making great strides. But too many of its streets – and too many of its residents – continue to be victimized by this kind of senseless gun violence.

It has already cost the life of Kathy Stewart. It has put Andre Lee’s in grave danger.

Enough already.

Specter, Sestak taking heat

The two Democrats seeking the Democratic nomination for the U.S. Senate in Pennsylvania both took some body shots in recent days.

But these punches were not landed by their respective opponents.

Joe Sestak, the upstart second term congressman challenging his own party as well as Sen. Arlen Specter, is feeling some serious heat to get out of the race. And it’s coming from his own party.

State Democratic Party boss T.J. Rooney came out last week and said the party would be better off if Sestak gave up his campaign to snag the nomination away from Specter and instead concentrated on running again for his 7th District seat in Congress.

The move comes in the rubble of the Democrats’ disastrous loss in the Massachusetts Senate race, and the resultant panic in national Democratic circles.

Expect the pressure to be ratcheted up on Sestak this week. It’s not a secret that party leaders were not enamored of his decision to challenge Specter. They had opened their arms after Specter’s party-switch, with President Barack Obama, Vice President Joe Biden, and Gov. Ed Rendell leading the welcome wagon.

They now believe Specter could get bogged down in a costly primary that might leave him vulnerable to GOP challenger Pat Toomey in the fall.

Right now, all signals from Admiral Sestak are that it’s full speed ahead. He has no interest in getting out of the race. Even if his own party’s leaders are looking to scuttle the ship.

Specter did not escape the week unscathed either. He has drawn some rebukes and sharp criticism for a conversation he had with conservative Republican Congresswoman Rep. Michele Bachmann.

In a radio interview Specter – apparently thinking that Bachmann, R-Minn., was interrupting him – asked her to “act like a lady.”

The remark sent Republican heads spinning, and put them in attack mode against the former Republican senator.

Bachmann originally said she was stunned by the arrogance of the remarks. Several leading Republicans repudiated Specter and demanded an apology.

Specter did just that over the weekend, and now he wants to move on.

No kidding.

Now if he could just shake Joe Sestak.

Let it rain

I am often heard lamenting our weather here in the Delaware Valley. In fact, I have been known to champion a new slogan our fine state:

“Welcome to Pennsylvania, world’s worst weather, 365 days a year.”

That said I am eternally grateful for small miracles.

OK, miracle might be a tad strong. But we are being drenched this morning, due to get as much as an inch of rain.

I’ll take it. On Jan. 25, it is going to be close to 60 degrees today.
All that rain could very easily be snow. I’m told that the rain that is falling on the county today would equate to about 2 feet of snow.

Now if we could just figure out what the strange gas smell is that has been lingering over much of the county since last night.

And no, it is not the last remnants of the Eagles season.

The Childress-Reid connection

I think it can now be said that Brad Childress is a mentor of Andy Reid.

You might remember that the Vikings’ head coach spent time here as Reid’s offensive coordinator.

He must have learned well.

Yesterday the Vikings were in position to kick a field goal and win the NFC title game at the end of regulation.

So what happened?

The Vikings were called for having too many men in the huddle. Honest.

That moved them out of field goal range and Brett Favre thew an interception on the next play.

The Saints went on to win in overtime.

About the only thing missing would have been Childress declaring after the game that “I have to do a better job of putting players in position to make plays.” You think?

The Vikings have no one to blame for themselves for the fact that they are not advancing to Miami to play in the Super Bowl.

They fumbled the ball six times and Favre threw two interceptions.

But there is a silver lining, and another link to Reid and the Eagles via the Saints.

You have to feel good for the city of New Orleans, as it continues to rebound from Hurricane Katrina.

Then there’s head coach Sean Payton. He’s another former Eagles assistant and a resident of Newtown Square.

So it will be the “Who Dats” against the Colts in the Super Bowl. But first we have to muddle through the Pro Bowl, which has been moved from Hawaii to Miami and will fill the bill in the week off before the Super Bowl.

A smattering of Eagles will be on hand.

Hopefully all of them will be in position to make plays.

Friday, January 22, 2010

The Daily Numbers - Jan. 22

The Daily Numbers: 16 years on the force for DRPA Cpl. Christopher Milito, who was struck and killed on the Walt Whitman Bridge last weekend. Rest well, officer.
1 man believed linked to a home invasion in Concord who was captured on store surveillance video using a credit card stolen during the heist.
3 teens from Delco charged in a home burglary in Plymouth Meeting.
2 kids, a brother and sister home for the MLK holiday, who chased off two home invaders. Police have now released a composite of one of the suspects.
67, age of Upper Darby barber charged with selling drugs out of his shop.
21 point lead for Sen. Arlen Specter over challenger U.S. Rep. Joe Sestak, according to new Rasmussen poll. Specter leads 53-32.
49-40 edge for likely GOP candidate Pat Toomey over Specter in a general election run. Toomey leads Sestak 43-35.
200,000 owed by Norwood Borough to their sewer authority, just part of the $700,000 in bills owed by the borough.
2.1 billion in slots revenue in Pa. in December, as opposed to just $2 billion in New Jersey, the first time Pa. has outstripped its neighbor.
19, age of neighboring kid now charged in the brutal beating death of an 86-year-old woman in her Philly home. She had known the teen all his life.
17, age of teen charged in Del. with stealing a car while a baby was still strapped in the car seat in the back seat. The baby was uninjured.
8.9 percent jobless rate in Pa in December, that’s up .4 of a percentage point from November.
240 jobs that will be created by Boscov’s department stores as it recovers
3 percent pay hike for teachers in Philadelphia in two of their new 3-year contract.
2.3 million vehicles being recalled by Toyota to fix problems with gas pedals that can stick, causing the cars to race out of control.
36, age of pizza delivery man from Upper Darby shot and killed in West Philadelphia.
24 million reasons to smile for Phils right-hander Joe Blanton. He signed a new 3-year deal yesterday.
22 million dollar deal expected to be formalized by the Phils with centerfielder Shane Victorino today.
19 games played for Allen Iverson this year. He’s still be voted as a starter for the East in the NBA All-Star Game.

Call me a Phanatic: A look at the ups and downs of being a Philadelphia sports fan.Want to know with having fans vote for all-star teams. Allen Iverson has been voted as a starter for the East squad.
I Don’t Get It: John Edwards now says that despite his earlier denials, that baby his mistress delivered is his. He also initially denied cheating on his wife, who is battling cancer. Shame on him.
Today’s Upper: The emergency that was declared yesterday after Jewish teen donned a headpiece used during prayers could remind us all that we could stand to learn a little more about other religions.
Quote Box: “I think they were in awe of how many people came out to show their love and support for their brother.”
- Rev. Joseph McLoone, speaking of family of DRPA Officer Christopher Milito, who was buried yesterday.

Choppy water for Sestak

Joe Sestak made his bones as an admiral in the Navy.

Now his campaign for the U.S. Senate is taking on water. The good ship Sestak took another couple of shots across the bow yesterday.

First some new poll numbers came out that showed Sen. Arlen Specter, the newly minted Democrat, widening his lead over the challenger Sestak in their primary race for the seat Specter has held for a couple of decades.

Specter now leads Sestak by 21 points, according to the latest Rasmussen poll, with 53 percent of likely voters saying they would back the incumbent, and just 32 in the corner of the upstart second-term congressman.

When he visited with the editorial board a week ago, Sestak downplayed the polls, instead focusing on Specter’s electability numbers, which continue to flounder. Yesterday’s Rasmussen poll numbers continued that drumbeat, pointing out that just a little more than half the voters approve of Specter’s performance.

There were worse numbers later on in the day for Specter, when Rasmussen released polling data that indicated Republican Pat Toomey stretching his lead over Specter.

But the news got decidedly more ominous for Sestak a little later in the day.

Apparently state Democratic chairman T.J. Rooney has seen enough. No doubt spooked by the upset win by Republicans in the Massachusetts Senate race, and the new numbers showing Toomey pulling away from Specter, Rooney said the party would be better off if Sestak got out of the race.

That would allow Democrats to unite behind Specter, and also clear the path for Sestak to seek re-election to his 7th District congressional seat.

That was the original plan when Specter announced his party switch.
President Barack Obama, Vice President Joe Biden, and Gov. Ed Rendell all embraced Specter with open arms. Someone forgot to invite Sestak to the party.

Rooney wants Specter to be able to focus on Toomey in the general election, not get mired in a rough primary with a fellow Democrat.

So far, Sestak does not seem especially keen on the idea.

Rooney even tried some language that might strike a chord with the longtime Navy man.

“We need all hands on deck this year,” Rooney said of the Senate race.

Sestak is vowing to stay in the race.

All hands on deck? Sestak might be ready to sound general quarters.

The shame of John Edwdards

This one’s for my sister.

It takes a special kind of person to do battle with cancer. It is a harrowing experience, as much mentally as physically.

It helps to have a loving, supportive spouse at your side.

Then there’s John Edwards.

I work with words every day. But I’m at a loss to come up with a description for Edwards.

I suppose sleaze might suffice. Or perhaps slime.

There’s a part of me that always suspected that Edwards’ act was phony.
Maybe it was the $400 haircut.

For those not yet aware, Edwards this week confirmed what most had already suspected. He was the father of the baby born to his ex-mistress.

It’s not the first time a man has strayed. Nor the first time a person in the spotlight has turned out to be something other than his public persona. See Woods, Tiger.

But the Edwards case is different. For several reasons.

At the time of his dalliance – with the woman he hired to be the videographer on his campaign – Edwards’ wife was battling an incurable form of cancer.

Edwards had denied he was the girl’s father, even after he finally admitted cheating on his wife.

And he apparently went to great lengths to try to cover up his paternity. That includes having a key aide say publicly that he was actually the father. And it includes a bizarre tale including dirty diapers and bogus DNA tests.

He had that part right. Because that’s what this entire story smells like. It’s a stench that now is permanently attached to Edwards’
pretty-boy smile.

Remember, this guy was a U.S. Senator. No, that does not make him immune to personal failures. This was a little more than that.

Edwards used his wife, he used his aides, he used the voters.

At one time he was John Kerry’s running mate. He could have been the vice president. A lot of people thought this guy had what it takes to be president of the United States.

Now he’s a sleaze.

And so richly deserved.

Shame on you, John Edwards.

Oh, I forgot. That’s part of the problem. We’ve lost our ability to be shamed.

I expect Edwards to show up and shed a few tears with Oprah any day now.
I only hope his wife will not be with him.

The joke of NBA All-Star voting

Allen Iverson will be starting for the East squad at the NBA All-Star Game.

A few weeks ago, he was retired. At least for a couple of days.

Iverson has played 19 games this season. He originally was on the West ballot since he began the season with the Memphis Grizzlies. He lasted all of three games there.

He’s played 16 games with the Sixers, and is averaging 14.8 points per game. His votes shifted over to the East when he returned to his roots here in Philly.

Hey, it could have been worse. At least Steve Nash finally overtook Tracy McGrady to be a starting guard for the West.

McGrady has played in just six games for the Rockets.

This is why having fans vote for All-Star teams is a joke.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

The Daily Numbers - Jan. 21

The Daily Numbers: 17, age of Interboro student William James Bradley V, who was struck by a car and killed as he rode his bike home from school.
40, age of DRPA Police Cpl. Christopher Milito, who was struck and killed by a car as he came to a motorist’s aid on the Walt Whitman Bridge last weekend.
24 to 47 years in jail for a man convicted of gunning down a man on a Darby street.
21,000 dollars believed ripped off from dead clients by a disbarred lawyer from Newtown Square. He had previously pleaded guilty to ripping off disabled vets. Nice.
17,500 dollars in fines and court costs for truancy violations by a former Interboro High student. He’s now in jail when the law caught up with him.
13,500 dollar reward for information leading to the arrest of the suspect who shot and wounded a Westtown-East Goshen officer this week.
125 parents who packed a meeting last night in an effort to keep Saint Joseph’s School open in Collingdale. The archdiocese is mulling a recommendation to close the doors after this year.
718,417 dollars in debt. That’s what the new council in Norwood says was left in their lap by the outgoing board. That includes $504,000 in unpaid bills.
25 percent of all donations to the Haiti relief funds that’s been done by text message. That’s $24 million in $10 increments. All you have to do is text ‘Haiti” to 90999.
25 birds seized when SPCA officers raided a home in Kensington section of Philadelphia suspected as being a base for a cockfighting ring.
189 million dollars, amount players lost in casino slot machines in Pa.
in December. It’s the first time the Pa. number has been greater than New Jersey. Pa. is now No. 1 in the Northeast.
15 years in prison for an investment adviser from West Chester who admitted swindling elderly clients out of $1.5 million.
7.5 hours a day, how much time the experts tell us kids are spending using electronic media.
65 million dollar jackpot up for grabs Saturday night after no one hit all the Powerball numbers last night.
3 men charged in a plot in which 2 of them were hired by a New Jersey bowling alley owner to torch a rival lanes. The place was destroyed.
24 points for Andre Miller as the Trail Blazers beat the Sixers last night. Nah, they don’t need him.
19-8, the Blazers record in the games in which Miller has started.
8 straight wins for Villanova, which rolled over Rutgers last night, 94-68.
22 points for Temple senior standout Ryan Brooks as the Owls won a big game over A-10 rival Xavier, 77-72.
16 of 20 losses recently for tonight’s Flyers foe, the Columbus Blue Jackets, coached by our old pal Ken Hitchcock.

Call me a Phanatic: A look at the ups and downs of being a Philadelphia sports fan.Donovan McNabb has surfaced with a new blog item. He has titled it ‘Unfinished Business.’ Spare me.
I Don’t Get It: Talk about a hot business rivalry. The owner of a bowling alley in New Jersey apparently tired of losing business to another lanes not far away. His solution? Police say he hired two guys to burn it down. I don’t get it.
Today’s Upper: The family of a former Villanova lacrosse star who was shot in a street confrontation in Old City over the weekend say he was a hero, putting his body between the shooter and his friends.
Quote Box: “I’m sorry. Really, really sorry.”
- Card left at makeshift memorial to Interboro student William James Bradley V, who was struck and killed as he rode his bike home from school.

Two very sad stories

There is almost nothing as sad as the death of a young person. And it’s something we find ourselves doing all too often. Today we're reporting on two such incidents.

It’s an all too familiar scene. Officers standing at attention as the coffin containing a comrade goes by.

The long blue line formed once again this morning outside the Basilica of SS. Peter and Paul in Center City for the funeral of Delaware River Port Authority Cpl. Christopher Milito, of Upper Providence.

He was killed last weekend while doing what he did so often, coming to a motorist’s aid on the Walt Whitman Bridge. Milito was struck and killed by another motorist.

He has that in common with William James Bradley V. The Interboro High School student was riding his bike home from school on South Avenue in Glenolden Tuesday afternoon when he was struck by a car. He died of his injuries.

Yesterday, his classmates gathered near the scene to honor their friend.
Last night they held a candlelight vigil there to remember a guy who friends said "made everybody smile.”

Milito was 40. Bradley was just 17. Both gone way too young.

Too much of what we report every day is just overwhelmingly sad.

None more so than today.

A visit with Pat Toomey

Pat Toomey was in Delaware County yesterday to meet the county GOP brass and press the flesh at an event last night.

No doubt there were smiles all around. That’s because Republicans here and across the country were beaming in the afterglow of what happened on Tuesday in Massachusetts.

Before his meeting with local Republicans, Toomey sat down with the Daily Times Editorial Board.

The first thing I asked him was to “read the tea leaves” of what happened in New England. He did not mince words.

Toomey is looking to do the same thing Scott Brown did in Massachusetts.
Brown stunned the political world by capturing the Senate seat held for 47years by Ted Kenendy. A Republican, Toomey will likely be the party’s nominee for the U.S. Senate. He will face off in November with the winner of the Arlen Specter-Joe Sestak battle royal for the Democratic nomination.

Toomey said voters in Massachusetts sent a message to the nation’s capital that will ring across the country, a warning that the Democratic Party has been hijacked by the most extreme ideologues within the party running and agenda that does not represent the wishes of the majority of the country. He believes that message was delivered loud and clear, a vote against outrageous spending, trillion-dollar deficits and bailing out failing banks and businesses.

Instead, Toomey is calling for Washington to recalibrate, re-focus on jobs and strengthening our economy.

He’d start with health care, by pulling the plug on the plan now being pushed by Democrats.

Toomey is the first to admit that many of the economic problems that drove the economy into the worst recession since the Great Depression were rooted in the previous Bush Administation. He chides the former president for failing to take advantage of a mandate and Republican Congress, and for abandoning fiscal restraint and disciplined spending.
And he points out that Obama is in the process of making the same mistakes.

Toomey is of the belief that you can’t spend your way out of a recession, and warns that the “bubble” that torpedoed the economy in the housing and mortgage industry could well be repeated if spending is not controlled. That’s one reason he believes jobs have yet to show real indications of a turnaround.

Toomey has been down this road before. He narrowly lost a GOP primary to Specter in 2004.

I asked him if he’s the same candidate, one who critics said was too far to the right to win a statewide race. He disputed that belief, and said he’s ready to do what he did three times as a Congressman, win in a Democratic district.

Toomey especially warmed to the task in talking about his old foe, the newly minted Democratic Sen. Specter.

Toomey harpooned the longtime senator for losing any shred of credibility with his recent party switch meant only to salvage his own political neck.

And he has a warning for all those Democratic leaders who were quick to jump on the Specter bandwagon. He would not be surprised in the least should Sestak pull the upset.

Of course, that might be wishful thinking on his part, seeing himself as much more of a middle-of-the-road candidate than the “extremely” liberal Sestak.

One thing is sure. Toomey is ready for the race.

And he will prove a formidable candidate regardless of who the Democrats rally behind.

The 76ers lost season

It was old home week at the Wachovia Center again last night.

You’ll have to forgive Sixers fans if they were not in the mood for a party.

The familiar face in the Portland Trail Blazers uniform was that of Andre Miller. You might remember him. His work at point guard unified a young Sixers team and led them to the playoffs the last couple of years.

Unfortunately, in the offseason the Sixers decided they no longer needed Miller’s services, and allowed him to sign a free agent deal with the Blazers.

Not only did the Sixers indicate they no longer required Miller’s veteran expertise, they didn’t have much use for a point guard – period.

After all, they had hired Eddie Jordan as their new coach, and he was planning to implement the vaunted “Princeton offense.” Jordan assured us a point guard wasn’t essential to his plan.

How’s that worked out? The Sixers are in the midst of a hellish season.
The next time the Sixers display anything that remotely looks like Pete Carril’s famed weave of picks, backdoor cuts and intricate passes will be the first.

And Miller? He led all scorers with 24 points last night as the Blazers won, 98-90.

No, the Sixers don’t need Miller. They don’t need a point guard.

Here’s a question for GM Ed Stefanski and Jordan: What exactly is the point of this lost season?

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

The Daily Numbers - Jan. 20

The Daily Numbers: 50,000 dollars, how much the family of Marcus Reason is asking for in wrongful death suit filed against NBA rookie Tyreke Evans. That’s minimum.
3.6 million dollars, how much Evans will make this year in the NBA.
12 archdiocesan schools that have closed their doors in Delco since 1990.
13, if as expected St. Joseph’s School in Collingdale becomes the latest victim of declining enrollments.
230 kids currently enrolled at St. Joe’s. That could drop under 200 after graduation this June.
4 archdiocesan parish schools in Lower Bucks County that will be merged into one regional school next year.
4 years old, age of Marcia Reyes, thrown to her death from a bridge in Chester in 1993. Gov. Rendell yesterday signed a new death warrant for her father, Angel Reyes.
20,000 dollars needed to complete a park in honor of Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. in Chester.
17, age of Interboro High School student killed when he was struck by a car while riding his bike on South Avenue yesterday afternoon.
50,000 dollar grant for Chester police that will be used to buy new handbooks.
2 siblings with a business in Upper Darby charged by the feds yesterday in another elaborate bribery sting operation.
23 percent increase in number of Delco residents receiving food stamp or other forms assistance in the last year.
20 million dollar gift from an alum to the University of Pennsylvania.
2.5 million dollars of tree work for Asplundh Inc. in a big deal from Peco for trimming projects around power lines.
80, age of woman in Del. charged with abusing her husband. He’s 82.
She’s getting 8 years in prison.
7 veterans remains that will be the first interred in a new cemetery in Bucks County today.
5 goals for the Flyers as they rolled over former coach Ken Hitchcock and the Blue Jackets last night.
16 of 20 losses recently for tonight’s Flyers foe, the Columbus Blue Jackets, coached by our old pal Ken Hitchcock.
2 goals for former Flyer R. J. Umberger in a losing effort.
29 days until pitchers and catchers report to Phillies Spring Training camp in Clearwater.

Call me a Phanatic: A look at the ups and downs of being a Philadelphia sports fan.This could only happen to a Philly fan. Jimmy Rollins is in the Grand Cayman Islands, where he will get married this weekend. Several teammates are supposed to be there. Yesterday they had an earthquake.
Rollins is fine.
I Don’t Get It: Police are asking for the public’s help in the murder of an 86-year-old woman in Philly. She was beaten to death in her home with a frying pan. I don’t get it.
Today’s Upper: A setback in court yesterday for convicted killer Mumia Abu-Jamal and a new date with death for Angel Reyes in the murder of his daughter, Marcia. Good.
Quote Box: “Tyreke Evans did nothing wrong related to this incident involving Marcus Reason.”
- Hayes Hunt, Evans’ attorney, in response to wrongful death suit filed against the NBA star and three others yesterday.

The Civera Watch

Mario Civera was back at work as the newest county councilman yesterday.

There were no protesters as was the case the week before when a small band of Upper Darby Democrats marched outside the Media courthouse to show their displeasure over Civera’s decision to keep both his state House seat and his post on County Council, at least for the forseeable future.

That doesn’t mean they’re going away. Yesterday they took a new tack in their efforts to get Civera to give up his 164th District seat in the Legislature.

Instead of pleading with the longtime Upper Darby Republican, they now are taking their case to County Council Chairman Jack Whelan. They sent him a letter urging him to intercede and ask his fellow Republican – and running mate – to give up his state House post.

I hope they’re not holding their breath. I doubt that’s going to happen.

We also now have heard from Keith McCall. He’s a Democrat from Carbon County. (Quick, raise your hand if you know where Carbon County is.) He also happens to be the Speaker of the state House of Representatives.

In a letter published in this newspaper on Sunday, Civera made it clear he believes this is all about politics, and that the Speaker and other Democrats have set a special election for May 18, Primary Day, in a partisan fashion in order to capture the 164th District seat Civera has held for 30 years. Civera says he has no intention of going along with the Dems’ plan, and will simply stay in the House until the point where it would not be legally possible to hold the special election on Primary Day, a day when Democrats are looking for a huge turnout due to the U.S.
Senate race between Arlen Specter and Joe Sestak.

Today McCall fires back. In a letter of his own, he denies politics had anything to do with his decision to call the special election on Primary Day. He maintains he simply wanted to hold the election when it would be the most economical – there are already three other seats to be decided in special elections that day – and in an effort to get as many people to the polls as possible.

I’m not sure I’m totally buying that argument.

This is all about politics. And the battle for power in Harrisburg.

And just one more reminder of what’s wrong with this system.

The Tyreke Evans case

Tyreke Evans is well on his way to being an NBA superstar.

The Sacramento Kings guard is averaging 20.8 points per game. He is considered the front-runner to be the NBA Rookie of the Year.

That’s a long way from the streets of Chester where Evans grew up, and where at a very early age most people who saw him play predicted great things for him.

Evans starred at American Christian Academy and for a year at Memphis before entering the NBA Draft. He has never looked back.

But his past may be catching up with him. Evans has left Chester, but he still has not escaped the events of Nov. 25, 2007.

On that night Evans was driving his Ford expedition in Chester Township.
In the SUV with him were three other men, including his cousin Jamar.

According to police, the four men in the car that night believed a man approaching the vehicle did not want to talk hoops. They believed he meant them harm, most likely with a gun.

Jamar Evans pulled out a gun and fired a single shot, killing Marcus Reason. No gun was found on Reason.

Tyreke Evans was never charged in the case. Jamar Evans eventually pleaded guilty and is serving nine to 20 years in prison. Tyreke Evans cooperated with police and testified against his cousin at his preliminary hearing.

But the family of Marcus Reason is not satisfied. They have filed a wrongful death suit against the four men in the vehicle that fateful night. Only one of them is due to make $3.6 million this year.

The attorney who filed the suit for the Reason family alleged that some of Tyreke Evans’ actions that night contributed to Marcus Reason’s death, including the fact that Evans knew which direction was he was driving when he approached Reason, and that he knew the other the other three young men in the SUV were carrying guns.

An attorney for Tyreke Evans denies both those accusations, saying “Tyrone Evans did nothing wrong related to this incident involving Marcus Reason.”

I suppose there are two ways to look at this case. One would be a money grab against a young man who is now a star NBA athlete and millionaire.

The other would be the still-mourning family of a murder victim who continue to seek justice in their loved one’s death, one they don’t necessarily believe was delivered by the plea deal entered by Jamar Evans.

It will be very interesting to see if a jury ever gets to make that call.

One other thing should be said here. There were no shortage of people willing to offer their opinions about Tyreke Evans, both at the time of the incident, and throughout his career at American Christian.

But for almost the entire time he left Chester for Memphis, and so far in his rookie season in the NBA, he has been described as nothing short of a model citizen and budding young superstar.

But he still has not completely escaped from the streets of Delaware County, and some of the things that happened here.

An epic upset in Mass.

It’s still a little hard to comprehend.

The U.S. Senate seat held for 47 years by Ted Kennedy, and even longer by the legendary Massachusetts political family, now sits in the hands of a man with an R next to his name.

The “Liberal Lion” of the Senate, who died in August, must be rolling over his grave.

And the election of Scott Brown over Democratic state Attorney General Martha Coakley might just put President Barack Obama’s agenda in grave danger.

That’s because the election of a Republican means the split in the Senate will now be 59-41, instead of the current 60-40. And that means that the president’s measures – including health care reform – are no longer veto-proof.

Brown ran hard on the idea that this was the “people’s seat,” not one that belonged to the Kennedys.

Not much question today about how Massachusetts felt about it.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

The Daily Numbers - Jan. 19

The Daily Numbers: 200,000 people now feared dead in the devastation left in Haiti.
250,000 people injured, with 100 million dollars in emergency aid already pledged in the U.S.
40, age of Christopher Milito, a 15-year veteran of the DRPA police force, who was struck and killed on the Walt Whitman Bridge early Saturday.
150 participants who took part in an “Empty Bowls” fundraiser on the Widener campus to mark the Martin Luther King Jr. Holiday.
3 armed men who burst into a home in a quiet residential area on Ivy Mill Road in Concord over the weekend.
2 men who barged into a home in Bethel while 2 children were home on Monday, the holiday from school.
7, age of girl abducted and then released last week in Delaware. It’s drawn the attention of police in Bethel, who continue to probe a similar incident in their township a couple of months ago.
2 suspects, a man and woman, being sought after a police officer in Chester County was shot during a routine car stop investigation in East Goshen.
53 Haitian orphans being brought back to Pa. by Gov. Ed Rendell, who led a team of medical personnel to Haiti to retrieve the kids on Monday.
23, age of former Villanova lacrosse star who was gunned down during an altercation at 4th and Market streets in Philly over the weekend. A Temple Law School student now faces charges.
9 months, age of baby found inside car that was carjacked in Philly. Both the baby and the car were recovered without incident. A 37-year-old homeless man now faces charges.
5 months old, age of baby returned unharmed after another carjacking, this one in New Castle County, Del.
68, age of woman found beaten to death in the basement of her home in the Germantown section of Philadelphia.
175 jobs being eliminated by Lonza Group Inc. as the chemical supplier closes a plant in Conshohocken.
47 years, how long Ted Kennedy held a U.S. Senate seat from Massachusetts. That could end today in a special election.
20 point lead blown by the Sixers yesterday as they suffered maybe their worst loss of the season, falling to the T-Wolves in OT.
16 of 20 losses recently for tonight’s Flyers foe, the Columbus Blue Jackets, coached by our old pal Ken Hitchcock.
61 carries for 274 yards this season for Brian Westbrook. He also had 25 catches for 181 yards. Westbrook’s cranky knee might case him to retire.
2.125 million deal for Chad Durbin, who signed 1-year pact with Phils yesterday, thus avoiding arbitration.
3 other Phils who could exchange salary arbitration figures with the team today, Shane Victorino, Carlos Ruiz and Joe Blanton.
30 days until pitchers and catchers report to Phillies Spring Training camp in Clearwater.

Call me a Phanatic: A look at the ups and downs of being a Philadelphia sports fan.Anybody have any ideas on how to fix the Sixers, aside from simply blowing the team up and starting all over again. I don’t envy Ed Stefanski. Of course, he got himself in this position, re-signing Andre Iguodala to a long deal, then signing Elton Brand, who looks like a shadow of his old self, and firing Mo Cheeks and bringing in Eddie Johnson, which has not exactly worked out.
I Don’t Get It: Don’t look now, but what were once thought to be fairly safe communities are no longer immune to serious crime. Police are investigating two home invasions yesterday in quiet areas of the western part of the county.
Today’s Upper: Kudos to all those who took part in MLK Day activities yesterday. The key now is to put those lessons to work every day.
Quote Box: “He was just the best person in the world.”
- Gianna Furlan, the 8-year-old niece of DRPA Police Officer Chris Milito, who was killed in the line of duty Saturday morning.

End of an era?

The eyes of the nation today will focus on Massachusetts, where something once thought unimaginable just might happen.

Ted Kennedy’s seat in the U.S. Senate could fall into Republican hands.

A special election will be held today to fill the remainder of the “Liberal Lion” of the Senate’s term. Democratic State Attorney General Martha Coakler, who once looked like a lock to fill Kennedy’s seat, is now in the fight of her life with Republican Scott Brown, a state senator. Recent polls have shown Brown pulling ahead.

There is much at stake in this race, and no shortage of irony as well.
It was one of Kennedy’s lifetime goals to reform the health care system in this country. How ironic would it be if the key vote against that proposal would come from the seat he held for decades?

If elected, Brown would negate the Democrats’ 60-seat supermajority in Washington and prove a huge problem for President Barack Obama’s legislative agenda, including health care reform.

Brown has not shied away from running against the history of the state, and this Senate seat in particular.

His rallying cry has been that it’s “not the Kennedy’s seat, it’s the people’s seat.”

“It’s us against the machine,” he told a rally this week. “Make sure that we send a message to Washington that business as usual is not how we like to do business.”

For the Kennedy family, business as usual has meant holding that Senate seat since Jack Kennedy went to the Senate in the 1950s.

That reign just might end today.

Bet on it

Don’t start counting all the loot that’s expected to roll into Pennsylvania’s new slots parlors this summer when they start offering table games.

They might have company.

Delaware is about to raise the stakes, so to speak. Again.

The ever-increasing war to remove every last dime from would-be gamblers’ pockets has been slowly but surely ratcheting up in recent years. First it was Atlantic City looking to be the Las Vegas of the East Coast. Then Delaware got into the act. Pennsylvania, tired of seeing money bleed out of almost every border, and also desperate for a way to tame out of control property taxes, jumped in with slots parlors a couple of years ago. Atlantic City has been feeling the hit ever since. Delaware decided to fight back by trying to legalize sports betting. A court blocked that attempt, leaving bettors only able to take part in parlay bets on three games at a time. To cure their most recent budget woes, the Pa. legislature has finally signed off on table games.
Soon players will be able to sit at tables at Harrah’s in Chester and play poker, roulette and craps.

That has not gone unnoticed in nearby Delaware. Pols down I-95 have now introduced their own version of table games. It could be taken up in the Delaware House this week. Backers of the move say it will create 750 jobs, permitting table games at the state’s three existing casinos, Dover Downs, Delaware Park and Harrington.

Harrah’s has said the addition of table games will mean another 300 jobs on the Chester waterfront. This Saturday they will hold a job fair tied to table games.

All of which makes you wonder where all this gambling is going to wind up. Are we now destined to cure every budget ill, every unfunded program, with another game of chance?

I think you can pretty much bet on it.

The winter of our sports discontent

For Philly sports fans, welcome to the winter of our discontent.

At first, we smiled as the Vikings dismantled the Cowboys on Sunday. Then our frown turned upside down when we realized that what the game really underscored is just how far the gap has become between the Eagles and the NFL’s elite.

The Cowboys manhandled the Eagles on two successive weekends. In the process they became the so-called “hot” team in the NFL, and the darlings of the national media. Owner Jerry Jones and quarterback Tony Romo talked of how Dallas had finally exorcised the December and playoff demons that had haunted them for more than a decade. The Cowboys kicked the Eagles to the curb, and were now ready to reclaim their status among the NFL’s best.

Uh, not exactly.

But if Sunday’s game vs. the Vikings was humbling for the ‘Boys, it also should serve as an eye opener for Eagles fans. Just how big is the gulf that separates the Birds from the Vikings and the Saints, who will meet Sunday in the NFC title game? You might remember the Eagles crossed paths with the Saints in Week 2 of the NFL season and got blown out.

The thought was that Andy Reid and the rest of the self-proclaimed “Gold Standard” down at the Nova Care Center would have to devise a way to make the Eagles competitive with the Cowboys next year. They still do, if they expect to win the NFC East. But the Eagles now must come to the realization they’ve fallen behind the real powers in the NFC as well.

Of course, we can always turn to winter sports to ease our pain. Take the Sixers. Please.

All they did Monday was suffer what likely was their worst defeat of the season, blowing a double-digit lead in falling to maybe the worse team in the league, outside of themselves, of course.

The Flyers? They’re trying to figure out why the guy visiting tonight as the coach of the Columbus Bluejackets is still not standing behind their bench. And their captain is at war with the media.

How many days until spring training?

Monday, January 18, 2010

The Daily Numbers - Jan. 18

The Daily Numbers: 31 of Delco’s 49 municipalities that hiked taxes in their budgets this year. And that does not count the county, which also hit taxpayers with a hike.
7 percent increase in the levy on Delco taxpayers for their county tax bill.
94,700 dollars in merchandise ripped off from Terrain at Styers in Concord last week.
4 gunshots suffered by an Upper Darby teen during a struggle with 2 other teens.
5,000 worth of jewels that were stashed in a freezer in a Middletown home.
100 years of Catholic worship celebrated Sunday at Sacred Heart Parish in Clifton Heights.
1 person shot 4 times Saturday night after an altercation at 4th and Market streets in Old City Philadelphia.
16 year veteran of the DRPA police force, Christopher Milito of Media was struck and killed on the Walt Whitman Bridge early Saturday.
450 million deficit already looming in the state. Gov. Ed Rendell says he’s cut just about everything he can. Any other forms of gambling available?
4 survivors of the devastating Haiti earthquake who were airlifted out and are being treated at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania.
2.83, average price of gas in 5-county Philly region as the prices continues to creep up.
3 points scored by the Cowboys yesterday as they got blown out by the Vikings.
27 points for Scottie Reynolds as Villanova rolled to an 82-77 win over Georgetown.
2 goal lead for the Flyers but they couldn’t make it hold up and lost, 5-3, to the Caps.

Call me a Phanatic: A look at the ups and downs of being a Philadelphia sports fan.Yes, I can admit to thoroughly enjoying watching the Cowboys fall to the Vikings yesterday, including that last touchdown that the ‘Boys believe was a case of running up the score by the Vikes.
I Don’t Get It: The Golden Globes. How many days until the Academy Awards?
Today’s Upper: Kudos to American Red Cross Emergency Preparedness Director Alex Agosti, who visited a church in East Lansdowne with a large Haitian population Sunday and offering his condolenes to those grieving, and help for others.
Quote Box: “Our couhntry is in agony.”
- Pastor Henry Dorval, to his congregation at Deliverance Church of God in East Lansdowne, about the situation in Haiti.

The dream

Today is the day we set aside each year to try to make “the dream” a reality.

I refer to the famous speech and vision of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

You can read the entire text of King’s famous speech, and watch a video by CLICKING HERE.

I have a theory when it comes down to race in America. Maybe it’s because of what I do for a living. My theory comes down to this:
Everything comes down to race.

Don’t believe me? Come in here and answer the phones some day. Read the Sound Offs that don’t make the paper. Read the comments that are posted on the stories on our Web site every day.

It doesn’t matter if it’s about crime in Upper Darby, or the Eagles signing Michael Vick.

It seems every story is seen in black and white.

A year ago I believed the nation had reached a milestone in race relations when Barack Obama was sworn in as the nation’s first African-American president.

A year later I’m not so sure. More than that, I’m not sure we’ll ever get beyond some of our issues with race.

Each year I marvel as I read the words and listen to Dr. King deliver his famous speech.

In part because of what I do, just once I would like to pen something with that kind of power. It is a tremendous speech, maybe the best speech I have ever read. And Dr. King’s delivery only adds to the thunder.

I just wish the dream contained a little more reality in our everyday lives.

That’s my dream.

How 'bout dem Cowboys!

So much for the vaunted Cowboys.

Yes, I can admit that I thoroughly enjoyed the dismanting of Dallas this weekend by Brett Favre and the Minnesota Vikings.

But there was one thing missing for much of the game. As the rout was on in the second half, I kept waiting for Fox to give me one of those shots of Cowboys’ owner Jerry Jones that they like to shove down our throats when the ‘Boys are winning.

I noticed that Jones was conspicuously absent from my screen as Tony Romo et al reverted to their normal blundering playoff modus operandi.

Before the game, I had to stomach a big piece on how the Cowboys had finally exorcised their demons – at the hands of the Eagles.

I was once again wondering where Jerry was when, lo and behold, there he was on my screen.

Eventually the owner made his way down to the field. To do exactly what I have no idea.

Then another thought struck me while I was gloating over the Cowboys’

Is it OK to enjoy the way the Cowboys fell, or wonder just how far away that puts the Eagles from being competitive with the NFL’s elite.

The Cowboys now are right back to the same doubts and questions they had before those two games with the Eagles.

Exactly where that puts the Eagles I am not sure. And I don’t think I want to know.

Not so Golden

Maybe it’s just me, but does it strike anyone else as just a little bit
absurd to watch all those Hollywood celebrities marching around the red
carpet at the Golden Globe Awards last night, while in Haiti people have
no water, no shelter, no medicine and little help.

I know that life has to go on, but maybe, just this one time, did anyone
even consider simply scrapping the event and giving all the money to the
fundraising drive for Haiti.

Then again, I also noticed that NBC is going to give Conan O’Brien $30
million NOT to go to work. This is all part of the Peacock’s implosion
and the failed experiment with Jay Leno in prime time.

They’re now going to move Jay back to his old spot, and give Conan the boot.

Conan is not happy. But he is going to get a huge check to go away.

And again I wonder how much good that check could do in Haiti.

Friday, January 15, 2010

The Daily Numbers - Jan. 15

The Daily Numbers: 50,000 people feared dead in the devastation left in the rubble of a 7.0 earthquake that flattened much of the capital city of Haiti.
1 coed from the Trenton area who is still missing and feared buried in the rubble of a collapsed hotel in Haiti.
1 year since popular mobile grocer Abe Farkas was gunned down in his bus in Chester.
0 suspects arrested in the case.
10,000 dollar reward that remains for information in the case.
6 men charged with illegal hunting in Upland. You read it right. They were hunting deer near the Caleb Pusey Plantation.
2 Democratic U.S. Senate candidates who yesterday joined the chorus asking state Rep. Mario Civera, R-164, to step down from his post now that he’s been sworn in as a new county councilman.
1 debate set between Joe Sestak and Arlen Specter as they face off for Democratic nomination for U.S. Senate.
20,000 dollars, what Aldan Borough says it spent cleaning up from the big snow storm on Dec. 19-20.
20 to 40 years in the slammer for a man convicted of robbing a bank.
10,000 reward now offered for info on the murder of an 86-year-old woman in her Lower Moreland home.
80, age of man in Montco held for trial in the beating death of his wife. He is due to get psychological testing.
8, age of N.J. child who has found himself on the TSA’s “No-Fly” list.
He shares a name with person who draws suspicion from the feds. His parents are not amused.
300 dollar fine to be slapped on Sunoco by Philadelphia for that stench that emanated from a spill at their refinery in South Philly and covered much of the area overnight Thursday.
4.6 billion in revenue in the fourth quarter for software giant SAP, which has its North American HQ out in Newtown Square.
161 million more in cuts put in place by Pa. government. They can’t get those table games in place fast enough.
40 million up for grabs in Saturday night’s Powerball jackpot. Wonder if Gov. Rendell is buying tickets?
0 booze that will be available during “rush” activities for Penn State frats under a new rule.
15,000 birds that will be killed at a State College airport to avoid mid-air collisions with jets.
2 million dollars pocketed by a computer training school before it closed its doors. It’s now being sued by the Pa. AG.
0 goals last night for the Flyers, who saw their win streak snapped by the Maple Leafs.
2 surgeries for Phillies closer Brad Lidge this offseason. He had work done on his elbow, now he’s had a procedure on his cranky right knee.
1 year as Eagles special teams coach for Ted Daisher. He was fired yesterday.

Call me a Phanatic: A look at the ups and downs of being a Philadelphia sports fan.You probably did not know that it was their special teams that caused the Eagles to get blown out two weeks in a row by the Cowboys. The team fired their special teams coach yesterday, along with two strength and conditioning coaches.
I Don’t Get It: Radio talk show host Rush Limbaugh yesterday advised listeners not to give money to Haiti charitable drives, saying that’s why we pay taxes. I don’t get it.
Today’s Upper: Upper Darby High School today will rally around a student from Haiti. Our hearts are with them.
Quote Box: “A day doesn’t go by that I don’t miss him or think about him.”
- Maureen Beail-Farkas, widow of slain Chester grocer Abe Farkas. He was murdered a year ago. No arrest has been made.

The Decker case: Get the picture?

One of the things I like most about working online is the increased interaction we can have with readers.

If you don’t scroll down to the end of stories on our Web site, you’re missing a rare treat.

At the end of every story, readers have the ability to comment on the stories. As you might guess, our readers are not exactly shy. They point what they believe are flaws in our reporting, give their opinions on what happened, and often assume the role of judge and jury – on both the cases and us.

Almost nothing we have done online has generated the kind of response as the arrest of former Ridley Township Police Officer Brian Decker for allegedly assaulting a Wawa clerk.

And there has been a specific question asked again and again that I want to address.

Many commenters have pointed out that we have not used a photo of Decker. They believe we are giving him a break, and suggest it shows that we are biased in favor of the police. Some have gone so far as to say we are “in the pocket” of the cops, and that we do – and report - anything they want.

If that were the case, I can assure you the Decker story never would have gotten the publicity it did.

But the online world continues to wonder why Decker’s photo has not been plastered all over Page One and our Web site, as have so many other people who get arrested in this county. Some believe it’s because he’s a cop; others go so far as to indicate that if Decker were black we would be treating him differently.

None of these comes close to the truth, which is simply this. Decker’s photo has not appeared in the paper because we don’t have one. We were unable to get a picture of him when he was originally charged, nor were we able to get him when he left rehab and was arraigned. Very often police make available the “mug” shot taken when a suspect is booked.
That has not happened in this case.

This week we reported that Decker’s preliminary hearing, which was scheduled for Thursday, was continued. Again, no photo.

Rest assured that when Decker arrives for his preliminary hearing, we’ll be there. Both reporters and photographers. We will make every effort to get his picture.

Not that I think that will quell the online community who insist our handling of the Decker case is just the latest example of our bias in handling crime stories.

Feel free to add your own opinion. Welcome to the new world of community journalism.

We certainly have a big voice in it. Now, so do you.

Dems pile on Civera

I’m getting ready to throw a penalty flag on Delaware County Democrats.
Their foul? Piling on.

A series of Democrats yesterday came forward and urged state Rep. Mario Civera to resign his House seat.

Civera, as we have reported at length, has had a change of heart when it comes to holding two elected positions. Despite saying during the campaign for County Council that he had no intention of holding both the county post as well as the state House seat he has held for 30 years, he’s now had a change of tune.

And if you’re a Republican, it’s hard to blame him.

Then again, if you’re a Democrat, fire away.

Here’s the deal. Civera clearly now is reluctant to step away from his 164th District seat because the special election to fill the post is almost certainly going to fall on primary day, May 18. Democrats are rejoicing because they know they are sure to have a huge turnout that day as they decide between U.S. Rep. Joe Sestak and Sen. Arlen Specter in the U.S. Senate race.

Republicans, on the other hand, already facing a changing demographic in the 164th where Democrats now outnumber Republicans, want a more level playing field. That would include holding the election on a day other than primary day, despite the additional cost.

Yesterday, Democrats were coming out of the woodwork to call for Civera to step down.

Both Specter and Sestak got in the game. State Rep. Bryan Lentz, who is running for the 7th District Congress seat Sestak is giving up, already has legislation ready that would ban holding two positions.

For now, Civera is holding his ground. Today, he will sit down with our columnist Gil Spencer to tell his side of the story. I can’t wait to hear it.

We’ll give it to you on Sunday.

Lidge goes under knife - again

Stop me if you’ve heard this one before.

Brad Lidge is going under the knife. Actually, he already has. And guess what? He may not be ready for opening day. Opening Day? At Citizens Bank Park? What happened to Clearwater and spring training?

Lidge hasn’t been the same since Ryan Howard fell on him after he ended that perfect season in 2008, sealing a World Series victory for the Phils.

The problem is once again a balky right knee. Yes, the same one he had surgery on before that 2008 season. If you remember, Lidge showed up for the press conference announcing his arrival in Philly on crutches.

It’s not even his first surgery of this offseason. He already had a procedure to clean out his elbow.

Still, you have to wonder about the timing of this. A quick check of the calendar indicates the Phils have not played a game since November. But Lidge is having surgery now, a month before the team heads to Florida?

The Phils are saying it’s no big deal, that Lidge is likely to start a throwing program in about 10 days.

But they’re also saying their closer may be available on Opening Day.
Can you say Danys Baez?

Maybe Lidge just doesn’t like spring training.

Eagles start playing blame game

All this time we thought the Eagles had problems on offense and defense that led to those two wicked beatdowns at the hands of the hated Dallas Cowboys.

Now we know the real reason the Birds fell so hard: Special teams.

The blame game is starting down at Nova Care nation, and the ax is not far behind.

Yesterday it fell on special teams coach Ted Daisher. And just for good measure the Birds also canned strength and conditioning coaches Mike Wolf and his assistant, Jay Merlino.

That no doubt will put the Eagles on an even playing field with the Cowboys. Right?

The Birds brought in Bobby April to take over special teams.

No, this whole thing is not an April Fool’s joke.

In the meantime, Andy Reid is still saying Donovan McNabb is his guy and will be back as the team’s starting quarterback next year.

Maybe it’s just me, but sometimes I wonder exactly who wrote the public relations manual the Eagles operate under.

Gold Standard? The best roster in the NFL? Firing the special teams coach after you got manhandled on both sides of the line of scrimmage two weeks in a row by the Cowboys?

That’s a kick in the pants.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

The Daily Numbers - Jan. 14

The Daily Numbers: 7.0 earthquake that flattened much of the capital city of Haiti, leaving a wake of utter devastation.
100,000 feared dead in the rubble. And officials fear it could go much higher.
28, as in Jan. 28, the new date for the preliminary hearing for former Ridley policeman Brian Decker in an alleged assault on a Wawa employee.
250 dollars that will go to the Delco SPCA with every house that is sold by Century 21 Realtor Siobhan Boyle. Good for her.
1 Pa. state trooper who was shot and killed after responding to a domestic incident in Cranberry, Pa. Trooper Paul Richey was 40. He is survived by a wife and 2 young children.
59, age of singer Teddy Pendergrass, who died last night. There will never be another voice like that one.
83, age of Donald Goerke, who also died yesterday? Don’t know him? He invented SpaghettiOs.
1 person killed when fire swept through a home in West Philadelphia.
51, age of former prof at Drexel who pleaded guilty to possession of child porn.
2 teens killed in crash while another teen was driving in Chester County back in November. The driver now faces DUI charges.
2,400 boxes of Girl Scout Cookies that likely will be sold in the region in their annual fund drive, which kicks off today.
3 students arrested in unrelated incidents at South Philly High School, already under scrutiny for attacks on Asian students.
1 off-duty Philly police officer killed after he crashed his pickup truck on Kelly Drive.
2012, when some Philly officials are angling to host the Democratic National Convention.
3 soldiers killed in action in Afghanistan, including 1 from Altoona.
2 game win streak for the Sixers snapped last night when they fell to the Knicks.
16 points for Allen Iverson in the loss.
3 pointer at the deadline missed by Rodney Carney that could have given them the win.
35 days until pitchers and catchers report to Clearwater for the Phillies. We’ll count them down.

Call me a Phanatic: A look at the ups and downs of being a Philadelphia sports fan.You have to give it to Sam Dalembert. The Sixers center took the court with a heavy heart last night, thinking about friends and family in the utter devastation of his homeland in Haiti. Some times sports just seems so irrelevant.
I Don’t Get It: Slowly but surely you can see what is going on in the Mario Civera situation. It’s pure politics. And, by the way, it’s being played on both sides.
Today’s Upper: As usual, in times of horrendous tragedy, America is first to respond, first to send aid, and first to reach into our wallets.
Quote Box: “I think he should just resign, go do the job he was elected to do here locally and then let the speaker of the House, as is his legal power, set the special election.”
- Gov. Ed Rendell, commenting on state Rep. Mario Civera, who is holding on to his House seat while also sitting as a Delaware County Councilman.

Help for Haiti

Some situations, some stories, simply take your breath away.

That’s what I was thinking yesterday as the devastation that has rolled across Haiti became all too real.

And as usual, I was awed at the immediate response of so many, racing toward the destruction, instead of trying desperately to get as far away as possible.

It takes a special brand of people to do these things. Thing of all them today.

Think about the American Red Cross, which is already on the ground, helping those left with nothing in a country that had little to begin with.

Make a donation. Say a prayer.

You can make a donation to the Red Cross in Philly by going to their Web site,

You can also make a donation by phone by calling 1-800-REDCROSS.

Teddy Pendergrass, the voice of Philly

If you were to ask me to define or explain exactly what “the sound of Philadelphia is,” I would probably struggle.

But I could give you one name.

Teddy Pendergrass.

And one song.

This one.

Teddy Pendergrass died last night. He was 59. If you grew up in this area, and you did not slow dance to “If You Don’t Know Me by Now,” you don’t know what you’re missing.

Very simply put, Teddy Pendergrass was everything every guy who considered himself a fan of soul music wanted to be. He was the sexiest man on the planet, with a voice that simply oozed Philly.

I was a late arrival to the rock scene. When I was a kid, I listened – and danced – to soul records.

There were two distinct sounds that dominated the era. Motown, and all the great groups such as The Temptations and The Four Tops, and TSOP.

If you have to ask what TSOP stands for, you don’t get it.

Motown was driven by the beat, that constant thumping sound in the background. The Sound of Philadelphia was just that, a rich, orchestral background that accompanied so many of those songs by Gamble & Huff.

But it also had a voice. It belonged to Teddy Pendergrass.

The voice has now gone silent. But that sound never will.

I was stunned this morning when I flipped on the radio and learned Pendergrass had died. I didn’t even know he was sick.

Pendergrass was the front man for Harold Melvin & the Blue Notes before going on to a solo career.

He had been confined to a wheelchair since an auto accident in 1992. The crash cost him his legs. But not his voice.

And there was only one voice.

Go ahead, drop the needle on the record. There’s simply nothing like it.
Never was, likely never will be.

Thanks for the music, Teddy.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

The Daily Numbers - Jan. 13

The Daily Numbers: 1,254 homes that would be included in a ‘walkable community’ in the latest plan for the former Franklin Mint site on Baltimore Pike in Middletown.
235,200 square feet of office space in the plan, to go with 798,000 square feet of commercial space.
225 room hotel also included in the plans.
80 acres of open space for the parcel that stretches along the Pike.
2 previous bank robbery convictions on the record for a man who was charged with hitting another bank in Yeadon last week.
90 pounds of pot with a street value of as much as $400,000 that sparked guilty pleas from 6 men yesterday in Delco court.
6 debates being sought by U.S. Rep. Joe Sestak in his battle for the Democratic Senate nomination with Sen. Arlen Specter.
0, what it will cost to enter eight museums, including the Brandywine River Museum, across the region on Jan. 23.
0 fans other than family who will be allowed into basketball games at Olney High after a recent brawl at a game.
2 people killed on the streets of Philadelphia Tuesday night.
50 million dollars, how much Pennsylvania says it stands to make by introducing sales of Mega Millions tickets. They start sales Jan. 31, with the first drawing Feb. 2.
1, as in No. 1 ranking for Swarthmore College in the Princeton Review’s list for Best Value Colleges for private colleges.
8 arrests made in DUI checkpoints in Delaware tied to televised showings of NFL playoff games. Insult to injury for Eagles fans.
4 teens arrested in the carjacking of a Philly pizza delivery man. He later had a fatal heart attack.
4 straight wins for the Flyers, who pounded the Dallas Stars last night, ,6-3.
10 straight games in which the Flyers have scored first.
3.1 million dollars, how much Brett Myers will make this year to pitch for the Houston Astros.
36 days until pitchers and catchers report to Clearwater for the Phillies. We’ll count them down.

Call me a Phanatic: A look at the ups and downs of being a Philadelphia sports fan.Now what do we do, beside grumble about Andy Reid and Donovan McNabb.
Start the countdown. 36 days until pitchers and catchers report to Clearwater.
I Don’t Get It: A little know aspect of the recent table games legislation passed in Pa. will allow casinos to make loans to bettors.
Does that sound like a good idea to anyone?
Today’s Upper: Police in Yeadon are crediting help from the community after photos of a suspect in a bank heist were published in the Times with sparking calls that led to an arrest.
Quote Box: “What I’m hopeful for is an open dialogue with the community as we continue to go through this process.”
- Frank McKee, of the McKee Group, one of the developers of the Franklin Mint site.

The Civera Watch

The heat on the Civera Watch went up several notches yesterday.

Under fire for the past week since taking his seat on Delaware County Council – and at the same time holding on to his 164th District state House post – the longtime Republican yesterday adjusted his position.

Now Civera is giving up his seat as the minority leader on the House Appropriations Committee. That likely will happen next week. But when he will step down from the House – as he pledged he would – is still uncertain. And it’s becoming increasingly clear why.

After saying during the campaign that he would not hold both seats, Civera changed his tune after the election. He said he wanted to take care of some unfinished business, including getting table games legislation passed, getting fellow Republican Bill Adolph into his old spot on Appropriations, and maybe sticking around to work on an expedited budget process in the spring. Civera points out he was asked to do so by members of both parties.

Well, he can cross table games off that list. Rendell signed the legislation last week. Civera, by the way, joined with most of his Republican brethren in voting against it.

Now it looks like Civera will be leaving his House seat at the end of the month.

But he’s got some strings attached. He’s not happy with the idea of holding a special election to fill the seat on Primary Day. No kidding.

That’s because the Democrats are likely going to have a huge turnout that day because of the race between Congressman Joe Sestak and Sen.
Arlen Specter for the Dem nomination to the U.S. Senate seat.

Instead, it’s becoming increasingly clear that Civera is looking to stick around long enough so that the election to fill his seat could not be held on primary day.

Upper Darby Democrats, as you might expect, are not even a little bit happy about this.

And again, this is all about politics. They say on one hand that they want to avoid the substantial cost of an election held on a date other than lining it up with the primary. Yeah, sure.

Make no mistake. This is all about politics. The Dems want the election on primary day because it helps their chances; Civera is delaying for the same reason.

Democrats have fired off a letter to Gov. Ed Rendell asking him to ask Civera to step down immediately, thus clearing the way for that special election on primary day.

Don’t hold your breath on that one.

Rendell and Civera are not exactly acting like buddies these days. The governor was not especially thrilled about Civera’s vote against the table games measure.

Rendell was asked about the possibility of Civera stepping down last week in Harrisburg.

He was not exactly fawning in his comments about his longtime ally.

“I have not heard that he is stepping down,” Rendell told “But at this point of his career, it ‘s not much of a loss. Given his vote against table games, that is how I feel.”


Rendell wasn’t done.

“I would have thought someone who cared about the budget would have voted for table games to fund the budget. I thought that was the whole point of being in legislative leadership.”

Yeah, that and making sure the seat you’re vacating stays in Republican hands.

Rolling the dice

Atlantic City’s loss looks like it’s Pennsylvania’s gain.

The shore casinos posted their numbers for 2009 – and it wasn’t pretty.
Revenue was down 13 percent. Don’t cry for them just yet, however,

They still took in $3.9 billion. But that’s their worst return since 1997.

Much of that money that used to flow into their coffers is instead now being shoveled into slot machines in Pennsylvania, thanks to the state’s foray into expanded legalized gambling.

And as we now know, the competition is about to get even stiffer for Atlantic City.

That’s because Pa. has finally signed off on legislation that will allow our casinos to introduce table games – poker, craps and roulette.

The state Gaming Control Board envisions having table games up and running in Pa. casinos – including Harrah’s in Chester – by the summer.

Not good news for the Jersey shore gambling mecca.

“It was a a tough year, a hell of a tough year,” is the way the last 365 days was described by Don Marrandino, eastern regional president of Harrah’s entertainment, who oversees their operations in Atlantic City.

Hey, at least he can look forward to more money likely flowing into their Chester operation.

Atlantic City now is planning to push some of its non-gambling amenities as a way to lure gamblers back to the shore town.

Talk about a roll of the dice.

High heat from Brett Myers

Now what do we do, sports fans?

The Eagles season is over (Yes, I realize that Eagles season never really ends, they just stop playing games.).

We’ve just about picked the last bit of meat off the bones of Andy Reid and Donovan McNabb.

Now what?

Well, pitchers and catchers can report on Feb. 18.

And our old pal Brett Myers decided to throw out the first pitch of the 2010 season. High and inside.

Myers buzzed the Phils in the course of signing a $5 million deal with the Astros yesterday.

Myers made it clear that he wanted to stay with the Phils, but the feeling apparently was not mutual.

Then he decided to throw a little high heat at his old mates vowing to “stick it” to the Phils.

Just in case you were wondering, the Astros come to Citizens Bank Park on Aug. 23.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

The Daily Numbers - Jan. 12

The Daily Numbers: 125,000 dollars believed ripped off from a Swarthmore bank by 3 former tellers.
20,000 dollars in coin deposits from borough parking meters that apparently also was skimmed in the operation.
62 million dollar STEM complex at DCCC that opened for its first classes yesterday. It’s a high-tech math, science and engineering center.
7 municipalities that continue to refuse to sign on to the new, higher fees for animal control now being enforced by the county SPCA.
24, age of Aston youth minister who pleaded guilty in court to having child porn on his computer.
49,000 dollars in tax assessments being appealed by the Ridley School District.
500,000 dollars raised by the GOP’s Pat Meehan in the 7th District Congressional race. Dem Bryan Lentz has raised $300,000.
13 percent dip in revenue last year for casinos in Atlantic City. That’s in large part due to new competition in Pa. That’s only going to get worse for Jersey when table games arrive in Pa. this summer.
680 jobs lost in the deal in which Pfizer Inc. is acquiring former Wyeth properties in Montgomery County.
50 people busted in raids on suspected houses of prostitution in South Philly.
2 Eagles fans who a woman who was wearing a Tony Romo Cowboys jersey says assaulted her as she walked along a street in Allentown.
5 million dollar drug ring dubbed ‘Operation Pack Mule’ that was providing heroin in the Lehigh Valley.
15, age of girl in Lansdale who police say was impregnated by a 34-year-old man who sexually assaulted her. He now faces charges.
8 juveniles who will face charges in connection with a carjacking of a pizza delivery man in Philly who later suffered a heart attack and died.
49, age of Channel 6 anchor Monica Malpass, who announced yesterday she is expecting. It’s believed she is going to have twins.
50,000 people in Pa. who took advantage of last weekend’s H1N1 clinics to get the vaccine.
4 years in prison for a Chester County businessman for trying to sell chemicals to Iran.
18 months in jail, what former NBA star Jayson Williams is looking at after entering a plea in the accidental shooting death of his limo driver.
10,000 incidents reported of airplanes striking birds just since last year when one caused a US Airways plane to land in the Hudson River.
4 year deal for Angelo Cataldi, the big dog in local morning sports talk radio on WIP.
3 ‘stinkin’ good quarterbacks, what Eagles coach Andy Reid says he has going into next year.
36 points for Scottie Reynolds to lead Villanova back in the second half to a win on the road over Louisville.
18 points off the bench for Elton Brand as the Sixers beat the Hornets and snapped a 4-game losing skid in the process.
70 home runs hit by Mark McGwire to set a new record back in 1998. He now says he was using steroids at the time.

Call me a Phanatic: A look at the ups and downs of being a Philadelphia sports fan.Someone tell me Andy Reid is not serious in saying Donovan McNabb will be back as the Eagles starting QB next year. How exactly are they going to sell that?
I Don’t Get It: Mark McGwire admitted yesterday was most people already suspected – he was using steroids when he was hitting all those home runs. Shame on him.
Today’s Upper: So much for that scarcity of H1N1 vaccines. The state says more than 50,000 people got the vaccine at clinics last weekend and there’s plenty more for anyone who wants to get one.
Quote Box: “We like Kevin Kolb and we like Michael Vick and we like Donovan McNabb.
- Eagles coach Andy Reid, talking about his quarterback situation yesterday.

Andy Reid's problem

Andy Reid has a problem. Actually “5” of them. Well not exactly. He has one problem who happens to wear No. 5

The Eagles boss met the media yesterday for the post-mortem after the second dismantling of his squad in as many weeks as the Cowboys booted the Birds out of the NFL playoffs. Reid was again asked if Donovan McNabb would be his quarterback next year. He indicated Donovan will be back.

There are no reports that he had any fingers or toes crossed at the time.

Reid, Banner, Lurie and the rest of the brass that make up the much-vaunted “gold standard” down at the NovaCare Center will have a very difficult time selling that to a fan base that has just been kicked in the teeth for the umpteenth time.

Here’s their problem. McNabb is a good NFL quarterback. Maybe even a very good one. But he has shown again and again that he falls short when it comes to playing teams that are on the same level – or better – than the Birds. That’s never been more clear than after the last two outings against the hated Cowboys. McNabb again had that confused look, unsure of himself, and the game plan, tentative, holding onto the ball too long, and when he did deliver it, doing so far too erratically.

For a long time McNabb’s legs often bailed him out of such circumstances. That’s no longer the case. Now he has to rely on his quarterback skills. Those skills were enough to lead the Eagles to 11 wins this year. But almost all of them were against lesser teams. The Eagles were the only entrant to this year’s NFL playoffs that had not won a single game against another playoff-caliber foe.

Donovan came up woefully short this year against the Cowboys – three different times.

Reid can’t be serious when he says – with a straight face – that the plan is for Donovan to be back next year.

Of course, Reid would not comment when asked if he thought McNabb would get the extension he clearly wants. He will enter the season on the last year of his deal.

Maybe that will be the Eagles’ out.

Reid said yesterday that he had “three stinkin’ good quarterbacks” in McNabb, Kevin Kolb and Michael Vick.

It’s unlikely Vick will be back unless the Eagles plan to use him as their starter. He’s due to make $5 million and change next year. The Eagles won’t do that.

It comes down to McNabb or Kolb.

We know which won stunk the past two weeks.

This isn’t going to end pretty.

McNabb has been nothing but the epitome of class during his 11-year stay in Philly. He’s never had even a whiff of scandal around him. He has led the Eagles to easily their longest stretch of winning football.

But it’s time for a change. I don’t believe for a minute that Reid and the Eagles brass can’t see that.

Despite what they say. I still believe McNabb and the Eagles will part ways, and we’ll see the beginning of the Kevin Kolb era.

But if they don’t, if they decide to take one more shot with McNabb, I hope the “gold standard” has a way to spin straw into gold.

They’re going to need it.

The non-reality of pro athletes

I like Sheldon Brown. Yes, the Eagles’ cornerback had a tough ending to the season. So did a lot of his teammates – especially members of the defensive secondary that got savaged again and again by Tony Romo and the Cowboys.

They never really recovered from the loss of Brian Dawkins.

For his part, Brown soldiered on even though he was rebuffed by the team in his effort to renegotiate his contract.

That’s not what bothered me. I realize sports is a business and that these players have to strike while the iron is hot. I don’t begrudge them for trying to get every nickel they can.

But Brown said something after the Eagles lost to the Cowboys that I found hard to stomach. It only reinforced my belief that these guys really don’t get it. That’s because they don’t have to; they live in a completely different reality than what the rest of us deal with every day.

Brown was being interviewed about his contract problems and what he will do next year. He gave every indication that he will continue to be the good soldier.

But he also had to admit that it still got under his skin, the way he was treated by the team.

He indicated he would not be a problem, and that he would likely show up for all of coach Andy Reid’s offseason workouts. Then he said this.

“I can’t let my teammates down, so I’m going to try and do what I’m supposed to do. But it’s kind of like one of those situations where – if it’s not mandatory – you feel like you’re working overtime for minimum wage.”

Last year Brown made $3.5 million. Yes, for a superstar corner in the NFL, that’s apparently chump change.

Hard to believe, Harry.

Another asterisk for baseball

Baseball now has another huge asterisk.

The national pastime has another huge smudge on its character.

But slugger Mark McGwire, the home run king who obliterated the record book back in the 1990s, including the previous record for dingers in a season set by Roger Maris, wants us to know he was only doing it so he could recover quicker from a series of injuries.

Spare me.

McGwire had the gall to go on TV last night and turn on the tears.
Earlier in the day he finally admitted what most people suspected, if they hadn’t already come to that conclusion.

McGwire was on the juice; he used steroids on and off for most of the 1990s, and yes, he was artificially pumped up the summer he and slugger Sammy Sosa re-energized baseball with their home run duel.

In 1998 McGwire hit 70 home runs, something that was unheard of to that point. Roger Maris had held the single-season home run record of 61 in 1961. That mark carried an asterisk placed there by Major League Baseball because Maris played in more games than the legendary Babe Ruth, who hit 60.

Spare us the tears, Mr. McGwire. It took you more than a decade to come clean. You went to Washington and turned a congressional hearing on steroids into a farce. You lied to both baseball officials and the fans.

I’m not sure what’s worse, McGwire’s admission, or people like MLB Commissioner Bud Selig praising the slugger for his “act of contrition,”
which he said “will make McGwire’s re-entry into the game much smoother and easier.”

McGwire is taking a job this year with Tony LaRussa and the Cardinals as a batting instructor. But he had to clear the air over the steroid use first.

He might start by advising the young Cardinals to stay away from pills and needles.

Monday, January 11, 2010

The Daily Numbers - Jan. 11

The Daily Numbers: 25,000 dollars unsecured bail for ex-Ridley police officer charged with assault against a Wawa clerk. He’s now out of rehab and was arraigned on the charges over the weekend.
2 men who invaded a home in Clifton Heights early Sunday. One of the people inside fought back and chased them off.
18 degrees, the low temperature this morning at Philadelphia International Airport. We’re actually suppposed to go over the freezing mark this afternoon.
60, age of pizza delivery man who was victim of carjacking in West Oak Lane section of Philadelphia. After the incident he suffered a fatal heart attack.
10,000 reward posted for information on South Philadelphia teen who has been missing since Christmas Eve.
2 times, how many times a 39-year-old Philly man is charged with trying to run down a person in the parking lot of a sports bar.
27 people losing their jobs with the closure of Gate Gourmet Inc., a company that provides in-flight food to jets out of Philly International.
15 cent increase in average cost of gasoline in the region just since Christmas. Average price of gas in Philly is $2.74. Last year this time we were paying $1.66 a gallon.
65, age of Chester County businessman who will be sentenced today for engaging in illegal business deals with Iran.
2 armored car security guards gunned down in October 2007. Two men will finally go on trial in the shootings starting today.
3 Philly men set to go on trial in the home invasion murder of a Montgomery County businessman a year ago.
4 Democrats who want to be the next governor or Pa. who put in appearances at the state Farm Show in Harrisburg over the weekend.
11 years as the starting quarterback of the Eagles for Donovan McNabb. Will there be a 12th?
2 straight losses to the Dallas Cowboys that took the bloom of an 11-win season for the Eagles. In addition to back-to-back losses to end the season, the Birds also lost to the ‘Boys earlier this season.
1 GM opening soon for the Eagles. Tom Heckert is leaving to take the GM job with Mike Holmgren and the Cleveland Browns.
Call me a Phanatic: A look at the ups and downs of being a Philadelphia sports fan.Forget the Flyers. And the Sixers. The Phillies don’t start for more than a month. The only sport in Philly the next few weeks will be ripping Eagles management and questioning the leadership of Andy Reid and Donovan McNabb.
I Don’t Get It: The new state law passed last week to allow table games at Pa. slots parlors also allows those facilities to be able to extend credit to gamblers. Does that strike anyone else as a bad idea.
Today’s Upper: Kudos to the people inside a Clifton Heights apartment who fought back early Sunday when they were victims of a home invasion.
Quote Box: “I want to be back here and don’t want to be anywhere else.”
- Donovan McNabb, after losing to the Cowboys Saturday in an NFC Wild Card game, 34-14.

Monday morning quarterbacking

Welcome to the offseason.

And, of course, the real No. 1 sport in Philadelphia: Questioning Eagles management.

The Birds are the topic du jour at water coolers, taprooms, offices and coffee klatches all across the region this morning.

That comes in the aftermath of their disastrous back-to-back blowout losses to the hated Dallas Cowboys, including Saturday night’s 34-14 NFC Wild Card shellacking.

The big question in the offseason will be the same question that has hung over the team during the regular season, and in fact for much of the last 11 ydars.

No. 5.

It’s all about Donovan.

Andy Reid is not going anywhere, courtesy of a three-year extension signed a month ago. Donovan McNabb just may be. He is under contract for next season, after failing to get a similar extension, although the Eagles did give him some more money.

In the meantime, Kevin Kolb’s deal also expires after next season, and the Eagles have to decide exactly what their plan is for the guy who’s been sitting at No. 2 since they used a top draft pick on him a couple of years ago, much to the consternation of McNabb.

The Eagles have other issues, maybe even more important ones, but none will be talked about the way McNabb will be in the next few days and weeks.

The fact is the Eagles got manhandled by the Cowboys on both sides of the line. Their offensive line – including jettisoning both starting tackles Tra Thomas and Jon Runyan – and bringing in Stacy Andrews to join his brother Shawn, has been a disaster. Shawn continued to hobble with a bad back and missed the entire season – again. More surprisingly, Stacy turned out to be damaged goods, and played little and not effectively when he did.

There was the Brian Dawkins disaster, only amplified all season as the Eagles defense continued to have problems at the safety position. Missed tackles simply did not happen when Dawkins was here. Neither was any tolerance of such phantom tackling by his defensive mates.

The Eagles stunned the sports world in August by signing Michael Vick, fresh off of two years in federal prison for running a dog-fighting operation. Why remains a mystery. The team never developed a way to use him, even if he did toss a touchdown pass Saturday against Dallas.

The Eagles lost starting middle linebacker Stewart Bradley during their annual show-off practice at the Linc in August, then spent the entire season trying desperately to deal with the situation. The Eagles defense was just as shredded as Bradley’s knee by every good team they played. They never fixed it. Sure, the Eagles defense got by against a bunch of weak teams, but they were savaged by the few good teams they played. Remember New Orleans in Week 2? In the final two games against the Cowboys, they just got obliterated.

But the big question continues to be McNabb, and his future with the team. Nothing new about that. McNabb still licks the sores of being booed by the leather-lunged faithful when he was drafted more than a decade ago.

McNabb’s quirky personality has never really played here. Witness his antics prior to taking the field Saturday against the Cowboys. His air guitar act did not tell me he was relaxed and ready to roll. Instead it told me he was nervous. How did he play?

After the game, Donovan also did little to endear himself to the locals when he termed the 11-win season a success. I think he really means it. More importantly, it’s clear he does not understand how that kind of comment drives fans up the wall.

Talk radio will be filled with calls for his head today. Andy Reid will address the media at noon.

I have 50 bucks that says the first thing out of his mouth is something like this: “It all starts with me. I have to do a better job of putting players in position to make plays.”

Here’s what he won’t say. I need to examine what happened here in the past year and take the necessary steps to fix it. Last year we blew out the Cowboys, 40-6, in the crucial last game of the season. Just one year later, they had reversed the situation. They beat us two times in a row, three overall on the year, and they are now clearly better than we are in most basic aspects of the game. Our challenge now is to do what they did and make the changes to compete with them again.

Time’s yours, Andy.

Rolling the dice

A weird thing happened on the way to table games in Pennsylvania.

People are already wondering if it’s the right way to go.

And that includes the governor. Yep, Ed Rendell. The guy who has been one of the biggest proponents of expansion of legalized gambling in Pennsylvnia.

Last week the Pennsylvania Legislature finally got around to passing the bill paving the way for poker, roulette and craps to be added to slots at the state’s new gambling parlors, including Harrah’s Chester Casino & Racetrack.

They’ve been kicking it around since last summer. The state needed the $250 million boost – including an initial influx of cash before the games even start from the license fees casinos would pay – to close a budget gap. It took more than 100 days past the July 1 deadline for the state budget to hammer out a spending plan. Then it took another three months for our representatives to agree on legislation to usher in the table games era.

You would think Rendell would consider this a victory. Instead he reacted as if he’d just gulped down a spoonful of castor oil. Rendell went so far as to sign the legislation Friday in private, without the usual public fanfare such an event would spark.

Rendell made it clear he wanted to have all the state’s casinos up and running before considering expansion to table games. But the state’s financial crisis pretty much made that a moot point.

Other legislators also took some potshots at the bill.

State Rep. Steve Barrar, R-160, said the bill failed to deliver enough in the way of property tax relief.

Rep. Greg Vitali, D-166, as he usually does, made the argument that gambling is not the way the state should be solving its financial woes.

By the way, don’t expect to show up at Harrah’s and sit at a table to play poker this weekend. State gambling officials say it likely will be six to nine months to get the games up and running.

In the meantime, casinos such as Harrah’s are already ramping up their preparations. Harrah’s boss Vince Donlevie says his facility likely will add 300 jobs to handle the new methods of gambling.

The state has opened Pandora’s Box when it comes to gambling. There’s now no way to put the genie back in the bottle. Instead, there will simply be new methods of gambling explored every time a spending crisis hits the state.

Can you say sports gambling?

Dont help criminals steal your car

I got an interesting e-mail and follow-up phone call recently from a woman who wanted to sound a warning to other residents.

At first glance it seems like common sense, except that you see it happen every.

The warning she sounds is against leaving your car idling while you run into a store or convenience spot. Don’t snicker. Just take a look around the parking lot at your local Wawa this morning and notice how many cars are still running.

The problem gets worse during winter, as people are loathe to actually turn off their car, lock their doors and take their keys with them, in the process shutting off that heater that is running full blast.

The woman told of the travails of her daughter, who lost her car in the parking lot of a Wawa on Route 202. She popped in to grab a sandwich and left the car running in the parking lot. Big mistake. When she went back outside, the car was gone. That’s when her daughter remembered seeing a guy hanging around the entrance to the store. When she went out she noticed he was no longer there. Neither was her car.

The police are still looking for her blue Volvo. The girl needs it to get back and forth to college.

You’ve been warned. Turn off your engine. Take your keys. Lock your car doors.

You could be preventing a crime. And saving yourself a lot of aggravation in the process.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Deja vu all over again for Eagles fans

How 'bout dem Flyers?

I was wrong, at least in part.

I did not expect the Eagles to beat the Cowboys Saturday night in Dallas. In fact, I picked against them. I did expect them to play better than they did in a horrific showing just six days ago in Jerry Jones' Palace in Dallas.

As I said, I was wrong. They played worse.

The Eagles lost 34-14, and it wasn't that close.

You could literally see the chasm between these two teams forming as the game went on. Dallas is ascending to be the cream of the crop in the NFC East. The Eagles are slumping toward the middle of the pack.

They got beat in just about every way imaginable by a team that is now better than they are at most positions on the field, and that includes the coaches standing on the sidelines.

Every tongue will be wagging today on the fate of Donovan McNabb, who once again came up small in a big game. McNabb was seen mugging for the camera as he led the Eagles onto the field before the game. At one point he leaped against the plexiglass partition to scare a fan. It was the last time anyone in Dallas was scared of the Eagles all night.

The game was an indictment of all that is wrong with Andy Reid, and his hand-picked quarterback.

Tthe Birds got exactly one play that mattered when the game was still up for grabs, and that did not come from McNabb, instead from the much-reviled MIchael Vick, who threw a long strike to rookie Jeremy Maclin to tie the game at 7-7. You could almost see all those "Top Dog" headlines. It wasn't to be.

Vick soon retreated to the sidelines. He made another cameo appearance later in the first half, and took part in a key fumble that sealed the Birds' fate.

As usual, Reid, skulked on the sidelines and did nothing to reverse the Birds' fortunes. No adjustments.

Much the same can be said of defensive coordinator Sean McDermott, finishing up a decidedly up and down first year. But McDermott had a lot less to work with than Reid, constantly trying to patch together a makeshift lineup ravaged by injuries.

Still, at some point you would think the Eagles might adjust to that draw play the Cowboys ran down their throat again and again, or maybe that wide receiver quick screen that they used to gouge the Eagles anytime they wanted.

Most today will call for McNabb's head on a platter. He has one year left on his deal. Reid, on the other hand, is not going anywhere. He signed an exetnsion a few weeks back.

He will have to retool this lineup, Whether or not that includes McNabb will be question No. 1 in the offseason.

The gold standard appears just a tad tarnished this morning. Last summer Joe Banner informed us the Eagles had the best roster in the NFL. That is now open to revisions.

Last year, after the loss to the Cardinals in the NFC title game, Banner infamously defined insanity as doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result.

Deja vu, anyone? How 'bout we cue up Patsy Cline's "Crazy." That might just serve as the Eagles theme song.

Dont' worry. Reid et al now have plenty of time to put the polish back on the gold standard. Until late July, to be exact.

Time's yours, Andy. In the meantime, time's just about run out for McNabb.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

The dreaded Saturday Eagles pick, playoff edition

They say the third time’s the charm. The Eagles better hope so; I don’t.

The Eagles will at least score tonight. Probably several times. I still don’t expect them to win. Here’s why. The Cowboys are a better team. I don’t like to say it, but it’s true.

This year’s Eagles are built on the shoulders of a wildly inconsistent quarterback and a defense that simply is not that good, certainly not up to the recent standards of Birds’ defenders.

Donovan McNabb did not have a good game last week. He had lots of company. But he is the leader of the team, and instead spent most of the day moping around, seemingly looking for someone to give the team a spark. After the game he talked about the Eagles youth catching up with them. Actually it was equal parts of that and his inability to hit open receivers.

The Eagles just don’t match up very well with the Cowboys this season. Tony Romo is beating their blitzes. Their running game is keeping the Birds’ defense guessing. And when their gambling corners guess wrong, it too often turns into a touchdown.

On offense, the Cowboys in two games this season have yet to be killed by the speed of DeSean Jackson. And when the Eagles have had a chance at a big play, McNabb has missed the target.

All of which is not to say the Eagles can’t beat the Cowboys tonight. I just don’t think they will.

At that point the finger-pointing can begin in earnest. I expect most of them to be pointing directly at No. 5.

And the Kevin Kolb Era to start not much after that.

Make it Cowboys 29, Eagles 17.

Last Week: I did not think the Eagles were going to beat the Cowboys in Dallas. But I at least expected them to show up. That effort ranks up there with the loss in Oakland as their feeblest of the season.

Season Record: 12-4, Hey, what do you know, I ended up one game better than the Birds. I took no joy in their loss last week. I certainly didn’t expect them to get shut out. And I sincerely hope I’m wrong about tonight.

Friday, January 8, 2010

The Daily Numbers - Jan. 8

The Daily Numbers: 1 to 3 inches of snow expected to fall on the region this morning. It’s more of a nuisance than anything else. What follows is not: Brutally cold weather.
26, that would be our high temperature on Saturday.
69, age of longtime Lower Chi Commissioner Joe Doyle, who died yesterday. He was a good man who gave everything to the township he loved.
300 jobs coming to Harrah’s Chester Casino with the advent of table games that will be added to slots.
830,000 dollars that was supposed to go to several school district’s workmen’s comp funds that was instead siphoned off by 2 Montgomery County insurance brokers.
20-14 vote by which the New Jersey Senate rejected a bill to legalize gay marriage.
1,000 taser guns being bought by the Philadelphia Police Department.
10,000 dollars being donated to Project Home in Philadelphia by the Eagles to help fans who are left out in the cold.
28, age of suspect now charged in connection with a deadly hit-and-run in which a man was run down as he walked with his date outside the Water Works restaurant in Philly last July.
2 cases being probed in Devon in which a man tried to lure 11-year-old boys into his car.
4 incidents in Delaware in which a thief burglarized homes and made off with men’s shoes.
580,000 dollars raised by Republican Pat Meehan in his campaign for the 7th District Congressional seat. That’s as opposed to $300,000 by his likely Dem foe, state Rep. Bryan Lentz.
1,000 pounds of butter used for a sculpture that pays homage to the state’s farmers at the annual Farm Show in Harrisburg.
66 months in jail for a former pro soccer player with the Kixx for his role in a fatal crash in New Jersey.
8 months in prison for a West Chester woman for a scheme to steal software from her employer tied to Web site design.
1 less candidate for governor in Pa. Republican Jim Gerlach is getting out of the race.
44, age of teacher in Pike County who took his own life one day before he was due in court to face charges he molested a teen boy.
75, how old Elvis Presley would have been today. Happy Birthday to The King.
7 goal outburst for the Flyers as they blasted the Pens last night, 78-4.
0 playoff wins for Cowboys QB Tony Romo, who will look to end that streak Saturday night in Dallas vs. the Eagles.
7-0, Andy Reid’s record in playoff openers as coach of the Eagles. He’d obviously like to see that streak continue Saturday night.
Call me a Phanatic: A look at the ups and downs of being a Philadelphia sports fan.Forget everything else. Saturday night’s Eagles-Cowboys game likely will be decided by two things. How well Donovan McNabb plays, and how well Tony Romo plays. It’s all about the QBs, just like it always is in playoff football.
I Don’t Get It: A Pa. state trooper is under arrest on DUI charges after slamming his car into a guardrail. As part of his duties, he supervised DUI checkpoints. I don’t get it.
Today’s Upper: Kudos to the Eagles for forking over $10,000 to Project Home to help the homeless in Philadelphia.
Quote Box: “We knew that it would be less, but thad no idea it would be the disgrace it was – 11 months for murder, an insult to my son’s life.”
- Sharon Conroy, mother of slain Starbucks Manager Sean Conroy, on sentence for last of his killers, who cooperated with police.

See Sestak run

Want to really tick off U.S. Rep. Joe Sestak? Ask him about his position in the polls.

That’s what I did, the first question I tossed at him during his visit with the Daily Times editorial board on Tuesday.

I asked him about the most recent poll that put him down by double digits in his bid to snare the Democratic U.S. Senate nomination from newly minted Dem Sen. Arlen Specter.

Sestak bristled. He pointed out I didn’t ask him about the other polls that show the race closer, nor the fact that he’s already cut into Specter’s lead, or even the fact that he was in much worse shape when he challenged incumbent Congressman Curt Weldon four years ago.

Then he hammered away at some of Specter’s numbers – including an electability number that Sestak says does not bode well for the senior senator.

Sestak paid us a visit to give us an update on his uphill climb to topple Specter. He did not mince words. He blamed Specter for going along with the fiscal policies of the Bush Administration – including the deregulation of the financial markets – that put this country in the worst economic morass since the Great Depression.

“How could you not run?” he said.

Well, for one thing, I asked him, there is the small matter of that 7th District Congressional seat. It took Democrats 20 years to wrest that seat away from Weldon.

And it took Sestak just slightly more than one term to cast his eyes on higher office.

“I was asked,” he maintains.

Sestak explained how he got into the race.

He was first approached by Democratic New Jersey Sen. Robert Menendez about running. Sestak told him he wasn’t interested.

When he was asked again, Sestak admits he was starting to be intrigued.
He huddled with his family and decided to do it, although a formal announcement was still well down the road.

Then came the political thunderbolt.

After backing President Obama with a key vote for his economic stimulus plan, Specter found himself on the outs with his own party. That is not an especially unusual position for the senator. But this time it was different. Specter’s own polling numbers told him he was not going to survive a primary battle with former congressman Pat Toomey.

So he did what any politician does, he changed his stripes. Voila!
Democratic Sen. Arlen Specter.

President Obama rejoiced. So did Specter’s old Senate and Amtrak pal, Vice President Joe Biden. Gov. Ed Rendell welcomed Specter with open arms.

Only one person seemed less than enthused. And nobody bothered to check with Sestak. In fact, he says he was asked to gracefully back out of the race. Talk about having the carpet pulled out from under you. Sestak refused. He’s in this for keeps.

The whole process seems to have left a bad taste in Sestak’s mouth, and he’s more than willing to tell you that’s not the way he believes politics should work, but too often does.

Outside of this region, he remains largely unknown. He’s not going to let that stop him.

He literally ran out of our office as he headed for a meeting with a TV station, followed by an evening chat with a group in Bucks County.

No doubt it was uphill all the way.

Now or never for McNabb, Birds

I have just three words to say about Saturday night’s Eagles-Dallas III rematch. In fact, you just might see them on the front page of tomorrow’s print edition.

Now or never.

It strikes me that Donovan McNabb has reached a fork in the road. It is becoming increasingly clear to the talking heads and experts who have reviewed last week’s game tape that McNabb did not play well, that in fact the Eagles young receivers were routinely open, but that Donovan failed to deliver the ball.

He cannot afford a repeat performance. Neither can the Eagles. Should McNabb not play well, and the Birds lose, I see this all coming down on Donovan’s head.

And I see Kevin Kolb as the Eagles’ starting QB next year.

That might not be fair. But that’s the way I see it.

McNabb has had a very good career. But he’s coming to a fork in the road with the Eagles. He needs to win this game.

Or I think he will be playing in another town next year.

Major League news in Chester

A lot of people snickered at the thought of a Major League Soccer team playing its home games in Chester.

And a lot of people were ticked off at the idea of a healthy chunk of public funding going toward building a stadium for that team in the shadow of the Commodore Barry Bridge along the Delaware River.

Who will go, they argued. They panned the move as a waste of money.

Maybe they better think again.

That team, the Philadelphia Union, yesterday announced they have sold out club seats – the best seats in the house in that Chester stadium, three sections in the heart of the midfield near the team benches.

They’re now putting together a waiting list for club seat sections.

Pro soccer in Chester. Better get used to the idea.

Now if they can just sink this ugly talk of a possible lockout of the players by the MLS team owners.

The Union is set to kick off the MLS season in March on the road in Seattle. Their stadium in Chester is not expected to be ready for the start of the season. They will play their first few games at the Linc.

But make no mistake. Soccer is coming to Chester.

Chester is going to be a Major League city.


The weather outside ain't frightful

My week – and winter – are now complete.

I just watched the obligagtory TV news report on the weather. A reporter was standing in the snow, telling me how slick things were out there. I must have missed those sections on my drive into work.

Then came the magic words. “If you don’t have to go out today, maybe you should just stay home and take a snow day,” the woman cheerfully informed me.

I thought my head would explode.

We are expecting somewhere between 1 and 3 inches of snow. It is supposed to end by mid-morning, then get very cold for the rest of the weekend.

I won’t tell you there weren’t some slick spots on my drive in this morning. But for the most part, the main roads were just wet. It did not strike me as a paralyzing storm.

Maybe I should just stop watching TV or listening to the radio.

Global warming? Not this winter. Unless you count all the hot air being expelled by talking heads telling us how “treacherous” things are out there.

I feel better already.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

The Daily Numbers - Jan. 7

The Daily Numbers: 8,600, how much Dusty Rhoads says is owed to him by Colwyn Borough for bulletproof vests for borough police officers. He’s still waiting to be paid.
1 pet dog killed when fire swept through a Collingdale home early Wednesday.
8 people who face charges that they terrorized residents of an Upper Darby home twice in the same day.
2,000 dollars in merchandise ripped off from the Home Depot Store in Concord.
103-89 vote in the state House to give the green light to table games at Pa. slots parlors.
2 members of the Delco GOP delegation who broke with their party and backed the measure. Those would be Rep. Nick Micarelli and Rep. Nick Micozzie.
16 percent tax the state will levy on table games in year one, then 14 percent after that.
2 Harrah’s security guards being credited with saving a patron’s life when a customer was stricken while playing the slots.
9 month old baby thrown from a car during a dispute in Philadelphia. The baby was not injured.
80, age of man in Souderton, Montgomery County, charged with killing his 75-year-old wife. He told authorities he believed she was cheating on him.
36, age of Radnor man charged with raping a model he lured to a photo shoot.
7.4 percent dip in passengers in December for US Airways.
1,200 jobs being cut by Lockheed Martin Corp. in Maryland.
99 metro areas that lost jobs last year. That would include the Philly region.
2 people, a 41 year-old mother and her 22 year-old son, killed in 2-car crash in Chester County Wednesday morning.
25 million dollars up for grabs Saturday in Powerball after no one hit the jackpot last night.
3 bomb-sniffing dogs at Philly International Airport that failed certification tests. Bad dogs!
7 former Democratic aides in the state House who pleaded guilty in the Bonusgate probe yesterday.
3 fired employees of US Airways who now are filing suit saying the airline had a racially hostile workplace.
6 goals for the Flyers as they rolled over the Maple Leafs last night.
500 points in the NHL for Danny Briere, who had 2 goals in the win.
21 points for Scottie Reynolds as Villanova rolled over DePaul, 99-72.
1 win on the year for Penn, who beat Maryland-Baltimore County last night, 82-71.
20 points and 11 rebounds for Lavoy Allen as Temple romped over Saint Joe’s, 73-46.
Call me a Phanatic: A look at the ups and downs of being a Philadelphia sports fan.Eagles employee Dave Spadaro finds himself in hot water today for posting a video of himself spitting on the Dallas star on the field at the Cowboys’ new stadium. Yep, must be Dallas-Eagles in the playoffs.
I Don’t Get It: There’s another naked picture flap. This time an aide in Bangor, near Easton, had a naked picture of herself on her cell phone.
Someone got hold of her phone and promptly sent the pic all over the school. I don’t get it.
Today’s Upper: Table games will mean jobs – and lots of them – as poker and roulette come to Harrah’s in Chester.

Quote Box: “I deeply apologize to the outstanding Cowboys organization and the fine people there, from Jerry Jones to thee rest of the team.”
- Dave Spadaro, editor of Eagles Web site, in his apology for posting a video on the site of him spitting on the Dallas star on their new field.

Bet on it

Table games in Pennsylvania? Bet the house on it. Our House of Representatives just did.

The state House signed off on the measure Wednesday and sent it along to Gov. Ed Rendell for his signature. It was needed to close a $230 million budget gap in the state. And also to avoid a threat from Rendell to ax another 1,000 state employees if he did not have the measure on his desk by the end of the week.

But that doesn’t mean you’ll be able to hit Harrah’s down in Chester this weekend and play poker or roulette. The best guess is it could be next six to nine months before table games can be up and running in the state’s new slots parlors.

There’s a couple of interesting things about this whole fascination our legislators now have with legalized gambling. I was one of those who supported the original move to OK slots parlors. My thinking was I was tired of seeing the state bleed money from every border as bettors drove to Atlantic City or Wilmington to roll the dice.

But I said then, and am even more concerned now, that the state has opened up Pandora’s Box. If it seems like every new budget concern is being addressed by more gambling, you’re not wrong. Once headed down this road, it’s hard to reverse directions.

But there is another benefit that the region should see from table games. For the most part, slots are gravy for casinos such as Harrah’s. Bettors pump money into the one-armed bandits. Table games, on the other hand, need bodies. That means jobs. Lots of them.

I also was interested in how the vote broke down in the state House. Republicans lined up against the measure. But in the Delco delegation, two members of the GOP broke rank with the party to back the measure. They would be Rep. Nick Micozzie, R-163, of Upper Darby, and Rep. Nick Miccarelli, R-162, of Ridley. It was Miccarelli’s first vote since returning from his tour of duty in Iraq. He might want to ask for combat pay after going against his own party.

I also notice that voting against the table games legislation was Rep. Mario Civera, R-164, our newest county councilman.

Civera had said that part of his reasoning for staying on in his state rep’s post was to work on table games legislation, which was needed to finally cure the budget deficit. But he went with his party in voting against it.

Does that mean he’s ready to leave the House and focus on his county council job? Don’t bet on it. Civera has been asked to stay on to work on an expedited state budget process.

Wonder if there’s any new forms of gambling they can dream up to deal with the next big budget crisis, the state’s public employee pensions funds?

The spit hits the fan(s)

I am considering a new standing category for The Heron’s Nest called “What Were They Thinking Of?”

Since Thanksgiving it has been the domain of one Tiger Woods, pro golfer and serial philanderer.

Tiger got bumped from his perch today, replaced by one Dave Spadaro.

Dave is a former news guy who now is an employee of the Philadelphia Eagles as the editor of their Web site. If you haven’t been there, I highly recommend it. It’s a great site.

Unfortunately, today Dave finds himself making headlines, not writing them.

That’s because of something he did on a recent visit to Jerry Jones’
spectacular new palace, also known as the home of the Dallas Cowboys.

Dave, often referred to as “Spuds,” was filming a piece of video from the stadium for one of his “Spudcam” packages for the Web site.

Apparently at some point, his unbridled passion for the Eagles – and hatred for the Cowboys – got the best of him.

Spadaro decided to spit on the famous Dallas logo, the Star, not once but in fact twice. Not really a good thing to do. But what he did next is kind of incredulous. Spadaro posted the item on the team’s Web site.

Naturally, word filtered back to Dallas and the spit hit the fan, in a matter of speaking.

Spadaro quickly pulled the video and issued a lengthy apology on the Web site. Of course, the video likely will live on forever via YouTube and is being bandied about on every television station in town today.

Seriously, Dave, what were you thinking?

But it did get me to thinking about that Star and what it represents, especially to Eagles fans.

I’m probably a few years older than Dave. I’ll admit to hating that Star, a passion fueled by years of having “American’s Team” shoved down my throat, of watching that smug Tom Landry on the sidelines with his natty cap as his Cowboys dismantled the Eagles twice a year for decades.

So, yes, I was in my glory that Sunday afternoon when Joe Scarpati stole the ball from Dan Reeves and the Eagles upset the vaunted Cowboys. I loved Buddy Ryan, in no small part because he hated the Cowboys. I kind of snickered at the whole idea of the Bounty Bowl. And I smiled when Terrell Owens did his thing –and finished it off by posing on the Dallas Star.

And, while I reveled at the Phillies recent World Series win, I will tell anyone who will listen that the greatest moment in Philadelphia sports can be summed up in four short words: Wilbert off right tackle. I was never as cold in my life, nor as happy, at least with my clothes on.
Yes, that Eagles team went on to lose the Super Bowl to the Raiders.
Didn’t matter. That win over the hated Cowboys was our Super Bowl.

And there’s a corollary here. Then-coach Dick Vermeil spent most of that week preaching how good the Cowboys were. Two weeks before Dallas had actually beaten the Eagles in Dallas, but the Birds retained the home-field advantage for a NFC championship game. Privately, Vermeil was telling his team that if the Cowboys took his young team for granted, “we’ll whip their ass,” or something to that effect.

Maybe Andy Reid can try the same tactic this week.

There’s something about that Star that makes Philadelphia fans do irrational things.

Spadaro’s actions, especially for an employee of the Eagles, are inexcusable.

But I’d be lying if I told you it didn’t bring a smile to my face.

Spit happens. Go Eagles!

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

The Daily Numbers - Jan. 6

The Daily Numbers: 173,000 dollar fine slapped on Sunoco for air emission problems at their Marcus Hook plant.
1 suspect being sought in a heist at the PNC Bank in Prospect Park Tuesday.
1 suspect still being sought after threatening bank employees with what he called a bomb and then fleeing with $1,000 last week in Ridley Park.
4,000 dollars in bogus credit card charges believed to be the handiwork of a Chester man. Donald Mewha is being sought by police.
1.45 percent uptick in revenue at Harrah’s Casino in Chester in December.
1.14 percent decline at Philly Park, although its casino was shut down for 5 days as they got ready to open their new Parx facility.
28-22 vote in Pa. Senate to give green light for table games at those new Pa. slots parlors, including Harrah’s. The House is expected to vote today.
1,000 state jobs that could be taken off the chopping block if the Legislature OKs the table games deal.
15 Delco towns that have yet to sign on to new fees being implemented by the Delco SPCA.
86, age of woman found beaten to death in her Montgomery County home.
100 dollar increase in average award to those in Pa. applying for heating aid through the state LIHEAP program. Most people will get $326.
1 suspect shot and killed by an off-duty Philadelphia police officer in an attempted robbery in the Spring Garden section early Wednesday.
33 percent increase in sales in December for Subaru, which is based in Cherry Hill.
5 Macy’s stores closing, including 1 in Burlington Center Mall in N.J., and 300 jobs being cut. The Springfield Macy’s will not be affected.
4 people charged in an ID theft ring based in Bensalem. More than 100 people are believed to have been victimized.
18 point lead blown by the Sixers as they fell to the Wizards at home last night.
19 points for Gilbert Arenas, who may be suspended by the league for having a gun in the locker room.
4 points for Allen Iverson, who had his contract picked up by the Sixers for the rest of the season.
5.25 million dollars for reliver Danys Baez, who officially signed a 2-year deal with the Phillies.
Call me a Phanatic: A look at the ups and downs of being a Philadelphia sports fan.Anyone else tired of the Donovan McNabb soap opera. Yesterday McNabb said he would never throw any teammates under the bus, despite comments the after Sunday’s loss that seemed to indicate otherwise.
I Don’t Get It: A dating Web site has dumped 5,000 members? Why? They’ve gained too much weight. I don’t get it.
Today’s Upper: Who says nothing gets done in Harrisburg. Looks like the arrival of table games at casinos is just a vote away in the House. It should happen today.

Quote Box: “We talked and it’s nothing big.”
- Eagles wide receiver DeSean Jackson, on comments made by QB Donovan McNabb that the Birds fell victim to youthful inexperience in their loss at Dallas Sunday.

Let the good times roll

There was more good news yesterday for Harrah's Chester Casino & Racetrack.

And even better news might be right arnd the corner.

The latest numbers on the state's legalized gambling came out yesterday, and revenue is up at the Chester facility. The state Gaming Control Board said Harrah's raked in $24,109,717 in December 2009, compared to $23,764,549 in the same month in 2008. That's an increase of 1.45 percent.

That reverses a dip in revenue reported at the facility in November, when Harrah's suffered a 2.19 percent decline in earnings.

But the big news in gambling circles yesterday was not coming from Chester, nor Atlantic City, or even those spots in nearby Delaware where you can now be on football parlays.

The big news was coming out of Harrisburg, where the state Senate was signing off on legislation to allow table games at the state's new slots parlors, including Harrah's.

The House is expected to do likewise today, meaning poker and roulette are on their way to the Chester waterfront.

The measure is needed to plug a huge hole in the state budget that was finally hammered out last fall. Gov. Ed Rendell had told legislators that if he did not have the legislation on his desk by Friday he would be forced to lay off 1,000 state workers.

Let the good times roll.

The Donovan Saga

Donovan McNabb was looking to clear the air yesterday.

He believes his comments made after Sunday's demoralizing loss at Dallas were misconstrued. McNabb seemed to be indicating that some of the team's young players - namely his two young wide receivers - did not step up and make plays at cunch time.

Not so, Donovan stresses.

Simply put, McNabb said that would be throwing teammates under the bus, something he does not do.

McNabb went on to take responsibility for the loss, saying he needs to elevate his game, as does everybody on the team.

All of which will do nothing to alleviate Saturday's night's looming rematch in Dallas as a crucial cog in Donovan's legacy here in town.

Lead the team to a huge win and move on in the playoffs puts another sterling notch in his belt. Not play well and be booted out of the playoffs?

Don't even think about it.

Union vs. union?

This is probably not the news the Philadelphia Union wanted to hear as they count down the days to their debut as the new expansion teaem in Major League Soccer. The Union will play their games in a stadium under constructio in Chester.

Yesterday the team was busy putting together plans for a Draft Day party Jan. 14.

But late in the afternoon a dark cloud moved over MLS. The union that represents more than 50,000 players, including members of the MLS Players Union, says they may be locked out by team owners.

Un-oh. Who knew soccer could be subject to the same kind of labor problems as so many other major league sports?

MLS officials immediately looked to dispute much of the information put out by L.A,. Galaxy star Landon Donovan, calling them "counterproductive and premature."

The Union is set to kick off the 2010 MLS season in Seattle. Soccer fanatics in the region have been waiting for years for their sport to come to the region.

They might have to wait a little longer.

But look on the bright side. This might give them a chance to finish their stadium on the Chester waterfront so they could play all of their games there. Right now they are planning to start the season by playing home games at Lincoln Financial Field.

Stay tuned.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

The Daily Numbers - Jan. 5

The Daily Numbers: 11 protesters who gathered outside the Media Courthouse yesterday to protest swearing-in of new County Councilman Mario Civera, who plans to hold onto his state rep job, at least for now.
18 of May, Primary Day, when Democrats want to hold a special election to fill Civera’s House seat. That’s because they will have a huge turnout that day for the Sestak-Specter U.S. Senate nomination.
1 new Delco judge after Linda Cartisano was sworn into the Delco bench Monday.
2 Democrats who took the oath of office and joined Chester City Council yesterday. Portia West and John Linder won election in Nobember.
2 new members who joined the Upper Chichester Board of Commissioners last night.
2007 murder in Pottstown in which a Chester man was charged yesterday.
24 degrees, our low on Monday morning. That might seem warm this coming weekend, when highs are expected in the teens.
15, age of student at Pennridge High School in Bucks County who was struck by a car outside school yesterday. Ironically, the driver was a principal at a middle school.
6 people killed in vehicle crashes over the New Year’s holiday in Pa. None were in Delaware County.
24 apartments in Voorhees, N.J., damaged in a fire Monday.
4 police officers who could be on chopping block in Hamilton, N.J., as town officials battle budget deficit.
1,000 dollars, how much a robber who claimed to have a bomb made off with in a heist at a Ridley Park Bank last week.
1,000 state workers who could be on the chopping block Friday if the Legislature does not approve a measure for table games at Pa. cainsos.
250 million dollars, how much the addition of table games is expected to mean to state coffers.
11 to 23 months in prison for the last teen convicted in the fatal subway beating of a Starbucks manager in Philly.
43, age of Philly police officer now likely to lose his job for the fatal shooting of an unarmed man outside a party before Thanksgiving.
1 touchdown scored by the Eagles in 2 games against Dallas this year.
2 to 6, how far the Eagles fell in the NFL playoff seedings because of the loss.
500 bucks, how much tickets for Saturday’s Wild Card game in Jerry Jones’ new stadium in Dallas are going for. That’s the high end. They start at $85.
1 NFL coach already fired on the first day after the end of the regular season. That would be Redskins coach Jim Zorn.
Call me a Phanatic: A look at the ups and downs of being a Philadelphia sports fan.You’d like to think that it is not easy to beat a team three times in one NFL season. But the numbers say otherwise. It’s actually not all the rare. Not good news for the Birds.
I Don’t Get It: Our elected representatives in Harrisburg continue to dicker around with the details of the state budget, including table games. In the meantime, Gov. Ed Rendell is putting the heads of 1,000 state workers back on the chopping block if a deal is not on his desk by Friday. Nice.
Today’s Upper: Usually it’s constituents seeking help from their state representative. Those tables have been turned around in Montgomery County, where citizens have been calling the office of state Sen. Stewart Greenleaf asking how they can help after he lost his home to a fire over the weekend. He and his family escaped, but lost everything else in the fire.

Quote Box: “They’re making it a pure political decision, where I’m just trying to conclude my business and go.”
- State Rep. and new County Councilman Mario Civera, on protest that marked his swearing-in in Media yesterday.

The Civera Watch

There was all the usual pomp and circumstance yesterday at the Media Courthouse as two new members of County Council took the oath of office.

Actually there was only one new member. Incumbent Jack Whelan was sworn in for his second term. He was joined by running mate Mario Civera, the longtime state rep from Upper Darby.

Nothing unusual about two Republicans taking their seats on the ruling bodies of Delaware County. After all, it’s been an all-Republican affair since the 1970s, back when the Home Rule Charter ended mandatory minority representation in the county.

That doesn’t mean that nothing unusual happened yesterday in Media. Not inside the courthouse, but outside, shivering in the cold.

That’s where a small band of Democrats from Civera’s home turf held a protest. It’s the first time anybody can remember the routine swearing-in of new county council members sparking sign-carrying protesters outside the courthouse.

It’s probably fitting that the small band of Democrats were out in the cold, that’s where they usually are when it comes to the ruling body in Delaware County.

Then again, Civera’s ascension was not exactly routine. That’s because county councilman is not Civera’s only job description. He’s also the state representative for the 164th District from Upper Darby. And he will continue to be, at least for the immediate future.

In other words, he is going to hold both jobs, even though he’s forgoing his county salary. He will accept his state paycheck, which comes to $104,000 a year. A county councilman makes only $49,000 annually.

This is not sitting well with Democrats, especially those in Upper Darby, and they’re not about to let Civera forget it, even on the day he took the oath of office for his new county post.

They maintain that Civera made it clear during the campaign that he would not hold both seats. Now they say he’s going back on his word.

Civera says he has every intention of resigning his state House seat – and always has – but he has never given a concrete date for that action.
Now he says he’s been asked to stay on by leaders of both parties to work on table games legislation as well as possibly an early start on next year’s budget plan.

But there’s a healthy dose of politics at play here as well. Democrats want a special election to fill Civera’s 164th District seat. And they want it held on primary day on May 18. It doesn’t take much to figure out why. Democrats are expecting a huge turnout that day because of the Joe Sestak-Arlen Specter battle royal for the Democratic nomination for the U.S. Senate seat.

A cynic might say Republicans are less than enthralled at filling Civera’s seat on that day, since their voters will not have much to draw them to the polls. Hence, they wouldn’t be all that upset should Civera not give up his seat until after the deadline for the special election to be held on primary day.

For now you can call Civera county councilman. And also state representative. And you can call county Democrats ticked off about the whole thing.

Gambling with state workers' jobs

The world’s longest budget negotiation kicks into gear in Harrisburg today.

No, this is not “Groundhog Day,” that’s still a month away, although at this rate the state budget still might be taking shape in the glacial way things work in our illustrious state capital.

The Legislature is expected to go back to work today and attempt to cross the i’s and dot the t’s on a bill to give the green light to table games at the state’s slots parlors.

As if there is any doubt that’s it’s going to happen. This is not a matter of if, it’s simply when. And in Harrisburg, that usually means later rather than sooner.

But just to spice up the talks a bit, Gov. Ed Rendell exited the Eagles post-game show and announced Monday that if he did not have the bill approving table games on his desk by the end of the week, he would again move to ax as many as 1,000 state workers. Among them would be a lot of workers at state prisons, state police and the state Department of Welfare.

It’s probably not going to happen. Apparently there is a deal in place among leaders in both the House and Senate. Now it’s a matter of selling it to the rank-and-file.

Rendell needs the $250 million from the licenses casinos would pay for to institute poker, roulette and craps, along with the taxes on the proceeds.

That was a key plank in the state budget, which legislators finally signed off in October, 101 days after the deadline to have a spending plan in place.

Look for the table games deal to be announced this week, and Rendell’s threat of layoffs to dissipate.

Then maybe Rendell and the Legislature can try to dream up some form of gambling they can tax to solve the looming public employee pension crisis that increasingly is hanging over Harrisburg like a shroud.

The Eagles & the grassy knoll

Welcome to the “grassy knoll,” Philadelphia Eagles division.

Ironically, we’re also talking about Dallas. The “grassy knoll” became the focal point of one of the biggest conspiracy theories in history, as the thought has persisted for more than half a century that a second gunman was behind a fence on Dealey Plaza in Dallas and took part in the assassination of President John F. Kennedy.

I have another conspiracy theory. This one involves the Eagles, and it is coming into focus now that they went belly-up in Dallas against the Cowboys last weekend, thus earning a return trip to Big D Saturday night.

My belief is that the extension the Eagles gave Andy Reid set the wheels in motion that could lead to the exit of Donovan McNabb after a decade joined at the hip with Reid as the Eagles starting QB.

Simply put, if the Eagles lose this Saturday, they are going to need somebody to blame. Reid, courtesy of that extension, is not going anywhere. Enter McNabb.

Remember the words of Eagles President Joe Banner after the Birds fell on their sword in the desert against the Cardinals in last year’s NFC championship game? Banner defined insanity as doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result.

An early exit from the playoffs this year – courtesy of a loss Saturday night in Dallas – would only crystallize that theory.

I’m thinking this all gets dumped in Donovan’s lap, especially if he has another one of those games where he misses open receivers, throws behind them, or offers an assortment of one-hoppers.

Exit Donovan, and start the Kevin Kolb Era.

The Eagles just don’t seem to match up well against the Cowboys. They have now played two games – eight quarters – against them this year and scored all of one TD. That sits heavily on the shoulders of McNabb.

Maybe Donovan will light it up Saturday night.

He better. If he does not play well, if the Birds again struggle mightily on offense and lose to the ‘Boys, it could all fall down on his head.

Beware the grassy knoll.

Monday, January 4, 2010

The Daily Numbers - Jan. 4

The Daily Numbers: 0 points scored by the Eagles yesterday in their debacle of a loss in Dallas.
1 touchdown scored by the Eagles against the Cowboys defense in 2 games so far this year.
6 seed, where the Eagles find themselves in the NFL playoff pecking order, as opposed to No. 2, where they would have been with a win.
1 fatal shooting recorded already in 2010 in the county. Police in Chester say a 28-year-old man was shot at as he sat in a car on the 11 block of Kerlin Street. He later died.
70, age of woman whose body was found in the 1600 block of West Front Street Saturday. She is believed to have died of exposure.
24 degrees, the overnight low, which feels like single digits when you factor in wind gusts of up to 40 mph. It will continue through the middle of the week.
9 percent tax hike in the Newtown Township budget.
4.5 percent tax hike in Clifton Heights.
10,000 dollar reward for information in shooting of off-duty officer last Wednesday. His friend was killed in the robbery try.
17,000 dollars stolen from a state store employee as she tried to deposit the money at a bank in Philly. It’s the 2nd incident recently in which a state store worker was held up.
5 days, how long Gov. Ed Rendell is giving the state Legislature to deliver a bill approving table games before he moves to lay off state workers.
3 percent hike in tolls on the Pa. Turnpike that went into effect on Sunday.
1 person killed in fire in Philly over the weekend.
2 New Jersey state troopers injured when they were hit by a driver who resisted arrest.
45, age of woman in critical condition after she was hit in the head repeatedly with a hammer yesterday in North Philly. A man is under arrest.
1, number of black D.A.s in Philly history, after Seth Williams takes the oath this morning.
150 firefighters who responded to blaze that destroyed home of state Sen. Stewart Greenleaf in Montgomery County early Sunday. The senator and his family were home but escaped the blaze.
2 Philly police officers injured when their cruisers collided at an intersection in the Logan section Sunday night.
5 days, how long the Eagles have to wait before they get another shot at the Cowboys, Saturday night in Dallas.
100,621, how many people were jammed into Jerry Jones’ new stadium to watch yesterday’s Eagles-Dallas game.
17 points for Allen Iverson as the Sixers topped the Nuggets in Denver, 108-105.
Call me a Phanatic: A look at the ups and downs of being a Philadelphia sports fan.Everybody who believes the Eagles are suddenly going to reverse their fortunes against the Cowboys and win this Saturday, raise your hands.
Thought so.
I Don’t Get It: Allen Iverson decided to walk into the arena in Denver for last night’s Sixers-Nuggets game wearing a wool Dallas Cowboy’s hat.
I don’t get it.

Today’s Upper: They say there are no do-overs in life. Not so for sports. The Eagles get another shot at the Cowboys, with even more on the line, in a Wild Card game Saturday night.

Quote Box: “We all have to look at ourselves individually and make sure
this doesn’t happen again.”
- Eagles QB Donovan McNabb after Sunday’s debacle in Dallas.

My resolution

Last week I intimated in this space that I do not make New Year’s resolutions.

That’s not entirely true.

A confession. I resolve again this year to hate the next 90 days just as much as I did last year, and the year before that.

Here’s the deal. I hate winter. In fact, I hate it a little more each year.

I can handle a little snow and cold to add to the holiday cheer, but that’s all in the rear-view mirror. Now it’s back to reality, and the cold drudgery of the next three months.

If it was up to me, I’d go back to bed, pull the covers over my head, and leave a wake-up call for April 1.

That’s not going to happen.

Instead, I will endeavor to find all the redeeming factors involved in winter.

Anybody have any ideas?

Big day in Delco politics

It’s a big day in Delco politics.

In Chester, two Democrats who won election in November will take their seats on Chester Council.

Portia West and John Linder managed to break the Republican stranglehold on the council. It’s only the second time that’s happened since 1906.

Bipartisan rule arrives back in Chester today.

Meanwhile, in the county seat in Media, all eyes will be on Mario Civera as he takes the oath office this morning to join County Council.

Civera rolled to a big win in November with incumbent Republican Jack Whelan.

It was expected that Civera would by this time have shed his other job, as a state rep for the 164th District.

It hasn’t turned out that way. Civera says he’s been approached by members of both parties asking him to stay on in Harrisburg for an expedited budget process starting early in the spring session.

Civera will thus hold two down two jobs, something he indicated in the campaign he would not do.

He will not accept his $49,000 salary for the county job, instead opting for his $105,000 state rep paycheck.

Upper Darby Democrats are livid that Civera plans to hold down both positions, at least for the immediate future.

And while bipartisanship is taking hold in Chester, it is still merely a rumor in Media.

With the election of Civera and Whelan, County Council remains an all-Republican affair, just as it has since the Home Rule Charter was adopted back in the early ‘70s.

Deja vu all over again for Birds

Much was made last week of Sunday’s Dallas-Eagles game being something of an “early” playoff game.

If so, we’ve seen this Eagles playoff act before.

The Birds simply failed to show up in a game that meant everything.

Win and they claim the NFC East crown, and more importantly a week off and a home game, along with home-field advantage against every other team other than the Saints.

Instead the Eagles took a pass – literally.

All the usual suspects were there, shoddy time management, Donovan McNabb missing wide open receivers, including a sure TD to DeSean Jackson behind everybody, receivers dropping balls, Reid abandoning the run after falling behind, and of course, the obligatory debacle at the end of the first half.

For their deplorable effort, the Eagles earned a return trip to Dallas to play a Wild Card game Saturday night at 8.

Many are saying how difficult it is for one NFL team to beat another three times in one season. That will be the Cowboys’ challenge this week.

The Eagles, meanwhile, need to start over in the way they go about game-planning for the Cowboys.

It’s mystifying that the Eagles could come up so small in a game that meant so much.

But we shouldn’t be surprised. As I said, we’ve seen this act about a thousand times in the Andy Reid-Donovan McNabb era. Any number of seasons that have gone down the drain, followed by Reid stepping up to the microphone and saying “he has to do a better job of putting players in position to make plays.”

One of these years they likely will figure out how to do just that.
Yesterday he had players in position, and McNabb routinely missed them.
Then, of course, we were graced by that signature McNabb smirk after a missed opportunity.

In looking at the bigger picture, the Eagles lost most than just a crucial game yesterday in Dallas.

They very likely lost their opportunity to get to the Super Bowl. Win yesterday and they had a week off, followed by a home game.

Now the road to Miami is via three road games.

That rocky road starts Saturday night in Dallas. The Eagles literally get a do-over against the Cowboys.

Those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it. I’ve seen nothing over the past 11 years that tells me Reid and McNabb have learned much about showing up for big games.

I am guessing they will play better Saturday night. They certainly should at least score.

But I see the same result.

After all, we’ve seen this act before.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

The dreaded Saturday Eagles pick

The Eagles' season is on the line Sunday in Dallas.

Yes, I know they have already made the playoffs. But win and they not only take the NFC East crown, but they also get a week off and home field for the first game of the playoffs, and in fact home field advantage against everyone but the Saints.

I just don't think it's going to happen.

The Eagles and Cowboys have been the two best teams in the NFC, if not the NFL, for the past month. Both have been red-hot.

Tony Romo and the Cowboys seem to have gotten past their problems with the month of December. Now they face a crucial test in January.

For the Eagles, once again this game will ride very much on the shoulders of Donovan McNabb. The Eagles QB has played in plenty of big games. ThIs is another one. And it's one in which the Eagles can't afford for him to be less than at the top of his game.

Last week McNabb was on fire in the first half against the Broncos, then seemed to flip a switch at halftime and struggled for most of the second half.

The Eagles' spotty defense will likely have its hands full with the Dallas offense. If the Eagles are going to win this one, they likely will have to outscore the 'Boys.

I don't see it happening. Wild Card, here we come.

Make it Cowboys 26, Eagles 24.

Last Week: I was on the money again with the Birds holding on to beat the Broncos. That made six straihght wins for the Birds. I initially thought they might run the table. Now I see a bump in the road.

Season Record: 11-4, Looks like the Birds will be heading back to Dallas next week for a rematch in the first round of the playoffs.