Friday, February 26, 2010

The Daily Numbers - Feb. 26

The Daily Numbers: 2 teens, both sophomores at Interboro High, struck and killed by a high-speed Acela train in Norwood yesterday.
3 Interboro students who have been killed in less than a month.
110 mph, how fast Acela trains whiz by as they go through that area.
2 of the 4 suspects on the first edition of “Delaware County’s Most Wanted” TV show in custody.
6 inches of snow that fell on much of the region since yesterday morning. That adds to the record-setting 73.1 inches of snow already on the ground this winter.
19 inches of snow racked up in the Poconos.
50 mph wind gusts that battered the region overnight and caused the snow to drift across many roads.
15 percent of flights canceled yesterday at Philadelphia International Airport.
120 of its 400 daily flights out of Philly axed by US Airways yesterday.
Southwest grounded all 54 departures.
20 to 40 years in jail for a man convicted of shooting an Abington police officer.
4.39 percent tax hike being proposed in the Lower Merion School District. What, the laptop controversy was not enough?
25 percent of Pennsylvanians who believe Sen. Arlen Specter deserves re-election. That’s a ray of hope for longshot Rep. Joe Sestak.
34,616 people expected to be jammed into the Carrier Dome Saturday when Villanova arrives to play Syracuse.
2, as in second place and the silver medal for the U.S. women’s hockey team, which fell to Canada.
1, as in No. 1, what many experts are calling the Phillies lineup, with the addition of versatile Placido Polanco.

Call me a Phanatic: A look at the ups and downs of being a Philadelphia sports fan.A sight for sore, snowdrift eyes. Yes, that was Roy Halladay on the mound in Clearwater yesterday. And he looked as advertised, overpowering.
I Don’t Get It: If they are going to spend 90 minutes on an expanded noon news, don’t you think the local TV stations could do a little better than to tell us the roads were wet.
Today’s Upper: Just repeat after me: Spring is right around the corner.
Quote Box: “They were loved and they will be missed.”
Ron French, Interboro student, talking about the deaths of two friends who were struck and killed by an Acela train yesterday in Norwood.

Haunting questions in Interboro

There’s really only one simple question they are asking themselves in the Interboro community today.


Why were two young girls on the train tracks in Norwood yesterday morning?

Why did they leave Interboro High earlier in the day?

What motivated them to put themselves in harm’s way, in a very dangerous place that is clearly marked to warn people?

For some reason, Gina Gentile and Vanessa Dorwart were walking on the tracks near the Norwood Train Station when a high-speed Acela train zippped through. Tragedy ensued.

Gentile was 16. Dorwart would have turned 16 next week. They were both sophomores at Interboro High School

Now, as they wrestle with the question of why, the community also mourns two young lives lost.

It is becoming an achingly familiar routine in Interboro. Just a month ago they lost another student, when William Bradley V was struck and killed as he rode his bike home from school.

There is much talk among young people in the community that the two girls were despondent over the death of Bradley, a friend. He was Gentile’s boyfriend.

There was a third girl with them on the railroad tracks. She was not injured. She may hold the key to this horrific puzzle.

In the meantime, there is only pain. And aching questions.

It’s just too damn sad.

Another day, another storm

Yesterday afternoon I was feeling pretty good about myself, mocking the talking heads on TV who had just spent an expanded 90 minutes on the noon new delivering the dramatic news that the roads were wet.

Not snow-covered. Just wet.

That was then; this is now.

Mother Nature, after giving us a break for much of the day yesterday, decided to get even last night.

I can sum up the drive in this morning in one word: A mess. That’s two words. So shoot me. Or just bury me in a snowdrift.

I came fairly close to doing that all by myself on the ride in.

The problem was that the snow picked up in intensity last night. It finally took those wet roads and converted them to snow-covered ski ramps.

But that wasn’t the big problem. It was the wind. It is howling out there. And that means drifts.

I usually have trouble gauging how bad the roads are going to be in my development, where it always looks like the end of the world. Usually I snake my way out to the main road and things clear up from there.

Not this morning. The wind had blown snow across the roads, drifting over in several spots. I had to simply hit the gas and plow through a couple of drifts.

Just another day in our winter of discontent.

By the time this ends around noon, we should be approaching the 80-inch mark for snowfall this winter.

We already were sitting on a record 73.1 inches of snow.

We’ve had four major storms so far this winter.

PennDOT estimates they have used about 150,000 tons of salt so far this winter. I think most of it is on my car.

Spring can’t get here soon enough.

Meet the new boss, Phillies fans

It’s a sight for sore eyes, or at least eyes that have seen little else but snow for what seems like months.

Yes, that was Roy Halladay in the brilliant blue Philllies practice Phillies practice jersey on the mound in Clearwater yesterday.

The occasion was batting practice.

The new Phils ace was on the hill. The result, according to at least one witness, was impressive.

Halladay was as advertised, dazzling the Phillies batters. It’s something hitters in the American League have gotten used to. Not it’s the NL’s turn. Not many balls made it out of the infield.

Or you can ask Phils’ rookie Domonic Brown. He’s expected to be the team’s next phenom. He took a few cuts against Halladay. Two foul balls and a whiff.

His verdict on Halladay: “Nasty.”

Spring is just around the corner.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

The Daily Numbers - Feb. 25

The Daily Numbers: 4 faces gracing the first edition of “Delaware County’s Most Wanted,” a new cable TV show looking to track down suspects on the lam from the law.
20 million dollars being paid by PPL EnergyPlus in Allentown for the naming rights to the new soccer stadium in Chester. It’s an 11-year deal.
6-12 inches of snow expected across the region today as we get hit by the 4th major snowstorm of the winter.
50 mph wind gusts that could turn conditions into what is being referred to as a “snowacane” this afternoon.
73.1 inches of snow so far this winter. We could perilously close to 80 inches by Friday afternoon.
14 ramp meters back in place to allow traffic on to the Blue Route as most entrances in the county. The first ones were reactivated yesterday.
4 days added to the school year in Philadelphia because of snow days so far this winter.
2 million dollar shortfall in sales tax collections reported in Philadelphia for January.
40.8 million dollar loss reported in first quarter by home builder Toll Brothers. That’s less than half of the $88.9 million they lost last year.
27, age of man who police say was drunk and disoriented when he set a fire in the offices of Philadelphia International Records.
95 million dollar jackpot Saturday night in the Powerball drawing. No one hit last night.
12 to 25 years of confinement, what man is facing after pleading guilty but mentally ill in several arson fires that plagued Coatesville last year.
106-95 loss for the Sixers last night in Phoenix.
13 assists for Steve Nash in leading the Suns.
74-49 trouncing of South Florida for Villanova last night to break a 2-game skid.
23 wins for Temple Owls and 11-2 record in A-10 after they topped Dayton last night.

Call me a Phanatic: A look at the ups and downs of being a Philadelphia sports fan.So much for the preliminaries. Now it’s on to the Main Event. What are the Eagles going to do about Donovan McNabb and their QB situation next year?
I Don’t Get It: Six more inches of snow. And maybe more. Why is it that this year six inches seems like flurries.
Today’s Upper: Kudos to those involved in the “Delco’s Most Wanted”
cable TV program.
Quote Box: “We are hopeful that by bringing this information directly to our neighbors, we can get these people off of our streets and behind bars where they belong.”
Delco Sheriff Joe McGinn, in unveiling his new cable TV show, “Delaware County’s Most Wanted.”

Delco's Most Wanted

Give Joe McGinn some credit. The Delaware County sheriff has been in the news this week, no doubt not in a way he intended.

He’s been taking some heat over a photography business he once owned, now run by his daughter, and the work they did for the county, including dad’s department.

But that did not stop McGinn from showing up last night to push a TV show that will alert the public to “Delco’s Most Wanted.”

You can catch all the details on Rose Quinn’s story here.

McGinn could have begged off. He didn’t. He showed up and explained the thinking behind the program to the Clifton Heights Business Association.

The faces of the first four “Most Wanted” folks grace the front page of today’s newspaper. We also have a piece of video from the show on our Web site.

The idea behind the show is to alert the public about criminals who are at large on a variety of charges.

“We are hopeful that by bringing this information directly to our neighbors, we can get these people off of our streets and behind bars where they belong,” McGinn said.

We concur.

It’s been a tough week for Joe McGinn. Last night was a move in the right direction. Happy to work with you, sheriff.

Dumped on again

OK, I give up. What exactly is a “snowacane?”

Here’s a hint. Walk over to the window this afternoon. Look outside.
That’s a snowacane.

Welcome back to the winter of our discontent.

After a brief lull, a thawing with just enough rain and warmer temperatures to melt some of our record snow, we’re about to get hammered with our fourth major snowstorm of the season. Swell, I know.

Acutally it’s another nor’easter sitting off the coast that is going to be dumping snow on the region for the next 24 hours. But the snow actually might not be the biggest problem we face. The snow will actually combine with hellacious winds this afternoon and into tonight.
We could see continuous gusts up to 50 mph. That likely will translate into lots of downed trees, lines and power outages.

It’s the combination of all this heavy, wet snow sitting on branches, accompanied by high winds, that is leaving a bad feeling in the pit of the stomachs of all those good folks at Peco.

Right now we’ve been hit with 73.1 inches of snow this winter. It’s an all-time record. And we’ll add to it today and tomorrow, likely getting perilously close to 80 inches.

Make up the T-Shirts now. I survived the winter of 2009-10. Or, more accurately, the winter of our discontent.

The buzz in Chester

There is an interesting undercurrent – or “buzz” if you will – to yesterday’s big announcement at the Chester (yeah, yeah, I know, it’s
Philadelphia) Union’s new stadium.

The new entry into Major League Soccer will play their home games in PPL Park. That was the upshot of yesterday’s press conference to announce the naming rights to the stadium.

The facility is rising quickly under the Commodore Barry Bridge. The Union will actually play their first two home games at the home of the Eagles, Lincoln Financial Field, and eight of their first 10 on the road to allow more time to finish off the stadium.

The first Major League Soccer game in Chester is scheduled for Jun 27.

PPL EnergyPlus is paying $20 million for the naming rights to the facility. Thus you get PPL Park. PPL is based in Allentown. They’re a subsidiary of PPL Corp. They’re in the business supplying retail energy.

They’re also supplying power to the stadium as part of the deal.

The field won’t be called PECO Park. Or the Comcast Coliseum. It’s not tied into a Philadelphia bank or other financial institution.

Instead it is taking on the name of an energy company from the Lehigh Valley. It’s not PPL’s first dalliance with a stadium. They also sponsor patio area at Coca-Cola Park in Allentown, home of the Phillies Triple-A team, the IronPigs.

PPL is looking to make a splash, or perhaps better put a “buzz,” in the Philadelphia region. Specifically, in the back yard of Peco Energy Co.

That’s because at the end of 2010, electric rate caps will be lifted in Pennsylvania, and consumers will be able to shop for their supplier.

Peco has 1.6 million customers. PPL is looking to get a toe-hold in the area, the friendly company whose name appears on the 18,500-seat soccer stadium in Chester.

In the meantime, construction continues at a frenetic pace, and team officials say it is on track despite our brutal winter.

Now when city and team officials describe the atmosphere surrounding the team and stadium, as electric, they really mean it.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

The Daily Numbers - Feb. 24

The Daily Numbers: 50,000 dollars, how much the Aston Valley Baseball League wants from the Penn-Delco School District in a legal tug of war over athletic fields.
5,652.69 dollars and cents being returned to the county by the daughter of county Sheriff Joe McGinn for work done by his department.
2 young girls attacked by a gang of other girls during an incident at Springfield Mall.
1,284,503 dollars in liquid fuels payments headed to Upper Darby to help pay for snow-plowing operations. That’s tops in the county.
6 inches of snow that could be on the ground by Thursday afternoon. Of course, it all depends on the track of the storm.
4 major storms to hit the area this winter, if tomorrow’s storm pans out.
28.2, 23.2 and 15.8 inches of snow in the 3 storms that have nailed us so far this winter.
71 inches of snow this winter, the most recorded since they started keeping records.
33-16 led for Sen. Arlen Specter over Rep. Joe Sestak in the latest Franklin & Marshall poll in the Democratic Senate primary fight.
44-34 lead for Republican Pat Toomey over Specter in a general election run. He holds a 38-20 lead over Sestak.
5, age of girl who was victim of man who exposed himself to her at a Barnes & Noble store in Evesham Township, N.J.
5 girls who passed out during alleged sexual abuse inflicted on them by a pediatrician in Lewes, Del. The acts apparently were captured on videotape.
18, age of Del. teen charged in the slaying of a 61-year-old man in Smyrna, Del.
10, where Philadelphia ranks in rankings for the most traffic-congested city. Los Angeles was No. 1, followed by New York and Chicago.
23, age of woman shot in Philadelphia after she stabbed a policeman after they responded to a family dispute.
2 alarm fire that damaged the home of Philadelphia International Records. It has been labeled as “incendiary.”
2 students shot by a man armed with a high-powered rifle at a suburban Denver school yesterday. The man was tackled by a teacher.
903 wins for Herb Magee as coach of Philadelphia University. He set the all-time NCAA record with a win last night.
68 touchdowns for Brian Westbrook during his stellar 8-year career with the Eagles.
2,1004 yards from scrimmage, the team record, also owned by Westbrook.

Call me a Phanatic: A look at the ups and downs of being a Philadelphia sports fan.It’s hard to say goodbye to a player like Brian Westbrook. Necessary, but hard.
I Don’t Get It: If it’s possible, the chilling details surround the sexual abuse case of a pediatrician in Lewes, Del., just gets worse.
Many of his alleged acts apparently were captured on videotape. I don’t get it.
Today’s Upper: Big today for the city of Chester. PPL Corp., an energy company out of Allentown, will announce they are picking up the naming rights for the city’s new soccer stadium.
Quote Box: “I believe that Joe McGinn used poor judgment and made a mistake in allowing this to occur, but I’m hoping the issue is resolved at this point in time.”
- County Council Chairman Jack Whelan, on issue of McGinn’s daughter doing photo work for county and sheriff’s department. She is going to pay back some of the money.

WTF: What the flake?

Everyone’s favorite four-letter word is back.

No, not that one. I gave up cursing for Lent, remember?

Yes, they are calling for snow again. Maybe a lot of it. As they say in the forecasting biz, it all depends on the track of the storm.

The way this winter of our discontent has gone, which way do you think it’s going to go?

A winter storm watch is in effect through noon Friday. Today doesn’t look like a problem. We all should make it home just fine, that is if we can fight our way through the supermarket checkout lines after stocking up on the essentials such as break, milk and eggs. Oh, that’s right, I don’t eat eggs. Never mind.

Snow is expected to arrive overnight, but things aren’t expected to really get cranked up until later in the morning Thursday into the afternoon.

They’re saying we could get as much as 6 inches.

I’m not making this up. I wish I was.

Actually, I wish I was in Clearwater watching the Phillies in spring training.

I wish I was just about anywhere but sitting here in the crosshairs of the fourth big storm of the winter.

I would even settle for another day of the nasty, chilly rain that has been pelting us this week. At least it’s melting the snow.

I just can’t even fathom digging out from another major storm.

Here’s my prediction. We get some snow, but not a lot. At this point, anything less than a foot in this area can officially be called a nuisance.

Spring will remain only a rumor.

Another Major League move for Chester

Today will be another milestone in the city of Chester’s march back to “major league” status.

By that we mean Major League Soccer. The league’s newest team, the Philadelphia Union, will call Chester home. They will play – eventually – in a city being constructed in the shadow of the Commodore Barry Bridge, hard by the Delaware River.

Today team officials will gather at the site to announce a naming deal for the stadium.

This no doubt will come as something of a stunner to all those who smirked that they would believe all of this when they see it. Obviously, they have not used the Commodore Barry Bridge recently. It is almost impossible to miss the stadium that is rising up underneath it.

A few years ago, it would have been hard to fathom a company paying to have their name put on a building in Chester.

That’s how far the city has come.

PPL Corp., an energy firm based in Allentown, today will convene with team officials to announce a 10-year, $20 million deal to have the soccer stadium officially christened PPL Park.

In the meantime, construction continues at a frenzied pace. It will not actually be finished in time for the team’s opener. The Union will play two games at Lincoln Financial Field, home of the Eagles.

The first game at PPL Park is set for June 27.

The Union will kick off the MLS season on the road in a little more than a month, March 25 in Seattle.

They are playing eight of their first 10 games on the road to allow more time for crews to finish construction of the stadium.

But make no mistake, that stadium is real. They are building it. People will come.

The money already is. PPL is sinking $20 million into the city of Chester.

Major league, indeed.

The life of Brian

You didn’t have to be a football genius to see this one coming.

All you needed was a calculator.

Brian Westbrook is no longer an Eagle. The Villanova product who defied all the experts to become an NFL superstar – and the Eagles all-time leader in total yards from scrimmage – was released by the team yesterday.

Westbrook, who injured a knee while playing in college on the Main Line, battled the injury bug throughout his eight-year career.

But last year they finally caught up with him. Westbrook was dealing with lingering ankle and knee issues when he was thrown for a loop – literally – when his helmet collided with the knee of a Washington Redskins linebacker. Westbrook was out cold.

He suffered a concussion, was out several weeks, then returned against the San Diego Chargers and suffered a second concussion. At that point he shut things down for the rest of the season.

Westbrook was due to make $7.5 million next year.

There is no way the Eagles were going to put that kind of investment into a player who was having increasing difficulty staying on the field.

This time, you really can’t blame the team. You can’t blame Westbrook, either.

Football is a rough business. But it’s easy to forget that it is just that, a business. The Eagles made a business decision.

Cutting a player of the stature of Brian Westbrook is not easy. This was not like last year, when the team was vilified for bungling the negotiations with Brian Dawkins and watching him walk away.

This is something they had to do.

No one enjoys it, but everyone saw it coming.

Brian Westbrook was one of the all-time great Eagles. The key word there being “was.”

That’s just the way pro football is.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

The Daily Numbers - Feb. 23

The Daily Numbers: 28 months in jail for Anthony Forte, head of the largest union at Boeing, in a kickback scheme.
1.25 million dollars in restitution he also must make in connection with a massive kickback scheme involving loans from the Boeing credit union.
1 day in prison and $178,000 in restitution for his brother David, who also pleaded guilty in the case.
56,000 dollars in no-bid work from the county doled out to the daughter of Sheriff Joe McGinn. That includes some work she did for her dad’s department.
6,046 dollars Kellie McGinn will repay to the county for work done for the Sheriff’s Department.
40 residents who turned up at Norwood council again Monday night to complain about the whopping 34 percent tax hike approved to bail out the financially ailing town.
2 million dollars raised by state Sen. Anthony Williams, D-Phila., who also covers a slice of Delco. He’s planning a run for governor.
2 Pa. Senate candidates who are planning to debate. That would be Joe Sestak and Pat Toomey. Arlen Specter is taking a pass.
4, as in 4th place, out of the medal hunt, for the pride of Aston’s Ice Works, Tanith Belbin and Benjamin Agosto, at last night’s ice dancing finals at the Olympics in Vancouver.
100 people show showed up at Ice Works last night to cheer on the favorites.
100 people who turned up at Eddystone council last night to voice their opposition to a metal-shredding facility proposed for the town.
471 charges of child abuse involving 103 kids formally filed against a doctor in Lewes, Del., yesterday.
500 dollar reward posted for info on who shot a cat in the eye with a dart in Mullica Hill, N.J.
2, age of girl abandoned in a Del. gas station. Police have received some tips but have yet to ID the toddler.
1,200 dollars ripped off from a man inside a North Philly deli.
24 frozen fetuses found when police raided a doctor’s office in West Philadelphia.
42 laptops that disappeared in past 14 months after being given to students in Lower Merion School District, which is what sparked the district to activate Web cams built into them, touching off a legal firestorm.
50 percent of her work spend on campaign business, according to testimony by a former legislative aide at corruption trial yesterday in Harrisburg.
20 pitches thrown by Brad Lidge off a mound yesterday in Clearwater. It was first time he’s been back on hill since undergoing offseason surgeries on his elbow and knee.
36 home runs and 99 RBIs last year for Jayson Werth, who was the talk of Phillies training camp yesterday when he showed up with a thick beard and long hair.
3 remaining games on this road trip that will be missed by Sixers’ Allen Iverson, who is heading back home to be with his ailing daughter.
903 wins, what Herb Magee is shooting for tonight as the longtime Philadelphia University coach looks to break Bobby Knight’s record for men’s hoops wins.

Call me a Phanatic: A look at the ups and downs of being a Philadelphia sports fan.The Phillies are learning the high cost of success. Jayson Werth is in camp. He’s headed into the final year of his deal. After some eye-popping numbers last year, he’s going to be looking for big bucks.
Whether or not the Phils can afford him remains to be seen.
I Don’t Get It: Who would shoot a cat in the eye with a dart? That’s what police in South Jersey would like to know. They’ve posted a $500 reward in the case.
Today’s Upper: Kudos to all those who showed up at Ice Works last night to cheer on the ice dancers who train there. Tanith Belbin and Ben Agosto did not win a medal, but they captured a lot of hearts.
Quote Box: “Tony has done a lot of great, great things in the intervening years and I think that was reflected in the judge’s sentence.”
- Brian McMonagle, lawyer for Boeing union boss Anthony Forte, who was sentenced to 28 months in jail yesterday for a kickback scheme involving loans handed out by the company credit union.

Calling all bloggers

Uncle Sam used to have a fairly famous saying when it comes to service:
I Want You!

I’m going to steal his slogan.

I want you … to write a blog for

For years the role of the newspaper as the eyes and ears of the community has been a valued journalistic tradition. We’ve been the watchdogs, keeping tabs on our communities and schools.

But for the most part, that message always flowed in one direction, from the newspaper to our readers.

Today the technology we are swimming in has taken that tradition and turned it on its head.

The newspaper still has a commanding voice in the community, but it’s no longer the only one. Not even close. Today we are one of many.

The newspaper industry is changing. That does not mean we are abandoning our core print product. That will not change. But we are embracing technology. We now deliver news 24 hours a day. We have added video. We break stories online and through social media. We have Facebook accounts and we ‘tweet’ all day long.

And now we are looking for members of the community to join us in our endeavors.

What we are looking for is local people with a story to tell. It might be a particular niche, such as personal finance, or fitness. We already feature blogs on cooking and one written by Delco moms.

Or maybe you just think you’d like to write about the county in general.
Maybe sports or politics is your thing, or just the best place to grab a cup of coffee and your favorite local newspaper.

Obviously we are looking people with good writing skills, who have something to say and are capable of delivering that message in a cogent fashion.

If that sounds like you, e-mail me at Include some writing samples if you wish. Tell us your qualifications and why you think you’d be a good candidate to be one of our community journalists.

Journalism is changing. We are endeavoring to change along with it, and we are asking our readers to join us in the challenge.

I Want You … to enlist in our army of community bloggers.

Get the picture?

Joe McGinn should have known better.

The Delaware County sheriff finds himself in a bit of hot water today because of a business that he used to run, which is now in the hands of his daughter.

Back before he was appointed the county’s top lawman, McGinn used to be a familiar sight around the courthouse taking pictures at various functions. His company was known as Photo Express.

Once he became sheriff, the prudent thing would have been for McGinn to separate himself from the company. He did that, although his name still appears as its president.

The problem is that the company, now run by his daughter, continued to do work for the county, including some for the sheriff’s department, headed by her dad.

As it turns out, Kellie McGinn has earned $56,000 in no-bid work for the county in the last six years.

You can check out Alex Rose’s story here.

Joe McGinn said he hasn’t derived any income from the business since he became sheriff, he just never bothered to have his name removed and officially transfer the presidency.

The county considers the work a “professional service.” It does not have to be put out for professional bidding.

Kellie McGinn has taken steps to repay $6,046, the money she has earned from the sheriff’s department since her dad took over in 2003.

That’s good.

But that’s only one of the issues involved here. State ethics laws make it pretty clear when it comes to direct family members benefitting from a relative’s elected office.

This instance may or may not go down that road.

But one thing is certain. It looks lousy. And Joe McGinn should have known better.

And it’s exactly the kind of thing people are always complaining about, especially here in Delaware County.

The McGinns action in this case will simply add fuel to the fire.

Phils' version of Grizzly Addams

The Phillies did not sign Joaquin Phoenix (the music version, not the

Grizzly Addams has not given up the wilderness for the warm sun of Clearwater.

Don’t look for a member of ZZ Topp to be patrolling right field for the Phils.

That’s Jayson Werth.

He arrived at spring training yesterday looking as if he has not seen a razor since the Phils lost to the Yankees in the World Series back in November.

Werth is sporting a full, bushy beard and some decidedly longer locks than when last seen.

All of which makes for a great photo and some idle chatter, but does not get to the heart of the issue between the Phils and their rightfielder.

Werth is heading into the final year of his contract. Backed up by some eye-popping numbers last year - 36 home runs, 99 RBI and an appearance in the All-Star game – Werth is likely going to be looking for a big new deal. The question will be whether the Phils can afford him.

Check out Ryan Lawrences take on the situation. By the way, if you’re not doing it already, you really should be checking Ryan’s blog, Phollowing the Phils, for constant updates, as well as his Twitter updates from Clearwater. You can go to his blog by clicking here.

Monday, February 22, 2010

The Daily Numbers - Feb. 22

The Daily Numbers: 4, as in 4th place, where ice dancers Tanith Belbin and Benjamin Agosto, are sitting going into tonight’s finals in Vancouver.
100,000 dollars in kickbacks for which the former head of the biggest union at Boeing will be sentenced in federal court this morning.
3 Delco high schools set for the finals of the Hi-Q contest. They would be defending champ Penncrest, Garnet Valley and Haverford.
19,239 dollars that’s at center of finance dispute in Ridley Park.
4 people chased from their home when fire roared through a house in Nether Providence.
2, age of girl found abandoned at a gas station in Newark Del., over the weekend.
4 people shot at the Black Diamond bar in North Philly. One person died.
300 dollars ripped off in latest robbery of a 7-Eleven store in North Philly. It’s one in a series of heists involving convenience stores.
10, age of boy injured in a pit bull attack in Philly. It comes a day after a woman was mauled and killed in another attack.
1 Philly police officer injured in a hit-run incident early Monday morning.
7.8 million dollars raised by Penn State students at this year’s dance marathon in the Jordan Center in State College.
9,000 dollars paid at auction for the trademark thick glasses worn by Penn State football coach Joe Paterno. He recently had eye correction surgery.
19, age of Marine from Scranton who was killed in action in Afghanistan.
2.74, what we’re paying for gas on average in the Philly region the past week.
2 straight losses for Villanova, 1st time that’s happened in 2 years.
49.5 homers and 143 RBIs, what Phillies slugger Ryan Howard has average over the past 4 years.
45,000 tickets sold by the Phillies last Thursday when they put single-game tickets on sale.
24 points for Udel standout Elena Delle Donne, to set the school’s single-season scoring record.

Call me a Phanatic: A look at the ups and downs of being a Philadelphia sports fan.Villanova might be in the process of playing itself out of a No. 1 seed in the NCAA tourney.
I Don’t Get It: Police in Delaware are trying to ID a 2-year-old girl found abandoned at a gas station. I don’t get it.
Today’s Upper: There was a fire at the offices of Philadelphia International Records in Philly, home of the Sound of Philly. That’s not the Upper. None of their classic tracks was damaged. That is.
Quote Box: “We will be cheering loudly for Tanith and Ben, that’s for sure.”
- Joey Suchodolski, director of skating at Ice Works, where the Olympic ice dancers train.

A sorry situation

The sorry situation involving Tiger Woods got a lot sorrier Friday.

In case you missed it, and it would be hard to believe anyone did since it was given the treatment of a presidential address, Tiger Woods appeared before the cameras and fell on his 3-iron.

He said he was sorry. About a thousand times.

He appeared before a few friends and a couple of select media types. The Golf Writers of America actually boycotted the event because he was not taking questions.

Tiger didn’t have to tell me he’s sorry. Hey, he was a cheating dog and got caught. Of course he was sorry.

He didn’t have to apologize to me either. There was only one thing I wanted to hear, and it’s the one thing he didn’t address.

Tiger said he was sorry to his wife and family, who are really the only people he should be talking to about all this.

He apologized to his sponsors, who sold us a very different image of Tiger all these years.

He apologized to the PGA Tour and his fellow players, being how he was upstaging the Accenture Match Play tournament, which just happens to be one of the sponsors who dumped him.

I didn’t tune in to hear any of that. The only thing I wanted to hear is when he’s coming back. And that’s the one thing he didn’t address. He’s going back into therapy and hopes to return to competitive golf some day, while admitting he does not know when that day will be.

Next week would work for me.

Look, I’m going to watch golf anyhow. I checked out the final round of the Accenture yesterday, and it was like watching paint dry seeing Ian Poulter, decked out head to toe in pink, finish off Paul Casey 4 and 2 in the match play event.

My guess is myself and a handful of other golf diehards tuned in. The TV audience for the PGA Tour so far this year is off by about 50 percent.

Care to guess why? I won’t say Tiger is the tour, but he’s close to it.

More importantly, when he’s on the leaderboard on Sunday afternoon, it’s literally impossible to turn away. The guy may be a horndog, but he’s a mesmerizing one.

Tiger Woods does things almost every weekend on the golf course that you’ve never seen before.

Simply put, he can’t get back on the course soon enough.

Enough with the apologies. We know you’re sorry.

I hope you can patch things up with your wife.

The Masters is a little more than a month away. I’m still hoping Woods is there.

And if he’s not? Not that would be sorry.

Miracle on MSNBC? Not exactly

The USA and Canada ice hockey teams clashed last night in one of the premier events of the Vancouver Olympics.

But it wasn’t the best thing I saw concerning the Olympics. That would be reserved for something that happened 30 years ago.

Before last night’s game, NBC did a lengthy piece on the 30th anniversary of the “Miracle on Ice.”

I know, it’s hard to believe three decades have gone by since a bunch of college kids stunned the world by beating the powerful Russian team at the Lake Placid games in 1980.

There are several things about that achievement that bear repeating.

Very few people actually saw it. If my memory serves me correct, the game was not broadcast live, at least not in the United States. It was live in Canada, but on tape delay in the U.S.

The game did not deliver the gold medal for USA. They still had to beat Finland, and they were behind going into the third period.

I was thinking about all of that last night when I went looking for the USA-Canada game.

And that was my problem. I couldn’t find it. At least not on NBC.

That’s because it wasn’t on NBC. It was on MSNBC.

Do you believe in miracles? Uh, not exactly.

You can go home again

It’s not often I turn up in another newspaper. I have been hammering away here in Primos for the past 28 years.

As it turns out, every once in awhile I wind up writing about my home town of Oxford, Pa.

I was at it again last week, with two items connecting Olympic men’g figure skater Johnny Weir with Oxford.

They got noticed by our sister paper in West Chester. Editor Andy Hachadorian asked if I’d mind making a couple of changes so he could run them. It was my pleasure.

The piece ran in the West Chester Daily Local on Saturday. You can see it here. I actually melded two pieces together. The first was to simply give a shout-out to Oxford and our shared link with Weir. The second was in response to a couple of nasty comments that were posted on our Web site after I blogged on my connection to Weir.

I was astounded to get several e-mails from people in my old home town who had seen the item and also wanted to share their pride in Weir’s achievement.

Who says you can’t go home again?

Friday, February 19, 2010

The Daily Numbers - Feb. 19

The Daily Numbers: 36 out of 67 counties, where Delco stands in a new poll on health issues.
85,000 students in the Milwaukee School District, where Chester Upland Superintendent Gregory Thornton is headed.
265,000 dollars a year, what Thornton will earn.
2 people being sought in a home invasion murder in Chester.
45,000 tickets sold yesterday on the first day of single-game sales by the Phillies. That brings their ticket sales for the 2010 season to more than 2.8 million.
900 dollars raised by a “Empty Bowls” program at Widener to aid the victims of the earthquake in Haiti.
4, as in July 4, when some Pa. casinos could have their table games operations up and running.
180 days of school mandated by Pa. The city of Philadelphia schools will seek a waiver because of their snow days.
3 businesses in South Philadelphia damaged in a raging fire yesterday afternoon.
29, age of man gunned down in his West Philly apartment.
35-40 workers being laid off at pipe manufacturing plant Victaulic near Allentown.
1 previous fatal accident involving driver of bus that was involved in fatal crash in Montgomery County.
3-10 minutes, how long Tiger Woods is expected to be on camera today for his statement on his extramarital affairs.
1 gold medal for the U.S. in men’s figure skating when Evan Lysacek came from behind to topple Russian Evgeni Plushenko.
6 place finish for Chester County native Johnny Weir.
0 big deals made by Sixers G.M. Ed Stefanski, who made only a minor trade with the Milwaukee Bucks.

Call me a Phanatic: A look at the ups and downs of being a Philadelphia sports fan.Cole Hamels is starting to sound like someone with something to prove.
He does. And that’s a good thing.
I Don’t Get It: Brace yourself. Today will be all-Tiger, all the time.
He goes in front of the camera at 11 a.m.
Today’s Upper: Phillies tickets were being snapped up like Fat Tuesday doughnuts yesterday when single-game ticket sales kicked off at Citizens Bank Park. Must be a sign the economy is recovering.
Quote Box: “All you’re doing is trying to destroy this town.”
- Bob Smythe, chief of police in Darby Borough, to longtime foe Paula Brown during a contentious council meeting this week.

Some big news from Sestak

There is not a day that goes by that we are not inundated with e-mails, voice-mails and other missives from the campaign staff of Congressman Joe Sestak.

They are a most industrious lot.

Which is why it’s surprising we did not get a buzz from them yesterday – despite the fact that the maverick Democrat was making some news.

Sestak, the two-term congressman who is spitting in the eye of the state and national Democratic brass in his bid to snag the U.S. Senate nomination away from Arlen Specter, sat down for an interview with longtime local newsman Larry Kane.

During the taping of the Comcast show, Larry Kane: Voice of Reason, Sestak made a rather startling claim.

Sestak apparently intimated that someone in the White House offered him a job if he would get out of the race.

It’s no secret that Democrats would like Sestak to bow out of his uphill campaign against Specter. Once the senior senator made his switch from the GOP last spring, he was welcomed with open arms by President Barack Obama, Vice President Joe Biden and Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell. It looked like a clear skate to the nomination. But no one bothered to tell Sestak. He had been approached about running against Specter when Arlen was still in the GOP. He first said no, then changed his mind. When Arlen switched, Sestak was asked to step aside. He declined, and didn’t mind saying he didn’t like the way the whole thing was being shoved down the party’s throat.

Now this tantalizing nugget. Sestak, who spent a career in the Navy, retired as an admiral. He gave a “no comment” when Kane pressed him on the possibility of being offered secretary of the Navy.

Sestak says he declined the offer and is vowing to stay in the race, despite increased pressure to get out, most recently from state GOP boss T.J. Rooney.

There’s no word from the White House of the story. My guess is they’re not thrilled about this latest Sestak brush fire.

We’ll see if they’re willing to talk today.

We’ll also check in with the Sestak camp.

If we don’t hear from them first.

How tweet it ain't in Lower Merion

Big Brother has nothing on the folks in the Lower Merion School District, if the claim made in a class-action lawsuit is to be believed.

In one of the more bizarre stories to come down the pike recently, the parents of a Harriton High School have filed suit against the district, claiming school officials were spying on their son via a Web cam in the laptop computer issued to him by the district.

The claim is that the district activated the Web cam remotely, and was keeping tabs on the kid because they suspected inappropriate activity.

Some people refer to that as spying.

This all came to light because the student was disciplined in school for inappropriate behavior at home. The evidence apparently was gained through a photo taken by the Web cam on the laptop.

Now students, parents and civil liberties experts are all crying foul.
It’s hard to blame them.

Ain’t technology great?

There is now some conjecture that using the Web cam in such a manner might violate wiretapping laws.

Tweet this, Lower Merion.

Tiger's Tale

So what are you going to be doing this morning at 11 o’clock?

If you’re like much of the free world, you will be listening to Tiger’s Tale.

One of the most famous people on the planet, who just happens to also be the best golfer in the universe, will go on TV and likely fall on his sword – if not his 3-iron.

Tiger Woods will appear in public for the first time since that infamous trip down the driveway of his Orlando mansion on Thanksgiving night, the one that wound up with him running into a fire hydrant.

From that moment on, the perfect world of Tiger Woods unraveled in a tawdry saga of extramarital affairs.

Woods has not been seen in public, nor spoken in public since. He has posted a few messages on his Web site, including an admission of “infidelities” that hurt his family.

It got to the point that it was news when a woman came forward and said she had not had an affair with Woods.

Tiger is not the first famous person to wander; nor the first big-time athlete.

I have always really liked Tiger Woods. When he’s on the leaderboard on Sunday afternoon, golf becomes something special, an event, must-see TV.
That’s because the guy is simply mesmerizing, at least in terms of golf.
Apparently he’s fairly mesmerizing off the course as well.

The truth is, I will spend parts of Saturday and Sunday afternoon watching golf on TV. But then I’m a golf addict. I watched last weekend just for the thrill of seeing one of the most beautiful places on earth, the Monterey Coast, the setting for the AT&T Classic at Pebble Beach.

But I’m in the minority. The tour needs Tiger. The fans want Tiger – at least the golfer. I want to see him on a golf course.

I don’t necessarily want to see him in front of a microphone today. At least not the way he’s planning to do it.

For a guy who is one of the most recognizable faces on the planet, Tiger has handled this whole thing like a duffer in terms of PR. And I think he is compounding his mistake this morning.

I am sure he is going to be contrite. And I don’t doubt that he is. But the perception – and that’s all that really matters these days – is not going to change. That’s because it’s another controlled event. He is not taking questions. He will appear in front of some friends and a few select media members.

Which means every time Tiger shows up somewhere he is going to be pestered with the same questions until he decides to answer them, if he ever does.

I’d like to see Tiger stroll out to a press conference, sit down, and simply say, a la Andy Reid, “time’s yours.” Then answer every question.
He can do it once, then let everyone know he’s done talking about it.

I have no doubt what all this is about. I never for a second believed Tiger Woods was going to miss the Masters. I think he likely will play one tournament as a tuneup, then head for Augusta.

But first he has a date with a monstrous television audience, one that likely will dwarf any that ever watched him on the course. I wish him luck.

But I still think he’s making a mistake. The best golfer in the world is proving just as inept as the rest of us hackers when it comes to getting out of the rough.

No medal for Weir, or Web comments

My guy Johnny Weir did not make it to the medal stand in Vancouver.

Weir started in sixth place heading into the finals of the men’s figure skating, and that’s where he wound up. Teammate Evan Lyascek did pull the upset, however, overtaking Russian Evgeni Plushenko and winning the gold medal.

That was not the most eye-opening part of the day for me, however.

Yesterday morning I posted an item about Weir, and his connections to my home town of Oxford, Pa. I went to school with his parents, and actually played on our high school football team with his dad.

Shortly after I posted the item, a reader left a comment that didn’t leave much doubt that he or she could not disagree more with my belief that Oxford should take pride in this somewhat of a native son.

The commenter also made it pretty clear why. Let’s just say it doesn’t have anything to do with his skating.

It has to do more to do with who Johnny Weir is, and his lifestyle off the ice.

I have to be honest here. I have never met Johnny Weir. Hell, I haven’t talked to his parents in about 30 years. I don’t particularly care what he does off the ice. That’s his business.

That doesn’t mean I wasn’t pulling for him. I was.

The reader disagreed, and made a lot of narrow-minded comments about who Johnny Weir is and that I, “as a reporter,” should have mentioned that Oxford is a place inhabited by “normal people who believe in God, and normality.”

The person claimed the residents of Oxford are happy that Oxford is not mentioned in the same breath as Weir.

Yep, that sounds an awful lot like the town I grew up in. I would like to think that does not represent most people’s beliefs.

I know it doesn’t represent mine. No, Johnny Weir did not win a medal in Vancouver. I’m still proud of him, and his connections to my hometown.

Yes, I grew up in Smallville. It’s a little town.

But not as little as the space between some people’s ears.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

The Daily Numbers - Feb. 18

The Daily Numbers: 65 people inside the Springfield Ice Rink when they heard a loud bang. It was the roof straining under all that snow. The facility is now closed for repairs.
337 members of the Rose Tree Media School District teachers union who gave their leaders the OK to call a strike if talks don’t reach a deal.
5 people charged in Nether Providence with threatening to shoot a man and his family if he did not withdraw money from his ATM and fork it over. He handed over $2,000.
1 trillion dollar pension gap staring at school districts, including Pennsylvania, according to new Pew study.
120 hours of training, how much the state Gaming Control Board will require for those working the new table games at Pa. casinos. Poker dealers will need 80 hours of training.
36 out of 67 counties in Pa., where Delaware County ranks in a new health study.
1 person fatally shot in an apartment in Chester last night.
19, age of teen shot in the parking lot of George Washington High School in Philly last night.
11.5 million spent so far by the city of Philadelphia on snow cleanup. They’re now bracing for Phase II through the weekend, attacking hard-packed snow and ice on some snowbound streets.
1 person struck and killed as she walked along Route 13 in New Castle, Del., last night. The woman was in her mid-30s.
57 percent of children in Philadelphia who are overweight. First Lady Michelle Obama will bring her battle against child obesity to the city Friday.
15 staffers being let go in cost-cutting moves by the Kimmel Center in Philadelphia.
65,000 fewer union members in Pa. last year, down to 782,000, a dip of 15 percent of the state’s wage and salary workers.
4,000 counterfeit CDs seized after a Wilmington man was arrested for running a bogus video operation.
100 complaints about the power steering failing in Toyota Corollas. The car maker is looking into the complaints.
57 million dollar jackpot up for grabs in Powerball drawing Saturday. No one hit all the numbers last night.
18 of May, Primary Day, when special election will be held to fill Congressional seat of the late U.S. Rep. John Murtha.
52 points for Saint Joe’s last night as they got crushed by Xavier, 88-52.
0 moves made so far by Sixers G.M. Ed Stefanski. The NBA trade deadline is 3 p.m.
4 wins in 5 games for the No. 21 Temple Owls.

Call me a Phanatic: A look at the ups and downs of being a Philadelphia sports fan.What is Ed Stefanski thinking? Maybe he sees something on this roster the rest of us don’t. Go ahead, Ed. Push the plunger. Blow it up.
I Don’t Get It: Tiger Woods has made his share of mistakes recently.
He’s about to make another one. His press conference set for Friday looks like a sham. He’s going to make a statement, but won’t take any questions.
Today’s Upper: It’s kind of nice to see all those folks down in Clearwater complaining about how chilly it is. Tell me about it.
Quote Box: “I feel like Scrooge on Christmas.”
- Bob Artese, manager of Springfield Ice Rink, on telling teams the facility will be closed for weeks because of roof damage due to the heavy snow.

To your health

Want to feel healthier? Move to Chester County.

There’s a new national study that ranks health according to the county you live in, which is good news for those folks just to our west.
Chester County ranks No. 1.

The news is not so good here in Delaware County. We come in at No. 36 out of 67 counties in the state.

The latest study comes as news arrives that county officials are going over the results of a study they asked the folks at Johns Hopkins University over the merits of the county forming its own health department.

No doubt the results of the study done by the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation will add fuel to the controversy of what has long been a simmering issue here in the county.

Democrats, the League of Women Voters and others are long criticized the county for not having its own health department. Instead, the county operates a Department of Intercommunity Health.

Members of the all-Republican county council have consistently said a separate county health department would be too expensive.

Now all eyes will be on what exactly the Johns Hopkins study recommends.

Stay tuned.

Training for table games

So are you thinking about snagging one of those prime jobs when table games arrives at Harrah’s down in Chester?

Here’s the kind of training you’re going to need. The rules were laid out yesterday by the state Gaming Control Board.

Want to deal blackjack and other banked card games? You’ll need 120 hours of instruction over a six-week period.

Is craps your game? Brace yourself for 160 hours over a six-week period.

Poker? Eighty hours over four weeks. Roulette? Same deal.

Harrah’s has indicated it will hire up to 300 employees as it ramps up to offer table games this summer.

That’s a lot of training

The pride of Oxford, Pa.

I was more than a bit surprised to wake up yesterday morning to learn that the men’s ice skating had started at the Vancouver Olympics.

I guess this pretty much tells you everything you need to know about the Olympics, who watches what, and how that determines scheduling, especially when things appear on TV.

The men’s short program was held Tuesday night. Yes, in the middle of the week. Without a whole lot of fanfare.

Russian Evgeni Plushenko is leading after the short program. American Evan Lysacek is second.

I offer this lament because I have a rooting interest in the men’s skating, and I’m not in the least bashful about saying it.

My guy, the pride of Chester County, Johnny Weir, is trailing in sixth place. Anything can happen in the long program, which takes place tonight.

I happened to be friends in high school with Weir’s parents. In fact, his dad and I played on the football team together in Oxford, Pa. His mom was a cheerleader.

Oxford’s a pretty small town. As one of our high school yearbooks once said, live there awhile and you get to know the place pretty well.

Especially back in the ’60s and ’70s. Let’s face it, the place was kind of remote. We sort of made our own fun. Basically, we rode around town in cars and waved to each other at the red light in center city. We tried to stay out of trouble, with only moderate success. You get the idea there was not a lot to do back then in Oxford. You’re right. I still wouldn’t trade growing up there for anywhere else.

Those names and faces from those years growing up kind of get seared into your memory.

Which is why I still kick myself to this day about how long it took me to make my own personal connection with Johnny Weir.

Basically, I was sitting in my office four years ago watching the “Today” Show. They were doing a spot from the Olympics in Turin, and Johnny Weir’s family was being featured.

They flashed a shot of his mom. That looks like Patti Moore, I said to myself. Of course, it turned out it was Patti Moore, now Patti Weir. She married John Weir. Johnny was their son. I was dumbstruck that I had not made the connection earlier. Her sister, mom and dad were all there. I went to school with Patti. Her brother also played on the football team with John and me. My sister was good friends with her sister. I had sat next to her family in church for years.

For some reason, Oxford never seems to get mentioned in the coverage of Weir. They usually reference him as being born in Coatesville and growing up and starting his skating career in Quarryville, which is just over the line in Lancaster County.

Don’t kid yourself. Johnny Weir’s roots are in Oxford.

I have to admit I was a little perplexed to learn how the men’s competition had started so early, and with so little fanfare. Maybe things will warm up tonight.

You can bet I will be watching tonight to see if the son of my high school friends can make his way to the medal stand.

Go, Johnny, go!

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

The Daily Numbers - Feb. 17

The Daily Numbers: 260,000 dollar offer on the table to lure Chester Upland Superintendent Gregory Thornton to Milwaukee.
425,000 dollars expected to be raised by new parking tax in Upland 12,000 dollars OK’d by Colwyn to outsource the job of code enforcement officer.
400 bucks ripped off from a man’s TD Bank account in Springfield after he used the ATM machine.
180 days in the school year, as mandated by the state Legislature. Local districts are now struggling to make up for snow days.
3 million dollars more in spending in the Southeast Delco School budget.
1,256 deaths on Pa highways last year, that’s down from 1,328 the year before and is the lowest number since records started being kept in 1928.
3 months old, age of child a 21-year-old father told police he threw off a bridge in New Jersey.
100 kids who rampage through the Gallery in Center City yesterday, including trashing a Macy’s and having a wild snowball fight outside City Hall.
45 million dollar expansion project unveiled at Philadelphia International Airport yesterday. Terminal E will be new home to Southwest Airlines.
5 DUI charges now for a man in Hockessin, Del.
9 million dollar tab for snow removal in Delaware.
10 million dollar bid by Simon Group, which runs Granite Run Mall, to buy the company that owns Christiana Mall in Del.
250 jobs that would be created by auto finishing facility for Hyundai and Kia cars on the Philadelphia waterfront.
4.5 to 7 years in jail for man convicted of vehicular homicide after he struck and killed a police officer in Bucks County.
13 anti-gambling protesters who saw their citations for protesting at site of proposed Philly casino tossed out.
600 rounds of golf played at Springfield Country Club last February.
Zero played so far this year.
105-78 loss for the Sixers last night as they returned from the All-Star break with a blowout. Just embarrassing.
4 points for Allen Iverson off the bench. He shot 1 for 7 from field.
33 of 87 shooting for the Sixers.
0 days until pitchers and catchers report to spring training for the Phillies in Clearwater, Fla. It all starts today.

Call me a Phanatic: A look at the ups and downs of being a Philadelphia sports fan.They are the two most beautiful words in the English language for those who remain snow-bound: Pitchers and catchers.
I Don’t Get It: Ain’t this technology grand? Hundreds of teens alerted via the Internet held what is known as a ‘flash mob’ yesterday afternoon in Centery City. They trashed a Macy’s store and engaged in a wild snowball fight outside City Hall. Police report 14 arrests.
Today’s Upper: Kudos to Delaware County for joining the PA SAVIN program, which alerts families of crime victims as to the status of the perpetrators.
Quote Box: “Victims of crime can choose to define who they are by what happened to them, or they can chose to make it part of their story.”
- Kim Ferrell, mother of hit-run victim Faith Sinclair, at yesterday’s press conference on crime victim notification program.

No beer? Curses!

Today is Ash Wednesday, the traditional start of the Lenten season. It’s a time of introspection and penitence.

It follows Fat Tuesday, Mardi Gras, the traditional final blowout before we don sackcloth and atone for our transgressions, reminding ourselves that we are in fact mortal beings.

I didn’t make it to Rio again this year for Carnival. And I regret that I have never set foot in New Orleans, although it is on my bucket list.

Hell, the truth is I spent last night doing what I do most nights, driving home in a fog, swallowing something, then collapsing into bed.
My wife can barely handle the excitement.

But I do have a few Lenten traditions I will once again attempt to uphold this year.

Many people give something up for Lent, or they try to do some act they might not normally do.

Me? I will once again refrain – or at least try to – from two actions.

One is pretty easy; the other is more of a challenge.

I will once again give up beer for the next 40 days. And I will attempt to give up cursing.

Guess which one I fail miserably to achieve most years?


Yeah, you get the idea. It’s not something I’m proud of, but the truth is I can swear with the best of them.

I suppose it also has something to do with what I do for a living.
Swearing is actually something of a fine art in the newsroom. I expect it to be every bit a struggle again this year. Last year I tried to hold my breath when I felt an outburst coming on. Turning blue is not my idea of a good time. Of course, the alternative is another blue streak.

Giving up beer usually is not a big issue, but there’s a new wrinkle this year. I like to toast the end of the week when I get home Friday night with a cold brewski. I don’t actually drink every night; I can’t stay awake that long.

In winter, I actually drink more wine than beer. In years past I have given up alcohol completely. That tended to lead to my failing in the area of no swearing. So I’ll go only without the beer this Lenten season.

I was interested yesterday in a move in Harrisburg to loosen the ridiculous Pennsylvania laws that govern beer sales.

I have long been an advocate of blowing up the LCB and turning the entire system of alcohol sale over to private enterprise.

That’s not likely to happen anytime soon.

But changing beer laws so that grocery store chains and convenience stores can sell six-packs, and offering the same opportunity to beer distributors who now are limited to selling beer by the case only, strikes me as a good, common sense move.

Even if it will make my Lenten challenge just a bit steeper.

Gosh darn it!

Don't forget the victims

One of the most frequent complaints we get here at the newspaper in dealing with the families of victims of crime is that they do not like the way they are treated by the system.

One thing that absolutely drives them up the wall is when they are not notified of an action involving the person convicted of the crime, such as when they are moved, or when they are up for a hearing, or when they are about to be released from prison.

Delaware County went a long way to alleviating that problem yesterday when they joined a special program that allows those families to stay on top of the cases and status of those charged and convicted of these heinous crimes.

It’s about time. Delco is the last county in the region to get on board.

Kim Ferrell knows a little bit about the frustrations of dealing with the system. Her 16-year-old daughter Faith Sinclair was struck and killed by a hit-run driver.

Ferrell did not know that the suspect in the case had been freed on bail on home monitoring until he violated the provisions of his bail and visited a Philadelphia nightclub.

Ferrell now can keep tabs on the man responsible for snuffing out the promising life of her daughter, including knowing when he will leave prison.

She says knowing those things will allow her to go on with her life.

It’s a welcome change for victims of crime in this county.

The program is called PA SAVIN - for Statewide Automated Victim Information Ntification.

Our headline in the print edition called it a 'SAVIN grace.'

Sounds about right.

A train wreck called the Sixers

There was a lot of talk during the All-Star break that the Sixers had turned the corner on their first-halt struggles.

Last night they turned the corner, and drove right off a cliff.

The Sixers were, in a word, horrid in getting blown out by the Miami Heat.

Coach Eddie Jordan didn’t even try to sugar-coat it in his post-game comments.

“A classic, classic butt-kicking,” is the way Jordan summed it up. Hard to disagree with him.

What is going to be hard for the Sixers is to turn this thing around.

All eyes will now focus on G.M. Ed Stefanski, who has until the NBA trade deadline of 3 p.m. Thursday to do something about this wretched mess.

Maybe that’s the answer. Maybe the Sixers shouldn’t do anything. What’s the point of winning a few more games, or staging a late-season push to get into the playoffs.

For what? So they can be summarily dispatched in the first round?

This team needs a total makeover. And to do it they actually need to get worse. They need to get into the lottery so they can get a stud player they can build around.

It’s pretty obvious Andre Iguodala is not that players. Neither is Elton Brand.

Allen Iverson? He had four points after shooting one for seven from the field.

The stage is yours, Mr. Stefanski. You got us into this. You gave Iguodala that huge contract. You brought in Brand as the key player to build around. You decided Jordan was an NBA coach.

Now let’s see if you can get us out of this mess.

Hey, how ‘bout those Phillies!

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

The Daily Numbers - Feb. 15

The Daily Numbers: 1.6 inches of snow recorded in Drexel Hill overnight.
73 inches of snow now recorded in the region in the snowiest winter in history.
4 SEPTA bus routes that are not running in the city because of snow.
15 million dollars, how much PennDOT says it has spent on snow removal in the Philadelphia region.
15 million dollars, how much PECO says it has spent working to restore power to 225,000 customers who lost it during the storm.
1 school district in the region that remains closed today. That would be out in Pottstown. All Delco schools are opening on time today after the unplanned weeklong snow/Presidents Day break.
3.85 percent tax hike included in budget being eyed by Springfield School District.
75,000 dollars worth of jewelry believed ripped off from QVC by a Broomall woman who already was facing charges of stealing from a former employer.
2 dead, 2 injured in crash in Lower Frederick Township, Montgomery County, on Sunday.
4 hours of free parking that will be available in Philadelphia Parking Authority garages in the city extended through Friday. Also all metered parking will be free.
40, age of woman found killed in her home in Northeast Philly after an apparent domestic dispute.
2 tires on a car that were slashed in South Philly in what police believe was the culmination of a dispute over a cleared parking spot.
12, age of boy who fell through ice and died Saturday in Barnegat Bay.
75.2 percent on-time arrival record racked up by US Airways in December. That put it in 5th place among 19 big carriers.
750 jobs coming to casinos in Delaware as they race to install table games.
2 Catholic elementary schools that will merge in Montgomery County.
5 people killed in crash of small plane at an airport in Wall Township, N.J.
3, as in No. 3 in the nation, where Villanova was ranked before they went out and got spanked by UConn last night, 84-75.
29 points for Kemba Walker to lead UConn to a big win at the Wachovia Center.
35 points from the free throw line for UConn, just 16 for the ‘Cats.
1 day until pitchers and catchers report to spring training for the Phillies in Clearwater, Fla.

Call me a Phanatic: A look at the ups and downs of being a Philadelphia sports fan.
Not exactly I would think Jay Wright wanted to celebrate being elevated to the No. 3 spot in the nation. His Wildcats promptly went out and got spanked by UConn, which had drawn the wrath of coach Jim Calhoun after one of its worst performances of the season, scoring just 48 points against Cincinnati.
I Don’t Get It: Police are saying that a dispute over a cleared-out parking spot in South Philly took a violent turn. A woman who used a parking spot found several of her tires slashed. I don’t get it.
Today’s Upper: Now that’s my kind of snowstorm. Wet roads, no delays.
I’m still ready for spring.
Quote Box: “It’s Mother Nature. I mean nobody expected that much snow.
We don’t know how to handle this much.”
- Clifton Heights resident on snow-clearing efforts in the borough.

Fat Tuesday

It’s Fat Tuesday, the annual Mardi Gras party day before we plunge into the season of Lent.

The tradition is that we pig out today in one, final gorge – usually involving copious amounts of food and booze – before the solemn season of introspection and penitence that leads Christians to the Easter celebration.

The tradition is that we give something up for Lent, or we flip that over and do something we do not usually do.

I already know what I’m giving up.


Now if only the weather gods can get on board.

Snow Daze

Now that’s my kind of snowstorm.

In other words, a few flakes, some wet roads and little or no accumulation.

Actually, the forecasters are telling us that they measured 1.5 inches in Drexel Hill, but I’m not sure where that fell.

In the meantime, those little creatures you see trudging along with their heads hanging this morning are schoolkids heading back to class after an extended winter break courtesy of Mother Nature. Most students have not been in school since last Tuesday. Tack on the Presidents Day holiday on Monday and it means kids have been off for a week.

Most Delco schools are operating on a normal schedule this morning.

In the city, some kids’ journey to school will be a little more involved because SEPTA has canceled some bus routes and has detours on others, all because many side streets still remain snowed-in.

In the meantime, schools will have to deal with how exactly to make up the time lost.

The snow days are nice, but no one likes the idea of extending the school year. Look for a few in-service days or spring break to get shaved to prevent kids going to school until the end of June.

Ups and downs for 'Nova

The Villanova Wildcats were on top of the world – or at least a couple of spots away – yesterday afternoon when they were elevated to the No. 3 spot in the AP college hoops rankings.

The euphoria didn’t last long.

The Wildcats promptly went out last night and dropped a contest to lowly UConn. The Huskies are not having a good year. In fact, they’ve been struggling.

Longtime coach Jim Calhoun just returned to the bench after another health concern and promptly labeled his team’s effort in a recent game one of the worst he’s seen in his career at UConn.

The Huskies decided to take it out on Villanova.

Kiss that No. 3 ranking goodbye. UConn took command late in the first half and the Wildcats never did make a run at them in the second half.

Check out Terry Toohey’s complete game coverage here.

The Wildcats not only likely will fall in the national rankings, but they also now have fallen into a tie for the Big East lead.

No doubt not exactly what Jay Wright had envisioned as a celebration for moving up a notch in the rankings.

Monday, February 15, 2010

The Daily Numbers - Feb. 15

The Daily Numbers: 89, age of former Delaware County President Judge Francis Catania, who died over the weekend. He sat on the bench for 28 years.
2-4 inches of snow, what’s in the forecast for later tonight and into tomorrow. Just what we need.
9 Delco school districts taking part in the ‘Race to the Top’ program, which will mean more funds in exchange for meeting certain benchmarks.
10 years serving on the Nether Providence Board of Commissioners for John Kennedy. He stepped down last week.
12 romantic couples who tied the knot at Yerkes Wedding Salon in East Lansdowne on Sunday, Valentine’s Day.
8 year old murder solved in Yeadon with the arrest of a Philadelphia man in the slaying of a borough resident back in 2001.
2 dead, 2 injured in crash in Lower Frederick Township, Montgomery County, on Sunday.
50,000 customers who lost Internet service over the weekend in the Reading area.
2.76 a gallon, what we’re paying on average for gas in the Philly region. That’s down 2 cents from the previous week.
22, age of man killed when his pickup truck went off a bridge and into a creek in Bucks County.
84, age of woman found dead in her South Philadelphia home, which had not heat. Police said the home was littered with trash and thousands of empty cans of cat food.
41, age of woman in Port Richmond section of Philly police say was killed by her father after they argued about her loud conversations.
14, age of teen attacked by another group of teens on the Broad Street subway line.
100 9th and 10th grade girls involved in a brawl Friday at Central Dauphin East High School in Harrisburg.
35 feet, how far woman jumped into a hospital parking lot as she was being escorted to jail in Mount Lebanon, Pa.
0 injuries Sunday when the roof of an ice rink collapsed in western Pa. Teams taking part in a tournament were in their locker rooms at the time.
108,713 people packed into Cowboys Stadium in Dallas last night for the NBA All-Star Game.
2 delays in Sunday’s Daytona 500 caused by a pothole. The race was delayed 2 hours, 24 minutes.
2 days until pitchers and catchers report to spring training for the Phillies in Clearwater, Fla.

Call me a Phanatic: A look at the ups and downs of being a Philadelphia sports fan.Roy Halladay is on the cover of this week’s Sporting News baseball preview edition. They call him the new ace of the National League. Bring on spring!
I Don’t Get It: We’re supposed to get more snow tonight. Just what we need.
Today’s Upper: Look at it this way. By now our muscles should be tightly toned from all this shoveling. No? OK, never mind. But don’t put that shovel away just yet. We might need it again tonight.
Quote Box: “He was proud of being a judge, very proud of that. It was an accomplishment of a lifetime.”
- Daughter of former county President Judge Francis Catania, who died over the weekend.

Delco loses another icon

It is one of those names that is an icon of Delaware County.


They were brothers, Nick, Francis and Charles.

Nick was the longtime leader of the Ridley GOP and a former county councilman; Francis sat on the Delco bench for decades and also served as president judge; Charles headed his own engineering firm that worked for towns all over the county.

Now, one of them is gone.

Former Judge Francis Catania died Sunday at Crozer-Chester Medical Center.

He oversaw one of the most memorable trials in county history, the 1974 murder trial of former United Mine Workers President W.A. Tony Boyle.
The trial was moved to Delaware County from western Pennsylvania.

It’s been a tough couple of weeks for members of the Delco judiciary and legal community. First we lost Judge Robert Wright, the first African-American to serve on the Delco bench.

Now Judge Francis Catania is gone.

Most who knew him remembered Catania first and foremost as a family man.

But that’s now how I will remember him. I will forever remember simply for his last name, one of those names that truly is an icon of Delaware County.

Snow again

There’s no need to panic.

Is there?

That word is back in the forecast:


Relax. This one looks fairly benign. We’re going to get a little more precipitation this afternoon, into tonight and Tuesday morning.

The National Weather Service has issued a winter weather advisory for parts of the region.

Not to worry. This one looks like it’s only going to give us a dusting of snow. It actually might rain for a while at the start, and might be all rain in Jersey and other places to the south.

The call is for 2-4 inches for the rest of us.

Unless, of course, the storm takes another course. It wouldn’t do that would it?

Don’t answer that.

H&H boys hit Clearwater

It’s the words we have been waiting to hear for months.

Pitchers and catchers.

For the Phillies, that day is Wednesday in Clearwarter. Workouts begin on Thursday.

It will be our first opportunity to see Roy Halladay in red pinstripes, if you don’t count the current issue of the Sporting News. That’s right, the Phils’ new acquisition is a cover boy, declared the ace of the National League.

That likely will not be what’s on the mind of Phillies fans, however.

They likely will still be wondering what it would have been like to see both Halladay and Cliff Lee working out side by side. Of course, that did not happen.

The Phils dealt Lee to Seattle as they were acquiring Halladay.

Which means a lot of eyes are going to be focused on the Phils’ pitching this year, and on one person in particular, and it’s not Halladay. You pretty much know what you’re going to get with him. The guy who is going to be under the microscope is Cole Hamels, who without Lee in the rotation will be asked to revert to his 2008 form and hook up with Halladay to be a devastating one-two punch for the Phils.

Hamels apparently has been working out feverishly all winter, as opposed to last year when he spent most of his off-season on the banquet circuit after being named the MVP of the National League Championship Series and World Series.

Call them Double-H. Hamels & Halladay.

All eyes will be on them this spring. And isn’t that a nice word to use.

Spring. Our front page on Sunday could not have said it any better.


NASCAR hits a pothole

They held the Daytona 500 yesterday, and rush hour on the Schuylkill Expressway broke out.

The “grandaddy of them all” when it comes to racin’ was plagued by something drivers in the Delaware Valley can certainly relate to – potholes.

The NASCAR set had to halt the premier race two different times to fix a pothole that popped up between turns 1 and 2.

It’s one thing to swerve around the mix of potholes that we deal with every day on our commute. It’s something else altogether to try it while tooling around a track at 137 mph. Maybe they should have had all the drivers talking on hand-held cell phones. Now there’s a challenge we could all related to.

The race had to be halted twice as officials tried to patch the pesky pothole. They fixed it once only to find out something drivers around here know all too well – potholes have a mind of their own. The crater re-erupted and the race had to be halted again. All told the race was delayed 2 hours, 24 minutes. Probably not exactly what the folks at Fox had in mind for the big TV kickoff to the NASCAR season.

There’s nothing quite as riveting on TV as a pothole delay. It’s right up there with a malfunction in the torch-lighting celebration at the opening of the Olympics.

Look, I’m not a NASCAR fan. But I admit that I tune in to check out parts of the Daytona 500. It’s the Super Bowl of racing. The final two laps where Jamie McMurray outdueled Dale Earnhardt Jr. for the win were actually very entertaining.

But I’m guessing that’s not what people are talking about today in racing circles. They’re talking about the black eye they suffered on what is supposed to be one of the premier days on their calendar.

Kind of like playing a deciding World Series game in a driving rain storm. Oh, they’ve done that? Maybe NASCAR is more like most other sports than we realized.

Friday, February 12, 2010

The Daily Numbers - Feb. 12

The Daily Numbers: 51.5 inches of snow dumped on Ridley Park in the last two storms, tops in the region.
71.6 inches of snow in region so far this winter, making it the snowiest in history, eclipsing the old mark of 65.5 inches.
21.5 inches of snow that fell on Ridley Park Tuesday, adding to the 30 inches they got on Saturday.
48 inches from the 2 storms that hit Boothwyn.
14,000 people still without power in the region, including 3,300 in Delco, according to PECO.
1,200 workers trying to get the power restored, including crews from as far away as Illinois and Michigan.
34.7 percent tax hike OK’d by Norwood Borough Council. That means average tax bills will go up $279, for a total of $1,082.
7.7 percent tax hike looming in Haverford School District.
51 percent for Sen. Arlen Specter over 36 percent for Joe Sestak, according to new Rasmussen Poll.
47-38 percent lead for Republican Pat Toomey over Specter in the same poll. Toomey holds a 43-35 percent lead over Sestak in a general election race.
52, age of man in South Jersey killed when the roof on his back porch collapsed under the weight of snow.
1.6 billion dollars in unspent funds being frozen by new N.J. Gov. Chris Christie.
0, what it will cost at all Philadelphia parking meters and kiosks as the city tries to draw people into businesses hit hard by the recent snowfalls. They’re calling the campaign “Spread the Love.” The deal goes through Tuesday. Some parking garages also are offering the first 4 hours free.
0 Sixers on hand for the NBA All-Star Game, after Allen Iverson bowed out because of the illness of his daughter.
3 weeks, how long Flyers goalie Ray Emery will be on the shelf. He won’t miss that many games, however, because of the 2-week break for the Olympics.
5 days until pitchers and catchers report to spring training for the Phillies in Clearwater, Fla.

Call me a Phanatic: A look at the ups and downs of being a Philadelphia sports fan.Why do I have the sneaky suspicion that we have not heard all of what is going on with Allen Iverson?
I Don’t Get It: A 17-year-old in Delaware faces drugs and weapons charges after police encountered him outside in a homemade igloo, along with his bong and a knife. I don’t get it.
Today’s Upper: Kudos to PennDOT for the generally excellent job of clearing the roads after these historic snowstorms.
Quote Box: “From what I’ve seen, the neighbors seem to be all working together. It says a lot for our town.”
- Ridley Park Police Chief Thomas Byrne, where they received 51.5 inches of snow from the 1-2 punch from Mother Nature.

Another St. Joe's protest

The people upset at the possible closing of St. Joseph’s School in Collingdale are mad as hell, if you will forgive the language.

And they are not going away.

In fact, another group of parents upset at the decision that likely will mean closing the doors of their beloved school are going to make their voices heard loud and clear again this morning.

They will do a repeat performance of their protest outside the Basilical of SS. Peter and Paul and the archdiocese offices in downtown Philadelphia.

Last week they were granted an audience with Bishop Joseph McFadden. He oversees Catholic education in the archciocese.

While he certainly understands their concern, he also can do the math.

St. Joe’s is deep in the red, much of tied to the operation of the school, where enrollment continues to decline.

A lot of parishioners are pointing the finger of blame at their parish priest. He’s not talking.

But the residents are. And they will be out in force again today to make sure the leaders of the archdiocese know they are not happy.

A hidden danger on the roads

Interesting dilemma I encountered while driving to work this morning.

Not so much for me, but for people waiting for SEPTA buses.

The problem is that there is so much snow out there, the shelters have been plowed in and riders are forced to stand in the street as they await their buses.

I had to be careful while driving in the dark not to get too close to the right-hand edge of the road.

There isn’t a lot of space out there to begin with what with snow plowed up on the sides of the roads.

It’s an accident looking for a place to happen.

It doesn’t take much, just glancing at the radio, to veer over into the danger zone.

Of course, that would not mean much to the guy who blew by me while talking on his cell phone.

Let’s be careful out there.

A tale of two towns

This is a tale of two towns. Both of them have been taking their lumps lately.

In Ridley Park, they are celebrating a title they probably would just as well do without.

The borough is the snow capital of the region, according to snowfall totals kept by the National Weather Service.

Heavy is the head that wears the crown. And very heavy is all that snow that has been shoveled out of Ridley Park driveways and sidewalks.

The borough sits at the top of the heap in snowfall totals for the one-two punch delivered by Mother Nature since last weekend.

Last Saturday the borough was saddled with 30 inches of snow. Then Mother Nature decided to add insult to injury, dumping another 21.5 inches of snow on the town Monday night and Tuesday.

That brings that grand total from the two storms in Ridley Park to 51.5 inches.

What exactly did they do to so offend the weather gods? Don’t look now, but they’re talking about more snow on Monday.

Relax, Ridley Parkers, this time they’re saying we’re not supposed to get that much snow.

Speaking of heavy is the head that wears the crown, how’d you like to be on borough council in Norwood these days?

The embattled council Wednesday signed off on a whopping 34 percent tax hike, much to the chagrin of residents who packed the meeting demanding answers to the borough financial bloodbath.

For a typical homeowner in Norwood with a house assessed at $100,000, the new budget will mean forking over another $279. Total tax bills for most homeowners will now weigh in at a burdensome $1,082.

Residents are not happy. And they made sure borough council got the word.

Not that it mattered much. The borough is wallowing in red ink, after apparently spending years with lax bookkeeping and a habit of letting bills slide, at least that’s the story given by the current council.
They say they inherited these problems from their predecessors.

The vote on the new budget was 4-3, with the new Republican majority voting in favor; all three Democrats voting against.

Council also voted to hire a borough manager. He’ll be paid $63,000, although he will not receive health benefits.

Now at least residents who will know who is watching the borough’s books, something that apparently hasn’t been happening for some time.

Another A.I. mystery

The NBA All-Star Game will have to make do without a representative from the sad-sack 76ers.

Allen Iverson, who was voted a starter for the East despite playing only a few games for the Sixers, has now bowed out, again citing personal reasons believed to involve his daughter’s illness.

As with almost anything involving A.I., there’s an element of intrigue about his status. He has missed the Sixers last five games, having been out of the lineup since Jan. 31.

No one is saying exactly what the problem is with his daughter, and I’m not really sure anyone needs to know. One thing is certain, it only fuels the mystery involving the team and Iverson.

His daughter’s illness did not appear initially as if it would prevent Iverson from heading to Dallas for the All-Star festivities. Up until yesterday he had indicated he would be there, and would be in the starting lineup for the East.

Then yesterday the story changed, and Iverson bowed out. He won’t be alone. Kobe Bryant also will be missing as he continues to nurse a sore heel.

Iverson has played in a total of 25 games this season, three of them in an aborted start with the Memphis Grizzlies that went south in a hurry.
He announced he would retire, then instead returned to the place where he became a superstar, Philadelphia.

Now he is merely an enigma. His play has not been up to the standards that he set here years ago. Iverson is averaging 14.7 points and 4.2 assists per game.

There is now even speculation that Iverson might be done, that he might step away from game and retire.

I’m thinking not. He might be done with practice, but I don’t see A.I.
quitting the game altogether. At least not yet.

Then again, I don’t exactly see him as a bench player or sixth man, either.

As I said, the situation surrounding Iverson continues to be shrouded in mystery.

He has confounded any number of teammates and coaches. Now everyone else is wondering exactly what the next chapter in Iverson’s career will be.

Thursday, February 11, 2010


There's really one word that describes what we are waking up to this morning.


We are now the less-then-proud owners of the all-time record for winter snowfall. The Blizzard of 2010 have left its mark - to the tune of another 20 inches of snow.

That brings our total to more than 70 inches, obliterating the old record of 65.5 inches during the 1995-96 winter that included a 30-inch snowfall.

Who needs a Super Bowl championship. We now have a snow championship.

Let's have a parade down Broad Street. But I guess we'll have to plow it first.

Say it ain't snow

You might call this piling on - literally.

Don't look now, but the most hated word in the Delaware Valley is popping up in the forecast.

That's right - snow.

The forecast is for a chance of snow again on Monday into Tuesday. Tkae heart, at least we'll make it through the Valentine's Day weekend before Mother Nature does her own version of Cupid again.

Hard-core hockey fans

There are a lot of numbers connected to a hockey game.

Most Flyers fans are likely reveling in the Flyers second straight win over the hated Devils. Simon Gagne's goal in overtime lifted the Flyers to a 3-2 win to give the orange and black a sweep of the home-and-home series.

But that's not the number that fascinates me. It's this one: 5,580. That's how many people actually made it to the Meadowlands in the teeth of the Blizzard of 2010. The place holds 17,625.

Gotta love hockey fans.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

The wrath of Punxsutawney

Maybe this is what PETA gets for messing with Punxsutawney Phil, and trying to deny him his moment in the spotlight.

Last week you might remember Phil was preparing to emerge from his burrow when the animal lovers tried to rain on his parade. PETA asked organizers of the annual shindig surrounding the world's most famous groundhog to substitute a robot for the real deal. Luckily, the good folks at Gobblers Notch ignored them, and the party went on.

But clearly Phil was not amused. He saw his shadow, predicting six more weeks of winter, and has been providing an exclamation point ever since.

First he dumped 28.5 inches of snow on the region on Saturday. It was the second biggest snowfall in history, falling only behind the historic 30.7 inches of January 1996.

But Phil was not done.

He simply reloaded and is now in the process of dumping on us again. A two-pronged storm last night and this morning ix expected to leave another 12-18 inches of snow blanketing the region. All we need is 9 measly inches to set a new record for winter snow totals in the region.

As they say down at Harrah's, bet on it.

OK, Phil. We're sorry. So is PETA. Actually, we don't speak for them, but we're willing to do anything to get it to stop snowing.

Fur sure!

Groundhog Day in Harrisburg

Gov. Ed Rendell and Republicans in Harrisburg exchanged early Valentines yesterday.

At least they got the color right: Red, and lots of it.

The state is once again drowning in red ink. Rendell referred to it as a 'fiscal tsunami,' somewhere in the vicinity of $5.6 billion as he prepares to leave office.

Rendell, adamant on ensuring his legacy as the 'education governor,' is pushing for another huge increase in education funding, a 6 percent boost.

To fund his $29 billion spending plan, Rendell is looking to tweak the state sales tax, actually cutting it from 6 percent to 4 percent, while applying it to 74 services that are currently exempt.

Republicans had a quick response. They insisted the governor's tax plans were 'dead on arrival.'

Rendell and the Legislature have been down this road before. He has presented seven prior budgets. Not one of them has been approved on time, before the July 1 deadline.

Don't look for this one to be any different.

Much has been made of moves by both sides to change that, to ensure the state does not go through another nightmare scnario similar to the 100-day standoff from last summer.

Pennsylvania may be up to its eyeballs in new gambling, but I wouldn't bet on them getting a deal in place before the deadline.

In Harrisburg, it's deja vu all over again. Forget Valentine's Day, this is 'Groundhog Day,' over and over again.

Break up the Sixers

Somebody break up the Sixers. Quick.

Anybody? Ed Stefanski?

The suddenly red-hot 76ers rolled to their fifth straight win last night at the Wachovia Center, beating the 119-97. No, it was not a defensive classic.

But that's not the point. The Sixers are going about this all wrong.

At this rate, they could play well enough to somehow stumble into the playoffs - and get eliminated again in quick fashion.

In the process they will assure they remain what they have been for too long - entirely mediocre. They won't get into the draft lottery. They'll remain a middle-of-the-pack afterthought on the Philly sports scene.

What this team really needs is to be blown up. That's now in Stefanski's hands. Go ahead, Ed. Push the plunger.

If you can find someone to take Andre Iguodala and that ridiculous contract, do it. Same for Sam Dalembert.

Want to know prett much everything you need to know about where the Sixers stand. Try this number: 5,000. That's about how many people were actually rattling around the Wachovia Center to watch them last night. Sure, another winter storm was bearing down on the area. That's part of the problem. But not the biggest part.

The team is nowhere, going no place.

It's time for radical change.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

The Daily Numbers - Feb. 9

The Daily Numbers: 16,000 dollars, what officials alleged former Penn-Delco School Board member John Green ripped off from a high school boosters club. Yesterday the charges were withdrawn.
12-18 inches of more snow expected to hit the region tonight through Wednesday.
56.3 inches of snow so far across the region this winter. Tonight’s storm could push us over the all-time winter record of 65.5 inches, set back in 1995-96.
12 handguns stolen from a locker at the Boeing plant in Ridley Township.
18 million dollars, how much PennDOT budgeted for snow removal this winter. They’ve spent 55 percent of it so far this year.
1,250 tons of salt used last weekend by road crews in Upper Darby Township. The price tag for that comes to $74,500. The township has 750 tons of salt left.
14, age of boy killed when flames roared through his Clifton Heights home last March. Yesterday his father, Thomas Pierce, pleaded no contest to charges stemming from the fire.
3.9 percent tax hike given green light by Rose Tree Media School District.
2 times in the last 2 days that Granite Run Mall was closed by a gas odor. Not a great weekend for the mall, which was closed by snow on Saturday.
1.6 acres in Media that currently is home to the Media Inn. The landmark hotel will be demolished.
3 residents in Darby Borough treated overnight for carbon monoxide poisoning in a home on Sharon Avenue.
47, age of chiropractor from Bucks County charged with torching his own office.
30 percent decline in enrollment at St. John Bosco School in Hatboro, the latest that will close its doors in the archdiocese. A similar fate likely awaits St. Joe’s in Collingdale.
5 percent increase in TV ratings for the Super Bowl in Philadelphia. The audience for the show is estimated at 2.8 million, making it the No. 1 watched show in TV history, eclipsing the final episode of MASH.
5 DUI charges now racked up by a man in Ogletown, Del.
36, age of man found hanged in his jail cell in Philadelphia. His death was ruled a suicide.
24, age of janitor at Downingtown West High School in Chester County charged with sexually assaulting a 15-year-old female student.
2 goal deficit erased by the Flyers as they rallied to top the Devils, 3-2.
3 straight games now missed by Flyers goalie Ray Emery with a sore hip. Michael Leighton was in the nets last night.
19 points for Scottie Reynolds to lead No. 4 Villanova to a huge road win over No. 5 West Virginia.
21, where Temple now ranks, tumbling several spots after losing last week.

Call me a Phanatic
: A look at the ups and downs of being a Philadelphia sports fan.The Philadelphia sports scene is a little less fun today. They buried Tom Brookshier yesterday. Rest well, Brookie. They don’t make guys like that anymore.
I Don’t Get It: A man in Philadelphia is charged with dousing a rag with drain cleaner and then rubbing it on the skin of a 20-month-old tot he was supervising. The child died. I don’t get it.
Today’s Upper: The Winter Olympics start Friday night. Too bad they don’t hand out medals for shoveling. We’d all be on the winner’s stand.
Quote Box: “He admits he was a lousy bookkeeper. But he is no thief.”
- Michael F.X. Gilllin, speaking about his client, former Penn-Delco School Board member John Green. Theft charges against him were withdrawn yesterday.

The curious case vs. John Green

The curious case of John Green just got a little bit more curious.

Green used to sit on the Penn-Delco School Board. He was at the center of the storm that enveloped the district, and eventually led to criminal convictions for former school board President Keith Crego and Superintendent Leslye Abrutyn.

Green did not escape unscathed. It turns out Green never disclosed that a contract awarded by the district went to his employer, and that he got a commission out of the deal. He pleaded no contest to a conflict of interest charge.

Then there was the matter of the financial disclosure forms he was required to file for holding office. It turns out Green and the district’s former financial officer had problems with their forms. He was fined $500 by the state Ethics Comission.

But Green really found himself in hot water when he was charged with stealing money from a booster club for female athletes at Sun Valley High School. The charges alleged he pocketed $16,000 in club accounts.

Yesterday the district attorney’s office withdrew the charges.

Green’s attorney explained that his client had actually advanced the Sportsters Club $19,000, then reimbursed himself for the funds.

As it turns out, he only got $16,000 back. In other words, one way of looking at it is that the club actually owes him money, about $3,000.

Michael F.X. Gillin, who represents Green, says he might not be the best bookkeeper around, but “his is no thief.”

But the D.A. doesn’t sound totally convinced.

Despite withdrawing the charges, the D.A.’s office released a statement saying Green remains under investigation. The D.A. said county detectives have continued their probe of Green since the charges were first filed and new information in the case could lead to new charges against Green.

And so the latest chapter in the saga of John Green. And it sounds distinctly like this will not be the last.

Curiouser and curiouser.

All in a school district where curious endeavors by officials set new standards for curious.

Storm Troopers

It would not be an understatement to say that I am not a big fan of winter.

Which should give you some inkling of what kind of mood I have been in for much of this winter. The fact is I hate it. I don’t like being cold.
I have no use for snow.

So what exactly am I supposed to do with 28.5 inches? That’s how much snow fell at the airport, where they measure such things, on Saturday.

I happen to concur with George Carlin in these matters. Who cares what it does at the airport. No one lives there. Down in Ridley Park they are still digging out from 30 inches of snow recorded there.

All of which, of course, is prelude to what is expected to arrive tonight. More snow, of course.

And for me, that will be accompanied by more grinding in my stomach, and a yearning for spring.

The all-time record for winter snowfalls was recorded back in 1995-96, the year we got our all-time top snow storm of 30.7 inches. I didn’t make it home for two nights back then. It’s the only time I failed to get home in 28 winters of trundling in here to the office. That winter we totaled 65.5 inches of snow.

Right now, after our 28-inch snowfall on Saturday, we are sitting at
56.3 inches. In other words, the forecast for tonight and tomorrow could push us over the brink into the all-time top spot for winter snow.

Just in time for the arrival of the Winter Olympics. Too bad they don’t hand out gold medals for shoveling.

We’d all be up there on the winner’s stand.

Farewell to Brookie

They said goodbye to Tom Brookshier yesterday.

A who’s who of the Philadelphia and national sports worlds showed up to pay their final respects to the former Eagle, local TV sports anchor, and NFL broadcaster.

There were teammates from the Eagles’ last championship team. Tommy McDonald was there. So was Chuck Bednarik. There aren’t many of them left.

Brookie’s running mate back in his days as part of CBS’ lead broadcast team, Pat Summerall, was one of those who eulogized Brookshier.

The NFL doesn’t make players – or personalities – like Brookshier anymore.

Simply put, “Brookie” was one of us. How many superstar athletes can you say that about today? Thought so.

It was left to his daughter Betsy to offer perhaps the best view of Brookshier. She referred to her father as “a happy warrior.”

That is especially apt, for if there was a Brookshier signature, it was that infectious, raucous laugh.

Either from the broadcast booth, delivering the nightly sports, or chatting on radio as part of the birth of sports talk radio in the region, if Brookie was in the room, that laugh was not far away.

Sports could use more guys like Tom Brookshier. They don’t make them like that anymore.

We’re all the lesser because of it.

Monday, February 8, 2010

The Daily Numbers - Feb. 8

The Daily Numbers: 30 inches of snow in Ridley Park, the winner in the snowfall amounts from the Blizzard of 2010.
28.5 inches of snow officially at the airport.
56.3 inches of snow so far this winter. That puts this winter in 2nd place on the all-time list.
65.5 inches of snow back in 1996, the all-time record. Of course that was also the year of the historic No. 1 30-inch snow.
6-12 inches of snow now being forecast for Tuesday night into Wednesday.
200,000 students in public and parochial schools in Philadelphia that are getting the day off today to allow crews to continue clearing snow.
20 inches of snow in Washington, D.C.
90,000 customers without power at the height of the storm in New Jersey; 39,000 in Delaware, 190,000 in western Pa.
10 parents who led a protest outside Sunday Mass against the decision to close St. Joseph’s School in Collingdale.
2 days Granite Run Mall was closed this weekend, on Saturday by snow, and on Sunday by a fuel spill and gas odor.
60, age of man with dementia whose body was found in the snow in Delaware after wandering from his home.
229 votes, 28 more than he needed for Sen. Arlen Specter as he picked up the endorsement of the Pa. State Democratic Committee Saturday.
72 votes for Joe Sestak, who continues to lag in his challenge to Specter.
6,000 jobs that will be filled by the region’s largest employers over the next 6 months.
2.78, what we’re paying on average for gas in the Philly region, if you can get out of your driveway.
5 people killed in blast at power plant in Connecticut.
32 of 39 for Drew Brees as he led the New Orleans Saints to their first-ever Super Bowl title.
31 of 45 for Peyton Manning in losing effort, with one huge interception that was returned for TD.
9 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.What Dat? They’re the Saints, who forever buried the Aints image of New Orleans entry in the NFL as losers. You can call them Super Bowl Champions.
I Don’t Get It: You knew this one was coming. In Delaware, a man has been charged with pointing a gun at a neighbor and threatening to shoot him in a dispute over a parking spot.
Today’s Upper: Please tell me that spring is coming. Eventually.
Quote Box: “You’ve got a whole city held captive here.”
- Gwen Dawkins, as she waited to get out of Reagan National Airport in Washington, D.C., during the storm.

Snow daze

Very funny, Punxsutawney.

Actually, this stopped being funny Friday night, when it became clear that for once, the forecast was right on the money.

Yes, we got hammered.

And guess what? It’s about to happen again. At least if the forecast again holds true.

Even as we continue to dig out from 28.5 inches of snow from Saturday’s storm, the National Weather Service has issued a winter storm warning for Tuesday night into Wednesday.

I guess that’s why so many local schools are operating on a two-hour delay this morning. OK, I’ll spare you the rant about schools and the way they deal with weather, which often seems to fly in the face of what the rest of us in the real world deal with.

Then again, if they had to navigate Oak Avenue, as I did as I headed into the office this morning, they might have a point. Someone must have forgotten Oak, which remained snow-covered this early a.m..

No doubt the thought of more snow is going to be less than music to the ears of the folks in Ridley Park, who are the winners of the Blizzard of 2010 Derby with a snow total of 30 inches.

Officially at the airport the snowfall checked in at 28.5 inches. That makes it the second biggest snowfall in local history, following only the 30-inch storm of the century from back in January 1996.

We’re also bearing down on the all-time record for snowfall in a single winter.

Right now we’re sitting at 56.3 inches of snow. The record is 65.5 inches, again set in the winter of 1996.

That might fall Tuesday night, when anywhere from 6-12 inches is expected to arrive, with snow falling in time for the Tuesday night rush hour.

I give up.

Yesterday I huddled in my official University of Colorado Snuggie and watched golf on TV, soothed by gorgeous sunshine and 70-degree temperatures from Riviera Country Club in Los Angeles.

I’m reminded of a headline I once wrote that I just might have to dust off tomorrow: Take this weather and shovel it.


Sestak snowed under

That boulder Joe Sestak is pushing up a hill just got a lot bigger.

And the hill is now a lot steeper.

That’s because, despite more than 2 feet of snow, the state Democratic Committee met Saturday in Lancaster. It did not go well for the upstart congressman from Delaware County. They gave their blessing to Sestak’s foe, Sen. Arlen Specter.

Sestak gave up the 7th District seat he wrestled away from 20-year incumbent Curt Weldon and the GOP, only to give it up after less than two terms to seek the Democratic nomination for U.S. Senate.

An equally imposing force of politics stands in Sestak’s way this time around as well.

Specter switched parties and was welcomed with open arms by everyone from President Barack Obama, Vice President Joe Biden and Gov. Ed Rendell.

But someone forgot to invite Sestak to the party.

Irked at what he believes was a heavy-handed effort to clear the path the Democratic nomination for Specter, Sestak got into the race. And he’s not getting out, despite lagging in the polls.

Even the state Democratic chair indicated publicly Sestak was hurting the party with his run, and everyone would be better off if he got out of the race and ran for re-election to the U.S. House. Well, maybe everyone but Bryan Lentz, who himself is giving up his Pa. House seat to seek Sestak’s spot in Congress.

But the calls have fallen on deaf ears.

On Saturday Sestak took another body blow, when the state committee voted overwhelmingly to endorse Specter.

Sestak, the former admiral, is not yet ready to abandon ship. He said he fully expected the move and branded it merely another example of the kind of insider politics that he is fighting.

He said he was “a little too independent” for the committee members, and vowed “this is going to be a great fight.”

In other words, the admiral is sticking to his guns. Even if all the experts tell him he’s about to go down with the ship.

Some snickers for Snickers

For a lot of people, the best thing about the Super Bowl is the ads.

Don’t count me in that group. Last night’s game was very entertaining, which is a lot more than I can say about the ads.

I have two words for you: Not funny.

And maybe these two: Not interesting.

I’m glad I wasn’t the one who forked over $3 million for the majority of these 30-second spots.

Most of them left me wondering what the ad was about, let alone thinking about the product that was supposed to be getting pitched.

There was one exception.

The clear winner, according to this somewhat less than an expert, was the ad featuring the ageless Betty White playing a game of pick-up football. The shot of her and Abe Vigoda being tackled was genuinely funny.

The fact that I had to look up the product being pitched – Snickers candy bars – probably is not music to the folks at the Mars Candy Co.
that makes Snickers.

Hey, they got a snicker. Even if I didn’t immediately link it with Snickers.

That put them ahead of the majority of the spots.

Super Saints

A few thoughts on the Super Bowl, which for a change was not a Super Bore.

You have to feel good for the Saints, who carried the weight of delivering an emotional lift to Katrina-battered New Orleans on their shoulders.

They didn’t disappoint the faithful. Mardia Gras, which doesn’t arrive until Feb. 17, just became a two-week party.

And, of course, there was a Philadelphia connection. Sean Payton, the gutsy Saints coach who called for that on-side kick to start the second half, is a former Eagles assistant.

And how about a goat with Philly ties? The Colt who actually had his hands on that on-side kick would be none other than Hank Baskett, husband of former Playboy model Kendra Wilkinson.

And then there is this. I like Peyton Manning. I think he goes down as one of the top two or three QBs in NFL history.

But substitute the name of Donovan McNabb for Manning, who threw a killer interception that sealed the game in the fourth quarter and what do you think the reaction is?

I thought so.

Who Dat?

How ‘bout dat.

They ain’t the Aints any more.

The Saints are Super Bowl champions.

Friday, February 5, 2010

The Daily Numbers - Feb. 5

The Daily Numbers: 80,000 dollars in debt, where St. Joseph’s School find itself, which along with dwindling enrollment likely will lead to the school being closed.
125 parents who jammed a meeting this week who vow they are going to take action to stop the planned closing.
90, are of retired Judge Robert Wright, the first African-American to sit on the Delco bench.
6.25 percent increase in spending in Ridley School District, which will in turn lead to a tax hike for residents.
12 inches of snow expected in the region as a big winter storm blasts the tri-state area starting tonight.
24 inches possible in some areas in southern Delaware and New Jersey.
0 trains running south of Washington, D.C., today on the Amtrak system due to the snow.
400 PennDOT plow trucks sitting ready to attack the snow and keep roads passable.
31 million dollar loss reported in the quarter by Sunoco, as the oil giant continues to take its lumps in a stagnant economy.
1 person struck and killed by a train in Levittown last night.
66, age of school principal who now has been sued by family of student she struck on her way to school in Bucks County. The suit claims she was speeding at the time.
8 years behind bars for a 22-year-old New Jersey man who admitted driving drunk and killing a 19-year-old.
2 people busted in Bucks County for stealing mail from residential mail boxes. Police say they were looking for cards and cash to feed their drug habit.
12 cent tax being mulled in Philadelphia on every can or bottle of soda or other sweet drinks.
100 million dollar deficit staring at the Nutter administration in Philly.
20,000 dollar reward now being offered for information on the person who shot and killed a Bucks County lawyer in the parking lot of his office building a year ago.
19 homes burglarized by 2 teens in Ocean City, N.J. They made off with at least 10 plasma TVs.
2 times this year Penn Wood has gotten the better of Chester on the basketball floor.
29 points and 10 rebounds for Penn Wood star Aaron Brown in the big win.
12 game winning streak for the Washington Capitals in the NHL. The Flyers should be that lucky.
31 goals this year for Ilya Kovalchuk of the Atlanta Thrashers. He won’t be joining the Flyers. He was traded to the Devils.
12 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.Who needs the Super Bowl when you have Wing Bowl?
I Don’t Get It: Enough already. I know. It’s supposed to snow. Now if the TV folks would just let me suffer in silence.
Today’s Upper: Spring is coming. Eventually.
Quote Box: “We want to give people hope that we can change this.”
- Ann Koch, a parent in St. Joe’s in Collingdale, where they are mobilizing to try to save their school.

A wing & a prayer

This morning I find myself consumed with two big stories we are covering.

First, if it’s the Friday before Super Bowl, that can mean only one thing. No, not that the Eagles are not playing in it again this year.

It’s time for Wing Bowl.

There are some things that just scream “Philadelphia.” The Mummers Parade. The Art Museum steps. Soft Pretzels. Cheesesteaks.

And Wing Bowl.

This pre-Super Bowl blast of fat guys wolfing down chicken wings while surrounded by almost naked women draws more than 20,000 people into the Wachovia Center.

The Sixers should be that lucky.

On the other hand, and on a lot more serious note, there is the situation involving St. Joseph’s School in Collingdale.

It looks like the archdiocese is planning to recommend closing the school, much like it has with other parochial schools in eastern Delaware County, at the end of the current school year.

But not if St. Joe’s parishioners have anything to do with it. They are not even a little bit happy about the move to close their school. And they’re not planning to stand by quietly while a treasured institution is shuttered.

Instead, they’re planning to protest the move just about everywhere they can.

I guess you could call it a wing and a prayer. Or, in the case of St.
Joe’s a wing and no prayer.

Snow Job

Somewhere along the line I fell out of love with winter.

Actually, it’s a little more than that. The truth is I flat-out hate it.
I don’t like being cold. I don’t like snow.

As Joe Frazier once famously said to Muhammad Ali, who had just declared himself God upon one of their famous clashes, “God, you in the wrong place tonight.”

I’m in the wrong place this weekend.

In other words, we’re expecting snow. Lots of it.

I now consider snow as something akin to what my mother once said about
Christmas: It’s for children. So is snow.

I won’t bore you with all the problems a big snowstorm creates for those of us who happen to toil in the newspaper world. We don’t gloat in it, as our counterparts in the TV world do.

In fact, there is almost nothing that grates on my nerves as much as the way weather – in particular snow – is handled on TV.

But then that’s my problem, along with getting a staff into the paper, then covering what is a very big story, as much as a foot of snow, and then wondering if we’ll actually be able to deliver the paper.

It’s been a long time since I actually enjoyed snow. And this comes from someone who lived in Colorado and at one time was a fairly accomplished skier.

I’m actually embarrassed to tell people this, but I had never been on skis before I went out there, and have not been on skis since I came back.

I’m not thinking this weekend will be any different. Unless you count me sliding all over the road while trying to drive home.

If you’rer like me, do yourself a favor. Turn off the radio. Don’t look at TV.

In other words, brace yourself for non-stop weather hyperventilating.

What do you think is the over-under on the number of times we’ll hear a local TV star breathlessly tell us: “Here it comes.”

Spare me. Wake me when spring arrives.

Patriots Day: New kings of court

You might call it a changing of the guard.

Chester High now has company atop Delaware County basketball excellence.

Move over, Clippers. The Penn Wood High Patriots now are kings of the court.

The reigning state champions put an exclamation point on their season last night by dominating Chester, 57-40. It was the second time this year Penn Wood has gotten the better of the legendary Chester High program.

Standout Tyree Johnson led the Patriots, who were in control from the opening tap. The win locked up another Del-Val League crown for Penn Wood.

Now it’s on to districts and a likely PIAA run that they hope will result in a repeat performance, another state title.

No doubt they just might face Chester High again on the road. Can they beat them three times in one season?

There’s a new sheriff in town. Actually, he’s a Patriot.

A Penn Wood High Patriot.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

The Daily Numbers - Feb. 4

The Daily Numbers: 4, age of little Marcia Reyes, who was tossed off a bridge to her death by her father, Angel Reyes, back in 1993. Angel Reyes has gotten something his daughter did not, a stay from execution.
30,000 dollars, how much a Glenolden couple turned over to a contractor for home repairs. The job was never completed and he now faces charges.
4.14, 4.76, 4.60 and 2.5 percent raises for teachers in the Rose Tree Media School District in a fact-finder’s report. Both the teachers and school board nixed the proposal.
10, age of student at St. Eugene School in Primos who was detained by police after he took a knife to school.
400 jobs now gone for good with Sunoco’s decision to make the closure of their Eagle Point refinery in New Jersey permanent.
100 dollar increase in the awards for home heating help set by the state’s LIHEAP program.
6-12 inches of snow likely heading our way Friday night into Saturday.
27 of June, date for the Philadelphia Union’s first MLS game to be played in their new stadium in Chester.
8 of 10 and 10 of 12 of their first games the Union will play on the road as work is completed on their stadium.
3 home invasion suspects now in custody after a standoff with police in North Philadelphia.
17, age of driver in Wilmington now charged in hit-run that took the life of a 9-year-old boy.
100 furniture store owners left out in the cold when a Chester County furniture store, At Home Furniture, abruptly closed its doors.
1 elderly woman killed and another injured when fire raced through their Pitman, N.J., home.
64, age of man killed in a fire in his Ardmore home. Police believe he may have been smoking in bed.
2 Philadelphia police officers injured when a man they were trying to stop reversed his vehicle into them as he fled.
140 million dollars up for grabs in Saturday’s Powerball drawing after no one hit again on Wednesday.
250,000 dollar winning ticket in the Mega Millions drawing sold at an Acme Market in North Philadelphia.
0 goals for the Flyers as they fall on the road at Edmonton.
17 seconds left in regulation when the Oilers scored on the power play for the 1-0 win.
25 points for Andre Iguodala, 26 for Elton Brand to lead the Sixers to an OT win over the Chicago Bulls.

2 straight wins for the Sixers. They have not won 3 in a row yet this year.
13 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.The region’s new MLS team, the Union, should consider a name change.
They will play 8 of their first 10 games on the road while they wait for work on their new stadium to be completed. Maybe they should be called the Road Warriors.
I Don’t Get It: Angel Reyes got still another reprieve from a date with death for throwing his 4-year-old daughter to her death from a Chester bridge. I don’t get it.
Today’s Upper: Who needs teams in the Super Bowl. We have Wing Bowl.
Quote Box: “What this is doing is forcing senior citizens to sell their homes and move in with their children or move elsewhere for lower cost living.
- Rose Tree Media resident William Evans, on contract standoff between school board and teachers union.

Be prepared to be taken by storm

Brace yourself. The world as we know it is about to end.

All news is about to cease.

And why would that be? Because a snow storm is approaching.

Which is nothing compared to the storm brewing in TV news offices as they froth at the mouth over the prospects of a major winter storm coming during sweeps week.

Here’s what I know. A storm is coming on that dangerous track of a classic nor’easter up the East Coast. It’s carrying a lot of moist air and will run smack dab into cold air over the Mid-Atlantic region.

But what we don’t know, and likely will not until Friday night, is exactly which track this thing takes. It could barrel out to sea and spare us much in the way of aggravation aside from a routine snow storm.

It could stay more inland and bury us with as much as a foot or more of snow.

The truth is I don’t know, and my guess is neither do most of the pundits who will be jabbering non-stop for the next 48 hours about what this storm will or will not do.

The National Weather Service has issued a winter storm watch from Friday afternoon through Saturday night. And if you know just what that means, you’re better off than I am.

In other words, I’ll meet you at the supermarket. Hey, get your hands off that last loaf of bread.

Let the madness begin.

Circle the date: June 27 in Chester

The loyal soccer fanatics known as the Sons of Ben have been waiting a long time for Major League Soccer to arrive in Philly.

They’re getting their wish this year.

But they’re going to have to wait a little longer to watch their new team play in the swank new stadium that is being built in the shadows of the Commodore Barry Bridge in Chester. The first game played there won’t come until Week 11 of the MLS season on June 27.

The MLS’ newest franchise, the Philadelphia Union, will kick off the league’s 2010 season on the road in Seattle on March 25.

They better get used to traveling.

The Union actually will play eight of their first 10 games on the road, and 10 of their first 12.

That is no doubt in part because their stadium is still being built.

The Union will play two home games at Lincoln Financial Field before moving down I-95 to Chester.

They will play D.C. United on April10 and FC Dallas on May 15.

The first game on the Chester waterfront will be June 27 at 5 p.m. when the Union host the Seattle Sounders at what looks will be called PPL Park. The team is in the process of negotiating naming rights for the stadium with the Allentown-based energy group.

“It’s a challenge,” admitted Union President Tom Veit of the start of the season with all those games on the road. “But we have a team manager that knows all about how to handle challenges,” Veit said, referring to Peter Nowak, the veteran soccer guru running things for the Union.

Look at the bright side, the tail end of the season, in summer and through the fall, is loaded with home games.

In the meantime, the Union might want to consider a name change.

How about Road Warriors.

Kick in gut for Flyers (& soccer fans)

Who’d a thunk it? They played a hockey game in Edmonton last night and a soccer game broke out.

OK, that’s a cheap shot. I apologize to all members of the Sons of Ben and all the other legions of soccer fans.

The Flyers lost, 1-0, in Edmonton, when the Oilers scored on a power play with just 17 seconds left in regulation.

In other words, the two teams skated almost 60 minutes without scoring.

Must have made for some thrilling late-night TV from Edmonton.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

The Daily Numbers - Feb. 3

The Daily Numbers: 27,014,595.79, that’s the take in January from the slot machines at Harrah’s.
4.13 percent increase in the take at Harrah’s over the same month last year.
39 percent jump in overall revenue at the state’s 9 operating casinos.
10 days for both sides in the Rose Tree Media School District teacher talks to talk over a fact-finder’s report or head back to bargaining table. Both sides rejected the proposal.
36 days on the lam for Angus Richardson, who was wanted for a Chester murder. He was busted in North Caroline.
694,207 cash on hand for Republican Pat Meehan in his run for the 7th District Congress seat. Democrat Bryan Lentz has $515,000 in the bank.
112,000 dollars a man admitted that he ripped off from the Suburban Swim Club. He admitted the theft in court this week.
1 inch dusting of snow that fell on the county overnight.
1 county school district, Upper Darby, that opted for a 2-hour delay because of the snow.
25 scofflaws who owe Philly Parking Authority more than $3,000 who are target of crackdown.
1 dog found dead, 6 others seized, 1 person found dead in Hunting Park section of Philly.
1 person killed in apartment fire in Montgomery County section of Haverford early Wednesday.
4 former social workers on trial tied to starvation death of 14-year-old girl with cerebral palsy in Philadelphia.
2 tons of pot seized by state police during arrest in Lebanon County. It was being hauled in a tractor-trailer.
16 percent dip in sales for Toyota last month in the fallout from those sticking accelerator pedals.
11 straight wins for Villanova, which is now No. 2 in the nation.
0-28, Seton Hall’s record against teams ranked 1-3 in the AP hoops poll.
22 points for Rodney Green, but not enough to keep La Salle from falling to Rhode Island, 90-83.
14 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.Michael Vick staying with the Eagles? That’s what Mike Lombardi is saying on NFL Network? Hmmmmm.
I Don’t Get It: AIG, which got big bucks in the federal bailout, is now in the process of handing out $100 million in bonuses. I don’t get it.
Today’s Upper: Kudos to Chester police who this week captured two men wanted on murder charges.
Quote Box: “It is our hope that the board will be receptive in trying to negotiate from the report in the next 10 days.”
- Sandy Staiger, lead negotiator for Rose Tree Media School District teachers after both the union and school board rejected a fact-finder’s report in their standoff.

Good times roll at Harrah's

Let the good times roll.

That’s what they’re saying at Harrah’s these days.

First came word that the state Legislature had finally given the OK for slots parlors such as Harrah’s to expand into table games such as poker, blackjack and roulette.

Harrah’s held a job fair for the 300 openings they expect to fill to work those tables and were swamped with those looking to get in on the fun.

Now comes word that the slots are going great guns as well.

For the second straight month, Harrah’s take from the one-armed bandits was up.

Figures from the state Gaming Control Board indicate revenue at Harrah’s was up 4.13 percent in January over the same month in 2009.

Harrah’s took in more than $27 million, as compared to just slightly less than $26 million the year before. Maybe the economy is turning around after all.

Harrah’s continues to sits in second place in terms of revenue at the nine operating slots parlors in Pa.

Looking at everyone else in the rear-view mirror is Philly Park, which posted a whopping 22 percent hike in revenue in January.

Part of that is attributable to the opening of their swanky new Parx Casino. Philly Park took in $35 million and change this year, up from almost $29 million in 2009.

Statewide revenue from casinos was up 39 percent.

And if you doubt Atlantic City is feeling the pinch, check out the radio ad I heard driving into work this morning.

Trump’s shore casinos are offering a free room to anyone who turns in a premier card membership from one of the Pa. casinos.

Sounds like war to me. Don’t bet on it cooling off anytime soon, not with Pa. casinos unveiling table games this summer.

Sobering news from Punxsutawney

I guess Punxsutawney Phil meant business.

The furry prognosticator and world’s most famous groundhog – as oppposed to that critter hawking lottery tickets – emerged from his hole amid the non-stop partying at Gobbler’s Notch and delivered some sobering news.

Winter is going anywhere. Phil of course saw his shadow and predicted six more weeks of winter. And just to add an exclamation point, he gave us a reminder over night, a dusting of snow.

It was enough to create some delayed school openings, including Upper Darby here in Delco.

But the real thunder from Phil might arrive Friday night. A nor’easter is coming up the Atlantic Coast and is expected to dump some more serious snowfall on the region.

Thanks, Phil.

No go back in your burrow.

Which is probably not a bad idea since you can pretty much guarantee the only news we are going to hear for the next three days is the approaching storm.

Beat the crowd, head to the store for milks and bread now.

QB or not QB for Birds

There is really only one question facing the Philadelphia Eagles this offseason.

No, not who their punter is going to be next year, despite the fact that the team yesterday signed a guy to light a fire under incumbent Sav Rocca.

Durant Brooks, who spent six games with the Redskins in 2008 and had a gross average of 39.6 yards on 26 punts, will get a chance to comoete with the Australian for the job next summer at Lehigh.

No, the question hanging over the Birds is who will line up behind center when they take the field next season.

The conventional wisdom was that the team would try to trade Michael Vick, in the process taking a pass on the $5 million due him next year.
If there were no takers, they could simply release him.

That would leave Donovan McNabb and Kevin Kolb.

Now comes word that might not be the case. A report on NFL Network by Mike Lombardi, a former Eagles front office guy, now indicates the team will not release Vick.

Will they take this troika back to Lehigh. And if so, will there be an open competition for the job.

Stay tuned.

The Super Bowl is Sunday. Once the money is handed out from your block pool, we can go back to the big – some say only – football question in Philadelphia.

Who will be the Birds QB in 2010.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Some thoughts on newspapering

My print column is up, with some thoughts on the new ways we're delivering information.

Check it out here.

Remembering Brookie

He was always simply "Brookie."

Tom Brookshier is one of those guys who got it. He was, simply, one of us.

Yes, he was an all-Pro cornerback. But he just as easily could have been the guy sitting next to you at the local tavern.

That's why Eagles fans loved him.

That's why his No. 40 is one of seven jerseys retired by the team.

Me? I always had another reason to like Brookie. We were both products of the University of Colorado.

I never had a chance to tell him that. I wish I had. Because no doubt he would have replied with that classic laugh that was his signature.

Tom Brookshier died this past weekend. Foorball is a little bit the lesser. So are all of us.

Whether it was playing corner for the Birds, doing the sports on Channel 10, or teaming with Pat Summerall as CBS' lead broadcasting duo on NFL games, "Brookie" never lost that magical, mischievous laugh.

Lik I said, in a world of superstar athletes adn even bigger personalities in broadcasting, he was just one of us.

And he will be missed.