Wednesday, March 24, 2010

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The Daily Numbers - March 24

The Daily Numbers: 1 person stabbed to death in an Upper Chichester home last night. She is believed to be the 25-year-old mother of 2 young kids.
2 violent incidents in Upper Chichester this week. Earlier an 83-year-old man was tied up and brutally beaten by an intruder in his home.
120 years in jail for John Worman, convicted in a horrendous child porn ring based in Colwyn.
17 to 35 more years tacked onto his jail time by a judge in Delco yesterday for Worman’s state offenses.
3 year deal for teachers in the Rose Tree Media School District.
2.5 to 3 percent pay raises for each of the 3 years for teachers.
449,000 dollars in savings that will be reached by a switch in benefit plans for the teachers.
2,000 dollar reward posted for info on the whereabouts of a man charged in fatal shooting in Cheers bar in Upper Darby last week.
200 children that must be registered at St. Joseph’s School by March 31 in order to save the Catholic school.
450 children who have died of hypothermia in the last 12 years after being left in steaming hot vehicles. A day care operator in Bucks County was acquitted of all charges in an incident this week.
18 more teens who entered admissions of guilt in connection with “flash mob” incidents in Philadelphia.
2 homeowners behind on their mortgage who apparently took their own lives recently in South Philadelphia.
3 more suspects who turned themselves in as part of a burglary ring operating out of the Wilmington area that was allegedly made up of students from the Wilmington Job Corps.
32-12 percent lead for Sen. Arlen Specter over Rep. Joe Sestak in latest Franklin & Marshall Poll of Pennsylvania.
52 percent of those polled remain undecided in the Dem Senate race.
33-29 percent lead for GOP favorite Pat Toomey over Specter, & 27-19 lead over Sestak.
13 attorneys general, including Tom Corbett in Pa., who filed suit to block federal health care reform law from being put into effect.
29 billion dollar Pa. budget plan passed early by the House. It faces a steep challenge in the Senate.
26 shots stopped by Ottawa goalie in shutout of Flyers last night.
654 yards rushing last year for Mike Bell with the Super Bowl champion Saints. He’s now a member of the Eagles after the Saints did not match the Birds’ offer.
2 home runs yesterday for Ryan Howard as the Phils beat the Rays in a Grapefruit League contest.
90-36 win for UConn women as they buried Temple in NCAA women’s tourney game.
74 straight wins for the women Huskies.
Call me a Phanatic: A look at the ups and downs of being a Philadelphia sports fan.Is that a thaw I’m sensing from Andy Reid and the Eagles brass when it comes to the possibility of entertaining offers for Donovan McNabb? Go for it, guys.
I Don’t Get It: Two days and two straight violent incidents out in Upper Chichester. I don’t get it.
Today’s Upper: Let’s hear it for Penn Wood, as they play tonight in the state semifinal as they attempt to win back-to-back state hoops titles.
Quote Box: “This monster is pure evil.”
- Mother of victim at yesterday’s sentencing for child predator John Worman.

More grim news from Upper Chi

It's been a tough week out in Upper Chichester.

First, an 83-year-old man was found tied up and badly beaten in his home on Apple Street. He's in the hospital while police look for the man who broke into his home.

Last night a 25-year-old mother of two was not as lucky.

An intruder entered her home and fatally stabbed the woman, according to police.

She was the mother of two young children, ages 2 and 6. They were not home at the time of the attack.

Police have not made any arrests in either incident, which occurred a few blocks from each other.

Residents no doubt are getting a bit antsy at two incidents happening so close together in what is usually a very quiet residential community.

Here's helping cops quickly corral the people responsible for these two heinous attacks.

Help spread some 'Sunshine'

I get the opportunity almost every day to deliver some pretty grim news. Today is no exception, as a glance at the home page of our Web site will attest.

That is why I am always looking for ways to deliver a more upbeat message.

And today I have exactly that opportunity, thanks to the folks at the Delaware County Community Foundation.

Yesterday afternoon I had a visit here in the office from several Foundation execs, Peg Hendricks, Joe Lastowka Jr. and Helen Davis Picher.

There were here to thank the newspaper for our help in promoting their Delco Sunshine Fund, and also to remind the public that they still need some help.

The Sunshine Fund offers direct grants to people in need. It is a very special program, and certainly in these times the need has never been greater.

The Foundation has stepped up to a challenge offered to them by Doris Buffett, sister of Midwestern billionaire Warren Buffett. The challenge is pretty simple. If the Foundation can raise $50,000 for the Sunshine Fund, Buffett would match it with another $50,000.

That's the good news. But the March 31 deadline is looming, and the Foundation is still $10,000 short of their goal. As it is, even if they don't make their mark, that $40,000 will still go to the Sunshine Fund and people in need. But just think of how much could be done with an additional $60,000.

Buffett decided to use Delco as a test market. It's the only place in the country that got this matching funds offer. She wanted to use a community foundation as a way of testing just how much a community would rally around its neediest citizens.

That's the general idea behind the Delco Sunshine Fund. If they hit the mark, they get another $50,000 in matching funds to the fund, which is used to give grants to citizens who have exhausted all other means of support.

Since its inception two years ago, the DCCF Sunshine Fund has given a total of $140,000 in grants to residents who have hit a streak of bad luck. The one-time financial assistance has enabled 45 families to achieve a long-term solution to their struggle.

Here's how you can help. Send tax-deductible contributions DCCF, 150 Radnor Chester Road, Suite E 140, Radnor, PA 19087. Please make checks payable to DCCF Sunshine Fund.

You also can make donations through the foundation's Web site at The donation should be clearly marked "Sunshine."

The foundation has just 7 more days to hit their goal by March 31.

Let's show Doris Buffett - and the nation - that Delco takes a back seat to no one when it comes to spreading sunshine, and helping our fellow citizens.

Those UConn women

Be careful what you wish for.

The Temple women got into the NCAA tourney. For their efforts they got a date with Goliath – No. 1 UConn.

It was not pretty. This time Goliath was all that – and more.

The powerful Huskies, who had not lost a game in their last 72 outings, and haven’t won any of those by less than 10 points, unloaded on the Owls.

This one was over in a heartbeat.

UConn was up early and cruised into halftime with a 55-12 lead. They shot nearly 78 percent in the first half. The final was 90-36.

This says nothing about the Temple women. Congratulations to them for a great year.

It says everything about just how good this UConn women’s team is.

And I again offer this question. Could they win a game in the NCAA men’s tournament?

I’m still not sure, but I’d love to see them try.

Anyone else have any thoughts?

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

The Daily Numbers - March 23

The Daily Numbers: 2 people injured, 1 shot, 1 stabbed in another incident at an Upper Darby bar.
2 incidents at Upper Darby taverns that have top cop Michael Chitwood vowing a crackdown on what he calls ‘nuisance bars.’
3:30 a.m., time of the most recent incident. The bar was packed, even though last call is supposed to be 1:45 a.m.
83, age of man tied up and beaten during a vicious home invasion in Upper Chichester.
1,259 signatures gather on her nominating petitions by 7th District Democrat hopeful Teresa Touey. Those signatures are being challenged by front-runner Rep. Bryan Lentz.
45,000 images of child porn found on computer of man who worked for a Nether Providence oil company. He faces charges.
3 percent pay raises due firefighters in Chester after they won a ruling in Commonwealth Court.
1 percent earned income tax under fire in Yeadon. Council is defending the move, which was accompanied by a cut in property taxes.
14 counts of corruption that brought convictions against former state Rep. Mike Veon. He was charged with 59 counts, but acquitted on the others.
8 hours of deliberations that ended in acquittal on all charges for the owner of a Bucks County day care center who left a toddler in her hot SUV, leading to his death.
10 teens found guilty of riot and other charges tied to a “flash mob”
incident in the city. Another group is due in court later today.
1 person killed in an overnight fire in a house in the Olney section of Philadelphia.
61 foot whale that washed up on the beach on Fenwick Island State Park in Delaware.
272 pills that were found in the backpack of 6-year-old riding in a car with a 60-year-old man in Delaware. Police say he hid the pills in the child’s pack.
25 home burglaries that have residents on alert in the Lower Merion section of the Main Line. Hundreds turned up for a community meeting held with police Monday night.
2 children hurt when a deer slammed into their school bus in Delaware.
500 million dollars in capital projects in the works at Peco Energy Co.
13.8 million dollars combined in federal and state funding for 32 airports in Pennsylvania.
8,200 bags of heroin found on man arrested in Wilmington.
11, age of kid charged in what is being referred to as a “Catch and Wreck” attack in Philly.
3 to 4 weeks, how long the Flyers will have to do without top scorer Jeff Carter, who broke a bone in his foot.
50 wins for Jameer Nelson and the Orlando Magic. Unfortunately it came at the hands of the Sixers, who dropped their 47th game of the season.
7 runs, 6 earned, surrendered by Phils starter Cole Hamels to the Yankees yesterday. The Phils rallied to win, 9-7.
1 year offer signed by Eagles linebacker Akeem Jordan.

Call me a Phanatic: A look at the ups and downs of being a Philadelphia sports fan.How long ‘til Phillies season starts in earnest. I can’t take too many more days of the Sixers and Flyers. Wasn’t Villanova supposed to get us over this hump?
I Don’t Get It: Flash mobs. Some fun, eh? I don’t get it.
Today’s Upper: Upper Darby top cop Mike Chitwood is serious about taking on nuisance bars in the township. Two recent incidents underscore his argument. Good for him.
Quote Box: “It’s another pit, another cesspool on our radar screen to shut down.”
- Michael Chitwood, after another incident at a township bar.

2 similar cases, 2 different results

When I heard the verdict yesterday in the case of the Bucks County day-care owner who had inadvertently left a young child in the car, it was like a flashback.

Rimma Shvartsman was acquitted of all the charges filed against her for leaving the 2-year-old boy in the sweltering car. She had been charged with involuntary manslaughter and endangering the welfare of a child.

“We feel relief at the jury’s verdict, but other than that, our sorrow and remorse is relentless,” said Michael Mustokoff, Shvartsman’s attorney.

I think Edward Kanterman knows exactly how she feels.

Kanterman is the Delaware County grandfather who basically did precisely the same thing Shvartsman was charged with, with the same tragic results.

He had put his 14-month-old grandson – his first and only grandson – in a child seat is his car to drive him to his day care center, located in the same shopping center where he worked.

But when he arrived, Kanterman instead rushed into work, forgetting the child in the back seat. That June day the temperature soared into the high 90s. When Kanterman returned to his car at lunch, he was horrified to find the boy still inside.

Kanterman did not go to trial. He entered a “no contest” plea to a charge of involuntary manslaughter. He indicated he did not want his daughter to have to go through the ordeal of a trial. She said she forgave her father.

How his case differs from Shvartsman, aside from the fact that in the Kanterman case it was his grandson, while in the Bucks County case it was a neighbor’s child, I do not know.

Different cases, almost exactly the same kind of horrific details, and very different outcomes.

With one common theme. Unbearable sadness.

A flash in the pan

Philadelphia has a huge problem.

They are called “flash mobs.”

It is the latest spin-off from the social media we are awash in.

Teens post a message on their Twitter or Facebook accounts about a gathering, urging their friends and “cyber” friends to meet at a certain place.

Lots of them do just that. This weekend several thousand kids showed up on South Street after just such an invitation. There were no serious incidents.

That wasn’t the case in a couple of earlier cases. People were mugged; stores were ransacked.

Yesterday 10 teens were in court on riot charges stemming from one of the earlier incidents. They were all convicted. Another group will be in court today.

The city is mulling a curfew for young people. I’m not sure that is going to solve their problem.

I am sure of this: The city is battling serious fiscal issues, and exactly what they do not need right now is a real fear of anyone going downtown because of these “flash mob” hooligans.

They need to get a handle on his issue.

And fast.

Or they could find their economy – and that of any number of restaurants, nightspots, movies, museums and other destination points – going up in a flash as well.

Uneasy Ed

The Sixers lost again last night.

You’re on the edge of your seat, I know.

It’s the 47th time this season they’ve come up on the short end of the ledger. They’ve won just 24 times.

The 109-93 loss officially put them out of the playoffs and into the lottery.

More importantly, there are some serious storm clouds forming over the Sixers’ front office.

Mr. Ed is not happy.

That would be Ed Snider, the Comcast boss who happens to also be the chairman of both the Sixers and Flyers.

He’s not having a great winter. And his spring isn’t looking much better.

Check out Anthony SanFilippo’s column here on his interview with Snider.

Ed Snider is not happy with the seasons being put together by either the Sixers or Flyers. That will not come as comforting news to Sixers coach Eddie Jordan or G.M. Ed Stefanski.

As for the Flyers, they get one bad medical bulletin after another. They had already lost one starting goaltender, Ray Emery, for the season.
Then they lost their backup, Michael Leighton, to a high-ankle sprain.
Yesterday came word that the “ouch” suffered by top scorer Jeff Carter blocking a shot Sunday night was actually a broken bone in his foot.
He’ll be out the rest of the regular season, three to four weeks. The way they Flyers have been playing, that might be their “entire” season.
There is no guarantee that they don’t freefall their way right out of the playoffs.

In the meantime, Ed Snider simmers.

Look out below, especially if you happen to be on his payroll.

Monday, March 22, 2010

The Daily Numbers - March 22

The Daily Numbers: 219-212 vote last night by which the House passed health care reform.
0 votes in favor from Republicans.
2 Democrats in Pa., 1 in New Jersey who voted against the plan.
540 acres consumed by fire in Barnegat, in South Jersey.
1 person missing after a boat capsized in the Delaware River near New Hope. A 58-year-old man was not found; his 24-year-old son was rescued.
2 people killed in crash on Roosevelt Boulevard.
2 incidents of vandalism that targeted a church in Gloucester County, N.J.
40, age of woman from Delaware County who was victim of road rage incident in Philly in which police say she was shot because she would not let another driver cut in front of her.
2 people injured in a shooting and stabbing inside Traxx Sports Bar and Grille in Upper Darby.
2.83 a gallon, what we’re paying on average for gas in the Philly region. Yep, must be spring.
4.3 percent increase in number of people in prison in Pa. last year.
1,000 kids who converged on South Street in Philly Saturday night in the latest incident of a “flash mob,” organized via social media online.
30 million dollar Powerball pot Wednesday night after nobody hit all the right numbers on Saturday.
50 years in the entertainment biz for Jerry Blavat, the “Geator with the Heater.”
34.5 million dollars in ticket sales for “Alice in Wonderland,” maling it No. 1 at the box office for the 3rd straight week.
0 Philly teams left in the men’s NCAA tourney, after both Villanova and Temple were bounced.
44 saves for Atlanta Thrashers goalie Ondrej Pavelec as the Flyers lost both ends of weekend home and home series.
6 seed, where Flyers now stand with 11 games left in regular season.
5 sharp innings from Jamie Moyer in his first outing against first-line players. He had pitched 3 ‘B’ games. He’s battling with Kyle Kendrick for the 5th starter’s job.
.125 batting average this spring for Raul Ibanez, who is 4-for34.
18 women who claim they had affairs with golfer Tiger Woods. He gave 2 interviews on Sunday.
Call me a Phanatic: A look at the ups and downs of being a Philadelphia sports fan.Turns out Fran Dunphy knew what he was talking about in not wanting to play Cornell. The Big Red not only dispatched Temple, but are now on their way to the Sweet 16.
I Don’t Get It: Some knucklehead commandeered the PA system at a Walmart store in South Jersey and ordered all black people to leave the store.
Very funny, right? A teen has been charged in the case. I don’t get it.
Today’s Upper: Kudos to Major League Soccer and its players for coming to their senses and settling their contract dispute. That means the Union – the pride of Chester and the region – will kick off the season Thursday night in Seattle.
Quote Box: “I tried to stop and I couldn’t stop[. And it was just, it was horrific.”
- Tiger Woods, talking about his serial adultery.

Reform can start anytime now

The nation is one signature away from a health care reform plan.

That signature would belong to Barack Obama.

The legislation passed the U.S. House last night, 219-212. Not one Republican representative voted in favor of the plan.

Both of Delaware County’s reps, Joe Sestak and Bob Brady, also both Democrats, voted in favor. Two Democratic Pennsylvania congressmen voted against the president and the plan, along with one in New Jersey.

The president could sign the measure as early as today.

This debate is not over. Even before the roar from the first vote had seemingly settled, a second vote was being taken to make changes in the plan. It passed and now goes to the Senate.

The plan voted on last night had already been approved by the Senate.

After following this heated debate over the past year, I wonder not about the pros or cons of the bill, whether it will provide life-saving care for the uninsured or simply bankrupt the country.

Instead I wonder how anything ever gets done in Washington. The whole process is almost beyond the imagination of most people who go out and work for a living every day.

This place needs hope and change all right. And I don’t think health care should be the end of it.

Tiger's tale

Tiger Woods is talking.


There are no big surprises from the interviews the golf great granted to The Golf Channel and ESPN Sunday.

He was a bad boy. And he got caught.

I think it was a good idea that Woods talked before he shows up in Augusta two weeks from now for the Masters.

It is not by accident that Tiger will end his exile in the wake of numerous claims of sexual romps with any number of women not his wife on the hallowed grounds of the Augusta National Golf Club.

You almost have to inherit tickets to get into the Masters. It is not like Woods will be playing the Quad Cities Open.

He very likely will get kid glove treatment, by the Masters organizers, his fellow players and – most importantly – the fans.

What I want to see is what happens when Tiger takes his redemption show out to another tour stop, one not nearly so tightly controlled.

How will he react to heckling. This is a guy known to blow up routinely on the course when things are not going his way. It could be explosive.

To be honest with you, Woods doesn’t have to tell me anything. He’s a dog. He cheated on his wife. He’s not the first. I’m not going to condone it. Basically, that’s between him and his wife.

I don’t consider myself morally superior to anyone. I have more than enough foibles to go around.

But I would be lying that I am not extremely interested to see how Woods fares on the course, not off it.

I would not be surprised in the least to see him in a familiar spot, near the top of the leaderboard on Sunday afternoon.

Maybe the greatest revelation of l’affaire Tiger is that, in at least one area, he is not all that different than the rest of us. He proved all too human, something he never seems to be on the course.

Tiger likely is looking to get these interviews out of the way before he arrives at Augusta, so he can concentrate on his golf. That is always the one place where he has been anything but human. Superhuman is more like it.

And I can’t wait to see him back.

More madness

Everybody who had Cornell in their Sweet 16, raise their hand.

Thought so.

That is the beauty of the NCAA basketball tournament.

A team like Northern Iowa can topple Goliath, otherwise known as the No.
1 seed in the tourney, big, bad Kansas.

It can also provide heartbreak, as was being felt on the Maryland campus yesterday after they took a 1-point lead in the waning seconds against Michigan State, only to see the Spartans rush the length of the flood and nail a three pointer for the win.

Of course, locally, there was no such emotional rollercoaster.

There was only depressing news. Temple lasted just one game, with Fran Dunphy’s charges falling to the Big Red of Cornell. The Ivy Leaguers weren’t quite finished inflicting heartache on local folks. They then sent Wisconsin, coached by Chester native Bo Ryan, home.

Out on the Main Line, the news was only a little bit better. After playing poorly but still managing to eke out a win vs. Robert Morris in their opener, the Wildcats could muster no such magic on Saturday against St. Mary’s.

That does not mean the tournament will not go on, and will not provide more thrills and chills. That is what makes it so special. We just won’t have a local team to cheer.

Naturally, this is the one year I did not actually turn in my bracket.
My choice? Syracuse, which is looking better all the time. Should the Orange win, that blood-curdling scream you hear will be coming from me, not their backers, and lamenting what could have been.

But the truth is I’ll be cheering for Cornell. Not because they took out Temple. But because they’re about the last team anyone would expect to be where they are.

The Ivy League has not been represented in the Sweet 16 since Penn did it decades ago.

Now that’s what I call madness.

Friday, March 19, 2010

The Daily Numbers - March 19

The Daily Numbers: 8 gunshots that rang out inside Cheers bar in Upper Darby, leaving 1 person dead.
180 times police have responded to the bar since January 2009, according to U.D. top cop Michael Chitwood.
4 Interboro High School students who have died in the past two months.
1 person killed by an off-duty Philadelphia police officer who witnessed a robbery on City Line Avenue early Friday. He traded shots with the suspect, who was hit and killed.
300 dollar pair of sunglasses that police allege was pilfered by the principal of a Catholic high school in South Jersey.
32, age of teacher from Bordentown Regional School in South Jersey who faces 4 counts of sexual assault involving relations with a student.
1,500 nurses and other workers who could go on strike against Temple University Hospital today.
34 people charged with gun violations by the attorney general’s gun violence task force.
9 people who suffered minor injuries in collision of bus and minivan in Philly yesterday.
16,000 more jobs lost across Pennsylvania in February. That brings the total jobs lost since the recession started in December 2007 to 260,000
1 in 22 jobs lost during that time across the state.
500 residents in Lower Merion who oppose class-action lawsuit over alleged spying on students via their district-issued laptop computers.
2 Villanova starters benched by Coach Jay Wright for the start of the ‘Cats first NCAA tourney game against Robert Morris.
2 seed Wildcats had to go to OT to be the stubborn 15 seed.
2 for 15 shooting from the field for senior Scottie Reynolds, one of the stars who were benched.
20 points for Reynolds, including shooting 15 of 16 from the free throw line, and 7 of 8 foul shots down the stretch.
2.83 goals against average for Flyers goaltender Michael Leighton, who is now on the shelf for the rest of the season with a high ankle sprain.
16 pitches, including 11 fastballs, by Brad Lidge in his first appearance in a game in spring training.
2 more veterans Eagles released by the team yesterday. Wide receiver Kevin Curtis and DE Darren Howard both were given their walking papers.
28,750 season tickets, where the Phillies plan to cap their ticket sales.
Call me a Phanatic: A look at the ups and downs of being a Philadelphia sports fan.Jay Wright is taking some heat for his decision to bench two key starters for the Wildcats first-round NCAA game. Not there. It was the Wright call.
I Don’t Get It: I wish I knew what was going on with young people today, especially some of those in Interboro. I do know this, ignoring this issue won’t make it go away.
Today’s Upper: Make sure you get outside this weekend. Spring arrives Saturday. Actually it got here early this week. Today’s high will be in the 70s, ditto for tomorrow. After that winter, we deserve it.
Quote Box: “This place is a shoot ‘em up joint for drugs and weapons.”
- Upper Darby top cop Mike Chitwood, on problem bar that was scene of a fatal shooting.

Why? Again

I find myself this morning once again consumed by the same question I’ve been mystified by for several weeks.


I am guessing I have company this morning, especially in the Interboro community.

That’s because it has happened again. Another young life lost. An official ruling has not been made, but every indication is that this young man decided to take his own life.

His death comes just three weeks after two female Interboro High School took their own lives by stepping in front of a high-speed Acela train on the tracks in Norwood.

I don’t know why this is happening. I wish I did.

Apparently some people do. And they made it clear as soon as we posted the story on our Web site Thursday afternoon.

Minutes after I put the story up, a comment appeared making it clear who was at fault. We were, the media. Specifically this newspaper.

The reader made it clear they believe our coverage of the girls’
suicides was inflammatory, sensational and simply glorifed the incident and the aftermath.

I don’t happen to agree.

As luck would have it, literally as I was writing this piece, I received a phone call from a woman who wanted to talk about exactly this situation.

She knows of what she speaks. Her son committed suicide five years ago.
She discovered his body.

We had an emotional conversation. She said her daughter and niece working on a program to help kids struggling with depression, which is what claimed her son.

She does not believe the newspaper aggravated the situation, or sparked any kind of copy-cat actions.

I hope and pray she is right.

But I also know this. Something is terribly wrong with too many of our kids today. I don’t think that’s limited to Interboro, although that certainly is where the focus is right now. They are not the first school district in this county to deal with this problem. Unfortunatelyk, they almost certainly will not be the last. The problem is not going to go away by ignoring it.

This newspaper is not planning to ignore it either. I am hoping to be part of the solution, not part of the problem.

I guess I will start by telling kids of another word that has been on my mind a lot these past few weeks.


My wife, who is a teacher’s aide, tells me she sees kids every day who think only of right now. They don’t process things in terms of tomorrow, or next week. They don’t realize things will get better, that life will go on and improve. They know only that they are hurting right now. Too often with tragic results.

If you have an idea on what the newspaper can do to help fight this problem, post a comment on this blog. Send me an e-mail at, or call me at 610-622-8818.

I don’t want to keep asking myself why.

Instead I’d like to say this is why, and this is what we need to do about it.

The Wright Stuff

Jay Wright and Scottie Reynolds referred to it as a “teachable moment.”

You can say that again.

I can admit I have always liked Wright, the head man at Villanova basketball. I like him even more now. And I still would have liked him even if his surprising disciplinary move yesterday had blown up in his face.

It almost did. The Wildcats almost made an ignominious exit to the No.
15 seed William Morris.

Let’s review. Wildcats Nation no doubt was perplexed when Villanova took the floor for their first-round game. Scottie Reynolds, the senior and all-time scorer in Villanova history, was not there. Neither was junior Corey Fisher.

No one is saying what exactly happened. Conjecture seems to be centering on them being unable to answer a question from the scouting report on Robert Morris, indicating they did not read it.

It’s one thing to bench players in the regular season. It’s another altogether to do it in the NCAA Tournament, and for Reynolds, in what could be his last game as a Wildcat.

Reynolds struggled mightily after entering the game, shooting a miserable 2-for-15 from the field. But he was gold at the line and came up big at the end as Villanova rallied from six down late to send the game to overtime, where they held on to advance.

A lot of people think Wright was wrong, not to do what he did, but when he chose to do it.

Not me. I think it’s all the more reason to believe he’s got the Wright stuff.

Good call, coach.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Gloves come off in the 7th

The gloves are coming off in the 7th District race.

There is another challenge to Pat Meehan’s petition, and this one seeks to have him removed from the ballot.

The interesting thing is where the challenge is coming from – a group of Republicans. At least that’s what they claim. They are being referred to as “interested obsvers.”

Yeah, very interested. And very interesting.

In the meantime, Meehan claims this is all taking away from the meat and potatoes of the campaign.

Look for this one to wind up in court.

The madness begins

The madness starts in earnest today.

Villanova is in Providence to face Robert Morris in their first-round NCAA contest.

Don’t forget that if you’re stuck in an office, you can CLICK HERE for Terry Toohey’s live blog and updates during the game.

The boss won’t mind. Hey, if you want you can blame us.

Better yet, if you have wireless, take your laptop outside in this gorgeous sunshine and catch a few updates.

We’ll be doing much the same thing tomorrow with Bob Grotz in Jacksonville for the Temple game.

It’s Spring Fever and March Madness – an intoxicating brew.

A couple of new lows

Two disappointing things happened in Philadelphia sports yesterday.

First, the Sixers won a game.

No, that’s not a typo. The Sixers beat the even more hapless New Jersey Nets, 108-97.

You see, the Nets are getting dangerously close to eclipsing the all-time mark for futility. For those who don’t know, that record belongs to none other than our very own Sixers. They went 9-73 in the
1972-73 campaign. No team has sunk to such depths since.

Until now. The Nets currently stand at 7-61. They need to win two more games to tie the mark, three to let it remain ours forever.

A lot of people are rooting for the Nets to keep losing, thus lifting this mantle of “losers” from around our necks. Not me. I’ll take records anywhere we can get them. It is a claim to fame – or maybe better yet infamy – and I say the more the merrier.

Speaking of infamy, we won’t have Shawn Andrews to kick around anymore.

The hulking former All-Pro offensive lineman beset with physical and mental issues over the past couple of season, now has a lot more time to devote to his music and work on Twitter. Andrews will have to “get his Michael Phelps on” somewhere else from now on.

He was released yesterday by the Eagles.

What a waste.

But it’s not like there won’t be any Andrews in these parts. His brother Stacy is sticking around, to the tune of several more million dollars.

Shawn Andrews responded to his release the way he usually does, by taking to Twitter and filing several posts.

How tweet it ain’t.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

No green beer for me

Happy St. Patrick’s Day.

You would be hard-pressed to find someone more Irish – and more proud of it – than me.

But I’ve never been one to go crazy on March 17. I prefer to celebrate it the way my mother – whose maiden name was McIntyre – and father, as well as their ancestors, did.

In much of Ireland, St. Patrick’s Day is more of a religious holiday than a cause for reveling.

Maybe it’s because it always falls in Lent. Every year I manage to astound myself by giving up beer for these 40 days. And every year I wonder what exactly I was thinking when I do this.

So, no, I will not be imbibing any greed suds tonight. Not that I would anyhow.

I do don a very special tartan tie from Ireland that I wear exactly once each year.

This weekend I likely will sit down and watch “The Quiet Man” for the millionth time.

And I will try to finish off Tom Coyne’s golf novel, “A Course Called Ireland.”

Sounds like a party to me.

Go for it, Tiger

The Super Bowl on steroids.

That is how one analyst described what the TV audience and hype will be like for this year’s Masters Tournament.

For those non-golfers out there, the Masters is the first “major” of the year. And it is the only one that is played on the same course every year. That would be the hallowed ground of the Augusta National Golf Club in Georgia.

It happens to be my favorite tournament of the year. It is on my “Bucket List,” just once before I kick it I’d like to see the place in person.

But this year it will have an added element surrounding the hallowed grounds.

Tiger is back.

The greatest golfer on the planet made it official yesterday. He will return from his exile after his life imploded in a series of tawdry sex scandal allegations in April at the Masters.

I could not be happier.

Look, I’m a golf nut. And I happen to like Tiger.

I’m not his father. Nor his mother. Nor his wife. I don’t particularly care what he does off the course.

It’s what he does on the course that I find so mesmerizing. He plays a game with which I am not familiar. Very simply, when Tiger is involved, the PGA Tour is elevated above its usual spot as a “niche sport.” When Tiger is involved, golf becomes an event. When he’s on the leaderboard Sunday afternoon, you can’t take your eyes off the TV.

The Masters is usually one of the top tournaments of the year when it comes to ratings. This year, with the return of Tiger, they will be off the charts.

When he strides to the tee, it will truly be “must-see TV.”

I have no idea how he will play. I kind of wish he had decided to play a tune-up, such as Arnold Palmer’s tournament at Bay Hill.

But if anyone can pull this off, it is Tiger Woods. He has proved again and again that he is not of this world – on the course – even if he is all too much of this world off of it.

I would not be surprised to see him in contention on Sunday afternoon.

And I would be lying if I didn’t admit I’ll be rooting for him.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

The Daily Numbers - March 16

The Daily Numbers: 500 jobs up for grabs at Harrah’s Casino with the arrival of table games. Hundreds showed up yesterday for a job fair.
2 more job fairs set at the Chester casino, on March 26 from 4-8 p.m., and 11 a.m.-3 p.m. March 30.
30, age of man from Glenolden who is charged in the brutal assault of a woman in the bathroom of a Manhattan nightclub.
100,000 dollars in damages to the Lone Star restaurant on Route 202 yesterday afternoon.
1 suspect busted and a 2nd being sought in the brutal beating of a man with a large wrench in an Upper Darby street holdup.
115,600 dollars being spent in Tinicum to improve traffic signals in the township.
13.7 million dollar salary for the boss at Boeing Jim McNerney, and that’s down 7.2 percent from the year before.
6 point lead for Republican Pat Toomey over Arlen Specter in latest poll from Susquehanna University.
100,000 dollars to be paid by a Main Line dentist to Avalon, N.J., after he admitted dumping medical waste that washed up on the beach.
60 animals seized by SPCA agents on raid in Northeast Philly last night.
90,000 dollars in jewelry ripped off during a weekend heist at a store in the Franklin Mills Mall.
14, age of teen charged with heroin possession in Delaware.
2.5 years in jail for man who admitted taking nude video of ESPN sideline reporter Erin Andrews through peep hole in her hotel room.
1 minor injury reported in fire that broke out in Wachovia Bank building in Center City Philadelphia last night.
10 red traffic lights that a bus driver is believed to have blown through before he collided with another car in Mongtomery County, killing a passenger in the car.
0 jail time to be done by the former head of the Pa. Turnpike Commission on corruption charges in a deal cut with prosecutors.
5 straight losses now for the Sixers, who fell to the Knicks last night, 94-84.
11 point halftime lead for the Sixers, who coughed it up in the second half.
Call me a Phanatic: A look at the ups and downs of being a Philadelphia sports fan.Who will go farther in the NCAA tourney, Temple or Villanova. My heart says Temple; me head says ‘Nova.
I Don’t Get It: A woman in New Jersey who weighs 550 pounds is being paid to gain weight so she can break a record for the heaviest woman to ever give birth. I don’t get it.
Today’s Upper: Who says there’s no jobs out there. Harrah’s is hiring 500 people as they prepare for the arrival of table games this summer.
Quote Box: “I think it’s a great opportunity, brings a lot of jobs to the area.”
- Chris Stillwell of Drexel Hill, at job fair at Harrah’s Chester yesterday.

Calling all community journalists

I have been a little overwhelmed at the response to my call for bloggers and community journalists.

I guess I should not have been so taken aback. After all, I answer the phones here every day. I know our readers our passionate, as well as opinionated. And they’re not shy about telling you exactly what is on their mind.

It should not surprise me that they would love an opportunity to express those views on our Web site.

I received about 70 responses to my call for bloggers. Many of them are now being featured on our Web site. One lady does her own version of a Letterman Top 10 list; we have two guys writing a beer blog; we have picked up Laura Nachman’s popular blog on local radio and TV activities.

Some, like Nachman, have established blogs. Others, like Mary Ann Fiebert, is new at this, at least with us.

What I’d really like to focus on now is, rather than a themed topic like fitness, or cooking, is real community news.

We now feature blogs that are focusing on Media and Chester. I want more.

If you think you have what it takes to cover your town, if you have a nose for news and would like to supplement our coverage, let me know.

Send an e-mail with some details, and maybe a sample of your writing. If you like, give me a call and we’ll talk about this brave new world of community journalism.

There was a time, not that long ago, when we were literally the only voice out there. I like to think we are still an authoritative voice on what is happening here in Delaware County. But we are far from alone.

I invite you to join the process. I want you to go to the window and scream, “I’m sick and tired and I’m not going to take it anymore.”

Actually, you can just send me an e-mail to

Delivering the news

Not everyone was on board with my thoughts yesterday, in my print column, about the new news ecology and how we increasingly are delivering the news.

The gentleman left me a fairly detailed voice-mail overnight sounding a warning about our rush to push this information to the public as fast as possible.

In my column I had relayed how we used our Web site and social media to get out the news about the train tragedy in Norwood recently, delivering the story to readers long before we ever printed a single word in print.

He told me that he had actually turned off his computer several months ago and firmly believes that our headlong rush into the cyberworld is going to lead to nothing but ruin.

I have to admit there are times when I might agree with him. Such as when I view an item that I have just posted online and realize I have made a huge typo in the headline. Some recent commenters on the Web site have taken great joy in pointing out just such foibles.

The man told me of his passion for picking up the newspaper each morning, and then slowly, carefully consuming its contents. It’s a passion I share, if one that I very rarely get an occasion to enjoy, with the possible exception of a lazy Sunday morning.

Everything I do now I do quickly, especially when it comes to delivering the news. Do I have concerns about mistakes, now built into the news-gathering – and delivering – process? You bet I do. My favorite thing about the Internet remains the fact that a mistake is only a few keystrokes away from disappearing.

The bottom line is there is no turning back the clock. Delivering news online as well as via social media is now part of our journalistic mission.

Doing it accurately will remain a priority as well. Even if we stumble from time to time.

The Dynamic Duo

The madness continues.

No, not March Madness. If you’re interested in seeing just how much productivity goes down the drain this week as your office mates huddle over their brackets, click here.

I’m talking about Rielle Hunter. Who’s she? If you don’t know her, you might know her boyfriend. His name is John Edwards. Actually she says she called him “Johnny.” He wanted to be president. A lot of people thought that was a good idea. He was actually the Democratic nominee for vice president, running with John Kerry in 2004.

These days Edwards is known more for his dalliance with Hunter, with whom he fathered a child, which he denied until he was literally caught with his pants down by the National Enquirer. This while his wife, Elizabeth, was battling cancer.


Hunter is in the news this week. She gave an interview to Esquire magazine about her relationship with the would-be president.

It includes the obligatory photo spread, including a shot of her in just what appears to be a man’s shirt – and not much else – while surrounded by kids’ toys.


I skimmed the interview. She appears every bit as kooky as I first thought.

And I am left only with this, wondering why exactly it is that we shower such publicity on people.

Rielle Hunter and John Edwards deserve each other.

Ides of March for Polanco, Phils

Just what Phillies fans did not need, and I’m not talking about Jamie Moyer getting lit up in the ‘B’ game yesterday.

I’m talking about the sight of newly ordained third baseman Placido Polanco being helped off the field.

Polanco stumbled over the mound chasing a pop up and tweaked his knee.

He says he’s going to be “fine” and that the strained knee is “no big deal.”

We’ll likely find out more later today.

In the meantime, if you are among us who believe there is no such thing as an off-season when it comes to the Eagles, make sure you tune in Sporttsradio 610-WIP in the 8 o’clock hour to hear our Eagles beat writer Bob Grotz talking about the Birds.

Grotz will offer some insight into what the Eagles plan to do with their three-headed monster at quarterback.

Monday, March 15, 2010

The Daily Numbers - March 15

The Daily Numbers: 2.5 billion dollars in federal stimulus funding included in this year’s state budget that will not be there after this year, contributing to what Gov. Ed Rendell is calling a ‘fiscal tsunami.’
14.4 percent decline in highway deaths in Pa. in 2009, the lowest mark since 1928.
1,256 people killed in crashes in 2009.
4 inches of rain that fell on some parts of the region over the weekend.
47 mph wind gusts recorded at Philadelphia International Airport on Saturday.
67 mph gusts that rocked Atlantic City.
47 floors, how far a construction crane toppled after it was blown off the rooftop of the Revel Casino in Atlantic City.
6 hours, how long 500 passengers were stranded on a New Jersey Transit train.
85,000 people who were without power during the peak of the weekend nor’easter across the region. That was down to 32,000 Sunday morning, with just 5,000 of those in the Philly suburbs, mostly in Bucks and Montgomery counties.
2 teens charged with vandalizing a Little League field in Delaware.
2 masked men who held up the Diamond Depot in Franklin Mills Mall Sunday morning.
1 person shot during a brawl at the Aramingo Diner in Port Richmond early Sunday.
6 percent fare hike being proposed by SEPTA for tokens, weekly and monthly passes.
2 base fare for SEPTA, which would not change under the plan.
3 people killed in weekend violence in Philadelphia.
3 people charged in shooting death of man in Norristown who had just witnesses the gunpoint robbery of his nephew outside his home.
211 million dollar winning ticket sold in Saturday’s Powerball drawing. The winning ticket was sold in North Jersey.
2.82 per gallon, what we’re paying at the pump in the Philly region as the cost of driving continues to creep up.
2 Americans killed in shooting in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, as U.S. officials warn of travel to that area due to warring drug gangs.
2 seed for Villanova; 5 seed for Temple. Let the madness begin.
2 goals for Sean Avery to lead the Rangers over the Flyers, 3-1.
38 points for Dwayne Wade as the Heat pummeled the Sixers last night, 104-91.
Call me a Phanatic: A look at the ups and downs of being a Philadelphia sports fan.
Temple won their final 10 games, ran the table to win a second straight A-10 title, and they get a No. 5 seed. Villanova limped into the tourney and is slotted at No. 2. Long live the Big East.
I Don’t Get It: Jihad Jane? OK so it wasn’t snow. I appreciate it. That doesn’t make it any nicer. It was still a miserable weekend.
Today’s Upper: Kudos to state Tpr. Jean Altomari, who continues to battle back from a car accident that left her paralyzed.
Quote Box: “We went from being the 40th best education system at the beginning of the decade to being ranked 10th.”
- Gov. Ed Rendell, on his budget and increase in education funding.

End of the story

If you opened up your Sunday newspaper or went to looking for our coverage of Saturday night’s fundraiser of the two girls from Norwood, you may have been surprised.

There wasn’t any.

That was not our original plan.

Obviously, this is a story that we have covered extensively. Even “Dr.
Phil” got involved on Friday, devoting a good part of his show to the issue of teen suicide. He had on his show the journalist who was on the train that struck the two teens – who we had interviewed – as well as a couple of moms from the Interboro community.

That same day we had a story recapping a service that was held at St.
Stephen’s Episcopal church in Norwood on Thursday night for adults who were still struggling with the tragedy.

We did not actually send a reporter or photographer in person to the event. We talked to Pastor Michael Knight afterward. We wanted to be sensitive to what is clearly a very emotional subject. We were not looking to ambush anyone, stick a camera in their face, and ask them “How do you feel?”

Likewise, I was interested in the fundraiser being held at The Deck on Saturday night. We had run an advance on Saturday indicating that part of the money raised at the event would go toward establishing a 24-hour online chat room for those in crisis.

It’s a good idea and what I consider a very good outcome for a story in which there have been all too few positives.

I decided to send a reporter to the fundraiser to see how it was attended and if anyone else wanted to comment on how the community is reacting.

When reporter Paul Luce arrived, he quickly learned that was not the case. He was asked to leave.

No problem. I had told him that we did not want to impose, and that we would go along with the families’ and organizers’ wishes.

They made it clear they did not want any additional coverage.

And that’s why there was no story in the Sunday paper.

I’m not really sure where this story goes from here. I’m not sure there really is anything else to say, although I am sure it will come up from time to time.

My most fervent desire is that we never have to do this kind of story again.

Now this is what I call madness

Speaking of madness, forget all the matchups in the NCAA men’s tourney.

Can a No. 12 take out a No. 5?

Beats the hell out of me, so long as it does not happen to Temple.

Here’s the game I would really like to see, even if it’s never going to happen.

I would love to see the UConn women’s team enter the men’s tournament.

And here is my question: Do you think they could win a game?

I asked this in the office the other day, and a guy I know who has a ton of knowledge about hoops just rolled his eyes.

“Forget it,” he informed me. “They’d get smoked. You could take the men’s team from DCCC up there and beat them.”

I’m not so sure.

This is a team that just completed another perfect season. They have now won 72 straight games, none of them by less than 10 points. They will be the No. 1 seed in the women’s tourney.

I suppose it would be one of the biggest upsets in women’s hoops history if they do not win another NCAA crown.

But it’s not the game I’d like to see. I’d pay to see them lace them up against a team in the men’s tourney, maybe the winner of the Arkansas P.B vs. Winthrop play-in No. 64 game.

What do you think? Am I out of my mind thinking they’d have a shot?
Would they get blown out? Would you also like to see it?

Post a comment and let me know.

Let the madness begin

Let the madness begin!

Actually, it started last night. For those of you not familiar with the Ides of March, it is no longer a threat to Caesar. It is, however, a very big threat to office productivity.

Expect very little to get done today and tomorrow, as folks pore over their selections in the office NCAA bracket pool.

I have always wondered exactly how much money changes hands on the men’s NCAA hoops tournament. I’m sure it is greater than the GDP of some small countries.

Of course, before folks can start filling out their pools, they have to argue the merits of the work of the selection committee.

The brackets were laid out in a TV special (isn’t every important event now catered to TV) last night.

Something very interesting popped up, especially for local hoops fans.

Call them Exhibit A and Exhibit B. Or maybe better stated Exhibit T and V.

The moaning and groaning you heard about 6:15 last night was emanating from North Broad Street. That would be the home of the Atlantic 10 champion Temple Owls.

In a word, it would appear they got hosed.

The Owls managed only a No. 5 seed. They will tangle with No. 12 seed Cornell Friday in the East bracket in Jacksonville, Fla.

Compare that with Villanova, which was quickly bounced out of the Big East Tournament, a one-and-done showing for the Wildcats. They still managed to pull down a No. 2 seed in the South bracket.

Temple won its third straight A-10 title while running off 10 straight wins to end the season. In the meantime, ‘Nova struggled after shooting out to a 20-1 mark. They lost six of their last 10 and also got the early exit from the Big East.

Oh, and one other minor point. Temple actually beat Villanova in their only meeting this year.

It boils down to this. Big East vs. A-10. Case closed. Fran Dunphy’s Temple team will never get the respect due them so long as they toil in the anonymity of the A-10. Conversely, Jay Wright’s Villanova squad will get a “break” because of the strength of their schedule in the brutal Big East.

The Big East is sending eight teams to the NCAA tournament. Only two from the A-10 had their tickets validated.

It’s a slam dunk.

Temple may not like it, but those are the facts. Is it fair? Probably not.

The Owls can go a long way toward rectifying that by winning a couple of games.

To do so they’ll have to get past someone who knows them very well.
Cornell coach Steve Donahue was an assistant with Dunphy at Penn for 10 years.

Makes for a very interesting matchup.

One which the Owls believe is something of a diss.

They’ll have to change that image on the court.

Friday, March 12, 2010

The Daily Numbers - March 12

The Daily Numbers: 25,000 unsecured bail for former Ridley Officer Brian Decker, who was held for trial on charges he assaulted a female clerk at a Wawa.
278.80 more in taxes residents likely will pay under the new Norwood budget. At least one resident doesn’t like it a bit and has put up signs in his front yard to let borough officials know how he feels about the tax hike.
5 inches of rain that could fall on the region this weekend. Hey, it could be worse. That would equate to 50 inches of snow.
18 years, how long state Rep. Thaddeus Kirkland has represented the 159th District. He’s running again.
13, age of child believe to be with a man who may have fled the country after police say they found child porn on his computer in his Upper Darby home.
4 signatures on the nominating petitions of 7th District GOP hopeful Pat Meehan that his camp believe are “questionable.”
200,000 dollar winning ticket sold in the Powerball lottery in Media. It didn’t hit the big jackpot, however. That will soar to close to $200 million Saturday night.
3.4 million dollars in tax receipts that turned up in Philly, but which was never deposited. Amazing that can happen in a city that is broke.
2 more 15-year-old girls who are now claiming a sexual relationship with a former school janitor in Downingtown.
72 percent hike in the cost of pension for employees looming in the Springfield School District.
120 million dollar deficit in Philly that has pols there talking about either hiking taxes or laying off workers.
31 young people hauled into court yesterday to face charges in ‘flash mob’ incident. One juvenile pleaded guilty.
600 local GM dealerships that will get a 2nd chance from the carmaker as they revise the number of sites that will be closed.
1 school bus and 1 car that collided yesterday afternoon in Schwenksville, resulting in several minor injuries.
1 person shot last night in Norristown.
3 people killed by trains across the region yesterday, 1 in Philly, 1 near Trenton, and 1 near East Orange, N.J.
300 pounds of pot found in a raid of a home in Reading.
3 of top 4 seeds to go down in the Big East Tourney. Put Villanova on that list. They’re 1 and done.
80-76 loss for the Wildcats to Marquette, who they beat 2 times this year.
5-1 thumping for the Flyers at the hands of the Bruins.
4 strong innings for Joe Blanton as the Phils shut out the Tigers in Florida yesterday.
Call me a Phanatic: A look at the ups and downs of being a Philadelphia sports fan.Why do I suddenly get the feeling that Temple just might be the best team in the city?
I Don’t Get It: Jihad Jane? Now we’re hearing about a suspected ‘Jihad Joe’ from Jersey. I don’t get it.
Today’s Upper: Yes, it’s likely going to rain all weekend. It could be worse. That rain could be snow.
Quote Box: “Brian Decker enjoys the same rights that we all do, and that is a presumption of innocence until all the evidence comes out.
- Defense attorney John List, after preliminary hearing for his client, former Ridley police officer Brian Decker.

Who's that on Page 1?

I guess all the people who insist we’re in the pocket of the Ridley Police Department will have to find something else to complain about today.

Now who would that be plastered all over the front page of the newspaper? Well, that would be none other than former Ridley Township Officer Brian Decker.

This all started back in November, when an incident involving Decker and a female clerk at the Wawa across the street from the police station first came to light.

My legions of critics insisted that we were downplaying the story, in part because we were in cahoots with Ridley police.

Decker eventually was charged with assault. He checked into rehab and was formally arraigned on the charges about a week later. But his preliminary hearing had been continued several times. I get the feeling from some readers that we’re to blame for that, too.

This new, cozy relationship might come as news to Capt. Charles Howley, the top cop in the township. I like the guy, but we’ve had more than our share of disagreements.

Specifically, our critics noted that we had not run a photo of Decker, and it was not featured on the front page of the paper, as is the case with so many other criminal suspects.

They were right about that. But not for the reason they believed. They think we didn’t use a photo on purpose, that we were trying to protect Decker, and the Ridley police.

Not exactly.

The truth is we didn’t have his photo. There was a high school yearbook shot floating around the Internet, but I didn’t really want to use that one.

That all changed yesterday. We were there as Decker arrived at district court in Springfield for his preliminary hearing.

We took his photo. And we did a video of him arriving, as well as his attorney from after the hearing.

Decker was held for trial.

You can read all the other details here.

Then you can post a comment about how we’re still trying to go easy on Ridley police.

Just don’t look at the front page of the newspaper if that’s the case.

The 'issues' in the 7th Dist. race

I had a visitor bright and early yesterday morning here in the office.

It was Pat Meehan. I had an inkling why he was here.

The former U.S. attorney and former top Delco lawman was doing a little damage control. Basically, he was doing what we call “getting ahead of the story.”

I had received a couple of e-mails late Wednesday and early Thursday from the Meehan camp alerting us to potential problems with his nominating petitions.

Meehan actually sent a letter to his successor as Delco D.A., his Drexel Hill neighbor Mike Green, asking him to review possible problems with some of the signatures on his nominating petitions.

The Meehan campaign had identified at lest four signatures that were “questionable.”

I don’t consider it a big deal. Of course, it did not stop a flurry of e-mails from his likely Democratic foe, state Rep. Bryan Lentz, alleging all kinds of problems with the Meehan situation, and again warning of the nefarious way the Delco GOP goes about its business.

The Lentz campaign said Meehan only took action after they began asking questions.

In other words, politics as usual. It rises to about the same level as the Meehan folks ripping Lentz for missing some votes while attending an event in Washington, D.C.

About the most interesting thing to come out of all this finger-pointing is a blast from the past. Apparently right in the middle of the Meehan petition problems is Paul Summers, a longtime political fixture in Upper Darby and the county who has had a couple of skirmishes in his past, including being forced to resign his post with the county convention and visitors bureau when this newspaper discovered he had been doing political work on the job.

The other oddity about all this is that Meehan at one time prosecuted people in the county for problems with nominating petitions.

It’s not going to make much difference. Meehan has more than enough signatures to stay on the ballot.

No doubt the name-calling and finger-pointing will continue on both sides.

I guess the issues will just have to wait.

Bring on baseball season

Baseball season can’t start soon enough.

The Flyers got blown out last night, 5-1 by the Bruins, and they looked bad in the process. This team will still make the playoffs, but does anyone believe they’re going anywhere once they get there?

The Sixers continue to wallow in what has been nothing short of a disaster of a season. Comcast-Spectacor execs are apparently mulling the fate of coach Eddie Jordan. I’m not exactly sure what they’re waiting for to pull the trigger. Jordan should go, and he probably should take G.M. Ed Stefanski with him.

Then there’s Villanova. They went one and done in the Big East Tournament, and in the process probably booked themselves a plane ticket to some far away spot in the NCAA Tournament. It wasn’t long ago most people were conceding they could be the No. 1 seed in the East. Now they just might be considered the most overrated team around. Does anyone else now wonder if Temple just might be the best team in the city?

The Eagles? Don’t get me started.

At least there’s baseball. Joe Blanton went four strong innings yesterday in Clearwater. The Phillies starting pitching is looking very strong.

Just a few more weeks….

Thursday, March 11, 2010

The Daily Numbers - March 11

The Daily Numbers: 3 months in jail for the former treasurer who admitted she ripped of Briarcliffe Fire Co.
103,000 dollars stolen by Lisa Butler, and she gave no indication in court of where the money went. She did vow to make full restitution.
4 mile shift of traffic planned for the Blue Route in Montgomery County, starting on Monday.
18.5 million dollars, cost of project to expand Wallingford Elementary School. The board decided against building a new school.
15 months, how long the FBI was tracking the e-mails of the Montco woman no referred to as ‘Jihad Jane.’
16 percent loss recorded in February by casinos in Atlantic City. They are blaming the lousy weather, and competition from Pa. casinos.
22 burglaries of mom and pop businesses that resulted in the loss of thousands of dollars, all believed to be the work of one “blowtorch burglar.” He now faces 8 years in jail.
30 day delay in proceedings in the lawsuit filed against Lower Merion School District in the so-called laptop spying case.
70, age of man in Delaware charged with drugging and sexually assaulting a woman during dinner.
20, age of Folcroft man who has filed suit against a Media police officer who gave him a traffic ticket. He sent a letter to the cop using threatening language and was charged with terroristic threats. Now he claims his free speech rights were violated.
13, age of child believed to be with 40-year Upper Darby man who is on the lam after being charged with child porn offenses.
172 million dollar Powerball jackpot on Saturday after no one hit all the numbers again last night.
11 to 23 months in jail for a former teacher at Council Rock High School in Bucks County who admitted a 5-month sexual relationship with a student.
400 jobs coming to Chester County when LECG, a consulting firm, moves its world HQ there.
29 points, how far down the Sixers were at one point last night.
21 turnovers committed by the Sixers in another disastrous loss.
21 pitches thrown by Phillies closer Brad Lidge yesterday in Clearwater.
2 year deal for defensive back Marlin Jackson with the Eagles. He’s coming off two knee surgeries.

Call me a Phanatic: A look at the ups and downs of being a Philadelphia sports fan.Did the Sixers look like a team playing to try to save their coach’s job last night? Didn’t think so.
I Don’t Get It: Jihad Jane? She looks more like plain Jane to me.
Today’s Upper: It’s not an upper, but you just have to feel for a guy like James Reilly. Talk about a streak of bad luck. Say a prayer for the guy.
Quote Box: “I want a chance to rebuild trust with the fire company members and everybody else who gave hard-earned money to the fire company.”
- Lisa Marie Butler, before being sentenced for ripping off more than $100,000 from the volunteers.

Betrayal in Briarcliffe

It is now a familiar image.

A woman being escorted by county detectives, in this case with a sweater draped over her hands and arms, concealing the handcuffs. That was the scene last October when Lisa Marie Butler was arrested for stealing more than $100,000 from the Briarcliffe Fire co.

Butler was back in court yesterday to be sentenced for the theft.

But a couple of questions remain.

One, why is it so often women that get popped for doing this. We’ve had a series of stories over the past couple of years with women from any number of professions ripping off their employers. Governments have been hit, as have school districts and private employers.

This time it was a volunteer fire company, where Butler served as treasurer.

The fire company feels betrayed by one of their own.

But there is still a bit of mystery surrounding Butler’s case.

She appeared repentant in court yesterday, shedding tears as she vowed to pay the money back.

A prosecutor aptly said Butler used the fire company accounts as “her own personal ATM.”

But for all of Butler’s penitence, she was not exactly forthcoming over where all that money went.

But vowed to Judge Edward Zetusky to “pay back every cent. I will rectify what I did.”

She also said she wants a chance to rebuild trust with the fire company.

Maybe she can start by telling them where all that money went.

She’ll have a couple of months to think it over. She’ll be doing three months in Delaware County Prison, to be followed by seven years of probation, along with 103 hours of community service.

It will take a lot longer than that to repair the damage done to the volunteers.

The terrorist next door

She doesn’t exactly look like a terrorist.

Jihad Jane? She looks more like plain Jane from across the street.

Maybe that’s the point.

I’m not exactly sure how big a threat Colleen LaRose, the so-called suburban terrorist, posed.

Part of me thinks this was a woman with way too much time on her hands.

But it certainly does make you think of what we routinely think of when we picture a terrorist.

LaRose has blond hair and blue eyes.

Which I suppose only reinforces the idea that you just don’t know who is a threat.

Her boyfriend and all of her neighbors in tiny little Pennsburg, in Montgomery County, say they find it hard to believe that the woman they interacted with is an international terrorist who was trying to recruit jihadists over the Internet and was apparently willing to take part in a conspiracy to kill a cartoonist in Europe.

But that’s what federal prosecutors are alleging.

The terrorist next door.

Now that’s a frightening thought. And probably exactly what those trying to attack our country had in mind.

Sad-sack Sixers

This was not exactly what you would call rallying around your coach.

They’re warming up the hot seat for Sixers Coach Eddie Jordan. Last night his team showed up with matches.

Actually, his team failed to show up at all, offering a pathetic effort in getting blown out by the Charlotte Bobcats, 102-87.

And it wasn’t that close.

The Sixers were behind 62-44 at the half. As they left the court, they were showered with Philly love. That would be boos. Lots of them. From the few fans who remained. And that would not be many, considering the joint was only half-full to begin with.

It got worse. The lead stretched to 29 at one point in the second half.

The Sixers committed 21 turnovers.

Talk is everywhere that Jordan’s job is on the line, that the team is going to make a move, if not now certainly after this ugly season concludes. One of the claims is that he has lost the team, that they’ve quit on him.

They could use last night as Exhibit A.

I’m not sure what good firing him at this point will do. What might be even more important to ask is what exactly G.M. Ed Stefanski was thinking in bringing Jordan in here to begin with.

Comcast-Spectacor is no stranger to firing coaches. They already axed the head man at their other local franchise, the Flyers. John Stephens was out; Peter Laviolette was in.

Looks like it’s about time for the ax to fall on the Sixers. I guess the question is if both Jordan and Stefanski are shown the door.

It can’t get a lot worse, can it?

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Brave new world

Sometimes you just just shake your head and wonder about people.

Yesterday I received a phone call and several e-mails from people in the Interboro community.

They wanted to alert me to something that has been going on in the wake of the tragedy there in which two young girls were killed by an Acela train.

It seems someone hacked into Facebook pages that were set up to honor the memory of Gina Gentile and Vanessa Dorwart. They posted horrific sentiments, and even some worse images, if that is imginable.

They apparently did the same to a page that honored William Bradley V, the young man who was killed a month before when he was struck while riding his bike home from school.

I am not totally unfamiliar with this kind of sentiment. Every day on our Web site comments are posted on stories that simply defy belief.

We take them down as fast as we can. Very often they are posted right back again. We ban the commenters. They simply sign on under other names or e-mail accounts.

A lot of the comments posted on the stories we did on the suicides would fall into this category.

I can only imagine the kind of hurt those comments heaped on families already suffering about the worst that life has to offer.

And I can only shake my head and wonder what kind of people would do such a thing.

There are many things I like about the online world. Unfeeling people who get their kicks by posting vicious comments under the veil of anonymity are not among them.

I realize there are people who disagree with a lot of what we do here at the newspaper every day.

But we always put our name to what we write. Don’t like it? Call me and we can talk about it.

But to use the safety of the anonymous cyber-world to deliver such cruel ephitets isn’t journalism. It isn’t even taking part in a healthy dialog.

It’s just evil. Unfortunately, it’s also now part of my job. I sometimes feel like the Marshal Dillon, trying to ride herd on the Wild Wild West.

I have nothing by empathy toward the families in Interboro who have been suffering now for these past few weeks.

It is my hope that our coverage has not heaped more suffering on them.

Clearly that is not a unanimous opinion. Some people simply can’t stop themselves from adding to their hurt.

It’s part of the world we live in. It’s not pretty, but it’s out there.

Call it a brave new world.

Actually, there’s very little brave about it.

School of hard knocks for Sixers

Looks like the Ed Snider might be getting ready to once again do what he does best – fire a coach.

Snider is the head honcho at Comcast-Spectacor. They own both the Flyers and Sixers. The Flyers, no strangers to the coaching merry-go-round, have already dispatched one coach this year, replacing John Stephens with Peter Laviolette. Now it looks like the Sixers, who seem to be perpetually in search of a coach, are about to do the same.

Published reports indicate Comcast-Spectacor is growing increasingly frustrated with the disaster that is the Sixers season. Coach Eddie Jordan certainly hasn’t helped himself by burying his team after games in recent weeks. Last night he benched both Elton Brand and Andrew Iguodala, the two faces the franchise wants to build around, for the fourth quarter.

Snider may be ready to drop the ax on Jordan.

While he’s at it, why not lose all the Eds. He could add General Manager Ed Stefanski, the Drexel Hill native who has put together this debacle, to the list.

And for his finishing touch, maybe Snider would consider turning the reins of the team over to someone else.

Call it the Ed-ucation of Sixers fans.

Talk about your school of hard knocks.

Vick's way of saying thanks

Michael Vick says he is “humbled.”

I’m not buying.

I was in Vick’s corner when the Eagles gave him a second chance after he got out of federal prison after doing two years for running a dog-fighting ring.

They literally salvaged his career. Vick spent a year with the Eagles, dabbling with a few Wildcard formations, but for the most part playing the good soldier, rehabbing his image, and awaiting the time when he could again compete for a starter’s job.

Along the way he was nominated by his teammates for the Ed Block Courage Award. Not everyone thought that was a great idea.

Last night Vick gave us a reason why.

Vick attended the dinner in Baltimore where the 32 players, one from each NFL team, picked up their awards.

Earlier in the day, Vick had learned that the Eagles would pay him his $1.5 million roster bonus.

So last night may not have been the best time for Vick to start campaigning for a job with another team.

But that’s what he did.

Vick, who told those gathered he was “very humbled to be here,” also gave an interview with a radio station from St. Louis where he openly campaigned for the Rams’ QB job.

That’s a nice way of repaying the Eagles for their loyalty to him.

There were some people outside the dinner last night who also likely were not thrilled with Vick’s presence.

Animal protesters still incensed with Vick’s bankrolling of a dog-fighting enterprise made their feelings known.

“I’m trying to do the right thing,” Vick said inside.

He has a funny way of showing it.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

The Daily Numbers - March 9

The Daily Numbers: 2 people struck by a driver police say was under the influence on Sunday. The driver is in jail facing charges.
40 feet, how far the wig being worn by one of the victims was thrown by the impact, according to Darby Chief Bob Smythe.
71, age of suspect who crashed his car while trying to elude police during a wild chase from Ridley into Chester.
7.5 million dollar budget OK’d by the Delaware County Intermediate Unit.
10 recent heists involving pizza delivery drivers that sparked a meeting by Upper Darby police to give them tips to avoid being the next victim.
3.84 karat Phillies World Series ring that a Yeadon man admitted he swiped after he spotted it in a restroom at Citizens Bank Park. He entered a plea yesterday. The ring is valued at more than $10,000.
2 alarm blaze that heavily damaged a home in Upper Chi last night.
1,300 dollars, what a spike in pension fund obligations could wind up costing residents in Haverford, according to presentation by the school board.
14, age of teen girl, one of 5 teens, charged in the murder of a young couple in Camden. They were found buried in the back yard of their home.
73, age of Philadelphia clerk of quarter sessions Vivian Miller, who has been under fire and yesterday indicated she would retire.
1,000 people who jammed a job fair yesterday in Philadelphia.
19 teens charged with felonies as part of a recent flash mob incident in Center City who will be in court this week. Two adults are set to appear today.
500 Sunoco A-Plus convenience stores that will be getting ATM machines run by Citizens Bank.
22 percent less, what women man as compared to men, according to a new survey.
106-30 vote by which Teamsters Local 929 members OK’d a new deal with the Philadelphia produce distribution center in South Philly, ending a 1-week strike.
5 cars of a CSX train that derailed overnight in South Philly. There were no injuries.
71 straight wins for the UConn women’s hoops team, breaking their own record.
86 minutes in 71 games, how much time the Huskies have been behind during that streak.
13-0, their record against Top 10 teams during the streak.
32 points, the average margin of their wins during the game.
0 games during the streak that have been decided by less than 10 points.
177 career receptions for former Eagles wide receiver Reggie Brown. He was shipped to Tampa Bay yesterday for a draft pick.
4.5 million roster bonus that the Eagles indicated they will pay to tackle Stacy Andrews.
1.5 million bonus the team will pay to backup QB Michael Vick.

Call me a Phanatic: A look at the ups and downs of being a Philadelphia sports fan.
Allen Iverson admits now he’s going through “tough times,” but denies some published reports about personal problems he’s facing. Anyone think this is going to have a good ending? Didn’t think so.
I Don’t Get It: Now I know spring must be getting close. Gas is spiking again, and should be hovering around $3 a gallon as the summer driving season arrives.
Today’s Upper: Kudos to those who took time to honor veterans last night at a summit in Ridley.
Quote Box: “It’s one of the worst motor vehicle accidents I’ve ever seen in Darby.”
- Chief Bob Smythe on incident Sunday in which a woman now facing DUI charges struck two pedestrians.

Help with the pain & questions

The funerals are now over; the pain and grieving are not.

The Interboro community gathered twice over the weekend for the funerals of Gina Gentile and Vanessa Dorwart, the two young women who took their own lives by stepping in front of a high-speed Acela train at the Norwood Station.

A series of meetings to help those still struggling with their feelings about the tragedy has been set up for this week at St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church in Norwood.

They are intended to help those still struggling in the aftermath of the suicides. They will offer prayers, encouragement and healing for those still reeling from the deaths of two young teens who had their entire lives still in front of them.

St. Stephen’s is located at 128 Chester Pike in Norwood.

There will be three sessions, on March 11 (this Thursday), March 18 and 25. The sessions will begin at 7 p.m.

Hold (up) the pepperoni

It’s apparently become open season on pizza joints and delivery people in Upper Darby.

As we were putting the paper together yesterday, at one point in the afternoon I was fashioning a lead headline for Page 1 that screamed:

HoldUP the

Upper Darby police yesterday held a meeting with the owners of the pizza joints as well as some of their drivers to offer them tips on how not to become a victim.

You can read the entire story here.

There have been 10 holdups of pizza delivery drivers in recent months.

Upper Darby police actually staged a sting operation recently where they sent an undercover officer in to make a delivery when they had reason to suspect he was going to be held up. It resulted in a quick arrest.

These holdups are a sign of the times. When things turn bad, people look to make a quick buck. Ordering a pizza driver and then holding up the driver is thought to be an easy mark.

Not anymore. At least not in Upper Darby. Good for them.

Welcome to our world

One of the things I am constantly amazed by is the way our sports figures throw around money and numbers.

They live in a different world than we do.

The Eagles have indicated they will pick up the bonus for convicted dog killer Michael Vick. That comes to $1.5 million. That does not mean he will again be part of the troika at QB the team featured last year. He still could be shipped elsewhere.

Yesterday the team indicated they will pay offensive lineman Stacy Andrews his $4 million roster bonus, while trying to redo his contract to pay him substantially less. For what? Last year the Eagles got almost nothing out of Andrews, brother of the equally unproductive and oft-injured Shawn Andrews. But apparently the Eagles see enough in Stacy to toss him a bone, to the tune of $4.5 million.

The team also yesterday traded wide receiver Reggie Brown to the Bucs for a draft pick. It was just a few years back they were showering him with a new deal worth millions.

Maybe that’s what they mean by the “gold standard” that owner Jeff Lurie and team President Joe Banner are always harping about.

It’s not just the Eagles, or football.

It’s all sports. The money is just ridiculous.

And all of this while the rest of us struggle to keep our heads above water, and fret as we face layoffs, pay freezes and unpaid furloughs.
Our health care coverage is reduced, and the co-pays are hiked.

In my next life, I want to be a professional athlete. Just once I’d like to see someone dangle that kind of money in front of me and see how fast I’d sign on the dotted line.

Then you read about Allen Iverson, who has likely made in the neighborhood of $150 million in his NBA career. According to some reports, Iverson is now grappling with personal demons, as well as money problems. He will not return to the Sixers this year, his daughter is seriously ill, and his wife has filed for divorce.

Last night he admitted on his Twitter account he is going through some “tough times.”

Welcome to our world, Allen.

Monday, March 8, 2010

The Daily Numbers - March 8

The Daily Numbers: 60 million dollar renovation done on Turbine Hall, part of the historic Peco Power Station project on the Chester Waterfront. The facility is now closed.
22, age of man shot in leg Sunday afternoon when gunshots rang out at 10th and Booth streets in Chester.
2 mill tax hike coming to residents of Millbourne under the new budget.
1 paramedic in Bensalem killed in a confrontation with a suicidal man who had called 911.
2 more people killed in still another fatal crash in Limerick, Montgomery County.
3 alarm fire that scorched a Motel 6 in Maple Shade, N.J.
55 pieces of crack cocaine that police say a suspect swallowed after a traffic stop in Delaware.
90 dogs rescued by SPCA officials from a puppy mill operation in Upper Pittsgrove, N.J.
2 fatal shootings in Philadelphia over the weekend.
2.78 a gallon, average price for gas in the 5-county region, according to AAA. Last year we were paying $1.98.
3-1 win for the Flyers over the Maple Leafs last night, snapping a 2-game losing skid.
27 saves for Michael Leighton, who picked up the win.
30 goals for Jeff Carter after he lit the lamp again last night.
32 points for Thaddeus Young as he led the Sixers to a road win over the Raptors in Toronto, 114-101.
1.5 million roster bonus for Michael Vick that was picked up by the Eagles. That does not necessarily mean he’ll be back next year, it just means he remains the Birds’ property.
2 hits allowed by J.A. Happ again yesterday in his 2nd straight strong outing in Florida for the Phils.
2 hits also surrendered by newcomer Philippe Aumont, who took the hill after Happ and posted 2 more strong innings.

Call me a Phanatic: A look at the ups and downs of being a Philadelphia sports fan.
Anyone else have a hankering to break out the golf clubs yesterday?
I Don’t Get It: They held a vigil for a 17-year-old killed in Philadelphia and gunshots interrupted the service. I don’t get it.
Today’s Upper: It’s been a long winter. We deserve a weather break, and today looks like it is going to be even nicer than the weekend. Might be for an outbreak of “spring fever.”
Quote Box: “Althouth it appears Turbine Hall may no longer beused as an events facility, the space itself, along with the Wharf building, will remain a focal point and historical landmark in the city.”
- Chester Mayor Wendell Butler, on word that Turbine Hall was closing its doors as an events center.

Teeing off on sports

Some things that are on my mind this morning, especially when it comes to sports:

It was all I could do not to grab a golf club and head for the back yard over the weekend. If only I could see the back yard under all that snow.
My best guess is that we need a few more weeks of this weather to lose all the snow piled up there.

But it did not stop me from getting outside and dreaming about one of my favorite things to do: A hot, humid early summer morning. I arrive at the course as it’s getting light and am first off the tee. As I walk (yes, I’m a walker, with a carry bag; there’s nothing worse than golf played from a cart. That truly is “a good walk spoiled”) down the fairway, I realize that moment is one of the reasons you work all winter. Just me and nature. Perfect.

There is nothing perfect about the PGA Tour these days. That’s because there is no Tiger. I will still watch. And I caught some of the stop from the Honda Classic over the weekend. I wish I could tell you who won. I think it was Camillo Villegas. Does it really matter?

The tour needs Tiger. Here’s one vote for him getting back for the Masters. To be honest, I don’t care what he did off the course. I want to see him back stalking those fairways.

Then there are the Eagles, who seem to be in no great hurry to do much of anything this off-season. They did re-sign fullback Leonard Weaver, but they have not done anything in the free agency market.

And yesterday they picked up the $1.5 million option on Michael Vick, which keeps him on their roster, at least for awhile. They still have three quarterbacks, which is probably still two too many.

Someone please tell me Andy Reid is joking when he says he is going to come back again next year with Donovan McNabb as his starter.

Finally, there is Allen Iverson. How sad is this story becoming? The one-time NBA scoring leader and one of the all-time great Sixers, is now beset with personal problems, with a very ill daughter and a wife who is divorcing him.

Now there are reports that he is also battling personal demons.

This one has disaster written all over it. And who did not see this one coming?

Yeah, I thought so.

And the Oscar goes to ...

My Oscar record remains intact.

Not in picking the winners.

In the fact that I had not seen a single movie nominated for Best Picture. Nor a single performance up for best actor or actress.

The truth is I was not in a movie theatre last year. The last flick I actually caught in a darkened movie house was Clint Eastwood’s “Grant Torino.”

Pretty good movie, although I found the cursing and racial stereotypes a little overbearing.

So now I suppose I will have to load up the ol’ Netflix account with some of this year’s winners.

On the top of my list is “Up in the Air,” with George Clooney. My wife thinks I have a man-crush on him. She might be right. What can I say?
The guy is just smooth.

Which brings me to my Netflix complaint. (And what’s a Monday morning without a little whine?) Wasn’t the whole of idea of Netflix supposed to be to alleviate the problem of a rental being out at the local video store.

So why is it now that every time you put something on your Netflix list, it politely informs you that selection currently has a “long wait.”

Guess it’s back to Turner Classic Movies.

Wonder how long before “Up in the Air” shows up there.

A haunting image

My print column today focuses on a single image that I have not yet been able to shake.

You can read it here.

In this business, you try to build up a fairly tough exterior. It’s a defense mechanism. But it does not mean we’re not human.

The truth is some stories stay with you longer than others. And some images.

Like the image of two young girls embracing on a railroad track as a high-speed Acela train bears down on them.

They held the services for Vanessa Dorwart and Gina Gentile over the weekend. Dorwart’s funeral was Satuday; Gentile will be buried today.

I was asked to go on a national Headline News Network TV show Friday afternoon to talk about the story. I’m still kind of amazed at how many people saw it and wanted to ask me about it.

We tried to handle the funerals of the two girls with dignity. We did not cover them, aside from taking a photo of the long lines waiting to go into the two viewings.

It was a long week. We tried to cover a very important story while still offering some amount of privacy to the families involved.

I have a feeling this story will stay with all of us for awhile.

Along with that haunting image.

Friday, March 5, 2010

The long sad goodbye

They will start the agonizing process of saying goodbye tonight in Norwood.

The first of the funeral services for the two victims of last week’s train suicides will be held.

The visitation for Vanessa Dorwart will be held 5-9 p.m. at the McCausland-Garrity Funeral Home on Chester Pike in Glenolden. Her funeral is tomorrow. The scene will be repeated Sunday and Monday for Gina Gentile.

No doubt there will be huge crowds – including hundreds of mourning kids – in attendance.

This newspaper has a policy that we try to adhere to when it comes to funerals. In general, we do not cover them. We allow the families to have this moment to themselves.

We will try to honor that this weekend. We are not planning to send a reporter to either viewing. We likely will simply take a photo of the long line to get into the funeral home tonight and run it with a caption.

I’m not sure what exactly we could add to what has already been an unbearably sad story.

We are planning a story for Sunday dealing with the issue of teen suicide, specifically the kind of teen pact that officials believe was at the root of this incident.

We have covered this story extensively since last week. Our coverage has been criticized by some as too much, that we sensationalized the situation, even glorifying what happened. That’s not an unusual claim when something like this occurs.

I do not happen to agree with that observation. We consider ourselves the paper of record for Delaware County, and clearly this was a huge story here in the county.

I believe we looked at every substantial angle of the story, including making sure we listed the agencies and hotlines available for those struggling with exactly these kinds of issues.

But we will not cover these funerals, unless something happens that changes the situation and merits further coverage.

It will not ease the sadness. It will not answer the questions. But it will, I hope, allow these two families a small measure of privacy in an unbearably sad situation.

Gambler's dream turns nighmare at Harrah's

Tell me you have not had this dream.

You’re standing in front of an ATM machine, and suddenly it starts spitting out money at you.

But it wasn’t a dream that happened to a woman at Harrah’s Chester Casino last weekend. It was real. And it soon turned into a nightmare.

Police say it started when she went to the voucher machine to cash out.

It was supposed to issue her $1 bills. Instead it started shooting out C-notes. Yep, $100 bills. A dream, right?

Uh, not exactly. The 53-year-old woman, a Norristown resident, apparently then went back to the machine 56 times. She walked away with a cool $22,200. And that’s the problem.

Turns out that is illegal. She’s now charged with theft by unlawful taking.

Doesn’t seem right.

What would you have done? The temptation is great, apparently too great for this woman to pass up.

Maybe the best comment I heard on the matter came from someone who posted on the story after it appeared on our Web site yesterday afternoon.

The snarky post said the woman should have known something wasn’t right when a machine at Harrah’s was paying out.

Not sure the folks at Harrah’s would see the humor in that.

Phils go on Halladay

Roy Halladay left a calling card yesterday – for both Phillies fans as well as the National League.

There’s a new sheriff in town. A new ‘Doc’ as well.

Halladay looked to be in July form in the first week of March. He strode to the hill for the Phillies first exhibition game against a New York Yankees lineup that was minus many of its stars.

That didn’t seem to matter to Halladay, the Phils big free agent pickup in the offseason.

For some reason, I don’t think we’ll be hearing a lot about Cliff Lee today. Lee was great last year after he was acquired at the trade deadline. He put the Phils on his back and got them back to the World Series, where they fell to those same Yankees. That was not Lee’s fault.
He beat the New Yorkers twice.

Fans hoped for a Koufax-Drysdale-like combo of Halladay and Lee at the top of the Phils’ rotation. Didn’t happen.

Lee was dealt to Seattle for prospects.

Fans have been grumbling ever since.

Not yesterday.

Halladay was delivering a message. This is what I’m all about.

All he did was throw 24 pitches, 21 for strikes. He struck out three and did not surrender a hit.

Basically, he was advertised. This season can’t start soon enough.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

The Daily Numbers - March 4

The Daily Numbers: 325 dollars, how much was in the collection that was ripped off during a holdup last Sunday at St. Andrew’s Church in Drexel Hill. A 22-year-old man now faces charges.
50,000 dollar state grant that paid for study of Delco health systems by Johns Hopkins University specialists. The study is about to be made available to the public, and pinpoints shortcomings of the present system.
10 to 30 years in slammer for a man who took part in a 4-county burglary ring with 2 other men.
30,000 dollars, how much a contractor is alleged to have ripped off from a Norwood couple for work he never completed. He waived his preliminary hearing yesterday.
59,755 dollars lost by Ridley School District in the lowered assessment granted to Holmes Corporate Center.
4 social workers convicted in case tied to neglect of 14-year-old Daniel Kelly in Philadelphia.
600 million dollar casino planned by mogul Steve Wynn, who wants to take over the Foxwoods site along the river in Philadelphia.
300 dollar annual trash fee that would be slapped on all city residents and businesses as part of Mayor Michael Nutter’s budget plan.
2 cent per ounce hike in tax on sweet drinks such as soda and sports drinks, if Nutter gets his way.
150 million dollar deficit facing Philadelphia, the reason for the revenue moves.
18 young people arrested in what police believe was another ‘flash mob’
incident in the making in Center City yesterday afternoon.
400 people in the TGIF restaurant in Wynnewood last night when a brawl broke out among several women.
25 counts filed against a Montgomery County man for videotaping girls without their knowledge inside Plymouth Meeting Mall.
10, as in 10th worst areas in the country for congested traffic conditions for the Philadelphia region.
150 to 300 dollar fine for those caught using hand-held cell phone while driving under new law in Allentown.
7 goals surrendered by Flyers last night as they got spanked by the Florida Panthers.
7 games since the Flyers had given up more than 2 goals.
5 runs given up by Phillies prospect Phillippe Aumont against college kids from Florida State last night.
0 runs given up by Phils starter J.A. Happ.
19 point loss for the Sixers last night against Atlanta.
74.75 dollars for a signed part of the glass from the Spectrum. Is there anything left to sell in there.

Call me a Phanatic: A look at the ups and downs of being a Philadelphia sports fan.Roy Halladay vs. the Yankees. Doesn’t get much better than that for Grapefruit League openers.
I Don’t Get It: Maybe it’s an early case of spring fever. Or better yeet cabin fever. What is with this sudden eruption of gangs of kids marauding in Center City. It’s now happened twice in two weeks. I don’t get it.
Today’s Upper: The public is finally going to get a look at the recommendations made by the group from Johns Hopkins University in terms of health care in Delaware County.
Quote Box: “They make good points in the executive summary and I think council needs to work toward addressing those issues.”
- County Council Chairman Jack Whelan, on the Johns Hopkins study.

Bless me father ...

Before you deluge the newsroom today demanding to know who wrote today’s headline, let me go into the confessional.

It was me.

Writing headlines is one of my passions. And it’s something of an art form, one that is slowly slipping away as more and more media slides into electronic forms.

The headlines we write for this Web site are different than those we use for print, especially ones that appear on the front page, the big lead head we refer to as our ‘Black Line.’

Here’s a little journalism inside baseball on the first day of the Grapefruit Season.

Yes, part of the function of that big P. 1 headline it to sell newspapers. You’re stunned, I know.

I was not looking to make light of the story, which today involved the theft of the funds from the collection basket last Sunday at St.
Andrew’s Church in Drexel Hill.

Call it Confessions of an Old Altar Boy.

As soon as I heard of the arrest, the first thing that popped into my head was that weekly trip to the confessional from my youth, where you would pour out your sins to the priest, who would then offer you a form of penance.

He would almost always begin the process by letting you know just how many How Marys your transgressions would cost you.

So if you want to castigate me for the headline, feel free.

Bless me father, for I have sinned ….

City of Brotherly Shove

Think times are tough here in Delco?

Thank your lucky stars you don’t live in the city. And brace yourself for a possible new wave of people coming across the border to get out of the City of Brotherly Love.

It’s budget time in Philadelphia, and Mayor Michael Nutter has some very tough news for residents.

The city is still broke, $150 million in the hole, and he wants residents to help bail them out.

How? Well for starters, he wants to slap a new fee on trash collection.

This no doubt will come as something of a surprise to residents who believe they already are paying a ton in taxes to take care of these pesky matters such as getting those trash cans emptied each week.

Nutter wants to impose a $300 annual fee on each property in the city, both residential and commercial.

Rubbish, most residents and business owners have replied.

And that’s not all. If you want to chill your temper with a nice, cold soda, that might cost you more as well.

Nutter will propose a new tax on sweetened drinks such as soda and sports drinks. The hike would come to 2 cents an ounce.

A 20-ounce soda will cost you another 40 cents. That 8.4-ounce rush from Red Bull would set you back another 17 cents. And a six pack of soda could jump by another $1.44.

Nutter is hoping to raise $107 million from the trash fee, and another
$77 million on the drink tax. The city is staring at a $150 million deficit, which is expected to get bigger before it gets smaller.

He will announce his plans during his budget address today.

Maybe he should just ask Steve Wynn, the casino wunderkind who is looking to take over the Foxwoods Casino project along the waterfront, to loan him the money.

$150 million? Wynn could take that out of petty cash.

The sounds of summer

Forget the Sixers. They got crushed again last night. They’re no place, going nowhere, playing out the string on a miserable season.

Ditto for the Flyers. Sure, they’ll probably make the playoffs. But first they have to play another month’s worth of mostly meaningless games.

The Eagles? They still haven’t decided what they’re doing with Donovan McNabb.

Never fear, sports fans.

Summer starts today.

A few minutes after 1 o’clock, Roy Halladay will stride to the mound in Clearwater, stare in at Carlos Ruiz, and then hopefully fire a high, hard one at a batter in those hated blue pinstripes.

That’s right, the Yankees are in town. We haven’t forgotten.

The Yanks last fall snatched that World Series trophy that we had clutched to our hearts for a year.

Now it’s time for revenge.

Summer starts today.

Welcome baseball.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

The Daily Numbers - March 3

The Daily Numbers: 28, age of woman who entered plea in home invasion and shootout in which she victimized an 84-year-old Ridley man.
6.5 to 15 years, what she will serve in slammer for picking on the senior citizen, who she once worked for.
2 straight years as Hi-Q champs for Penncrest High School as they once again reign in the scholastic quiz competition.
2 police officers and a constable who have filed suit against Darby Borough and Police Chief Bob Smythe, saying they were harassed or fired because of their race.
10,000 dollars, how much organizers hope to raise for the families of the two girls killed by the train in Norwood during a special fundraisers.
53-29 percent lead for Sen. Arlen Specter over U.S. Rep. Joe Sestak, according to latest Quinnipiac polling numbers.
52 percent of those polled who do not belive Specter deserves another term.
49-42 lead for Specter over likely GOP foe Pat Toomey in a general election race.
11.48 percent dip in profits for Harrah’s Chester Casino in February. Likely tied to the 51.5 inches of snow we had in the region.
24,737,548 dollars raked in by Harrah’s this January, compared to
$27,945,142 last year.
32,009,828 in revenue at Parx at Philly Park, the No. 1 casino in the state. Play there was actually up 5.32 percent. Harrah’s is still No. 2 in the state.
26 bucks to park in some Center City lots as owners try to take advantage of Flower Show crowds. Ouch!
200 workers being laid off by New Jersey Transit.
550 more jobs being eliminated by AstraZeneca in their Wilmington HQ. That’s part of 8,000 they are cutting worldwide.
120 to 150 million dollar deficit in Philly, where they are once again toying with the idea of taxing trash collections.
2 N.J. female basketball players booted off their team because of profanities they posted on their Facebook pages.
280,000 dollars believed swindled from an elderly man by Bucks County con mom Bonnie Sweeten. Her victims are now suing TD Bank over the flap.
45, age of man struck and killed by train in Wilmington, Del. He was a city fire inspector who died in the line of duty.
2 recovering animals killed in a N.J. SPCA center. An employee has been charged
38 percent hike in sales for Subaru of America last month.
125 Acme supermarkets in the region. Word has it the chain may be on the market.
150 people who met at Narberth Borough Hall Tuesday night to talk about stopping a class-action suit against Lower Merion School District they fear could result in higher taxes.
2 people shot during a pickup hoops game in Northeast Philadelphia.
4 points for Flyers captain Mike Richards as they returned from the Olympic break and hammered Tampa, 7-2.
5 straight wins going back before the break for the orange and black.
0 more games this year for goalie Ray Emery. He’s out for the season with a bum hip.
9 as in No. 9 for Villanova, who dropped 2 more spots in the AP poll, then want out and held off Cincinnati last night, 77-73.

Call me a Phanatic: A look at the ups and downs of being a Philadelphia sports fan.The A.I. return is over. Almost before it started. Just really sad. But not as sad as the rest of this team, and Coach Eddie Jordan.
I Don’t Get It: Cool all that talk about a 30-inch snow on March 7, as heralded by the Farmer’s Almanac. Not going to happen. It will be in the mid-50s Sunday.
Today’s Upper: Kudos to Penncrest High School and their Hi-Q team, which successfully defended their crown yesterday.
Quote Box: “This is a classic case of drugs ruining the lives of people.”
- Joe Malley, lawyer for woman entering guilty plea in home invasion in which 84-year-old man was the target.

More bad numbers for Sestak

Joe Sestak does not like to talk about polls. I don't blame him.

There are new numbers out in the seemingly never-ending polls that accompany every political season.

And they bring more in the never-ending bad news raining down on the Sestak campaign.

The latest Quinnipiac poll shows the upstart 7th District congressman still trailing badly in his bid to snag the Democratic U.S. Senate nomination away from newly minted Dem Sen. Arlen Specter.

The numbers say it’s still a lopsided race, with Specter holding a 53-23 percent margin.

If Sestak is looking for good news, maybe he can hang his hat on the fact that voters might be holding their nose when they vote for Specter.
They’re not thrilled about Specter, in fact 52 percent don’t believe he deserves another term. To just 38 percent in his favor.

And then there is this: Among Democrats who are familiar with both Specter and Sestak, the congressman has a 54-37 percent lead.

Which tells my this isn’t over yet, not by a long shot. Sestak’s challenge is name recognition, and he likely can solve that with a huge dose of TV advertising.

It’s still an uphill battle against one of the state’s most well-known politicians.

The real news from Quinnipiac comes in what would be a general election race vs. likely GOP nominee Pat Toomey. Specter, who has been trailing the Republican in the last couple of polls, is now surging ahead, 49-42 percent.

Snow job at Harrah's

Turns out we’re not the only ones who are suffering through a winter of discontent.

It hasn’t been peaches and cream for the state’s gambling biz either.
And that includes Harrah’s down in Chester.

The numbers for February are out. They aren’t pretty. We got 51.5 inches of snow last month. And it turned out to be a snow job on the local economy, slots parlors included.

The state Gaming Control Board said play was off at most of the state’s slots parlors. That would include Harrah’s, where the take was off a whopping 11 percent from the same month in 2009. Harrah’s took in $24.7 billion in February, down from $27.9 million last year.

Overall, gambling was up 16 percent over the same month last year, but that’s only because more casinos are in play now, including the Sands up in Bethlehem.

Harrah’s continues to sit in second place in the slots revenue derby, trailing only the $32 million hauled in by Parx, at Philly Park.

Maybe it’s the allure of the new facility. Play at Parx was actually up
5.32 percent over the year before.

And a very interesting developing in state gaming coming today. Steve Wynn, Mr. Las Vegas, is expected to appear before the Gaming Control Board in Harrisburg to detail his plans for the Foxwoods casino proposed for the Philly waterfront.

That could mean even more competition for Harrah’s.

Stay tuned.

March Madness

It’s time for March Madness.

No, not the NCAA Tourney. We’re talking Philly sports.

The Sixers.
Eddie Jordan.
Donovan McNabb.

The Sixers continue to implode. Their coach, Jordan, is not helping. He ripped his team for quitting on him after Monday night’s game, then decided to plead temporary insanity the next day.

Speaking of insanity, all that fanfare in bringing back Allen Iverson is gone. Now there is only the stark reality of the shell of the player that Iverson has become. He will not return to the team this season. He likely has played his last game as a Sixer, and possibly his last in the NBA?

It’s a sad end to a bad story that only adds to the tarnish on a once-great franchise.

Don’t look for the Eagles to help. They’re still holding three quarterbacks, which is probably two more than they need. Talks continue to swirl around what they will do with Donovan McNabb and Michael Vick.

I will tell you what they can’t do. They can’t believe even for a minute that they can come back with Andy Reid at the helm and McNabb under center and sell that to their fans. Even die-hard Iggles fans will not swallow that tired, old act.

Hey, there’s always the Flyers. Didn’t exactly look like the Olympic layoff bothered them. They returned to the ice last night and torched Tampa in a 7-2 blowout.

And then there is this: Ladies and gentlemen, leading off for the Phillies, shortstop Jimmy Rollins.

Summer begins tonight. The Phils kick off the Grapefruit League season against Florida State. J.A. Happ will be on the mound.

Tomorrow Roy Halladay heads to the hill to face the Yankees.

Feels like October already.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

The road to recovery in Interboro

We joined with the students, staff and families in the Interboro School District the past few days in trying to answer a simple question: Why?

In the wake of the tragic suicide of two female students, we also now plan to give equal treatment to attempt to make sure this does not happen again.

There has been a lot of rumor, talk and just plain gossip that the deaths of Vanessa Dorwart and Gina Gentile were part of a suicide pact.
Officials fear other students also had pledged to take their lives.

The fear now is to be sure that does not happen. Suicide is not the answer.

It has been fairly accurately depicted as a permanent solution to a temporary problem.

The problem too often with young people is that they don’t look past the “now.” They don’t consider the effect of their actions down the line.
They don’t realize that things will get better, even if it takes weeks or months. All they feel is the hurt of now.

And it sometimes drives them to do rash things.

Yesterday we went to Interboro High School to monitor how things were going as students returned to school for the first time since the tragedy occurred.

Not all the students were happy to see us. And they were fairly vocal in letting us know exactly how they felt. That goes with the territory. We can take it. We’re not there to exploit them. We want to be part of the solution.

Likewise, Interboro School District is taking steps to make counselors available to any kids who feel the need to reach out for help.

We urge parents and their children not think they have to do this alone.
Reach out. Get help.

Don’t let this happen again.

Pa.'s ticking time bomb

We spent a lot of time and effort over the last few days covering the tragedy in Norwood, trying to answer the questions of how this could happen, and hoping to be part of the solution so that it does not happen again.

It would be easy to overlook other important stories that we were covering.

One in particular.

You can read about it here.

It was Alex Rose’s report on the looming public pension crisis in the state, and the devastating effect it could have on local school and municipal budgets.

I refer to it as a “ticking time bomb.” I’m not the only one. A lot of people are saying the situation is dire, that it could literally bankrupt the state.

It’s amazing to me that given the gravity of the situation, you don’t hear much about it coming from Harrisburg.

I’ve talked to a couple of candidates running for the post of lieutenant governor. They are very aware of the problem, and what it means to the citizens of this state.

One pol, who said he did not want to say it publicly, flatly told me there are two choices to solve this problem: A massive tax hike, or informing public employees they likely will not get the entire benefit due them.

And then changing the rules for future retirees.

It’s not pretty.

And it’s not going away.

Brand new low for Sixers

It was “Elton Brand Night” last night at the Wachovia Center. All Elton Brand merchandise was 25 percent off.

Only one problem. Brand was not in the lineup. He’s nursing an injury.
He won’t make the trip to Atlanta either.

Seems about right for this team. They haven’t done much right this year.

Their “brand” has become just that, the signing of Elton Brand now somewhat emblematic of their mistakes.

On the other hand, all was not lost for local hoops fans at the Wachovia Center last night. They could take comfort in a familiar face doing good things on the court, even if it was in the uniform of the Orlando Magic.

Chester’s own Jameer Nelson was back in the neighborhood. The Chester High and Saint Joe’s star celebrated his homecoming by torching the Sixers for 22 points and 10 assists as the Magic cruised to a 126-105 win that wasn’t that close.

After the game, the ugliness that was spilling out of the stands, amid “Fire Eddie” chants, flared up in the Sixers locker room.

Sixers Coach Eddie Jordan continued his penchant for dumping on his struggling team.

“We lost the passion to compete,” Jordan said, admitting he called a couple of timeouts to correct what he saw as “poor body language” on the court.”

Some people call that a team quitting on its coach.

“I wasn’t going to have it,” Jordan declared.

He might soon learn the Sixers management isn’t going to have something else – him continuing as head coach.

This season has been a disaster, with the hiring of Jordan near the top of the list of the blunders pulled out of his hat by Drexel Hill native G.M. Ed Stefanski.

Now there is word that Allen Iverson made be done for the season.

It’s about the way this season has gone. It can’t be over soon enough.

To be quickly followed, one can only hope, by the end of the Eddie Jordan era.

Jameer Nelson showed Sixers fans what hoops once was about in this town.

And Eddie Jordan reminded them of how far the local team has sunk.

Monday, March 1, 2010

The Daily Numbers - March 1

The Daily Numbers: 2 teens’ deaths on train tracks in Norwood ruled suicides by the county medical examiner’s office.
1 suspect who stole the offertory collection Sunday at St. Andrew the Apostle Church in Drexel Hill.
3 candidates for the 7th District Congress seat who debated the issues last night in Springfield.
100 workers who were picketing this morning as the union went on strike against the Philadelphia Regional Produce Market in South Philly.
2, age of toddler police say was assaulted twice by a man in New Castle, Del.
1 person killed an 1 injured in a crash of an ATV in the Frankford section of Philly last night.
2 vehicle crash including an ambulance in Glenolden overnight.
6 to 4 percent, cut in state sales tax proposed by Gov. Ed Rendell, while expanding it to 74 items and services that are currently exempt.
14 percent increase in revenue posted by QVC in the 1st quarter.
700 people now believed killed in devastating earthquake in Chile on Saturday.
8.8 on the Richter scale, what the quake registered at.
2 people charged in beating death of man whose badly burned body was found in N.J.
200,000 people in the Northeast still without power in the wake of the latest snowstorm to rock the region on Friday.
4, age of child left behind by 2 suspects who robbed a Center City jewelry store on Saturday. They grabbed a tray with $100,000 worth of jewelry on it and took off.
1 person killed and 7 hurt in the crash of a van carrying Temple University dance team to a competition in North Carolina.
18, age of son of entertainer Marie Osmond, who police say took his own life by jumping from a downtown L.A. apartment building.
1, as in No. 1 in the Big 5 for Temple, who beat La Salle Sunday to take the city title.
23 pitches, all fastballs, thrown off the mound by Phillies reliever J.C. Romero Sunday. He’s coming back from injury. Brad Lidge also threw a session.

Call me a Phanatic: A look at the ups and downs of being a Philadelphia sports fan.If only all sports could hold the drama and passion of Sunday’s gold medal Olympic ice hockey game pitting the USA vs. Canada. In a word, it was electric.
I Don’t Get It: A guy held up the collection basket at St. Andrew’s in Drexel Hill Sunday. I don’t get it.
Today’s Upper: Kudos to all those who made their voices heard in the controversy surrounding St. Joseph’s School in Collingdale. It would seem the archdiocese heard you.
Quote Box: “It doesn’t make sense to any of us.”
Kim Dorwart, mother of Vanessa Dorwart, one of two teen girls who took their own lives on the train tracks in Norwood last week.

An agonizing weekend

In this business, some images, some stories stay with you longer than others.

Our office is located right next door to the Media Elwyn R3 line. This morning I was walking back from the Wawa when an Express train zipped through, blaring its horn.

I have to admit I flinched. I stopped, turned, and watched it whiz by.

And all I could think about was the image of two teen girls hugging each other while standing on the tracks. I have not been able to shake that image all weekend.

That’s what police tell us happened last week in Norwood.

The deaths of Vanessa Dorwart, who would have turned 16 this week, and Gina Gentile, were ruled suicides by the county Medical Examiner’s office.

Trying to figure out why is another matter altogether.

In addition to covering this story all weekend, that is the question I’ve been agonizing over. Why? Why would these girls, and apparently several other kids in the Interboro School District, be so distraught that they would consider taking their own lives?

A lot has been said that several kids were upset – some say despondent – over the death of a friend a month ago. He was struck and killed as he rode his bike home from school.

Now this.

As I said, some stories stay with you longer than others. This one has haunted me all weekend.

I cannot even begin to imagine the loss suffered by these two families, nor the numb feeling of young people who now must deal with still another tragedy.

I talked to both of my children on the phone this weekend. They are both away at college.

But it was those kids in Norwood that I can’t get out of my mind.

And a single question.


All smiles at St. Joe's

It was smiles all around yesterday at St. Joseph’s Church in Collingdale.

That has not been the case in recent weeks. Some have said that is in no small part because of this newspaper.

I would hope that all those happy faces yesterday also were in some way caused – at least in part - by the newspaper.

St. Joseph’s has been in turmoil now for weeks. The parish was in danger of losing their beloved elementary school. A steering committee had recommended to the archdiocese that the school be closed at the end of the year.

It was the same old song that had been repeated in some many parishes in the eastern end of the county. Costs continued to go up; enrollment continued to go down.

But the parishioners at St. Joseph’s were not going to go down without a fight. In fact, they did not believe they had been given a fair shot at saving the school, or even ample warning that it was in danger of closing its doors forever.

And they had some very strong beliefs about who to blame for the school’s problems.

That’s not what I want to deal with here. We covered the story because it was a big issue in Collingdale, and part of an even bigger issue facing the archdiocese when it comes to Catholic education, particularly in older suburbs such as those in the eastern part of the county.

Not everyone was a fan of our coverage. Not everyone believed we were fair.

In all honesty, I did not think any of our coverage was going to make a difference. I believed the writing was on the wall, that St. Joseph’s School was doomed.

Oh ye – or me – of little faith.

On Friday the archdiocese announced that the Rev. James McVeigh, pastor of St. Joseph’s, was retiring for health reaons. The Rev. Michael J.
Reilly will succeed him. More importantly, the archdiocese indicated they will consider keepinmg the school open.

Cardinal Justin Rigali came to St. Joseph’s on Sunday to celebrate mass.
A lot of parishioners were celebrating a lot more than that.

I like to think the newspaper may have had a little bit to do with that as well.

A gold medal moment - for TV

There was a time when I was a die-hard hockey fan. I used to play in an adult pick-up league. A bunch of us used to rent ice time at 2 in the morning.

This was back in the heyday of the Flyers, the legendary days of the Broad Street Bullies, when the orange and black were winning back-to-back Stanley Cups.

Somewhere along the line my passion for the game fizzled. Of course, I don’t skate anymore.

It’s still a great game, but the Flyers, and for that matter the NHL, don’t ignite my passion the way they once did.

I’m more of a playoff fan now. It seems to me the league plays a million meaningless games to eliminate a couple of teams.

But playoff hockey is something else again. It is among the best sports has to offer.

But even that pales compared to what we saw Sunday.

Two teams of professionals put aside their paychecks to play for nothing – except their countries – and the chance for an Olympic gold medal.

It took almost two weeks, but the Olympics finally gathered my interest with as good a hockey game as you will ever see.

USA vs. Canada.

It was a grudge match, with the Americans having already stunned Team Canada in an earlier round.

While it would have been a big story if the U.S. had won, in Canada it would have been anathema if their guys had lost.

This is their game, their birthright. It would be like the USA losing in basketball. Yes, I know that has happened once before.

But there was something else that was special about yesterday’s game.

Not the fact that this millionaires were playing for nothing. Not that they were playing for their countries. Not that they shut down their sport for two weeks for this Olympic tournament.

It had more to do with how we watched.

Usually TV simply is an aggravating detraction from sporting events.
Yes, they allow us to view the games. And promptly destroy them with their inane chatter and endless commercials.

Not yesterday.

Somehow NBC managed to work with a sponsor, Direct TV, to limit commercial interruptions during the game.

The result was something special, something we rarely see. A televised sport allowed to unfold at its own frenetic pace, without the constant interruption of commercials.

The result was magical. At a couple of points during the game, I was actually hoping for a pause, if only for a bathroom break.

Hockey is one of those games that lends itself to non-stop action.

Yesterday TV they took that concept and ratcheted it up a bit. The result was what “Wide World of Sports” used to refer to as the “drama of human competition.”

There are very few things in sports that can match overtime in ice hockey.

Add in playing for a gold medal and the pride of your country and you have one of those sports moments that does not come around very often.

It was, in a word, riveting.

Now that’s what I would call “must-see TV.”