Monday, April 27, 2015

The Daily Numbers for Monday, April 27

The Daily Numbers: 4 more days until the NFL Draft. We can hardly stand the suspense.

19 teachers who snagged Excellence in Teaching Awards. They’re featured on Page One today.

21 students named to the All-Delco Hi-Q team as well.

3 people shot over the weekend in Chester, 1 of them fatally.

1 million dollar TV ad campaign that will be rolled out to push school choice.

4 kids police discovered locked in basement of a home in Philadelphia.

3,600, how many now believed dead in powerful quake that rocked Nepal.

5 billion dollars, what it will cost to rebuild.

2 home runs in 2 days for Ryan Howard.

3 more hits for Phillies shortstop Freddy Galvis.

.361 batting average now for the red-hot Galvis.

10 day road trip for Phils starts tonight in St. Louis.

329th career save for Jonathan Papelbon.

Call me a Phanatic: A look at the ups and downs of being a Philadelphia sports fan.

Don’t look now but Freddy Galvis might be the real deal. Funny no one is talking about Jimmy Rollins anymore.

I Don’t Get It: Four kids were found locked in the basement of a home in Philly. I don’t get it.

Today’s Upper: Kudos to both our All-Delco Hi-Q students and the teachers who won Excellence in Teaching Awards. They will both be honored Thursday night at the Partners in Education Celebration at the Drexelbrook.

Quote Box: “I’m a really tough teacher. The reality is they need something jkore than just teaching.”

Eric Sparacio, one of this years winners of the Excellence in Teaching Awards.

The good and the bad in Chester

It's ironic that I picked today to sing the praises of Chester in my print column.

I've been in the city twice in the last month to take note of some good things that are happening there. The first night we took our 'Live From the Newsroom' to Open Mike's Internet Cafe on Avenue of the States. It's part of the buzz surrounding the city's culture and arts.

Then last week we were back at Widener University for a special show with departing Widener President Dr. James Harris. He has been good to his word and the school's mission, making it much more a part of the city.

But that is not to say that Chester does not still have issues.

Gun violence is prime among them.

Oddly enough, there were several shootings in the city over the weekend.

The first, a fatal shooting, was reported Friday night in the 900 block of McDowell Avenue in the Sun Village section.

Saturday night two more people were shot about 10:30 in the 2700 block of West Third Street.

But you'd be hard-pressed to find out about it.

We tried all weekend. First with police, then with the mayor. No one was talking.

I have no idea why. Maybe it's because a contentious mayoral primary is going on in the city. Mayor John Linder is being challenged in the Democratic Primary by longtime state Rep. Thaddeus Kirkland.

On thing is certain.

Chester's gun violence problem is not going to go away by ignoring it.

We'll get the details today.

And we'll also try to find out why it was impossible to report this news over the weekend.

Honoring excellence - for both students and teachers

There are two things I can count on every time I write about young people and teachers.

One, people always ask me why we always portray young people in a bad light. Well, that sort of goes with the territory. It's news when people do something they're not supposed to do. That includes young people. When they are doing what they are supposed to do, no one notices. Including the media.

The same often goes for teachers. We're often accused of ripping them, especially when it comes to contract talks with strapped local school boards.

That's why I love this weekend.

It's when we present two packages of stories that almost no one complains about.

The first appeared Sunday with our annual All-Delco Hi-Q team. For those who do not know, Hi-Q is the nation's oldest academic quiz competition.

A few years ago, I was approached by John Unangst of Franklin Mint Federal Credit Union and Harry Jamison of the Delaware County Intermediate Unit. They were intrigued by our All-Delco teams, which we select for every high school sports team in the county. They were interested in doing something similar for kids who take part in the academic contest. I could not say 'Yes' fast enough. I've always wanted to offer kids who excel in something other than athletics the same kind of acclaim that we bestow on athletes.

Sunday was their day.

Today we come right back with the teachers who snagged prestigious Excellence in Teaching Awards. You can read all about them here. I am the father of a high school English teacher. I know how tough the job can be. And I'm glad we can be a part of a program honoring their great work.

Time to get involved in education funding discussion

We used our so-called bully pulpit again on Sunday to lament something we've talked about many times.

Pennsylvania's system of funding education is broken, fundamentally flawed that has created an uneven playing field.

It's especially dangerous for kids in distressed school districts, kids like those who live in the William Penn School District. They are the ones who get penalized for no other reason than their zip code.

There are very few people who know this topic better than Larry Feinberg. He's been a member of the Haverford School Board for 16 years. He's also chairman of the Delaware County School Boards Legislative Council and a Circuit Rider for Pa. Schools, part of the Basic Education Funding Commission set up by the Legislature to study the problem and make recommendations. Feinberg offered some of his thoughts in education funding in Pa. in a letter to the editor today. He's also letting people know how they can have their say.

There will be a regional forum on the topic Wednesday night at 7 at the Springfield High School Auditorium, 49 W. Leamy Avenue in Springfield.

It's time to get involved. This is your chance.

Friday, April 24, 2015

The Daily Numbers for Friday, April 24

The Daily Numbers: 45,000 to 60,000 people expected to attend the Democratic National Convention in Philly. A forum on preparations was held yesterday at Neumann University.

6,000 to 10,000 ‘Philly Friends’ needed as volunteers for the event.

13,500 to 14,000 hotel rooms in the region expected to be booked for the event.

8 to 14 years in prison for a Folcroft woman on a burglary rap.

1-2 tourism punch for the region, starting with this year’s visit by Pope Francis for the World Meeting of Families, followed the next summer by Democrats.

29, age of man taken into custody after a shooting that left an Upper Darby man shot several times.

55, age of Drexel Hill woman who entered plea in DUI hit-run case.

21,618 signatures on petition for ALS treatment being sought by Aston family.

100,000 signatures needed to get it in front of the president.

13 million dollars in projects targeting bridge repairs in Chester.

3.3 percent pay hikes for teachers in Rose Tree Media School District. In exchange the district will get extra days from teachers.

600 bikes and 70 docking stations rolled out as part of city of Philadelphia new bike-sharing program.

56-43 vote to confirm Loretta Lynch as 1st black woman to serve at Attorney General.

2 years probation and $100,000 fine for former CIA boss David Petraeus for giving classified material to his biographer, with whom he was having an affair.

17,097 fans who bought tickets for yesterday’s Phillies afternoon game, smallest crowd since a 2003 game at Veterans Stadium.

9-1 loss for the Phils that dropped their record to 5-11, tied for last place with the Marlins.

2 more errors for the Phils yesterday.

17 errors in 16 games, tops in baseball. Hey, at least we’re leading in something.

.213 batting average for the Phils.

Call me a Phanatic: A look at the ups and downs of being a Philadelphia sports fan.

Good thing for the Penn Relays. Anything to avoid having to watch the Phillies.

I Don’t Get It: What happened to spring? Mother Nature, I don’t get it.

Today’s Upper: Kudos to the Fulginiti family of Aston. They continue to battle to get a new medicine approved to treat ALS, despite falling short in their petition drive.

Quote Box: “It’s wonderful for us to have this 1-2 punch.”

- Meryl Levitz, president and chief executive officer of Visit Philadelphia, on the back-to-back events of the World Meeting of Families with a visit by Pope Francis, and the Democratic National Convention the following summer.

Sestak's walk turning into uphill struggle

After announcing he would seek the Democratic nomination for a rematch against U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey, Joe Sestak went for a walk. Actually the Democrat hiked 422 miles across the state.

I'm beginning to wonder if it was uphill all the way.

The admiral and former congressman who defied his own party, beat Sen. Arlen Specter in a rough primary and then lost a close race to Toomey in 2010, has been on a bit of a bumpy road since his announcement.

Sestak made the trek across Pa. because he said he wanted to "walk in the shoes" of voters. He said he wanted to earn the voters' trust.

He's still working on his party leaders.

Reports indicate they would like just about anybody to run against Sestak in the primary. The former congressman did not make a lot of allies when he rebuffed requests to step aside and let Specter run as a Democrat vs. Toomey. And he has rubbed a lot of Democratic leaders the wrong way with his "go-it-alone" lone wolf attitude.

That's likely why party leaders have approached Montgomery County Commissioner Josh Shapiro and urged him to run against Sestak. Last week Allentown Mayor Ed Pawlowski jumped into the race.

Sestak's campaign took another hit this week when the first round of campaign finance figures came out. The admiral raised only $312,000 in the first three months of 2015. He has $1.7 million on hand as of the end of March. That is dwarfed by the numbers put up by the incumbent. Toomey raised just over $2 million in the first quarter and had $7.2 million in his war chest.

This is going to be one of the most competitive, high-profile Senate races in the nation in 2016. Sestak will need to raise a lot more money.

The next time he goes for a walk, he better have his hat in his hand.

A new low for the Phillies

Try to let these two things sink in, it's entirely likely they are not unrelated.

For the first time since treating us to a parade in 2008, the Phillies yesterday fielded a starting lineup that did not contain a single member of their World Series champion team.

At the same time, the announced crowd for yesterday's afternoon game was 17,097. That's the number of tickets sold. It looked decidedly like a lot fewer people actually went through the turnstiles on a gray, cold day.

The weather matched the mood, as the Phils' fill-ins put on a clinic on how not to play the game.

The Phillies sloppy play in the field continued. They have now committed 17 errors through just 16 games.

We knew this team wasn't going to hit. We didn't realize they couldn't catch the ball either.

They are the worst-hitting team in baseball, with a lowly .211 team batting average.

Phillies manager Ryne Sandberg decided to sit Chase Utley, Ryan Howard, Carlos Ruiz and Freddie Galvis after the Thursday night game.

Meanwhile, columnist Jack McCaffery caught up with Phils GM Ruben Amaro Jr., who said he was disappointed in the team's rought start.

The 17,097 attendance broke the previous low-water mark of 16,232 who showed up for a game at Veterans Stadium back on June 4, 2003. There was a time when Citizens Bank Park would be overflowing for one of these Businessperson's Special afternoon games. It was the place to be. A happening. A party.

Not anymore.

Get used to these kinds of crowds.

Citizens Bank Park is likely going to be like a tomb many nights this summer.

If you listen closely, you might still be able to hear some of the roars from 2008.

You just won't be able to see any evidence of it on the field.