Monday, March 2, 2015

The Daily Numbers for Monday, March 2

The Daily Numbers: 1 year since Tim McCaughan was struck and killed as he crossed a street in Collingdale. No arrest has been made in the case.

1.3 inches of snow in Garnet Valley Sunday.

0.30 inches of ice accumulated during the storm.

103.9 inches of snow recorded this winter in Boston.

3.7 inches needed to break all-time record set in 1995-96, with more snow predicted in Beantown today.

10.9 degrees aferage temperature in Buffalo in February, shattering the previous mark.

15 refineries across the nation that are dealing with strikes by union workers. The contract for workers at the Monroe Energy Plant in Trainer expires this weekend.

31 consecutive days on which the national average price for regular gas has gone up, according to AAA.

34 cents per gallon increase during that time span.

2.37 a gallon, average price for gas nationally.

2.52 a gallon here in Pa.

2.44 last week

3.64 last year.

6-2 loss for the Phillies to the University of Tampa has they kicked off Grapefruit League play in Florida Sunday.

5,154 fans who showed up at Bright House Field for the game.

94-74 loss for the Sixers last night in Indianapolis.

1 goal this year for Flyers defenseman Braydon Coburn. He was dealt by Ron Hextall overnight.

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

Don’t panic at that loss by the Phils to the University of Tampa yesterday. There were not a lot of regulars in that lineup. The regular Grapefruit League schedule kicks off on Tuesday.

I Don’t Get It: A guy drove his truck out onto a frozen pond in New Jersey, apparently to do “donuts” on the ice. It sank through the ice. He escaped. His dog did not.

Today’s Upper: Kudos to the family of Tim McCaughan, who was struck and killed a year ago in Collingdale. They continue to push to learn who the driver was that took his life.

Quote Box: “It’s hard to believe. It ruined my world. It ruined a lot of people’s worlds.”

- Tim McCaughan, on the loss of his brother Chris in a hit-run accident.

Another step toward the end of the state stores

I don't think it's exactly a trade secret that I'm one of the state's foremost proponents of privatizing the sales of alcohol.

I once had a deal with Ron Raymond, the former longtime Delco state rep who sat on the state Liquor Control Committee. I would always joke with him that I wanted to be there, with my hands on the plunger, when they blew up the state store system.

Having said that, I don't necessarily like the idea of anyone losing their job. And make no mistake, under the plan currently being pushed again by Republican House speaker Rep. Mike Turzai, R-Allegheny, some people likely will wind up out of work.

I also am willing to concede another key point made by union leader Wendell Young IV and other anti-privatization forces. I'm not sure that once you get past the up-front revenue from the sale of licenses to private entities, that these numbers add up.

But that's not my point.

None of that is why I am against privatization.

Rather, it's because I've lived in other states. I see how they handle alcohol sales.

And I think it's time for Pennsylvania to escape from the Dark Ages.

It's the focus of my print column this week.

The 6 o-clock news on ice

I think by now I have made my opinion of the way our local TV news handles the weather pretty clear.

I know why they do it. It's about eyeballs.

It's the same reason people say I put certain stories - and headlines - on our front page. There is truth to that statement. Our front page is a billboard we use every day to entice people to buy the newspaper. In one way, that is the front page's job.

But we deliver a product every day that includes all kinds of information, from local news, obituaries, state, national and international reports, opinions, editorials and letters to the editor, and of course our sports report.

It's all part of the package.

That's not what I saw last night on the 6 o'clock news.

In fact, I'm still not sure I saw what I saw.

I am usually a Channel 6 guy. I flip on the TV at 6 and catch the weekend crew, Walter Perez and Sarah Bloomquist, along with Melissa Magee doing the weather.

But last night the NBA game went to overtime, so the local news was delayed.

I flipped over to Channel 10.

What I saw was a bit of an eye-opener.

Everyone knew weather was going to be a big story Sunday. It started with snow (earlier than what most of the folks had predicted by the way). It shifted over to freezing rain and then rain in the afternoon, turning just about every surface into an icy mess.

Still, I was not prepared for the weather assault provided by Channel 10 at 6.

What I saw was 30 minutes of weather.

That's right, it was the only story they did. Instead, we got a full dose of Glenn "Hurricane" Schwartz with the forecast, and an array of reporters standing out in the elements reporting on the icy mess they were encountering, all of this as traffic seemed to be moving right along in the background. Good thing most people don't drive on the sidewalks. They do, however, have to navigate parking lots, which were pretty dicey.

I kept waiting and looking at my watch waiting for them to get of the weather and move on to other local stories.

It never happened.

Then I figured we'd get the sports.

Nope, unless you count some video of folks making their way through the weather to head into the Flyers Wives Fight for Lives Carnival down at the Wells Fargo Center. Or a mention of folks again dealing with the elements as they tried to get to the Philadelphia Flower Show. You can always count on the Flower Show to deliver the worst weather of the winter.

Then it was back to Glenn for a final look at the forecast.

There you have it, 30 minutes of weather.

Someone please tell me spring is not far away.

Your early morning report from the roads

There is no truth to the rumor that the Flyers are scheduling a practice session in your driveway this morning - but they probably could.

Yes, we have not only entered March - we also are back in the Ice Age.

Yesterday's snow shifted over to freezing rain and rain, meaning that almost all surfaces outside are coated in ice.

Here's what you need to know for your drive this morning. The major roads really are not that bad. However, the big challenge will be just getting to your car. Walkways, sidewalks and driveways are a sheet of ice. Trying to get your standing while chipping your way into your car will be your biggest challenge this morning.

I didn't want to do it yesterday afternoon, but I certainly am glad that I went out yesterday afternoon, chipped out the cars, and most importantly lifted the windshield wipers up off the windshield.

I always try to ignore the conditions in my development, because it always looks like the end of the world.

But once out on the main roads, I had no real problems. West Chester Pike was smooth sailing. Probably the worst conditions I hit were on Providence Road from Route 3 over to the Media Bypass. It was still covered with a slushy, snowy mess. But even that wasn't all that bad.

The Media Bypass was just wet, as was Springfield Road.

Maybe my biggest challenge was getting from my car to the office. It was a skating rink, with a heavy coating of ice everywhere.

Most schools in the region are on a two-hour delays. I guess that was a good call. You always want to err on the side of safety when dealing with children.

Look, we survived February, which turned out to be the coldest in the last 36 years.

I think if we can get through this week - we're supposed to have another couple of passing storms - we might be out of the woods.

It's even supposed to

hit 50 degrees on Wednesday - even though it will be raining.

I'll take it. Spring can't be far behind.

Here's the latest forecast from AccuWeather.

Friday, February 27, 2015

The Daily Numbers for Friday, Feb. 27

The Daily Numbers: 150,000 dollars being sought in suit filed against Marcus Hook, former Mayor Jay Schiliro by man who says the ex-pol held him hostage.

10 percent of 25,000 dollars, why Schiliro is currently sitting in jail on a new charge of theft.

400 people who packed the recent Garnet Valley School Board meeting to air their feelings.

11,000 hotels rooms in Philly, and another 65,000 in a 60-mile radius, all of which are expected to be filled when the pope visits in September. The archdiocese wants local families to host pilgrims coming for the World Meeting of Families.

250 foot telecommunications tower that is expected to get the OK in Middletown.

57, age of California man who entered guilty plea to supplying pot for drug ring run by 2 brother from Drexel Hill.

100 jobs filled at the Victory Brewing Co. eatery that will open soon in Kennett Square.

1,000 customers a day expected to hit the popular brew pub.

114-87 vote in the Pa. House in favor of privatizing liquor sales in the state.

2,500 wine of liquor outlets would replace 600 state stores.

4,300 state store workers who could lose their jobs.

20 years, how long the ‘Black Madam’ says she’s been doing body sculpting. She’s now on trial after one of her clients died from complications.

21 years, how long the students at Williamson Free School of Mechanical Trades have been showing off their work at the Philadelphia Flower Show, which opens tomorrow.

10 acres, how much area inside the Pa. Convention Center is covered by the Flower Show.

240,000 people expected to attend the annual harbinger of spring.

32 bucks for an adult ticket to the show; children are $15.

109 million dollars, how much Gov. Tom Wolf says his new GO-TIME panel has found in savings in the state budget already.

3-2 loss for the Flyers in Toronto last night. A bad loss.

3-2 win for Haverford over Ridley in high school hockey.

10 years, how long Todd Herremans has been an Eagle. He’s being released by the team.

54.47 seconds, how long it took Haverford High’s Maddie Hart to cover the 100 butterfly, to set a new Delco record.

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

These Flyers are one of the more frustrating teams of recent years. It’s almost as if they don’t want to catch the Bruins for that final playoff spot.

I Don’t Get It: Last day of February is expected to go out tomorrow with near-record low temperatures. What a lousy month this has been.

Today’s Upper: Kudos to D.A. Jack Whelan, who is getting the heroin overdose drug Naloxone into state police cruisers.

Quote Box: “We’re looking at it as a statewide distribution.”

- a state police spokesman.

Senate now up to bat in great Pa. Booze Battle

Now batting, No. 26 (as in 26th District), Tom McGarrigle.

And on deck are Messrs. Pileggi, Leach and Williams.

No, Ruben Amaro hasn't gone completely around the bend and signed a bunch of Delco politicos to fix his ailing lineup.

That's just my way of saying that the ball is now once again in the Senate's court when it comes to the great Pennsylvania Booze Battle.

As it turns out, one of the very first votes Tom McGarrigle will make as the newly elected state senator in the 26th District will be on the highly contention question of whether Pennsylvania should blow up its antiquated state store system and turn the sale of alcohol over to private enterprise.

Yesterday the measure being pushed by Speaker Mike Turzai, R-Allegheny, passed the House by a 114-87 margin.

Every Democrat, including Delco Reps. Thaddeus Kirkland, D-159, and Greg Vitali, D-166, voted against it. All but four Republicans - none from Delco - voted in favor.

Turzai's bill is similar to the one that passed the House last fall. Here are the details. Basically it would sell 1,200 licenses and slowly phase out the state stores. Beer distributors would get first show at the licenses. Supermarkets would focus on wine sales. It's a convoluted thing and still not a true privatization, but it certainly would make things more convenient than they are now. The problem with the bill is the same as last fall - with one large addition.

The Republican-controlled Senate let this plan die without a vote last fall. And that was with Republican Tom Corbett inhabiting the governor's mansion. Now Democrat Tom Wolf holds the reins, and he opposes privatization. He wants to modernize the existing system.

Then there are the numbers. Once the state blows through the expected $1 billion windfall from selling the licenses, a lot of people wonder how they will make up for the revenue currently provided by the state store system. There also is heated debate on two other matters crucial to consumers - prices, convenience and selection.

While state stores would slowly die off - along with a couple of thousand jobs - beer distributors would not. In fact, they would get first shot at being able to buy a license to add wine sales to their businesses. They'd also be able to sell six- or 12-packs of beer. Currently they're limited to selling by the case.

But the real monster in the room would be large-scale outlets such as Total Wine, which you would have to think would be interested in entering the Pennsylvania market, instead of continuing to lure customers a stone's throw over the state line in Claymont.

For now, we await the vote in the Senate.

What say you, Mr. McGarrigle?

As for Sen. Pileggi, it has not gone unnoticed in the current debate this week that the failure of the Turzai bill last fall came when the Delco pol was the Senate majority leader. He's since been ousted from that post by members of his own party, some of whom believe he was not backing Gov. Corbett's agenda. Liquor privatization was one of the governor's big three issues.

The Senate should at least vote on the current plan, instead of simply letting it die again.

It can probably do that once it hits Wolf's desk, where it could face a veto.

That is, unless a little political horse-trading ensues.

Such as Republicans telling the new governor they just might look a bit more enthusiastically at some of his tax plans if he were to relent on liquor privatization.

February going out with a flurry: Good riddance

I don't know if March is planning to come in like a lion.

Right now I still have my hands full with February.

Yes, those are flurries you may be seeing as you peek out the window this a.m.

I first noticed it when I got in the car and noticed a dusting on my windshield. It was flurrying just about all the way in. Don't panic, it wasn't causing any issues on the roads. Actually, the drive in was fairly pleasant.

Unfortunately, that's about as good as it's going to get. We will struggle to hit 30 degrees this afternoon, then the thermometer will plunge once again tonight.

The record low for tomorrow is 9 degrees, set back in 1934. We could break that mark.

We will get a dose of sun Saturday and a high in the mid 30s as we exit February.

I think I can speak for most when I say, 'Good riddance.' This has been one of the coldest, most miserable Februarys I can remember, even if we didn't get all that much snow.

Speaking of which, March is in fact planning to come in like a lion. A snowy one.

That's right, there is some snow and rain in the forecast for Sunday night into Monday morning. The perfect way to start another work week.

Want some good news? Accu-Weather says temperatures will ease later next week and we could threaten 50 degrees by mid-week.

For now, here's the weekend forecast from the National Weather Service:

Friday: Partly sunny, with a high near 26. Northwest wind 6 to 10 mph.

Friday Night: Partly cloudy, with a low around 9. Northwest wind 6 to 8 mph.

Saturday: Sunny, with a high near 26. Wind chill values as low as -1. Northwest wind around 6 mph.

Saturday Night: Mostly clear, with a low around 14. Calm wind.

Sunday: A chance of snow after 2 p.m. Mostly cloudy, with a high near 34. Calm wind becoming southwest around 5 mph in the afternoon. Chance of precipitation is 30 percent. Little or no snow accumulation expected.

Sunday Night: A chance of snow before 8 p.m, then rain and snow likely between 8 p.m.and 2 a.m., then rain or freezing rain likely after 2 am. Cloudy, with a low around 31. Chance of precipitation is 70 percent. New precipitation amounts between a tenth and quarter of an inch possible.

Monday: Rain or freezing rain likely before 8 a.m. Mostly cloudy, with a high near 41. Chance of precipitation is 70 percent.