Wednesday, May 4, 2016

It's a wet, cold honey-do of a week

We are in what is called a 'blocking pattern.'

For those of you who don't hold meteorological degrees - and instead simply have been swearing at the nice folks who deliver the weather on TV - that means it's miserable out.

Cold and wet.

Not exactly the combination I would ask for during the week I traditionally take off to get the house ready for summer.

You know, those lazy, hazy, crazy days when that large orange ball shows up in the sky?

I have not seen the sun since I left the office last Friday night.

The rain is expected to continue falling through Friday.

Cheer up, moms. We're expected to get a break Saturday and Mother's Day Sunday looks pretty good.

A big warm-up is on tap next week, with temperatures soaring into the 80s - just in time for me to head back into the office.

I stopped whining about the weather a long time ago. Anyone who knows me knows that I like it hot & humid. The hotter the better. Humidity hanging around you like a sopping, wet blanket? Bring it on.

Temperatures that struggle to break 50 degrees and showers is not my idea of a vacation.

The list of gardening, deck set-up and planting flowers is still sitting on the table waiting for a break in the weather.

Hey, the Phillies are playing better than anyone expected. So there is that.

I'm reaching I know.

What are my alternatives.

I've already run out of curse words to describe this weather.

I imagine as I walk back into the office Monday before dawn knowing that the sun will be out the temperatures will approach 80 degrees I will likely discover a few more.

Monday, May 2, 2016

Weighing the good & bad in the news

Every day I struggle with a common theme. It is this notion of "good news" vs. "bad news."

It's probably the question I get asked more often than any other.

Readers always want to know why there is so much bad news in the paper.

I try to bite my tongue and not answer in the plainest way possible: That's what people read.

It's true. There is a mechanism on our website at DelcoTimes.com that tells us which stories on the site are drawing the most eyeballs. Crime rules almost every day.

That does not mean there is not a lot of good news in the paper as well. Every day we list tons of community events.

But I understand why some readers feel we are portraying a negative view of life here in Delaware County.

I got that feeling again recently when we reported an incident that occurred at Monsignor Bonner & Archbishop Prendergast High School.

But it was a phone call from a reader that made me look at the story in the different way.

I used it as the basis for this week's print column, my Letter from the Editor.

How sweep it is for Phils

While most Philly sports fans were debating the merits of Sam Bradford and Carson Wentz, the Phillies pretty much remained under the radar.

That is going to be increasingly difficult for this team to do.

The Phils dodged some raindrops and a couple of jams in route to beating the Indians yesterday to take their sixth straight win - as well as their second consecutive sweep.

Pete Mackanin's crew is not 5 game over .500 at 15-10, as they head out on a road trip.

Raise your hand if you predicted this. I thought so.

After that 0-4 start, I wondered in this blog if the Phils would ever sniff .500 again this year.

They've done a little better than that. They're now breathing down the Nationals' backs. You know, that other team they swept - in D.C. - earlier last week.

This still is not a juggernaut. The Phils likely will continue to struggle to create runs, playing small ball. They are getting almost no power numbers from their outfield.

But if pitching is 90 percent of the game, then this team has a chance. They continue to get great starting pitching, as well as very effective work out of the bullpen.

In other words, this might be a very interesting summer.

Friday, April 29, 2016

Shining spotlight on good things kids do

I got that rare opportunity last night - at least for a newspaper editor.

I stood in a banquet room at the Drexelbrook packed with more than 600 people - almost all of whom were showering praise on the newspaper.

Unless you do what I do for a living, you don't know just how unusual that is.

The occasion was the annual Partners in Education Dinner, put on by the Franklin Mint Federal Credit Union and Delaware County Intermediate Unit.

At the banquet, the All-Delco Hi-Q team is honored, as well as all the great kids who take part in the nation's oldest scholastic quiz competition. That would include the Garnet Valley High School Hi-Q team. They weren't satisfied with winning the county crown. They went on to take the national title as well.

Also honored are the 19 teachers honored with the Excellence in Teaching Awards.

We had featured the two groups in the newspaper on Sunday and Monday, including the lead spot on our front page.

As I do almost every year, I planned to talk about one of the biggest struggles I have in this job, that being this notion of good news and bad news.

So of course the very first person I encounter when I walk into the room was Ridley Superintendent Dr. Lee Ann Wentzel, who was chatting with Franklin Mint Federal Credit Union boss John Unangst.

Nothing like putting my words into practice.

I wondered what kind of reaction I was going to get from Dr. Wentzel. After all, Ridley had found itself on the front page of yesterday's newspaper, and not in a positive way.

As usual, Dr. Wentzel could not have been nicer. She even quipped that we used a different photo of the high school than the last time we visited this story.

"We knew what day it was, we knew it was coming," she said. Wentzel understands what many people do not, that I have a job to do, and that includes showing both the good and bad in our communities.

During my speech, I also talked about last week's incident at Monsignor Bonner and Archbishop Prendergast High School, in which several student wound up facing drug charges, and a loaded gun was found inside the school.

The following day, I wrote an editorial saying the story actually had a silver lining, that being the actions of a student who informed school officials that the student had returned to the building - with the gun.

Later that afternoon, I got a call from a parent, a Bonner alum and a father who would be sending his daughter to Prendie next year. He had a very interesting question. First, he suggested we used the wrong word when referred to "several" students facing drug charges after contraband was found in their lockers. There were in fact two.

Then he mentioned something that I can admit I had not thought of.

He wondered why the story focused on the two lockers where drugs were found, instead of the fact that nothing was found in the rest of the student lockers after a sweep by police and K-9 crews.

It's a good question. The answer is one a lot of people don't like to hear. When people are doing what they are supposed to do, that isn't news. It becomes when they do something they aren't supposed to do.

But I respected his opinion, and it certainly gave me food for thought.

So did last night.

It's one of my favorite nights of the year.

I will forever be grateful to Unangst and Harry Jamison, the longtime head of the Delaware County Intermediate Unit. They are the ones who first approached me 12 years ago with the idea of an All-Delco Hi-Q team fashioned after the popular All-Delco teams we name after every high school sports season.

There are good stories out there. You just have to look for them.

I met about 600 of them last night.

Democracy in action in Marple

On our editorial page today, we talk about this notion of democracy, what is involved, and what citizens' responsibility to take part in the process is.

Yes, a lot of people showed up at the polls Tuesday. That is a good thing.

But it does not mean much if citizens don't follow up with action in their communities.

Kind of like what happened last night in Marple.

Eagles get their man, but what about Bradford?

Let the Carson Wentz era begin.

Right after the end of the Sam Bradford Era.

Only problem is, Bradford is still here.

The Eagles rolled the dice and got the guy they apparently want, with the blue-chip quarterback prospect from North Dakota State. But the Eagles still have not reconciled just what they are going to do with Bradford, who has indicated he wants a trade and will not report for the team's voluntary workouts.

So far Howie Roseman and Doug Pederson are sticking to their story, that Bradford is the Birds' starter and Wentz is the face of the franchise in waiting.

If that sounds familiar - especially to Pederson - it should. It was exactly the same situation then-QB Pederson faced back in 1999, when he was the Birds' starter while Donovan McNabb carried a clipboard on the sidelines.

That lasted all of nine games.

I don't expect the Bradford saga to last that long.

Don't be surprised if Bradford gets traded today.

As for the draft, here's what Bob Grotz had to say.

And at least one other person is trying to figure out exactly what the Eagles are doing. That would be columnist Jack McCaffery.

The Daily Numbers for Friday, April 29

The Daily Numbers: 86 people in custody, 20 more still being sought in massive drug raid in Darby Borough.

7 teams of 20 officers each that fanned out across the borough before dawn Thursday.

188 undercover purchases made by officers.

61 suspects with marijuana.

43 with heroin.

38 with crack cocaine

14 with pills.

48,000 dollars, values of drugs seized.

61 townhouses eliminated in revised plan for proposed Cardinal Crossing development in Marple. Also gone are plans for a rec facility and hotel, replaced by 145,000-square-foot office building

9 acres on the 213-acre tract slated for a recreation complex.

2 baseball fields in the plans, as well as 2 mini field, 6 developmental fields, refreshment stand and parking for 150 vehicles.

5-10 years in prison for an 39-year-old Eddystone man convicted in the rape of a girl 10.

2 more V-22 helicopters whose funding may be restored, according to U.S. Rep. Pat Meehan.

260 new jobs in Glenolden with opening of new ShopRite supermarket.

2 fatal gunshots fired before church service last Sunday in Montgomery County. The shooter was charged with voluntary manslaughter.

3.55 billion price tag for DreamWorks, which was bought by Comcast yesterday.

2, as in the No. 2 pick in the NFL Draft, used by the Eagles last night to select QB Carson Wentz, from North Dakota State. 3-game sweep of the Nats for the Phillies.

2 games over .500 for the Phils, who now stand a 12-10.

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

Carson Wentz and a 3-game sweep of the Nats. Not a bad night for Philly sports fans.

I Don’t Get It: I think it’s time people came to grips with the notion that Donald Trump is going to be the Republican nominee for president.

Today’s Upper: Kudos to all the students and teachers honored at last night’s Partners in Education Dinner at the Drexelbrook in Drexel Hill.

Quote Box: “Our gang is bigger than your gang.”

- Darby Borough Police Chief Bob Smythe, issuing a warning to those who want to sell drugs on the town’s street corners.