Thursday, September 29, 2016

Mariner East 2 not going away anytime soon

There is no bye week for the most important story in Delaware County.

Middletown Council's meeting Monday night was packed by residents who wanted to air their increasing concerns about Sunoco Logistics' plans for Mariner East 2, a 350-mile-long series of pipeline the company wants to use to ferry ethane, butane and propane to the former refinery in Marcus Hook.

To get there they have to traverse a little more than 11 miles in Delaware County, including a chunk of Middletown, in addition to Thornbury, Edgmont, Middletown, Aston and Upper Chichester.

Council eventually signed off on the easements needed by the company including a parcel that will take the new pipelines within 800 feet of Glenwood Elementary School on Pennell Road, something that drew a lot of attention from concerned residents and parents.

A couple of things are certain after Middletown's vote.

One, the residents who are opposed are not going away. Members of the grassroots organization Middletown Coalition for Community Safety that has sprung up in efforts to halt the pipeline said they will continue the fight.

“We will pursue each and every legal and constitutional option available to us to stop the pipeline,” said coalition member Eve Miari.

It was good to see that several of those who have been vocal in their opposition have been invited to work with council in keeping tabs on the project. Council joined neighboring Thornbury in firing off a letter to Gov. Tom Wolf outlining their concerns over the project.

The other important element is something that was made pretty clear during the presentation by a Sunoco Logistics spokesman at the meeting Monday night.

I can't say I'm terribly surprised.

This pipeline project is going to happen.

If the company had not gotten the OK for the easements they were seeking to cross township-owned property, they simply would have rerouted around it.

“If you vote no, we will still put the pipeline in,” Sunoco Logistics Land Project Manager Bart Mitchell said. “This project will be completed."

There is a lot at stake in Mariner East 2.

The economic upside is huge, both for Marcus Hook and the rest of the county.

The concerns about safety along the pipeline are equally important.

Don't expect this issue to go away anytime soon.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

The Battle of Mariner East 2

Much of the country was riveted to their TV sets last night, watching history unfold.

Not in Middletown Township.

They were making some headlines of their own.

More than 150 people packed the township council chambers to hear the board vote on whether to grant a series of easements to Sunoco Logistics for their Mariner East 2 pipeline plan.

Those two pipelines are slated to ferry ethane, butane and propane - as much as 450,000 barrels a day - to the former Sunoco refinery in Marcus Hook.

To get there those pipelines have to traverse 11 miles of western Delaware County, through Middletown, Aston and Upper Chichester.

Residents opposed to the plan, who have galvanized into the grassroots organization Middletown Coalition for Safety, actually went to court Monday afternoon seeking an injunction blocking the vote. The effort failed.

After hearing from residents and Sunoco - including the company's statement that if they did not get the OK to traverse the public parcels they simply would re-route the path around them - the board voted to approve the deal.

I said Monday this is the most important story in Delaware County.

Nothing that happened last night changed my mind.

This fight is not over. Not by a long shot.

Presidential politics turns into the WWF

Well, can’t say I’ve ever wondered whether a 400-pound person lying on a bed somewhere was hacking into our computer systems.

Or that it's 'smart' not pay any federal income tax.

This, and a lot more, is all part of the Donald factor.

Was that a debate or an SNL skit?

Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump want mano a mano last night, steamrolling moderator Lester Holt, and going for the jugular.

The debate started out pretty much as you would expect, and it was fairly tame for the first hour. Things started to heat up later, however.

I am guessing that, as in most debates, this one did not change anyone's mind. If you loved Trump before, you likely were equally as enthused by what your heard on that Hofstra University stage last night. The same holds for Hillary.

My concern is if this is the best we can do, lobbing personal insults at each other.

It also reinforces something else that has been on my mind for awhile now.

This is not supposed to be reality TV. This is about electing the next president of the United States.

Donald Trump has changed the groundrules of political elections.

To him and his backers, everything is a reality TV show, so why would seeking the presidency be any different. He has branded himself as a different type of candidate, and zeroes in on the angst of middle America, which is tired of getting the short end of the stick as political insiders deliver more of the same in Washington, D.C.

That's why he immediately focused on the fact that Hillary Clinton has had 30 years to do some of the things she's talking about now and has failed to get them done.

He vows to be the change agent Washington needs, and he's not above tossing a few personal insults at those standing in his way.

Of course, Clinton's allies remind us that this is not a reality TV show, that the stakes are high, and Trump is eminently unqualified to sit in the Oval Office.

I'll leave that for others to decide.

Trump is a very different candidate, one who is not above constantly dropping his own business ventures into his run for the highest office in the land.

Expect more of the same in the next two debates.

I have to think we can do better than this.

That other 3-0 quarterback

Leave it to the NFL schedule makers to throw cold water on the serious case of Wentz Mania that is gripping the Philly region.

The Eagles are not going to win and extend their brilliant start to 4-0 this weekend.

But it's not because they are going to lose, either.

They don't play. It's their bye week.

No doubt this will prove just as popular as playing four preseason games.

The timing of the bye is always debatable, and almost always hated by fans.

That will be even more so as the break pulls the plug on the magic that head coach Doug Pederson, Wentz and defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz are accomplishing.

In the meantime, there is another story line that should interest Eagles fans, and a date they should circle on their calendars.

Oct. 23.

That's when the Minnesota Vikings come to town. They're also sporting a perfect, 3-0 mark, despite losing their starting quarterback, Teddy Bridgewater, to a season-ending knee injury, then watching their All-Pro running back, Adrian Peterson, go down with an ankle sprain.

Oh, and you might recognize the guy now leading the Vikings. That would be none other than Sam Bradford. Yes, the same Bradford who was expected to be leading the Eagles this year, right up until the time Bridgewater's knee exploded.

In an unprecedented move, Eagles GM Howie Roseman traded his starting QB a week before the season opener. Then he and Pederson doubled down by announcing they would go with Wentz as their starter, despite the fact that he had played only a quarter of a preseason game, before being shunted off to the sidelines with cracked ribs.

It is almost impossible to realize now that the initial plan was not even going to play this year. Bradford was penciled in as the starter, with veteran Chase Daniel as the backup. Wentz would watch and learn. He must be a quick learner.

Now the entire league is talking about Wentz after three straight dazzling weeks, including Sunday's eye-popping domination of the vaunted Steelers.

Beat writer Bob Grotz offers a few thoughts on our old pal Bradford.

How cool would it be if both teams went into that Oct. 23 clash undefeated.

I always liked Bradford. The guy can make all the throws. He just had a lot of horrible luck with his knees. I said after the trade I thought there was a chance Bradford could lead a very good Vikings team to the Super Bowl.

But, once the trade was made, I also said I had no interest in watching Daniel play. Wentz had to play. The Eagles concurred.

The rest is history.

In the meantime, Carson Mania will have to cool its jets for a week.

Monday, September 26, 2016

'Next year' arrives in Philly

This doesn't happen here. This doesn't happen to long-suffering Eagles fans. This is something that happens in other towns.

Other teams find "the one" in the draft.

Other teams mine the next coaching genius.

Other teams come out of nowhere to become the surprise team of the year.

Eagles fans have waited a long time to be that town. We haven't won a championship since 1960. We had some success with Dick Vermeil, Ron Jaworski, Andy Reid and Donovan McNabb.

But for most of those years, it's always been other teams, other players, other draft picks that have been the talk of the NFL.

Not this morning.

The NFL is talking about the Eagles, who now stand at 3-0 after dominating the Steelers yesterday on a sun-splashed late Sunday afternoon at Lincoln Financial Field.

This was not the Cleveland Browns.

Or the Chicago Bears.

The lament was, after the Eagles bolted out of the gate 2-0 with wins against two of the worst teams in the NFL, "they haven't played anybody."

They played somebody yesterday.

And took them apart.

Everyone pointed to yesterday's matchup with the Steelers as a statement game for the Eagles.

This is the statement the Birds made: This Eagles team is for real.

The Birds dismantled their cross-state rival, a team many included among the NFL's elite and one of the favorites to represent the AFC in the Super Bowl.

You can get all the details here.

It struck me while watching the game that Eagles fans very well may have hit the Trifecta.

Carson Wentz. Doug Pederson. Jim Schwartz.

Win, place and show.

Wentz continues to confound the experts. Yesterday he unfurled his first 300-yard passing day against a very good Steelers defense.

Pederson, who has yet to lose as Eagles head coach, continues to dazzle with his play-calling and his ability to get this team ready to play. In short, they look like a very well-coached team, something they have often not done in their long, frustrating history.

Schwartz's defense frustrated one of the best quarterbacks in the league, Ben Roethlisberger.

The three of them combined to deliver one of the worst beatings Mike Tomlin has every endured during his time at the helm of the Steelers.

"Next year" has finally arrived for Eagles fans.

They have the best young QB in the league.

They have a coach who has yet to lose in his first stint as an NFL boss.

And they have a defensive coordinator who is taking no prisoners in shutting down every offense they encounter.

Can we postpone the bye week?

The biggest story in Delco

As usual, my timing could be better.

You might have heard they are having a little debate tonight.

And in case you missed it, the Eagles looked pretty good yesterday.

Neither of those, however, in my opinion, is the biggest story in Delaware County.

What is?

You'll have to check out my Monday print column.

The King

In sports, they sometimes refer to horse racing as "the sport of kings."

But there was only one "King."

I have been playing golf for more than 30 years, introduced to the game by my future father-in-law (much to my future wife's lament), hooked from the very first time one of those tiny white spheres rocketed off the club face and went dead straight, instead of my normal nasty dead left trajectory, the snap hook that has been my nemesis for every one of those three-plus decades.

I was what you would call a "publinx" golfer. No country clubs for me, unless maybe I was attending a wedding reception.

I fell hard for golf, devouring every instruction book and video, spending at least as much time on the driving range as I ever spent on the course, convinced the elusive secret to the golf swing was in that next bucket of balls.

The truth is I was never going to be the next Jack Nicklaus. He was a virtuoso, reminding me of a great sports quote: He plays a game with which I am not familiar.

I admired Nicklaus.

But I loved Arnold Palmer.

This was not a country club golfer. He was one of us. Arnold Palmer's swing was not a thing of beauty. Unless you happened to be a duffer looking for inspiration.

Palmer actually charged onto the golf scene before I got interested in the game. He would take a drag on his cigarette, toss it aside, hitch up his pants, then walk up to the tee and lash the ball with the signature swing, his arms eventually windmilling around his head.

One look at Palmer and I knew I had found my hero.

Lay up? Not the King. Arnold always went for it. And we who did the same - if only on the driving range - loved him for it.

Then there was something else. Most golfers were stoic, cold, calculating warriors. Then along came the pride of Latrobe. Palmer had an electric personality, and was not afraid to show it on the course. Again, just like we did on our public course rounds, thrilling at the occasion good shots, and cursing the mishits.

Palmer's winning personality was made for TV, and he put the sport on his back - and that mix of guts, passion, wit and laughter, and took it out of the country clubs and to the masses. We had found our hero.

Golf had plenty of superstars - Hogan, Nelson, Snead, Nicklaus.

But it only had one King.

Palmer, the pride of Latrobe, Pa., learned the game at the side of his father, the greenskeeper at Latrobe County Club. Yes, his dad worked at the club. But this was no aristocrat. This was one of us.

That appeal burned through the TV, bringing a sport that had been relegated to the "haves" to the "have-nots."

It turns out commoners could be just as frustrated by this maddening game as our wealthy peers.

Once you step onto that first tee, there is no pedigree, no preferred status, no class system among golfers.

There is only you and the course, and the knowledge that the course is almost always going to win.

Public golfers needed someone to bring the game to our level.

That's what Arnold Palmer did.

'The King' died yesterday at age 87.

But he will live forever. Arnold Palmer took a game that was too often reserved for the masses and brought it to the masses. I'm not sure if I should praise him or thank him for that curse.

RIP, Arnold Palmer.

The King is gone, but what he did for the game - and those poor souls doomed to chase that little white ball - will live forever.