Thursday, October 30, 2014

The Daily Numbers for Thursday, Oct. 30

The Daily Numbers: 25, age of West Chester man charged in hit-run after 75-year-old woman was struck on the Conchester in Upper Chichester.

75, age of man killed when the motorcycle he was driving crashed on the Blue Route in Marple.

50 bucks swiped from a woman who had just used the ATM at a Wawa in Upper Chichester.

829,000 dollars, what Wallingford-Swarthmore is looking to trim from its budget.

7-0 vote in Middletown to OK improvement plans on tap at the 650-acre Tyler Arboretum.

1,022 students enrolled at Cheyney University in Thornbury.

22 million deficit at the historically black university. Its backers are filing a racial bias suit against the state.

2 years since Hurricane Sandy battered the Jersey shore.

13,000 employees affected by proposed merger of Abington Health and Jefferson Health System.

300 students at Palmer Charter School in Philly now looking for a new school after Palmer closed its doors.

77 of those kids are seniors.

200 dollar a month cash stipend for the poor that Pa. Democrat gubernatorial candidate Tom Wolf says he will restore if elected.

21 day quarantine for troops who do a stint in the Ebola-ravaged regions of Africa, according to ruling by Pentagon.

1 loss for the Sixers, who dropped their opener last night to the Pacers, 103-91.

22 points, 8 rebounds, 7 blocks for Roy Hibbert to lead the Pacers.

22 points for Tony Wroten to lead the Sixers.

6 points, 10 rebounds for Nerlins Noel in his Sixers debut after missing all of last season.

3-2 win for the Giants over the Royals in Game 7 of the World Series.

3 titles in 5 years now for the Giants.

60, age of Chester hoops legend Coach Fred Pickett, who died yesterday after a battle with cancer.

331-80 mark compiles by Pickett’s Chester Clipper teams.

3 state AAAA titles.

5 appearances in the AAAA state title game.

9 District One titles.

8 straight from 2001 to 2008.

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

It’s unlikely anyone will ever surpass the coaching records compiled by Fred Pickett at Chester High. It’s certain no one will do more for the kids of Chester off the court.

I Don’t Get It: Some people insist on taking shots at Chester even in the midst of the passing of an icon such as Fred Pickett. I don’t get it.

Today’s Upper: Kudos to all those remembering the coach today for all the right reasons.

Quote Box: “Basketball was only a small part of who he was.”

- Chester assistant basketball coach Derrick Spence, on Fred Pickett.

Another odd claim in an increasingly bitter election season

Have you heard that the Delaware County Daily Times believes Republican state Senate candidate Tom McGarrigle is a 'hypocrite.'

Yeah, I was a little taken aback at that claim myself.

Let me try to explain.

Earlier this week Democrat John Kane rolled out a new ad bemoaning the nasty tone that has defined the race for the open state Senate seat in the 26th District. I was watching the ad when I was surprised to hear that claim attributed to the Daily Times.

First a voice in the background booms, "Ugly," with that adjective attributed to the Philadelphia Inquirer. Then it's our turn. "He's a hypocrite, slams the Delco Times," according to the narrator. At the same time a single word appears on the screen, in quotes.

"Hypocritical." It's attributed to the Delco Times, dated Oct. 10.

Since I couldn't remember us ever making such a claim, I went back and checked that days' newspaper.

They're right, there was a claim that McGarrigle was being hypocritical in that day's paper.

But it wasn't made by us.

It was part of our reporting on a press conference held in Philadelhpia by union leaders blasting McGarrigle for attacking Kane for accepting money from a union that was in hot water connected with some intimidation tactics.

It certainly did appear in the Daily Times. But it was not anything we said. It was us reporting what the union leaders said.

That suddenly becomes "Hypocritical, slams the Delco Times."

Yes, I think that's misleading.

Yes, I would like the Kane campaign to stop making that claim.

No, I don't expect them to pull the spot.

That's the way politics works these days.

They're not the only ones.

Earlier in this campaign I was taken aback by a TV ad that proclaimed "Vince Rongione is the right man for the job." That also was attributed to the Delaware Count Daily Times.

I didn't recall us offering such an endorsement, at least not yet. Rongione, a Democrat, is locked in a tight battle with Republican Jamie Santora. It also came as news to several county Republican leaders who called and asked if they had missed the endorsement.

They did not.

This also was taken from a story that appeared in the paper in which a group was offering its endorsement for Rongione. Yes, it appeared in the Daily Times. No, it was not us saying that, it was us reporting it.

During his recent interview with our editorial board, I told Rongione I thought the ad was misleading.

I would tell Kane the same thing.

If you are interested in our endorsements, we kick them off today with our picks in the state legislative races, along with our two Congressional races.

And an early confession. I made a glaring typo in the print edition. I said Jamie Santora, the Republican squaring off with Rongione in the 163rd District race to replace Rep. Nick Micozzie, had worked for Joe Sestak. Obviously I meant that reference for Rongione. I know that. Luckily I corrected the online version.

I can admit my mistake.

I wonder if candidates would do the same when they misrepresent what the paper has said?

Fred Pickett: A Chester legend on and off the court

Fred Pickett won a lot of basketball games.

But if he had not won any, he would still be an icon in Chester for the things he did off the court.

Pickett, the legendary hoops coach at perennial power Chester High, died Wednesday at the age of 60 after a battle with cancer.

But it is his battle off the court - as a mentor and molder of young lives - as a beacon for the children of Chester, for which he will be most remembered.

There are very few people who touched as many lives or did as much good in the city of Chester than Fred Pickett.

That certainly does not diminish what he and the Clippers accomplished on the court.

Pickett's teams won three PIAA AAAA state titles, in 2000, 2005 and 2008. After that final crowning achievement, Pickett retired. Some of the other numbers his teams put together likely will never again be matched. Under his tutelage, Pickett's teams won an astounding nine District One AAAA titles, including eight straight from 2001-2008.

In total his teams won 331 games in 13 years.

Yet those who knew him will tell you that was only a small part of who Fred Pickett was, and the legacy he leaves behind. Assistant Coach Derrick Spence knows that.

"Basketball was only a small part of who he was," Spence told our Terry Toohey. "People have no idea how many lives he touched."

Columnist Jack McCaffery points out that behind the frenzy that always accompanies Clippers basketball, there was the quiet dignity and calm of Fred Pickett.

In a city that demands excellence on the basketball court, Fred Pickett always delivered.

On and off the court.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

The Daily Numbers for Wednesday, Oct. 29

The Daily Numbers: 49, age of Richard Plotts, charged in the fatal shooting of a worker at Mercy Fitzgerald Hospital 3 months ago. He was held for trial on 1st degree murder charges yesterday.

39 additional bullets, what police say Plotts had in his possession when he went to the hospital.

53, age of hospital worker Theresa Hunt, who was killed in the attack.

100 million dollar rebirth in the works at the Granite Run Mall.

319,000 square feet of bnew space in the proposed retail/residential plan to creat a ‘town center’ like atmosphere.

2 luxury apartment buildings in the plan.

225 one-bedroom units, 163 two-bedroom units in the buildings.

1,600 dollar average rentals for the units.

3 anchor stores will remain, but much of the rest of the existing mall will be razed.

17-9 vote by the Penn State Board of Trustees not to take a new look at the Freeh Report that was critical of the school’s role in the Jerry Sandusky saga.

13 point edge for Tom Wolf over Tom Corbett in the latest Franklin & Marshall poll out this morning. They have it at 53-40, with 5 percent saying they don’t know.

18 point lead (50-32, for Wolf among registered voters.

25 percent who say eduction remains the most important issue, with taxes up next at 16 percent.

61 percent of registered voters in Pa. who believe the state is on the wrong track.

30 percent of voters who believe Tom Corbett is doing an ‘excellent’ job.

6 seconds after launch, when an unmanned rocket exploded last night in Virginia.

0 injuries reported in the incident.

5,000 pounds of equipment and experiments lost in the blast that was headed for the manned International Space Station.

7 year high for consumer confidence, which sits at 94.5, not seen since October 2007.

2:36 into overtime, when Brayden Schenn lit the lamp to give Flyers 3-2 over the Kings last night.

38 saves for Flyers goalie Ray Emery.

9 interceptions and 3 lost fumbles so far this year for Eagles QB Nick Foles.

59.2 completion percentage.

80.7 passer rating.

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

The Sixers start their season tonight. They should make it free to get in and charge people to get out.

I Don’t Get It: It’s beginning to look more and more like a rush to judgment at Central Bucks West High School.

Today’s Upper: Kudos to Mother Nature for a few final glorious days of beautiful weather. The cold is due to arrive in time for the weekend.

Quote Box: “It’s clear from looking at the evidence that he acted with specific intention to kill.”

- District Attorney Jack Whelan, on the case against suspected Mercy Fitzgerald shooter Richard Plotts.

The Delco GOP vs. Vince Rongione

The Delco GOP must really loathe the thought of losing Upper Darby's other seat in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives.

They already saw the 164th, manned for decades by Mario Civera, fall into Democrats' hands when Civera left the House to run for County Council. Margo Davidson captured that seat.

Now much the same scenario is playing out in the wake of the decision by longtime state Rep. Nick Micozzie, R-163, to retire. He represented the 163rd for more than three decades.

Democrat Vince Rongione is facing off with Republican Upper Darby Councilman Jamie Santora for the seat.

Both are solid candidates.

But much of the talk in the race has veered away from the key issues facing the district, and instead have zoomed in on Rongione's residency. The county Republican Party has for months now blasted away at Rongione for moving into the district solely so he could run for this seat.

But this week they turned up the heat.

They hired private investigators who have turned up what the GOP claims is evidence that - before he actually moved into his current residence - Rongione actually registered to vote from a house where he didn't live.

They went so far as to accuse Rongione of engaging in voter fraud.

We'll let the courts figure that one out, if they in fact find there is reason to pursue the case.

But it does tell you that the Delco GOP, which was once nearly invincible in Delaware County, is starting to sweat. They've already seen overall Democratic registration numbers overtake their once insurmountable nearly 3-1 edge.

They've seen towns and school boards in what were once solidly Republican areas start voting for Dems.

And they have seen the county consistently going Democratic in statewide and national races.

The next thing you know a Democrat is going to be elected to County Council.

Uh, maybe not. Things probably haven't changed that much.

At least not yet.

A 'rush to judgment' at Central Bucks West

An overzealous, knee-jerk overreaction.

That's the way legendary Central Bucks West football coach Mike Pettine is now summarizing the actions of the school board there after they quickly scrapped the remainder of the football season in the wake of allegations of hazing of rookie team members that took place during summer practices.

I can't say I disagree with him.

I'm not alone.

Last night hundreds of people packed a school board meeting to show support for the football team, head football coach Brian Hensel and his staff, and slam the school board for what many are calling a rush to judgment.

It's been awhile since I've been in a locker room, but I am guessing things have not changed all that much.

What happened at CBW - guys grabbing other guys genitals over their pants; a towel being placed over a player's head and then putting him in the shower (by the way, I would hardly describe that as 'waterboarding'); and something called "sugar cookie," where fully clothed players were first soaked, then covered in powder.

The events occurred at a summer picnic for the team. It likely was something of a tradition where upperclassmen "welcome" new members of the team. It's part of the special bonding experience that comes with participation in high school sports.

When I first heard about this story, I have to say I was not surprised. In fact, it brought a smile to my face. It's kind of comforting to know - in a world that rarely resembles the one I grew up in - that some things don't change.

It's part of the bonding experience of being a member of a high school sports team.

I know a lot of people are not going to agree, that will believe this is a troubling event that has to be eradicated.

And I will tell you that it has been going on forever, and likely will continue to do so.

It does not appear there were any serious injuries suffered in this incident. The district attorney in Bucks County is asking anyone who believes they were the victim of a criminal act to come forward. I doubt anyone will.

In fact, I will tell you that I doubt that any freshman who went out for the team was surprised at some of the acts they were asked to perform. They probably knew it was part of the team's tradition, the bonding experience.

If you want to brand me a neanderthal, be my guest.

But I'm telling you first to ask any guy who participated in high school sports. I think they will tell you this kind of ritual has been going on forever.

And if they're like me, they will admit they do not see what all the fuss is about.

Instead, they will likely shake their head at the way we react to these kinds of incidents today. School boards now live in fear that someone will file some type of complaint - or even worse a lawsuit - over such conduct.

No doubt someone just might.

That's another thing that has changed.

Parents play a huge role in youth sports these days. That's not always a good thing.

Ask yourself this: When's the last time you saw a group of kids in a field playing sports. No adults, no uniforms, no trophies. Today everything has to be organized and regulated.

The result is the kind of saga that is now playing out at Central Bucks West.

The school board president at Central Bucks West told last night's crowd that he backed the quick decision by school Superintendent David Weitzel to pull the plug on the remainder of the season. He referred to the hazing rites as "intimidating and humiliating." Two other school board members agreed with him.

I'm not going to defend what the kids did. Was it stupid and immature? Sure. Do I think it was a tradition that has been going on forever? Absolutely.

So what makes this different?

I understand that bullying is a problem, in particular among high school kids.

I don't think this was bullying. This was part of the unique experience that goes into forming a football team. There is a bonding that goes on that is often forged in just this kind of hijinks.

Should these kids have been punished for what they did? Maybe.

I haven't heard a word from any of the so-called victims? Do any of them believe the season should have been cancelled?

It's the same problem I have with so much of youth sports today. It's not the kids. They can usually deal with these things just fine. It's when adults get involved that things usually get messy.

And it doesn't get much messier than what occurred at Central Bucks West.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

The Daily Numbers for Tuesday, Oct. 28

The Daily Numbers: 163rd District state House race, where Republicans continue to lob grenades at Democrat Vince Rongione’s claims to residency.

40-room hotel that will be part of a new development in Swarthmore that will require a roundabout on Route 320. A petition opposing the measure has been withdrawn.

18 age of Glenolden teen and former student at the Haverford School who has admitted his role in pot-selling ring based at the school.

32-2-54, that’s the district court in Springfield, where new Magisterial District Judge James Merkins now presides.

6 month search process under way in Springfield School District to find a new superintendent to replace outgoing boss James Capolupo.

2 handguns, 2 rifles and $100,000 in cash seized in drug raid in Drexel Hill over the weekend.

2 million dollar grant for SAP in Newtown Square. It will upgrade the firm’s data center and help retain 375 jobs.

4,700 SEPTA trolley, bus and subway operators who have authorized their union to call a strike. No work stoppage is planned this week.

1.86 billion dollar sale of Philadelphia Gas Works that has been nixed by City Council.

1,150 PGW workers who are members of Utility Workers Union of America Local 686 opposed the sale.

3.5 million dollars raked in by the city of Philadelphia from its red-light cameras.

6 vehicles operated by the new Uber ride-sharing service seized by the Philadelphia Parking Authority.

64, age of Pa. Supreme Court Justice Seamus McCaffery, who is retiring from the court in the wake of a porn email scandal.

66, age of actress Marcis Strassman, who starred as the wife in the TV sitcom “Welcome Back Kotter” with Gabe Kaplan. She died after battling breast cancer.

20-17 win for the Washington Redskins over the Dallas Cowboys in OT on Monday Night Football.

6-2 mark for the Cowboys, one game up on the 5-2 Eagles in the NFC East.

2 yards and 6 inches, the difference between the Eagles being 5-2 and 7-0. They failed to punch it in from inside the 2-yard-line against both the 49ers and Cardinals. They lost both games.

3-0 mark for Eagles with Jason Kelce at center. They’re 2-2 with David Molk filling in. The Eagles are hoping to get Kelce back in the lineup this week.

3-2 win for Carroll girls over Bonner-Prendergast in Catholic League field hockey playoff tilt. They will face O’Hara for the title.

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

If anyone can figure out what the Knicks and Sixers were doing with that trade yesterday, please let me know.

I Don’t Get It: That kid who opened fire on his classmates at a high school outside Seattle actually invited them to lunch, then sprayed the table with bullets. I don’t get it.

Today’s Upper: Kudos to some good folks in Media who banded together to build a ramp for a handicapped neighbor. Well done.

Quote Box: “This is extremely important. This is the Constitution, something we are supposed to uphold and use to make laws.”

- Republican Jamie Santora, on questions about the residency of his opponent, Democrat Vince Rongione, in the 163rd House seat race.