Monday, June 27, 2016

The Daily Numbers for Monday, June 27

The Daily Numbers: 7 bullets that hit Folcroft police Officer Christopher Dorman.

2 attempted murder charges against the suspect, who also opened fire on a 2nd officer.

6 minutes, how long the county emergency radio system was having problems at the time of the shooting.

2 dozen residents who strolled the woods of the site of Don Guanella School in Marple Saturday morning. Their fear is that the area is going to be developed.

30 years, how long Deputy Chief Michael Morgan served Upper Darby in various capacities, including a long stint with Garretford-Drexel Hill Fire Co. He passed away over the weekend.

6 regional rail lines that were out of service for about an hour Sunday afternoon.

4 working days for our representatives in Harrisburg to come up with a new budget deal.

31.9 billion dollar spending plan being pushed by Democrats.

31.5 billion dollar plan suggested by Republicans.

1.2 cent per gallon dip in price of gas at the pumps last week.

2.41 a gallon, average price of gas on Philly region.

7 people stabbed at a political rally in California.

3 times the Phillies rallied from deficits, only to fall on walk-off hit by the Giants in bottom of the 9th.

8-7 loss for the Phils.

28 hits combined for the 2 teams.

800th win for Giants manager Bruce Bochy.

9 of June, last time Vince Velasquez pitched. He’ll be back on the hill tonight in Arizona to start a new series.

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

Maybe we should all rally around the Union and MLS play until the Eagles head to training camp. Going to be a long summer.

I Don’t Get It: Christopher Dorman took 7 bullets and today is being released from the hospital. The guy is a walking miracle.

Today’s Upper: Kudos to all those who rallied around the injured Folcroft officer. The best of Delco.

Quote Box: “It just has to be the power of prayer, that and his bulletproof vest.”

- Jeanne Dorman, mother of Officer Chris Dorman.

About that front page photo

That is a very special photo that appears on the front page of today's print edition of the Daily Times.

But I have a confession to make.

It wasn't supposed to appear today. It actually was supposed to be on Sunday's front page.

It depicts wounded Folcroft Officer Chris Dorman offering a thumb's up from his hospital room in Penn Presbyterian Hospital in Philly, where he continues to recover after being hit by seven bullets when he was ambushed after responding to a call about drug activity in the borough.

The photo was given to us by Folcroft police. I had planned for it to grace Sunday's front page as the county continued to offer relief that Officer Dorman was going to make a full recovery.

Why it did not is one of those editor's nightmares that take place in the news business today that never would have happened a few years ago. Let me just say it was a combination of technology and communications issues that led to the snafu.

My heart sank early Sunday when I fired up the laptop and checked the electronic version of the paper, only to see that another photo had been used on the front page.

I was not the only one disappointed. A lot of people around Folcroft were expecting to see that photo on the front page. That's only one of the reasons we decided to use it today.

First and foremost, we're also happy that Dorman is not only recovering, but actually is expected to be released from the hospital today. We'll offer full coverage if and when he does, including the special homecoming they have planned to welcome him back on his home turf in Folcroft.

All you need to know about Delaware County and the people who live and work here was on display in the hours following Dorman's shooting. Saturday night, several hundreds people gathered at the Folcroft Municipal Building for a vigil to honor Dorman.

Let me be the first to say, 'Welcome home, Chris.'

Delco could not be prouder.

And the Daily Times is proud of the photo of you on today's front page.

Even if it took us a day longer than we originally planned.

I know how you feel, Kenny Chesney

It's one of those things that maybe only a newspaper editor can understand.

It's something you simply can't get wrong.

It's why my hair long ago took on a fretful shade of gray.

It's why - yes even after three decades doing this - you still occasionally wake up at 3 a.m. in a cold sweat.

We all make mistakes. Maybe that's why I'm always reluctant to jump on someone who has just made one.

Kenny Chesney made a pretty big one Saturday night.

It's the one - especially now when we deliver news in a heartbeat via Twitter and Facebook - that I'm still very leery about.

The country superstar gave a shout-out to wounded Folcroft Police Officer Chris Dorman during his sold-out show at Lincoln Financial Field Saturday night.

Dorman is a huge fan who actually was supposed to be at the show. But that was before he was hit by seven bullets in an ambush attack after he responded to a call for drug activity behind a Folcroft apartment complex Friday morning.

Saturday morning Dorman reached out to Chesney via social media, asking the country star 'not to forget me.'

It started trending as people all over the area urged Chesney to remember Dorman at the show.

Chesney did just that, but he made a critical error.

He told the crowd that Dorman had passed away.

Folcroft officers quickly jumped on social media to indicate that was not the case, that Dorman was still very much alive.

Chesney explained that he simply got caught up in the moment and misspoke. I know how he feels. Hey, Kenny, it's even worse when it winds up in print and lasts forever.

"I think the emotions got the best of me, and I wasn't as clear as I could've been," Chesney said in a statement. "The idea that a hero like that, with seven bullets in him, would even think about me ... I heard about right before I hit the stage and it stopped me in my tracks."

A lot of people reacted with outrage over Chesney's error. Granted, it's not something you want to do. I know that better than anyone. I also know how easy - especially today - it is for something like that to happen.

I'm inclined to give Chesney the benefit of the doubt, especially after what he did Sunday morning.

Chesney personally called Dorman in his hospital room to apologize for the error, and to extend an offer to take in an Eagles game and share a beer with the wounded officer.

Dorman and his family members actually joked about it. "It didn't bother man," Dorman told our Rose Quinn in a brief phone interview Sunday. "All things considered it could have been a lot worse."

Kenny Chesney and Christopher Dorman.

A couple of class acts.

Our annual salute to grads

It is one of life's seminal moments.

More importantly - at least to me because of what I do - it could be the only time a young person's name appears in the newspaper.

Graduation from high school is one of those special moments that defines much of what our communities are about, the conclusion of a 12-year journey, and in many ways the end of one part of a young person's life and the start of another.

That's one of the reasons we treat the occasion in a very special manner.

We call it the Grad Tab.

It's something we do every year for as long as I can remember.

We don't make a lot of money on it. There isn't all that much advertising in it.

But it's something I hope families will keep for years as part of their family histories.

I talk about why this is important in my weekly print column this week.

Friday, June 24, 2016

The Daily Numbers for Friday, June 24

The Daily Numbers: 2.9 percent tax given the OK by Interboro School Board.

20 jobs being furloughed.

5-4 vote by the board.

89 dollar hike in average tax bill.

3,141
dollars, what average homeowner will pay.

6.5 million dollar shortfall in Upper Darby.

0 tax hike enacted by the board.

100 years being celebrated this year by St. Andrew the Apostle parish in Drexel Hill.

1 as in Uno, and also the 1st ever national chain restaurant that opened its doors in Chester.

24, age of Chester man convicted of an assault on a police officer.

3 people indicted for a home invasion in Marple.

4, age of girl shot and killed in a home in Philly.

1, as in the No. 1 pick in the NBA Draft. That would be Ben Simmons, taken by the Sixers.

0 trades pulled by the Sixers after taking Simmons.

24 and 26 picks, they took two shooters.

5 RBI for Freddy Galvis to help the Phils snap their skid and prevent the team from losing 10 in a row for the first time in decades.

7-3 win for the Phils to avoid being swept in Minnesota. Now they head for the West Coast

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

We got Ben Simmons, but the Sixers did not make any other moves. They still need a point guard.

I Don’t Get It: After all that talk in D.C., still no action on gun control in D.C.

Today’s Upper: Kudos to the Upper Darby School Board, for holding the line on taxes and giving taxpayers a much-needed lift.

Quote Box: “These are not easy decisions to make, but we have a responsibility, fiscally.”

- Interboro Superintendent Bernadette Rieley, on budget that calls for tax hike and job cuts.

A tale of two school districts

Call this one "A Tale of Two School Districts."

Actually, that's exactly what we did on today's front page.

Like most school districts across Pennsylvania, both Upper Darby and Interboro found themselves facing a budget crunch. You might say it's just one more argument why our system of funding education is in need of a massive shakeup.

What is interesting is the tack taken by these two school boards to address their fiscal problems.

In Interboro, the board reluctantly decided to hike taxes and cut a few jobs.

Taxes will increase 2.9 percent. Twenty jobs also will be slashed.

In Upper Darby, they are instead tightening their belt and dipping into their fund balance instead of taxpayers' wallets.

As legislators struggle with their own budget woes in Harrisburg as the clock ticks toward a July 1 deadline to have a new budget in place, we hope our representatives keep Upper Darby and Interboro in mind.

A conversation with Gov. Tom Wolf

It must be budget time.

What else could explain the phone call I got yesterday.

Yes, that was Gov. Wolf calling to say hello and talk Pennsylvania dollars and cents. Always nice to chat with the governor, who makes it a habit to reach out to newspaper editors.

I started the conversation by joking about something that I noted on our editorial page, wondering if they were putting something in the water out there in Harrisburg.

The Legislature, after a torturous nine-month budget standoff last year, actually is getting a few things done.

They delivered much-needed changes to the state's archaic laws regulating the sale of alcohol to the governor's desk, and he signed it. They are working on pension relief.

And most indications are that the two sides are quietly making progress in budget talks taking part for the most part behind closed doors.

I asked Wolf about his seeming change of heart in abandoning another push for hefty tax hikes to pay for a new spending push, and he admitted he wasn't sure if he had been completely understood. He stressed that he was never married to those increases in both the sales and personal income taxes. When he was convinced that he could achieve his budget goals without the tax hikes, he decided to move on.

That's no doubt music to the ears of Republicans in the Legislature, who immediately turn up their nose at even the slightest hint of a tax hike.

The governor also sought to assuage the belief by some that this means he is abandoning his call for a steep increase in basic education funding. The governor noted that with the last budget and the one he is now proposing, education funding would be up $450 million.

Wolf also said he was certainly willing to entertain the notion passed by the House this week, a push for legalizing online gaming, as a source of new revenue. But the governor insisted he'd only do it as part of a wider budget agreement.

Finally, I asked him if he thought he and the Legislature would be able to meet the July 1 deadline to have a new spending plan in place. We all know how that worked out last year. We were still asking where the budget was at Christmas time.

Wolf seemed optimistic, but also cautioned it could go a few days past the deadline.

"Nobody wants another nine-month impasse," the governor said, clearly indicating that the process he and the Legislature endured last year might be "a lesson learned."

But he also took clear pride in noting some of the things that both he and the Legislature have been able to accomplish in the past few months.

Call anytime, governor.

Now that I will be able to buy a bottle of wine in the supermarket, how about privatizing the whole system?

Maybe I shouldn't push my luck.