Friday, August 1, 2014

The Daily Numbers for Friday, Aug. 1

The Daily Numbers: 2 shootings recorded overnight in Chester.

1 of them is believed to be fatal.

1 person struck and killed by a train in Haverford Thursday afternoon.

17, age of teen nabbed in series of car break-ins in Haverford. 2 others are still being sought

2 execs at a Philly non-profit, including a woman from Glenolden, indicated for stealing money meant for homeless.

200,000 dollars in personal expenses racked up on the firm’s credit cards.

2 men facing charges involving what was the theft of $3.6 million in funds from PennDOT.

5 more members of the Ironworkers union facing charges in connection with incidents at work locations, including several construction projects in Delco.

150,000 dollars racked up by a 2nd exec.

2 months, how long the southbound lanes of I-495 in Delaware were shut down because of emergency bridge work.

They reopened 5 p.m. Thursday.

90,000 vehicles that cross the span every day.

700 now dead from the latest ebola outbreak in Africa.

317 point nosedive for the stock market yesterday. Don’t look at that 401K.

302,000 people seeking jobless benefits last week.

4.12 percent, average rate for a 30-year mortgage.

60,000 people who showed up on the Atlantic City beach for a free concert by country star Blake Shelton.

0 deals pulled off by Phillies G.M. Ruben Amaro Jr. at the trade deadline.

2 innings, how long Cliff Lee lasted last night before his elbow gave out in the 3rd.

10-4 win for the Phils over the Nats.

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

Not sure what Ruben Amaro Jr. was expecting to receive in terms of trade offers. He expressed disappointment in the lack of interest and ‘serious’ offers for his star players. Has been watching these guys? And does he remember the big-money deals he signed them to? Hard to believe, Harry?

I Don’t Get It: Two more shootings last night in the city of Chester. I don’t get it.

Today’s Upper: Kudos to those who gathered last night for a business mixer held by the Chester city Office of Community Liaison.

Quote Box: “It’s an increase in waste even though they say it’s not.”

- Mike Ewall, an environmental activist who is opposing a move by Covanta to bring New York City trash to their facility in Chester.

The two faces of Chester

Call it the two faces of Chester.

Last night I was honored to be included among a group attending a networking reception held by the office of the Community Liaison in Chester.

I sat in a room with about 45 other business, civic and education leaders and saw the beginnings of a new Chester.

A lot of this is due to the dedicated work of people like Fred Green, Nicole Cogdell and Jonathan Abdur-Rahim King. They wanted to get a group of community leaders together in one room to mix, mingle and - most importantly - start talking to each other.

I had a chance to have a conversation with Gregory Shannon, the superintendent of the Chester Upland School District, and heard him speak glowingly about the progress the district is making, including an all-important uptick in reading levels at the elementary level.

I heard about the truly inspirational work of the Chester Children's Chorus.

I heard from David Clark, who runs the Chester Community Charter School, who talked about competition and how he wanted his school to be the best in the city.

I saw my friend Maj. Ervin McCoy, who runs the Salvation Army.

And of course I had a chance to chat once again with my friend Mayor John Linder.

In each conversation, I asked them how their summer was going, and remarked that it certainly seemed like the increased police presence brought on by Operation City Surge seemed to be having a positive effect on the city.

I might have spoken too soon.

This morning as I arrived back at the office, I was greeted by the same old story. Gunfire on the streets of Chester.

There were two shootings last night.

It appears one of them may have been fatal. We're still waiting on the details.

I don't know exactly what the solution is for the violence that continues to plague Chester.

But I do know this. One crucial part of it will be the people I met last night. It's amazing what happens when you just sit down and talk to people.

I tip my hat to the community liaisons working so hard to turn things around in the city.

And I want them to know I'm here to help in any way I can.

It's that important.

Brutal day on & off the field for the Phillies

I suppose things could get worse for Ruben Amaro Jr. and the Phillies.

I'm just not sure how.

Yesterday's 4 p.m. trade deadline came - and went - and Amaro stayed pat. Not a single deal. Jonathan Papelbon is still the closer. Marlon Byrd remains a Phillie. So do Chase Utley and Jimmy Rollins.

And Cliff Lee remained the Phils' starter Thursday night.

Unfortunately, he didn't last long.

Lee cruised through two innings before suffering a recurrence of the elbow injury that has already sidelined him once this season.

Dennis Deitch describes the surreal scene.

The Phils went on to show some life by burying the Nats, 10-4. But all of that was overshadowed by Amaro's inaction, followed by the devastating injury to Lee.

Here's Amaro's explanation as to why he didn't make any moves.

He sounds disappointed that he didn't get better offers. What team has this guy been watching?

Thursday, July 31, 2014

The Daily Numbers for Thursday, July 31

The Daily Numbers: 50 billion dollars, how are in the red the state’s 2 large public employee pension plans are mired.

36, age of woman from Drexel Hill who now faces charges in the heroin OD death of her 58-year-old boyfriend.

12 men who would be housed at the former St. Joe’s Convent in Collingdale as zoners consider a group home for the men with Down syndrome and autism.

4 suspects in the Main Line ‘Take Over Project’ pot ring that entered guilty pleas yesterday. They likely will testify against the 2 suspected ringleaders.

58, age of postal worker who faces DUI charges after flipping over her mail jeep in Middletown.

45, age of Upper Darby father who surrendered yesterday to face charges that he cold-cocked a man who was ogling his daughter in a Wawa. He faces assault charges.

2 counts of extortion and 14 additional crimes alleged against members of the Ironworkers. Several of the incidents occurred at Delco school construction projects.

5 universities, including Cheyney, in the state system that indicate they are considering laying off workers.

13.8 acres on Lancaster Avenue that is destined to become a new dorm, parking garage and performing arts center at Villanova University.

4-0 vote by Concord supervisors to place an ordinance on the November ballot asking residents if they favor a change in the style of township government.

6 Philly narcotics cops indicted by the feds for allegedly shaking down and stealing money and drugs from drug dealers. 1,300 now dead in Gaza as the unrest between Israel and Hamas continues.

31 point dip for the Dow yesterday.

11-2 beatdown for the Phillies vs. the Mets yesterday afternoon.

4 runs on 7 hits over 6 innings for starter Kyle Kendrick.

5-11 record now for Kendrick, with an ERA of .4.92

15th homer of the season for Jimmy Rollins.

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

Who do you think the Phils will deal by the 4 p.m. trade deadline? Anybody. I say they move 1 guy - Marlon Byrd.

I Don’t Get It: The Sixers apparently are complaining about the NBA’s proposal to change the formula for who gets the No. 1 pick. It used to be the team with worst record had a 25 percent chance. That could change to make the lowest four teams all have an 11 percent chance. Apparently the Sixers believe this will interfere with the plans to tank another season. I don’t get it.

Today’s Upper: Kudos to Mercy Fitzgerald officials, who used a full-page ad in today’s print edition to offer their thoughts and thanks to the community following last week’s tragic shooting incident. They also honored caseworker Theresa Hunt, who was killed. Her funeral was last night. A very nice gesture.

Quote Box: “We experienced the most tragic event in the 80-year history of our ministry.”

- Statement by Mercy Fitzgerald Hospital.

Pennsylvania's $50 billion problem

I can't find anyone who disagrees with Gov. Tom Corbett's assessment of the state's unfunded pension liability as the No. 1 issue in the state.

Last night I had two of the most powerful men in Harrisburg - both from Delco - and both of them quickly concurred. Sen. Dominic Pileggi, R-9, of Chester, the Senate majority leader, and Rep. Bill Adolph, $-165, of Springfield, majority chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, joined me for our live-stream Internet show,'Live From the Newsroom,' to talk about the pension crisis and budget issues.

If you missed the show you can catch the replay here.

The good news? Everybody seems focused on a resolution, likely starting with moving future workers into a plan that looks a lot more like the private sector 401K plans most workers deal with today. That's the end result of an amendment to a bill being offered by Rep. Mike Tobash, R-Schuylkill, which would create a threshold of $50,000 for workers to remain in the defined benefit plan. After that they would be moved into the defined contribution plan.

Actually, Sen. Pileggi has championed an even bolder move, simply making all new employees after a set date take part in the defined contribution plans.

The bad news? None of this does a thing to shrink the $50 billion - and growing - unfunded liability.

Larry Feinberg, a longtime member of the Haverford School Board and founder and co-chairman of the Keystone State Education Coalition, talked about the real problems this is creating at the local level, agreeing that the bottom line, as Corbett has been alluding to in visits across the state the past two weeks, is increases in property taxes.

The problem is revenue. The bottom line is that there is not a lot of wiggle room in the series of austere, no-tax-hike budgets Corbett and the Legislature have put in place.

All agree that it is essential for the state to pay its bills. It owes the money. Mistake were made in the past, and the state got walloped when the market tanked back in 2008, and now the bill is due. It's a big, fat $50 billion fiscal train wreck, one that is nearly doubling every year.

Consider the fact that the budget the Legislature passed just before the July 1 deadline totalled $29 billion.

The state did not get into this predicament overnight, and the solution will not be a quick one either.

Adolph belives an extraction tax on Marcellus Shale drilling is likely, but even that won't eradicate the shortfall. Pileggi is less enthused about the extraction tax, noting the governor's staunch opposition, which shows no sign of easing.

Feinberg offered one complete new source of revenue - a potential tax on financial transactions.

I asked all three if they believe this "crisis" is resonating with the public. It's easy for your eyes to glaze over when you start talking about multipliers and other financial wizardry.

Clearly, Corbett thinks it has.

He's drawn a line in the sand and is likely betting his governorship in pushing a direct link between the ballooning pension bill and increasing local property taxes.

In other words, something every citizen can understand - their wallet.

Stay tune.

We're going to be hearing a lot more about the pension crisis between now and November.

A sliver of good news for Gov. Corbett

Remember where you heard it.

I am one of the few voices heard in Pennsylvania who believes Tom Corbett will be re-elected to a second term as governor.

I know what the poll numbers say. I know that he sits double digits behind Democrat Tom Wolf. I know all about the hue and cry over his austere budgets.

And yes, I am aware that earlier this week the Washington Post again crowned Corbett as the nation's governor who is most likely to be shown the door by voters in November. It wasn't the first time. In fact, they have done so for 13 months in a row.

But here's a poll you may not have seen. A recent New York Times/CBS News poll showed Wolf's big lead is shrinking. What was once a 20-plus point margin is down to single digits at 9 percent.

The poll still has Corbett losing, with the incumbent getting 33 percent backing, as compared to the Dem challenger's 42 percent margin.

Again, I think you can point to TV.

The governor has gone into attack mode as he tries to save his beleaguered candidacy, taking off the gloves and hammering away at Wolf on everything from his record as Ed Rendell's revenue secretary to a claim that his business is ducking taxes by chartering in Delaware.

Corbett has been criss-crossing the state declaring war on what he considers the No. 1 issue in the state, the ballooning public employee pension crisis, and lampooning Wolf for claiming there is no crisis.

Corbett has $50 billion in red ink that says otherwise.

Just keep in mind that Pennsylvania almost never boots an incumbent governor. Instead, what we do is flip-flop parties every eight years.

Don't write off the governor just yet.

Besides, I just know he's going to get that push to privatize liquor sales in the state passed any day now.

Hours tick off to trade deadline for Phils

The Phillies, fresh off an 11-2 thumping at the hands of the New York Mets, limped into Washington, D.C., last night to kick off a four-game set against the Nationals tonight.

Cliff Lee is still scheduled to be the Phils' starter.

I say "still" because we are approaching baseball's witching hour. The annual trade deadline arrives at 4 p.m. Very often a player who is at the center of trade talks will be scratched from the lineup. Not so with Lee. At least not yet. But it's early.

Several reports say the Phils are still engaged with teams interested in starting pitcher A.J. Burnett, reliever Antonio Bastardo and outfielder Marlon Byrd.

Columnist Jack McCaffery, who witnessed the carnage in the Big Apple yesterday afternoon, said G.M. Ruben Amaro Jr. did not indicate he was close to any deals. Here's Jack's thoughts on the unease that has settled on the team before the trade deadline.