Sunday, September 30, 2007

Phinally!

National Leage East champions.

Yep, Ya Gotta Believe!

In fact, Unbelievable.

The Phillies are going to the playoffs, and not as any stinking wild-card team either.

They are swaggering in as the National League East champions, having stepped over the dead carcasses of the New York Mets, victims of a collapse that historians may say will eclipse the Phils' own dreaded misery in 1964.

Yes, sir, we are winners.

Bring on the Giants and Sunday Night Football!

A one-game season

It is one of the most endearing things about baseball.

They play 162 games. Not once a week like the NFL. Not every couple of days like the NBA and NHL.

Baseball is a marathon, a daily ritual that starts in the late winter sunshine in Florida.

Today it will end in briliant sunshine in South Philly. Maybe.

Not content with their newfound perch atop the National Lague East, the Phils promptly tossed away their spot as leaders of the pack.

So now it comes down to a one-day season. The Mets spent Saturday hammering the Marlins , while Adam Eaton set the tone for a surprisingly meek effort from the Phils in falling to the Nationals.

Jamie Moyer takes the mound today. You could say it's a must-win situation, but technically that's not true.

Certainly it wold help if the Phils won. That wold guarantee at least a tie for the N.L. East and a possible one-game playoff tomorrow if the Mets win. The same thing would happen if both teams lose.

If the Phils win and the Mets lose, we win the East. And the reverse? Let's not even go there.

This is all about winning the division now. At least that's the simple route. The Padres continue to lead the wild-card chase by a game. Beyond that the possibilities are almost endless.

After 161 games, it comes down to one game this afternoon. The Mets will be playing at the same time.

By late afternoon, we'll know.

It is the beauty of baseball.

And then we can get ready for the Eagles game tonight against the Giants.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

A defining moment

There was a single moment in Friday night's huge Phillies win that seemed to define this team -- and make it distinctly different from all those pretenders who have worn the red pinstripes in recent years.

It did not involve Jimmy Rollins, Cole Hamels, Chase Utley, or Ryan Howard.

It was delivered by Shane Victorino. It came on a high, lazy pop foul that the wind, which was whipping all night, was pushing toward the stands in right field.

Victorino, who has been struggling in recent weeks with a balky groin pull, zeroed in on the ball like a laser.

Still going full speed, Victorino crossed the foul line, took a few steps onto the dirt, then went into a slide in his zeal to catch the ball.

He did not come up with it. but he did deliver a message.

At that instant, I could think of only one thing: Bobby Abreu.

Yes, this team is different from all those who disappointed in recent years. And guys like Shane Victorino are a key part of it.

We're No 1!

It seems like a long time ago.

In the midst of another glum, late-winter, early spring day, Jimmy Rollins decided to provide a little heat.

"We're the team to beat in the National League East," Rollins said of his Phillies' mates.

Let's just say that got noticed in the Big Apple, where the haughty New York Mets, the defending N.L. East champs, snorted with contempt. The fans let Rollins know what they thought of his boast with every at-bat this year at Shea.

Fast-forward seven months, and 160 baseball games later. It took a while, but Rollin was right. This morning the Phillies are the team to beat. They stand alone atop the National League East.

The Phillies got a dominating performance from Cole Hamels in squelching the Nationals, 6-0. But the message was delivered about 100 miles north on I-95, where the Mets continued their freefall, dropping their eighth straight at home.

This is beyond an implosion. It's almost hard to watch. The Mets are fast becoming the Greg Norman of baseball, doing something most thought was unthinkable, throwing away a 7-game lead with 17 to play.

Much has been made in recent weeks about Hamels' makeup, whether this cool Californian had the, uh... intestinal fortitude for the brutal hand-to-hand combat of a late September pennant race.

Turns out our lump of Cole was the perfect Christmas gift. This was a signature performance. Cole Hamels is now the ace of this staff. The horse. The stud. That's how good he was.

As for Rollins, Utley, Howard et al?

They are indeed the team to beat. And any combinatin of wins and Mets losses adding up to two will make them something else.

National League East Champions.

Hard to believe, Harry.

The Dreaded Eagles Pick

Something almost unheard of is happening in Philadelphia sports.

The Eagles are playing a very important game Sunday night. In the Meadowlands. Against the hated Giants. On national TV.

And almost no one has noticed.

Such is the magic the Phillies have spread over the land.

That does not mean the NFL will interrupt their season for post-season baseball.

Which means it must be Saturday, and time for the dreaded Eagles pick.

Right now I have a perfect record. The Birds have played three games, and I've been wrong three consecutive weeks.

Picked them to win the first two weeks, and glumly watched them go down in flames. Thought they would get smoked by the Lions, and watched Donovan McNabb put on a clinic, dismantling an overmatched Lions' defense.

Count me among those who did not foresee the pasting they laid on the hapless Lions, as big a fraud of a 2-0 team as you will ever see.

This week's foe is a more familiar sight. The Giants and Eagles go way back, and this Sunday night tilt will be no different.

Did the Eagles find themselves last week, right the ship, and start the long haul back to the top of the NFC East? Or was the win just a figment of a very mediocre Detroit team?

This game will be no different than most Eagles-Giants games. Very close, the key being turnovers.

Make it Eagles 24-23, on the strength of a late David Akers field goal. Unless, of course, Sav Rocca bobbles the snap.

Friday, September 28, 2007

The Daily Numbers - Sept 28

The Daily Numbers: 3 games left in the baseball season, and the Phillies are in first place. OK, they’re tied with the Mets. What’s better? Watching the Phils win, or watching the Mets fold up like a cheap suit

10 wins for Kyle Kendrick. Tell me the kid is not the rookie of the year. Visions of Bob "Whirlybird" Walk.

250,000 dollar cash bail for the 19-year-old Drexel Hill woman charged with killing her newborn infant. She was held for trial on all charges after a hearing Thursday.

15 cents more it is going to cost SEPTA riders for a token or transfer, starting Monday. Tokens go from $1.30 to $1.45, transfers from 60 cents to 75.

400 hybrid buses being bought by SEPTA. They’ll be better for the environment and more fuel efficient. They won’t make you feel any better about the fare hikes.

1 suspect shot and killed by a Philadelphia police officer investigating a robbery at a South Philly convenience store.

40 people sickened at a Harrisburg-area hotel. Police believe the flu-like illness is centered on a Holiday Inn in Swatara Township.

100,000 prize that goes along with the Liberty Medal to Irish rocker Bono. He’ll donate it to the organization he heads that is pushing awareness of AIDS in Africa. Class act.

67 buildings in Philadelphia that could face a strike by union janitors who clean the facilities.

3 billion dollars, what GM believes it might be able to save with the new deal they have hammered out with the UAW.

40,589 towel-waving maniacs in Citizens Bank Park last night. Look for much the same over the next three days.

21 saves for Brett Myers. Hey, we’ll even forgive him for that homer to open the ninth.

75 greatest Philadelphians? Of course the list includes Delco’s own Jimmy Murray.

Call me a Phanatic: A look at the ups and downs of being a Philadelphia sports fan.
Who’s happiest about the Phillies? Maybe Andy Reid and Donovan McNabb, who have been able to prepare for the Giants completely out of the spotlight that usually accompanies their every move during the season.

I Don’t Get It (with apologies to Jack McCaffery): Police in Seaside Heights, N.J., say a store video captures a mother using a toddler to steal a handbag. Mother of the year possibility there.


Today’s Upper: What else? Let’s go Phils.

Quote Box: "I heard a whoosh sound, then I could feel the pressure of something falling."
-- Sharon Hill Fire Co. Chief Bill Benecke, on wall collapse that briefly trapped several of his volunteers.

A salute to volunteers

It’s been a tough month for volunteer firefighters.

First there was the nasty collapse of a second-story of a burning townhouse in Parkside. Two young volunteers were trapped inside.

Both Dan Brees and Chase Frost suffered serious burns.

Brees has been released from the hospital; Frost, who suffered burns on 50 percent of his body, remains hospitalized.

Now, a little more than a month later, it has happened again.

Wednesday night volunteers in Sharon Hill were attacking what appeared to be a routine garage fire.

Then, without warning, it became anything but routine.
A wall collapsed, trapping several young volunteers.

Three volunteer firefighters and two Collingdale police officers were trapped. The firemen were briefly trapped in the rubble.

Most received minor injuries.

Mike Reagan, 19, wasn’t as lucky. He is in critical condition at Crozer-Chester Medical Center.

Much is being made these days of the lack of volunteers, that people simply are not stepping forward the way previous generations did.
That is certainly true when it comes to volunteer firefighters. Several local companies actually are engaged in merger talks, in part because they simply no longer have the numbers to staff their own fire house.

That’s why it is interesting to note the ages of the volunteers who were injured in Sharon Hill. They share something in common with their "brothers" in Parkside.

They are young. Very young.
Reagan is 19. Chris Miller is 21; Joe Tesauro just 23.

We owe them a debt of gratitude.

They are doing something more and more of us are not willing to do.
They put their life on the line for our comfort and security.

We should all take the time to remember just how valuable these volunteers are.

Those Amazin' Phils

Simply Amazin’.

On Sept. 13, the Phillies were 7 games behind the Mets in the National League East.

They had just been crushed by the Rockies, 12-0. They were dead in the water. The front-running Mets were a mirage off in the distance. Even the wild card looked improbable, with the Phils 2 and a half games behind the Padres, tied with both the Rockies and Dodgers.

Fast-forward exactly 15 days. This morning the Phils are tied with the free-falling Mets for first place in the National League East.

That great sucking sound you hear coming from the Big Apple is the Mets and their fans trying to keep their lunch down.

They are in the midst of an epic collapse, reminiscent of the Phils’ memorable implosion in 1964.

Consider this. The Mets had been alone in first place since May 16. They were 7 games up with 17 to play. But they promptly lost 10 of 14 and seven straight at home.

Now both teams have three games left. The Phils are home for three with the Nationals. The Mets will be ensconced at Shea for three with the Marlins.

The two teams may face each other again in a playoff on Monday.

Just for good measure, the Phils remain a game back in the wild-card race, along with the spiraling Mets and red-hot Rockies. All three are now a game off the pace of the Padres.

Just how electric is the region this morning?

Consider this. The Eagles play the hated Giants in a nationally televised game Sunday night. Anyone care? Anyone remember when the Eagles operated completely in the Phillies’ shadow?

Didn’t think so.

Phillies Fever. Catch it.

Post-season, here we come.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

The Daily Numbers - Sept 27

Moving Beyond 10,000 Losses: An look at why it’s so difficult to be a Phillies – hell for that matter a Philadelphia – sports fan.
One game behind the Mets in the N.L. East. One game behind the Padres in the wild car. Four games to go. Forget 10,000 losses. How about four wins?

The Daily Numbers: 3 volunteer firefighters injured while battling a garage fire late Wednesday in Sharon Hill.

6 weeks since two Parkside volunteers were seriously burned fighting a blaze in that town.

200,000 dollar cash bail for the 16-year-old charged as an adult with attempted murder in the shooting outside Chester High School. Tommy Gilbert turned himself in Wednesday.

2 dead pit bulls found on Enterprise Avenue near the Philadelphia International Airport. Anyone with any information on the dead dogs is urged to contact the SPCA at 215-426-6304.

6 students from Jackson Memorial High School in Ocean County, N.J., who have died this year. The latest was a female student found dead in her bedroom. The death has been ruled suspicious.

25 dollar fine. That’s what an Allentown police officer will pay, along with court costs, in the fatal accident in which he struck and killed a 4-year-old boy. He won’t be charged in the boy’s death. The youth’s family is outraged.

57 bed long-term acute care hospital opened in Havertown by Kindred Healthcare Inc.

200,00 more toys being recalled because they contain dangerous levels of lead. The toys include some of the "Knights of the Sword" series, along with some Thomas the Tank items that were made in China.

21 people who may have been sickened by eating contaminated hamburgers. Some of those sickened were in Pennsylvania.

38, age of suspect charged in the brutal beating and sexual assault of a 75-year-old woman in Hatboro, Montgomery County.

5 days, what a 73-year-old man says he spent trapped in his car in York, Pa., after it crashed into an abandoned house.

9 wins for Kyle Lohse this year. Last night he went 7 strong innings to outduel the Braves Tim Hudson.

86 wins for the Phils, with four crucial games left on the schedule. Can you say 90?

I Don’t Get It (with apologies to Jack McCaffery): Our representatives in Harrisburg today will debate a ban on metal and aluminum bats in youth baseball. Yep, that’s right up there on the list of crucial issues facing the state.

Today’s Upper: U2 and rock superstar Bono will be in town tonight to accept the Liberty Medal for his work pushing for AIDS awareness in Africa. Bravo.

Quote Box: "Safety is my No. 1 concern. My No. 2 concern is education."
-- New Chester Upland Superintendent, in the fallout of a shooting outside the high school

Another chapter in Penn-Delco

The fallout, sort of like the smoldering soot from a fire, continues to rain down on the Penn-Delco School District.

Last night the Penn-Delco School Board voted to terminate their relationship with their solicitor, Mark Sereni.

Sereni had been asking for an independent counsel to review all the allegations of wrongdoing that have been bandied about in the district for more then a year.

That didn’t sit too well with either the taxpayers or board members, already awaiting word of the results of a county grand jury investigation into the district’s business dealings that seems to focus on former board President Keith Crego.

Let’s make no mistake here. Mark Sereni is not really the problem in Penn-Delco. But he became the lightning rod for outraged residents. Wednesday night he paid the price, being told in a 4-3 vote that his services were no longer needed.

Before the vote, Sereni offered some good advice to those who remain on what has become something of a merry-go-round of a school board. Eight members have left the board in the last 14 months.

Sereni told them to continue to cooperate with any law enforcement investigations, and again urged them to bring in an independent, objective legal counsel to investigate "anyone and everyone who has taken part in improper or unethical conduct."

Give the guy this much. He sticks to his guns.

Will the board change its mind and take him up on his suggestion? Not likely.

But there is something this district needs much more than that.
It direly needs to hear from the District Attorney’s Office with the results of the investigation and any charges that might be forthcoming.

Penn-Delco has been bathed in this negative spotlight long enough.
Let’s lay all the cards on the table. Then, as Sereni has suggested, the district can attempt to move on honestly.

It very likely is not going to be easy, or pretty. But it’s time for a final, thorough public airing of what has been going on in this district for far too long.

Go the distance, Phils fans

"Go the distance."

That’s what the voice told Kevin Costner’s character in the great baseball movie, "Field of Dreams."

And that’s what the Phillies and their fans will be doing for the next four days.

The Field of Dreams will be Citizens Bank Park.

Here’s the deal this morning. The Phils, behind Kyle Lohse, beat Tim Hudson and the Braves last night, 5-2.

At the same time, the Mets were imploding against the Nationals, blowing a 5-0 lead and losing, 9-6.

That means the Phils now trail the Mets by just one game in the National League East. In the wild-card race, they remain tied with the Rockies, a game behind the Padres. Both the Padres and Rockies won again last night.

An aside here. I’ve never been a big fan of the constant "crawls" and scores that are loaded into seemingly every baseball telecast. Maybe that’s why I prefer to listen to the game on radio.

But I have to admit there is something delicious about watching the slow, agonizing way the Mets are shrinking. Last night they had a 5-0 lead. Wasn’t enough.

Can you say 1964? The ghost of Chico Ruiz seems to have set up shop at Shea Stadium.

Forget the wild card. The Phillies just might overtake the Mets.
It all comes down to four games.

"Go the distance." "Ease his pain."

Hey, Phils, how about easing your fans’ pain? How about chasing away the ghosts of 1964 by siccing them on the Mets. How about winning the National League East outright.

Now that would be a field of dreams.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

The Daily Numbers - Sept. 26

Moving Beyond 10,000 Losses: A look at why it’s so difficult to be a Phillies – hell for that matter a Philadelphia – sports fan.
Déjà vu all over again.

The Daily Numbers: 1 teen shot and another being sought after a fight inside Chester High spilled outside, where gunfire rang out Tuesday.

5 hours, how long it took to get traffic back to normal on northbound I-95 Tuesday after a trash truck overturned and caught fire yesterday, turning the interstate into a parking lot.

2 million dollars seized by authorities in Montgomery County in raids targeting local taverns that use video poker machines. One of the taverns hit was in Havertown.

307 people now killed so far this year on the streets of Philadelphia. The latest homicide apparently was the result of two men fighting over a woman in West Philadelphia.

2 times police say a woman in New Jersey struck her husband with her car. She is accused of running him down outside their Monroe Township trailer, then backing up and running over him again. She’s now charged with attempted murder.

60,000 ecstasy pills seized, along with 100 pounds of pot, in drug raids done by federal agents on houses in Philadelphia and Berks County.

48 year-old man charged in a fatal stabbing in Philadelphia. The victim? His 48-year-old brother. Police believe they were arguing about money.

1 million dollars raised so far by state Supreme Court candidates Seamus McCaffery and Mike Krancer.

2 students have been arrested out in Bradford County for threats against the local school that have caused authorities to shut the school for the week.

5.28 percent tax hike enacted in the Harrisburg School District, even though the new state law was supposed to cap the hike to 5.1 percent. School officials were raked over the coals by the Legislature yesterday.

6 runs, all earned, given up by Phils starter Jamie Moyer in his 5 and a third innings last night.

4 home runs smacked the Phils in the losing effort.

5 games left in the baseball countdown. It may be now or never for the Phils.

I Don’t Get It (with apologies to Jack McCaffery): In Pottstown, a longtime church is investigating who and why someone painted graffiti and satanic images all over their church.


Today’s Upper: Mayor John Street isn’t talking about why he failed to pay taxes on several properties he owns. Can’t say that I blame him.

Quote Box: "They are envious of the way things are going and they are trying to discredit me and the detachment."
-- James Alleva of Upper Darby, a Vietnam veteran who has been charged by federal authorities with wearing medals he never earned

The Hunt for a Red October

The Phillies Hunt for a Red October might be turning into Mission Impossible.

Again.

We should have seen this one coming.

Once again the Phils – through no credit of their own since they did not even play Monday – entered action Tuesday night in a flat-out tie for the National League Wild Card.

And just as they do seemingly every time they approach a crucial junction, they promptly throw it in reverse.

This is the modus operandi they have used the past few years. In fact, you can look it up.

In the last four years, the Phils have entered the final week of the season in the hunt for a berth in the post-season. You know what has happened.
What you might not know is that the Phils are now 0-7 on Monday and Tuesday of that crucial last week in the last four years.

That’s not how you go about securing a spot in the playoffs.
That’s not even how you bow out gracefully.

Same thing last night.

It didn’t take long. Jamie Moyer, getting seriously squeezed by the home plate umpire, issues a walk to the opening batter. Moyer clearly thought he had struck out Atlanta slugger Mark Texeira. Instead Texeira hammers a 3-run homer.

The Phils slowly but surely dig out of this early hole to take a 5-4 lead. Only to have Moyer and the bullpen hand it right back.
The final, 10-6 Braves.

The Phils blew an opportunity to gain ground on the Mets, who lost to the Nationals. They also slipped a game behind the Padres, who rallied to win in the ninth inning. And they’re now tied with the Rockies in the wild-card chase.

There’s now five games to go. You could feel the electricity in the region.
This morning it feels like someone pulled the plug. Again.

You be the editor

This is something I deal with all the time. Now it’s time for "you be the editor." See if you think we made the right call.

It’s late Tuesday morning here at the Daily Times. What has already been a busy morning, with a shooting outside Chester High School, is about to get even busier.

A tractor-trailer hauling a full load of trash has overturned on I-95 in Ridley Park. Slowly but surely, northbound traffic starts to slow down. The region’s busiest thoroughfare is about to become a parking lot.

Again.

Then the fun really started. The rig catches fire, and some of the trash is falling over the guardail down onto the railroad tracks below. Soon Amtrak and SEPTA rail lines are disrupted.

Northbound traffic on I-95 is stopped at the Blue Route. Cars are lining up all the way to the Delaware state line.

This is a big story. At least it was yesterday afternoon.

We immediately post an item on our Web site. It’s one of the things I like best about this technology. We can provide information immediately to our readers that not all that long ago would have had to wait for the next morning’s print edition. Our readers need that information as fast, and as often as we can deliver it. We update the Web story with I-95 North being closed, and then later on in the afternoon when a couple of lanes start to squeeze by. Finally, we post another update when the interstate is reopened altogether.

Here’s the dilemma: This was a big story. Yesterday afternoon. But now, maybe 18 hours later in the midst of another morning rush hour, does anyone care?

I like the immediacy our Web site affords us in terms of publishing. We can now "publish" 24 hours a day on our Web site. But the fact is we continue to "publish" in print just once a day.

We teased the story on the I-95 crash on our front page. But it wasn’t our lead story. Basically, it was yesterday’s news. We bring that to you, too.
Just don’t expect us to necessarily lead the newspaper with a story that was news 18 hours ago.

Agree or disagree? You be the editor. Drop me a response and we’ll see how many frustrated newspaper editors there are out there.

Monday, September 24, 2007

The Daily Numbers - Sept 24

Moving Beyond 10,000 Losses: An occasional look at why it’s so difficult to be a Phillies – hell for that matter a Philadelphia – sports fan.
Someone want to explain to me what makes Wes Helms a better choice as a pinch-hitter than Chris Coste? The Phils lost a crusher in the last game ever played by the Nationals in RFK Stadium. They also lost a game to the Mets in the N.L. East, but they remain just a half-game back in the Wild-Card race.

The Daily Numbers: 9 sacks by the Eagles defense, maybe overlooked in the offensive spectacle put on by the Birds against the Lions yesterday.

11 catches for 211 yards for wide receiver Kevin Curtis. Welcome to Philly, Kevin.

110 yards rushing for Brian Westbrook, to go along with his 111 yards receiving. And all that before exiting in the third quarter with bruised ribs.

2 dead in another violent weekend in Philadelphia.

302 where the homicide total for the city now stands.

400,000 Philadelphia residents being urged to appeal their new tax assessments by a citizens group that believes they are a back-door tax hike.

43 stories under construction at the Borgata Hotel and Casino in Atlantic City. A 3-alarm fire broke out at the site Sunday.

140,000 fans who jammed Dover Downs for a NASCAR race. Wonder how many of them were watching the Eagles or Phillies on a TV

1.3 billion, that’s how much of an economic bump the arts are believed to mean to the greater Philadelphia area. That includes 40,000 jobs.

1 person killed in a fire in Philadelphia that authorities now say was a case of arson. A man has been charged.

2.5 games behind the Mets, where the Phils stand with a week left in the season.

6 games left for the Phils, three against the Braves and three against the Nationals, all at Citizens Bank Park.

.5 games back, where Phils stand in the Wild-Card chase.

I Don’t Get It (with apologies to Jack McCaffery): A pit bull is believed to have attacked a 14-year-old boy riding his bike in Reading. The dog’s name? Vicious.


Today’s Upper: It’s now officially autumn. So long as it’s not time for the Phils to "fall" out of the race.

Quote Box: "It is sad to see how many more gardens have been added."
-- Rep. Steve Barrar, at Sunday night’s ceremony at the Garden of Remembrance to honor murder victims.

A throwback day for Donovan

So maybe Donovan McNabb should make some controversial statements about race every week.

Or maybe we simply should resign ourselves to the idea of the team wearing those garish blue and yellow throwback jerseys. Hell, they didn’t even look good on the cheerleaders.

Or maybe the Lions just flat-out stink.

Whatever it was, we should bottle it.

After stinking up the place for two consecutive weeks to open the season a bumbling 0-2, the Eagles showed up at Lincoln Financial Field yesterday with all the "urgency" they lacked the first two weeks and simply dismantled a 2-0 Detroit Lions team.

McNabb spent much of the week talking about his comments on an HBO show that black quarterbacks have "to do a little more" and are still unfairly criticized. It sparked still another week of hand-wringing about the role of the person who plays quarterback for the Eagles and all that comes with it.

No one is criticizing McNabb’s performance this morning.
Very simply, McNabb was at the peak of his game yesterday, very likely his best performance as the Eagles signal-caller.

All McNabb did was lead the Eagles to three consecutive touchdowns to start the game, torching the Lions with a variety of throws to new star wide receiver Kevin Curtis and all-everything running back Brian Westbrook.

McNabb ended the day 21-of-26 for 381 yards and 4 TDs.

Along the way he may have shed the persistent snickers that he was on the downside of his career, that the injuries that have cost him big chunks of the last two seasons had finally caught up with him. That the future had arrived along with top draft choice Kevin Kolb and that McNabb soon would be shown the door.

It was not just all those images McNabb shed yesterday. He shed something else, which may have been the key to his eye-popping performance.

He shed the knee brace he has been wearing during his recovery from the shattered tendon that ended his year last season.

Yesterday, for one brief shining moment, McNabb was everything any Eagles fan could have hoped for. He was accurate, scuttling the long lament that he does not possess the accuracy to run this offense. He was mobile, using his legs to get out of trouble. And he was the leader of an offensive juggernaut that torched a befuddled Lions defense.

Maybe this week Donovan should talk about his feelings about the Jena 6.

Or maybe he should petition the league to allow the team to keep wearing those blue and yellow jerseys.

Yesterday, McNabb was a throwback, a throwback to everything we thought we were getting back when Andy Reid first drafted him. You might remember that day was when a group intent on pressuring the Eagles to draft running back Ricky Williams booed the McNabb selection at draft HQ in New York.

McNabb has had a chip on his shoulder about it ever since.
Maybe yesterday he finally shed that chip, along with that knee brace. And he did it while dressed up electric blue and yellow duds.

Maybe the Phillies should break out some throwback jerseys for this week.

Good, bad and news

Here's a look at this week's print column, which takes a look at a recurring topic, the perception that we focus on the negative news, especially when it comes to our schools. Offer a comment if you disagree.

The timing probably could have been better.

In the newspaper business, that’s almost always the case.

I’m sure Linda Cook probably finds the situation more than just a little ironic.Her name recently appeared in the newspaper.

It was affixed to a letter to the editor with a very familiar lament.Cook took up the notion that the good things occurring in our schools often go unreported in the newspaper.

She makes a very good point. It is one I do battle with every day.By now you might be wondering who Linda Cook is. That’s simple. She’s the president of an education association. In other words, a teachers’ union. That tells part of the story, but not all of it.

I get calls almost every day from teachers and administrators urging that we show schools in a positive light, that kids are getting a quality education despite what some of the headlines might lead you to believe, and that those who work in the district, teachers, staff and administrators, spend their lives dedicated to our children.

They are all valid points, and ones I believe are in fact well represented in the newspaper, if not necessarily on the front page.Cook made all of those points. And, of course, she is right.

Very often, the good things happening in local schools don’t make headlines. There is a valid reason for that. That is by definition not “news.” That is the routine. That is what is supposed to happen.Yes, it sounds harsh. But it is true. That does not mean that the newspaper ignores positive stories emanating from our schools. Nothing could be farther from the truth. Day in and day out, we profile kids and their teachers who are accomplishing great things.

There is, of course, something else at play here.You might also be wondering just which school district it is where Cook leads the teachers’ union.That would be the Penn-Delco School District.In case you haven’t noticed, Penn-Delco has been in the newspaper recently. Just a few weeks ago we had a front-page story on kids taking part in high school bands that expounded at length about this huge student activity at Sun Valley High School. But I doubt that’s what Cook was talking about.No, much of the ruling body at Penn-Delco lies in smoldering ruins today.In the last 14 months, no less than eight school board members have resigned their seats.Former school board president Keith Crego also bailed when the whispers that surrounded him for months finally exploded. Another board member with whom he was having a relationship filed a protection from abuse order against him. He did likewise against her. Eventually he was convinced to give up his seat.But he — and the school district — was nowhere close to being out of the headlines. Soon word filtered down that Crego was at the center of an investigation by the county District Attorney’s office looking into the district’s business dealings with Quickstart Preschools, the firm that Crego brought in to handle preschooling and day care in the district.Then the reeling district was rocked by a true blockbuster.

Respected Superintendent Leslye Abrutyn was stepping down. No reason was given, although there was no shortage of whispers.The district’s solicitor has now drawn the wrath of taxpayers, who are asking the school board to add him to the list of former district officials.The hope was that the county would be able to wrap up its investigation and announce the results — and possible charges — of the probe before school started up again for the fall. That’s obviously not going to happen. Instead, the conflagration no doubt will be re-lit just as students and staff are settling into their routine.In the meantime, as Cook pointed out, the district will continue to strive to overcome the negative stories.
But not the negative headlines.

In the same edition as her letter appeared, a new story broke concerning the troubled Penn-Delco Education and Cultural Foundation. Much like the school board, the foundation also is seeing an exodus of board members, as questions are posed concerning a $100,000 state grant. Foundation board members Jeff Pilla, an Aston commissioner, Joe Possenti Jr., Aston Republican Party chairman, and state Rep. Steve Barrar, R-160, all left their posts.The next day they were joined by still another board member, Elaine Frieberg.

Ironically, I had a phone conversation with Cook about the education foundation just about a week earlier. We had an incorrect reference in the paper. Yes, we do that from time to time. In a story about the foundation, we actually referred to the education association. Cook asked that we correct the information. We did. We also ran her letter. We know there are positive stories in Penn-Delco. We will continue to seek them out.But we will not ignore the negative stories either. There are more to come.

Eventually, the D.A. is going to weigh in on what has been going on in Penn-Delco. It’s likely not going to be pretty.

Philip E. Heron is editor of the Daily Times. Call him at (610) 622-8818. E-mail him at editor@delcotimes.com. To visit his daily blog, the Heron’s Nest, go to www3.allaroundphilly.com/blogs/delcotimes/philh/blog.html.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

The Dreaded Eagles Pick

If' it's Saturday, it's time for the fearless Eagles prediction.

So far, despite my belief that this is not a very good team, I have gone with the Birds both weeks. And been wrong both times as the Eagles got off to an ignominious 0-2 start.

Those two losses have come against thoroughly mediocre foes, teams that have played into the Eagles' strengths, temas they should have handled.

Not so this week.

The rejuvenated Detroit Lions come to town sporting an unblemished 2-0 record. Unlike their two previous opponents, this week's opponent will push the Eagles defense. This team has a lot of bullets in the holster, a high-powered offense with a dynamite group of wide receivers.

Bottom line is this: The Eagles will need to score points to win this game. I don't think they're up to it.

Donovan McNabb is playing hurt. Whether he should be on the field is an argument for another time. Right now he's all the Eagles have got. And it's not enough. Unless they can cobble together another huge day out of Brian Westbrook, who basically constitutes their offense these days, , the Birds are going to be in trouble. Not helping matters is the fact that Westbrook will be playing on a sore knee.

They will celebrate the Eagles 75th anniversary Sunday at the Linc. The Eagles will play in throwback blue and yellow uniforms.

Most fans will simply throw up, as the Lions smoke the Birds, 31-16.

Woe-and-3.

Let's go, Phillies.

Two Magic Numbers

1.5 and 8.

Those are really the only numbers you need to know today.

The Phillies are now 1.5 games behind the Mets in the National League East race. But that's not all. Courtesy of a Padres loss (finally) Friday night, the Phils also are now an equal 1.5 games back in the Wild-Card race.

The Phils have two more games this weekend in Washington, then come home next week for two final stands, three games apiece against the Braves and Marlins.

Something tells me we are going to be sitting on the edge of our seats next Sunday, juggling the remote between the Phils, Eagles and Mets games on TV.

Surely the baseball gods could not take us to the edge of the post-season, only to push us off a cliff again. It's one thing to lose out on a Wild-Card spot, as the Phils have done the past several years, in the last week of the season. To lose out on two different post-season possibilities might be too much for this aging heart.

But I've been thinking that karma might actually be working for us this time.

Listen closely to what is going on about 100 miles north of us on I-95. Look closely. Strain your ears. What you hear is the ghost of 1964, long the albatross of Phillies fans, finding a new home.

Even with their win last night, the Mets could be on the verge of a historic collapse. All we need now is for someone to cost them a game by stealing home. Chico Ruiz's daring steal started the Phils freefall from being 6 up with 12 to play. The Mets seem intent on doing the same thing. After coasting along comfortably in first place all summer, the New Yorkers and now in danger of a collapse to rival anything the Phils did in '64.

This could be the year when we finaly break free of the yoke of that terrible fall from so long ago, a memory that continues to scar us today.

We know all too well what Mets fans are dealing with. And enjoying every precious moment of it.

1.5 out and eight games to play.

Post-season here we come.

Friday, September 21, 2007

The Daily Numbers - Sept 21

Moving Beyond 10,000 Losses: An occasional look at why it’s so difficult to be a Phillies – hell for that matter a Philadelphia – sports fan.
Forget the Wild Card. The Padres may not lose again. Instead, fix your eyes on the fumbling Mets, who blew another game against the Marlins last night. They Phils are now just a game and a half back, with 9 games left. Down to the wire.

The Daily Numbers: 2 students shot on the campus of Delaware State University in Dover overnight.

300, where the homicide count in Philadelphia stands.

57 fugitives in Delco rounded up by the feds in a sting called Operation Falcon. One woman was founding hiding in her bedroom.

90 years old, age of woman who was beaten up by a thug during a purse-snatching in Port Richmond.

4 years since a man believed to be the Fairmount Park rapist struck in Philadelphia. Police now say DNA is linking him to a rape that occurred this past Aug. 11.

24 hours a day, the hours at the Franklin Institute for the final weekend of the King Tut exhibit. The doors close 11 p.m. Sunday.

8,915 visitors who went through the door of the exhibit last Saturday, the most since it opened in February.

15 cents, what SEPTA wants to hike the price of tokens and transfers. The buck stops here. Again and again.

5 percent dip in homicides recorded by state police in 2006, state police say.

1.4 percent jump overall in crime in Pennsylvania, however.

6 wins in his last 17 starts for Donovan McNabb. Yep, 6-11. Not good.

0 wins for the Eagles so far this year. They’ll try to change that Sunday vs. the Lions. And they’ll do it wearing those silly powder blue and yellow throwback jerseys.

1.5 games back, where Phils are in chasing the Mets.

9 games left in the regular season.


I Don’t Get It (with apologies to Jack McCaffery): The case of the Lehigh provost caught in an Internet sex sting again reminds me that I don’t understand what these people don’t get. One more time, folks: You really don’t know who that is on the other end of the computer chat. Some people apparently are willing to take that chance.

Today’s Upper: In the aftermath of the Amish shooting tragedy a year ago, it now appears that the first state trooper on the scene may have helped save some lives by ripping out part of a window frame with his bare hands. Bravo.

Quote Box: "I’m like everybody else. I’ve got a mortgage and bills to pay. But I’m exploring the offer."
-- Upper Darby police Superintendent Michael Chitwood, on possibly making a Republican challenge to first-term Congressman Joe Sestak, D-7.

A race for the ages

And we thought last fall was wild.

You might remember that was when newcomer Joe Sestak fired a thunderbolt into Delco politics when the three-star admiral challenged longtime incumbent Republican Congressman Curt Weldon.

Weldon, who had represented the 7th District for 20 years, hadn’t gotten much of a challenge from Democrats in years.

That was about to change. Fueled by a national push targeting several key congressional districts believed vulnerable, Sestak and Weldon went at it hammer and tong.

Delaware County really hadn’t seen anything like it since Weldon tried unsuccessfully to evict then Democratic Rep. Bob Edgar from his seat two decades before.

Then, just weeks before the November election, the volatile campaign exploded.

It was revealed that Weldon was under investigation for possibly using his office to help a company run by his daughter and a campaign adviser. The feds say the probe is ongoing. No charges have resulted.
But the result here in Delco was like an earthquake.

Sestak won. Weldon pointed to the announcement of the probe as the key to the race.

Everyone exhaled.

Brace yourself. The next time around could be even wilder.

The Republicans clearly have been itching to take another run at Sestak. Now they think they may have found their man.

One of those being considered to take up the Republican armor is a familiar name. At least to readers of the Daily Times.

That would be none other than Upper Darby top cop Mike Chitwood.
Yep, "Media Mike" is on the list of those being considered by the local GOP.

The mind simply staggers at the possibilities. Mike Chitwood in a national political campaign.

This is not entirely new turf for the longtime cop. Before he left Portland, Maine, he was approached to consider a run for governor. Instead, he came to Upper Darby.

He hasn’t been out of the spotlight since. Chitwood believes in using the media to get the word out to criminals: There’s a new sheriff in town. He also gets criticism for being a media hog.

Chitwood vs. Sestak.

Here’s my first question. How long before Chitwood refers to someone as a "scumbag?"

Buckle your seatbelts, political junkies. This one could make Weldon-Sestak look like "Romper Room."

Thursday, September 20, 2007

The only color that counts: Green

Donovan McNabb thinks he’s unfairly criticized.

He’s right.

So has every other person who’s ever played the position. He’s the quarterback of the Philadelphia Eagles. The jersey shouldn’t have a number on it. It should have a bull’s eye. That’s the way it’s always been.

What is new, sort of, is McNabb’s reasoning. He thinks it’s because of the color of his skin.

He’s in the right church, wrong pew.

It’s about his skin all right. It’s entirely too thin. Always has been. That this is even coming up again is proof of that.

Look, are there people who will never accept Donovan McNabb as the quarterback of the Eagles because he’s black? Sure.

Are they anywhere near a majority? No. Not even close.

McNabb happens to be in the highest profile sports job in the city of Philadelphia.

Every thing he does is under the microscope.

Off the field Donovan McNabb has been an exemplary role model. On the field, he’s been a superstar, leading the Eagles to four appearances in the NFC title game and a Super Bowl.

But the Eagles did not win that Super Bowl.

I believe the fans do not care what color the quarterback is, so long as he wins.

McNabb has done that. That does not mean his performance every Sunday will not be checked and re-checked by fans desperate for someone to lead them to the promised land.

For all he has done and accomplished in this city, McNabb seems to dwell on the instances that have not gone well. He still seems bothered that he was booed by a group of fans on Draft Day when he was selected by the Eagles. They wanted the team to draft a running back, Ricky Williams. He’s also black, by the way.

Maybe Donovan should talk to Ron Jaworski. He also got the team to a Super Bowl that it lost. Threw three interceptions to Oakland Raider linebacker Rod Martin. Fans still remind him of it.

Donovan didn’t bring up the race angle in this latest brouhaha. But he certainly didn’t veer away from it either. Then at his Wednesday press conference he threw a little gas on the fire.

He needs to get over it.

Donovan McNabb will be judged by what he does on the field. Not the color of his skin.

Even if he doesn’t see it that way.

And his timing couldn’t be worse. He gave the interview at the end of August. But it aired this week, with the Eagles – and McNabb – struggling mightily. The team is now 0-2.

McNabb, still recovering from major knee surgery that ended his season last year, is part of the problem.

That doesn’t have anything to do with the color of his skin either.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

The Daily Numbers - Sept 19

Moving Beyond 10,000 Losses: An occasional look at why it’s so difficult to be a Phillies – hell for that matter a Philadelphia – sports fan.
Yes, it’s tough these days to be a fan of the Iggles. Which makes what the Phils are doing all the more delectable. What could be better? Well, watching the Mets disintegrate before our eyes doesn’t hurt.

The Daily Numbers: 1.5 games back. Wild card or N.L. East? Take your pick. It’s the same for both.

6 straight wins for the Phillies. Somebody get a hose and put this team out.

14 innings, what it took the Phils to subdue the Cards last night.

5:04 that’s as in hours and minutes, the time it took to play last night’s game. Or should I say this morning’s game.

2 pygmy whales that beached themselves yesterday at Woodland Beach, Del. Despite valiant efforts to try to get them back out to sea, they had to be euthanized.

24 hours and counting, time that busy Route 70 in Medford, N.J., has been closed after a tanker truck overturned and spilled its load, causing a traffic nightmare.

38 hours every year. Speaking of traffic nightmares, that’s how long we actually wind up sitting in traffic during our commute to work, according to a new study. Almost the equivalent of one work week. There’s no truth to it that most of it is spent on the Blue Route.

128 million dollars left to The George School in Newtown, Bucks County, by an alumna who just happens to be the daughter of Warren Buffett. How many books does that buy?

210 thousand dollars, what the Great Valley School District in Chester County will pay their superintendent, who got a four-year extension on her contract over the protests of some parents.

2 and a half years old, age of toddler caught on a security tape looking up at the gun-wielding man robbing a bank in Allentown. The man snatched the child and walked him up to the teller’s window as he announced the heist.

11 criminal charges filed against O.J. Simpson in connection with that bizarre hotel break-in out in Vegas. One of them is first-degree kidnapping, which could leave him looking at life in jail. What’s that about justice delayed?

54.4 percent of his passes, what Donovan McNabb has been completing so far this season.

I Don’t Get It (with apologies to Jack McCaffery): Federal officials have announced they will investigate claims that one or more security officers at the Peach Bottom nuclear plant were caught being "inattentive to duties." That’s how bureaucrats describe sleeping on the job. Not a comforting feeling.

Today’s Upper: We’re not in favor of robbing convenience stores. But you almost have to admire the tactic of a man out in Carbondale, Pa. He tried to rob a store out there with a fairly distinctive attire. He was wearing nothing but a hat. The man left without getting any cash. Hat in hand, you might say.

Quote Box: "I say enough is enough."
-- Parkside Borough Council President Tom Deitman, in calling for the resignations of the troubled Penn-Delco School Board.

Just Phabulous

A game and a half.

I’m not referring to the National League Wild-Card race. Yes, the Phils still trail the Padres by that same margin.

No, I’m talking about the whole damn shootin’ match, the N.L. East.

The Mets continue to be in freefall. And the Phils just keep winning.
In fact, they have now won six straight.

Unfortunately, last night it took them more than five hours to do it. That means the game ended at about 1:10 this morning.

Our deadline at night is 11:40 p.m.. We can stretch that a bit, but not long enough to handle an 8:05 start that takes 14 innings.

That means we printed some papers last night without the result of the Phillies game. We stopped the press and replated as soon as the game ended.

We also immediately posted the result and game story to our Web site.

I’d like to know if your paper contained the result of the game. You can respond to this blog or drop me an e-mail at editor@delcotimes.com.

In the meantime, if you’re a baseball nut like I am, you simply have to love the Phils.

Just don’t tell me they are going to break our hearts again.

And why do I still have this nagging feeling that blowing that 8-2 lead in Atlanta is going to come back to haunt us.

Hey, maybe the Mets will continue to implode and take that weight off our shoulders.

With the Eagles in the tank, the Phils are the toast of the town.

A week ago they were seven full games back of the Mets. This morning they trail only by a game and a half.

Meaningful late September baseball.

Ain’t life grand?

The sporting life

I learned first-hand yesterday that not everyone is an Eagles fan.

At least among our readers.

Hell, among them, not everyone is even a sports fan.

Let me explain. Readers of the Daily Times are familiar with our print format. We’re a tab. We don’t use a lot of text on our front page. What we do is pick what we feel is our best story each day and splash that all over our front page. We add in a few teasers to other key elements inside the newspaper.

It’s the most important decision I make here each day. And yes, part of the decision is based on what I believe will sell. That’s part of my job, to sell as many papers as I can each day.

Does that mean we randomly sensationalize something that really doesn’t deserve to be on Page One? I don’t think so.

But you must remember that for the most part, we are a local newspaper. We focus on what is happening here in Delaware County.

I don’t especially care about the latest antics involving O.J. Simpson. We’ve been running him on the People page, amid the other celebrity news. He has not appeared on Page One. At least not yet. Will that continue? It depends on what he does.

If the Eagles said they were signing him as Brian Westbrook’s backup, I might consider it.

Which brings me back to sports. I got several phone calls Tuesday from readers who wanted to vent about our front pages from Monday and Tuesday. Of course, both of those involved the Eagles. Yes, I know I said we are a local paper. That includes the Eagles. In the fall, there is all the other sports, and then there are the Eagles. They rule. Add in an appearance on Monday Night Football and you have a fairly big story.

We led the paper Monday with the advance on the game, probing whether the Eagles, coming off a bumbling, mistake-filled opening day loss in Green Bay, were ready for prime time.

We followed that Tuesday with another front page leading with the Eagles dismal showing against the Redskins, an incredibly disappointing 0-2 start to the season.

One caller had seen enough. He called to vent that he wanted news on his front page, and suggested in no uncertain terms that we keep the Eagles on the Back Page. He wasn’t alone. Several other callers issued similar pleas.

All of them said they realized the Eagles were important, but they were not the reason they bought the paper.

And, of course, all of them indicated their belief that our choice was based on the idea of "selling papers." They weren’t completely off the mark.

But my favorite call came from a gentleman who wanted to argue not that we led the paper with a sports story, but that we chose the wrong sports story.

"You’ve got the loser all over the front," he said, referring to the Eagles. "And the Phillies you stuck up in the corner. It makes no sense. They won."

He’s right. Those Phabulous Phils continue to defy the odds. But they were not going to trump the Eagles playing on a Monday night.

The caller went on to add that he didn’t especially appreciate the fact that the story on the Phils’ big win focused on the fact that they almost blew an 11-0 lead.

Some days you just can’t win.

At least I get 365 attempts. There will be another one tomorrow. And another one next Monday. Guess what? I wouldn’t bet against the Eagles being the lead Monday, either.

Can you say "woe-and-3?"

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

The Daily Numbers - Sept 18

Moving Beyond 10,000 Losses: An occasional look at why it’s so difficult to be a Phillies – hell for that matter a Philadelphia – sports fan.

So the hell with the Eagles. How about those Phillies? Yeah, there’s the little matter of almost doing the unthinkable, blowing an 11-0 lead. Bottom line is they didn’t. They went out on the road to St. Louis and mashed the Cardinals, 13-11. And while the Padres also won, meaning they didn’t gain any ground in the wild-card race, the Mets lost again. The Phils now trail New York by 2 and a half for the N.L. East.

The Daily Numbers: 20 bucks, what it now costs to park for a game at the Linc. That’s up from $11. That’s a hefty hike, and more than a buck for every point the Birds scored.

0 touchdowns for the Eagles last night. They got four field goals from David Akers.


1 touchdown in two games so far this year for McNabb’s Machine. Yeah, Andy, I’d say things are off ‘just a hair.’


10,000 dollars worth of high-end clothing believed to have been bought by a South Philly woman charged with identity theft.


189 seagulls killed by a man who plowed into them in his car in a parking lot at a Philly marine terminal. Yesterday he was fined $75 per bird, that comes to a tidy $14,175.


14 months on probation for the Main Line socialite accused of attacking a nanny for the second time.


2 people badly burned when flames roared through their Southwest Philadelphia home late Monday night.


12 year limit on lifespan for school buses that would be imposed under new legislation being unveiled in Harrisburg. It’s part of a series of bills to make getting kids to and from school safer.


4 years old, age of Abington youth beaten to death. His mother’s boyfriend now is charged with homicide in the beating.


6 months old, age of zebra colt that died at Lehigh Valley Zoo. The death is now under investigation.


40,000 dollars in Social Security benefits believed ripped off by a Berks County man. He now faces fraud charges.

806 vehicles stopped in Delaware last weekend during a DUI checkpoint. Only 4 motorists were busted for actually driving under the influence.


81.24 what a barrel of oil was selling for yesterday. That’s an all-time high.

2 more home runs for Ryan Howard last night, including a grand slam that seemed like icing, but which the Phils wound up needing in a wild, 12-11 win over the Cards. That’s 40 on the year for Howard.


2 dingers as well for Aaron Rowand, as well as a game-saving catch.

I Don’t Get It (with apologies to Jack McCaffery): Shots were fired at a an elementary school in Willingboro, N.J., yesterday. There were no injuries.

Today’s Upper: Only a few more hours before another day-after Andy Reid press conference. Maybe he could have Charles Barkley on with him.

Quote Box: "I think tonight we just didn’t come out with that sense of urgency."
-- Eagles running back Brian Westbrook after last night’s less than dazzling loss in the Birds home opener.








Not Ready for Prime Time

The front page of the print edition of yesterday’s Daily Times asked a simple question.

It asked if the Eagles, who were booked for an appearance on Monday Night Football, and coming off a lousy showing in their opening-day loss to the Packers, were ‘Ready for Prime Time?’

Last night the Birds, in front of a packed Lincoln Financial Field, offered the faithful a resounding answer:
No.

Ironically, that front page pictured both Eagles head coach Andy Reid and quarterback Donovan McNabb.

Neither of them looked especially ready to strut their stuff on national TV either.
That’s oh-and-2, fans. The Birds lost, 20-12. They failed to get in the end zone.

All of their points came courtesy of the left foot of field goal kicker David Akers.
That’s woe-and-2 for all those who trekked to the Linc for the home opener. But there is some good news for them. At least they did not have insult added to injury in the form of one Charles Barkley. The former Sixers great spent much of the third quarter in the booth with the Monday night TV crew bashing Philly fans.

Yes, hard to believe, but they again relived the fact that Donovan McNabb actually was booed on Draft Day when he was selected by the Eagles.

He was booed last night, too. On merit.

Give Donovan credit for getting back on the field in time for the opener after last season’s devastating knee injury. Whether he should be on the field, and if at this point he can be an effective quarterback, is now open to debate. And expect it to be talked about all week.

Last night Donovan was throwing the ball all over the yard. That is not especially new. McNabb never was, and likely never will be, a tremendously accurate quarterback. But he always made up for it with his mobility, able to buy time and still make big plays. That potential no longer seems to be there. Or at least it isn’t at this point in McNabb’s recovery.

His receivers aren’t exactly giving McNabb much in the way of targets. They don’t appear to be ready for prime time, either.

Of course, Reid and the Eagles brass threw away their security blanket in the offseason. They decided they simply weren’t going to pay the guy who saved their bacon last year, Jeff Garcia, big money to be for most of the season a backup to McNabb. Whether their fortunes would be different at this point with Garcia running this offense while McNabb continues to mend we’ll never know.

That is not the same thing as never talking about it. We’ll talk about it endlessly this week.

For his part, Reid said after the game that, on both sides of the ball, the team is “off a hair.” Yeah, if you’re talking about Lady Madonna. This team is playing more like Britney Spears with a shaved mug.

Reid also said he needs to do a better job of putting guys in position to make plays. Sound familiar?

How bad were the Eagles? They got outscored by the Phillies, 13-12. And our fightin’ Phils? Up 11-0 at one point in that game? Don’t get me started.

That’s two losses, both to NFC opponents. The Eagles are now looking up at both the ‘Skins and Cowboys, both of whom are 2-0.

On Sunday the Lions come to town. They also happen to be 2-0.

The Eagles will wear their throwback jerseys to honor the team’s 75th anniversary. Hopefully they won’t throw up all over the field as they have in their first two games.

Monday, September 17, 2007

The Juice

They say justice delayed is justice denied.

Not necessarily.

O.J. Simpson is behind bars this morning, charged as part of an armed group that stormed a Las Vegas hotel room in search of sports memorabilia.

Simpson says no guns were involved and that he was merely running a sting operation to retrieve some of his own stuff.

Of course, there is no shortage of people who believe 'The Juice' should be in prison for the murders of his wife, Nicole Brown, and Ron Goldman.

A jury acquitted him of the murder charges; he was held liable in a civil proceeding.

The court of public opinion is another mattter.

Justice delayed indeed.

The Daily Numbers - Sept 17

Moving Beyond 10,000 Losses: An occasional look at why it’s so difficult to be a Phillies – hell for that matter a Philadelphia – sports fan. You just have to love the Phillies. Nothing stops this team. Every time you’re sure it’s time to stick a fork in the locals, they do something to completely confound the experts, like going to New York and sweeping the Mets. If this team does not make the postseason, it will not be for lack of effort.

The Daily Numbers: 4 people killed in car crashes over the weekend, including a woman who was killed on the Blue Route in Nether Providence.

1 person killed on the streets of Philadelphia. That now represents progress, in light of the bloody recent weekends.

300 people killed on city streets so far this year. Then again, I suppose the idea of progress is all relative.

30 of October. Mark the date on your calendar. That’s when the eight Democratic presidential candidates will be in Philly for a televised debate.

50 percent of the workforce at wireless Internet provider Earthlink that is being laid off. It has prompted concerns about the project they are handling to wire the city of Philadelphia. City Council is planning hearings on the issue.

19, age of man gunned down in Bristol over the weekend. The shooting happened near I-95 and Route 413.

10, age of some girls who apparently were approached at the York Fair by a woman trying to solicit recruits to work at a strip bar.

3 Kutztown University students to die in a month. The latest is a student from Downingtown who was struck and killed by a train.

2,800 workers idled for a week as Harley-Davidson temporarily closes its plant in York, Pa.

3 people stabbed in a Philadelphia restaurant at 11th Street and Washington Avenue early Sunday morning.

3 school buses stolen from a bus yard on East Butler Street in Philadelphia. Maybe they were being used to haul fans to the Linc to start tailgating for tonight’s game.

3.5 games back of the Mets for the Phils after sweeping the New Yorkers. They remain 1.5 games back in the wild-card hunt.

0 victories so far this year for the Eagles. Of course, they’ve only played one game. They’ll be looking to turn that around tonight.

10 home runs for Greg ‘Roy Hobbbs’ Dobbs, including yesterday’s pinch-hit grand slam that was the difference in the win over the Mets.

20 bucks, what it will cost you to park at the Eagles game tonight.

I Don’t Get It (with apologies to Jack McCaffery): O.J. Simpson. Talk about a Hall of Fame I don’t get it. What’s he thinking of?

Today’s Upper: The city gets a chance to sparkle on national television tonight. Let’s keep that in mind, Iggles fans. Best behavior, please.

Quote Box: “If I had to go back and do it again, I’d go back and do it again.”
-- Parkside firefighter Dan Brees, on the incident that left him and a fellow firefighter seriously burned

The comeback 'Rambles' on

So, are you ready for some football? A prime-time, Monday night matchup?

Well, you’re going to have to wait about 12 hours. Yes, the Eagles appear tonight on Monday Night Football, with a crucial matchup with the Redskins..

Of course, if you want, you can head to the stadium now and start the party. The rest of us have some work to do.

Not the least of which is that other sports story in town. How ‘bout dem Phillies? How sweep it is! Going to the Big Apple and shutting up all those Mets fans, all the Phils did this weekend is take three straight from the Mets. That makes eight straight wins against the Metropolitans.

The Phils are now just 3 and a half games behind the Mets in the National League East race. Ironically, while they are clawing back at the front-running New Yorkers, they’ve been unable to cut into the wild-card lead of the Padres, who continue to match the Phils win for win. The Phillies continue to be one and a half games back of the Padres.

But as I said, there is some news that should be dealt with this morning.

One of the things that is always debated when it comes to all this talk of a renaissance in the city of Chester, is how will we know when it is really taking root?

For this I defer to Mayor Wendell Butler, who gave what I consider to be the best answer to that a couple of years ago, back when the idea of putting a horsetrack in Chester was still in its infant stages.

At the time Butler indicated the city still needs to prove to people that it can in fact be a safe destination. That people can come into the city, do their business, and return home without the nagging thought that it was anything but a routine day.

It’s a good point. Despite the impressive turnaround in the city, the overall image of Chester in other areas of the county remains a questionable one. Until they can change that image, the city will continue to be a work – or for that matter a comeback – in progress.

This weekend should go a long way toward that goal.

They once again held the Riverfront Ramble along the waterfront from Tinicum and down to the Chester riverfront.

Mother Nature cooperated, with a glorious late summer day, and there, literally in the shadow of the Commodore Barry Bridge, hundreds of people found a new destination for a good time. That would be the city of Chester.

Official estimates indicated as many as 20,000 would crowd the different venues on the riverfront.

It’s another sign that Chester has arrived. That the renaissance is real. That the city is indeed on the comeback.

And in this county, it’s a welcome sight.

The print column

Here's a copy of this week's print column. It deals with how we develop some of our editorial policies here at the newspaper, and we sometimes end up breaking them.

It is one of those questions I get asked just about every day. No, not whether or not I think Andy Reid will ever lead the Eagles to the Super Bowl. Oh, I get asked that, too, but that’s not what I’m talking about here.
No, I field phone calls from readers every day asking me why we decided to cover a certain story. Or the manner in which we covered it. Sometimes I get a different variation. Readers want to know why we did not cover a certain event.
The conversations are not always pleasant. Sometimes people who call are livid over something the newspaper has done, or has declined to do.
It has to do with what we call our editorial policies here at the newspaper. There are some things we routinely do. And some things we routinely do not do.
The key here is to remember that these kinds of policies are not set in concrete. They’re flexible, and we deal with them often on a story-by-story basis.
This newspaper does not routinely cover funerals. We have adopted that policy for a reason. Very often in these instances, families are dealing with some of the worst circumstances imaginable. A loved one is being buried and the emotions are raw. Sometimes these events stem from a crime, sometimes from a horrendous crash or accident, always with a powerful emotional wallop.
Most of the time the circumstances involving the incident have already appeared in the newspaper, especially when it involves a crime or accident.
Our belief is that the funeral should be a private family matter, and we respect the privacy of those involved.
But that is not to say that there aren’t times when the news value is such that we ask the family how they would feel about coverage of the funeral. Very often they simply say no, and we try to respect those wishes. And sometimes they welcome the opportunity to have their loved one properly honored.
Last week, much of Chester was still reeling from the tragic death of Floyd “Pete” Nelson. Just about everyone in the city knew him as the beloved father of Jameer Nelson.
Jameer is a Chester icon. After starring at Chester High and leading the Clippers to a state basketball title, he went on to a sterling career at Saint Joseph’s University, where he led the Hawks to a stint as the No. 1 college team in the country. He was drafted by the NBA’s Orlando Magic and is a starting guard in the NBA.
Jameer was on the Chester waterfront soon after word came that his father was missing and feared drowned in the river. So were we. The vigil lasted a couple of days before the tragic news arrived from Delaware. A body believed to be that of Floyd Nelson had been recovered from the water. A positive identification soon followed.
In the days after the body was discovered, I started to wonder about coverage of the funeral. I asked a reporter to inquire of the family and funeral home how they would feel about media coverage.
We learned that coverage would be allowed. I sent a reporter and photographer to cover the funeral of Floyd Nelson not out of some sensational desire to make hay out of the story, but instead to properly honor one of the city’s treasures, and also to honor his son, one of the best things the city has ever produced.
In all honesty, I believed we likely would have received more criticism is we had simply ignored the funeral.
Our Saturday front page contained an image of the long line of mourners waiting to enter St. Luke’s Community Christian Church to pay their respects to the Nelson family. We also cut in two other shots, one of Jameer Nelson, another of Floyd Nelson himself.
Our headline was simple. It stated, Farewell, “Pete.”
Photographers were not allowed inside the church. We abided by that request. We did have a reporter inside, however.
Solomon Leach managed to convey what Floyd “Pete” Nelson had meant to the many people his life touched. One of those was Saint Joe’s basketball coach Phil Martelli. He called Nelson a role model, not just for fathers, but for parents in general.
If proof was ever needed of Nelson’s parenting skills, all you need to do is look at Jameer Nelson. A better role model for kids in Chester and every other part of this county eludes me.
“Pete” Nelson was described at his funeral as a loving and caring man who always made time for his family.
I’m glad that image was able to be displayed in this newspaper. Even if I had to violate one of my own policies to do it.

Philip E. Heron is editor of the Daily Times. Call him at (610) 622-8818. E-mail him at editor@delcotimes.com. To visit his daily blog, the Heron’s Nest, go to
www3.allaroundphilly.com/blogs/delcotimes/philh/blog.html.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Penn-Delco blues

Interesting letter in the paper today from Linda Cook.

You can read it here

Who's she?

She's the president of the Penn-Delco Education Association.

She makes a very good point, one that I think about here most every day. It's about newspapers, and what we do. And, I suppose, what we don't do.

While much of the district's officialdom (school board, former superintendent, education foundation) is in a full meltdown, the process of education in the district goes on.

Teachers (who Cook represents) teach. Kids go to class. The football team plays its games.

The education children get in Penn-Delco is a good one. That process is continuing. But no one seems to talk about that. And it certainly doesn't make headlines.

Cook is right. And there's a reason for that. It's not news. That is what is supposed to happen. It may sound harsh, but it's the truth.

That does not mean the newspaper does not cover other, more positive aspects of the school. We do. That was one of the things I expounded on in last week's print column. I mentioned we did a long piece on high school bands. Much of that story focused on kids at Sun Valley. That was not an accident.

It got headlines. It even got on the front page.

But we will continue to focus on what is going on in Penn-Delco, as everyone waits with baited breath for the results of the county district attorney's investigation of the district's business dealings, especially those linked to former board President Keith Crego.

One of my bigggest regrets about this entire story is the fact that we had been told repeatedly that the county had hoped to wrap up their probe and announce results before the end of the summer.

I had hoped that would be the case so the school year could get off to a fresh start.

That's obviously not going to be the case. Whatever and whenver the D.A. announces, it is going to put Penn-Delco all over the fron tpage of the newspaper once again.

Linda Cook probably won't like that.

In the meantime, kids will continue to go to school. Teachers will continue to teach. And at some point, maybe, just maybe, things will return to normal in this troubled district.

But it won't be today.

That's because we're reporting on more troubles for the Penn-Delco Educational Foundation, including the exits of several board members.

There is the matter of a $100,000 state grant, and what it was used for, and what the district's liability in the matter might be.

Just another day in Penn-Delco.

Another week, another pick

If it's Saturday, it must be time for the dreaded Eagles pick.

I will try to use this space on my so-called off-day (full confession here, in the newspaper business there really is no such thing as a day off) to show off my prognosticating prowess on the Eagles.

Just don't plop yourself in front of the TV tomorrow with your face painted green and a big spread of wings, chips and munchies.

The Eagles don't play until Monday night. As if we need another day to wallow in last week's disaster.

I'll admit I saw some of this coming. But I still didn't think they'd lose to the lowly Packers. Make no mistake about it, the Packers are one of the worst teams in the league. So what does that say about the Birds?

Of course it was the way the Birds lost that had fans making like their favorite quarterback and regurgitating their lunch.

I'm still fairly dumbstruck that a coach as accomplished as Andy Reid could so arrogantly toss off questions about the return game and enter a season without a punt returner.

He paid for it dearly, as first Greg Lewis and then J.R. Reed muffed punts, leading directly to 13 Packers points, including the game-winning field goal as time expired.

Pity Poor J.R. Reed. He went from feel-good story of the year, returning to the team two years after a devastating leg injury that caused nerve damage, only to be tossed on the scrap heap because he was thrown to the wolves by Eagles coaches who clearly think very little of special teams.

This week we will have the much-surer hands of Reno Mahe back under punts. He'll make the right decision and catch the ball when he has to, but little else. For my money, I wold have brought back Jeremy Bloom. He would have done the same thing as Mahe, but still had the potential of breaking one. But of course that would have left the other Reid with a little egg on his face. No can do.

Unsaid in all the hoopla over the special teams was the pedestrian nature of the Eagles offense last week. Donovan McNabb this week admitted he has a lot of work to do, that he simply does not have the explosiveness he possessed before the knee injury.

Here's one to mull over. Take a gander at McNabb's record in his last 20 or so starts. It ain't great.

That had better reverse itself Monday night. The Redskins aren't great, but they're better than the Packers.

So what happens? A low-scoring affafir, with a reverse ending from last week. David Akers kicks the game winner (but only after an attempt earlier in the game goes awry because of a mishandled snap by new holder Sav Rocca) and the Birds prevail, 19-16.

And everyone in Eagleville can exhale. If the opposite should happen, and the Birds should fall to 0h-and-2, stay away from bridges on the ride home.

Friday, September 14, 2007

The Daily Numbers - Sept 14

Moving Beyond 10,000 Losses: An occasional look at why it’s so difficult to be a Phillies – hell for that matter a Philadelphia – sports fan.
Can anybody figure this team out? They go down 3-0 in the first inning, and it looks like it’s time to stick a fork in them. They roar right back in the bottom of the frame, put 4 on the board, and go on to smoke the Rockies, 12-4. In the process they’re right back to a game and a half back in the Wild Card. Amazin’. Speaking of Amazin,’ the Phils go to Shea for three with the Mets. This Wild-Card thing looks like it might go down to the last weekend.


The Daily Numbers: 5,700 U.S. troops that could be home from Iraq by Christmas under the plan announced last night by President Bush.

21,500 soldiers who will exit Iraq by next summer.

9 billion dollars a month, what the war in Iraq is costing the United States.

450 billion dollars, what Congress has appropriated to the war in Iraq.

19 members of the Lehigh University swim team charged with underage drinking after police raided an off-campus booze bash.

9 people indicted in a huge cocaine ring in Montgomery County, the leader of which has been charged with paying for the murder of a woman who was planning to testify against him.

10 blocks, how far a man was dragged after a fatal hit-run overnight in Oxford Circle. The driver of the minivan fled the scene.

2 Philadelphia police sergeants who have been charged with insurance violations in a side business they operate.

4 New Jersey men who have been charged in the vicious beating of a man in a parking lot outside Citizens Bank Park.

8 employees of the House Democratic Office of Legislative Research who are believed to have spent months away from their state jobs to campaign full time, while still getting big bonuses. The state attorney general is on the case.

3 bucks, what the Bank of America is now planning to charge non-customers to use their ATM machines.

20 percent more, what we could be paying for pasta soon because of worldwide shortage in the wheat crop.

1 inning for J.D. Durbin last night for the Phillies. The Durbinator had trouble finding the plate and when he did the Rockies were hitting his offerings hard.

5 hits, 3 walks and 3 runs given up by Durbin, who did not get anyone out in the second inning before making his exit.

12 runs, what the Phils promptly put on the board to cool off the Rockies.

1.5 back in the wild-card chase for the Phils, tied with the Dodgers and chasing the Padres.


I Don’t Get It (with apologies to Jack McCaffery): How about that tough Guy NFL boss Roger Goodell? He brings the hammer down on players like Pac-Man Jones and Michael Vick. But Bill Belichick? No suspension. Maybe a draft pick. A fine. He was cheating. I don’t get it.


Today’s Upper: No football Sunday. The Eagles don’t take the field again ‘til Monday night. Enjoy the Phillies as they tantalize us once again.

Quote Box: "Success is not going to happen overnight. It’s going to take time."
-- Vietnam veteran James Alleva, as he watched President Bush’s speech last night.

A Philly fan's lament

We wuz robbed. Or wuz we?

Only an ill-fated, long-suffering Philadelphia sports fan could offer this lament. So sue me. Hey, everyone else seems to threaten to most days.
What’s stuck in my craw?

I’ll tell you what. Super Bowl XXXIV. That’s 39 if, like me, you don’t get Roman Numerals.

You might remember that one. It was played in Jacksonville and featured a team you might recognize in green and silver.

Ring a bell?

That’s right. Eagles and Patriots.

The Eagles dominated the first half, thoroughly confusing superstar Pats’ QB Tom Brady. But the offense failed to really cash in their opportunities.

The Patriots came out in the second half and promptly marched right down the field. Later they went on another long drive to put the game away. Their adjustments were amazing, heralded by most as the key to the game, and the difference between Bill Belichick and Andy Reid. The all-important halftime adjustment.

Of course they were helped in no small way by Reid, and his no-hurry offense in the fourth quarter. So glaring was the Eagles’ use of the clock that Belichick actually wondered if the scoreboard was wrong and his team was trailing the Eagles.

Fast-forward three years. Last weekend. Opening day of a new NFL season.

And lo and behold the Patriots are caught videotaping the defensive signals of the New York Jets.

The incident explodes into Tape-Gate. Everyone has a theory as to how long the Patriots have been doing this, and what effect it all has.

I have only one. Do I think the Patriots cheated the Eagles out of a Super Bowl. Not really.

Do I think it fits perfectly into the never-ending agony of being a Philly sports fan? Oh, you bet.

Hey, how ‘bout those Phils. Only a game and a half out of the Wild Card again.

And one step closer to stabbing us in the heart for the millionth time.

Air Raid

Sound the air raid siren!

We don’t like to say we told you so, but we told you so.

Delaware County officials this afternoon will announce they are filing a federal lawsuit against the hated airspace redesign plan.

You know the one. It’s the brainchild of the Federal Aviation Administration to ease congestion and chronic delays that plague Philadelphia International Airport, and in fact airports all over the northeast. What it means to Delco is lots of planes at low altitudes over the heart of the county.

And that means noise. Interminable, house-shaking, conversation-interrupting noise.

Or, as they say down in Tinicum Township, welcome to our world. With an international airport as their next-door neighbor, Tinicum residents have dealt with this kind of noise for years.

If the feds get their way, a whole host of county residents, in a swath that covers Ridley Park, Upper Darby and Haverford would get a similar taste of the roar of low-flying airplanes.

That’s because instead of the current path in which most flights hug the Delaware River, the FAA would now allow pilots to veer out over Delaware County at low altitudes.

Make no mistake. The airport is broken and it needs to be fixed.
The key here is whether this plan will actually fix it. Local officials insist the FAA’s own records say their solution won’t solve the problem, while making life miserable for a lot of people in Delaware County.

The suit basically will claim that the airspace redesign violates environmental laws. It’s part of a multi-pronged attack. Rep. Joe Sestak, D-7, also has been able to convince the Government Accountability Office to conduct a review of the process the FAA used in implementing the redesign plan.

At best, both of these measures are likely to delay what appears to be an unavoidable end result. Almost all of these kinds of legal challenges to FAA rulings across the nation have failed.

In the meantime, officials will gather today in Tinicum. It’s appropriate. Planes likely will be going overhead.

Soon a lot more of Delaware County could be subject to similar conditions.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

The Daily Numbers - Sept 13

Moving Beyond 10,000 Losses: An occasional look at why it’s so difficult to be a Phillies – hell for that matter a Philadelphia – sports fan.
Forget the boxscore. Yes, the Phils lost 12-0. But psychologically this game was lost in the first inning. Try this on for size. You start the game by retiring the opposition with a bizarre triple-play, then come right back in the bottom of the frame and load the bases with nobody out. And you lose, 12-0. No, you didn’t score in that first frame. Only the Phillies. Incredibly, they’re still not dead. They remain only two and a half games back in the Wild-Card race. Anybody think the Phils will win it? Didn’t think so.

The Daily Numbers: 2 million dollars the city of Chester is kicking in to build a new rec center at Seventh and Madison streets.

3 Delaware County fire companies that are merging their services. Those would be in Morton, Rutledge and Swarthmore. Get used to it. This is something that a lot of towns likely will be looking at in the future.

82, age of Brookhaven man who will now face trial on charges he fatally beat his 80-year-old wife, who was suffering from Alzheimer’s Disease.

5 local officials, Republicans and Democrats, who have now united to fight the airport redesign plan being pushed by the Federal Aviation Administration.

3 teens killed in a car crash in Jackson Township, N.J. One girl was a high school student, the other two were recent graduates. The car went out of control on a curve.

20, age of Marine from Atco, N.J., killed in fighting in Iraq. We salute Infantryman Jon T. Hicks.

16, age of teen police say brutally beat a homeless man in Hamilton Township, N.J. They say 6 local teens were harassing the man, before one attacked him with a stick.

20 gunshots fired in a wild incident overnight in Olney involving a SEPTA bus. The driver was injured. The shooting was going on outside the bus. The wounded driver drove five blocks to get his passengers to safety.

19 million dollars, what the state student loan agency PHEAA is looking to save. That includes freezing controversial bonuses for execs.

2 contractors in Bucks County being charged with cheating customers out of hundreds of thousands of dollars. Joseph and John Salvatico are believed to have taken money for jobs and never doing the work.

200,000 dollar winning Powerball ticket in Wednesday night’s drawing that was sold in Pennsylvania. Better start checking those numbers.

36 million jackpot up for grabs in the next Mega Millions Jackpot. Next drawing is Friday. You can buy tickets – and a dream – in Jersey.

5 hours in Philadelphia yesterday and here’s the carnage: 4 shootings and 6 people injured. It’s the Wild, Wild West.

350 pilots being hired by US Airways, most of which will be located in their hub in Philadelphia.

80 mph winds of Hurricane Humberto that are raking the Texas coast.

2 innings, what the Rockies got from their starter last night. And they still shut the Phils out.

3 innings for Phils starter Kyle Kendrick, before he took a rocket off his knee and exited the game. Can this team’s luck get any worse?

Don’t Get It (with apologies to Jack McCaffery): The naysayers continue to snicker when the city of Chester comes up, simply choosing to ignore the incredible recovery taking place in the city. Open your eyes, people.

Today’s Upper: Don’t look now but we’ve got ourselves a certified, real race for three seats on County Council. The Republicans and Dems are actually engaging on the issues just about every day. That’s good news for the county, and for voters.

Quote Box: "If he was truly sorry he would have gotten out of his car and stayed there after my baby was hit."
-- Tanisha Palmer, mother of hit-run victim, yesterday after the man who struck and killed her son pleaded guilty.

The Comeback Kid

The grumbling has been a bit muted, but it has not gone away.

Chester is undergoing a renaissance, screamed the headlines. Many of them in this newspaper.

But there were always the whispers, the skeptics, those who questioned if indeed all of Chester was making a comeback.

Yes, they admitted, the development on the riverfront is spectacular. This all started with the Wharf at Rivertown, and its majestic centerpiece, the refurbished old PECO Power Station. It truly is a gem, and it’s located in Chester.

There were lots who never believed a horsetrack would be built inside the city limits, let alone a glittering casino and slots parlor.

A federal prison? Sure, that was more along the line of what Chester would host.

Of course, Harrah’s proved them wrong. Just a stone’s throw from the Wharf, also hard on the Delaware River, now sits Harrah’s Chester Casino and Racetrack. It is doing booming business. We’re talking millions of dollars every week.

But the whispers did not go away.

The latest proposal for the city could see Chester become a major league destination, if the casino has not already delivered that mantle.

A group of big-money investors is looking to build a stadium at a site near the Commodore Barry Bridge. They want to use it to lure a professional soccer team. Listen to those involved, and you get the feeling this is anything but pie-in-the-sky. This thing could happen. In fact, the bettors flocking to Harrah’s probably would lay odds that it will happen.

All of which would make the Chester waterfront an economic blockbuster. And therein lies part of the skepticism that abounds in other parts of the city.

Their theme? What about us? What is all this development doing for the rest of the city? Where is the trickle-down business that was hoped for in the downtown area? Where are all the jobs that were hoped for?

What will be done with the persistently substandard education offered to all too many students in the troubled Chester Upland School District?
In short, what’s in it for the rest of the city, especially the people who live there?

Among those raising questions was state Rep. Thaddeus Kirkland, D-159, who said the money being used to lure the pro soccer franchise would be better used in the community.

On Thursday, Chester City Council tried to answer some of those critics. They announced they would kick in $2 million to build a new Boys and Girls Club facility.

No, it will not be built on the waterfront. It will be at Seventh and Madison streets.

The money is coming from the city’s capital improvement fund. That includes $500,000 that was kicked in from the former owner of the Wharf at Rivertown.

Does Chester still have problems? Sure. But is has something else it has not had in a long time.

Promise.

This weekend thousands will venture to sites all along the Delaware River, for the annual Riverfront Ramble. They will visit Tinicum, Ridley and Marcus Hook.

And and someplace else. That's right they will visit the city of Chester.

Welcome back.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

This just in from Bill Bellichick

As I was saying, apparently everyone is cheating.

Now Patriots' coach Bill Belichick is apologizing for the conflagration that has grown out of Sunday's videotaping debacle.
Here's what he had to say:

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. (AP) — Patriots coach Bill Belichick apologized Wednesday for the commotion surrounding his team following accusations that his club spied on the Jets during New England’s season-opening victory in New York.

Belichick said he spoke with NFL commissioner Roger Goodell this week about a "videotaping procedure" during last Sunday’s game and "my interpretation of the rules."

"At this point, we have not been notified of the league’s ruling," Belichick said in a statement. "Although it remains a league matter, I want to apologize to everyone who has been affected, most of all ownership, staff and players. Following the league’s decision, I will have further comment."

The statement follows a report that the NFL is considering punishing the Patriots for spying. Belichick refused to elaborate on the statement several times during a news conference. After about 15 minutes discussing Sunday’s game, he was pressed harder on his "interpretation of the rules," and the coach walked out of the room.