Monday, November 30, 2009

The Daily Numbers - Nov. 30

The Daily Numbers: 200 people who turned out Sunday night for a vigil in Upper Darby for three young students injured when they were struck by a car as they walked home last week.
5-1 vote of council by which Media Borough has decided to remove a plaque honoring Jay Johnson, the co-writer of the famed Elvis holiday ditty “Blue Christmas.”
4 police officers shot dead in Washington state in what authorities are describing as a targeted ambush in a local coffee shop.
87,403 dollars, what you would have to shell out for the items listed in the “12 Days of Christmas.”
5,250 dollars for the most expensive item, 7 swans a-swimming.
96 million people who are expected to go online and do some shopping today, on “Cyber Monday.”
4 young girls struck by a car in Darby Borough Friday. They’re expected to be fine.
2.72 a gallon, what we were paying for gas yesterday on the busiest travel day of the year.
2.00, average price a year ago.
50, age of blind woman who was beaten and raped during an attack in her home in the Mayfair section of Philadelphia Sunday.
12 day deer season for gun hunters that kicks off this morning in Pennsylvania.
2 straight 4th quarter rallies for the Eagles, who beat the Redskins, 27-24, on Sunday.
16 straight field goals made by Eagles kicker David Akers. His 32-yarder was the difference yesterday.
2 Eagles now suffering from concussions. DeSean Jackson joined Brian Westbrook after he got dinged in the 3rd quarter yesterday and did not return.
90 yards, how far Donovan McNabb drove the Birds for a TD and 2-point conversion to tie the game.
143 games as the Eagles QB for McNabb, that eclipsed the record held by Ron Jaworski.
22 points for Tim Duncan as the San Antonio Spurs beat the Sixers last night, 97-89.
5 straight road losses for the Sixers, who are now 5-12 on the season.
Call me a Phanatic: A look at the ups and downs of being a Philadelphia sports fan.
Anybody have a feel yet for just how good – or bad – this Eagles team is? Beats the hell out of me.
I Don’t Get It: A couple who crashed that presidential dinner is now looking to sell their story to the highest bidder. Talk about your 15 minutes of fame.
Today’s Upper: Kudos to the Upper Darby community for coming out in force Sunday night to support the families of three young students struck by a car last week.
Quote Box: “Thank you for praying for our son. We appreciate it very much.”
- Demoz Beyene, father of most seriously Beverly Hills Middle School student struck by out-of-control car last week.

A Tiger by the tail

As a frustrated hacker – that’s a golfer for you non-linksters – there are any number of times when I would love to walk in Tiger Woods’ shoes for just five minutes.

This weekend was not one of them.

The greatest golfer – and perhaps most recognizable athlete – on the planet has been in the headlines all weekend. But not for his incredible feats on the golf course. Instead, he’s all over the news for something that happened in his driveway.

Woods was involved in a minor car crash. That’s the last time anything about this story was minor. It has exploded into national headlines and become fodder for the tabloids.

Questions are being asked about Woods’ private life, about his marriage and about the circumstances that led him to leave his exclusive Florida mansion at 2:20 in the morning.

So far Woods has declined to speak to police. Yesterday he released a statement on his Web site, saying that the accident in which he plowed over a fire hydrant and than slammed into a tree was “his fault.” He admitted it was very embarrassing to his family, but that he preferred to keep the rest of the story private.

We’ll see how that goes. Tiger Woods has managed to make the miraculous seem mundane on the golf course. His fans show up, and tune in, to see him do something that no one thought was possible.

Seeing him extricate himself from this public relations nightmare might just be his biggest challenge yet.

But Tiger can’t fend off this situation with a driver, or his magical putter.

Instead he likely will have to lay bare part of his personal life, something he seems bound and determined not to do.

This story, the way it’s covered and the way people talk about it, tells us much about us as a society, the way we treat our sports heroes and celebrities, and about the industry I toil in every day.

Tiger Woods was involved in a minor car crash. Early reports that he had been “seriously” injured proved unfounded. He was treated and released from the hospital.

But that’s only what appears on the surface of this story. It’s what is underneath that we crave.

Tiger Woods believes he can keep that part of his life – and this story – away from everyone, even the police.

I’ll never hit a drive quite like the cannon shots Tiger Woods routinely delivers.

Hopefully, I’ll also never take a drive quite like the one Tiger took in his drivway the other night.

For once, I’m glad I’m not in Tiger Woods’ shoes.

U.D. pulls for one of its own

It was a weekend for giving thanks. In Upper Darby, it also marked something else: Hope

Nearly 200 people gathered at an Upper Darby church Sunday night to offer their prayers and support for the families of three young students who were injured when they were struck by an out-of-control last week.

In particular their thoughts rested with Philmon Beyene, the most serious of the injured Beverly Hills Middle School students.

Beyene’s father, Demoz, attended last night’s vigil and was clearly buoyed by the love and support that enveloped him from the community.

Among those attending were residents, classmates and their families, as well as Upper Darby Police Superintendent Mike Chitwood, Mayor Tom Micozzie and schools Superintendent Lou DeVlieger.

“I see my son every day,” Demoz Beyene told those gathered. “Every day he’s improving. I see for myself. Thank you for praying for our son. We appreciate it very much.”

The true meaning of Thanksgiving, played out on the streets of Upper Darby.

Get well soon, Philmon. Your town is pulling for you.

For the Birds

I think I can now authoritatively make the following statement about the
2009 Philadelphia Eagles: I still don’t know how good they are.

Yesterday the Eagles struggled mightily to beat a banged-up Redskins team with almost nothing to play for. The Birds were a 9-point favorite over the ‘Skins, which makes you wonder if the oddsmakers had watched this team at all this year. How could they be a nine-point pick over anybody?

This was a game where the Eagles simply should have lined up and beaten an inferior team. It was not a day for trickery and gadget plays.

Then you remember this is Andy Reid’s team. So of course the Eagles delighted their fans with an onside kick on the opening kickoff, which winds up in the hands of a Redskin, who immediately bolts through the charging Birds and sets up the ‘Skins at the Eagles’ 20. A few plays later and the Eagles are looking up at a 7-0 deficit. Thanks, coach.

To their credit, the Eagles battled back. And it’s also time to give some serious credit to Donovan McNabb, who for the second straight week led the Birds to victory by coming from behind in the fourth quarter. So much for that rap on the 11-year veteran.

The win makes the Eagles 7-4, and in very good position to make the playoffs. But realistically, do you expect them to do much when they get there? I don’t.

But they are light years ahead of last year, when it was about this time of year that they limped back up I-95 in total disarray after a loss that saw the benching of Donovan McNabb at halftime.

This team has a lot of new weapons, DeSean Jackson, Jeremy Maclin, LeSean McCoy and Brent Celek. That’s now been clouded – along with Jackson’s head – by a concussion that forced the star second-year wideout from the lineup in the third quarter. He did not return. He now joins Brian Westbrook in battling the concussion demons that suddenly are hounding the NFL.

But it is on the other side of the ball that the Birds are really struggling. On defense they have developed a sudden inability to stop foes on third down, including third and long.

This week will make the return of the Eagles’ own redemption project, Michael Vick, to Atlanta. It will be talked about at length. But it has little to do with what this team is all about.

That’s the problem. I’m still not really sure what this team actually is all about, nor how good they really are.

What I know is that they are 7-4 and likely headed for the playoffs.
Been there, done that.

Let’s see what happens down the stretch. I’m not exactly dreaming of a Super Bowl bid.

But then again, this is the NFL. Stranger things have happened. They almost happened to the Eagles last year.

The return of A.I.?

There was a time when this story would have been a blockbuster. It would have dominated the headlines, and been talked about endlessly on sports talk radio.

Now it is met only by snickers, the rolling of eyes, and the wonder of just how far the Philadelphia 76ers have sunk on our sports radar.

The Sixers apparently are toying with the idea of bringing back a certain former all-star. Maybe you’ve heard of him. His name is Allen Iverson.

That’s right, brace yourself for the return of A.I. Maybe.

The Sixers certainly have a need. They lost young point guard Lou Williams for six to eight weeks last week when he suffered a fractured jaw.

But that’s not really what this move is about. The Sixers have a much bigger need. They need to put some fans in the seats. And they need to matter again.

A.I. would certainly do that. But I’m not sure what else it would accomplish, other than delay the inevitable, that the Sixers are in the midst of a massive rebuilding. It is not going to happen overnight.

The Sixers are a bad team, and they’re not going to get better overnight.

Then again they’re not going to get all that better by adding Iverson, either. Instead they will blunt the development of any other players, as Iverson once again becomes the focus of their universe.

Since leaving the Sixers, Iverson has had mostly unsuccessful stints in Denver, Detroit, and then finally an almost comical stop with the Grizzlies. That one lasted about three games. Iverson made it clear he had no desire to come off the bench, which apparently is the reason Memphins acquired him. And yes, you would think maybe that topic might have been discussed before the Grizzlies signed Iverson.

Would he come here and be content to be an offensive presence off the bench? Unlikely. Instead he more likely would be a disruptive presence, bringing coach Eddie Jordan’s motion offense to a stop as all roads would go through Iverson.

Jordan over the weekend looked to downplay talk of the Sixers acquiring their former all-star.

Good for him. Allen Iverson’s time is over. The Sixers need to move on.
Sure, they likely would sell a few more tickets with Iverson in the lineup.

But it would be a mistake, something this organization has made all too many of in recent years.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

The dreaded Saturday Eagles pick

Let’s say this up front. The Eagles should not be a nine-point pick over anyone.

Yet here we are, with the Birds looking at a huge spread vs. the Redskins.

First things first, D.C. might just be called the Deadskins. They are very banged up and likely not terribly interested in what has been just one more disaster in the Dan Snyder era.

But they still always manage to give the Eagles fits. The Birds beat them, 27-17, just a few weeks ago. But I look for this one to be a lot closer.

It won’t be pretty, but the Eagles, powered by just enough Donovan McNabb, DeSean Jackson and LeSean McCoy, get another close win over the Redskins.

All together now, “Hail to the Redskins.” Or as the fans in D.C. might be singing to Snyder, “to hell with the Redskins.

Make it Eagles 17, Redskins 16.

Last Week: I was on the money again in thinking da Birds would prevail over da Bears. But I have to admit I did not see the fourth-quarter comeback coming.

Season Record: 6-4, I'm even with the Eagles. And I’m starting to get my playoff face on for the stretch run.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

More than wins & losses

I have a very special place in my heart for Chichester football.

No, I am not a Chi grad. I went to Oxford High School. We have something
of an infamous link. And I was part of it.

I was a member of the first-ever varsity football team at Oxford High.
Our coach, Fred Green, was a Chichester alum, and had played under the
legendary Tony Apichella. Their football field is now named for him.
Apichella, not Green.

I kind of doubt there is a plaque to mark our visit there.

Back in 1970, when I was a sophomore, the student decided to challenge
his mentor. Oxford would play Chichester in our first ever varsity
football game.

It was the year after Billy “White Shoes” Johnson graduated. We actually
had gone as a team the year before to watch him play. A year later, we
ran onto the field on an ungodly hot Saturday morning against the
Eagles. It didn’t go too well. We lost 72-3. A guy named Joe Miller ran
all over us. I think he scored five touchdowns, including returning the
opening kickoff for a TD.

I did, however, hold the ball for that solitary field goal on the Oxford
side of the ledger.

I was a safety/backup quarterback, and weighed maybe 110 pounds sopping
wet with all my gear on. The summer before my senior year, our starting
QB moved down South. That left me as the starter. That gives you an idea
how good we were.

We didn’t win a single game. We went 0-10. I can only be blamed for the
first four losses, until I broke my collarbone, ending my season. It
matched the separated shoulder I suffered in my junior year.

Today Chichester and Sun Valley will meet for the 42nd time on
Thanksgiving Day.

Neither one of them has won a game.

Doesn’t matter. Instead, two communities will come together in a
tradition that bonds them forever. Alumni will flock back home for the
game. Bragging rights will be decided for another year. Those on the
field will remember it – and the guys they played with - for the rest of
their lives.

Wins and losses don’t really have anything to do with it.

I know exactly how they feel.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

The Daily Numbers - Nov. 25

The Daily Numbers: 3 Beverly Hills Middle School students struck by a car as they waited to cross the street yesterday. The driver could face charges.
15 years in jail for Broomall money manager Joe Forte for running a huge Ponzi scheme.
35 million dollars in restitution a judge ordered him to pay. Investors are unlikely to ever see any of it.
38.4 million hitting the road this year as they travel to Thanksgiving destinations.
4.8 percent decrease in the Philly area of people who are traveling for the holiday.
4 percent dip in ridership on SEPTA after the strike by city workers shut down the system for a week.
4,433 individuals who were vaccinated against the H1N1 flu over the weekend at the Penn State Brandywine campus.
1 more H1N1 clinics being held today at the state health center in Chester.
235,000, how much a Ridley Park man ripped off from his employer, a Concord surgical center. He was sentenced to 2.5 to 5 years in prison 33, age of elementary school teacher in Wilmington, Del., charged with selling cocaine.
5, where Pa. ranks for the most global warming pollution, according to the environmental group PennEnvironment.
2 fireworks shows being planned for the Philly waterfront on New Year’s Eve this year. There will be one at 6 p.m. and another when the clock strikes midnight.
2 teens killed and 5 others injured in a horrific crash on Route 724 in Chester County.
5 people charged in what police are describing as a revenge kidnapping in Delaware.
17 percent dip in cost of natural gas this winter, according to PECO.
23, age of John Lewis, sentenced yesterday to death for the murder of Philly Officer Chuck Cassidy.
110,000 Toyota Tundra trucks recalled because of problems with rust.
26 points for Louis Williams, but the Sixers lose to the Wizards, 108-107.
2 game suspension for Flyers Danny Briere for a hit on a Colorado player after the Avalanche player scored.

Call me a Phanatic: A look at the ups and downs of being a Philadelphia sports fan.Jon Runyan is now a San Diego Charger. The Eagles yesterday gave a four-year extension to Winston Justice. I get it, but I still don’t get it.
I Don’t Get It: A crossing guard near Scranton admitted making pornographic videos with a 16-year-old boy. He’s 86. I don’t get it.
Today’s Upper: Mayor Nutter is fighting back. He’s threatening to start the city’s own regatta with local and other college crews to replace the departed Dad Vail Regatta, which is rowing upstream to Rumson, N.J.
Quote Box: “I want to look you in the eye … When you face the ultimate judge in his courtroom, may you burn in hell.”
- Rose Wilson, to Joseph Forte, as he was sentenced to 15 years for swindling her and others out of millions.

Not exactly Madoff

A lot of people are referring to Joseph Forte as Delaware County’s version of Bernard Madoff. Hardly.

Forte doesn’t even amount to mini-Madoff, the man who swindled New York’s elite out of several not-so-small fortunes. He’s a wannabe.

Forte, a Broomall money manager so craved acceptance among the elite class he wanted to run with, he concocted a fantasy investment world in which he took their money and promised fabulous returns.

Except the fantasy was a lie. And it turned into a nightmare for those who entrusted their life savings to Forte.

Forte was in federal court yesterday, where he was sentenced to 15 years in prison and ordered to make restitution of $35 million.

He’s got a pretty good shot at the 15 years. He has almost no prayer of returning the money.

Also in court were many of his victims, people who befriended him, who trusted him, who never thought twice about turning over millions to him.

They told powerful stories of lives turned upside down.

Forte yearned to be part of their circle. For a few years, he was. Then it all came crashing down.

Now he’ll be joining another circle of friends. They’re called federal prisoners.

And his victims are in a prison of their own, a prison of dashed dreams and financial ruin, all due to their wannabe “friend.”

Thanksgiving wish? Slow down

It is a day for Planes, Trains & Automobiles.

The Wednesday before Thanksgiving is the busiest traffic day of the year.

Here’s a tip, and maybe a suggestion. Can we all just slow down? Maybe we’ll actually get there sooner, and in one piece.

Three young students at Beverly Hills Middle School did not make it home from school yesterday, apparently in part because of a speeding car.

The three students were struck by a car along Marshall Road as they waited to cross the intersection.

The 42-year-old female driving the car tried to weave around traffic, police said. Witnesses say she was driving at a high rate of speed.
Police say charges in the case could be filed today.

Two of the youths suffered non-life-threatening injuries. But the third is in very serious condition at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.

Let’s make this the rule of the day: Slow down.

Runyan's a Charger

How difficult is this to hear? Jon Runyan wants to take one more shot at winning a Super Bowl. So he signed with the San Diego Chargers.

Runyan became something of an institution at right tackle for the Eagles. He signed as a big-time free agentback in 2000. All he did after that was play in 144 consecutive games.

In a world where you can count on almost nothing, you could count at Runyan trotting out onto that field on Sunday afternoon. Nothing kept him away, not a cranky knee, nor a painful tailbone.

When the ref blew the whistle, Runyan lined up at right tackle.

Runyan had indicated he was looking for one more shot at the playoffs and a possible Super Bowl shot, and was waiting for an opportunity. That came when the Chargers’ right tackle, Jeromey Clary, was placed on injured reserve with ligament damage in his ankle, ending his season.

Enter Runyan.

Big Jon also is still toying with the idea of running for Congress next year in South Jersey.

For now, he’ll be a temporary resident of the Left Coast.

In the meantime, his replacement with the Birds, Winston Justice, was given a four-year extension.

Maybe the Eagles will meet the Chargers in the Super Bowl. Now that would be Justice delivered.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

The Daily Numbers - Nov. 24

The Daily Numbers: 6 to 23 months in prison for the teen convicted of setting a cat on fire. Rishawn Morrison will serve his sentence on electronic home monitoring.
19, age of Morrison, who admitted his guilt in the killing of Cuddles the cat, a 6-week-old tabby.
7 adults and 1 child chased from their home in Darby by fire. All escaped injury.
34 years, how long Tom Judge Sr. led the Delco GOP. He was feted at a dinner last night at Springfield Country Club that saw a who’s who of Delco politics in attendance.
20 million dollars, how much federal probers say Broomall investor Joseph Forte fleeced from his clients.
32, age of instructor at Pennsylvania Institute of Technology in Media charged with sexual assault of a female student.
2 more H1N1 clinics being held today and tomorrow in the county, after 3 was jammed last weekend on the campus of Penn State Brandywine.
11 percent tax hike proposed in Aston.
0.7 mill property tax hike on tap in Parkside.
75 million dollars awarded to a couple who sued Wyeth Pharmaceuticals in connection with breast cancer and a hormone-replacement drug.
10 percent spike in existing home sales in October, as the housing biz shows signs of a turnaround.
132.79 point jump on Wall Street, fueled by those rosy housing numbers.
2.1 million dropside cribs made by Storm Craft Manufacturing that are being recalled for safety problems.
5 men charged in a terror plot in which they tried to buy anti-aircraft missiles in Philly and ship them overseas.
6 men charged in gang rape of woman that started in a West Philly take-out restaurant and then continued when she was dragged into a home next door.
2 reported sexual assault now under investigation on the campus of the University of Pennsylvania.
1, as in No. 1, that’s the dubious spot as the most dangerous city in the country that belongs to Camden, N.J.
17 percent spike in earnings at Campbell Soup.
3 straight losses for the Flyers on their West Coast loop. They lost, 5-4, in Denver last night.
3 more starters lost for the season by the battered Washington Redskins, who come to the Linc on Sunday.
Call me a Phanatic: A look at the ups and downs of being a Philadelphia sports fan.Yes, that was Donovan McNabb leading the Eagles to a come-from-behind fourth quarter win on Sunday. Another reason for thanks.
I Don’t Get It: A man in Pittsburgh told police he kicked a puppy to death because it would not behave before the start of the TV broadcast of Sunday’s Steelers game. I don’t get it.
Today’s Upper: Two more H1N1 clincics today and tomorrow in Chester. If you’re in the at-risk groups, you need to get a vaccine.
Quote Box: “We went in, we talked it over, we came out unanimous. That is the secret of success here in Delaware County.”
- Outgoing Delco GOP leader Tom Judge Sr., at dinner last night in his honor.

Judge-ment Night

I mentioned recently to my colleague Gil Spencer that he might want to write something about retiring county GOP boss Tom Judge Sr. He came back with an interesting anecdote.

He took my advice and talked to a few county GOP political leaders, including Upper Darby GOP boss John McNichol.

“He told me it was the easiest ticket he ever sold,” Spencer said about the dinner to honor Judge.

I’m not the least bit surprised.

They gathered last night to honor and bid farewell to the man who has led the powerful county GOP for more than three decades.

A literal who’s who of Delco politics was at Springfield Country Club.
And it wasn’t just Republicans. There were plenty of Democrats on hand to pay homage to their longtime foe. Among them were newly minted Sen.
Arlen Specter, his foe in the upcoming Democratic Senate primary U.S.
Rep. Joe Sestak, and party leader Cliff Wilson. I’m not sure if it was Wilson’s job to stay between Specter and Sestak, who have already started firing verbal salvos at each other.

It’s something Judge can certainly appreciate. This gentleman was probably as much a peacemaker as dealmaker for the last 34 years.

GOP legends such as longtime Springfield GOP boss Charlie Sexton and McNichol all lauded the quiet man from Darby Township who carefully guided the party to one win after another.

The times, and the politics, are changing in the county. Andy Reilly will now take over as the party leader. He faces a daunting challenge as county Democrats pose a growing challenge. The county has started drifting Democratic in presidential and gubernatorial races, and they even managed to depose Curt Weldon in the 7th District congressional race.

No doubt it was a night for stories. Judge deserved every one of them.
But one. It was left to McNichol to toss out a decidedly off-key comment concerning the tragic shooting at Springfield Mall.

Not funny, Mr. McNichol.

It’s something Tom Judge, a gentleman to the end, never would have done.

Justice for Cuddles

Rishawn Morrison has spent 46 days in prison since his arrest on charges that he first threw rocks at a cat and then set the kitty on fire.

The 19-year-old Upper Chichester teen was in court yesterday, where he admitted his role in the gruesome death of Cuddles, a 6-week-old tabby.

Morrison entered an open guilty plea to cruelty to animals, which is a first-degree misdemeanor.

The judge in the case was Judge James Nilon Jr., an admitted animal lover.

The sentence for Morrison might raise a few eyebrows, but it really shouldn’t. It’s a misdemeanor offense. Morrison has been in jail for 46 days.

Nilon sentenced him to six to 23 months, and will allow Morrison to serve out the remainder of his sentence on electronic home monitoring.

He also has been sentenced to two years probation and 64 hours of community service.

No doubt there will howls of protest concerning the sentence.

There really shouldn’t be.

Nilon offered a stern warning to Morrison, calling his behavior shocking and disgusting.

“You better not look at a dog or cat crookedly,” Nilon told the teen.

Cuddles has used up one of his nine lives. So has Morrison, in a way. We hope he’s smart enough to take Judge Nilon’s advice and leaves that life behind.

More H1N1 shots

Suddenly Delaware County is Ground Zero in the war against H1N1 flu.

The state Health Department was so successful – and so busy – in offering three clinics over the weekend on the campus of Penn State Brandywine, they are offering two more clinics today and Wednesday in Chester.

The same ground rules apply. You must call to register for the sessions.
And you must be in one of the at-risk groups targeted for vaccinations. Get all the details here.

Over the weekend it is believed more than 8,500 people made their way to the Middletown campus to get vaccinated.

It’s a little short notice, with word just being released yesterday afternoon and residents needing to register for their shots, but having a clinic in Chester is a good idea.

The two-day session comes as state health experts say it appears problems connected to H1N1 flu are on the wane in the state. They make it clear we’re not out of the woods just yet, but it looks like we’re getting the upper hand.

Bottom line is this: If you’re in one of the at-risk groups, you should get a vaccination. You’ve got two more shots today and tomorrow in Chester.

Bust to boom

It there’s one thing I know about business – and it’s not much – it’s this.

Even in bad times, the kind of economic doldrums we’ve been battling the last couple of years, sex sells.

So I was not the least surprised to see a casino executive offer a less than unique solution to the problem of declining revenue hammering Atlantic City Casinos.

Less business? How about less clothes?

Don Marrandino is a senior exec with Harrah’s Entertainment. He told Reuters that the solution to the Jersey shore gambling mecca’s woes is more skin.

He wants to make Atlantic City more like Las Vegas. Specifically, he wants Atlantic City to amend its codes to allow topless acts and sports betting.

Harrah’s also owns the slots parlor in Chester. Pennsylvania’s push into expanded legalized gambling is a factor in the struggles of Atlantic City. But up until last month, when they reversed a nearly year-long trend, Harrah’s Chester was having some struggles of its own in terms of declining revenue.

Would skin work there as well?

It’s apparently working for the owner of a sports bar in Bucks County.
The Just Sports Bar & Grill in Warwick Township has added topless dancers during daytime in the last month. Business has gone from bust to boom, or even more bust, so to speak. Residents are not amused, and are asking township leaders to shut down the risque act.

Don’t look for centerfolds in the newspaper.

At least not yet.

Monday, November 23, 2009

The Daily Numbers - Nov. 23

The Daily Numbers: 6 wins and 4 losses for the Birds after they delivered on their ‘must-win’ mantra with a victory over the Bears Sunday night.
99 yards on 20 carries for LeSean McCoy, ably filling the void left by the absence of Brian Westbrook.
3 days of H1N1 flu vaccine clinics held this weekend at Penn State Brandywine. Officials will announce just how many got the vaccine later today.
5 percent tax hike looming for residents in Edgmont. It’s a 3.5 percent increase that’s being discussed in Haverford. In Media, they’re pushing to hold the line on taxes.
2.72, what we’re paying on average for gas in the 5-county Philly metro area, just in time for the big Thanksgiving travel crunch.
4 percent dip in those expected to travel 50 miles from home this holiday, according to AAA.
30, age of man from Horsham who faces charges of attempted murder after leading police on a high-speed chase in which he hit two police cruisers on the Capital Beltway in D.C.
21, age of man shot and killed by an off-duty police officer during a confrontation outside a party in the Port Richmond section of Philadelphia Saturday night.
4 months old, age of baby police in Del. allege a dad took with him as he went on a drug buy at a New Castle apartment complex.
21 people injured when flames roared through an apartment complex in the Lawndale section of Philly early Sunday.
1 Rhodes Scholar from Swarthmore. Henry Spelman is now a senior at the University of North Carolina. His girlfriend also was named to the prestigious list.
150 employees sent home after a radiation leak at the Three Mile Island nuclear plant near Harrisburg Saturday.
7,700 dollars ripped off from Lehigh University by a former employee. She’s been sentenced to house arrest and full restitution.
140 million dollars pulled in over the weekend by the new teen vampire flick, “The Twilight Saga: New Moon.”
23 of 32 in a good night for Donovan McNabb in win over Bears last night, including twice bring the Birds back from deficits.
21 points for Scottie Reynolds as Villanova beat Mississippi State to take the Puerto Rick Tip-Off crown.
12 points for Garrett Williamson, but Saint Joe’s fell to Purdue, 85-60.
Call me a Phanatic: A look at the ups and downs of being a Philadelphia sports fan.Brace yourself for the Andy Reid extension controversy. It would make perfect sense for the Eagles, off their win vs. the Bears and sporting a 6-4 mark, to extend their head coach in this short holiday week.
I Don’t Get It: Forget the calendar. We haven’t hit Thanksgiving yet but it seems like the Christmas crush is in full swing.
Today’s Upper: Looks like weather will not be an issue for those about to hit the highways and byways to grandmother’s house this week.
Quote Box: “We’re hopeful that we’ll get more vaccine so we can continue to push that out.”
- Stacy Kriedman, of the state Department of Health, on this weekend’s
H1N1 flu shot clinics at Penn State Brandywine.

A town on edge

The normally tranquil community of Bethel remains on edge.

That’s because parents continue to wonder if there is a man targeting their children.

That’s the fallout from an attempted abduction a couple of weeks ago.

Things like that aren’t supposed to happen in Bethel.

Not anymore.

A 13-year-old reported that she was waiting for her morning bus when a man dressed in black, wearing a mask and wielding a knife jumped out of the bushes and accoster her in the Trotter’s Lea development.

Luckily for her, the bus rounded the corner a few seconds later and the man fled.

The story had the community buzzing, with parents wondering if their kids were safe in their seemingly comfortable suburb.

There also was an unmistakable undercurrent of doubt surrounding the story, despite authorities saying several times they had no reason not to believe the girl’s story.

The doubters were quieted a bit when a few days after the reported attack, a woman walking her dog on Trotter’s Lea Lane found a mask that matched a description of the one the suspect was wearing.

The mask was forwarded on to the FBI for analysis.

Tonight police and township officials will try to further ease residents’ concerns at a meeting set for 6:30 at Bethel Springs Elementary School.

The focus will be on the state’s Megan’s Law Web site, along with child predator prevention and education.

The recent attack was just the most recent in several instances going back to the summer.

On hand tonight will be state Rep. Steve Barrar, R-160, Claude Thomas of the state Attorney General’s Office, Magisterial District Judge Richard Cappelli, representatives from the Pennsylvania State Police, and Bethel Police Chief John Cairo.

The school is located at 3280 Foulk Road.

I expect the place to be packed. That’s what happens when fear starts to grip what seemed like such a safe place.

Delivering a 'must win'

The Eagles proved several things last night.

They proved they can win on Sunday night. If you hadn’t noticed, they had been a less than scintillating 0-7 in prime time affairs on Sunday night going into last night’s game against the Bears.

They also seemed to get a handle on their red-zone struggles. The Birds managed to punch the ball into the end zone on a couple of occasions.

They also gave a hint of how they might handle those pesky third-and-short situations. Last night they brought in Michael Vick, who promptly reeled off a 34-yard jaunt.

And maybe more important, they served notice that they can indeed come from behind to win a game in the fourth quarter.

After taking an early lead, the Eagles took a nap in the second and third quarters. In the process, the Bears erased an early 10-0 Eagles lead and actually took a lead of their own, 20-17, heading into the fourth quarter.

Donovan McNabb twice marched the Eagles down the lead to overcome deficits in the second half, the most important being capped by a 10-yard jaunt by rookie LeSean McCoy to put the Birds back in the lead for good with 5:31 left.

It was a good night for McNabb, who backed up his talk about this being a “must win” for the Birds. Also shining was wideout DeSean Jackson and McCoy, who rushed for 99 yards on 20 carries filling in ably for injured Brian Westbrook.

The win lifted the Birds to 6-4 and kept them one game behind the Cowboys, who somehow managed to go three and a half quarters without scoring a touchdown before putting up all of 7 points to take a 7-6 win over the Redskins. That comes after they were shut out the week before.

With the Eagles now at 6-5, look for something to happen on that much-talked-about contract extension for Andy Reid this week.

The Eagles could drop it late Wednesday and then shut down for the Thanksgiving holiday.

The mood this morning seems less than enthralled. Yes, the Eagles won.
Hey, we’ll take it. Beats a loss anytime.

But will the fans be enamored enough to accept an extension for Reid.

The Eagles might be about to find out.

Kicking & screaming

It was an interesting night at the Oakmont National Pub in Havertown last night.

The local watering hole, naturally, was buzzing with Birds playing a national TV game against the Bears.

But there was something else at work as well.



The Pub is a soccer hotbed as well, and last night was the Super Bowl of the MLS, with the L.A. Galaxy and Real Salt Lake competing for the MLS Cup ’09.

Next year, the Philadelphia Union, which will play its home games in a stadium being constructed on the Chester waterfront, enters the league.

Our Tim Logue reports the TVs were split half and half between the Eagles and soccer.

Ain’t that a kick.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

The dreaded Saturday Eagles pick

Up and down the Eagles squad, from Donovan McNabb to ailing Sheldon Brown, these Birds seem to agree on one thing. Sunday night's prime time affair with the Bears is a "must-win."

I didn't know there were any NFL games that were not must-win. They only play 16 of them,.

But the Birds find themselves in crisis mode. And they have only themselves to blame for it. If nothing else, this team personifies its coach, who insists on never seeming to learn from past mistakes.

So the Eagles fail to convert on short yardage situations, they simply won't run the ball, instead throwing 55 passes, as they did last week against a team that was ranked 26th against the rush all year and had been carved up in the red zone by most teams. The Eagles get to the red zone and see red lights, grinding to a halt. They continue to take lousy penalties at the most inopportune times.

Bill Parcells once said you are what your record says you are. The Eagles are 5-4. Seems about right. I have this team pegged as slightly better than .500.

That said, I still think they win Sunday night. But they had better get an early lead. If they fall behind, you can turn out the lights, as opposed to waiting for Reid to use all his timeouts by the middle of the fourth quarter and watching another team run out the clock from the 4-minute mark on.

For some reason, I think the Eagles rise to the challenge Sunday night.

Make it Eagles 24, Bears 23.

Last Week: I was on the money thinking another trip across the country to the West Coast would be too much for a team that continues to shoot itself in the foot with the same mistakes over and over again..

Season Record: 5-4, I'm even with the Eagles. Let's face it, this team is a possible playoff contender, but they really aren't going anywhere.

Friday, November 20, 2009

The Heron's Nest - Nov. 20

The Daily Numbers: 2 teen suspects charged yesterday in the stray-bullet death of Kathy Stewart in Chester.
1 of the suspects who managed to commandeer a police car from in front of the county prison and lead cops on a wild chase back into Chester.
2 suspects, dubbed Upper Darby’s Bonnie & Clyde, busted in an undercover police sting. A cop posed as the delivery guy and shot the suspect when he rushed him with a gun.
2 men being sought by police in Lower Chichester after they approached schoolkids and asked where their mother was.
40 foot Colorado blue spruce donated by an Upper Darby family as the township’s official Christmas tree.
1,250 signing bonus awaiting union members of SEPTA’s city division as they vote on a new contract today.
2.5 hours, how long it took a jury in Philadelphia to convict John Lewis of first-degree murder in the shooting death of Officer Chuck Cassidy.
Today they will take up whether to impose the death penalty in the case.
9, as in the 9th most regressive tax system in the nation. That’s where Pennsylvania ranks, according to a new study.
242 days in jail under a plea deal for the Coatesville fireman charged with setting 2 small fires. It amounts to the time served.
8.8 percent, where the Pa. jobless rate remained in October.
3 people charged with hacking into the Comcast Web site and diverting traffic.
17 seconds left when Villanova hit a 3-pointer to edge ahead of stubborn George Mason for the win yesterday.
78-68 loss for La Salle at the hands of South Carolina.
5 interceptions thrown by Bears QB Jay Cutler in a loss last week. He’ll be facing the Birds Sunday night.
Call me a Phanatic: A look at the ups and downs of being a Philadelphia sports fan.Is it just me or has sports suddenly hit a lull. The Eagles can show up any time now. Or at least whatever version they will be this week in their Jekyll & Hyde act.
I Don’t Get It: Can someone explain to me exactly how a handcuffed prisoner manages to commandeer a police car when he’s being accompanied by two officers?
Today’s Upper: Thumb’s up for Chester residents for coming forward and offering key information that led to the arrest of two suspects in the shooting death of Kathy Stewart.
Quote Box: “We thought it was important to you, to the William Penn family, to come out on this very street and let you know what took place.”
- Chester Mayor Wendell Butler, announcing the arrest of two teens in the murder of Kathy Stewart.

Taking back the streets

They started taking back the streets in Chester yesterday.

It’s not going to be easy. Just how tough was proved by two incidents that happened after two suspects were arrested yesterday for the “stray-bullet” death of Kathy Stewart.

You can read all the details here.

But here’s what most impressed me. D.A. Mike Green made it clear the arrests were the result of people in the community coming forward and giving information to police.

Maybe the tide is turning.

Or maybe the senselessness of Stewart’s death finally struck a nerve.
Stewart was simply doing part of her daily routine, stopping at her ailing 85-year-old mother’s home to care for her. Stewart would stop every day and help her mom get cleaned, dressed and makes sure she’s taking her medicine. Her mom is battling cancer.

That’s what she was doing there Sunday night. Stewart, herself a mother of three, was resting on a bed chatting with her fiancee on a cell phone when gunshots rang out from the street outside. It’s an all too familiar sound to residents of the William Penn homes.

Incredibly, one of the bullets went through the wall of the home, through a headboard, and struck Stewart in the head. She was rushed to Crozer-Chester Medical Center, where she died the next day.

The community was outraged. They marched in the street.

But they did more than that. They did something police and city officials have been begging residents to do. They told them what they knew.

As a result, Dominique Smith, 19, of the 400 block of Gilbert Street in Trainer, and Abdult Johnson, 17, of the 1100 block of Curry Street in Chester, face a slew of charges including first-degree murder.

As officials announced the arrests, a crowd of 100 residents broke into cheers.

At a window above, Stewart’s ailing mother looked on as authorities announced charges against the two teens for snuffing out the life of her daughter.

Maybe it marks a turning point in the city’s war against street violence.

They have their work cut out for them.

Just hours after he was charged, the 17-year-old Johnson incredulously got another short taste of freedom.

As the unmarked police car sat at the entrance to Delaware County Prison, both officers got out to secure their weapons, as is standard procedure. At that point, a handcuffed Johnson managed to get into the front seat and take off.

He led officers on a wild chase back into Chester, where the pursuit ended when Johnson ran the car into the front porch of a house at Sixth and Highland.

And a few hours later, a familiar sound rang out on a Chester street.

A man was shot and killed just after 11 p.m. on the 1300 block of Crosby Street.

One step forward, two steps back.

But make no mistake. The people of Chester sent a message this week.
They no longer will tolerate the lawlessness and gunfire that riddle too many of their streets.

They will work with police and city officials to take back their streets.

And they will do it Kathy Stewart’s name.

Justice delivered

This one gives a whole new meaning to “justice delivered.”

Working to solve a string of holdups targeting delivery men for local pizza shops, Upper Darby police literally took matters into their own hands.

You can get the full story here.

Here’s the abridged version. When a pizza shop got another suspicious call, they handed the cheesesteak to an undercover cop. Officer Scott Pecko was approaching the house where the order was supposed to go when a guy jumps out of the bushes and demands cash.

He had no idea that his “mark” was an undercover cop. He was about to find out.

The suspect’s bad decision was about to get worse. He was brandishing a pistol. It turned out to be a pellet gun. Pecko told him to drop his weapon. The suspect kept coming at him. Pecko drew his own service revolver and shot the suspect once in the arm.

A woman also was arrested. Police believe she was driving the getaway car.

Upper Darby top cop Mike Chitwood promptly branded them duo Upper Darby’s own “Bonnie & Clyde.”

And he offered a warning for anyone considering preying on delivery people who are just trying to make an honest buck. Be careful.

“The next person they rob may be an undercover cop,” Chitwood said.

Justice delivered indeed.

Deer me

They are thinning the herd in Lower Merion.

They want to do the same in Valley Forge National Historical Park.

And now Rose Valley is looking to do the same.

Their target is deer. There are too many of them. And they are marauding over the landscape, destroying vegetation and upsetting the environmental balance.

Personally, I have a little more visceral response to deer.

It stems from my seemingly daily game of early-morning dodge-ball with the critters as I drive to work.

The latest came this week. Of course, I encountered this animal not on a straight stretch of dry road. Instead I was coming up over a hill, on a rainy morning, when there it was, standing right in the middle of the road.

I swerved to avoid it, and luckily it never moved.

I’m not talking Bambi here. I’m talking a full-grown buck, with a magnificent rack. This thing could have been the spokesman for the Hartford Insurance Co.

It wasn’t my first close encounter. No doubt it will not be the last.

It’s not the deer’s fault. I know we have over-developed. I don’t especially care. All I know is that one of these mornings my luck is going to run out.

I say thin the herd. Now.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

The Daily Numbers - Nov. 19

The Daily Numbers: 6 feet, 6 inches. That’s how tall Joe Sherlock stood.
The victim in the fatal crash on Route 352 is being remembered by family and friends as a “gentle giant.” Sounds about right.
50 vaccinations her hour, how many likely will be performed at this weekend’s H1N1 vaccine clinic. By the way, the clinic now has a new location. It will be held at Penn State Brandywine, not Chichester Middle School.
1 suspect shot by police during a sting operation late last night in Upper Darby that targeted a gang that was ripping off pizza delivery guys.
2 suspects busted in a car break-in in Clifton Heights. Police are asking residents to check their cars; they think the duo may have hit more victims.
15, age of girl to whom the former head coach of the Plymouth Whitemarsh High School’s girls swim team admitted sending sexually explicit text message to, as well as offering her money for sex.
60 percent of the cocaine going into Norristown that police say was the result of one guy Dontay Rayshaw Brewer, known as Cornbread. He was busted yesterday.
0 cost of living hikes for our elected officials in Pennsylvania this year, because the rate of inflation is down.
31 years, how long Dave Roberts has been delivering the weather on Channel 6. He’s hanging it up, and will deliver his last forecast on Dec. 11. His career spanned 56 years.
4 women raped in the Kensington section of Philadelphia. Police believe the same person is behind all the attacks.
50,000 dollars that will go to a local non-profit organization in a push by the Eagles and Tev Pharmaceuticals to honor community involvement.
30, age of driver in New Castle, Del., who survived after his car was struck by a train. Police say he ignored flashing lights and tried to get through the crossing anyhow.
50,000 dollars allegedly ripped off from a mentally and physically disabled man by the owner of a Germantown personal care home.
62, age of local business leader Constantine Pavlides, who was killed in crash on Route 322 Tuesday. He founded the Greater Philadelphia Senior Executive Group.
3 neighborhoods in Philly that are now getting FIOS TV service from Verizon, in a challenge to local cable giant Comcast.
105,000 dollars, how much was collected by Boeing union boss Tony Forte in a loan scam tied to the company credit union. He pleaded guilty in federal court.
32 million dollars up for grabs in Saturday’s Powerball drawing after no one hit the numbers Wednesday night.
849 billion dollar health care bill introduced in the Senate last night. Republicans are vowing to filibuster to keep it from even being debated.
19 points, 11 rebounds last night for Elton Brand, flashing his old form as the Sixers beat Larry Brown and the Bobcats.
21 shots turned away in the 3rd period last night in L.A. by Flyers goalie Brian Boucher to preserve a 3-2 win.
600 dollars per seat, how much extra some folks will have to pay to keep their spots in Beaver Stadium at Penn State, according to a new seating plan.
Call me a Phanatic: A look at the ups and downs of being a Philadelphia sports fan.Maybe it’s just me, but I find it hard to believe anyone is seriously talking about Brian Westbrook actually playing again this year for the Eagles. The question seems to be if Westbrook will ever play again – period.
I Don’t Get It: Ed Rendell says he wants to be an advocate for government reform in his final year in Harrisburg. I think he said that with a straight face.
Today’s Upper: Thumb’s up for those who took to the street last night demanding change in the wake of the senseless death of Kathy Stewart.
Now the rest of the city needs to join them, and come forward with information on who is responsible for the shootings.
Quote Box: “It hasn’t really set in that she’s gone.”
- Sunday Hollman, sister of shooting victim Kathy Stewart, at vigil in her honor Wednesday night.

Taking back the streets

They took to the streets last night in Chester – in an effort to take their streets back.

Residents outraged by the random gunfire and stray bullet that snuffed out the life of Kathy Stewart held a vigil in her memory.

Stewart was killed when a bullet from another street gun battle about a block away went through the wall of her mother’s home, through a headboard, and struck her in the bed as she chatted on a cell phone while in bed.

Residents are right to be outraged. This kind of gun violence is all too common in Chester, and lots of other towns in this county.

They also should be doing something else. We editorialized about it today.

The face of the weather

There is a comfortable anonymity that comes with working for a newspaper.

Yes, we come into your house every day. Both in print and online. And my picture does appear in the newspaper every Monday, along with my print column. I have opted instead for a logo to accompany this blog, The Heron’s Nest.

But for the most part, we ink-stained wretches toil in the background.

Every once in a while, someone will approach me in the Wawa or out on the street. I can always tell what’s coming next by the way they look at me. “Aren’t you the editor of the Daily Times?” they ask. I always offer them my stock response: “That depends on who wants to know.” Along with a smile. Hopefully they smile back. That’s not always the case.

On the other hand, those who make their living on TV, especially in this market, become much more familiar to their audiences.

The fact is that it’s a completely different medium. People on TV enter people’s homes and make a different, more personal connection with their audience than folks who write for a newspaper. They become like family, sharing meals, offering accompaniment. Their voices – and faces – become part of our conversations, and our lives.

I can admit that TV news folks make a connection that a newspaper editor for the most part simply does not. It’s the visual element that does it.
I’m sure that fans of a local TV newscast believe they really know the people delivering the news. They welcome them into their home each night. They become like trusted family members.

In this market, I’ve always been a bit taken aback by how we treat the folks who do TV news. They become like our own little celebrities. And they get covered in a way that newspaper people simply do not.

That’s not always a bad thing, at least as far as I’m concerned.

Dawn Stensland recently graced the cover of the Daily News. She used to be an anchor at Fox 29. Her contract was not renewed. She also happens to be married to Larry Mendte, the Delco native who made a slew of headlines of his own the past couple of years.

I have to admit that during his travails, I did not envy Mendte’s celebrity one little bit.

We now will go through this process once again, but for a different reason.

Dave Roberts is leaving Channel 6. I wish I could count how many times I’ve watched as Roberts gave me the nightly forecast. The truth is I can’t. But for most of my life, Roberts has been the guy who gave me the weather.

He’s been on Channel 6 for 31 years, the majority of his 56 years in the business. His face and voice are the equivalent of a favorite blanket. I suppose you might say for some of us he would be considered a security blanket.

I always liked Roberts for another reason. He seemed to resist what has happened all too often in recent years when it comes to weather in this market. But that I mean the hype that accompanied even the slightest possibility of snow. Now they seem to do the same thing when it rains.

Roberts announced on the 11 p.m. Action News show that he is calling it quits. He will serve as always as the co-anchor of Channel 6’s coverage of the annual Thanksgiving Day Parade, and his last forecast will be on Dec. 11.

No doubt the sun will come up on Dec. 12. But make no mistake. As a community will be a little bit different. A very familiar figure will no longer be a part of our lives, will not come into our homes each night.

I’m guessing it will be a cloudy day.

Thanks for a million forecasts, Dave. And for being a constant, soothing presence in an increasingly stormy world.

The loneliest job in Pa.

It is the Pennsylvania equivalent of being vice president.

Here’s a quiz. Anybody know who is the current lieutenant governor of Pennsylvania?

Thought so. Actually it’s Senate President Pro Tempore Joe Scarnati. He took the post of runner-up in state government after the death of Catherine Baker Knoll. Scarnati will serve out the remainder of her term, which runs until January 2011.

The anonymity of the position does not seem to stop people from seeking it.

The lieutenant governor’s job is a little odd, in that the candidates run on their own, as opposed to a ticket with the governor. We vote on them separately, and elect a person to the post every four years.

There’s no shortage of people seeking the job.

So far I have met two of them, both Republicans.

First it was Dauphin County Commissioner Nick DeFrancesco. He’s a Republican who immediately impressed me with his idea of visiting all 67 counties in the Commonwealth – on his Harley.

He also seemed like a good guy, and a good candidate.

The same goes for another Republican who stopped by the office yesterday. Steve Johnson is a York County businessman and son of a senior Naval officer from Carlisle. He followed in his dad’s footsteps in the military, joining the Army Reserve, and serving in Operation Desert Shield/Storm in Iraq.

He founded his own building inspection company, where he’s CEO.

It’s that business background that is at the heart of Johnson’s campaign. He thinks the state’s problems – and there are lots of them – will be solved by business and the people, not government.

If elected he would push for the government to “stand down,” in military parlance.

He wants to see more leadership in Harrisburg, something he says he is not seeing in the final years of Gov. Ed Rendell’s reign.

And Johnson has a specific warning for residents and taxpayers. It comes in the form of the ticking time bomb that is the public employees pension crisis that is looming.

Johnson has some bad news for those teachers and government employees whose retirements are tied up in these plans.

They likely will not be getting what they expect in their retirement plans.

It’s either that or a 30 percent tax hike to cover the shortfalls in the plans.

Johnson is correct in saying that’s not likely to fly.

No doubt we’ll be hearing a lot more from guys like Johnson and DeFrancesco next spring.

The job may be fairly anonymous. But they’re not. And that’s not a bad thing.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

The Daily Numbers - Nov. 18

The Daily Numbers: 6 p.m. tonight, when marchers will take to the streets in Chester to mark the death of Kathy Ann Stewart.
kids and a fiancee left behind by the death of Stewart, who was killed by a stray bullet that entered her mother’s Chester home Sunday night.
2 teens charged in 6 daytime burglaries in Drexel Hill. Police say the brazen teens videotaped their antics.
1 person killed in a crash on Route 322 in Concord yesterday.
85 employees of the state Historical and Museum Commission that are targeted in the latest round of job cuts. It is not expected to have any effect on shaky operation at Brandywine Battlefield.
5.73 percent increase in the Swarthmore budget, which translates to a tax hike for borough residents.
56 years, how long the Dad Vail Regatta has been held on the Schuylkill River in Philly. Not any more. It’s moving to Rumson, in North Jersey.
250,000 dollars in corporate sponsors put forth by the folks in Rumson to lure the regatta from Philly.
1 suspect shot and killed by a clerk when 3 men tried to hold up a liquor store in Wilmington, Del., last night.
1.5 million dollars allegedly ripped off from a client by an accountant who just happens to also be the treasurer of Whitpain Township in Montgomery County.
11 burglaries in 2 weeks that have put several Main Line communities on edge.
18, age of teen who was shot and killed on basketball court in South Philadelphia Tuesday night.
100,000 dollars ripped off from Winterthur Museum in Delaware. A former employee has been charged.
41, age of woman slain in her home in a home invasion in Southwest Philly.
5,000 to 10,000 dollars in small business loans being made available through the National Urban League in several cities, including Philadelphia.
3 GOP candidates now looking to be the next governor of Pa. State Rep.
Sam Rohrer of Berks County announced yesterday.
18 points for Carl Jones as he helped Saint Joe’s hold off Holy Cross yesterday.
19, as in No. 19 Georgetown, which topped Temple, 46-45.
Call me a Phanatic: A look at the ups and downs of being a Philadelphia sports fan.So what will it be Sunday night, sports fans, the Eagles vs. the Bears, or the MLS Cup title game. Uh, thought so.
I Don’t Get It: So much for tradition. The Dad Vail Regatta and Philly just seemed to go together. Not anymore. They’re taking the money and heading for Rumson, N.J.
Today’s Upper: Join the push to bring the World Cup to Philly. The city and our new MLS team, the Philadelphia Union, are trying to bring the biggest sporting event in the universe to the city in 2018 or 2022.
Quote Box: “It’s just tragic all the way around.”
- Thomas Ramsay, attorney for Jonathan Trueheart, charged in fatal crash on Route 352 last week.

More on The Civera Watch

It is the budget crisis that never ends.

For those of you who lost track, it has been more than a month since Gov. Ed Rendell signed a state budget, ending a standoff that had dragged on for more than 100 days.

But five weeks later, all the i’s have yet to be dotted and not all the t’s have been crossed.

For one, there is the matter of table games. Expansion of the action at the state’s slots parlors is supposed to provide a huge chunk of revenue for the beleaguered state coffers.

But the legislation to enact table games has not yet been crafted.

And while the drama has been decidedly low-key since the budget deal was cut in Harrisburg, the trickle-down delay is starting to create some rumblings in Delaware County political circles.

Upper Darby Democrats are now concerned that longtime state Rep. Mario Civera, R-164, of Upper Darby, is reneging on his campaign promise to give up his state House seat if he won election to Delaware County Council.

Of course Civera cruised to a win along with fellow Republican and incumbent councilman Jack Whelan.

But Civera says there are some things he wants to accomplish in Harrisburg before he bids farewell to the place that has been his second home for a couple of decades.

Specifically, he wants to make sure the budget deal – including the legislation on table games – is a done deal. He also makes clear his desire to be sure fellow Delco Republican Rep. Bill Adolph, R-165, of Springfield, slides into his position as minority chair of the key Appropriations Committee.

On the other hand, Delco Democrats see politics at work. They believe Civera and GOP powers are now leery of him giving up his House seat, and putting the seat in play for a special election that would be held on primary day next May.

That’s because there likely is going to be a huge turnout by Democrats interested in both the U.S. Senate battle between Congressman Joe Sestak and Sen. Arlen Specter, as well as state Rep. Bryan Lentz trying to find off at least two challengers for the nomination to run for Sestak’s 7th District seat in Congress.

Nonsense, says Civera. He said he would give up the seat and that’s exactly what he plans to do, but not before he completes some unfinished business in the state capitol.

“The quicker I can get out of here, the better it is,” Civera told our Alex Rose. “It is not my intention to stay there until November or to drag this thing out at all. I said I would leave and that’s what my intentions are.”

Even a never-ending state budget mess seems to be able to stop that.


Money talks and … ahem … everything else walks.

Or sometimes it rows.

A longtime tradition on the Philadelphia sports scene is literally going up the river.

And Mayor Michael Nutter is not one bit happy about it. He should know better.

Nutter and the city was swimming upstream in their efforts to keep the Dad Vail Regatta on the Schuylkill River, where it has been held for 56 years. The Dad Vail is the largest collegiate rowing event in the country. And for every one of those years, on the second Saturday in May, it has called Philly home. Right there along Boathouse Row on the Schuylkill.

Not any more.

The organizers of the Dad Vail are taking the money and running – or rowing – to Rumson, N.J., at least for a year. Rumson is in North Jersey, about 90 miles away.

Rumson’s deal included securing $250,000 in corporate sponsorships for the event, which costs about $500,000 to put on.

Nutter, who is up to his neck in red ink, was red-faced as well at the prospect of losing the Dad Vail.

“This was a bogus process, leading to a bogus outcome,” Nutter said.
“The fact of the matter is that the Dad Vail organization took money from the other city before they met with us.”

Nutter’s in a tough spot. He has been hitting all kinds of groups up for money for parades and other events in the city, everyone from the Mummers to the Columbus Day Parade. He even told the Phillies that if they had won a second World Series, they would have been on the hook for the cost of another parade.

Of course, he doesn’t have that worry anymore. He doesn’t have the Dad Vail anymore either. They followed the money.


A question for soccer fans

Here’s a question for all those die-hard local soccer zealots known as the Sons of Ben?

Does your love of futbol trump your feelings for the Eagles?

Let me try to explain.

Major League Soccer holds what amounts to its Super Bowl this weekend.
Of course, the newest team in the MLS, the Philadelphia Union – who will play their home games in Chester – make their league debut next spring.
The Sons of Ben is the local booster group that pushed to bring a pro soccer team to the region for years. In other words, it’s a huge weekend for soccer buffs, here and across the country.

The battle for the MLS Cup pits the glitzy Los Angeles Galaxy and their superstar David Beckham vs. Real Salt Lake. The game will be played Sunday in Seattle and televised on ESPN.

At 8:30 p.m.

Locally, there’s another event that might be getting a little attention.
The Eagles play the Chicago Bears.

On a Sunday night game, beginning at 8:30.

Here’s my question: How many people do you think will be tuned in to the MLS Cup?

How many sports bars will have their big-screens beaming the images of the L.A. Galaxy vs. Real Salt Lake? Maybe even one screen?

I’ll also be interested to see what kind of ratings ESPN gets here in Philly for the MLS Cup. I am guessing they will be tiny.

That’s not a knock on the Sons of Ben. In fact, I don’t have any doubt that they are already planning their “Super Bowl” parties.

Are there any viewing parties set for here in Delco?

Drop me an e-mail at and maybe we’ll drop by. In the meantime, we’ll sample opinions in the county as to who will be watching what on Sunday night.

I already know the answer to that question.

Here’s part of the challenge the Union – and in fact MLS – faces in pushing to break into mainstream sports.

How many people do you think even know who is playing in the MLS Cup Sunday night?

Hopefully, one day the Union will be sitting in that perch, and we won’t have to ask this kind of question any more.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

The Daily Numbers - Nov. 17

The Daily Numbers: 49, age of mother of 3 who is now on life support after a bullet traveled through wall of home in Chester and hit her in the head.
29, age of man in Collingdale who now faces charges after police say he went on a rampage, stabbing himself and 2 others.
2 x 4 board, what police say an Upper Darby man used to beat his son. He was apparently upset that the son had been suspended from school.
8 DUI raps against a man in Claymont, Del. He was arrested again early Monday.
10,000 dollars in donations that will keep the oldest library in the U.S., the Darby Free Library, from closing its doors.
90 more parking spaces coming to Elwyn Train Station. Ground was broken yesterday on the project, being paid for with $900,000 in federal stimulus funds.
319 Pa. workers being laid off in the latest round of budget cuts.
58 deer per square mile in Lower Merion. Officials are looking to thin the herd by holding a controlled hunt for deer each night this week.
2 Philadelphia police officers hurt when their cruiser was involved in a collision at Cottman and Summerdale in the Northeast Monday afternoon.
15, age of student in Burlington County, N.J., who died after an altercation in which he was repeatedly punched in the chest. An 18-year-old has been charged in the fight.
50, age at which new study now recommends women start getting mammograms, and then have one every 2 years. The plan is being criticized.
30 million dollar Ponzi scheme alleged by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission run by 4 individuals and the 2 principals of Mantria Corp. in Bala Cynwyd.
447,000 dollars fleeced from his victims by a 47-year-old man who sold sham partnerships in bogus real estate investments.
8 game winning streak for the N.J. Devils snapped last night by the Flyers in a 3-2 win at the Wachovia Center.
33 saves for goalie Ray Emery to preserve the win.
103-65 blowout win for No. 5 Villanova over Penn to kick off another season of Big 5 City Series hoops last night.
30, age of Brian Westbrook, an 8-year veteran whose future is now in jeopardy because of 2 concussions.
.171 batting average for Eric Bruntlett for Phils this year. He’s becoming a free agent and will not be back.
3 games, how long Allen Iverson lasted with the Memphis Grizzlies. His contract with the team was terminated yesterday by mutual agreement.
Call me a Phanatic: A look at the ups and downs of being a Philadelphia sports fan.They honored Dave Schultz last night by inducting him into the Flyers Hall of Fame before the game vs. the Devils. “The Hammer” was the face – and the fists – of the Broad Street Bullies, who captured two Stanley Cups while terrorizing the NHL.
I Don’t Get It: A cross was burned outside the home of a white family who took in a black teen near Pittsburgh this week. I don’t get it.
Today’s Upper: Just a few more days wait before the H1N1 flu vaccine arrives in the county with a clinic set at Chichester Middle School.
Quote Box: “Every time you’d see her, all she would do is smile.”
- Tina Johnson, president of the William Penn resident council, on Kat Stewart, victim of stray gunshot in Chester.

Another victim in Chester

She was there, as she was most nights, to offer companionship and care to her mother.

Now she is the one who lies in bed, in need of care.

It gives new meaning to the term “senseless shooting.”

Kathy Ann “Kat” Stewart this morning is on life support in critical condition at Crozer-Chester Medical Center.

Sunday night she was doing what she did most nights, stopping at her ailing mother’s home in the William Penn Housing Development. Her 85-year-old mother is battling cancer.

Then her familiar routine was tragically interrupted by something that is also all too routine in that section of Chester.


Police believe a dozen shots were fired by more than one gunman at Union Street and Whittington Place, about a block away.

One of the bullets went through the brick wall of the home, through the headboard of the bed, and struck Stewart in the head as she rested on the bed chatting with her fiance on a cell phone.

It is not the first time street violence has haunted the Stewart family.
Kat Stewart’s fiance, the father of her three children, was gunned down in a drive-by shooting in 1995 at Eighth and Lloyd Streets.

Now her family holds a bedside vigil for Kat.

Stewart’s elderly mother is battling cancer.

But the Stewart family and many others in Chester are battling another killer scourge.

Gun violence. It has claimed another victim.

Oh, deer!

They are suddenly Public Enemy No. 1.

They are the target in Valley Forge National Historical Park. For now that plan has been shelved by lawsuits.

Not so in Lower Merion, where they were the target of hunters last night, and will be each night this week.

And they might be in the crosshairs in Rose Valley next.

They, of course, are deer. They are everywhere. And, at least for me, they are too often right in front of my car, darting out from the darkness and coming all too perilously close to a collision.

The planned hunt in Lower Merion went off on schedule, despite protests from activists who believe the hunt is the wrong way to thin the herd.

Tonight Rose Valley Borough Council will hold a public meeting on what to do about their deer problem, and a proposal to hold a bow hunt to cull the marauding Bambis.

The meeting is set tonight at 7:30 at the Old Mill.

Finally, there is one more deer item to discuss. In Delaware, a driver struck a deer, which apparently lodged in the front grill of the car.

This happened last Saturday night, about 9 p.m. in New Castle.
Amazingly, the deer survived, but could not wriggle loose from the grill of the car. The stunned driver actually drove the car – with the deer still wedged on the front - to the New Castle Police headquarters.

They managed to free the deer, which apparently was not seriously hurt.
They took it to a local farm to be released. That’s when things got even weirder.

As the deer was making its way into the woods, authorities saw a SUV pull up and then heard what sounded to them like gunshots. The driver has been charged with endangerment and weapons violations. Police say he took a few shots at the deer. He denies it. The deer was not injured.

Kind of makes my morning game of “dodgeball” with the local deer on the drive to work seem kind of mundane.

Two stars are shorn

They were two of our sports heroes, and a reminder of how fast things change.

Wasn’t it just yesterday that Allen Iverson was stepping over that fallen Laker as the Sixers won Game 1 of the NBA Finals? Actually is was 2001.

Wasn’t it just last Sunday when Brian Westbrook was returning that punt against the Giants, marking his debut as one of the most feared weapons in the NFL?

Now both have entered the twilight of their careers. For Westbrook, it is literally the same eerie twilight that has derailed the careers of other local stars such as Eric Lindros and Keith Primeau.

Westbrook suffered another concussion Sunday in San Diego. It is the second concussion he’s suffered in as many games. The star running back took two weeks off after being knocked out cold by a knee to the head in a Monday night game against the Redskins. He was cleared to play Sunday, but left the game with concussion symptoms after the first series of the second half.

Westbrook now faces a murky future. He will not play Sunday. And it is possible he will not play again this year. What is being debated is whether Westbrook should play again at all.

So much is unknown about concussions and the effect they have on players years later.

For Iverson, it has been a few years since he so dazzled us in a Sixers uniform. In the interim there were stops in Denver and Detroit.

Yesterday Iverson was waived by the Memphis Grizzlies. Iverson played just three games with Memphis. It was clear he was chafing at the idea of coming off the bench. Iverson still considers himself a starter.

It may be the end of the line for Iverson.

Two stars, both looking at question marks instead of the exclamation points they so often provided.

Such is the nature of sports. Remember that the next time you rip some big-time athlete for taking the money. You bet they did.

They burst on the scene with a flourish, but shine for only a few years, only to be cast aside as their skills eroide and the newest star arrives.

That doesn’t mean we forget them, or what they did.

Especially those exclamation points.

Monday, November 16, 2009

The Daily Numbers - Nov. 16

The Daily Numbers: 3 trips into the red zone for the Eagles in the first half yesterday, and they came away with 3 David Akers field goals. Not good enough.
3 people stabbed in a home in Collingdale Sunday.
2 Upper Darby bars shut down by police after they had to respond to a host of incidents in the past year.
49, age of woman shot inside her Chester home by a gunshot fired from outside.
5.31 or 9.47 percent tax hike looming in Nether Providence under the proposed budget.
1,500 to 2,000 people who attended a rally over the weekend in Harrisburg to push for fiscal responsibility.
6 N.J. counties declared emergencies in the wake of the powerful Nor’easter that battered the shore over the weekend.
2.73 a gallon, average price at the pump in the Philly metro region.
22, age of man found slain on sidewalk in the Holmesburg section of Philadelphia.
576 deer that officials in Lower Merion hope can be killed as they schedule a hunt this week to thin the herd.
323 feet high smokestack atop the old Pennsylvania Railroad steam plant near 30th Street Station that was knocked down early Sunday.
2 people, a father and son, killed when their small plane went down shortly after takeoff Saturday morning near Woodbine Municipal Airport.
2 concussions now suffered by Brian Westbrook. He likely will be out indefinitely after being forced out of his 2nd straight game.
450 yards passing for Donovan McNabb, but the Birds still came up short in San Diego.
96 yards rushing for Chargers running back LaDainian Tomlinson, who had struggled so far this year.
6 to 8 weeks, how long 76ers forward Marreese Speights is expected to be out with a knee injury.
Call me a Phanatic: A look at the ups and downs of being a Philadelphia sports fan.Someone should ask Joe Banner about that definition of insanity he offered after last year’s NFC title game. He said it was doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result. Yep, sounds crazy to me. And familiar.
I Don’t Get It: Why some people are so quick to doubt a person’s story when they report a crime to police.
Today’s Upper: Hey, maybe this is going to be winter this year.
Afternoon highs in the 60s, cool nights. Yeah, I know, it can’t last forever.
Quote Box: “I think in the past two years we’ve made a lot of progress …. Although we realize there is still a lot of work to be done.”
- Bill Tyson, president of the board of the Delco SPCA.

The Civera Watch

There’s an interesting situation developing in county politics.

It involves the newest member of county council, longtime state Rep.
Mario Civera, R-164.

It’s that title before his name that is now causing some raised eyebrows, particularly among Upper Darby Democrats.

Civera made it clear during the campaign that he would give up his seat in the Legislature should he be successful in his bid for county council. Like there was ever any question of that. Democrats have not had a representative on the county’s ruling body since the Home Rule Charter was passed in the early ‘70s.

Civera indicated he would alert the speaker of his decision to leave the seat shortly after the election.

Now there are some rumblings that might not be the case.

Upper Darby Democrats have sent a letter to Civera urging him to be good to his word and give up his state House seat.

For his part, Civera is saying he intends to do just that. But first there are a few things he needs to sign off on in connection with the seemingly endless state budget saga. He also has indicated he wants to try to help fellow Delco Republican Rep. Bill Adolph, R-165, of Springfield, fill his seat as the minority chairman on the Appropriations Committee.

But some conspiracy theorists see some political angles at work.

Here’s the problem for county Republicans, and why they might not be all that keen on Civera giving up his seat. Once Civera resigns, the seat likely would be settled by a special election.

The speaker has already set up a special election to fill a couple of other vacant seats. It will be held on primary day in May.

That might not be especially advantageous to the Delco GOP. There is likely going to be a big Democratic turnout on primary day, tied to the primary fight between U.S. Rep. Joe Sestak and Sen. Arlen Specter for the Democratic Senate nomination. There also will be a primary battle between state Rep. Bryan Lentz and two other challengers for the party nomination to run for Sestak’s 7th District congressional seat.

On the other hand, it will be business as usual for Republicans. They are already behind Pat Meehan as their guy in the 7th District race, and Pat Toomey has a clear path for their Senate nod.

In other words, there won’t be a lot of motivation for the GOP faithful to get to the polls. A huge turnout could cost them that 164th District House seat that Civera has held for decades.

Civera had already indicated that the shifting demographics in the district sort of made him see the writing on the wall.

If he decides to hold both offices, he won’t be the first. Mary Ann Arty was both a member of county council and a state rep back in the ‘80s.

I have heard nothing as yet that makes me believe that Civera has had a change of heart. He still is indicating he intends to give up his seat.

But I’m now wondering if he’s getting a little political heat from his own party to hold down the fort, and avoid that special election on primary day.

This is one we’ll keep a close eye on.

We've seen this before, eh Joe?

I am reminded this morning of Eagles President Joe Banner’s now infamous quote after the Birds fell on their sword last January in the NFC title game in Phoenix.

A perplexed Banner defined insanity as doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result.

As for this year’s Eagles, this is just plain crazy.

Once again the Eagles flew across the country to the West Coast and once again they struggled.

It’s the same old cast of characters. Andy Reid shunning the run, eliminating the possibility of controlling the game and instead deciding to match offenses against the potent Chargers. Stupid penalties.
Questionable time management. And, of course, that old standby, an inability to convert on third and short, in particular an inability to punch the ball into the end zone once in the red zone.

The Eagles fell behind early yesterday in San Diego, looking suspiciously like the team that tried to chase away the jet lag earlier in the season in Oakland. Once they dusted off the cobwebs, they got the ball into the red zone on three different occasions.

And what did they have to show for it? Three David Akers field goals.

That includes one galling series that started with first-and-goal from the 1-yard line in which the impotent Birds were unable to cash in.

In the end, that’s what cost them the game against the Bolts. Sure they struggled a bid defensively, but everyone expected that with all the injuries they have incurred and the shuffling they were forced to put in place.

Yes, Donovan McNabb threw for 450 yards. In a loss.

And the Eagles likely now face the immediate future without Brian Westbrook, who left the game early in the third period suffering with another concussion.

The Eagles staged a valiant rally in the second half, but once again found themselves out of timeouts and unable to stop the clock as the seconds ticked away.

They finally got the ball back with about 30 seconds left in the contest.

Did anyone expect McNabb to take the Eagles the length of the field for the win? I didn’t think so. Instead, on the last play of the game, he heaved a ball into the end zone that was intercepted.

We’ve seen that before, too. In fact, we’ve seen all of it before.

Haven’t we, Joe?

Another concussion for Westbrook

It is what we don’t know about concussions that is as scary as what we do.

No one is exactly sure what happens to the brain when you suffer a concussion like the one that left Brian Westbrook motionless on the turf in Washington a few weeks ago.

What is known is that doctors speak in grave terms when a concussion leaves someone out cold, as happened to Westbrook.

No doubt we will be hearing a lot of concussions again this week because of what happened to Westbrook in D.C., what happened since, and what happened yesterday in San Diego. Westbrook left the game after a single series in the second half. The diagnosis? Another concussion.

Westbrook was cleared by the Eagles medical staff to play against the Chargers. Actually, he had been cleared to play the Sunday before against the Cowboys. But when he developed headache symptoms late Friday afternoon, he was scratched from that game.

Not everyone agreed with the decision to allow Westbrook back on the field yesterday. Even the medical opinions are split.

The NFL has been looking into the issue of concussions and how teams handle them.

No doubt they will review the Westbrook case.

The team is now indicating they will take every precaution with Westbrook.

The whole thing brings up bad memories of another local superstar, Eric Lindros, and the concussions that cut his career short.

One of the things that is not known is just how susceptible you are to another concussion after suffering an initial one.

What is known is this: Don’t look for Brian Westbrook to be back on the field any time soon.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

The dreaded Saturday Eagles pick

I have a bad feeling about this game. Which some fans no doubt will rejoice at, since the Birds seem intent on confounding this humble prognosticator.

The last time the Eagles flew to the West Coast, they should have saved the air fare, offering their worst performance of the year in losing to the hapless Raiders.

This time they’re off to sunny San Diego. We know this: They won’t play as bad as they did in Oakland.

But will they play well enough to win? I don’t think so.

This is a banged-up team, especially on defense. That does not bode well against Philip Rivers and one of the league’s best tight ends, Antonio Gates.

What the Eagles need to do is control the ball, and keep Rivers and his mates off the field. Unfortunately, that’s not the Eagles forte. They’re a quick-strike outfit.

That sounds like a shootout to me. And I like the Chargers chances in that kind of game.

Make it Chargers 26, Eagles 24.

Last Week: The bad Eagles showed up again in a lousy effort in prime time against the Cowboys.

Season Record: 4-4, I'm perfectly mediocre, kind of like the Eagles. OK, they’re actually a game better than I am at 5-3.

Friday, November 13, 2009

The Daily Numbers - Nov. 13

The Daily Numbers: 5 to 10 years in prison for Roisin O’Neill, who was driving drunk the wrong way on the Blue Route when she hit another car, killing the woman driver from Massachusetts who was headed to see family members in Media.
3 Democrats now seeking the nomination in the 7th District congressional race. As expected, state Rep. Bryan Lentz tossed his hat in the ring yesterday.
100 ‘Women for Sestak’ who gathered yesterday in Philly to hear a woman who once ran against Sen. Arlen Specter throw her support to Rep. Joe Sestak. Lynn Yeakel lost to Specter in 1992.
0 tax hike coming in Upland borough, which managed to balance its books in a tough economy.
7 people hurt in a two-vehicle crash yesterday morning at the intersection of Route 3 and Providence Road in Edgmont.
41, age of Ridley man who pleaded guilty to a child porn charge.
10 Republicans charged in the latest indictments handed down in Harrisburg’s Bonusgate probe. Biggest to be hit is former state House Speaker Rep. John Perzel of Philadelphia.
21, age of John Lewis, who pleaded guilty yesterday to the murder of Philly Officer Chuck Cassidy, who interrupted a burglary.
3 people still missing after their fishing boat sank in stormy waters off Cape May. The search has now been called off as a nor’easter batters the shore.
22 million in U.S. sickened by swine flu in 6 months, according to CDC. They now estimate 4,000 deaths, mostly children.
7,000 non-union city workers in Philadelphia who are getting a new health plan. The self-insured deal will cost workers more, but is expected to save the city $6.3 million a year.
1,500 deer that could be shot under a plan to thin the herd in Valley Forge State Park. Two animal-rights groups are now suing to block the planned hunt.
150,000 toys, that’s the goal for this year’s Toys for Tots holiday campaign.
5 straight wins for the Flyers, who beat the Senators last night, 5-1.
22 saves for goalie Ray Emery in turning back his old team.
23-7, margin by which the Flyers have outscored their opposition during the win streak.
5-3 records for both the Eagles and Chargers as they go into their game Sunday in San Diego.
0 games played at middle linebacker by Chris Gocong, who likely will find himself starting in the middle on Sunday.
Call me a Phanatic: A look at the ups and downs of being a Philadelphia sports fan.Why do I have a bad feeling about a very banged-up Eagles squad once again flying across the country to play on the West Coast? Things do not bode well for the Birds in San Diego. Maybe they’ll prove me wrong.
I Don’t Get It: In reading the final saga of the O’Neill family, with Roisin O’Neill sentenced to five to 10 years in prison for the DUI crash in which she was driving the wrong way on the Blue Route, then slammed into a car, killing a woman, I’m left with this thought. It’s just incredible how much tragedy has enveloped this family. Of course, they have only their own actions to blame. And when I start to feel sorry for them, I listen to the family members of the woman killed. Two families torn apart. Just tragic.
Today’s Upper: Yes, the weather is lousy, but it could be worse. You could be spending the weekend at the Jersey shore.
Quote Box: “Each day, I wake up and I’m reminded I’ve taken an innocent life. I am beyond sorry for causing so much pain.”
- Roisin O’Neill, as she was sentenced in a fatal DUI crash.

A visit with Arlen Specter

There was a Democrat in the building Thursday.

Stop snickering. Some no doubt would tell you that’s not exactly news.

Our critics would harrumph that it might be more earth-shattering if a Republican turned up in our midst.

But this wasn’t just any Democrat. This was a newly minted United States senator.

Yes, Sen. Arlen Specter found his way to beautiful downtown Primos.

And I have to tell you this: For a guy who is approaching 80 and has been through the health battles Specter has waged, he looks great.

Specter wanted to chat, and we were more than willing to listen. We’ll offer a full story on Sunday from staffer Alex Rose.

Here’s my quick cheat sheet:

* First, of course, I got to the important stuff. I asked him about his frequent appearances on WIP. Specter never batted an eye. He does it because “it’s fun.”

But he’s not a Donovan McNabb fan. He made it pretty clear he doesn’t think McNabb will ever lead the Eagles to a Super Bowl.

Some other choice thoughts from the senator:

* He feels “pretty good” that the Senate will vote on health care legislation before the end of the year – and that it will have a public option.

* He made the switch, jumping from the Republican side of the aisle to Democratic, because of “irreconcilable” differences with the GOP. He admitted his vote for President Barack Obama’s stimulus package made him a target.

* He did not specifically look at his own polling numbers, which showed there was no way he would beat GOP challenger Pat Toomey, before making his decision to flip.

* He did not talk to President Obama, Vice President (and former Senate and Amtrak chum) Joe Biden or Gov. Ed Rendell before making his decision. And he absolutely never got any guarantee that they would clear the path for him in the Democratic primary.

* He does not support increasing troop levels in Afghanistan, unless the mission can be directly tied to eliminating Al-Qaeda. That puts him in fairly direct opposition to his foe in the Democratic primary, Rep. Joe Sestak.

* He is for the Employee Free Choice Act, but he will not vote for a version that contains the card check provision. He instead wants to find some kind of compromise.

* His health is fine and he doesn’t especially want to talk about age as an issue in this campaign. He also will not indicate that, should he be re-elected, this would be his last term. He’ll be 86 at the time.

He left me with one overall impression. Joe Sestak is on a suicide mission.

I can only hope I look that good – and make that much sense – when I’m 80.