Thursday, April 30, 2009

The Daily Numbers - April 30

The Daily Numbers: 1 death reported in the U.S. from swine flu, a child in Texas who was brought into the country from Mexico.
36,000 deaths, the number routinely attributed to our annual winter bouts with influenza, according to the CDC.
170 deaths in Mexico believe to be attributed to the outbreak of swine flu there.
100 confirmed cases in 11 states across the U.S.
1 case of swine flu believed to have occurred in Philadelphia. The 2-year-old already has recovered.
10 cases of suspected swine flu among students at the University of Delaware.
22 students at Slippery Rock University in western Pa. who are being closely watched after returning from a student-teaching experience in Mexico.
3 cases of rabid animals attacking pets in Delaware County, with the latest being an incident in which a man says his two dogs were attacked by a raccoon in Tinicum.
5 years of court supervision after doing 23 months in jail for a plumber from Clifton who admitted to a series of thefts involving bathroom pipe thefts at fast-food restaurants.
10 cases of pertussis now reported in Upper Darby schools, 8 in Hillcrest Elementary, 1 in the high school and 1 at Highland Park Elementary.
20 to 40 years in jail for Andrea Kelly, the mother in Philly convicted in the starvation death of her disabled daughter.
500,000 dollar budget gap that threatened Philly’s International Cycling Championship. The popular bike race has been saved by 3 new and as yet unnamed sponsors.
2,500 GM dealers the auto giant is looking to close. Dealers will be notified over the next few weeks.
4 life terms, and 1 33-year sentence handed down in the terror plot against soldiers at Fort Dix.
53 percent of those polled who back slots parlors in Philadelphia.
135,000 dollars snagged by robbers who hit the Beneficial Bank on Frankford Avenue in Philly yesterday.
50.3 percent of shareholders who voted to oust Kenneth Lewis as head of Bank of America.
16 percent dip in profit for SAP AG, which has its North America headquarters in Newtown Square.
550 jobs being filled for a new Wal-Mart store in Deptford, N.J., that will open this summer.
7.1 percent jobless rate in Delco in March, that’s up from 6.9 percent in February.
77 million dollar Powerball jackpot up for grabs Saturday night. The lottery is looking better all the time.
2 Philly municipal workers charged with fleecing more than $200,000 from a couple of city non-profits.
65 and 70, age of 2 sisters in Stroudsburg charged with dealing heroin.
1 run, all the Phils could scratch out off the Nationals last night as they fell, 4-1.
33 runs, what the Phils scored in their previous three games.
5 game win streak that goes out the window with the loss.
6 hits and 6 strikeouts for Nats’ starter Scott Olsen.
2 swinging elbows by Magic center Dwight Howard. One connected with Sixers Sam Dalembert. The other hit his teammate Courtney Lee, breaking his sinus. Howard has been suspended for tonight’s key Game 6.
*
Call me a Phanatic: A look at the ups and downs of being a Philadelphia sports fan.Why do I keep thinking of Magic Johnson in 1990, stepping in for an injured Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and leading the Lakers to an NBA title when I ponder the Magic tonight playing without Dwight Howard.
*
I Don’t Get It: Colleges across the nation are now likely going to be dealing with the prickly notion of kids who may have been exposed to swine flu and how that might affect commencements, which start this weekend.
*
Today’s Upper: We have one word: Tamiflu. It’s readily available and is very good at treating this variety of swine flu.
*
Quote Box: “Violence has kept us apart, but we’re never separated, we’re in each other’s heart.”
-- Johana Meng Ebling, talking about the loss of her sister and cousin to violence, at Wednesday night’s vigil for Parents of Murdered Chidlren.

Caution is key

It’s getting closer. It’s not here yet, but it probably will be.

It’s swine flu. And you can’t pick up the newspaper or turn on the TV without being hit with the latest update.

There have been no cases yet reported in Delaware County. So far we’ve been lucky. My guess is that eventually will change.

In Philadelphia, officials there say a 2-year-old boy who has already recovered was likely the first case of swine flu in the region. He is not alone.

At the University of Delaware, 10 students are being treated for symptoms of what officials there believe will be confirmed as swine flu.
One of the students had traveled to Mexico. The school has canceled two public events, a concert and public talk, but classes are continuing.

At Slippery Rock University in western Pennsylvania, officials are closely monitoring 22 students who recently returned from Mexico. They weren’t spring breakers partying in Cancun. They were there for a five-week student-teacher experience. They’re now worried about how to handle the students’ participation in this weekend’s commencements.

Out at Penn State, the folks at Happy Valley are urging students, faculty and staff to delay travel to Mexico.

The only death so far reported in the U.S. was a child who died in Texas after arriving from Mexico. It’s believed about 150 have died as a result of swine flu in Mexico.

Doctors are telling us this is not a time for panic, but instead to be informed and stay calm.

It’s good advice. In the meantime, some simple personal hygiene practices can go a long way, just as we would during routine winter flu outbreaks.

What is sometimes forgotten is that our winter battles with flu routinely kill as many as 36,000 people each year in the U.S., according to the Centers for Disease Control.

Hopefully the toll from swine flu won’t come anywhere close to those levels.

For now, caution is the key word.

Why Bruce gets it

Ever wonder how some artists just seem to make a connection with their audiences, that they “get” it.

Something that happened at last night’s second Bruce Springsteen farewell show at the Spectrum shows the Boss knows Philly, what we like and what we don’t like, and how he is clued into our lives, not just our musical tastes.

At one point in the show Springsteen took the time to mention the passing of legendary Phillies broadcaster Harry Kalas.

In fact, they played a bit that first popped up on Sportsradio 610-WIP in which they had Harry – and that signature voice – calling play-by-play on an imaginary home run by Springsteen. Bruce apparently actually trotted around the bases on stage as the audio was played.

Yep, he gets it.

Just like Magic

The Sixers have gotten their wish. They might live to regret it. Or, maybe more correctly, die while regretting it.

The Magic will be without star forward Dwight Howard for tonight’s Game Six of their first-round tilt with the Sixers at the Wachovia Center.

Actually the Magic will be without two stars, both courtesy of Howard’s active elbow.

Howard has been suspended for nailing Sixers center Sam Dalembert with a flying elbow in the first quarter of Tuesday night’s game in Orlando. A little while later he nailed a teammate, Courtney Lee, with another elbow, in the process fracturing a sinus cavity.

Howard was assessed a technical foul for the hit on Dalembert, but was not tossed from the game. Afterward Sixers coach Tony DiLeo complained about some of Howard’s tactics. Magic coach Stan Van Gundy was not amused, and went on a rant of his own.

NBA Commissioner David Stern announced Wednesday that Howard would be suspended for tonight’s Game Six.

All of which brings to mind a game from another era, which also involved the Sixers, and also the “Magic.”

Only this was Earvin “Magic” Johnson. Back in 1980 the Lakers and Sixers met in the NBA Finals. The Lakers were led by center Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. Jabbar was hobbling with an ankle injury and his status for the crucial Game 6 in Philly was in question.

Right up until game time, most believed Abdul-Jabbar would limp out of the Lakers locker room and take his spot in the tip-off circle.

Didn’t happen. Instead Johnson, a rookie, stepped into the spotlight, trying to fill the void at center. A legend was about to be born. Just like “Magic.”

Johnson scored 42 points to lead the Lakers to a title.

Which brings us to another Game 6, also in Philly, also involving the Magic, a team playing without its star.

Lightning can’t strike twice, can it? The Sixers must win to extend the series to a Game 7, just as they did 29 years ago.

And if they lose? Poof, they disappear, just like Magic.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Attention Springsteen fans

I am using this space to ask my faithful readers (yes, both of them, not including family) for their help.

Actually this is a plea for people who were at the Springsteen show last night. I was not. Yes, I am jealous.

Feel free to post comments about the show or even e-mail me
(editor@delcotimes.com) your review and photos. I’ll post them on our Web site.

But that’s not really the info I’m looking for this morning. There are pcitures from last night’s show of a young girl who from the crowd who apparently joined The Boss on stage. I am guessing this was done during his usual “Dancing in the Dark” routine. At one point Springsteen is actually holding her in his arms.

Here’s what I want to know? Who is that girl? The editor in me is betting she’s from Delaware County, and I want to tell the story of her night with The Boss.

Anyone with any information – or even the girl herself – can reach me at 610-622-8818. Not only am I jealous (hell, I’d probably jump in Bruce’s arms too if he asked me), I think our readers would love to hear her story.

The Daily Numbers - April 29

The Daily Numbers: 29 years in the U.S. Senate for longterm moderate Republican Sen. Arlen Specter. He yesterday announced he was switching parties, leaving the GOP and joining ranks with Democrats.
50 feet, height of latest billboard proposal from Bartkowski Investment Group, this time along Baltimore Pike in Morton.
1, number of passengers under 18 that would be allowed in car with teen drivers, under proposal passed yesterday by the Pa. House.
500,000 dollars believed ripped off from a United Savings Bank in South Philly by a woman employee from Lansdowne.
300,000 dollars in labor and donations at issue in a standoff between the Penn-Delco School Board and the Aston Valley Baseball League in a flap over a lease to Buggy Field the school board is looking to break.
8 confirmed cases of whooping cough in an outbreak at Hillcrest Elementary School in Upper Darby.
4 students at the University of Delaware believed to be the latest victims of swine flu, though the cases have not yet been confirmed.
45 confirmed cases of swine flu in New York; 11 in California; 6 in Texas; 2 in Kansas; 1 in Indiana and Ohio.
2 people killed during a robbery attempt in Southwest Philly last night.
Police believe one of the suspects shot his partner and another man.
31 shows for Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band at the old Spectrum, after last night’s show. He’ll play 1 more tonight.
20 to 40 years in jail, what a Philadelphia woman is facing after entering a plea to third-degree murder in the starvation death of her disabled daughter.
3 immigrant brothers sentenced to life in jail yesterday for their roles in a plot to kill soldiers at Fort Dix, N.J.
11 percent increase in the take at state slots parlors at facilities that also host racetracks, such as Harrah’s Chester, on racing days, according to new stats from the state Gaming Control Board.
1 dead, 2 injured in crash early this morning in the Juniata Park section of Philly.
220 million dollars up for grabs in the Mega Millions jackpot after no one hit Tuesday night.
2.11, what we’re paying for gas in the Philly region after prices ticked up another penny.
100 days for President Obama, who starts the day by welcoming Sen. Arlen Specter to the party he heads.
2 home runs for Chase Utley to lead Phils to an easy 7-1 win over the Nationals. That gives 7 for Utley for the season.
5 straight wins for the Phils, who are now rolling.
4 innings and change of shutout ball for Cole Hamels, who left last night’s game after rolling an ankle trying to field a bunt.
3-2 hole, where the Sixers find themselves, looking to stave off elimination Thursday night vs. Orlando.
24 points and 24 rebounds for Magic star Dwight Howard.
0 goalies the Flyers currently have under contract. Both Marty Biron and Antero Niitymaki are free agents.
*
Call me a Phanatic: A look at the ups and downs of being a Philadelphia sports fan.Maybe the curse of Billy Penn has been replaced by the curse of Cole Hamels. The latest malady suffered by the Phils’ ace happened last night when he was forced out of the game vs. the Nationals after turning an ankle trying to field a bunt.
*
I Don’t Get It: The easy reaction in light of the swine flu outbreak is to panic. That’s exactly the wrong thing to do. This is controllable, and treatable.
*
Today’s Upper: Good news from Philly, where a young woman who complained of flu-like symptoms on a flight from Cancun, Mexico, has tested negative for swine flu.
*
Quote Box: “It’s a shocker. I didn’t have any indication he was going to switch.”
-- Delco GOP Party leader Tom Judge Sr. on news that longtime Republican Sen. Arlen Specter was bolting for the Democratic Party.

The Hamels curse


Here’s a question for Phillies fans: Has anything good happened to Cole Hamels since that magical post-season run in which he went 4-0 and was named World Series MVP? I mean aside from buying that multi-million condo in a Center City high-rise.

To the victor goes the spoils. And very often the hangover.

Hamels found himself in demand this winter and took full advantage of it. He was everywhere, on national TV talk shows and magazine covers. In the process he now admits he got behind in his normal off-season routine and training.

Then when he arrived in Clearwater, he had to be shut down because of inflammation in his left (read throwing) elbow. He returned to Philly to have it checked out and got a shot.

Then he was scrapped as the opening day starter, the usual perk for the team’s “ace.”

Hamels got rocked in his first few starts. He entered last night’s game with a 0-2 record and a bloated 9.69 ERA.

In his last start he looked as if he was rounding into form. Of course he then promptly got dinged by a wicked line drive off his left shoulder and was forced out of the game.

Last night he again was looking more like his normal self, but managed to roll an ankle as he tried to field a bunt. Once again a clearly ticked Hamels was forced to take an early shower. Hamels actually got up and tried to throw from the mound, but after one toss the distressed hurler headed for the dugout.

Hamels apparently is saying he won’t miss his next start. But ankles are touchy things. The next day what seemed like nothing the night before can provide a very “ouchy” different story.

Regardless, Hamels has to start wondering what else could happen to him this year.

I wouldn’t be walking under any ladders if I was him.

The Sixers Lament

The Sixers found out something last night that everybody else who follow sports already knows.

The rules apparently are different for superstars. The Sixers lost to the Orlando Magic to fall behind 3-2, one game away from elimination.

That’s enough to bum out the Sixers and their fans, but that’s not what’s sticking in their craw this morning as they try to figure out a way to win Thursday at home and push this series to a deciding Game 7.

Sixers coach Tony DiLeo clearly thinks Magic star Dwight Howard is getting the “star treatment” from the refs. He moaned after the game about how Howard camps out in the lane, and manages to avoid being called for a 3-second violation. He’s not the first to make such a claim; he won’t be the last.

But there’s another situation that might actually warrant another look by the league.

In the first quarter, Howard tangled with Sixers center Sam Dalembert in going for a rebound. In the process it appeared the Magic man threw an elbow. He was called for a technical foul on the play.

The NBA rules seem pretty clear that such a foul is supposed to be accompanied by the ejection of the offending player. Howard was not. Now DiLeo is literally crying foul.

You think there’s a chance Howard could be suspended for Game Six? Sure, about the same chance he had of being tossed out of that game on the Magic’s floor last night.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

The Daily Numbers

The Daily Numbers: 1 person taken from a plane in Philly last night from Mexico complaining of flu-like symptoms.
5 probable swine flu cases confirmed in New Jersey.
3 statues at Holy Cross Church damaged by vandals.
90 degrees, today’s expected high, which is also the record high for the date.
4 straight days in the 90s if we hit that mark this afternoon.
8, age of child injured when he was struck by a school bus yesterday in Camden, N.J.
9 people sickened by a sulfuric acid spill in New Castle, Del.
3 townhouses consumed by flames in 2-alarm blaze in Feasterville, Bucks County, yesterday.
17, age of kid charged in slaying of another 17-year-old in Wilmington.
2 shows starting tonight for Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band at the old Spectrum, part of the special series of events commemorating the end of the line for the concert hall/athletic venue.
30 performances for the Boss at the Spectrum since he first got booed off the stage there in 1973 opening a show for Chicago.
21,000 jobs being eliminated in another round of cost-cutting by GM.
They’re also killing off the Pontiac brand.
168-24 margin by which Pa. House passed a bill to put more stringent rules on teen drivers.
4 Penn State students charged with being part of a multi-million dollar drug ring that supplied marijuana to frat members and others on campus.
24 hour reprieve for the pro bike race in Philly. A decision on whether to hold this year’s event was supposed to be announced yesterday. It was put off for a day while organizers try to find new funding sources.
2 grand slams for the Phillies as they rallied once again to beat the Nationals, 13-11.
5 home runs blasted into the far reaches of Citizens Bank Park by the Nats in a losing cause.
0 hits surrendered by J.A. Happ, as he picked up the win for the Phils.
1 save for Ryan Madson, who was filling in for closer Brad Lidge, who is nursing a sore knee.
5, as in Game 5 tonight for the Sixers in Orlando.
*
Call me a Phanatic: A look at the ups and downs of being a Philadelphia sports fan.We’re going to have to christen this Phils’ team the Comeback Kids.
They’re not comfortable until they fall behind in the late innings.
*
I Don’t Get It: Not a real good idea yesterday to fly that jumbo jet around the New York City skyline. It was a PR stunt turned nightmare. No one bothered to tell the city. A lot of people who survived 9/11 thought it was happening again.
*
Today’s Upper: Enjoy one more day of summer a tad early this afternoon.
We’re heading back to April showers tomorrow.
*
Quote Box: “It was one of the most beautiful images I’ve seen of Our Lady of Lourdes, especially in an outdoor station. I was really heartsick.”
-- Monsignor Joseph P. Duncan, on a statue at Holy Cross Church in Springfield damaged by vandals.

Glory Days


For some reason, it doesn’t seem like 36 years ago.

I had a ticket to see Chicago at the Spectrum. I was a senior in high school. There were a group of us who were Spectrum regulars. Yes, it was a long drive from Oxford, all the way out at the end of Baltimore Pike in Chester County. But it was usually worth it.

The names are familiar. Jethro Tull. Led Zeppelin. The Allman Brothers.
Aerosmith. And yes, it seemed like Foghat opened every show.

The truth is, at least musically, I’ve never grown up. I still listen to classic rock. I just don’t go to many concerts any more.

I was particularly looking forward to the Chicago show. I was a fan from the days when they first hit the scene as Chicago Transit Authority, introducing the idea of a horn section in rock, along with Blood, Sweat & Tears.

I didn’t pay much attention to who was billed as the opening act.

As it turns out, something came up and I couldn’t make the concert. I think I gave the ticket to a friend.

The next day in school, I asked my buddies about the show. They said Chicago was good, but that the opening act stole the show.

Even more, they said the guy and his band actually got booed off the stage because they were playing too long and the crowd was restless to see Chicago.

More than three decades later, that working class hero and his pals will return to that very same stage to say goodbye to the legendary concert hall in South Philly.

Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band will play two shows, starting tonight, at the Spectrum.

After hearing my friends talk about the show those many years ago, I became a devoted Bruce fan, and have remained one to this day. I would love to be there for tonight’s show.

I’m afraid my concert days are in the rear-view mirror.

I’ve seen The E Street Band several times, but one stands out.

It’s a long story, but I finished college and got my degree from the University of Colorado.

In the summer of 1978, Bruce had just released “Darkness on the Edge of Town.”

Nationally, he still wasn’t quite as well-known as he was on the East Coast.

I had been bragging for months to anyone who would listen to me that they had to see a Springsteen show to really appreciate the man and his music.

A couple of guys who I had met out there from the East Coast would nod knowingly when I talked about “The Boss.” Everyone else thought I was making it up. Yeah, sure, four-hour shows.

Just outside Denver, there is a very likely the most magical place I have ever seen a concert. It’s called Red Rocks Park. It’s a natural amphitheatre carved from a rock formation in the foothills outside Denver.

When I first arrived in Denver, my older brother and I saw a show there.
Appropriately enough, it was John Denver. Don’t laugh, the guy was very good.

I returned there for several shows, including the Eagles/Dan Fogelberg show that ironically I had seen earlier in the summer when I was home at the Spectrum.

I managed to talk a group of kids into going to the Springsteen concert at Red Rocks.

Bruce came out, looked around, and mentioned something about “big rocks you got out here.”

Then he and the E Street Band simply tore the place down. Colorado in that era had this mellow, laid-back attitude. You know, the whole Rocky Mountain High thing. Not that night. For one night, Colorado was transformed into a Jersey shore bar.

I’ll be thinking about all that tonight.

Give ‘em hell, Bruce. As if he’d do anything else.

Still can’t believe it’s been 36 years. Guess you could call them “Glory Days.”

The Comeback Kids

I had one thought last night as, one after another, the murderers’ row also known as the Washington Nationals took a Phillies pitcher out of the park.

No, not how the hell are the Phillies ever going to win anything with this starting pitching staff, which has now surrendered a home run in every game this year.

Instead I kind of smiled. The Phillies had the Nats right where they wanted them.

When the Nationals blasted two pitches from reliver Scott Eyre out of Citizens Bank Park in the eighth, the Phils trailed 11-7. This despite a grand slam from Ryan Howard that tied the score.

No problem. Time for another night of late-inning heroics. Enter Raul Ibanez, the man who has made Phillies fans forget Pat Burrell faster than you can say low and outside.

After the Phils loaded the bases in the bottom of the eighth, Ibanez cleared them with the second grand slam of the night.

At some point the Phils are going to need to get better starting pitching. Look out once they do. Right now they’re just a game back of the suddenly not-so-hot Marlins, who lost again last night.

Maybe in August or September. Right now, these games are just too much fun to turn away from.

A draft that's not for the Birds

Don’t look now, but it looks like the Eagles might just have done something right.

Yes, the team that drew the wrath of its fans a decade ago when it drafted Donovan McNabb over Ricky Williams is now getting rave reviews for its work in last weekend’s annual NFL talent hunt.

In the first round, the Birds traded up two spots to get wide receiver Jeremy Maclin, who no one thought was still going to be available.

Then in the second round they grabbed Pitt back LeSean McCoy, also believed to be a value pick.

On Day Two they sent a message to disgruntled cornerback Sheldon Brown by trading a couple of draft picks to the New England Patriots for cornerback Ellis Hobbs.

I’m impressed.

I know that may not necessarily impress you. So don’t take my word for it.

How about Pete Prisco, from CBSSports.com, who rated the Birds’ work an A-Plus. He said it was hard to find a questionable move.

Then there’s Larry Weisman, the NFL writer for USA Today. He summed up the Eagles’ draft this way: Wow!

All of which got me to thinking something. This is what Donovan McNabb has been talking about for years. Now he has it.

So, no more excuses. Win something. The Donovan McNabb Era is coming to an end one way or the other. Why not go out with a Super Bowl title?

Monday, April 27, 2009

The Daily Numbers - April 27

The Daily Numbers: 103 people who have died in Mexico in a swine flu scare.
20 confirmed illnesses – but so far no deaths – in the U.S.
5 rabid animals that have been discovered so far this year in Delaware County.
3 alarm fire that swept through Park Lane East Apartments in Upper Darby early Saturday. No serious injuries were reported.
35 local Girl Scouts honored Sunday with Gold Awards, the highest honor in girls scouting.
20,000 dollars short, where the Darby Library stands in its fundraising efforts to stay open. They raised $1,000 in a recent weekend fundraiser.
600,000 commercial and residential properties in Philadelphia that are getting new, updated tax assessments this week.
1 man shot in front of his daughter during an incident Sunday at a Southwest Philly gas station.
44 crimes in Delaware that have been charged to two men in connection with a series of break-ins.
17, age of student in Glassboro, N.J., a 27-year-old teacher is believed to have had consensual sex with at his home. He faces charges.
20, age of camp counselor in Bucks County who is charged with sexually assaulting young boys at the facility.
82 people arrested and 14,245 dollars seized in the second weekend of Operation Pressure Point, a crime crackdown in Philly.
2 teens arrested in the murders of 2 Philly teens last week in what police now say was a case of mistaken identity.
1 man fatally shot in Camden over the weekend.
93 degrees, our record high temperature yesterday as we got a slice of July in April.
89, the expected high today, followed by 87 tomorrow before we finally return to normal temperatures Wednesday.
1.50 cents less, what we’re paying for gasoline this year, as opposed to the same time last spring.
2.11, average price per gallon at the pumps in the Philly region.
5 people killed in a 10-vehicle crash on the New Jersey Turnpike Saturday.
1 man shot in a confrontation with police in the parking lot of the Oxford Valley Mall in Bucks County.
2 5th round picks sent to the Patriots by the Eagles to acquire veteran cornerback Ellis Hobbs. Attention Sheldon Brown.
2 more weapons for Donovan McNabb, after the Birds used their first 2 picks for wide receiver Jeremy Maclin of Missouri and running back LeSean McCoy of Pitt.
1.1 seconds left when Hedo Turkoglu stuck the dagger in the Sixers’
heart yesterday with a three-pointer to give the win to the Magic.
2-2, where the Sixers-Magic series now stands, all tied as they head back to Orlando for Game 5 Tuesday night.
4 runs driven in by Shane Victorino as the Phils smoked the Marlins, 13-2, yesterday to sweep the series.
11 walks surrendered by the Marlins pitchers. It got so bad they used a position player to throw the ninth.
3-0, the Flyers lead over the Pens halfway through the second period on Saturday.
5 straight goals scored by Pittsburgh to send the Flyers off to the golf course for the summer.
*
Call me a Phanatic: A look at the ups and downs of being a Philadelphia sports fan.A good NHL team simply does not cough up a 3-0 lead at home in a game they must win to stave off elimination, yet that’s what the Flyers offered us on Saturday. Have a nice summer, guys.
*
I Don’t Get It: People are complaining already about the heat. Not me. The hotter the better. Bring it on.
*
Today’s Upper: Kudos to the men and women of Chester Township Fire Co., who sent one of their own who is being deployed to Iraq or Afghanistan in style with a soiree Saturday night.
*
Quote Box: “The military was something I wanted to do for a long time.
It gives you discipline and focus and it’s definitely made me a much better person.”
-- Chester Township Firefighter Kyle Marley, who will be deploying to Iraq or Afghanistan.

Scary words: Swine flu


While we were busy greeting an early start to summer this weekend, a new phrase was introduced into our vocabulary.

Get used to it; everyone is going to be talking about it as we head back to work:

Swine flu.

It starts the way most other flu symptoms do, with headache, coughing, fever, a cough, sometimes nausea. But this one winds up killing you.

The death toll from the current outbreak of swine flu stands at 103, all of them in Mexico. Officials have confirmed 22 of those cases to be caused by swine flu. There are another 81 suspected cases in Mexico.

The Mexico cases are now being looked at for spreading the virus to the U.S. A handful of kids at a New York high school who spent spring break in Mexico have been sickened.

There are now believed to be 20 cases of swine flu in the U.S. Most of those battling symptoms in the U.S. have recovered. No one is quite sure why the outbreak has been so deadly in Mexico.

The U.S. government has now declared a public health emergency in response to the outbreak, which has now spread to cases being reported in Kansas, California, Texas and Ohio.

There seems to be a common theme. Many of them recently visited Mexico.

The U.S. is now stockpiling 12 million doses of Tamiflu, which is used to treat symptoms. Travelers at the Mexican border are being asked about travel to flu-stricken areas. Some airports worldwide are screening travelers from Mexico and the U.S. for flu symptoms.

Get used to hearing more than you ever wanted to know about swine flu.
That’s what happens when people start dying.

A couple of cautions: You don’t get this from eating pork. Instead this is a virus passed by contact with contaminated people or livestock.

It’s scary. And there are scary words being bandied about, words like pandemic. Supposedly it’s very treatable, but it’s still scary.

Updating the Sixers and Flyers

The Sixers now have played four games against their first-round opponent in the NBA Playoffs. The Sixers and Magic stand at 2-2, having split a series in Orlando, as well as one on the Wachovia Center hardwood.

The thing is, the Sixers probably could have won all four of these games.

Last night the Sixers were down by about 10 with seven minutes left in the game. This one’s over, right?

Not exactly.

The Sixers rallied to knot the game with seconds left, only to have a dagger stuck in their chest by Hedo Turkoglu, who drained a three-pointer with 1.1 seconds left to break the tie and put the Magic up by three.

The Sixers probably deserve better than to be tied in this series. They now head back to Orlando for Game 5 Tuesday night.

You have to wonder how long the Sixers can bottle this magic. They weren’t supposed to be in this series, or any other one, for that matter.

Then you have the Flyers.

What can you say about what happened at the Wachovia Center Saturday afternoon?

The Flyers were down 3-1 and looking at being eliminated when they dominated the Penguins in Pittsburgh to send the series back to Philly.

They could not have scripted a better start on Saturday. The Flyers, in front of a rabid crowd decked out in orange T-shirts, jumped on the Pens and built a 3-0 lead. It looked like the series was headed for a winner-take-all Game 7.

Maybe that’s what the Flyers thought, too. Because at about the halfway point of the second period, they pulled the plug. Then they watched the series – and their season – go down the drain.

The Penguins scored four straight goals to cast a pall over the building, before depositing an empty-netter to put the final nail in the coffin.

The Flyers are now saying they only need to “tweak” their lineup and that coach John Stevens will be back.

One problem with that. What exactly are they going to do about the Penguins? With Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin in place, the Flyers are looking at a serious roadblock to their playoff hopes every year for the foreseeable future.

Hope the fans stuck around long enough to watch the Flyers, heads hanging, go through the traditional post-series handshake Saturday afternoon.

It’s very likely going to be a familiar scene.

A message for Sheldon

Everybody who believes the Eagles’ line that their move to acquire a veteran cornerback has nothing to do with their war of words with Sheldon Brown raise your hands? Thought so.

No one has ever accused the Birds of being subtle. Brown, who went public with the fact that he did not especially care for the way the Eagles were treating him and that he would like a trade, is the latest to get a cold slap on the face from the team.

Browns wants a new contract or to be traded. Instead he got some competition.

On Sunday the Eagles spent the day swapping draft picks with several teams, and finally shipped a couple of fifth-round picks to the Patriots for Ellis Hobbs, a four-year veteran.

Brown chose to put a positive spin on the situation, saying “I look at it as great news in terms of me being traded.”

Maybe Brown heard something we didn’t. Eagles boss Andy Reid made it pretty clear that the deal had nothing to do with his disgruntled corner.

“This doesn’t have anything to do with Sheldon,” Reid said. “Sheldon is on this team. Hobbs gives us depth at cornerback. You can never have enough quality cornerbacks.”

This is a page right out of the Lito Sheppard playbook for the Eagles.
You might remember the All-Pro corner basically grumbled all last year and had trouble getting on the field after he publicly blasted the Eagles in seeking a new contract. He was eventually shipped to the Jets in the off-season. Now Brown likely will get the same treatment.

Let us translate for you, Sheldon.

Eagles to Sheldon: Shut up and play.

And, oh, by the way. That guy we just traded for? He’ll be competing for your job.

Friday, April 24, 2009

The Daily Numbers - April 24

The Daily Numbers: 4 children who claim they were indecently touched by a clinical psychologist they were seeing through the Delaware County Juvenile Court.
3 people charged with drug-dealing in Clifton Heights.
2 kids, ages 9 and 10, police say were left home alone in Chester. Their mother now faces endangerment charges.
3 hours, how long I-95 South from Chester to the Delaware state line was closed overnight to remove wreckage from a tractor-trailer crash that created traffic nightmares yesterday morning.
5 residents who spoke last night in opposition to huge billboards being proposed in Springfield. Developer Thaddeus Bartkowski made the case for the huge signs.
18 teachers and 21 outstanding students honored last night at the annual Partners in Learning banquet at the Drexelbrook. Quite a night.
14,000 bars, restaurants and clubs that could host legal video poker machines under new legislation proposed in Harrisburg.
1.1 billion, how much the state would supposedly take in from video poker, with half of it going to ease tuition bills for kids attending state-owned colleges.
5 Philadelphia officers suspended with the intent to dismiss. Three of the cases involve cops using racial slurs.
50 percent of those surveyed in Philadelphia who oppose Mayor Michael Nutter’s plan to raise taxes. They’d rather see reductions in services.
12 point decline in Nutter’s popularity, according to the same poll.
17 people losing their jobs at public radio station WHYY-FM in Philly.
None of them work on the air.
30 to 50 teens who are believed to have attended a huge keg party in Abington back in February. Now a man and woman face charges for hosting the bash and supplying alcohol to minors.
6 to 23 months on work release for the Devon teen convicted in the brutal attack on a Geno’s Steaks employee.
4 week shutdown this summer for workers at the GM plant in Wilmington, Del.
22 percent jump in profits posted in the first quarter by PNC Bank.
12 developments in the Philly suburbs still up in the air after builder TH Properties announced it was temporarily closing its doors. The firm’s owner yesterday said he’s negotiating with banks to get more credit.
2.9 percent tuition hike for students at Temple next year.
0 goals surrendered last night by Martin Biron as the Flyers beat the Penguins to get back into their first-round Stanley Cup playoff series.
The Flyers now trail, 3-2.
0 hits through seven innings for the Phils, who lost to the Brewers, 6-1.
2 hits surrendered by Conestoga High grad Dave Bush, who got the win in front of a lot of family and friends.
6 strikeouts in 3 innings for Cole Hamels, who was forced out of the game in the 4th after taking a line drive in the shoulder. He should be fine.
21, where the Eagles pick in the first round of Saturday’s NFL Draft.
*
Call me a Phanatic: A look at the ups and downs of being a Philadelphia sports fan.You can put your hearts back in your chest now, fans. The Flyers are alive for at least one more day. And Cole Hamels says he’s fine and expects to make his next start after taking a nasty liner off his left shoulder yesterday.
*
I Don’t Get It: There just seems to be something a little unseemly about the idea of using money from video gambling to fund kids’ college educations. Maybe parents should just keep buying lottery tickets.
*
Today’s Upper: How about that Mother Nature. 90 degrees on Sunday? Bring it on!
*
Quote Box: “The average person … is just Joe Six-Pack going into the tavern, having a couple beers and putting $20 in a machine and I don’t think there’s any harm in that.”
-- State Sen. Dante Santoni Jr., D-Berks, on move to legalize video poker in Pennsylvania bars.

Stick it in your ear


The state House has the following message for all those who believe that having people talking on hand-held cell phones while driving is not a great idea.

Stick it in your ear!

A move to ban chatting, texting or otherwise yakking on a hand-held device while driving was shot down in the House. The proposal by state Rep. Josh Shapiro would have allowed police to pull over anyone they observed using a hand-held phone while driving. Instead House members fell back on the tried and true method of enforcement in Pa., if you’re stopped for something else – like maybe driving like a bat out of hell – and the kind officer notices you also seem a tad distracted because your’re talking on the phone, he can issue you another citation.

I’m not exactly sure I see what the problem is here. Does anyone want to make the argument that dialing, texting or talking on a hand-held device is NOT an unsafe practice.

AAA is willing to go even further. They believe it’s the act of conversation that is the danger, and would just as soon see all phone conversation derailed. I’m not sure what that says about drivers informing the unruly backseat passengers that, no, they are not stopping at Rita’s on the way home.

Six Delco state reps – evenly split with three Republicans and three Democrats – backed the ban. Two Republicans and a Democrat voted against it.

Philadelphia recently passed a law banning the use of hand-held cell phones while driving. That puts them in the company of Lower Chichester here in Delaware County, which has had a similar law on the books for a few years now.

No one seems to know how tightly the Lower Chi law is enforced.

And that’s the key legal question. For the most part, driving is something that has fallen under the domain of the state Legislature.
There is some question whether laws adopted at the local level would withstand a legal challenge.

Now there’s another potential roadblock to the Philly measure. A state rep is reminding the city that a law already on the books would strip them of millions in federal highway funding if they insist on skirting the state motor vehicle code.

None of which changes the basic fact that driving and cell phones don’t mix.

I’m not a cell phone guy. I only turn mine on when I need to make a call.

Then again maybe I’m just uncoordinated. But I’ll admit that on the few occasions I’ve tried to use the damn thing while driving, safety goes right out the window.

Which reminds me of something I find myself yearning for more and more these harried days. Just once I’d like to get my hands around the neck of the person who keeps telling me, “This technology is going to make your life so much easier.”

Hey, pal, stick it in your ear.

Roll of the dice for education

Remember that proposal to legalize video poker in taverns, with the money going to help students and their families with the rising cost of college?

It got introduced to the school of hard knocks yesterday. A little Harrisburg hardball.

Gov. Ed Rendell rolled out the plan, which would make what is fairly commonplace right now - video poker in bars and private social establishments - legal and under the jurisdiction of the state. Rendell wants to take the money raised – which he estimates could be as much as
$1.1 billion a year – and give it to college kids. At least some of it.

Rendell envisions putting as many as five video poker machines in 14,000 bars, restaurants and clubs.

Half the money would go to the state, with the other half helping as many as 170,000 students attend a state-owned university or community college. The aid would be doled out on a sliding scale. Families earning less than $32,000 would pay no more than $1,000.

Sounds good, right? Not everyone is all that impressed.

They have a point. Tying gambling to higher education does not exactly paint a pretty picture.

Or, as state Rep. Curt Schroder, R-Chester County, pointed out: “Do you really want your education funded on the backs of families broken by addiction?”

Schroder also pointed it out it might be just a tad premature to be talking about expanding gambling when the state seems to have its hands full trying to regulate its new slots parlors.

Speaking of those new gaming meccas, they have yet to weigh in on this issue, but almost surely will. My guess is they are less than thrilled at the idea of those fine folks usually sitting in front of their slot machines instead sauntering into their neighborhood tap room and indulging their habit there.

That would seem to be especially so for Harrah’s Chester, the only one of the of the state’s seven casinos in operation where revenues are going down. Add in two more casinos that finally appear to be making headway in Philadelphia, and Harrah’s likely is not going to be especially happy over the move to legalize video poker.

Schroder says he’s been told by several casinos that they would file suit to get back some of the $50 million in fees they forked over to the state.

In other words, moving to legalize video poker is looking more like a roll of the dice every day.

Sports of all sorts


Don’t start throwing dirt on the Flyers just yet.

That goes for Cole Hamels, too.

Tony Gonzalez? Go ahead, you can bury him.

Let’s review: The Flyers clawed back into their first-round Stanley Cup playoff battle last night by totally dominating Pittsburgh on the Pens’
home ice.

And who the hell is Claude Giroux, and where did he come from? He’s exactly the kind of skill player that makes a difference in the playoffs. And exactly the kind of skill player that Flyers have too often lacked.

The Flyers are alive, but they’re not exactly off death row. They are still one loss away from summer. The series now switches back to the Wachovia Center Saturday afternoon.

Phillies fans – not to mention Charlie Manuel – had heart palpitations as they watched a line drive off the bat of Prince Fielder slam into the very valuable left shoulder of ace Cole Hamels. The lefty who snagged MVPs in both the National League Championship Series and the World Series left the game – against his own will – yesterday. Hamels says he will be fine and expects to make his next start in D.C. next week.

The Phils won’t be fine until they get some more consistent offensive output. Yesterday they were almost no-hit by Conestoga High product Dave Bush. A pinch-hit homer by Matt Stairs broke up both the no-hitter and the shutout. But the Phils got just one other hit in falling, 1-0.

A road trip might be just what this team needs. Between the hoopla over celebrating their World Series title, rainouts and the death of legendary broadcaster Harry Kalas, they’ve yet to settle into any kind of a normal groove. Maybe they can do it this weekend in Florida.

Scratch Tony Gonzalez off the wish list, Birds fans. The perennial All-Pro tight end of the Kansas City Chiefs will have a new uniform next year, but it won’t be the Birds’ midnight green. Instead he be catching passes from Exton native Matt Ryan for the Atlanta Falcons.

The Eagles are still holding the 21st pick in the NFL Draft on Saturday.

Throw in the Penn Relays and you have quite a sports weekend. If you’re going to the Relays, pack the sunscreen. You’re looking at bright sun and a high of 75 this afternoon, and 85 Saturday.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

The Daily Numbers - April 23

The Daily Numbers: 6 Delco state reps who voted for total ban on use of hand-held cell phones while driving. Three voted against. The measure failed.
50 dollar fine, what would have been slapped on yakking drivers under the proposal.
15, age of boy who testified he had sex with a Linwood woman. He’s one of 4 boys who have accused her. She was held for trial.
245,620 Oxycontin and Percocet pills, what an Upper Darby man pleaded guilty to distributing illegally.
1 million dollar grant being sought by the city of Chester to hire new police officers.
5,000 down payment, how much a couple forked over to TH Properties by a Montgomery Couple for their new home. It’s now half-built and the company has shut down operations.
45, age of man facing charges in the fatal crash that took the life of a police officer in Middletown, Bucks County, back in January.
2 Philadelphia police officers injured when their cruiser crashed during a chase in West Philly.
29, age of man being held in a crime spree in Cape May County, N.J., that ended in the discovery of the body of a 32-year-old woman in his room.
3 people shot in Reading Wednesday night.
12,000 dollars raised for a woman believed to be suffering from cancer in Reading. Police have charged her with making up the illness.
2 airliners that were struck by lightning as they approached Philadelphia International Airport last night. Both landed safely.
5 million in taxes, what the feds claim a lawyer who was obsessed with the tax code still owes. The Norristown man was convicted Wednesday.
5.6 million in federal stimulus funds that will be used to plug leaks in the roof of Independence Hall in Philly.
3 students at Franklin & Marshall College in Lancaster who say they have been subjected to racial slurs.
267 million dollar contract recently awarded to Siemens Medical Solutions USA. The feds raided their Malvern offices yesterday. No word as to why.
3 different bosses now for the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board, the folks who run those new slots parlors. There’s been another change at the top.
22, floor where a small fire broke out in a dorm on the Penn campus. A student now has been charged with setting the fire.
26 of June, that’s the date for Beyonce to bring her show to the Wachovia Center in Philly.
30 points for Andre Miller, but it was not enough to keep the Sixers from falling to the Magic, even though Dwight Howard fouled out and only played about 30 minutes.
1-1, where the series between the Sixers and Magic stands as they head back to Philly.
0 runs the Phils managed off veteran Brewers hurler Braden Looper last night. They lost, 3-1.
1 more loss and the Flyers will be done for the season. They face off against the Pens in Pittsburgh at 7.
21, the pick the Eagles have in the first round of Saturday’s NFL Draft.
*
Call me a Phanatic: A look at the ups and downs of being a Philadelphia sports fan.I don’t want to sound greedy, but when Dwight Howard only plays 30 minutes and fouls out, that’s a golden opportunity the Sixers let slip away last night. They were only down by 5 when Howard took a seat on the bench. Instead of rallying and being up a commanding 2-0, they come home all even at 1-1.
*
I Don’t Get It: I’m still not exactly sure what the legislators don’t understand when it comes to using a hand-held cell phone while driving.
Don’t know about them, but I seem to be constantly trying to avoid drivers clearly distracted as they yak on their ever-present phones.
Still, the House rejected a ban yesterday.
*
Today’s Upper: Did you know it’s TV turnoff week. Try it. Even better, after you turn it off, pick up a newspaper.
*
Quote Box: “Since legislators are among the worst offenders of driving and talking, this is a little like Al Capone voting on tax policy.”
-- Rep. Bryan Lentz, D-161, on ban on use of hand-held cell phone while driving. He voted in favor of the ban.

'Taps,' the update


All this one needs is an appearance from Timothy Hutton.

They will be updating “Taps” today at Valley Forge Military Academy.

You might remember the movie where Hutton led a group of young cadets who were less than enchanted with the direction of their school. The decided to play soldier and took over the school. It was filmed at Valley Forge Military Academy in Radnor.

Some alumni of the esteemed Main Line institution will be updating the script today for real.

It’s the latest salvo in a bitter feud, but the central issue is very similar. The small group of alums don’t like the direction their school is taking. And today they will make their complaints public at the gates of the institution. I don’t think any muskets will be involved.

The Valley Forge Old Guard is critical of school spending, including the salaries of top execs, and what they believe is a move away from the military school’s core values. They plan to ask the state attorney general to investigate the non-profit that runs the school.

School leaders are not amused, and vowing to take legal action against the group for what they call “slander” against the school and its leaders.

In particular the Old Guard seems to have its guns trained on school President Charles McGeorge. He’s the first civilian president in the school’s history.

Roll cameras. Bring in Tim Hutton.

They are remaking “Taps” on the Main Line today.

Pizza? No news ain't good news in Chester


They have the beginnings of a stadium (or at least some pilings in the ground), but they don’t have a name.

They have rabid fans called the Sons of Ben, but they do not have official colors or a logo.

Relax, pro soccer fans. You now have an official pizza.

Keystone Sports & Entertainment, the people who will be bringing Major League Soccer to Chester, have entered into a deal with Seasons Pizza of Wilmington, Del., to be the official pizza at the stadium under construction in the shadow of the Commodore Barry Bridge.

The pizza folks will get concession stands, along with signage in the stadium.

Don’t know how familiar these folks are with the Sons of Ben. The soccer zealots are getting increasingly antsy about the lack of news coming about the franchise that is supposed to start play less than a year from now.

You’d think the least they could do is announce the stadium’s official beer to wash down that pizza.

For the Birds


The Flyers have their backs to the wall, the Sixers lost a game in which Magic star Dwight Howard fouled out after playing just 30 minutes, and the Phils spent the night hitting line drives right at Brewers in a 3-1 loss.

But of course here in Philadelphia we again turn to our favorite topic, the “Iggles.”

Cool you jets, Mel Kiper breath. This isn’t about Saturday’s NFL Draft.
Nor the growing rumblings that the Birds have an interest in Kansas City all-pro tight end Tony Gonzalez.

No, it’s time once again for another lesson from the Joe Banner-Jeff Lurie PR School.

You might remember the team and the city continue to be at odds over $8 million in revenue the city says the team owes it from skyboxes at Veterans Stadium. The team responded they would not be paying them anything, saying that’s just about how much they lost when they had to cancel an exhibition game because of the condition of the Vet’s notorious turf field.

Then the team threw a new wrinkle into the mix, filing court affidavits in which they indicated they had a secret deal with then-Mayor John Street to settle the matter for a lot less. Street denied any such deal existed.

Now Mayor Michael Nutter has weighed in, saying there is no evidence of any deal and telling the team the city, which is currently staring down the barrel of a massive budget deficit that threatened libraries and fire stations, wants its money.

And the response from our resident charmers, Messrs. Banner and Lurie?
See you in court.

But that’s not all. The Eagles released a statement saying that any business considering locating in Philadelphia should take into account the way the city handles such matters.

I’m not making this up.

“We think this should concern every person doing business in the city of Philadelphia or is contemplating doing business in the city,” the team said.

That sounds suspiciously like a threat.

We agree with the team on one thing. It should concern every resident, every taxpayer and every fan of this team.

But not at the way the city is handling the matter. Rather at the arrogant, smug owners of a franchise valued at more than $1 billion.

It’s almost enough to make us side with Sheldon Brown.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

The Daily Numbers - April 22

The Daily Numbers: 62 feet, height of billboards being proposed for Baltimore Pike in Springfield, Sproul Road in Marple, and West Chester Pike in Haverford.
3 to 4 weeks, how long commuters in the Radnor area will have to deal with detours on King of Prussia Road. Emergency bridge work has shut the span down.
13,900 dollars, how much the former treasurer is believed to have stolen from a girls crew club at Radnor High School. The man apparently used it to pay the prep school tuition for his kids and hoped to repay it.
41, age of woman in Lower Chichester who will face trial for having sex with 4 teen boys as many as 40 times.
44, age of former teacher at Gwynedd Mercy Academy High School in Montgomery County who is charged with having an inappropriate relationship with a student.
2 people dead after a man walked up to a car and opened fire on a woman in Philly yesterday, then turned the gun on himself.
6, age of girl who was struck by a hit-and-run driver in the Olney section of Philly last night. The girl is hospitalized.
58 percent of people in a recent AAA survey who admitted to some aggressive driving habits.
1 percent sales tax hike being pushed by some municipal officials in Pennsylvania. Delco is not among them.
8 million bucks, what the city still says the Eagles owe the city in their dispute over revenue from skyboxes at Veterans Stadium. Mayor Michael Nutter yesterday rejected the team’s argument that there was any secret deal to settle the issue for a lot less money.
10,000 dollars taken by robbers who hit a check-cashing business on Northeast Philly.
500,000 dollar budget gap that may force organizers to pull the plug on Philly’s annual pro bike race through city streets. The Philadelphia Cycling Championship would celebrate its 25th anniversary this year.
3 teens injured in a crash in Greenville, Del. Police say the young driver was “trying to go airborne.”
57 percent dip in profits in the first-quarter for Merck & Co.
600 to 700 jobs being dumped by Yahoo.
27,500 jobs eliminated in the last year by the nation’s major air carriers.
100 jobs being cut by Independence Blue Cross.
2.10 and holding, average price of gas in the Philly region.
1 goal scored by the Flyers as they fell to the Pens last night, 3-1. They now are behind in the series by the identical margin, 3-1.
1 more loss and the Flyers can start making their tee times for the summer.
45 shots fired by the Flyers at Pens’ goalie Marc-Andre Fleury. Ah, yes, the dreaded hot goaltender stymies the orange and black.
11 runs for the Phils last night as they pounded the Brewers, 11-4.
1 hour, 18 minute rain delay for the game in the top of the 7th.
2 as in Game Two of the Sixers-Magic series on tap tonight in Orlando.
*
Call me a Phanatic: A look at the ups and downs of being a Philadelphia sports fan.Villanova star Scottie Reynolds is at least going to toy with the idea of turning pro and entering the NBA Draft. Don’t panic, Wildcat fans.
Expect Reynolds back in the lineup next year. He does not project as a first-round NBA pick.
*
I Don’t Get It: A woman in Philadelphia apparently was talking on a cell phone when she struck a 6-year-old last night in the Olney section.
Witnesses actually say she came back to inspect the scene, then fled again. Last week City Council passed a bill to outlaw talking on a hand-held cell phone while driving. Anyone still questioning if it’s dangerous?
*
Today’s Upper: It’s Earth Day. Take a walk. Get out of your car.
*
Quote Box: “I’m not condoning a boycott. I do feel sorry for the tenants, but they can always express their displeasure with their landlords.
-- Marple Commissioner John Butler, on simmering dispute over billboards in the township.

Happy Earth Day


It’s Earth Day. Try holding your breath.

The Environmental Protection Agency now is ranking carbon dioxide, which we exhale with each breath, as a pollutant.

I will admit there’s a lot I don’t know about this whole environment-global warming thing.

There’s a part of me that thinks the whole thing is a scam to get us out of our cars. That’s not entirely a bad thing.

That’s because I happen to live in a development that features a walking path that goes through the entire development, and then winds through a local park. Very nice. My wife and I try to use it as often as possible.

But that’s where we stop being environmentally friendly. There is not a single other thing we do that does not require us to get in our car.

We don’t really live in a town. We live outside town, as is the case with so many suburban developments. It was a nice place to raise our kids, but I curse my situation every day right now.

I yearn for the days before I was married and in my first year of wedded bliss. My first apartment was in West Chester. I lived in the third floor of an old house right across the street from the library.

Once I drove home from work, I parked the car (itself something of a challenge in West Chester), and I didn’t need to use it again until the next morning. There were some weekends I did not use the car at all.

West Chester is one of the most walkable towns I have ever lived in.
There was almost nothing I enjoyed more than getting up in the morning and walking downtown to grab a paper and a cup of coffee.

That’s only a memory now. A trip to my Wawa today means getting in the car. The same for church. Ditto for groceries and every other errand we run, usually three of four times a day.

Somewhere along the line, our planning process went haywire. I live in a pretty modest development. We are now surrounded by the bane of today’s home market, the McMansion. These mini-Shangra Las all have one thing in common. They almost inevitably make their residents dependent on their cars.

I look forward to the day (alas still far in the future) when I can get out of my house, and move back into a town where I can walk to do just about anything I need to do.

I don’t want to wind up in a development for seniors unless it is part of a town. I don’t want to be cut off from the rest of the world.

I want to get up in the morning, throw on a pair of shorts, and walk to my local Wawa. Hopefully I will meet a lot of people along the way, all doing the same thing I am, staying out of their cars.

In the meantime, Happy Earth Day. Don’t forget to breathe while you’re out there walking.

The Sestak Watch


A very interesting development on the political front as Delaware County tries to suppress a collective yawn as we lurch toward another primary election day.

There’s been a very subtle – but very telling – shift in the tone of Congressman Joe Sestak, D-7.

It has long been believed that the ambitious Sestak might one day cast his eye on the Senate seat held by Republican Sen. Arlen Specter.

Every time we would ask Sestak about such a possibility, he made it very clear. He loved his job in the House of Representatives and had no intention of making a bid for the Senate.

Then a couple of things happened. Specter, who makes a habit of rubbing Republicans the wrong way with some of his votes, backed President Obama and his massive stimulus package. It was Specter’s swing vote that was seen as crucial in getting the measure through the Senate.

Republicans, especially the conservative wing, were not pleased. It was not the first time they believed they had been betrayed by the moderate Specter.

Now Specter is facing a challenge in the Republican Primary. Actually two of them.

Both abortion foe Peg Luksik and conservative former Congressman Pat Toomey have Specter in the crosshairs. It’s the Toomey match that intrigues the pundits.

A few years back, Toomey came close to toppling Specter, who has served Pennsylvania in the Senate for as long as anyone can remember.
Republicans seemingly have been plotting a way to dump him just as long.

The thinking is that Sestak would not challenge an entrenched Specter, whose record would not be all that different than the Democrat’s. But Toomey is another matter. There are those who believe that while Toomey could depose Specter in a Republican primary, he still would have trouble in a statewide race.

Enter the Democrat Sestak.

First, of course, Sestak would have to say he’s in. So far, he is not talking about the future. Which is interesting in itself, not so much for what he is saying as for what he’s not saying. He’s not taking the strident tone he once did, ruling out a run.

Keep an eye on this one. At some point Sestak will have to decide whether he wants to get in the race. It’s a gamble. He would be giving up a Congressional seat. They don’t exactly fall off trees.

But his war chest – which now stands at a little more than $3 million – says he would make a formidable candidate should he decide to challenge the Republican in a Senate race.

That might really be the deciding question, just who that Republican will be.

Stay tuned.

Brown out

Eagles starting cornerback Sheldon Brown seems to have forgotten an old adage when it comes to contract talks.

Any time someone tells you it’s not about the money, you can pretty much bet it’s about the money.

Brown is unhappy with his deal and has indicated he would like a trade.

The Eagles responded - rather bluntly - saying they had no intention of trading a key member of their defense and that Brown’s very public (read
ESPN) statements actually hurt his value on the market.

If Brown is ticked at anyone, it should be his agent and himself. He signed the contract a few years ago that gave him financial security in the form of a healthy up-front signing bonus.

Now, toward the end of the deal, he considers himself underpaid in today’s market.

He did not seem to consider that when he was stuffing that signing bonus in his pocket.

The fact is Brown very likely is underpaid in today’s NFL market. It doesn’t change the fact that no one held a gun to his head and forced him to sign this deal. He did it of his own free will, and I am assuming the advice of his agent.

It’s just amazing how many times athletes seem to forget that small item.

Yes, Brown has legitimate points about how the thing has been handled by the Eagles. Their PR skills are right up there with the Octomom. There’s not a situation that’s beyond them bungling.

None of which changes the fact that Sheldon Brown’s signature appears on that contract.

It’s about the money.

Sheldon Brown thinks he’s going to be able to “buck” the system. He might want to chat with another Eagle who tried that, fellow corner Lito Sheppard. He’s now a member of the New York Jets. He never did get a new deal from the Eagles.

The guess is Brown won’t either.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

The Daily Numbers - April 21

The Daily Numbers: 12 people busted for drugs in a sting operation in Chester, including Karon Burton, the Daily Times 2008 All-Delco Boys Basketball Player of the Year.
40 homes in Lower Chichester damaged by two juveniles who spray-painted their “tags” on homes, the township hockey court and rec equipment.
3 suspects being sought in connection with a graffiti spree that targeted a bridge and nonprofit horticultural center in Delaware.
6 people busted in what police are calling an international stolen credit card scheme in Upper Darby.
14,000 dollars believed ripped off from the Radnor Girls Crew Club by a Wayne man. He faces charges.
2 rabid raccoons that have now been detected in the county. The first was last week in Radnor, now another has attacked a dog in Ridley.
567,319 dollars in donations that came into U.S. Rep. Joe Sestak’s coffers in the last reporting period. Some believe he is mulling a run for the U.S. Senate seat now held by Sen. Arlen Specter. Sestak is saying only that he’s happy in the House.
406,187 registered voters in Delaware County, that’s up just a shade from November.
5 million dollars for groundwater cleanup along Naylor’s Run Stream in Haverford.
16,000 cars a day that go over a bridge on King of Prussia Road in Radnor. The bridge over Gulph Creek has been shut down for emergency repairs. The road is closed between Matsonford and Croton roads.
1.2 million voter edge for Democrats in Pennsylvania. That’s actually down 30,000 from the November numbers. Monday was the final day to register to vote in the May primary.
2-1 margin, results of poll showing New Jersey residents would like to be able to wager legally on sporting events.
7, age of boy found in hotel room where his bother was arrested on charges of prostitution in Bensalem, Bucks County.
40 laptops stolen from a Philadelphia high school that have been recovered after the arrest of 2 suspects in the case.
27 citations for speeding issued during a crackdown on speeders by state police in Bucks County.
345,500 square feet of space in the new home of Tasty Baking Co. in the Philadelphia Navy Yard Corporate Center.
23 million dollars believed ripped off from clients by a Chester County-based financial adviser.
45 percent of Philadelphia adults who are not working and not looking for work, according to a new study.
200,000 dollars that will be targeted to the fight against youth gangs in Allentown.
5 people found dead inside a hotel room in Towson, Md., last night.
3 games on tap with the Milwaukee Brewers for the Phils, starting tonight at Citizens Bank Park.
2 million dollars, how much Sheldon Brown is supposed to make with the Eagles this year. He now wants to be traded after efforts to get a new deal went nowhere.
1 goal so far in the Flyers first-round Stanley Cup Playoff series for Jeff Carter.
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Call me a Phanatic: A look at the ups and downs of being a Philadelphia sports fan.Don’t look now but there’s another disgruntled Eagle in the nest. Starting corner Sheldon Brown wants to be traded after the team rebuffed his request for a new deal. The team fired back that they have no intention of dealing Brown.
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I Don’t Get It: A mother in Bucks County has been charged with engaging in prostitution from the hotel room where she was living. Police say her 7-year-old son was in the room when she was at “work.” I don’t get it.
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Today’s Upper: Nice move by Doubletree Hotel in Philly. They are renovating and donated $50,000 worth of furniture to Habitat for Humanity. That’s a serious thumb’s up.
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Quote Box: “Chester has a drug problem, a drug-selling problem.”
-- Chester Narcotics Capt. Alan Davis, on results of sting operation that resulted in 12 arrests.

A tale of 3 hoops stars

This is a tale of three basketball players.

Today is not the first time Karon Burton’s picture has appeared on the front page of the newspaper.

It is the first time he’s been so featured involving his arrest.

Burton, 19, was one of 11 people arrested during a drug sting carried out by Chester police officers on Monday. The pictures of all 12 suspects appear on the front page.

But it’s the shot of Burton that stands out. And he’s the focus of the lead headline. That’s because he’s the only one that was named our 2008 All-Delco Boys Basketball Player of the Year.

Burton led the Chester Clippers to a state hoops title, in the process placing his name in the very deep, rich annals of Chester High hoops, alongside such legends as Jameer Nelson.

I remember very well the day Burton’s picture appeared on the front page. We tease our All-Delco selections on Page One for each sport with a photo of the Player of the Year. Burton’s picture was the lead element dominating the Back Page of the newspaper, the gateway into the sports section.

I remember that day in part because of the phone calls I received. Not everyone was happy with our selection of Burton as Player of the Year.

You might recall there was another standout player in that class. His name was Tyreke Evans.

Several callers were incredulous that we would select Burton over Evans as our Player of the Year. Evans was named to the All-Delco hoops team.

Our selection was made in part because Burton led Chester High to a PIAA AAAA state title, while Evans played for the much smaller American Christian. You could easily make the argument that Evans was a better player, but Burton faced much tougher competition and was the clear leader of a state title team.

So what happened to Evans? Maybe you saw him or heard his name during March Madness. He went on to the University of Memphis, where he starred as a freshman for John Calipari.

It is widely expected that Evans will turn pro and offer his services to the NBA. Evans made it official Monday when he confirmed he would be taking his game to the next level.

In the meantime, Burton was recruited to play hoops at La Salle. He sat out last season for academic reasons. A spokesman for the school said they were distressed at the news, but reserved further comment.

Evans appears poised for stardom and a multi-million dollar payday in the NBA; Burton is awaiting arraignment this morning of charges of drug possession and possession with intent to deliver.

And the third player? Ironically, Burton’s successor as Player of the Year also was in the newspaper this week.

Duane Johnson led Penn Wood High School to their first-ever PIAA AAAA title this year. He received a full scholarship to East Stroudsburg University in the fall.

Johnson was one of 76 high school seniors honored Sunday by Congressman Joe Sestak as 7th Congressional District Scholar Athletes.

I was fascinated by Johnson’s reaction to the honor.

“Basketball really helped me stay focused,” Johnson said, accompanied by a very proud family. “It shows that you can excel at both things.”

Good for him.

The speaker at the banquet was Saint Joe’s head coach Phil Martelli.

If you ever get the chance to see Martelli speak to young people, don’t miss it. He’s mesmerizing, stressing things off the basketball court as much as on it.

“He understands it’s not all about the game, it’s about life,” Sestak said.

To which, this week maybe more than ever, I can only add: You can say that again.

Crossing a troubled bridge

Here’s a traffic update for anyone out in the Radnor area.

There’s a bridge closure that is going to cause problems for drivers in Radnor.

PennDOT has closed a bridge on King of Prussia Road for emergency repairs. It will be out of commission for about a month.

Not good news if you’re in one the 16,000 cars that go over that bridge every work day.

King of Prussia Road will be closed from Matsonford Road to Croton Road in an area just south of Cabrini College.

Inspectors discovered severe damage in the 75-year-old stone bridge that crosses Gulph Creek. They decided to shut down the span immediately. The move comes just a week after a similar decision was made involving a bridge in Chester County.

In other words, if you use King of Prussia Road in Radnor Township, your daily commute just got a lot worse.

As the Birds Turn

The Eagles just can’t get a break.

Just a day after they unveiled their new starting left offensive tackle – the guy whose job it is to protect Donovan McNabb’s blind side – they got blind-sided by a veteran player.

The news that they had traded for Bills All-Pro Jason Peters drew widespread praise from both fans and pundits, many of whom are quick to call the team cheap and unwilling to make a blockbuster deal.

But the very next day the thunder bolt was coming from starting cornerback Sheldon Brown; he’s unhappy with his long-term contract and either wants a new deal or be traded. The blast puts the team right back in the crosshairs again.

It might not seem at first that the two are related. I disagree. Here’s why.

Brown fired the first shot in the Birds’ latest public relations war, making it known yesterday that he would just as soon move on after being unable to reach an agreement on a new deal with the team.

Brown finds himself in a circumstance that many Eagles players have chafed under over the years. He signed a long-term deal and got some signing money. He now has several years left on that contract, but he doesn’t like the terms, insisting he’s now woefully underpaid.

The Eagles – as they almost always do – say they don’t want to hear it.
They informed Brown he has a deal and should stick to it. But they did something else yesterday that also raised a few eyebrows.

The team rarely airs its dirty laundry in public. That’s why it was somewhat surprising that they fired back with a statement of their own after Brown went public. The team said they have no intention of trading Brown and that the corner’s attempts to force a trade actually “devalue him in a trade if we are not willing to consider it, which we are not.”

It would be easy to see the Eagles’ side of this standoff, except for one thing: That press conference they held Sunday to introduce Peters.

Peters was involved in a similar contract dispute with the Bills, and the Eagles were only too willing to step up and take him off their hands.

Just another day in the long-running soap opera, “How the Eagles Turn.”

Monday, April 20, 2009

The Daily Numbers - April 20

The Daily Numbers: 21 Delco students named to the annual All-Delco Hi-Q team.
18 Delco teachers honored with Excellence in Teaching Awards. Both the students and teachers will be honored at a dinner Thursday night.
46 homes sold at auction during a sheriff’s sale for back taxes on Friday at the county Sheriff’s Office.
76 high school seniors from 46 schools in the 7th Congressional District honored at a special dinner Sunday.
95 more arrests in 2nd weekend of Operation Pressure Point crackdown on crime in Philadelphia.
2 teens killed in a shooting in Grays Ferry last Sunday night.
2 also wounded in a bloody weekend in Philadelphia.
14 people injured when a car slammed into a restaurant in Pottstown.
300 acres burned in a forest fire over the weekend in South Jersey. The fire is likely to smolder for several more days.
8 people injured when a car went out of control in Kensington Saturday, slamming into seven different cars.
19, age of student at Furness High School in Philadelhphia who collapsed and died after completing a charity walk in the city Sunday.
300 people in Bensalem who have been without water since Sunday afternoon because of a water main break.
7.8 percent unemployment rate in Pennsylvania.
13 percent of Americans who now believe they will be able to afford to retire comfortably. That’s an all-time low.
1,000 dollar reward for info leading to capture and conviction of the suspect who stole a box containing $5,500 in donations to the Susan B.
Komen Cancer Fund in Philly last week.
22, age of man who police believe ran over his 40-year-old girlfriend in Upper Darby.
10 years since 2 students went on a rampage at Columbine High School in Littleton, Colo., killing 12 classmates and a teacher.
2.09, average price of gas in the Philadelphia region over the weekend.
2.2 seconds left when Andre Iguodala’s jumper gave the Sixers the lead.
They took a stunning 1-0 lead over the Magic in their first-round NBA playoff series.
18 points down, where the Sixers were earlier in the contest.
2-1, where the Flyers-Pens series stands after the orange and black dominated the Pens Sunday at the Wachovia Center.
5 home runs for Raul Ibanez, whose walk-off two-run shot propelled the Phils to a 5-4 win over the Padres Sunday. He’s hitting .386. Pat who?
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Call me a Phanatic: A look at the ups and downs of being a Philadelphia sports fan.Doesn’t get much better for Philly sports fans than Sunday. All three teams won, and the Eagles announced a major signing.
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I Don’t Get It: So much for spring. Now we head back to the cold and rain that has been the calling card of his miserable spring.
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Today’s Upper: Let’s hear it for the teachers and students who snagged honors and will be lauded Thursday night at the Drexelbrook
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Quote Box: “It’s something that puts kids on a team together that lets them work as a team.”
-- All-Delco Hi-Q team member Nicole Lock, from Garnet Valley High School, on why she likes the competition.

Special kids, special teachers


They are our best and brightest.

And they got that way for a reason.

Today this newspaper profiles our annual All-Delco Hi-Q Team. Each high school that participates in Hi-Q, the nation’s oldest academic quiz competition, selects one team member to be named to the All-Delco team.
We pattern them off the All-Delco selections we make after every scholastic sports season.

You can read about these very special kids here.

It has always been one of my goals to extend the kind of attention we shower on kids who excel on the high school athletic fields to those who do similar superior work in the classrooms. Of course some kids do both.

Thus when I was approached a few years back by representatives from the Franklin Mint Federal Credit Union and the Delaware County Intermediate Unit to put together an All-Delco Hi-Q Team, I jumped at the chance.

Last year they added a very special new dimension, which I also heartily supported.

It’s obvious that these kids are gifted. It almost assuredly started at home. But it’s just as clear that their gifts were further honed by some special, caring teachers.

So when the idea of honoring local educators with the Excellence in Teaching Awards, I again told the organizers to count us in.

Read the results here.

You can also see and hear videos on our Web site in which both the students and teachers talk about their honors, what it means to them, and the way they go about their jobs.

I was especially interested over the weekend when I viewed the video of the teachers talking about what they do, how it is they became teachers, and the results of their labors.

I could not help but smile when I listened to Aidan Brett, a teacher at Springfield High School.

Over the years we have had our differences when it comes to the area of education. Some people insist we never miss an opportunity to show kids at their worst, and routinely turn a blind eye when they do something good.

Likewise, there are those who say we have an anti-education, anti-teacher policy. That has once again come to the fore recently in the long, tough talks involving the Springfield School board and its teachers.

The last two days we have cast a spotlight on both teachers and students who are at the top of their games.

It will be my pleasure to attend a dinner Thursday night in their honor.

By all means, stop by and say hello.

These are Delaware County’s best and brightest, both in the class and standing in front of them.

They deserve every bit of praise we can heap on them.

Columbine, 10 years later

Ten years ago it was a fairly anonymous school in a suburb of Denver.

Today it’s a synonym for school horror, every parent’s worst nightmare.

Columbine.

It was a decade ago today that two troubled students, Dylan Klebold and Eric Harris, entered their high school armed to the teeth and seared the notion of a school rampage into the nation’s consciousness.

Before then parents for the most part sent their kids off confident they would return safe and sound at the end of the day.

Columbine changed all that. Before they turned their weapons on themselves, Klebold and Harris killed 12 classmates and a teacher, and wounded about two dozen others.

We have spent much of the past decade examining the idea of school security and how we can stop something like what happened at Columbine from ever happening again.

A lot of schools have installed metal detectors. There are now limits on what kind of backpacks students can use and how often they can go to their lockers. Doors that once swung open to invite just about anyone are now locked. Visitors must check in. Student and staff IDs now must be displayed. Disaster drills, one thought to be a relic of the Cold War, are once again in vogue.

None of it has stopped the possibility of a student – or anyone else – intent on violence carrying out their nefarious thoughts with horrific results.

We have witnessed even the most unlikely of locales – a one-room Amish schoolhouse – become a vision of unspeakable atrocity.

No one will ever hear the word Columbine again without school violence being refreshed in our memories.

A decade later, we’re still dealing with the aftermath.

A Sunday to remember

Philly sports fans scored an unexpected trifecta Sunday. All three pro teams posted thrilling wins. It could be fairly said that all three of them were a surprise in their own way.

It started early, with the Phils trailing the Padres almost all afternoon at Citizens Bank Park. Are you aware that the Phillies have not had a starting pitcher who has not surrendered a home run yet this year? Not a good sign. Yesterday it was Chan Ho Park’s turn, as the Phils fell behind San Diego, 4-0.

Slowly the Phils chipped away at the lead. Chase Utley homered. Then Jimmy Rollins, getting a rare day off, came off the bench and supplied a pinch-hit dinger.

That set the table for the ninth inning and a walk-off two-run home run from Raul Ibanzez, who is quickly making people forget Pat Burrell.

Ibanez is now hitting .386 with five home runs.

If there’s a cloud on this team, it is the continuing problems of the starting pitchers, who insist on burying the Phils in deep holes every night.

Looks like home ice was just the tonic the Flyers needed. After getting blown out in Game 1 in Pittsburgh, then losing a heartbreaker in OT, the Flyers came home desperately needing a win. This one was never in doubt. The Flyers scored on their first two shots and went on to beat Pittsburgh, 6-3. Rookie Claude Giroux is beginning to look like one of the most exciting players the franchise has had in years. His short-handed setup of Simon Gagne was a thing of beauty.

Then there was the most improbable of all yesterday’s big wins. If you gave up on the Sixers when they fell behind the Magic by 18, you’re in for a surprise this morning.

The Sixers outscored – and outplayed - the Magic in the 4th quarter to post a most improbable win thanks for Andre Iguodala’s 22-foot jumper with 2 seconds left in the game.

It means the lowly Sixers, who most believed would be lucky to avoid being swept in this series, are now up 1-0 and have usurped home-court advantage.

I guess just to cap things off, the Eagles rolled out their prize off-season catch, massive offensive tackle Jason Peters. The Birds got him from the Bills for a first- and fifth-round pick in Saturday’s draft. Peters will fill the void left by Tra Thomas, who signed with the Jacksonville Jaguars.

It’s not often your teams go 4-for-4, especially when they do it in the fashion we witnessed yesterday. A Sunday to remember.

Friday, April 17, 2009

The Daily Numbers - April 17

The Daily Numbers: 38 years in prison, what Sean O’Neill Sr. could be facing after entering a guilty plea to federal weapons, immigration and tax charges.
1 person killed in an overnight fire in Upper Darby. The woman apparently was trapped in the basement. Other victims escaped.
38 years on the Prospect Park police force for Chief John Saddic, who announced he was stepping down.
25 years on the force for Darby Chief Bob Smythe, who was honored by borough council this week.
2.5 percent tax hike now being eyed in Rose Tree Media, where the school board has been paring down proposed increases. They’re still looking to make more cuts.
130 homes that will be on the block this morning at the Media Courthouse for auction at a sheriff’s sale.
30,000 jobs lost in Pennsylvania in March.
150 dollar fine, that’s for first offense under the new ban on using a cell phone while driving about to go into effect in Philly.
3 dogs rescued last night after they wandered into busy rush-hour traffic on Roosevelt Boulevard in Philly.
82 dollars worth of chicken wings and Hot Pockets ripped off when an apparently hungry thief broke into an apartment in Newark, Del.
2 people, a mother and child, dead in what police are calling a murder-suicide in Norristown.
3.2 million dollar fine slapped on Comcast and DirecTV for violations of the federal Do Not Call laws.
26.2 percent drop in home sales reported in Philadelphia region in first quarter. That’s 9,162 houses, as opposed to 12,408 in the same period last year.
65 million dollar price tag for a refinery in Tulsa, Okla., sold by Sunoco.
1 milion dollars in cash, what drug kingpin Alton ‘Ace Capone’ Coles had in his home when he was busted. Yesterday he was sentenced to life in jail for running a drug empire.
3 run homer for Adam Dunn, all the runs the Nats really needed to beat the Phils last night.
1 win now for the Nationals, who broke into the win column vs. the Phils.
2 home runs surrendered by Phils releiver Jack Tashner.
2 as in Game Two of their first-round Stanley Cup series tonight with the Flyers badly needing a win vs. the Pens.
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Call me a Phanatic: A look at the ups and downs of being a Philadelphia sports fan.You don’t really need to say a word at this point to know how sad tonight and tomorrow will be for Philly sports fans. That’s the point. We long to hear words – a voice – that is now silent.
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I Don’t Get It: How low can you go, to grab a box with donations to be used in the fight against breast cancer and the Susan G. Komen Foundation.
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Today’s Upper: A silver lining to that awful story. The boss of the accounting firm Parente Rudolph, which is located in the same building, is going to replace the stolen money. Huge thumb’s up to Jeff Freeo.
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Quote Box: “Mr. O’Neill has accepted responsibility for his actions.”
-- Defense attorney Michael A. Schwartz, at yesterday’s hearing at which Sean O’Neill Sr. entered guilty plea.