Thursday, May 28, 2009

The Daily Numbers - May 28

The Daily Numbers: 1 elaborate ruse, what police are now calling the bogus report of the abduction of a mother and daughter in Bucks County.
2 black men, description Bonnie Sweeten gave police in 911 call of suspects she says hit her car and then forced her and her daughter into the trunk of her car. Turns out there’s no truth to that either.
4 to 8 years in jail for a Clifton Heights man convicted of selling marijuana.
100,000 dollars bail posted by the West Chester man charged with shooting his son-in-law in Marple.
2 opposing same-sex marriage proposals making their way around Harrisburg.
72 residences, 80 businesses and 3,300 jobs, what’s at stake in the fight over an expansion plan for Philadelphia International Airport that would come farther into Tinicum Township.
1 winning ticket sold in the $232 million Powerball drawing last night.
Unfortunately, it was sold in South Dakota.
3 tickets sold in Pennsylvania that would be worth $200,000 a piece.
400,000 dollar Powerball jackpot claimed by a woman from Cumberland County, Pa., yesterday, 1 day before her claim to the prize would expire.
30 percent dip in home prices in the Philadelphia region in April.
1 worker at Trump Taj Mahal Casino in Atlantic City shot to death yesterday. A man from Norristown is under arrest.
25 years in jail for a New Jersey man who traveled to Eastern Europe to have sex with young boys.
168,000 dollars, how much the head of the Montgomery County fire and emergency services training center is charged with stealing over the last decade.
6 out of 10 respondents in a poll of those who plan to visit the Jersey shore this year who say they will spend less time at the beach in order to save money.
1 human leg found washed up near a refinery along the Delaware River in West Deptford, N.J.
5 people shot and 1 person now in custody in Milford, Del.
2.48, average price of gas we’re now paying in the Philly region.
2 more home runs served up last night by Phils starter Brett Myers, who left the game in the sixth with a sore hip.
9 wins and 14 losses, the Phils’ record this year at Citizens Bank Park.
16 wins and 6 losses, their mark on the road.
1 of 8 series at home that the Phils have won this year. They have compiled a 1-6-1 mark on their home turf.
3-2 lead for the Lakers after they beat the Nuggets last night.
2-1 win in OT for the Red Wings, sending them to the Stanley Cup Finals to face the Penguins.
*
Call me a Phanatic: A look at the ups and downs of being a Philadelphia sports fan.Maybe it’s time to take Charlie Manuel up on his offer. The Phils skipper thinks maybe the fans are going easy on the club, which is clearly struggling to play well at home.
*
I Don’t Get It: It’s bad enough to make up the story of an abduction and use your 9-year-old daughter as part of the hoax. But of course Bonnie Sweeten had to include a description of her alleged abductors as “two black men.” I don’t get it.
*
Today’s Upper: Kudos to Margaret Schwabe, the 92-year-old Upper Darby great-grandmother who was awarded an honorary degree from Archbishop Prendergast High School. It truly is never too late!
*
Quote Box: “I personally have made a decision that I intend to get in this race with one other item.”
-- Joe Sestak on CNN, saying he would sit down with his family and talk about a challenge to Sen. Arlen Specter in the Democratic Primary.

Sestak vs. Specter

The specter of a primary challenge to newly minted Democrat Sen. Arlen Specter looms even larger this morning.

And the gauntlet is being thrown down right here in Delaware County.

U.S. Rep. Joe Sestak has not made it a secret that he has been less then thrilled about the way party leaders have fallen all over themselves to welcome Specter, in the process giving every indication they wanted him to be their candidate in 2010.

Sestak has consistently given indications he is not ready to join the rush by Gov. Rendell, Vice President Joe Biden and President Barack Obama to crown Specter as their candidate.

Yesterday that drumbeat got a little louder. Reports started to surface that Sestak was telling those close to him that he was running. Talking Points Memo had a hand-written letter from Sestak to close supporters indicating he was going to run. Sestak’s sister also told the Web site she expected him to get in the race.

Then Sestak told CNN last night he would challenge Specter.

The only thing left for him to do is sit down with his family, then make a formal announcement.

But Sestak left little doubt about his desire. He wants a piece of the longtime Republican senator who is actually returning to his roots in the Democratic Party.

Sestak already has amassed more than $3 million in his war chest. He’ll need a lot more to snatch the crown off Arlen’s head. He needs to seriously upgrade his visibility outside the Philadelphia region. My guess is that if you go west of West Chester, nobody has ever heard of Joe Sestak. Everyone in Pennsylvania has heard of Arlen Specter. He makes it a point in every campaign to visit every county in the state.

That doesn’t mean Sestak doesn’t have a chance. It does mean he’s facing a decidedly uphill battle, in fact a much bigger hurdle than the one posed in his historic first run for office in 2006, when he stunned the Delco political world by showing 20-year incumbent Curt Weldon the door in a bruising 7th District congressional race. In that race Sestak got a huge boost by a federal investigation of Weldon that continues to drag on almost three years later.

Sestak often says he didn’t ask for Democratic Party leaders’ blessing to get in the race vs. Weldon. Actually, on a closer look, that’s not exactly the case. Rendell was pivotal in asking the guy who appeared to be the front-runner, Bryan Lentz, to step aside to allow Sestak to assume the mantle.

Sestak probably shouldn’t hold his breath waiting for much in the way of support from party leaders. But it’s pretty clear that a fair amount of people inside the party are not all that thrilled with Specter and wouldn’t mind seeing him challenged in the primary.

Enough to snatch away the nomination? I don’t see it. But I don’t expect that to stop Sestak. He goes to the beat of his own drummer. He doesn’t exactly shy away from the limelight. And it’s not exactly a secret that the guy who once served in the Clinton Administration has his eyes on a loftier perch.

Every time I’ve ever asked him about the future and runs for other offices, he’s always replied the same way. “I love my job.”

Turns out he’d love the one currently held by Arlen Specter, too.

The only thing left is the announcement.

An elaborate ruse

You work in this job for awhile, you develop a kind of radar when a story just doesn’t sound right.

So the antenna went up almost immediately after the reports first started coming in Tuesday of a mother and daughter being abducted in the middle of the afternoon on a busy Bucks County street.

And for good reason. It was all a hoax.

Mom’s SUV was not hit from behind. She and her daughter were not abducted and forced into the trunk of a black cadillac. Of course she had to include the tired, damaging description of the suspects as “two black men.”

Bonnie Sweeten’s story started falling apart yesterday afternoon, hours after local police and the FBI issued an amber alert for her 9 year-old daughter and kicked off a massive manhunt.

One of the first pieces was the cell phone call she made to 911. It appeared to be emanating from Center City in Philadelphia, not Bucks County. Then police found her car on a Center City Street. She made her
911 call at 2 p.m. Her car had a parking ticket affixed to it at 2:20.
Pretty quick trip in from State Road in Upper Southampton.

Then last night we learned that video surveillance at the airport showed her and her daughter – seemingly fine and of their own free will – boarding a flight to Tampa.

Don’t look for Sweeten in one of those familiar MVP sports commercials:
“Bonnie Sweeten, you’ve just pulled off an unbelievable ruse, leading cops on a wild goose chase and using your daughter as a pawn in your hoax, what are you going to do now? ‘I’m going to Disney World.’”

That’s right. Sweeten went to Disney World. She was picked up by police at the Grand Floridian luxury hotel last night.

She’s now charged with ID theft and filing a false police report. Police say she used a co-worker’s driver’s license to buy the airplane tickets.

Of course, the big question now is why? What was Sweeten running from?
It turns out she may be looking at some financial problems. There are reports she’s being looked at in connection with money missing from her workplace.

She will now be brought back to Bucks County to face the charges.

I’m wondering if I will get a call this morning from the man who called me yesterday morning to call into question my competence to be editor of this newspaper because we hadn’t put the story – and the pictures of the mom and daughter – all over our front page. I tried to tell him that while it was a compelling story, it did not happen in Delaware County, whereas our lead story, the lawsuit filed by the county and Tinicum against the city of Philadelphia in a battle over airport expansion, affects a lot more people here.

“That child might not be found now because you didn’t put her picture on the front page,” he chided me. “What are you, some kind of idiot?”

Not really. But idiotic certainly would seem to pertain to the actions of Bonnie Sweeten.

I’m not certain what kind of demons drove her to take the actions she did. All I know is she was not the first. And I can say pretty confidently she will not be the last.

Phils not hip to home ills

The Phils continue to struggle at home. Charlie Manuel thinks maybe the fans are being too easy on the World Champs. He’d kind of like to see the “phanatics” – no, not the big, furry green one with the capital P – turn up the heat a bit.

Can you imagine Andy Reid saying that? “Uh, injuries. Our pride. Our egos. The fans really ought to let us have it. Time’s yours.”

The Phils fell to the Marlins last night, 6-2. That makes them just 9-14 in the friendly confines of Citizens Bank Park this year, while they are a league best 16-6 on the road.

In the process they lost their hold on first place. The Mets leap-frogged them after beating the Nationals and are now up by a half game.

But the Phils may have lost much more than that. Starter Brad Myers left the game in the sixth with a sore hip. To that point he had surrendered five runs on seven hits, including, of course, two more home runs.

Myers is due to have an MRI on his hip today. The result of that exam could heat up the talks for Padres starter Jake Peavey. And some big names could be involved in those talks, including center-fielder Shane Victorino.

In the meantime, it will be interesting to see if the fans take Manuel up on his offer.

Then again, maybe the best news the Phils have today is that the lowly Nationals arrive for weekend set Friday night.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

The Daily Numbers - May 27

The Daily Numbers: 2 times now that a magisterial district judge has tossed first-degree murder charges against a Sharon Hill mother in connection with her daughter’s stabbing death. She faces trial on third-degree murder.
52, age of man charged in connection with the shooting of his son-in-law in Marple.
92, age of woman who was given an honorary degree from Archbishop Prendergast High School yesterday.
222 million dollars up for grabs tonight in the Powerball drawing, but it does not appear as if anyone is getting all that worked up about it.
40 residents who showed up at a meeting last night in Chester to complain about trash fees that the city is now going after that date back several years.
2 people, a mother and daughter, apparently abducted in Bucks County yesterday after their car was hit from behind. Their SUV was found later in Philadelphia. The woman made a 911 call from the trunk of a car police believe she may have been being held in.
9 people killed in crashes across Pennsylvania during the Memorial Day weekend. Police also issued 9,434 speeding tickets, up from 7,848 last year.
12 gun shop protesters who were acquitted yesterday of charges stemming from a demonstration outside a Philly gun shop.
14 more confirmed cases of swine flu in the Reading area. That brings the number of suspected cases in Berks County to 43.
56 confirmed swine flu cases now in New Jersey. That’s twice the number reported just last week.
3 confirmed cases of measles among children in Bucks County.
75,000 dollars, how much a woman who is now charged with stealing $100,000 from the law firm where she worked in Norristown is believed to have ripped off from the archdiocese of Newark, N.J., back in the late 1990s.
3 Montco teens charges with going on a theft spree over the weekend in Ocean City, N.J.
6 years in jail for a former Delaware state trooper for orchestrating a gunpoint robbery of a high-stakes poker game.
25 percent property tax hike facing residents in New Castle County, Del. It means another 21 bucks on the average tax bill.
115,000 dollars ripped off from the Philadelphia Home and School Council by the group’s former president. She pleaded guilty.
19 percent dip in home price sales in first quarter of 2009 across the nation.
44, age of former Flyer Peter Zezel, who died yesterday of a rare blood disorder.
11 strikeouts for Phils starter Joe Blanton, a career high. He tossed 7 shutout innings as the Phils beat the Marlins.
114 pitches for Blanton, who was lifted after the seventh inning.
4 hits for Shane Victorino, maybe to atone for his base-running blunder Monday night.
1 error for Ryan Howard, his first of the year, that allowed two runs to score in the ninth.
4 straight wins for the Penguins as they eliminated the Caps to advance to the NHL Stanley Cup Finals.
*
Call me a Phanatic: A look at the ups and downs of being a Philadelphia sports fan.I don’t like the pitch count. Joe Blanton had tossed 114 pitches when he was lifted after seven innings. But he had struck out five of the last six batters he faced and appeared to be cruising. Of course the Phils bullpen just had to make things interesting instead of cruising to a shutout win.
*
I Don’t Get It: Police say a man was drunk when he tried to drive into his gated community in Tobyhanna, Pa. He fell out of his truck while trying to open the gate, and his truck ran over him. He was not seriously injured.
*

Today’s Upper: Kudos to those behind a name change for a piece of protective armor that took place during a special event in Ridley yesterday. It was renamed McCurdy Armor, for a soldier killed in action in Iraq.
*
Quote Box: “Ryan would have been so proud that his memory is being honored this way.”
-- Jan McCurdy, mother of Ryan McCurdy, for whom the device is now named.

The O'Neill saga

The saga of the O’Neill clan continues. I’m hard-pressed to remember a family that has seen so much turmoil, involving so many different members of a single family.

Father, daughter, son. All have now had scrapes with the law. And all continue to work their way through the justice system.

There’s a part of me that feels sorry for them, that this much misfortune could befall one family. And there’s a part of me that wonders what the hell is going on with this family, how they can continue to act the way they do and put themselves in circumstances that so clearly stretch the limits of the law.

Then I get a phone call that offers a different view. It was from Susan Sheridan. She is the mother of Scott Sheridan. He is the young man and fellow Cardinal O’Hara student who was a close friend of Sean O’Neill Jr. and a tragic part of an incident that first landed the O’Neill family in the headlines.

After a night of partying, Sean O’Neill Jr. apparently pointed a gun at Sheridan. It went off. Scott Sheridan died in Sean O’Neill’s arms.

Since then O’Neill Jr. has been in both the adult and juvenile court systems. He served time at a juvenile camp. Back in October his bail was revoked after it was learned he had twice violated its terms. He was sent into a second treatment program.

He’s not the only family member to cross paths with the law.

The patriarch, Sean O’Neill Sr., is awaiting sentencing after pleading guilty to federal immigration, weapons and tax charges.

His sister, Roisin O’Neill, is facing trial on charges she was drunk when she was driving the wrong way on the Blue Route and slammed into another car, killing a grandmother who was driving to Delaware County to visit her grandkids.

Roisin and Sean Jr. were involved in another incident when they passed through a sobriety checkpoint at 1:30 in the morning back in April.
Neither was found to be drinking, but six underage kids in the car were cited.

Roisin was found to be in violation of her bail. A judge recently ordered her to report to jail on the weekends, while she can remain free on home monitoring during the week while getting treatment for injuries she suffered in the crash.

Meanwhile, a Chester County judge ruled that Sean O’Neill Jr. had not violated his bail in connection with the traffic stop. A prosecutor said she asked for the review with the judge, who then requested more formal limits be placed on Sean O’Neill Jr.’s comings and going. He also put a
9 p.m. curfew in place.

Susan Sheridan is not impressed. She continues to have problems with the way the O’Neill cases have been handled and openly wonders if they have received special treatment.

I suppose she is entitled. The O’Neills have certainly lost a lot in this saga, but not nearly as much as Sheridan has.

She lost her son. Sometimes that gets forgotten in all this.

Meaning of Memorial Day

Matt Crawford knows all too well that freedom is not free.

Of all the comments I head and read over the Memorial Day holiday, it was something Crawford said that stuck in my mind.

Crawford was part of a group unveiling a tribute wall at VFW Post 598 in Darby Borough to honor soldiers killed in action in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Crawford knows a little something about those conflicts. He lost a few friends there, while barely escaping with his own life.

Crawford was a member of Bridge Company Bravo, a Marine Reserve detachment based in Folsom.

Lance Cpl. Patrick Adle, Cpl. John Todd III, and Sgt. Alan Sherman did not return from Iraq. They were killed when an improvised explosive device detonated as the humvee they were riding in drove by in Iraq.
Crawford made it back, but with serious injuries. He was blinded in one eye and suffered nerve damage to his hand and leg.

Crawford, very much still alive, took time to remember his brothers who are not this Memorial Day.

“It’s important that the soldiers who gave their lives for us are recognized and remembered,” he said.

Another local vet, Danny Vare, who served in Vietnam, gave still another valuable view of the service he offered his country.

Vare and many other Nam vets did not exactly get the red carpet rolled out for them when they returned to the States.

That’s one of the reasons he’s now involved in the VFW Post and works to honor veterans.

“I didn’t know then how important it was to come home to a nation that would appreciate what we had been doing,” Vare said of the honor unveiled for local vets. “Now, I want to make sure that these guys don’t know the feeling of being turned on like that.”

It’s something all of us could emulate, and not just one day a year.

Oh what a relief?

The Phils posted an impressive win last night vs. the Marlins. Most impressive of all was the performance of starter Joe Blanton. All he did was throw seven scoreless innings, striking out a career-high 11 along the way.

So why am I ticked off this morning? Because Blanton was lifted after the seventh. This after he struck out five of the six batters he faced in the sixth and seventh.

Why? I have two words for you – pitch count.

It is one of those maxims of the way the game is played – and managed – today.

Blanton had not allowed a single Marlin to reach third base, but he had thrown 114 pitches and Charlie Manuel decided to go to the bullpen. Ryan Madson pitched a perfect eighth, but he also was lifted after just a single inning. He threw nine pitches.

Enter Chad Durbin as the Phils hoped to go a night without having to use struggling closer Brad Lidge. It didn’t work out that way.

Durbin got just one out while walking two and loading the bases. When he exited the Phils were suddenly clinging to a 5-3 lead. Scott Eyre faced one batter and Lidge eventually nailed down the win, and picked up a save in the process.

All I can think about is a manger striding out to the mound to tell Bob Gibson, one of the most intimidating pitchers in baseball history, perhaps in the midst of tossing a shutout, that he had done enough and that he was being lifted for a reliever. Gibson didn’t take kindly to catchers and managers offering any advice while he was pitching.

I guess it’s a new era. This is the way the game is played these days.
Complete games from pitchers are as rare as double-headers.

Rich Ashburn had it right. Hard to believe, Harry.

Sad day for Flyers fans

Sad news this morning for Flyers fans.

Peter Zezel, whose matinee idol looks made him a favorite, especially with female fans, in the mid-‘80s, has died of a rare blood disease.

He was just 84 years old.

Zezel broke in with the Flyers when he was just 19, after the team made him the 41st pick in the 1983 draft.

Zezel was part of a core of young players that led the Flyers back to prominence. He played for the team four years before being dealt to the Blues during the 1988-89 season. The trade was not a popular one with fans, who railed about the loss of one of the team’s most popular players.

Zezel went on to play for the Blues, Washington, Toronto, Dallas, New Jersey and Vancouver over a 15-year career in the NHL during which he tallied 219 goals and 389 assists.

We often think of pro athletes as being super-human. We don’t think of them succumbing to a rare disease. And we certainly don’t ever think of losing them at just 44. Very sad.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

The Daily Numbers - May 26

The Daily Numbers: 1 person killed and 6 people injured Monday night when a motorcycle and van collided at Route 352 and Gradyville Road.
1 motorcyclist killed on Route 322 when he collided with a car in Upper Chichester.
1 person killed in a shooting Monday night in the city of Chester. It is the 9th murder in the county this year and the 5th in the city.
24.6 million dollars flowing into the coffers of the city of Chester from Harrah’s Casino.
4 Villanova students due in court today in connection with a break-in this spring at Lincoln Financial Field. It’s believed to have been a prank that got out of control.
222 million dollars up for grabs in Wednesday night’s Powerball drawing. That would certainly help your ailing 401K account.
400 members of the New Jersey Army National Guard welcomed home after a year in Iraq yesterday at Fort Dix. Memorial Day doesn’t get much better than that.
4 people treated after lightning struck near a group of hikers on the Appalachian Trail in North Jersey.
2 swimmers rescued from rough surf by a helicopter that dragged them back to the beach in Rehoboth.
4 men slain over the holiday weekend in another violent chapter in Philadelphia.
12 protesters charged during a demonstration outside a Philly gun shop who will get their day in court today.
4 hours, 18 minutes, how long a woman held the dice during a very hot roll at a craps table in Atlantic City. That’s a new record. She rolled the dice 154 times.
12 confirmed deaths from H1N1 flu in the U.S., with the latest being in Chicago.
35 percent less than last fall, how much dairy farmers are getting for milk. Meanwhile the price of milk at the grocery store is down only 19 percent.
7.8 percent jobless rate in Pennsylvania in April. Pa. lost 17,300 more jobs last month.
2 home runs for Ryan Howard, but it was not enough to push the Phils to a win over the Marlins last night.
8 wins, 13 losses for the Phils at Citizens Bank Park this year. They are 16-6 on the road.
249 wins and counting for Jamie Moyer, who got the loss last night, although he continues to pitch better than the rough patch he was suffering from earlier this year.
4 RBI for former Phil Wes Helms in leading the Marlins to a win.
2-2 deadlock between the Lakers and Nuggets after Denver blew out L.A. last night, 120-101.
1 more win needed by the Red Wings and Penguins to advance to the Stanley Cup Finals.
*
Call me a Phanatic: A look at the ups and downs of being a Philadelphia sports fan.Sure, Jamie Moyer deserved better when he got squeezed on what appeared to be a sure strike three in the fourth inning. That happens. But there’s no excuse for Shane Victorino getting thrown out trying to steal in the bottom of the ninth with the Phils down, 5-3, and Matt Stairs at the plate.
*
I Don’t Get It: A woman in Tennessee is charged with assault in an attack on a Wal-Mart employee. Her weapon of choice? A child car seat with her 2-month-old still strapped inside.
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Today’s Upper: Big thumb’s up for Media for honoring the memory of Harry Kalas this Memorial Day. Kalas’ voice formed the soundtrack to many of the borough’s special celebrations.
*
Quote Box: “The veterans were so important him and I grew up with him, so it became important to me.”
-- Kane Kalas, son of Harry Kalas, on the Memorial Day tribute to his dad yesterday in Media.

A salute to Harry

Harry Kalas was a fixture around Media.

It wasn’t really a holiday without the legendary voice of the Phillies serving as the backdrop for the festivities in “Everybody’s Hometown.”

Kalas had an affinity for veterans, and he made a point of serving as emcee for the borough’s two very special days set aside each year to honor those who have served.

Every Nov. 11, Kalas would serve as master of ceremonies for the borough’s impressive salute on Veterans Day, including the role of the Pennsylvania Veterans Musuem, which now makes its home in the borough.

Kalas also could also be counted on if the Phils were in town to be on hand on Memorial Day.

So it was most appropriate yesterday for Media to take the time during Memorial Day to honor Kalas, who passed away earlier this year.

And it was another Kalas voice that provided the soundtrack this year.

Kane Kalas, Harry’s youngest son, was in Media as they honored his dad.
The trained classical singer wowed the crowd just as his dad did so often, only this time instead of a home run call, it was a stirring rendition of “America the Beautiful.”

The town was awash with people in patriotic red, white and blue, and more than a little Phillies red.

Harry Kalas will never be forgotten by Phils’ fans.

He certainly won’t be forgotten in his – and Everybody’s – Hometown either.

Heartbreak Ridge for conservative GOPers?

Last we heard from Tom Ridge he was being urged to seek the Republican nomination for the U.S. Senate to oppose GOP turncoat-turned-Democrat Arlen Specter.

The thinking was that the party needed someone a little more center of the road, as opposed to conservative former congressman Pat Toomey, who many believe will have trouble in a statewide race.

Ridge, the former governor and Homeland Security director, begged off.

Turns out he has bigger fish to fry.

Ridge obviously heard the concerns among party faithful about how far right the party has swung, and the concern about Toomey’s ability to appeal to enough voters outside the base to win a statewide race.

Sounds like Ridge thinks the same thing is playing out nationally.

He spent part of the Memorial Day weekend hitting the Sunday morning talk shows. And his message was clear: The Republican Party needs to move to the center, away from the hard-line, strictly partisan stance of the party’s hard-core conservative base.

Ridge said the party needs to start spending less time defining the differences within the party and pointing out more how they differ from the Democrats. And to do that he believes the party needs to move more to the center.

His thoughts were echoed by another moderate Republican, former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of State and Secretary of State Colin Powell.

Both had some stinging words for the man many now see as the face of the party, conservative talk show host Rush Limbaugh. Ridge made it pretty clear that Limbaugh’s message turned off a lot of voters and left them unable to draw enough support to win key races. Limbaugh has belittled Powell, questioning his GOP credentials and urging him to join Specter in the Democratic ranks.

While Ridge has ruled out a run in the Senate race that could pit him against fellow moderate Arlen Specter, he did not specifically rule out seeking the White House in 2012. Ridge was considered a possibility for the vice president’s slot that Sen. John McCain instead gave to Gov.
Sarah Palin.

Ridge was considered a problem for the GOP because of his “choice”
position on abortion. That kind of litmus test imposed by GOP hard-liners seems to be exactly the kind of thing Ridge and others point to in saying the party has moved too far to the right.

You have to wonder how much more effective a McCain/Ridge ticket would have been.

Ridge now might not settle for the No. 2 slot on the ticket. He obviously believes the party needs to change.

And he might be ready to be the person leading the parade.

Phils flop at home

Maybe the Phils should play all their games on the road.

As much as everyone loves Citizens Bank Park, making it literally the place to be in the summer in these parts, the Phils are not exactly enjoying the home cooking so far this year.

The Phils just completed an 8-2 road swing, including a great weekend at the new Yankee Stadium that saw fans decked out in Phillies red literally take over the park.

The Phils responded with a great series, taking two of three from the Bronx Bombers. They easily could have swept, if not for a blown save opportunity Saturday from Brad Lidge, who coughed up a 4-2 Phils lead on the way to a 5-4 loss.

Lidge repeated the process Sunday, but the Phils rallied to win in extra innings.

The momentum did not follow the Phils back down the New Jersey Turnpike.
They were back in Citizens Bank Park last night. They had struggling Jamie Moyer on the mound in the best possible situation, facing the Marlins, a team he seems to own.

But Moyer got squeezed on what looked like a sure-fire strike three against former Phil Wes Helms in the fourth. Given new life, Helms responded to some boos from fans by taking Moyer out of the park, and staking the Marlins to a 3-2 lead. Moyer caused some of his own grief by walking the first two men in the inning. They both scored in front of Helms.

Then there was the small matter of Shane Victorino’s base-running in the ninth. The center-fielder walked to start the inning with the Phils trailing, 5-3. Matt Stairs came to the plate representing the tying run.
But Victorino got thrown out trying to steal second, a brutal mistake for a veteran player to make.

Moyer seems to be coming around, now making two decent starts after a brutal stretch when he literally was getting hammered. Victorino likely will think twice about such base-running antics after having a chat with a not-too-pleased manager Charlie Manuel.

But the Phils will have to find the magic they had at Citizens Bank Park last year if they want to defend their World Series title. Tonight would be a good time to start.

Friday, May 22, 2009

A night in Upper Darby

I had a run-in with Mike Chitwood earlier this week.

No, I’m not under arrest. At least not yet.

A few weeks ago, Chitwood had asked me to judge an essay contest the
Upper Darby Police Department was holding for township schoolkids.

I tried not to joke with him about asking me to be a judge in a writing
contest. What would I know about writing? I edit a newspaper.

Chitwood is serious about getting the community involved in the fight
against crime. And he wants to enlist young people, so often the victims
of that kind of street violence, in the battle.

He asked middle school kids to put pen to paper in detailing, “How I
Would End Youth Violence in My Community.”

The results were very impressive. You can read the winning entries here. I reviewed more than 150 entries,
along with fellow judges Detective Capt. George Rhoades Jr., and Maureen
Plagge, Upper Darby School District supervisor of language arts.

Wednesday night the three winners were given their prizes at the Upper
Darby Township Council meeting. I was there for the occasion.

I couldn’t have been happier. I remarked to the council and those in
attendance that I am always asked by parents and school administrators
how young people can make it into the newspaper.

I told them that was easy. In fact, Chitwood does a very good job of
giving us stories about young people every day. It got a couple of
knowing laughs.

The truth is, I have to remind myself and my staff just about every day
that there is another side to that story, one that too often does not
get told.

So it was my pleasure to be on hand to honor the accomplishments of
three young writers from Upper Darby Schools.

First place prize went to Tajay McLeon, of Beverly Hills Middle School.
In second was Valerie Mertin, of Drexel Hill Middle School. The third
place winner was Maite Guachichullca of St. Laurence School.

There are good stories out there about young people. Some times they
even come from the police.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

The Daily Numbers - May 21

The Daily Numbers: 100 million votes cast in last night’s finale on “American Idol.”
7 percent turnout for Tuesday’s primary election in Delaware County.
Maybe a little more than 40,000 people went to the polls. Sad.
150 acres along Baltimore Pike at the former Franklin Mint site that would be transformed into a walkable community under the latest development plan before township officials.
980 residential units, 230,000 square feet of office space, 798,000 square feet of commercial space and a 225-room hotel under the latest plan.
1, as in June 1, when former Folcroft Manager Anthony Truscello has been ordered to report to prison.
25,000 dollars bail for Roisin O’Neill in connection with a fatal crash on the Blue Route in which police allege she was driving drunk. A judge has ordered her to spend weekends in jail for violating her bail.
2.8 percent tax hike facing homeowners in Wallingford-Swarthmore School District under their new budget.
4.4 percent tax hike looming in the Haverford School District.
2.37 mill tax hike staring at residents in the Garnet Valley School District.
3,000 dollars raised by students at Ridley High for a classmate seriously injured in a car accident in which the car he was driving was slammed into by a car driven by a suspected drunken driver.
30 months in jail for the Collingdale man who was a longtime aide to convicted former state Sen. Vince Fumo. Leonard Luchko lashed out at Fumo, saying he deceived him and was nothing more than “a crook.”
0 winners in last night’s Powerball drawing. That means the jackpot grows to $192 million Saturday night.
33 percent of Americans who admit they do not use sunscreen. Another 69 percent said they were only occasional users. Happy Memorial Day!
4 students at William Tennent High in Bucks County sent to hospital after they ingested an anti-psychotic drug.
50,000 pound whale that washed up on shore near Dewey Beach in Delaware.
300 jobs up for grabs at a job fair held in Delaware yesterday by Barclaycard US, a credit card firm. More than 1,000 people showed up.
90 dogs recovered from a home in Lancaster County.
6 DUI offenses racked up by a man arrested again this week in Lewes, Del.
38 percent dip in revenue for Atlantic City casinos in the first quarter of 2009, compared to last year.
1 more casino opening its doors in Pa. on Friday, as they unveil the Sands Casino Resort in Bethlehem.
249 wins and counting for Jamie Moyer. He threw six innings last night but took the loss.
1 run on 4 hits, all the Phils could muster as they fell, 5-1. Raul Ibanez was all the offense the Phils got with a homer.
*
Call me a Phanatic: A look at the ups and downs of being a Philadelphia sports fan.Six innings for Jamie Moyer last night. Which means he most certainly will be on the mound again next week. That could be the charm for Moyer, who is still seeking win No. 250. He makes his next start against the Marlins, a team he owns.
*
I Don’t Get It: “American Idol.” Enough said.
*
Today’s Upper: Three Upper Darby middle school students were honored by Upper Darby Council last night for their winning efforts in an anti-violence essay contest sponsored by the township police department.
Good for them.
*
Quote Box: “There’s nothing in the township that really brings us together as neighbors. I think it would be beneficial to have a Media-like atmosphere here in Middletown.
-- Dana Riker, at open house for proposed Franklin Mint development last night.

'Idol' chatter


The sun came up this morning.

This despite the fact that Adam Lambert did not win “American Idol.”

Kris Allen did.

That’s all I can tell you about it. I have yet to actually watch a single episode of America’s favorite TV show.

What can I tell you? I’m not a big TV guy, and I have zero desire to watch people be humiliated, the price of their 15 minutes of fame, which is all too often the backbone of this meat grinder as they chew up and spit out contestants on their way to an elite group of finalists.

All I know is that every time I heard a clip on the news of Lambert singing, it sounded like screeching to me. But then again, what do I know, I still prefer classic rock.

I can admit to being something of a hypocrite about all this. You might notice there is a “teaser” on the front page of our print edition hailing the surprise win by Allen. You also will find complete coverage by clicking on the Entertainment tab on our Web site.

I said I didn’t care for ‘Idol.” I didn’t say I don’t realize that people can’t get enough of it.

I don’t know if they want to read about it as much as they want to watch it, but I’m not foolish enough to ignore it. Except when it comes to my own viewing habits.

The Vick conundrum


Michael Vick is a free man. Sort of.

The former star quarterback for the Atlanta Falcons was released from a federal prison yesterday after doing 19 months in prison on dogfighting charges. He then got in a car and headed for his home in Virginia, where he will remain on home monitoring.

The big question now is whether or not an NFL team will roll the dice and give Vick a job. He was released by his last employer, the Atlanta Falcons.

This country’s justice system is based on the idea that everyone deserves a second chance. That should not exclude Vick.

But playing quarterback in the NFL is not exactly a low-profile position. Very often the man who holds down that slot becomes the face of the franchise. Does anyone want a guy convicted of doing to dogs what Vick did as the face of their multi-million dollar enterprise?

As a newspaper editor, I can tell you a little something about animals.
No, not the people I work with.

Every day the newspaper is filled with sometimes horrific items involving people in the worst circumstances imaginable. Very often the public rolls their eyes, shrugs their shoulders, and moves on.

But put a story about an animal being abused in the paper and the phones light up like Three Mile Island.

I believe Michael Vick deserves another chance. But I wouldn’t want to be the guy who signs that check.

And I don’t envy Vick the first time he dons that uniform and then walks out in front of 80,000 fans and a national TV audience.

That is what I would call a Dog Day Afternoon.

A little corn from Kolb

The Eagles have a quarterback who is unhappy.

And his name is not Donovan McNabb. That’s right, backup QB Kevin Kolb is making a little news of his own.

Kolb met with the media yesterday during the camp for rookies and some selected vets at the NovaCare Center. He admitted that he is getting a little “antsy” to get on the field and show what he can do.

The only view Birds’ fans have of Kolb aside from the preseason is the now-infamous second half of that game in Baltimore last year in which McNabb was benched. Kolb led the Eagles down the field, then threw an ill-advised interception as the Birds were knocking on the door. Ed Reed returned it 108 yards for a TD and the rout was on.

Yesterday, asked by Derrick Gunn of Comcast SportsNet about the possibility of the team offering an extension to starter McNabb, Kolb sounded like a guy who would not be all that thrilled with that prospect.

It’s one of the touchiest situations the Eagles face this year. They seem to be built to win now. That means with McNabb. But he wants a new deal. In the meantime, they need to make a decision on Kolb, who is nearing the end of his deal as well. The Eagles need to decide if he’s going to be the QB of the future, but what do you judge that on? Kolb has almost no experience in real games.

Then there is the even more intriguing aspect of how McNabb will react to Kolb’s comments and what his demeanor will be like if his impasse with the team over a new deal goes into the summer.

Yep, things are heating up. And the team is not even at Lehigh yet.

No luck for Moyer

Good news and bad news for Phils last night.

They got six innings out of Jamie Moyer. The aging wonder had struggled mightily in his last two starts, not getting out of the early innings.
But last night he scattered nine hits over six innings, allowing the Reds just three runs.

Unfortunately, that was more than enough as the Phils’ bats went silent and they fell to the Reds, 5-1. It means Moyer continues to sit at 249 wins and counting in his search for win No. 250.

It also means he undoubtedly will remain in the rotation for the time being. Manager Charlie Manuel had actually shuffled his rotation just a tad, using Moyer last night. That lines him up for a start next week against the Marlins, a team he owns over his career.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

The Daily Numbers - May 20

The Daily Numbers: 7 percent of voters who bothered to make it to the polls for yesterday’s municipal primary in Delco.
21,523 votes for incumbent County Councilman Jack Whelan, the county’s top vote-getter.
9,440 votes for Republican challenger Barbara Murray, who trailed Whelan and Mario Civera in the GOP council race.
8,630 votes for Democrat Nancy Rhoads Koons in the Dem primary for a seat on the county bench. That means she will face Linda Cartisano in the fall. Both candidates cross-filed. Cartisano failed to the win the Dem nomination as well.
337 votes for Mayor Helen Thomas in Darby Borough to beat back a challenge from former Mayor Paula Brown. The ex-mayor now says she’ll run in November as a Republican.
3 bullets fired through a door in Upper Darby. Two of them struck the woman who had answered the door. She’s in stable condition.
5 Democrats seeking the nomination for D.A. in Philadelphia. Seth Williams emerged the victor.
300,000 dollars believed pocketed in a scam a man ran in which he faked autographs of famous authors on books and then hawked them on eBay.
1.5 million dollars in pot discovered by police during a burglary call for a home in Olney. They also uncovered a cache of automatic weapons.
2 incumbent GOP officials, clerk of courts and treasurer, who lost primary races in Chester County.
47 percent decline in revenue reported by home builder Toll Brothers in second quarter. They sold 648 homes totaling $398 million.
9.3 increase in customer satisfaction ratings shown by cable giant Comcast.
1, as in No. 1, ranking for the beach in Ocean City as the best beach in New Jersey.
25 percent cut in price of fares by Amtrak for its routes in the Northeast this summer.
5 people missing after Navy helicopter went down in the ocean off San Diego.
6 strong innings and 7 strikeouts for Cole Hamels last night as the Phils topped the Reds.
117 pitches for Hamels, a season high. He evened his record at 2-2.
4 wins and 0 losses for Hamels over his careeer pitching in Cincinnati.
186th career homer for Ryan Howard, moving him past Johnny Callison on the all-time Phils list. That’s No. 9 on the year for Howard.
2 more coaches on the list of candidates for the Sixers. They have talked to assistant Dwane Casey of Dallas and Kurt Rambis of the Lakers.
*
Call me a Phanatic: A look at the ups and downs of being a Philadelphia sports fan.We won’t have Chan Ho Park to kick around anymore. At least not in the starting rotation. Charlie Manuel gave Park the heave-ho to the bullpen.
J.A. Happ moves into the rotation. An even more ticklish situation may unwind tonight, when struggling Jamie Moyer takes the mound. He needs a good outing.
*
I Don’t Get It: A student at a Berks County school put a knife to the throat of two classmates. He’s in fifth grade. I don’t get it.
*
Today’s Upper: Kudos to Nancy Rhoads Koons, who won the Democratic Primary for a seat on the county bench. That means there will be a race come November. Both she and Linda Cartisano had cross-filed, in effect trying to wrap up the election by winning on both tickets. Didn’t happen.
*
Quote Box: “Most people feel it doesn’t matter. But this matters more.”
-- Aston resident Chad Small, one of the few who made it to the polls to cast his vote yesterday.

Voting for indifference

What a difference a few months makes.

It was just last November many of us stood in long lines as we waited to cast our ballots in a historic election, one that resulted in the election of the nation’s first African-American president. The polls were packed.

Contrast that scene with yesterday’s primary election. Oh, there was plenty of waiting going on. There were poll workers waiting for voters.
I hope they weren’t holding their breath. As expected, the voters stayed away in droves. Turnout is believed to be in the vicinity of a thoroughly miserable 7 percent.

Granted, there wasn’t much sizzle in this election. There was no presidential vote. Not even a U.S. Senate, Congress or state Legislature race.

This was the municipal primary. All these people do is set the tax rates for your town and school. Apparently that’s not sexy enough to get people to the polls these days.

Here in Delaware County, both parties were nominating candidates for two open seats on County Council, and a new seat on the Court of Common Pleas.

Ax expected, an unendorsed Republican failed to dislodge the two favored GOP candidates running for council. No surprise there. A GOP challenge against incumbent Sheriff Joe McGinn also fell short.

I was interested to see whether current council member Linda Cartisano, running for a seat on the bench, could grab the nod in both parties.
Judicial candidates can cross-file. Her opponent did the same.

Nancy Rhoads Koons managed to hold serve in the Democratic Primary. That means she’ll tangle with Cartisano in the November general election.

In the council races, Republican incumbent Jack Whelan, joined by longtime state Rep. Mario Civera, will face Democrats Nancy Baulis and Keith Collins in the fall. A challenge inside the GOP from Barbara Murray fell woefully short. I still like the idea of the challenge, however. I say the more debate the better. Clearly there are factions of the Republican Party who are tired of the way their party operates in this county, and are ready to battle their own party leadership in seeking change.

Same thing happened in Brookhaven, where an upstart GOP faction mixed it up with the endorsed slate for borough council. They also came up short, but not before getting the party’s attention.

Now it’s on to November. Turnout has to be better then. It can’t get much worse.

What if they held an election and nobody came? Almost happened yesterday.

He lives where?

I go to work every day in a place called Primos, Pa. Nice place. It has something in common with lots of other places in Delaware County, places like Secane, Linwood, Boothwyn, Glen Mills, Broomall, Havertown and Drexel Hill.

And what that might be? None of them actually exist …. other than in the eyes of the United State Postal Service.

There is no such place as Primos. We actually are located in Upper Darby Township, right down here in the corner wedged in against Aldan and Clifton Heights.

I can’t tell you how much trouble this creates for me. Why? I’ll tell you why.

When someone does something they should not be doing and it merits those actions being written up in the newspaper, where do you think we get that information from? We get it from the police. And where do they get their info from? They get most likely get it from the suspect’s driver’s license, which is based on where that person gets his or her mail delivered.

Which is nice, but it may or may not be where they actually live.

Do you know how many places get their mail delivered from the Media Post Office. Here’s some breaking news for you: They have not moved the Granite Run Mall to Media. It in fact is not located in Media, no matter how many times they say it is. It is located in Middletown Township, right down the street from the Media Barracks of the Pennsylvania State Police. It’s not located in Media, either. It’s also in Middletown.

The policy of the newspaper is whenever we can to use the geographic location, not just the mailing address.

We violated that tenet again last weekend in reporting the arrest of a man on rape charges. We listed him as being a resident of Brookhaven.
That’s because his address is served by the Brookhaven Post Office.

But several readers pointed out that his address is clearly in the Toby Farms section of Chester Township.

They didn’t like the idea of their fine town being so besmirched.
Neither do I. Sorry about that.

Charlie makes his pitch

Charlie Manuel has made one decision. He may face another one tonight.

Manuel apparently has seen all he needs of Chan Ho Park in his starting rotation. After Sunday’s outing in which a clearly rattled Park failed to get out of the second inning, coughing up a 3-0 lead the Phils handed him in the top of the first, Manuel made his move.

Yesterday Charlie gave Park the heave-ho to the bullpen. He’s putting J.A. Happ into the starting rotation. He will head to the hill on Saturday when the Phils go to New York to face the Yankees.

Tonight all eyes will be on the aging wonder Jamie Moyer when he goes to the mound against the Reds.

Moyer has been horrific in his last two starts. He says he’s simply not getting his pitches in the right locations. A third straight bad outing might mean Manuel will have to tweak his starting rotation again.

Then the Phils will have to face the problem of exactly what they want to do with Moyer, who won 16 games last year, and in the process won himself a new, two-year, $13 million deal. Moyer is one of the most popular Phillies, but that’s not helping him get people out.

In the meantime, the Phils simply continue to roll. One constant in their rotation now seems to be Cole Hamels. He again looked every bit the ace of the staff in throwing six strong innings against the Reds, striking out seven and throwing 117 pitches.

The Phils bullpen sealed the deal as they won their fifth straight, 5-3.

Manuel will be looking for five decent innings out of Moyer tonight. If he doesn’t get it, if it’s another early shower for the Souderton product, Manuel may have to tinker with his rotation one more time.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

The Daily Numbers - May 19

The Daily Numbers: 15 to 20 percent, what the experts believe the turnout will be today for Primary elections in Delco and Pennsylvania.
3 Republicans and 3 Democrats seeking nominations for two openings on County Council.
2 Republicans seeking the nomination for county sheriff.
1 Republic and and 1 Democrat seeking nomination for a seat on the county bench. Both also are cross-filed.
1,600 dollars in trash fees, what one 87-year-old Chester faces as the city goes after some outstanding bills that went uncollected due to what the city says is a computer mistake.
3 million dollars, how much Chester says it is owed in back payments from about 3,000 homeowners.
0 injuries and 0 people evacuated during Sunday night’s explosion and fire at the Sunoco refinery in Marcus Hook. Frayed nerves? That’s another story.
3 Delco residents facing federal gun trafficking charges after indictments were issued in Philadelphia.
386,000 dollars, how much authorities allege was embezzled from a Main Line firm by Norbert Nawn, who was chief financial officer there.
374,000 dollars being spent to resurface the track at Chester High School.
1 person shot in an incident last night in Upper Darby.
200 residents who packed a meeting last night to fight to preserve the Brandywine Battlefield, which is the target of state budget cuts.
19, age of female who is now 3rd person charged in connection with a home invasion in Concord. She is believed to be the getaway driver.
710,000 international visitors who dropped in on Philadelphia last year, according to tourism officials.
100 million dollars in rebates announced yesterday by the state to push solar, electric and hot water projects under “Project Sunshine.”
35.5 miles per gallon, what President Obama wants to make the minimum standard for automakers. It means it will cost you another $1,600 per car by the year 2016.
2 people shot in incidents involving kids firing BB guns in South Jersey.
100,000 dollars believed ripped off from a Montgomery County law firm by a woman who was employed there.
200 jobs to be filled this week at a job fair being held by Philly Park as part of their $250 million expansion of their slots parlor.
4.7 percent decline in casino revenues across the nation last year.
Their take went from $34.1 billion to $32.5 billion. Still a pretty nice neighborhood.
4,000 jobs being cut by American Express as it looks to slice $800 million in costs.
2 cent hike in the region’s average gas price. We’re now paying $2.35 a gallon at the pump.
16 schools in New York City now closed amid an outbreak of swine flu that killed one administrator.
4 home runs last weekend for Raul Ibanez, who was named NL Player of the Week.
.357 batting average for Ibanez, good enough for fifth in the NL. That goes with his 13 home runs and 35 RBI.
20-16 record for Phils as they head to Cincinnati dead even tied for first place with the Mets.
*
Call me a Phanatic: A look at the ups and downs of being a Philadelphia sports fan.Does anyone remember Pat Burrell? He was placed on the disabled list yesterday by the Rays with a neck problem. Maybe it’s whiplash from watching the stats being put up by his replacement on the Phils, Raul Ibanez.
*
I Don’t Get It: The state is staring into the abyss of a $3 billion budget gap. Yesterday in Harrisburg another bill was introduced to ban same-sex marriage. I don’t get it.
*
Today’s Upper: Let’s hear it for Eric Schmidt. The Google boss yesterday told graduates at Penn to unplug their computers, disconnect from the technology they swim in and discover real-life connections. I like this guy.
*
Quote Box: “Turn off your computer. You’re actually going to have to turn off your phone and discover all that is human around us.”
-- Google boss Eric Schmidt in his commencement address to graduates at University of Pennsylvania yesterday.

Unplugged

A lot of people believe the Internet is going to be the death of newspapers. I’m not quite so sure.

But it is one of the reasons I was interested in a couple of things that happened yesterday.

One was the commencement at Penn, where the featured speaker was none other than Eric Schmidt.

Eric who? Was he the guy who has made the breakthough on AIDS research?
Not exactly. Is he a statesman or world leader? No, but he probably has had a more lasting effect on our everyday lives than just about any politician you can name. And no, he’s not the heir to the Schmidt’s brewery either.

Schmidt is the man behind Google. He’s the CEO behind the world’s leading Internet search engine. Penn President Amy Gutmann lauded Schmidt for “putting the world at humanity’s fingertips.”

He’s turned an odd name into part of our daily lexicon. Google is both noun and verb; it is a thing, and also an action, as in “I Googled our new boss to check him out.” Very simply, it is one of those words that has now become part of our everyday lives – and our everyday vocabulary.

But I was intrigued by what the man who has made a zillion dollars by creating one of the building blocks of the online world had to say to graduates.

He didn’t tell them to plug in, turn on and join the online revolution.
He told them to unplug their computers. Honest.

God, I love this guy.

OK, that’s probably a bit of an oversimplification of what he said. But this dinosaur will take it.

Schmidt suggested that Penn grads move away from their cyber-villages and check out what’s going on in the real world.

“Turn off your computer,” Schmidt said. “You’re actually going to have to turn off your phone and discover all that is human around us. Nothing beats holding the hand of your grandchild as he walks his first steps.”

I might add that nothing quite equals holding the printed version of the newspaper in your hands as well, but that might be pushing the envelope.

This blog item is part of the parallel universe I dwell in every day. It does not appear in our print edition. Maybe it should.

I have for years been one of those dinosaurs who was wary of all these gadgets and gizmos that we utilize every day. I have often said I would like nothing more than to just once get my hands around the neck of the person who keeps telling me “this technology is going to make your life so much easier.”

I would suppose that Eric Schmidt would be one of those people. So here I find myself praising the advice he offered graduates yesterday.

Of course, I am not exactly without my biases in these matters of technology.

But I imagine there are some fellow journalists in Philly who wish they had taken Schmidt’s advice to heart.

That is, unplugged their computer.

A Philly newspaper yesterday reported on one of their blogs an item purporting to have been written by Eagles cornerback Asante Samuel on his Twitter account. Twitter is the online service that allows you to post whatever random thought happens to be racing through your mind at any time, so long as it is 140 characters or less.

I have a Twitter account myself. I wish I could tell you what it is supposed to do.

The newspaper reported that Samuel had boasted on the Twitter posting that the Eagles would win the Super Bowl. It was picked up in a print column that also appears in the newspaper.

Only problem is that Samuel apparently does not have a Twitter account.

The newspaper today is saying they got duped. I know how they feel. I find myself becoming more and more leery about material I find online, and how blurred the line is becoming between what I do online and what I do in print.

Maybe Eric Schmidt is on to something.

Primary importance

Today is Primary Day in Pennsylvania. Try not to yawn.

There’s not a lot of sizzle in Delaware County. Both parties will nominate candidates for two vacancies on County Council. There is, I suppose, some interest in whether an unendorsed Republican can knock off one of two party favorites. I wouldn’t bet on Barbara Murray beating either incumbent Councilman Jack Whelan or longtime state Rep. Mario Civera.

There are also three Democrats seeking their party’s two spots on the November ballot.

Incumbent Sheriff Joe McGinn is being challenged within his own party as well, with Michael Boyle looking to crash the GOP-arty.

There’s a judgeship up for grabs. The real question there is whether current County Council member Linda Cartisano can capture enough votes on the Democratic ballot to knock Nancy Rhoads Koons out of the race.
Both are cross-filed. Here’s hoping Rhoads Koons keeps the Dem nod.
Voters deserve a choice in November.

A group of Republicans are bucking their own party in Brookhaven. And there’s always Paula Brown, who is looking to win her old seat back in city hall in Darby.

That’s about it. The most heated race in the region is the five-way brawl for the Democratic nomination for district attorney in Philadelphia.

None of which is an excuse to not exercise your basic civil right today and get to the polls.

You forfeit your right to complain if you don’t take part in the process. Lord knows none of us want to do that.

Pat who?

Pat who?

The last time we saw Pat Burrell, he was looking just as dapper as ever, in a natty suit collecting his World Series ring. Burrell was in a suit, not a baseball uniform, because he no longer plays for the Phils.

The team decided they needed to upgrade in left-field, so they let the popular, longtime Phil go. We’ll always have the memory of Burrell and his dog in that horse-drawn carriage leading the parade down Broad Street last October after the Phils won the World Series.

But don’t hold your breath waiting for a lot of people complaining about the move to let Burrell go. Yesterday the Rays placed Burrell on the disabled list with a neck strain. He’s hitting .250, pretty much what you would expect, but his power numbers are way down. He has just one home run and 17 RBI in 108 at-bats.

And the guy who replaced him?

Raul Ibanez was just named the National League Player of the Week after a sizzling weekend in Washington.

Ibanzez hit a sizzling .481 last week, hiking his season average to .357. That’s good enough for fifth in the NL. He also collected four home runs and 13 hits during his torrid week. His season numbers now stand at a healthy 13 home runs and 35 RBI. He’s in second place in the NL in both of those categories. It also means he’s hit an even dozen more home runs this year than Burrell.

I do not come to bury Burrell; instead I seek to sing the praises of Ibanez. While the Phils have been somewhat inconsistent in the early going, Ibanez has been a constant.

We’ll make this pretty simple. Ibanez has been the best person in the Phils lineup through the first 36 games of the season. And he’s a big reason why they head to Cincinnati with a 20-16 record, tied for first place with the Mets.

They aren’t getting even a sniff of first place without Ibanez.

Pat who indeed.

Monday, May 18, 2009

The Daily Numbers - May 18

The Daily Numbers: 0 injuries reported after an explosion and fire at the Sunoco plant in Marcus Hook Sunday night.
38 awards handed out to 300 nominees at the high school theatre Cappies Awards in Upper Darby last night.
6 Delco colleges that held their commencement festivities this weekend.
200 people who gathered at Riddle Hospital yesterday for a celebration and reunion of preemies, many of whom have now grown up, their parents and families.
2.35 a gallon, what we’re paying on average at the pump as gas prices in Philly region continue to climb.
2 bank robbers being sought in connection with May 5 heist at a bank in Upper Darby.
1 person killed by an Amtrak train Sunday afternoon on the tracks in Bristol Township.
10 people struck by gunfire in Philly over the weekend, including a 3-year-old boy. None of the injuries was fatal.
7 people injured at a graduation party when a deck collapsed in Hillsdale, N.J.
88, age of robbery victim in Delaware. A 45-year-old woman is under arrest. She knocked on the man’s house and then forced her way inside.
762,000 dollar penalty being paid by Sunoco for air quality violations at its Marcus Hook plant. And that was before last night’s fire.
763 million dollar loss reported by Sovereign Bank in the first quarter.
3, as in No. 3, where Pennsylvania ranks in terms of the number of senior residents. Only Florida and West Virginia are older. 15 percent of Pa.’s population is 65 or older.
73, age of resident in Somerset, Pa., ordered to stand trial in the murder of a 73-year-old woman he married just a few weeks earlier.
11 story condo in the Northern Liberties section of Philly that is due to go on the sheriff’s auction block.
1,800 vacant houses and lots that the Philadelphia Housing Authority is looking to sell.
1 inning and change, all the Phils got out of Chan Ho Park, who was touched for 5 runs. He surrendered 4 walks and 2 wild pitches in going just an inning and a third.
3 runs the Phils scored in the top of the first. Didn’t last long.
37 minutes, how long it took to play that first inning.
*
Call me a Phanatic: A look at the ups and downs of being a Philadelphia sports fan.The clock is now officially ticking on Chan Ho Park as a member of the Phils starting rotation. Just how long manager Charlie Manuel can continue to run him out there is up for debate. Things might get even more interesting if Jamie Moyer continues to struggle. He pitches Wednesday night.
*
I Don’t Get It: Still don’t get the uproar at Notre Dame over the selection of President Barack Obama to deliver the commencement address.
Uh, the man is the president.
*
Today’s Upper: Some huge kudos for all the kids honored for their theatrical endeavors last night at the Cappies Awards in Upper Darby.
*
Quote Box: “We can still agree that this is a heart-wrenching decision for any woman to make, with both moral and spiritual dimensions.”
-- President Barack Obama, talking about the divisive issue of abortion as he addressed graduates at Notre Dame Sunday.

An anxious night in the Hook


This is no doubt the fear that lingers deep in the psyche of every longtime resident of Marcus Hook.

It is the questions about your ubiquitous neighbor, the sprawling Sunoco plant that straddles the Delaware border and cozies up to many Hook neighborhoods.

It is not knowing what could possibly happen at any time. And what no doubt was racing through every resident’s mind Sunday night when the spring calm was shattered by a blast and fire at the Sunoco facility.

The explosion rocked the town around 10:30 Sunday night, no doubt jolting some out of bed, and picking at the lingering scab that is always the concern that exactly something like this could happen.

Once again that scab is now an open wound, a wonder about what might happen.

The initial fear last night subsided, even as the flames lit up the night sky in the region. The fireball could be seen for miles.

With sunlight this morning came a bit of reassurance, even as firefighters continued to pour water on the burning facility.

This time the Hook got lucky. There were no injuries, and no evacuations. All employees at the Sunoco plant are accounted for. No one was chased out of their nearby homes.

The fire is not out this morning, but it is contained. The explosion and blast occurred in the refinery’s ethylene complex. Ethylene is a feed stock used in the production of plastics.

If only it were as easy to contain those lingering feelings that reside deep in the minds of longtime Hook residents.

Those likely will be a little harder to contain.

A little tarnish on the Golden Dome

One of the things that always bothered me about the criticisms leveled at former President George W. Bush is that it often times veered into the personal.

In the process, I think his critics often lost site of the fact that he was the president, our commander-in-chief. That title – and the office – demands a certain decorum, a respect, that was too often lacking.

That doesn’t mean that you always have to agree with the man, or his policies, but you always have to be sure not to cross the line and sully what he stands for. The zeal with which some of his critics went after him too often simply obliterated that distinction.

Which brings me to this weekend and the appearance of President Barack Obama at commencement exercises at Notre Dame.

The president was to give the commencement address and receive an honorary degree.

This did not sit well with some at the school, and some abortion foes, who believe that Obama’s abortion policies fly in the face of the basic tenets of the Catholic church and thus should make him ineligible for such an honor.

I disagree. I am Roman Catholic. I happen to be a big fan of Notre Dame, even though I did not go to school there. It is one of the nation’s foremost Catholic institutions. My own beliefs on abortion are conflicted, as I am sure many other Catholics are as well.

Personally, I am opposed. But I don’t necessarily seek to impose my belief on others. I know, in the eyes of some believers, and some church officials, that apparently is something of a moral fault of mine. I can live with that.

I suppose I will not be asked to address the graduating class at Notre Dame anytime soon.

Then again, I am not the president of the United States.

Let me say that again: The President of the United States, a historic president at that. And you’re going to tell me he is not welcome to deliver a commencement address? You’re going to tell me that protesters will try to disrupt his appearance?

That does not mean you have to agree with him, or his policies. That is not what this country is about. We are all about exchanging ideas and a full, vigorous debate of the issues.

That’s not what some of the faithful wanted at Notre Dame. They wanted to silence a voice they did not agree with, and did not believe was in step with the teachings of the church.

The voice just happened to belong to the President of the United States.

Obama addressed the graduates, and stressed that we do not necessarily have to agree on every issue. That it’s OK to disagree, sometimes passionately.

But that’s a two-way street. Something many on the other side of this issue seemed to forget.

And they forgot something else. The president of the United States was willing to come to your campus and deliver a commencement address.

No, you didn’t have to agree with the decision, nor with what he said.
But you should be above simply canceling Obama’s invitation because of his beliefs on abortion.

True, the school was honoring the president with an honorary degree. But the same also is true. The school was being honored with his presence, as would any school.

Some people at Notre Dame seemed to forget that.

Time to give Cha the heave 'Ho' to bullpen

The Washington Nationals are quickly turning into the Washington Generals of baseball.

You know the Generals. They are the hapless bunch of guys who are routinely served up as the sacrificial lambs in those hilarious hoops affairs with the Harlem Globetrotters. But no one in Washington is laughing about the Nationals.

One thing you count on with the Generals is that they will lose. You just don’t know how. Same pretty much goes for the Nationals.

Yesterday they were clinging to a 6-5 lead after another horrific effort from Phils’ starter Chan Ho Park. You have to wonder just how long the Phillies will be able to keep him in their rotation.

Then again, if he made all his starts against the Nationals, it might not matter. Down 6-5, the Phils put their first two men on in the eighth. Pedro Feliz dropped a very good bunt down the third-base line, then the Nats went into Generals’ mode.

Pitcher Jesus Colome fielded the ball, then threw it into right field.
Two runs scored. The Phils tacked on another and went on to win, 8-6, for a four-game sweep in D.C.

The Phils have won 12 games on the road, best in the majors.
Unfortunately, the bulk of those have come against the hapless Nats.

More serious for the Phils as they head for Cincinnati is their shaky starting pitching. Park was treated to a rare 3-0 lead before he took the mound. Of course, he offered it right back to the Nats in the bottom of the first, surrendering two runs.

Park didn’t make it out of the second after walking three batters. His ERA is now a lusty 7.08.

Look for Chan Ho to “Park” it in the Phils’ bullpen while another arm takes his spot in the starting rotation. Then again, if Jamie Moyer continues to get lit up, that will complicate things.

Moyer’s next start has been pushed back until Wednesday against the Reds.

Friday, May 15, 2009

The Daily Numbers - May 15

The Daily Numbers: 25,000 dollars bail for 23-year-old Roisin O’Neill, which the Montco D.A. wants revoked as they claim she violated conditions of bail.
16 Chinook helicopters to be built for the Italian Army in a joint production between Boeing in Ridley and AgustaWestland.
1922, when Weathers Dodge opened their doors on Baltimore Pike in Lima.
They were informed by Chrysler they are losing their affiliation with the automaker.
53 Chrysler dealerships in Pennsylvania targeted by Chrysler, out of 789 across the nation. That’s more than any other state.
12 dealerships targeted in the Delaware Valley, with Weathers being the only one in Delco.
50 dollar incentive being eyed as an incentive to get kids in Chester headed to ninth grade to attend a summer school program.
15 cadets that graduated from local ROTC programs who received their commissions yesterday at Widener University.
300 arrests made during crime crackdown in Philly dubbed Operation Pressure Point.
1 case of West Nile Virus so far this year in Pennsylvania, with a bird testing positive in York.
1 more case of swine flu reported in the region. Officials at Valley Forge Military Academy say a cadet had a case of H1N1 flu, but has since recovered.
3 schools in New York City that are being closed for a week due to a spike in cases of swine flu. One assistant principal is hospitalized in critical condition.
28 percent drop in net income reported in first quarter by hip clothes retailer Urban Outfitters.
2 dollar hike in admission at the Academy of Natural Sciences. It will now cost adults $12 to get in, up from $10.
5 people in Maryland charged with a shoplifting spree that netted them thousands of dollars of goods from stores in the Rehoboth Outlet Malls in Del.
2.5 billion in federal stimulus funds headed for Lincoln Financial Group. Yep, they’re the firm whose name adorns the Eagles fancy digs at Lincoln Financial Field.
9, age of girl gunned down, the victim of an apparent turf war in Lancaster. Police say she was the daughter of suspected Philly drug kingpin Kaboni Savage.
2 cent uptick in gas prices. Average price at the pump in Philly region now is $2.32.
43,000 people in Pennsylvania who just got their final unemployment compensation check after getting benefits for the federal maximum of 33 weeks, on top of 26 weeks of state bennies.
350,000 people in Pennsylvania currently receiving jobless benefits.
36,000 more people who filed for help last week.
5 hits for the Phillies anemic offense as they lost to the Dodgers, 5-3.
0 hits for Shane Victorino, Chase Utley and Ryan Howard in the 2, 3, 4 slots in the batting order.
*
Call me a Phanatic: A look at the ups and downs of being a Philadelphia sports fan.The Phillies finally get their visit to the White House to be honored as World Series champions. It was delayed last month by the death of Harry Kalas. Unfortunately they arrive with a .500 record, 16 wins and 16 losses.
*
I Don’t Get It: You have to wonder exactly what Garrett Reid is thinking, and how powerful the hold drugs have on this guy, who finds himself back in jail after failing a drug test.
*
Today’s Upper: Chrysler may be pulling its affiliation, but they can’t kill off Weathers Dodge. The family is vowing to carry on selling cars on Baltimore Pike in Lima as they have since 1922.
*
Quote Box: “We can steer ourselves in a negative direction, sit and feel sorry, or take these things as opportunities to make things bigger and better.”
-- Larry Weathers III, after getting word from Chryslyer that the automaker was ending its affiliation with the family dealership that opened its doors in 1922.

Sestak still mulling

The road to the Democratic nomination for the U.S. Senate just got a bit easier for longtime Republican Arlen Specter.

The other announced Democrat, Joe Torsella, is getting out of the race.

Torsella, the former head of the National Consitution Center, exited the race Thursday night with an announcement on YouTube.

That does not mean Specter is getting a free ride.

Still mulling his options is none other than Delco U.S. Rep. Joe Sestak, D-7.

Sestak continues to indicate he is mulling his options in terms of offering a challenge to Specter, who is the clear choice of party leadership, including Gov. Ed Rendell.

Sestak doesn’t seem to care what the party leadership wants. He continues to say he wants to know what kind of Democrat Specter plans to be, what’s he running for, and not necessarily who is standing behind the newly minted Democrat.

Sestak is not offering any specific timetable for making a decision, but it now sounds as if he could be making up his mind in the next couple of weeks.

Clearly, the guy who stunned Delaware County politics when, helped in no small part by a leaked federal investigation, he showed longtime incumbent Rep. Curt Weldon the door, goes to the beat of his own drummer.

He was an underdog then; he’ll be an even bigger underdog now, in his own party, if he decides to take on Specter.

Now we wait on Sestak’s decision.

My guess? I understand Sestak has higher political ambitions, despite his consistent talk about how much he loves this job.

Yes, a non-scientific online poll resulted in a lopsided finding that there is support for Sestak to run.

I don’t see it. He likely will face the same problem so many other Delaware County politicians have faced when they venture beyond our borders.

In a statewide race, too many people don’t know who they are.

Sestak vs. Specter to me sounds like political suicide for someone who right now is considered an up-and-coming congressman.

Then again, those kind of odds didn’t stop Sestak before. Maybe party leaders will offer some kind of incentive to entice Sestak to step aside.

Aren’t we also electing a governor in 2010?

How about a statewide race featuring two Delco powerhouses.

Sestak vs. Meehan, anyone?

Another icon falls

Things along Baltimore Pike in the Lima section of Middletown just won’t be the same.

And this has nothing to do with the development of the old Franklin Mint site.

Up the road just a bit on the corner with Pennell Road sits Weathers Dodge.

The Weathers family has been selling cars there under the Chrysler label since 1922, making them one of the oldest Chrysler dealers in the country.

Not anymore.

The news had been circulating for weeks. Chrysler was looking to shed a lot of dealers. Yesterday the letters arrived. And they scored a direct hit on Weathers Dodge.

One thing needs to be made clear here. Weathers is not going away. They are not closing their doors. They will remain open selling cars as they have for the last 87 years.

But after the first week of June, it is likely the family dealership will no longer do so under the Dodge-Chrysler banner. Unless they can hook on with another label, they may not be selling new vehicles at all, instead focusing on the used-car trade.

Twenty-six people make their living at Weathers Dodge, which was named the 2009 Family Business of the Year by the Delaware County Chamber of Commerce.

Larry Weathers III, the third generation of Weathers family members to run the franchise, said the news came as a shock. But he’s not looking at the past, or even the rocky present.

Weathers instead is looking to the future.

“I think the key is to get over the shock quickly, get rid of any anger lingering around, get on with business and figure out a game plan,” he told our Vicky Thomas yesterday after getting the letter from Chrysler informing him they were cutting their ties.

With an attitude like that, it’s no wonder the family business has been a stalwart for almost a century.

Weathers Dodge has been an icon on Baltimore Pike for decades. It has forged strong relationships with generations of loyal customers.

Those kinds of work relationships don’t always count for all that much in today’s bottom-line driven economic environment.

But you can’t put a price tag on the kind of relationship Weathers Dodge had with the car-buying public. The people at Chrysler don’t understand the deep ties Weathers has in the community, the local youth sports teams it sponsors and other endeavors it is intimately involved with.

That’s Chrysler’s loss. And in reality a loss for all of us.

Stormy Weathers? In this economy, where the bottom line is king, it’s just another sign of the times.

Phils to Obama: How about a stimulus!

The Phillies will finally make their much-anticipated visit to the White House to mingle with President Barack Obama today.

The Phils are back in the nation’s capital for a weekend series with the Nationals. You might remember the team was supposed to do the White House last month, but it was postponed after the death of legendary broadcaster Harry Kalas.

Jimmy Rollins will offer the president a gift from the team. Exactly what they will be is something of a secret.

Maybe Obama can offer the Phils a gift in return.

A little stimulus would be nice.

The Phils continued their offensive woes yesterday, getting just one hit out of the first four spots in their lineup. That came from Rollins, who was back in his familiar leadoff spot. He doubled and scored.

The Phils managed all of five hits against the Dodgers, but did rally in the bottom of the ninth to tie the game, 3-3. Of course the Dodgers promptly scored two runs in the top of the 10th and took a 5-3 win.

There were o-fers for Shane Victorino, Chase Utley and Ryan Howard.

The Phils are now two games behind the Mets in the NL East race. Yes, it’s early.

But we were saying much the same thing about this team a month ago when they were first preparing for their White House visit.

Yeah, a stimulus plan might be just what this team needs.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

The Daily Numbers - May 14

The Daily Numbers: 16,000 dollars, how much officials allege former Penn-Delco School Board member John Green embezzled from a school booster group.
36 checks, believed made out by Green from the group’s account to himself, members of his family, or to cash.
80 women who showed up yesterday at the Tri-State Sports Complex in Aston to try out for the local entry in something called the Lingerie Football League.
2 corrections officers at the county prison who have been suspended amid a probe into allegations an inmate was beaten.
350 properties that had been listed to go on the block at a sheriff’s sale in Media Friday that got a reprieve yesterday when it was announced the sale was being delayed.
26, age of Garrett Reid, eldest son of Eagles Coach Andy Reid, who is back in jail after apparently failing a drug test.
22, age of Rosin O’Neill, who is in trouble again in Montgomery County.
Prosecutors are seeking to have her bail revoked, saying she violated the conditions. She faces trial in a fatal DUI accident.
1.2 billion dollar deal for Boeing and AgustaWestland to supply 16 Chinook helicopters for the Italian Army. The fuselages will be made at Boeing’s Ridley plant.
35, age of clerk who was shot during a holdup last night at a grocery store in Cobbs Creek.
2 brothers behind bars charged with a series of home break-ins in Montgomery and Bucks counties.
36, age of Bucks County woman charged with prostitution, including some encounters when her son apparently was in the motel room.
6.77 percent drop in home sale prices being reported in the Philly area in first quarter of 2008.
9.7 percent jobless rate reported in Philadelphia in March. The rate in Delco is at 7.2 percent.
2.18 million dollar malpractice award to the widow of a Philly man who died when his heart stopped beating while in the hospital.
1979, last time the children of murder victim Susan Reinert were seen alive. One of two men convicted in their deaths, Jay C. Smith, died this week. He was freed by the state Supreme Court, which threw out his conviction.
2 senior citizens in Stroudsburg, Pa., charged with selling heroin who are now seeking plea deals. They were making $10,000 a week.
0, how much Gov. Ed Rendell is warning some state workers they could be paid during any budget impasse.
1 billion loss reported by Sony, their first loss in 14 years.
249 wins and holding for Phils pitcher Jamie Moyer, who struggled again last night vs. the Dodgers.
1 run on 3 hits surrendered by former Phil Randy Wolf against his old mates.
2 goals in 8 seconds for the Pittsburgh Penguins as they rolled to a 6-2 win over the Washington Capitals to advance in the NHL Playoffs.
*
Call me a Phanatic: A look at the ups and downs of being a Philadelphia sports fan.One of the few hits the Phils managed off former teammate Randy Wolf last night was a home run by Jimmy Rollins in his new No. 5 slot in the batting order.
*
I Don’t Get It: The problems continue for people who bought homes from TH Properties in Montgomery County. The firm has filed for bankruptcy, but homeowners are now having liens placed against their homes by subcontractors who say the company owes them for work on the homes. Now they want the homeowners to pick up the tab. How does that work?
*
Today’s Upper: Good news arriving for Boeing, with a big new contract they will share with AgustaWestland to build Chinook copters for the Italian Army.
*
Quote Box: “We’re excited to get out here in the market and see the kind of caliber we have. There is some true talent out here.”
-- Mitchell Mortaza, founder of the Lingerie Football League, at tryouts held Wednesday at the Tri-State Sports complex in Aston.

Another Penn-Delco story

Our legions of critics in the Penn-Delco School District might be somewhat surprised by the front page of today’s print edition.

They are the ones who believe we play favorites, that we take great delight in displaying the troubles of some officials, while downplaying others.

The focus of today’s front-page story is John Green. He is a former Penn-Delco School Board member. He served on the board when the district was engulfed in controversy, much of which was displayed in the pages of this newspaper.

At the center of the controversy was a company called Quick Start, which the district contracted to provide preschool services and full-day care.

By most accounts, Quick Start was a very popular company that provided a service that was praised by parents in the district. In fact, a move by the district to remove the contract from Quick Start sparked outrage from many parents.

But Quick Start had another problem. His name was Keith Crego. At the time, Crego was president of the Penn-Delco School Board.

Eventually Crego was indicted on charges that he was secretly an investor in Quick Start and drew income from the operation, but never disclosed it.

Crego took Superintendent Leslye Abrutyn down with him. She resigned her post after being indicted on charges that she did not reveal her connections to Quick Start and Crego.

Both Crego and Abrutyn eventually entered plea deals. It should be noted that while Quick Start as a corporation was charged in the deal, and entered a plea that resulted in the firm discontinuing operations, none of its principals were charged with wrongdoing.

All of which played out in the pages of the newspaper.

Green is not exactly without his share of problems.

It was less than two years ago that Green entered a no-contest plea to a felony count of conflict of interest under the state Ethics Code. It turns out Green received more than $800 in commissions from the firm where he was employed for work they received from the school district.
He received 18 months probation, 40 hours of community service and fined $2,510. He also resigned his seat on the school board.

He also ran afoul of the rules involving filing the required financial disclosure forms with the state, then using phony dates to make it appear as if he did. He was fined $500.

Another member of the Penn-Delco community, former chief district financial officer John Steffy, found himself with a similar problem with the state Ethics Commission involving financial disclosure forms. He was fined $250. Steffy has since left Penn-Delco, but not before an audit undertaken by the district in the fallout from all this controversy criticized some areas of his office. He now has found work in the Reading School District.

As for Green, today he has more serious problems. He is charged with stealing $16,000 from a sports booster club at Sun Valley High School.
The affidavit filed for his arrest alleges he made out 30 checks from the club’s account to himself, a family member, or to cash.

I have never met John Green. He faces charges of embezzlement. They are serious charges.

It is the latest in what seems to be the never-ending problems swirling around the district and some members of its school board.

They have landed him on today’s front page.

I’m not in the business of playing favorites. I report the news. And the charges filed against Green are news.

I feel badly for his family, as I would for anyone in a similar circumstance. And that includes the families of Keith Crego and Leslye Abrutyn. That does not mean we do not report the issues surrounding them. The same goes for Green.

Which I am sure surprises those who wondered if this story would ever make the pages of the newspaper.

Two troubled families

There are two high-profile names back in the news today. Both are in trouble again.

The eldest son of Eagles coach Andy Reid is back in hot water. He’s also back in prison. Graterford Prison, in fact.

Garrett Reid, 26, apparently failed a drug test that was administered as he returned to a halfway house where he was undergoing court-ordered drug treatment. He also is believed to have gotten into a fight with another resident.

Reid was returning to the Luzerne Treatment Center after an approved leave and was administered a drug test on his return. Montgomery County District Attorney Risa Ferman indicated Reid was found to have some kind of controlled substance in his system.

Reid first ran afoul of the law a few years back when he was involved in a serious accident and admitted to being high on heroin at the time. He failed a drug test while on probation and was sentenced to 23 months.
Then he was charged with trying to smuggle prescription pills into prison.

Garrett’s younger brother Britt also has had run-ins with the police.

There are also more legal issues this morning for a member of the troubled O’Neill family.

Roisin O’Neill, 22, who is awaiting trial on charges stemming from a crash where it is alleged that she was driving the wrong way on the Blue Route while under the influence, then slamming into another car and killing the driver, stands accused of violating the terms of her bail.

The Montco D.A. was in court yesterday asking a judge to revoke O’Neill’s bail. They say O’Neill was in a car full of kids that was stopped during a DUI checkpoint. A bottle of wine was found in the car.
Several of the kids were cited for under underage drinking. O’Neill was not. She denied any wrongdoing.

Her lawyers argued against her bail being revoked, citing the extensive treatment she continues to undergo stemming from injuries she suffered in the accident.

The judge is mulling some kind of compromise, possibly jail on weekends, along with treatment and monitoring during the week.

Her brother Sean O’Neill is completing a probationary sentence handed down in the juvenile court for his role in an accidental shooting that took the life of his best friend.

Their father, Sean O’Neill Sr., recently entered a plea in federal court to a slew of tax, immigration and fraud charges. He is likely facing jail time, followed by deportation.