Friday, July 31, 2009

The Daily Numbers - July 31

The Daily Numbers: 75, age of woman charged yesterday in a hit-run crash that injured a teen two weeks ago in Bryn Mawr.
5, age of Collingdale girl viciously attacked by a pit bull this week.
It appears as if she is going to be OK.
3 years probation for the former top aide to then-U.S. Rep. Curt Weldon.
Russ Caso will do 170 days on home monitoring and 100 hours of community service.
3 teen suspects believed responsible for a wave of vandalism at Mount Jacob Cemetery in Darby Township.
10,000 dollar fine, what residents who ignore the new open burning ban in Middletown Township could face.
15 years in federal prison for a Brookhaven man busted by the feds in an online sex sting in which the man thought he was “chatting” with a 13-year-old boy.
3,000 workers in Philadelphia that could be axed, according to Mayor Michael Nutter, if the state does not approve its budget plan. That includes 739 police officers, closing all rec centers, and ceasing all operations at city libraries.
416 million dollars in state aid for schools that is now in limbo because of the state budget impasse.
120 million dollars up for grabs in the Saturday night Powerball drawing.
200 dollar fine now in place in Dewey Beach, Del., for things such as littering or being caught with alcohol on the beach.
30 bags of heroin bought by a Minquadale., Del., man while he had his 7-year-old daughter in the car with him, police say.
300,000 dollars being put up by local philanthropist Gerry Lenfest to save the SS United States, the rusting ocean liner that now sits rusting at Penn’s Landing.
2 guilty pleas now entered by suspects in the fatal beating of Sean Conroy on a SEPTA subway platform in the middle of the day.
25 people who showed up at a Center City bar last night to hold their own “teachable moment” on race relations as the president held his own on the White House lawn.
40,000 dollars spent so far by a South Jersey couple who are involved in a bitter dispute over custody of their dog.
2 gunmen now in custody in the double-slaying at the Piazza apartment complex in Northern Liberties.
42, age of Lancaster County funeral director who was convicted yesterday of killing his wife.
22,782 vehicles purchased through the new federal “cash for clunkers”
program. They have already gone through $96 million and now the program is broke.
2 straight losses for the Phils, first time that’s happened since back on July 1.
3 errors by the Phils as they played one of their sloppier games of the season, losing 7-2 to the Giants.
7 runs surrendered in just 4 innings by Phils starter Rodrigo Lopez, who was victimized by the poor defense.
3.14 ERA taken to the hill tonight by Cliff Lee, who will make his debut in a Phillies uniform.
2 starting offensive tackles who are already on the shelf for the Eagles. Both Jason Peters and Shawn Andrews came up lame yesterday.
1 player still not in Eagles camp. That would be first-round draft pick Jeremy Maclin.
*
Call me a Phanatic: A look at the ups and downs of being a Philadelphia sports fan.The Eagles do not start hitting until today, and already they have a long injury list.
*
I Don’t Get It: Does the NFL really a month-long camp and four exhibition games? I don’t get it.
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Today’s Upper: There’s just something about the sound of the pads popping that can mean only one thing. It’s football season.
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Quote Box: “This shouldn’t be theater. This shouldn’t be a circus.”
- Pa. Gov. Ed Rendell on Thursday, clearly irked at stalled budget process.

Another teachable moment

The nation last night was treated to what is being billed as a “teachable moment” when it comes to race relations.

This week I’ve been having one of my own.

I did not get to share a beer with the president, or a professor, or even a local cop, although I’m sure Mike Chitwood would be more than willing to share a brew.

However, I have spent some time discussing race. I’ve been getting overnight voice-mail messages from a frequent critic who believes we have an inherent bias when it comes to crime and how it is portrayed in the newspaper.

Here’s the short version. Derek believes if a suspect is black, they are more likely to find themselves splashed all over the front page. If they are white, the story will get kicked inside.

I, of course, could not disagree more. The truth is, when I make the decision to put a story on Page One, I very often have no idea the race of the suspects, nor do I care.

Derek specifically took me to task for Thursday’s newspaper. He questioned why the story about three men charged with “savagely beating”
a fan during a brawl outside Citizens Bank Park was buried back on Page 11. He noted that on Page 1 that day we featured a story on the county’s billboard controversy as well as a reward fund for a cat that had been shot with a BB gun.

He openly questioned if the beating story had been placed inside because the suspects were white.

“If they had been black, they would have been on Page One,” he said.

Of course I did not hear from him on Tuesday, two days earlier. That was the day we had splashed the story of the arrest of the three white suspects all over our front page, including their photos.

The Thursday story is what we refer to as a “folo,” when we revisit something we have already reported, usually with new information. That’s why it ran inside. There’s also the matter that technically, this was not a Delaware County story. Neither the victim nor any of the three suspects was from here on our turf in Delco. That’s usually where we place most of our focus. We covered the story because it was what everyone in the region was talking about.

Ironically, Derek also did not mention the lead story on Thursday’s front page. It was about the arrest of three suspects in a big credit-card theft operation. We ran photos of all three suspects, two of them black, one white.

I kind of doubt I will hear from him today either concerning our story on the arrest of the 75-year-old woman on the Main Line in a hit-run accident.

That’s here right there on the front page.

I’m not saying we don’t sometimes make mistakes. I’m not saying there are instances when someone could infer that we appear to have a bias.

I’m saying that is not our intent. I’m saying that I don’t care what color a person is when I make the decisions about Page One.

Maybe that’s a teachable moment as well.

A tale of two hit-runs

I have to admit I was a bit taken aback yesterday as I watched Suzanne Lammers turn herself in to face charges in a hit-run accident.

Lammers is 75. The slight woman tried to cover her face from the cameras as she arrived at the Police Administration Building in Ardmore to be charged in the hit-run crash that seriously injured a 13-year-old teen back on July 15 in Bryn Mawr.

The Villanova woman looked every bit the Main Line matriarch. Police say she struck the teen, who was riding his bike, then left the scene. She apparently went down the road a bit, slowed down and looked back at the scene, then proceeded to drive home.

Once there police say she put her Volvo wagon in a garage and covered it up. That’s where it stayed until it was towed away by police this week, a huge hole on the passenger side of a smashed windshield seeming to offer plenty of evidence of what had happened. Lammers has been seen since tooling around the Main Line in an older pickup truck.

Police say Lammers indicated she thought she hit a deer. She said she had not been watching TV or reading newspapers, and was unaware that she had in fact struck and injured a teen.

That seems like a reach. Still, it was hard not to feel bad for her yesterday.

Then something struck me. I don’t remember feeling any of the same kind of feelings toward Lemuel Payne.

He’s the 27-year-old who a few weeks ago was sentenced to two to five years in jail for another hit-run crash.

Of course, there is a big difference. Payne’s victim died. It appears the Main Line teen will recover fully.

I’ll admit I do not know all of the details that led up to these two incidents, including the conditions of the drivers and the speed the cars were driving. Payne’s collision occurred about 10 at night. The one Lammers is now accused of occurred in the middle of the day.

But there are some similarities. Both fled. It appears both tried to stash the suspect vehicles. Both failed to come forward for weeks, until police came looking for them.

Yet there is a feeling of sympathy for Lammers, while most heaped only scorn on Payne.

And that bothers me.

Injury bug is for the Birds

The Eagles put on the pads today. At least some of them.

Officially this is the first day players don helmters and shoulder pads and knocked heads at their Lehigh training camp.

Unfortunately, a lot of players won’t be putting on the pads.

The Eagles already have a long injury list, and they haven’t even hit anyone yet.

The much-ballyhooed new and improved offensive line, which was supposed to be using this time to gel into a cohesive unit? Don’t look for them today. Both of their new tackles are on the shelf.

Newly acquired Jason Peters has a quad spasm yesterday. Shawn Andrews, moving from guard to tackle while his brother slides in next to him, developed back spasms. At least he seems OK emotionally.

It might be Andy Reid’s emotions that bubble over. He’s got a long list of injuries without a single block or tackle being made, and he has yet to see his first-round draft pick on the field.

Wide receiver Jeremy Maclin remains unsigned, although everyone seems to think it’s “close.”

Probably a lot closer than seeing all the Eagles healthy and taking part in full-contact drills.

Sloppy effort from Phils

The day after they failed to get Roy Halladay, the Phils’ defense took a holiday.

Maybe they were still celebrating the fact that they managed to acquire AL Cy Young Award winner Cliff Lee without having to give any of their top young prospects.

For whatever reason, the Phils looked lifeless last night in dropping the first of a weekend set in San Francisco. It was the first time since July 1-2 that they’ve lost two games in a row.

They looked sloppy in making a loser out of Rodrigo Lopez in what might have been his last start. Lee assumes his spot in the starting rotation tonight.

Jayson Werth misplayed a fly ball in the first inning, leading to two runs.

Pedro Feliz seemed to surprise Chase Utley with a throw to second base instead of first in the fourth inning. The ball sailed past a flinching Utley into right field, fueling a four-run fourth.

It was Utley who showed about the only sign of life for the Phils. In the sixth, Giants’ starter Jonathan Sanchez whizzed a ball over Utley’s noggin. Utley took a long, hard look at the pitcher from the batter’s box. Two pitches later, he stepped out of the box while Sanchez was in his windup. Then he put an exclamation point on the standoff by sending Sanchez’s next pitch over the right-field wall. Unfortunately, it was a solo shot, and it was about the only life the Phils showed all night.

Lee will deliver a little CPR tonight when he makes his much-anticipated debut.

Hopefully, the team will shake off the doldrums that plagued them last night. It shouldn’t be hard to do. They can’t look much worse.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

The Daily Numbers - July 30

The Daily Numbers: 3 people arrested in a huge credit card and ID theft scam busted up by county detectives.
400 legitimate credit card numbers recovered in the Chester apartment being used by the suspects.
2,600 blank credit cards, 50 finished cards and 2,500 blank check documents seized.
600 dollar reward now being offered by the SPCA for information on who shot a cat with a BB gun.
230,000 embezzled from a medical firm by a Clifton Heights woman. She will begin serving 9 to 23 months in jail for the crime.
4 million dollars in state funds that needs to be released for a project to build the city of Chester’s first supermarket in years.
33, age of suspect being sought in connection with the sexual assault of a 19-year-old woman who he followed to her home from a Wal-Mart store in Montgomery County.
3,500 dollar reward being offered for information in a fatal hit-and-run that took the life of a pedestrian on Kelly Drive in Philadelphia last weekend.
120 million dollars up for grabs in the Saturday night Powerball drawing after no one hit the jackpot last night.
6 people now under arrest in that double-slaying at the upscale Piazza apartment complex in Northern Liberties. Police say they now have collared the suspected shooter.
15 to 20 bicycles seized in Norristown in what authorities are calling a bicycle chop shop.
10,000 people without power last night in the Poconos after a series of storms – including a reported tornado – roared through the region.
80,000 state workers who might be paid next week if the governor goes ahead and signs a stopgap spending bill.
2 death warrants signed by Gov. Ed Rendell yesterday.
5 percent increase in earnings reported by SAP, which has its North American HQ in Newtown Square.
7.8 percent drop in margins being reported by Pennsylvania general acute-care hospitals.
161 million dollar loss reported by Lincoln National Corp., the parent firm of Lincoln Financial, yep, the people whose name adorns the Eagles stadium.
0 runs scored by the Phils last night as they fell to the Diamondbacks.
6 losses in their last 25 games for the Phils.
2 runs surrendered by Phils’ starter J.A. Happ, whose name was bandied about in trade talks all week.
4 minor league players sent by the Phillies to the Indians for Cy Young Award winner Cliff Lee.
7-9 with a 3.14 ERA this year for Lee. Last year he was 22-3.
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Call me a Phanatic: A look at the ups and downs of being a Philadelphia sports fan.Hat’s off to Ruben Amaro, who got a quality starting pitcher and did not have to part with any of the Phils’ top prospects to get it done.
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I Don’t Get It: They’re holding happy hour at the White House tonight.
They’ll be talking race relations. That’s not a bad thing, but shouldn’t they be talking about health care?
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Today’s Upper: Good news for beachgoers. A report out yesterday gave good grades on the condition of Jersey and Delaware shore resorts.
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Quote Box: “No apologies will be expected or conveyed.”
- Lawyer for Harvard professor Louis Gates, on tonight’s meeting at the White House with President Obama and Cambridge police Sgt. James Crowley.

The elephant not in the room

All eyes will be on Russ Caso Jr. in a Washington, D.C. courtroom today.

But that won’t be the name on most people’s minds.

Caso is the former chief of staff to longtime Delco Congressman Curt Weldon. And it is the 7th District Republican who will literally be the elephant that is not in the room.

Caso is due to be sentenced in federal court on a conspiracy charge. The feds say he intentionally failed to disclose $19,000 his wife received for work she did for a non-profit connected to Weldon.

All of this is fallout from a federal investigation of the former congressman.

It is a probe that, to this point, has resulted in zero charges being filed against Weldon.

It was just a few months before election day back in 2006 when a tight race between Weldon and Democrat Joe Sestak was rocked by a leaked report that Weldon was the target of a federal investigation.

The homes of his daughter and one of his close allies, then-Springfield GOP boss Charlie Sexton, were raided. A lot of material was seized.

Weldon lost the election, crying foul about the timing of the raid. That was alomost three years ago. Nothing much has come of the probe, nor the raids.

Cecilia Grimes, a lobbyist who also had ties to Weldon, got three years probation after she admitted destroying evidence about her connections with the congressman.

Caso is due to be sentenced today. A memorandum filed in connection with his sentencing hails Caso’s “extraordinary” cooperation in federal investigations. He is expected to be sentenced to home monitoring and a fine, less than the recommendation, and due in part to his cooperation.

Some are interpreting the fact the Caso’s sentencing is going forward today as a sign that the federal investigation is at an end. The thinking is that if Caso were needed to testify at any upcoming trial, his sentencing would not occur until after that happened. Others downplay the timing of the sentencing altogether.

Papers filed by federal prosecutors say only that their investigation remains “open.” It also mentions they are “not public.”

I think it’s about time they were. If the feds have something on Weldon, it’s time to lay it on the table. If not, they should tell the public that and consider the matter closed.

Of course, that would also mean explaining the timing of those raids just weeks before the 2006 election.

That’s why I’m guessing all we’re going to hear today is that the investigation is “open” and “ongoing.”

Just as it’s been for almost three years.

Happy Hour at the White House

They’re having happy hour at the White House tonight.

It remains to be seen just how happy everyone is.

Seated at a picnic table just outside the Oval Office will be the commander-in-chief, Harvard Professor Henry Louis Gates, and Cambridge, Mass., police Sgt. James Crowley.

The triumvirate will raise a glass of beer together, while trying to head off the nation’s latest racial disagreement.

All of this was predicated by the confrontation between Gates and Crowley at the prof’s home. He had just arrived from a trip to China.
When he had trouble getting a jammed front door open, he summoned his limo driver to give him a hand. A neighbor apparently spotted the two men and called 911 to report a possible break-in.

Of course, Gates is black. The responding officer, Crowley, is white.

Words were exchanged. Tensions elevated. Eventually Gates was handcuffed and arrested for disorderly conduct.

Then the president was asked about it at a nationally televised press conference. He threw a little gas on the fire when he described the Cambridge police as “acting stupidly.”

The nation has been talking about little else since.

I find lots of blame to go around in this thing.

I blame Gates for seeming to jump to conclusions concerning the white officer. I blame Crowley for seeming to overreact after Gates showed him the proper ID. He was in his own house, after all. Most of all, I blame Obama for using a most ill-conceived word to describe the whole thing.

However, I for one am once again glad that we’re having the discussion, or at least the beginning of one.

Maybe I’ll join these three in raising a glass to the idea of talking about race relations in this country.

It’s being reported that the president prefers Bud Lite. Guess it was too much to ask for him to request a Beck’s. But then that’s another race topic for another day.

Mission accomplished, Ruben

Perhaps this is the best barometer of just how far the Phillies have come as an organization

The team yesterday acquired the reigning American League Cy Young Award winner.

And some fans were disappointed.

The pitcher they got was Cliff Lee. Not Roy Halladay.

Here’s a few other names to consider: J.A. Happ, Kyle Drabek, Michael Taylor, Dominic Brown. They are all still the property of the Phillies.

Halladay, the ace of the Blue Jays, was considered by most the best pitcher in baseball. But the Blue Jays wanted a truckload of talent in exchange for him. That would have included both Happ and Drabek, the minor league phenom who is now considered the top arm in the Phils’ farm system.

Phillies GM Ruben Amaro Jr. tried to coax Toronto into other players.
They weren’t biting. So he moved on.

Yesterday Amaro sent minor league pitchers Kyle Carrasco (last year’s untouchable player) along with highly thought of prospects infielder Jason Donald, catcher Lou Marson and another minor league pitcher, Jason Knapp to the Indians for Lee.

In exchange they got a horse of a left-hander who is 7-9 this year with a 3.14 ERA in 22 starts. Last year Lee went 22-3 with a 2.54 ERA. They also picked up a valuable right-handed bat in outfielder Ben Francisco.

Amaro seems to have done what many thought was not possible. He managed to shore up the Phils’ starting rotation – adding the Cy Young winner will do that for you – without giving up two young stud pitchers.

And he’s still taking heat in some quarters. That’s what happens when you win a World Series. Suddenly, fans get greedy. Just winning is no longer good enough. Making the playoffs was last year’s goal. Now we want another parade.

Amaro might just have taken a huge step toward that goal yesterday.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

The Daily Numbers - July 29

The Daily Numbers: 3 women from Delaware County killed when their car collided with a street sweeper near Baltimore, Md.
50,000 dollars believed ripped off from a relative by 58-year-old Michael Dellavecchio of Glen Mills.
97, age of the woman he is believed to have targeted.
75, age of woman believed to be the hit-run driver who struck a teen on a bicycle in Bryn Mawr. She could face charges this week.
19, age of woman followed home from a Wal-Mart in Montgomery County and then attacked in her home.
96 Viagra pills stolen from a pharmaceutical storage facility in Springfield. This shouldn’t be a hard case to crack.
10,000 dollar reward posted for information in the critical shooting of a Philadelphia Housing Authority worker.
10,000 dollar reward that remains in effect for information in the death of 17-year-old Ollie Cloyd of Darby.
1 person killed when a car and train collided in Waterford, N.J., yesterday afternoon.
79, age of Sen. Arlen Specter, who caused a bit of a stir yesterday when he mentioned his teary eyes were the result of chemotherapy. He quickly added he is not suffering any relapse in his fight against cancer.
200 foot fall into a quarry in Bucks County, believed to have killed a 21-year-old Plumstead man.
10.9 million dollars in federal stimulus funds brought to Philly yesterday by VP Joe Biden. It will result in 50 new police officers.
5 new cops for Chester from the same money.
363 million dollar contract for the Triumph Group Inc. of Wayne for work on Bell Helicopter’s new copter.
62 years of car making that came to an end yesterday as the last auto rolled off the line of the GM plant on Boxwood Road in Wilmington.
27 foot humpback whale that washed up on the beach at Monmouth Beach, N.J., yesterday.
1,151.85 fine for the Camden company where a worker was killed several weeks ago when he fell into a vat of chocolate.
51, age of Williamsport man charged with pointing a laser at a police helicopter in Northeast Philly. He wasn’t at Saturday’s Phillies game, was he?
867-5309, the famous phone number from Tommy Tutone’s classic “Jenny”
that is now up for grabs with a Philly prefix on Ebay.
3 in 10 Americans who say the recession has added stress to or even ruined their marriage/relationship.
75 pounds dropped this year by a newly svelte Andy Reid.
22 years in the NFL for Jim Johnson, who died of melanoma Monday.
Johnson was the master behind the Eagles defense for 10 eyars.
26 players who went to the Pro Bowl under Johnson’s guidance.
8 strong innings for Cole Hamels, looking very much like an ace in blowing away the Arizona Diamondbacks last night.
1 shaky 9th inning from Brad Lidge, who gave up a walk and home run before settling down to get the save.
3 hits, including a home run, for Shane Victorino.
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Call me a Phanatic: A look at the ups and downs of being a Philadelphia sports fan.Anyone else beginning to wonder if the Phils biggest problem is not with their starting pitchers, but rather with their closer?
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I Don’t Get It: Another study is out stressing the dangers of texting while driving. Duh! I don’t get it.
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Today’s Upper: Thumb’s up for James London and his message of anti-violence. Now if only young people would listen.
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Quote Box: “This whole Eagles-Andy Reid regime here that’s taken place wouldn’t have been possible without Jim.”
- Eagles coach Andy Reid, on the passing of his longtime defensive coordinator Jim Johnson.

The problem with the Philly fans

The fallout continues in the aftermath of the death of a Phillies fan who was stomped to death in a parking lot.

A 22-year-old man lost his life. Three men now face charges in connection with the brawl.

All of this apparently started over a spilled beer in McFadden’s Restaurant, which is attached to Citizens Bank Park. Gives a whole new – darker, sadder – meaning to the term “beer muscles.”

The victim was with a group that was celebrating a bachelor’s party. He was the brother of the bride. They got into an altercation with another group of fans, who likewise had arrived at Saturday night’s game early on a bus from a Fishtown tavern.

There is no doubt that both groups were partying. They both were inside Citizens Bank Park. They both wound up in McFadden’s. They both got tossed out after fighting inside. And they both wound up in a parking lot. With deadly results.

Much is being said about this incident. Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey is calling for a law requiring bars and taverns to report fights to 911, instead of simply tossing the combatants out on their ear. Too often the problem does not go away simply because those involved do.
That was the case here, with deadly results.

But what I am more interested in is this whole idea of the image of a Philly fan, both locally and nationally.

Many are lamenting this latest black eye for a group many of us consider the best, most knowledgeable, most passionate sports fans in the country.

Coupled with the anonymous knucklehead who managed to use a laser pointer to distract several Cardinals’ batters during Saturday’s national TV game, this can now take its rightful place beside the booing of Santa Claus, cheering an injured Michael Irvin, pelting Jimmy Johnson with snowballs, throwing batteries at J.D. Drew, and booing the drafting of Donovan McNabb.

Our reputation is well-earned. The question remains, is it fair? Are the majority of us unfairly tarnished by a few neanderthals?

There are a few things that I no longer question. There is an element – not the majority, but certainly a sizeable one – who do not go for the thrill of the game. They go for another darker reason. They are looking for trouble, and they too often find it.

I used to see it all the time in the 700 level of the Vet during Eagles game.

They tore that place down. They haven’t vanquished some of that sentiment.

And, of course, it would be foolish to ignore the common theme that runs through almost all of these incidents. Alcohol.

Should there be tighter controls on beer sales at games? Maybe. But that wouldn’t prevent fans from tanking up before they enter the gates.

I believe the black eye Philly fans get from the national media is unfair. I’m not sure there are not the same problems in every other town.

But I don’t think there is any sense in trying to deny that there is a problem here. The question is merely how big is it? And what can be done about it?

If you have another view on this issue, I'd love to hear it. Post a comment below.

Preferably before another life is lost.

Cops looking for hardened criminal

As someone who has something of a reputation for writing headlines, I have to admit my fondness for one story that appeared in Tuesday’s print edition.

It was all of two graphs, and detailed a theft from a pharmaceutical storage facility in Springfield.

It wouldn’t at first glance seem to provide much grist for a pun-happy fool like me, until you notice what was ripped off in the heist.

The thief made off with a case of Viagra pills, worth more than $1,000 dollars.

No doubt this criminal is looking at some hard time.

Another tough loss for Eagles


He was likely the person most feared on the Philadelphia Eagles. At least by opposing quarterbacks.

Jim Johnson never put on a uniform. He didn’t throw a single pass. He never carried the ball. Not once. But he likely had as much to do with all those winning seasons, all those playoff appearances, that trip to the Super Bowl, as Andy Reid.

Johnson was the genius behind the Eagles’ swarming, blitzing defense. He lost his battle against melanoma Monday. He was just 68 years old.

During the 10 years that Johnson commanded the Eagles defense, they became one of the most feared units in the NFL. The Eagles made the playoffs seven of those 10 years. From 2000-2008 his defenses ranked second in the NFL in sacks. He sent 26 different players to the Pro Bowl.

He was Andy Reid’s security blanket. Andy worried about the offense; he always knew Johnson would take care of the other side of the ball.
Rarely did Johnson’s teams ever let him down.

The Eagles’ defense now must carry on under Sean McDermott without its architect, as well as its public face.

Brian Dawkins is now toiling in Denver. He remembered his old boss as a guy who was “tailor-made to coach in Philadelphia.”

Eagles fans love defense. It fits this town. Johnson was the latest in a long line of defense gurus who toiled here. Marion Campbell. Buddy Ryan.
Bud Carson. Jim Johnson.

Training camp no doubt will continue. The Eagles will go about their work. Sean McDermott will pick up the torch.

But make no mistake. Jim Johnson will not be replaced. He was that kind of person, on and off the field.

The Philly sports scene has been rocked by an especially tumultuous year. We lost our “voice,” Harry Kalas. The man many believed to be the heart and soul of the Eagles, Brian Dawkins, is now wearing orange in Denver.

And Jim Johnson won’t be plotting out intricate blitz packages to foil opponents on Sunday afternoons.

Johnson now gets to do something his defense never did.

Rest well, Jim.



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Cole aces a test

Cole Hamels last night sent a message to all those Phillies fans clamoring for an “ace,” a No. 1 stud in their rotation, perhaps Roy Halladay or Cliff Lee.

Remember me?

Hamels looked every bit the horse who mowed down opponents in the playoffs last fall as he blew away the Arizona Diamondbacks.

Hamels went eight strong innings, giving up just one run on four hits.

And it still turned into a white-knuckle affair. That’s because his partner in slamming the door on all those playoff games, closer Brad Lidge, continues to struggle.

Lidge came on in the ninth, promptly walked a batter and then gave up a two-run homer. He settled down to close the door, but not before raising manager Charlie Manuel’s blood pressure a few degrees.

Maybe the Phils are going about this trade deadline all wrong. Maybe it’s not the front end of the rotation they should be looking to beef up. Maybe it’s the back end.

Don’t look for that to happen. They are going to live and die with Lidge. Last night they almost died.

But not before getting very much an “ace”-like performance from Hamels.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

The Daily Numbers - July 28

The Daily Numbers: 3 people now under arrest in the beating death of a fan in a parking lot outside Citizens Bank Park Saturday night.
2 of the three men under arrest who have prior convictions in assault cases linked to partying and drinking.
3, as in 3 terms, which is not in the plans for U.S. Rep. Joe Sestak. He will give up his seat as he challenges Sen. Arlen Specter for the Democratic nomination.
34,000 dollars in scholarship money awarded to Widener University by the W.W. Smith Charitable Trust.
3 council members who once again failed to appear at a meeting of Yeadon Borough Council Monday night. At issue is filling the seat vacated when a Delco judge ordered the ouster of Councilman Terry McGirth.
3 trucks and at least 1 other vehicle involved in a crash Monday afternoon on I-95 in Chester.
1, as in No. 1, for Penn State. Unfortunately, it’s not Joe Paterno’s football team that earned that lofty ranking, instead the Nittany Lions have been ranked the nation’s top party school.
15, age of student at Emmaus High School charged with taking photos and video up the skirts of female teachers and students and posting them online.
48, age of man who had just celebrated a birthday dinner who was struck and killed on Kelly Drive in Philly. He was walking with his girlfriend after dinner at The Water Works. She was not injured. The driver fled.
48, also the age of a man struck by a car as he tried to cross Magee Avenue in the Tacony section of Philly.
5 suspects now in custody in that double-murder of a woman and man in the upscale Piazza apartment complex in Philly.
50 law enforcement jobs that could be created in Philly with arrival of fed stimulus funds. VP Joe Biden will make the announcement today.
2 people dead when a man chased down his girlfriend, shot her in the street, then turned the gun on himself in the Overbrook section of West Philly.
36, age of teacher at North Penn High School already charged with having sex with a student now facing additional charges that she tried to cover up the situation by asking the youth to delete messages from his Facebook page.
5 DUI convictions for a 50-year-old man in New Castle, Del., who is under arrest again for drinking and driving.
2 more shows added for the Spectrum by Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band. That makes 4 shows to bring the curtain down at the South Philly sports palace in October.
237 million dollars paid for Harleysville National Bank by First Niagara Financial Group.
10 cent tax on soda being looked at as a way to fund the national health care program.
2.54 a gallon, what we’re paying on average at the pump. Price of gas is up a penny overnight.
26 home runs for Ryan Howard, who went yard last night to lead the Phils to a 6-2 win over the D-Backs.
6 innings for Phils starter Jamie Moyer, who picked up his 10th win.
7 game lead for the Phils in the NL East.
33 touchdowns in his career at Missouri for Eagles first round draft pick wide receiver Jeremy Maclin. He continues to be MIA at Lehigh because he has not signed a contract.
*
Call me a Phanatic: A look at the ups and downs of being a Philadelphia sports fan.Looks like maybe Ruban Amaro Jr. is looking for some insurance in case the Roy Halladay talks don’t work out. His name is Cliff Lee. He won the Cy Young Award with the Indians last year.
*
I Don’t Get It: Alcohol – specifically too much alcohol – continues to be a problem at the South Philly sports complex. How a spilled beer can lead to a fatal beating is almost beyond belief. I don’t get it.
*
Today’s Upper: A thumb’s up for former Philly Councilman Rick Mariano.
Instead of being bitter at the seemingly light sentence bestowed on Vince Fumo, he’s rejoicing, saying he actually prayed for Fumo. Good for him.
*
Quote Box: “I’ve seen some pretty wild things but it’s shocking to think that something like that could happen over a dumb thinig like that.”
- Phillies Matt Obenski, of Prospect Park, on word that a fight over a spilled beer resulted in the death of a fan in a parking lot outside Citizens Bank Park.

When fans turn fanatics

A spilled beer.

That is apparently what precipitated a brawl that started inside McFadden’s at the stadium Saturday night. After the two combating groups got kicked out of the pub, the fisticuffs continued in a parking lot.

With fatal results. A 22-year-old Lansdale man who was attending a bachelor’s party with some friends was basically stomped to death. Three men are now in custody. At least one of them has a record of a similar previous attack.

There might not be any point crying over spilled milk, but today a lot of people are simply shaking their heads over what can result from a spilled beer.

But ask me if I am surprised, and I will tell you – very quickly and very bluntly – not in the least.

I spent a lot of years as a resident of the 700 Level at Veterans Stadium watching Eagles games – and their fans.

I shudder at some of the things I witnessed there. Most involved some naïve out-of-town fan who had the temerity to wear his team’s colors into that rarefied – and volatile – air.

But it’s more than that. I always thought that much of the behavior I witnessed was right on the borderline, regardless of who was being targeted.

Sure, the opposing fans always got their share of abuse, but at the same time I witnesses any number of fights among guys who had come together.

In particular, I always remember one of the most dangerous times attending any Eagles game at the Vet was trying to get out of the parking lot after the game.

Alcohol makes people behave in strange ways. And lots of alcohol makes them that much weirder. Lord help the poor sap who made the mistake of tapping his horn as a horde of drunken fans crossed in front of his car, despite the fact that the car clearly had the right-of-way.

Having said all that, it’s important to remember that these incidents involve a tiny fraction of those who attend games.

The Phils are packing 45,000 into Citizens Bank Park just about every night this summer.

Now all them are being painted with the same brush because of a fight that got way out of hand.

Instead of painting the town red, or green, depending on what team we’re talking about, Philly is once again being painted as a city of louts, of fans who simply can’t comport themselves within the law.

No one will mention the 44,950 who behaved themselves. Instead we’ll focus on the 50 or so who crossed over into the hooliganism so many had hoped had disappeared when they knocked down the Vet – and its infamous 700 Level.

What’s next, a court manned by Judge Seamus McCaffery at Citizens Bank Park?

The 700 Level is long gone. Problems with a minority of Philly fans clearly are not.

Time's yours, Andy

Joe Banner is now on record as saying the Eagles have the best roster in the NFL.

Give yourself a hand, Joe.

His statement no doubt brought a smile to Eagles Nation, which continues to hunger for a Super Bowl trophy to stick next to that World Series title the Phillies captured last October.

But there is one person who might wind up looking at Banner’s words a little differently.

Maybe you’ve heard of him. His name is Andy Reid. Big guy. Red hair.
Happens to be the head coach of the Eagles.

Here’s my take on Banner’s statement.

Is there a chance that was directed at Reid? As in, I’ve put together the best roster we’ve ever had, now go out and win the damn thing?

You might remember that Banner offered some prescient comments after the Eagles disappointing loss in the desert to the Ariozona Cardinals in the NFC title game last winter.

He talked about insanity and doing the same thing over and over again, in reference to the Birds’ penchant for getting to a certain point, then falling short of the prize, that being the Super Bowl.

So Banner went about the business of doing things a bit differently in the offseason. The team jettisoned both its starting offensive tackles and signed top-flight replacements.

They corrected the error of going into last year without a legitimate fullback by going out and corraling the best one on the market, Leonard Weaver.

The Eagles veered away from their normal mode and used their top pick on still another wide receiver for Donovan McNabb.

Speaking of the QB, they smoothed his ruffled feathers by giving him more money over the final two years of his contract.

All of which is pointing to one thing. Banner and the Birds want to win.
Now.

Time’s yours, Andy.

Let Michael Vick go back to work

This one might surprise you.

Let Michael Vick go back to work.

That does not mean I don’t think what he did – bankrolling a dog-fighting operation – was reprehensible.

But he paid his debt. His livelihood, as a quarterback in the National Football League, was taken away from him. He spent time in prison.

Now he’s out. Yesterday the NFL agreed to allow him to be reinstated, although he likely won’t be available until several games into the regular season. But he could sign with a team, go to camp and get ready for the season.

The key question now is whether a team will roll the public relations dice and sign the poster boy for bad behavior by pro athletes.

Maybe not now, but I have no doubt Vick will be back in the league.

Club owners may speak harshly about Vick and how they want no part of him. For now.

Most of them are exactly one crumpled knee – that being attached to their starting quarterback – from singing a different tune.

Expect to see Vick back in the NFL this year.

Don't jump off Cliff, Phils fans

How does Cliff Lee sound to you, Phillies fans?

No, he’s not Roy Halladay. But he did win the American League Cy Young Award last year. The left-hander is the ace of the Cleveland Indians staff, and he just might be the “big addition” GM Ruben Amaro Jr. uses to cement the Phils’ rotation.

That’s because Amaro’s talks with the Toronto Blue Jays aren’t going particularly well. None of which should probably be taken all that seriously.

This amounts to a big-time game of chicken. The Blue Jays will simply wait to see who blinks first, and wind up dealing with that team. They continue to seek both minor league phenom Kyle Drabek and solid starter J.A. Happ as the linchpins to any deal with the Phils. Amaro does not want to part with both of them. In particular the team seems loathe to jettison the promising Drabek.

So as something of a Plan B, Amaro is also talking with the Indians about Lee, who is 7-9 with a 3.14 ERA.

Don’t hyperventilate if nothing happens today, despite last week’s pronouncement from Blue Jays GM J.P. Ricciardi that his deadline for making a deal was today.

The league deadline is 4 p.m. Friday. Expect to hear something about 3:55.

In the meantime, the beat goes on for the Phils. After some early-inning struggles, they got a solid outing last night from Jamie Moyer, another homer from Ryan Howard, and cruised to a 6-2 win over the Diamondbacks.

They now lead the NL East by a full seven games.

One other interesting note. After this set with Arizona, the Phils fly on to San Francisco for a weekend encounter with the Giants. As it turns out, the Blue Jays also are in town. They play in Oakland.

Both the Phillies and Blue Jays are staying in the same hotel.

Think maybe Amaro and Ricciardi might meet up in the hotel bar Thursday night?

Paul Owens would be proud.

Monday, July 27, 2009

The Daily Numbers - July 27

The Daily Numbers: 2 people in custody and a third likely to be charged in the beating death of a fan in a parking lot outside Citizens Bank Park Saturday night.
200 kids who will be in Darby, Lansdowne and Yeadon this week rehabbing houses as part of a summer camp run by Community Action Agency.
4 people shot in a deadly weekend on the streets of Philadelphia.
107 million fewer miles driven by Pennsylvanians in May. That’s down 1.2 percent from last year.
2.54 a gallon, what we’re paying on average at the pump in the Philly region today.
1 woman killed while trying to cross Roosevelt Boulevard in Northeast Philly Sunday night.
4 feet long, Sarmuai sword police say a Del. man used to kill his girlfriend.
39, age of man charged in the indecent assault of a woman while they rode the Market Frankford El.
8 DUI offenses racked up by a Newark, Del., man.
900 dollars in change apparently ripped off by a parking meter attendant in Wildwood, N.J.
15 million dollars being sought to build an “energy campus” at the South Philly navy yard.
25, age of former “American Idol” contestant from Allentown who was struck and killed by a car n Ocean County, N.J.
18 contestants left in the Delco Idol Jr. contest after 5 more were shown the door last night.
102 million dollars up for grabs in the Powerball drawing Wednesday night after no one hit over the weekend.
8 people killed in a wrong-way crash on the Taconic State Parkway in New York last night.
4 homers for the Phils yesterday as they blasted their way past the St.
Louis Cardinals, 9-2.
8 strong innings for Joe Blanton, who gave up just 2 runs and struck out 6.
1 inning in a minor league rehab stint that was interrupted by rain for Pedro Martinez.
*
Call me a Phanatic: A look at the ups and downs of being a Philadelphia sports fan.It’s beginning to look more and more as if the Phils are not going to get Roy Halladay unless they are willing to part with both J.A. Happ and Kyle Drabek. That’s a steep price. But Halladay just might be worth it.
*
I Don’t Get It: Once again, Philly fans are sporting a bright shiner after a couple of ugly incidents at Citizens Bank Park over the weekend.
*
Today’s Upper: The Philadelphia Zoo has its bird back. The sun conure flew the coop last week, but was recaptured after it was spotted in nearby Fairmount Park.
*
Quote Box: “It’s like we lost a family member.”
- Carol Baxter, administrator at Granite Farms Estates, on the death of co-worker Andrea Arrington.

More ugliness for Philly fans

Citizens Bank Park is now the place to be in the summer in these parts.
The Phils are red-hot, and their fans are painting the town red.

But not all is hunky-dory in South Philly.

Once again, the actions of some Philly fans are giving the region a bit of a black eye.

And of course one of them had to be featured on national TV. The Fox cameras clearly picked up a green laser light that was pointed at several Cardinals batters during Saturday’s game. The action was halted while a section behind the Phils’ dugout was searched for the offending fan. It turned up nothing.

Maybe it was an exasperated Eagles fan upset that the Birds are now taking a back seat to the Phils, looking to get the green back in the picture.

After the game, one St. Louis player wondered out loud if the laser was fixed to some kind of gun and it he might be in danger.

You don’t usually think about Citizens Bank Park as a dangerous place.
That was something that we left behind at the Vet, and all those raucous sessions in the 700 level by Phillies and Eagles fans.

Unfortunately, the Phils’ new playpen is beginning to get a bit of a reputation for rowdy, boisterous fans as well. And just an hour or so after the laser incident, things turned deadly.

Police say it started as a disagreement between two groups who were inside McFadden’s, the restaurant that is attached to Citizens Bank Park.

Apparently a beer was spilled, words were exchanged. A fight broke out.
After the brawlers were expelled, the fisticuffs spilled out into the parking lot.

That’s when some blood was spilled as well. With deadly results.

Police say David Sale, 22, of Lansdale, was fatally beaten in the parking lot. Sale was found on unresponsive on the ground. It is believed he was part of a bachelor’s party that spent the afternoon at the stadium.

Police say they have two suspects in custody and are looking for at least one more.

The two incidents will no doubt add to the national villification of Philly fans.

It is OK for fans to paint the town red. It’s just plain ugly when it involves a green laster pointer.

And it becomes no less than tragic when that kind of behavior morphs into the ugliness of blood red.

Remembering Andrea Arrington

To many of us, the murder of Andrea Arrington last week was a senseless tragedy.

To Leeta Geist and Edith Giersch, it was more than that. They lost a friend, and a caregiver.

Geist and Edith Giersch are residents at Granite Run Estates in Middletown. That’s where Arrington worked.

Geist and Giersch didn’t know Arrington as just a picture in the newspaper or a headline. They knew her as the caring, loving nursing assistant who helped them get ready for bed each night.

Her co-workers also spoke glowingly of the woman whose life was snuffed out in a murderous rage by her estranged boyfriend last Monday night.

So damn sad.

See you in September, guys

Interesting dilemma for Andy Reid, Joe Banner and Jeff Lurie these days as the Eagles head to camp again at Lehigh.

The Birds are an after-thought. When’s the last time you could say that?

Most years the green-faced zealots would be counting the days until they could head up the Northeast Extension for the pleasure of sitting in stifling heat and humidity for the pleasure of seeking huge men grunt and sweat in the summer sun.

That’s because for so many years the Phillies were a lousy team playing in an even lousier stadium.

Not anymore.

The Phillies are now defending World Series champs. They have a six-game lead in the NL East. Citizens Bank Park is packed every night. The town continues to be painted red. Phillies red.

The Phillies have supplanted the Eagles as the lead sports story in this football-crazed town.

That’s something the Eagles aren’t used to. If the Phils are able to land Roy Halladay this week, the Eagles just might be able to go about their business at Lehigh in anonymity.

Call us in September, guys.

All Roy, all the time

Forget the pennant race. At least for a few days.

The Phils seemed to take umbrage at the way they lost to the St. Louis Cardinals Friday night. They got their revenge the next two days, pummeling a series of St. Louis pitchers.

The Phils used the long ball to batter the Cardinals into submission.
Jimmy Rollins hit a grand slam Saturday, and Shane Victorino followed with a solo shot.

Then yesterday no less than four Phils went yard, including a monster shot from Ryan Howard that caromed back onto the field after hitting the brick wall in dead center field.

Now the Phils wing it west for sets in Phoenix and San Francisco.

But the news this week is likely not going to be made on the field.

Brace yourself for all-Roy, all the time. The Major League Baseball trade deadline is Friday afternoon. Blue Jays ace Roy Halladay continues to be the apple of everyone’s eye, including the Phils.

The Blue Jays apparently have rejected a couple of different offers from the Phils, the latest one including pitchers J.A. Happ, Carlos Carrasco, outfielder Michael Taylor and shortstop Jason Donald.

The Phillies are trying to avoid losing both Happ and their top minor league pitching prospect, Kyle Drabek.

So far the Blue Jays aren’t biting.

This one is likely to go right to the 4 p.m. Friday trade deadline, despite the fact that Toronto had indicated last week they want something done by Tuesday.

Friday, July 24, 2009

The Daily Numbers - July 24

The Daily Numbers: 18 billboards being proposed in 3 townships across the county by Thadeus Bartkowski III.
672 square feet, size of the double-sided billboards that could rise as high as 45 feet in the sky.
8 hours after they went on sale, you could still get some standing room only tickets for this year’s eight regular season Eagles games.
297 members of the Interboro teachers union that approved their tentative new contract with the district.
7 to 23 months in jail for an Upper Darby woman convicted of beating an 87-year-old Alzheimer’s patient at an Upper Merion care facility where she worked.
17 months, age of toddler from Newtown Square who drowned in a pool while visiting his relatives in South Jersey. The tot apparently crawled through a dog door to get access to the pool.
10 years in prison, what former N.J. state Sen. Wayne Bryant could be looking at today when he’s sentenced on bribery and pension fraud charges.
44 officials in New Jersey busted by feds yesterday in a huge corruption probe. Several rabbis also were arrested.
12 inches, length of brightly colored sun conure bird that is missing from the Philadelphia Zoo.
7.25, that’s the minimum wage, effective today. In Pennsylvania and New Jersey, that means a hike of 10 cents an hour.
25,000 dollar reward being offered for information on a missing New Jersey man suffering from Alzheimer’s who has been gone since walking out of his home a month ago.
66, age of man in Chalfont, Bucks County, charged with growing pot at his home. Police say they went to the home after the man’s girlfriend, 21, called in a report of an intruder.
30, age of pregnant hospice nurse in Talleyville, Del., charged with stealing pain medicine that was meant for her dying cancer patient.
16, age of teen being investigated in Philadelphia for the sexual assault of a 11I-year-old girl.
10, age of boy in Camden who stands accused of robbing another child at gunpoint for his skateboard.
58 million dollar profit posted in the second quarter by US Airways.
7 percent dip in suburban bus and rail ridership being reported by SEPTA.
2 teens who are believed to have attacked a bicyclist on a Norristown biking/hiking trail. The man fired a gun at the kids, now he faces charges.
20 minute ride on the Market Frankford El that turned into a nightmare for a young mom with a child who reports she was groped by a man who sat next to her and held a knife to her side.
0.4 percent increase in number of crimes reported to state police in 2008, while violent crime is down 1 percent.
10,000 dollar ATM scam believed to be the work of a woman who targeted patrons at the new Sands Casino in Bethlehem.
19, age of suspect charged in $220,000 watch heist at Boyd’s Men’s Store downtown.
9,000, where the Down Jones industrials finished higher than yesterday, the first time since January. The Dow was up 190 points, to 9,069.29.
6.5 game lead over the Braves in the NL East for the Phils.
15 wins in their last 17 games for the Phils.
8 runs on 9 hits in just 3 and a third innings for Padres starter Kevin Correia.
9.5 runs per game, what the Phils have averaged in Cole Hamels’ six wins this year.
0 hits, 0 runs, 0 errors for Mark Burhrle of the White Sox in hurling a perfect game yesterday against the Rays.

*
Call me a Phanatic: A look at the ups and downs of being a Philadelphia sports fan.The Phils go right back to work and start another win streak in crushing the Padres. J.A. Happ goes to the mound tonight. No doubt the Blue Jays will be paying close attention.
*
I Don’t Get It: What do you think the chances are that former N.J. state Sen. Wayne Bryant gets the same kind of justice that was doled out to former Pa. Sen. Vince Fumo?
*
Today’s Upper: There will be no work stoppage in Interboro. Both the district’s teachers and school board have now signed off on a new contract.
*
Quote Box: “The biggest nightmare my whole career was baby deaths.”
- Former Delaware County Medical Examiner Dr. Dimitri Contostavlos, on the difficulty of reaching a definitive cause of death in such cases.

Another discussion on race

Glad to see we’ve resolved all our differences about race in this country.

Yeah, right.

I wrote about this last week in my print column. I indicated I was somewhat taken aback at the tone of the comments that were being posted on our Web site. The fact of the matter is, too many of them were little more than racist drivel. We can delete those we find objectionable. That usually infuriates the commenters, who accuse us of being censors, Nazis or worse. Tough.

They are dealing with a similar situation in Philadelphia, where members of the Guardian Civic League representing black police officers sued a Web site that they alleged was littered with racist comments, some of them posted by other officers. This was men and women in blue talking blue.

Earlier this week the group racheted up the pressure, seeking an injunction to ban officers from using the site while on duty and to have the site shut down.

It appears they got their wish. It looks like the lights have been turned out on the site, domelights.com. The site currently is displaying a message that says, “Until further notice, all services have been suspended.” The site is not an official city site, but it is believed to be administered by a city police sergeant. It is popular with city police officers.

The site may be shut down, but the ripple effects are still being felt.

The president of the Guardian Civic League now has been the target of threats. Rochelle Bilal now has her own security detail while the threats are being investigated.

We’ve elected a black president, but we still struggle when it comes to race.

Speaking of President Obama, he has his own race issues. Instead of being knee-deep in the discussion about health care, instead he’s talking about the arrest of a distinguished black Harvard professor.

Professor Henry Louis Gates Jr. wound up in handcuffs last week after an officer arrived at his home responding to a report of a burglary. Gates and his limo driver, both black, were trying to force open his front door, which was jammed. A neighbor apparently called it in as a possible break-in.

When the officer arrived, Gates was already inside his house. He showed his Harvard ID and driver’s license as proof of residency.

He did not obey the officer’s order to step outside. Words were exchanged, became heated, and Gates wound up being ushered away in handcuffs, charged with disorderly conduct.

Now the nation is discussing the way black men are treated, and whether or not there is an assumption of guilt, as opposed to a constitutional right to the presumption of innocence until proven guilty.

Then President Obama threw a little gas on the fire during his nationally televised, prime time press conference the other night when he described the Cambridge police as “acting stupidly.”

Probably not the best choice of words.

The officer is something of an expert on racial profiling, so much so that he was hand-picked by his black boss to instruct recruits on how to avoid just such labels.

His friends and fellow officers – black and white – are standing behind him.

For his part, Obama seems a bit taken aback by the controversy, and has moved to temper his remarks.

I don’t know why he would be surprised. This is about race.

We’ve elected a black man commander-in-chief. That does not mean we’ve solved the race issue in this country.

Bryant vs. Fumo

What do you think the chances are that longtime New Jersey state senator and political powerbroker is wishing he could be going before federal Judge Ronald Buckwalter this morning?

Bryant will be in court in Trenton to be sentenced for his convictions on bribery and pension fraud charges. He could be looking at up to 10 years in prison.

His counterpart across the river, the former powerful state Sen. Vince Fumo, got a break when he appeared before Buckwalter.

Prosecutors were seeking 15 years in prison for Fumo, who had been convicted of all 137 counts against him connected to ripping off the Senate and a couple of non-profits of millions of dollars.

But Fumo had a slew of political and civic heavyweights write letters asking the judge to show mercy and consider Fumo’s long public service.

It worked. Buckwalter veered away from even his own guideline and sentenced Fumo to just 55 months in prison. This week he did likewise for Fumo’s partner in crime, trusted aide Ruth Arnao. She got a year and a day in jail.

Bryant might not be that lucky. And if he’s not, what kind of message does that send? Is there in fact two different kinds of justice, one for white collar criminals in New Jersey, and another for those in Pennsylvania?

It will be very interesting to see what kind of sentence Bryant receives.

Phils rain on Padres

Didn’t take long for the Phils to get back on track and start a new winning streak.

All it took was the arrival of a dog-tired Padres team.

The Padres played an afternoon game Wednesday in San Diego, then flew across the country for a weekend series in D.C. with the Nationals. But once they got to D.C. they piled into a train and headed north to make up a game with the Phils that got rained out back in the spring.

Then the Phils rained hits on Padres starter Kevin Correia. He only went three and a third, giving up eight runs on nine hits, his shortest outing in 20 starts this year.

It was the Phils 15th win in their last 17 games, and puts them six and a half up on the second place Braves.

The Cardinals are in town for the weekend.

Wise Guy

This morning sports fans are all talking about Mark Buehrle. They’re probably not as familiar with DeWayne Wise. And that’s too bad.

The White Sox pitcher achieved perfection yesterday. He retired 27 straight Tampa Bay Rays. No runs, no hits, no errors. Hell, no baserunners.

But it wouldn’t have happened without Wise. Or, I suppose, White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen.

Guillen inserted Wise in center field in the ninth inning for defensive purposes. It didn’t take long for Guillen to look like a genius, and Wise to win the award for best performance in a supporting role.

Wise likely wasn’t even warmed up when the Rays’ Gabe Kapler led off the ninth with a rocket to left-center. This one had home run written all over it. That’s when Wise got involved. On a dead sprint, he leaped at the wall, extended his glove over the 8-foot expanse, and snared the shot. He turned a home run into an out, and preserved Buehrle’s date with history.

But he was not done. On the way down, Wise actually juggled the ball before snaring it with his bare hand.

Buehrle retired the final two batters easily.

It was the 18th perfect game in Major League Baseball history, and the first since Randy Johnson uncorked one back in 2004.

And it was made possible by a perfect defensive play. “Wise” decision by that Ozzie Guillen.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

The Daily Numbers

The Daily Numbers: 2 children that Aaron Michael told friends he killed, just moments before he was killed in confrontation with Chester police.
67 counties across Pennsylvania visited by U.S. Rep. Joe Sestak as he continues to lay groundwork for run against Sen. Arlen Specter for Dem nomination.
55 percent to 23 percent lead for Specter over Sestak in a recent Quinnipiac University poll.
45 to 44 percent margin for Specter in a general election race against Republican Pat Toomey, according to same poll.
146,000 dollars in bonuses over several years that former Radnor Manager David Bashore paid himself.
5 more contestants eliminated at last night’s Delco Idol competition. That leaves 15 still in running.
6.3 percent dip in median home sale prices in the Philadelphia region in the first six months of 2009, according to Prudential Fox & Roach.
2.53 a gallon, what we’re paying for gas in Philly region. That’s down another penny.
6,495 bags of heroin seized during a car stop in Wilmington.
10,000 dollars in damage done by vandals who “turfed” several youth soccer fields in Kirkwood, Del. That comes the day after vandals did $100,000 in damages to an elementary school.
400 speeding citations issued by police in Delaware as they continue their crackdown on aggressive drivers.
8 days after a woman driver struck a teen riding his bike at a Bryn Mawr intersection and no word on her ID. The boy is recovering.
12 million dollar loss posted by Susquehanna Bancshares in 2nd quarter.
2 more Target stores opening in the region this weekend. New stores are set in Cheltenham and Pottstown, and will employ 365 workers.
30 months in prison for a roofer who pleaded guilty to a kickback scheme involving work at Gwynedd-Mercy College.
88 million dollar jackpot up for grabs Saturday night in the Powerball drawing after no one hit Wednesday night.
2,000 state workers that likely would have been permanently laid off if the Senate GOP budget had been approved, according to Gov. Ed Rendell.
2, age of toddler who was left in back of hot car outside Bucks County day care center. The parents are now suing the center and the owners.
5 felony counts of criminal neglect filed against a woman charged with abusing students who came here under a foreign exchange program.
10 game win streak for the Phils snapped yesterday when the Cubs dropped 10 runs of their own on them.
5 runs on 8 hits over 5 innings surrendered by Phils starter Jamie Moyer.
40 sellouts for the Phils, in 48 home dates so far this year as they have already gone over the 2 million mark for attendance.
28 of July, the deadline imposed by the Blue Jays for offers for their ace, Roy Halladay. The Phils are expected to make an offer.
40 sellouts after this afternoon’s finale with the Cubs.
*
Call me a Phanatic: A look at the ups and downs of being a Philadelphia sports fan.What do you mean we’re not going to win every game the rest of the season? They’re bums. Uh, not exactly.
*
I Don’t Get It: Another tale of cruelty involving an animal. This time it was a defenseless cat targeted by someone with a BB gun. I don’t get it.
*
Today’s Upper: What would we do without these do-gooders telling us everything we eat is bad for us. Now it’s hot dogs. Spare me.
*
Quote Box: “In a 4-month-old, it’s so easy to smother these children and leave no clue. If you can’t prove it, then at best you call it undetermined and leave the door open should further info come forward down the road.”
- Delaware County Medical Examiner, on the death of Lamar Patrick. The boy’s father, Aaron Michael, has now admitted he was responsible for the death of two of his sons.

Searching for answers

Whenever tragedy strikes – especially the punch-in-the-gut kind that was inflicted on families in Ridley and Chester this week - we look for answers.

Surely there must be an explanation for the kind of rage that snuffed out the life of Andrea Arrington, and then drove Aaron Michael to confront Chester police, the same police officers who worked side by side with his father.

We wonder what could have been done to prevent this kind of tragedy.

We want a tidy way to explain the unexplainable.

It doesn’t work that way.

You wonder why Michael wasn’t picked up earlier when he violated the protection from abuse order that Arrington had gotten against him.

Then you learn more about the process and find out that there is truth to that old axiom about the wheels of justice turning slowly. In this case, that was just slow enough.

You wonder about the fact that two children had died previously while in Michael’s care. When you hear that moments before his fatal encounter with Chester police that he had called friends and admitted he was also responsible for their deaths, you wonder why no red flags were raised when the second incident occurred.

Then you learn that there were. And you learn that proving that, from the officers who investigated the case, to the D.A.’s office and the Medical Examiner who could not reach a definitive conclusion, leaving them both “undetermined,” is another matter altogether.

And you’re left to simply shake your head at what happened, at the four lives lost, and the families and communities shaken to their core.

And you ask why, only to realize there is no easy answer.

See Joe Run

The Joe Sestak “I’m Running But I’m Not Ready To Formally Announce It Yet Tour” continued yesterday.

Sestak, who has done everything but announce the fact that he plans to challenge Sen. Arlen Specter for the Democratic nomination, recently visited all 67 counties in Pennsylvania. No doubt part of that was to introduce himself to the residents in the 62 counties who likely have never heard of him.

At the same time, Sestak, who cruised to election for a second term in the Congress, has been fending off some fairly forceful calls by powerful state Democrats – including Gov. Ed Rendell – that he get out of the race.

Sestak doesn’t want to hear it, but Rendell does make one legitimate point.

It took 20 years for Democrats to oust entrenched Republican Curt Weldon from the 7th District Congressional seat. And there are many who believe they still would not have done it without the help of a leaked federal probe and raid on the offices of his daughter and longtime backer that has yet to bring about any criminal charges against any of them.

The fear is that if Sestak vacates the seat to take on Specter, it could fall back under the GOP flag.

State Rep. Bryan Lentz, D-161, has indicated he will run for the seat if Sestak seeks higher office. On the GOP side, attorney Craig Williams, who was drubbed by Sestak in 2008, could take another shot. Montco entrepreneur Steve Welch has already declared he’ll seek the GOP nomination.

So what did Sestak learn on his jaunt across Pennsylvania? Mainly that many Democrats still have serious concerns about both the economy, as well as health care.

Sounds very senatorial.

Sestak says he’ll make his formal announcement in about a month or so, but there’s little doubt that he’s running.

Not exactly music to Specter’s ears. Or a lot of other Dems, both in the state and around the county, either for that matter.

The Birds are back

Anybody remember the Eagles? You know, those guys in the green shirts?
Draw a lot of fans with faces painted green?

Last seen the Birds – and their fans – were melting in the Arizona desert, losing an NFC Championship game most people thought they were going to win, punching their ticket to the Super Bowl.

Since then the town’s been painted red. It’s been all-Phillies, all the time. Don’t think for a moment this has escaped the notice of the folks down at NovaCare nation.

They don’t like being unceremoniously booted off the Back Page.

The Eagles will head back up the Northeast Extension to their training camp at Lehigh University this weekend, and thousands of their loyal zealots will follow them.

Today, the Eagles will show everyone that the Phillies aren’t the only team in town that can sell tickets.

Sure, the Phils have sold out 40 dates at Citizens Bank Park. Today the Eagles will put on sale a limited number of “standing room only” ducats for their home dates at Lincoln Financial Field.

Look for these $55 bargains to go in a matter of minutes.

If it’s mid-July, it must be football season.

Welcome back, guys.

Snap, crackle, plop for Phils

What, did you think they were going to run the table?

The baseball season is a marathon, 162 games long. The fact that the Phils ran off 10 straight wins is a bit of a marvel, even as most of their fans continued to clamor for the team to add an “ace” to their starting rotation.

Less than 24 hours after Jayson Werth stuck a dagger into the Cubs with his 13th inning, walk-off homer, the Cubs returned the favor, knocking off the Phils 10-5 and snapping the Phils 10-game streak.

No doubt on a lot of minds today will once again be the fact that the Cubs smacked five straight hits off Jamie Moyer to jump out to a 4-0 lead in the fourth. The Phils tried to scratch their way back into it, but could get no closer than 5-3. The Cubs touched Phils’ reliever Chad Durbin for three more runs in the seventh and that was more than enough.

The Phils did send Ryan Howard to the plate with the bases loaded in the eighth, but this time there was no game-tying bomb. Howard grounded out.

The Phils will look to start a new streak tonight in the single-game makeup date with the Padres. Then the Cards arrive for the weekend.

None of this will silence the talk about whether or not the Phils should acquire Blue Jays ace Roy Halladay and how much they should be willing to part with to do it.

Outings like the one put up by Moyer yesterday won’t make any of that talk go away.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

The Daily Numbers - July 22

The Daily Numbers: 2 people killed after a Chester man, the son of a city police officer – gunned down his wife and then himself was shot when he confronted a city cop.
2 children that Aaron Michael confessed to being responsible for their deaths in the minutes before he made the fatal decision to confront Chester police.
724,000 dollars being dole out to Philadelphia International Airport in federal stimulus funds to rehabilitate a runway.
45 to 90 years in prison for a man convicted in a brutal Chester home invasion that led to the death of O’Neill Blackwood in front of his wife and kids.
3 employees in Colwyn Borough who have been suspended as controversy continues to roil the tiny town.
1 year and 1 day in jail for Ruth Arnao, the trusted aide to former Sen.
Vince Fumo. Federal prosecutors say they likely will appeal the sentence, which they ague, like the 55 month doled out to Fumo, is too light.
50, age of social worker in Montgomery County who is headed to jail for lying about his credentials when he testified at several criminal cases.
700 million dollar budget hole still staring at city officials in Philadelphia, even after the state agency that oversees their fiscal situation signed off on a 5-year spending plan.
45 to 44 percent lead for Sen. Arlen Specter over Republican challenger Pat Toomey if the 2 square off for Specter’s Senate seat. The good news for Specter is that he still has a comfortable lead of Joe Sestak for the Democratic nomination, according to the latest Quinnipiac Poll.
39 percent of voters who now approve of the job being done by Gov. Ed Rendell. 53 percent say they disapprove. That’s down from the 54 percent backing Rendell got in a Quinnipiac poll in May.
197 to 1 vote in state House to extend jobless benefits to state residents whose lifeline is expiring. That includes 760 people in Delco.
The move is now stalled in a Senate committee.
100 million dollar ‘Philly Live’ entertainment and shopping center that is envisioned for the spot where the Spectrum now stands at the South Philly complex. The plans were unveiled to city planners yesterday.
300 days a year when there is an event scheduled at one of the South Philly sports palaces, according to the Cordish Company, which is developing the site.
100,000 dollars in damage done to a school in Delaware by rampaging vandals.
1 suspect slain and 2 officers injured last night in Olney when police confronted a man who was exposing himself on the street. He was shot and killed when he tried to grab an officer’s gun.
2 teens killed in 2 separate shootings in South Philly last night.
3,000 dollars stolen from a safe in a Rite Aid store in South Philly during a recent holdup.
94,000 dollars awarded to the University of Delaware to battle avian flu.
20, age of University of Delaware coed Lindsey Bonistall, who was raped and murdered back in 2005. The state Supreme Court overturned the conviction of her killer and ordered a new trial.
48 million dollars up for grabs in Friday night’s Mega Millions jackpot after no one hit Tuesday night.
9 women who took the stand yesterday against a man charged with 14 robberies in Northeast Philadelphia.
5 percent cut in pay for execs at Harrah’s Entertainment. 15 percent cut for managers making more than $150,000 at Wynn Resorts.
10 straight wins for the Phillies after Jayson Werth’s dramatic walk-off homer in the 13th inning last night lifted them to 4-1 win over Cubs.
18 years, how long it’s been since the Phils won 10 in a row. Their all-time record is 13 in a row back in 1991.
21 home runs for Werth, but it’s his 1st career walk-off homer.
7 solid innings for starter Joe Blanton, and scoreless work from 4 relievers, including 3 innings from Chan Ho Park.
39 sellouts for the Phils, who have already gone over the 2 million mark for attendance this year.
40 sellouts after this afternoon’s finale with the Cubs.
*
Call me a Phanatic: A look at the ups and downs of being a Philadelphia sports fan.Anyone remember that the Eagles start training camp Sunday? Oh, how things have changed. Who ever would have thought the Eagles would be an afterthought. The Phillies are painting the town red.
*
I Don’t Get It: One year and one day for Ruth Arnao. I don’t get it, just as I didn’t get 55 months for her boss, Vince Fumo.
*
Today’s Upper: Admittedly, I don’t like this unusually cool, wet summer weather. Then again, I have to admit I don’t mind not running the air conditioner. Or paying the bill.
*
Quote Box: “She was very strong. She fought ‘til the very end.”
- Audra Thornton-Arrington, mother of shooting victim Andrea Arrington.

The Aaron Michael case

As we tracked the horrific, incredibly sad details yesterday in the wake of the carnage that followed Aaron Michael, we were struck by three overriding sentiments.

One was, after learning that Michael, the son of a Chester police officer, had used his father’s service revolver in what amounted to an execution of his estranged girlfriend outside her Ridley home, then went home and wound up in a confrontation with Chester police – his father’s colleagues – that wound up with him being shot to death, that the story couldn’t possibly get worse.

We were wrong.

At an afternoon press conference, District Attorney G. Michael Green indicated that in the minutes before he walked out of his Chester home to confront officers, Michael had called several friends and admitted he was responsible for the deaths of two sons.

Lamar Patrick, 4, died on Sept. 29, 2005. Another son, Alijah Townes, just 4 months old, died July 21, 2007. That would have been exactly two years ago yesterday.

The second was just how incredibly sad all of this was. Michael, 29, was the son of a Chester officer. Ironically, it was a Chester officer who fired a single shot at him when he raised a gun and pointed it at officers.

The third is a haunting feeling that this could have been prevented.

Michael was not a stranger to the law. He had once pleaded guilty to theft charges. He was acquitted back in March 2002 of indecent assault and voluntary deviate sexual intercourse.

Then there was his volatile relationship with Andrea Arrington. Their relationship apparently had gone south, and she obtained a protection from abuse order on July 2. It is also believed that after Michael became violent, she had sought help from Michael’s father.

Michael apparently violated the protection from abuse order on July 14.
A warrant was issued for his arrest the next day. That is six days before he confronted her outside her home on Constitution Avenue Monday night and pumped 12 bullets into her. A mortally wounded Arrington, who earned honors at Delaware County Community College while holding down a full-time job, managed to tell police it was Michael who had attacked her. Her dream of attending Temple University to major in communications ended a few hours later when she succumbed at Crozer Chester Medical Center.

Arrington learned something too many victims of abuse face, that a protection from abuse order very often does not stop a person intent on doing them harm.

Finally, there is the previous deaths of Michael’s two sons. Both cases had been ruled “undetermined” by the Delaware County Medical Examiner’s Office. Green yesterday stressed there was no indication of trauma in the two boys’ deaths. He added, however, that both mothers were suspicious of Michael’s role in their deaths. Michael was questioned in both cases, but no evidence was found linking him to the deaths, according to Green. Both cases are now being reviewed in light of the new admission by Michael.

Four people dead. Several families torn apart. And a police department shaken to its core by the agonizing - but necessary – decision to used deadly force against the son of one of their own.

It’s enough to leave you shaking your head, and wondering if anything else could have been done to stop Aaron Michael’s murderous rage.

Rendell vs. Sestak

Joe Sestak, meet Ed Rendell.

Maybe you remember him. Governor of Pennsylvania. Leader of state Democrats.

He’s been a little tied up with this state budget thing recently, but he’s been keeping tabs on your idea of running against Sen. Arlen Specter for the Democratic nomination in 2010.

Here’s a hint. He’s not thrilled about it. A little while back he was wondering what you were thinking of and said you would get annihilated by the longtime senator.

Yesterday he was at it again.

The governor again is making it clear he wants you out of the race. It sounds an awful lot like a demand.

In a radio interview, Rendell couched his comments by saying Sestak is needed in the House, and offering concern about whether Democrats could hold the 7th District Congressional seat if Sestak vacated it to tangle with Specter.

Sestak, who has yet to actually formally announce his Senate run (although he’s done just about everything else), fired right back. He maintained he’s upholding the long tradition of rising to a steep challenge.

“The people of Pennsylvania don’t want to hear that someone won’t face a challenge because it is too difficult,” his spokesman said in a statement. “We should demand more from our leaders.”

Doesn’t sound like he’s going away anytime soon.

Sestak is holding a conference call this afternoon to talk about his recent 67-county jaunt across Pennsylvania to introduce himself to the huge group of voters who have never heard of him.

Don’t look for a formal announcement just yet, however. Not that Ed Rendell is holding his breath waiting for it.

The Phils are on fire

Somebody call 911. The Phillies are on fire.

One night after blowing out the Cubs, 10-1, in an offensive onslaught, the Phils proved they can do more than occasionally bludgeon an opponent into submission.

Instead, the Phils got strong pitching from starter Joe Blanton and a series of relievers in holding the Cubs to a single run.

The problem was that the night after they put double digits on the board, the Phils could only muster a single run themselves.

And that’s the way it stood – right up until Jayson Werth stepped into the batter’s box with two men on in the 13th inning.

Game-winning, walk-off, three-run dinger. It was the first walk-off homer of Werth’s career.

That’s 10 straight wins for the red-hot Phils.

Winning’s not the only consistent aspect of what’s going on down at Citizens Bank Park. So is the dizzying motion of the turnstiles.

The place was packed again last night. Somebody forgot to tell Phillies’
fans there is a recession going on.

There were 45,214 “phan-atics” jammed into the park last night. That makes 39 sellouts so far this year in 47 home games. They have now surpassed the 2 million mark in attendance. Last year they drew more than 3 milion and appear well on their way to shattering that mark this season.

No doubt this afternoon’s finale with the Cubbies will make it an even 40 sellouts. Fans are even gobbling up the standing-roon-only tickets for most home games.

The Phils continue to lead the NL East by 6 and a half games. Their pitching looks solid, their hitting timely. And we haven’t even mentioned the name of Roy Halladay yet.

It’s enough to make you forget the Eagles start training camp Sunday in Allentown.

There was a time when Lehigh became the place to be as soon as the Eagles hit town.

Not anymore.

All eyes are on Citizens Bank Park.

Mother Nature hasn’t provided much in the way of heat this unusually cool summer. The Phils are intent on supplying plenty of their own.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

The Daily Numbers - July 21

The Daily Numbers: 2 people shot – at least 1 fatally – last night in an incident that started in Ridley Township and ended up in Chester.
2 to 5 years in jail for Lemuel Payne for the hit-run death of Ridley teen Faith Sinclair last August.
250 dollars in peaches stolen from a tree out in Edgmont Township.
That’s one hungry thief. And it’s certainly not peachy.
2 people, a father and son, who escaped injury when fire broke out in their Brookhaven home Monday.
755,000 dollars in office supplies at the heart of conflict of interest charges filed against an employee of the U.S. Mint from Upper Darby.
10,000 dollars in donations that have come in to help keep the doors of the historic Darby Free Library open. It is still far short of the $30,000 goal.
70 to 81 months in prison, what federal prosecutors are seeking today for Ruth Arnao, who was convicted along with former Sen. Vince Fumo. He got 55 months. It’s more likely she’ll get something like 30 to 55 months.
27 percent of the Pa. voters who approve of the job being done by the state Legislature, which finds itself mired in still another budget impasse. Gov. Ed Rendell’s rating has sunk to 39 percent.
1 woman killed when fire broke out at a Bala Cynwyd high-rise condo yesterday. The woman was trapped on the 10th floor.
18,000 Pennsylvanians losing their jobless benefits as an extension remains stalled in Harrisburg.
400,000 believed ripped off from a Philly charter school by a former city detective who was an exec at the school. He entered a plea in the case Monday.
2 Atlantic City casinos that are vowing to hire replacement workers to keep the doors open should dealers vote to strike this week.
30,000 dollars in cash police say was stolen from the Lord & Taylor store in the King of Prussia Mall by a former employee. They say he stuffed the money in a couple of bags, then got on a SEPTA bus to make his getaway. He didn’t get very far.
2 Chester County businessmen who pleaded guilty in fed court yesterday for their role in illegal clinical trials involving use of a bone cement.
3 men charged in a $1 million jewel heist that left a policeman dead in New York.
2.54 per gallon, average price at the pump in the region after prices dipped another penny overnight. It’s even cheaper elsewhere in the state, at $2.48 on average.
50 percent decline in venture capital reported during the spring. It’s the 2nd straight quarter for a 50 percent decline.
6 strong innings for Rodrigo Lopez last night, leading the Phils to a 10-1 win over the Cubs.
9 straight wins for the Phils, and 13th win in their last 14 games.
3 run homer in the first by Raul Ibanez to get the party started. That’s 25 for him; Ryan Howard hit his 24th later in the game.
*
Call me a Phanatic: A look at the ups and downs of being a Philadelphia sports fan.The din is getting louder every day. Don’t expect it to die down before the July 31 trade deadline. Until then, we’re all going to be on the Roy Halladay watch, this despite that the Phillies have now won 9 straight.
*
I Don’t Get It: Please tell me it is not possible for Ruth Arnao to get more time in jail than her mentor, former Pa. Sen. Vince Fumo.
*
Today’s Upper: A big thumb’s up to comedian Tyler Perry, who is paying to send those kids from the Creative Steps camp who were booted from a Huntingdon Valley swim club to Disney World.
*
Quote Box: “Mr. Payne, I forgive you.”
- Kim Ferrell, mother of hit-run victim Faith Sinclair, to the man who took her daughter’s life as he was sentenced yesterday.

Honoring Faith

Lemuel Payne yesterday was sentenced yesterday to two to five years in jail for his role in the hit-run death of Faith Sinclair.

Kim Ferrell continues to deal with her sentence – a lifetime of pain.

Ferrell is Faith Sinclair’s mother. Since the life of her daughter was snuffed out as she tried to cross Chester Pike last August by the driver of a black Mercedes who then fled the scene, Ferrell has been a model of restraint, of empathy, and of understanding.

Yesterday she took that to a whole new level.

Ferrell was joined by her husband and many of Faith’s friends – they all wore special T-shirts saluting the vibrant teen – in shedding tears as they talked about what they had lost.

Then she did something I’m not sure many people would do. I know I doubt if I would find it in myself to do it. I’d like to think I could, but the truth is I’m not sure.

Kim Ferrell looked into the eyes of Lemuel Payne, the man who took the life of her daughter, and uttered three simple words.

“I forgive you.”

She’s a better person than I am. Maybe we could all be just a little more like her.

That would maybe be the most appropriate way to honor the life of a teen taken way too soon, and a mother who mourns her loss, while carrying on the way Faith no doubt would her to.

Justice for Ruth Arnao

How’s this one for irony.

Ruth Arnao will be sentenced in federal court today. She is the aide convicted along with longtime powerbroker and former Pa. Sen. Vince Fumo.

Arnao was one of his closest and most trusted aides.

Recently she has filed papers in court saying she now realizes her devotion to Fumo crossed the line and that she knows she did wrong. She told the court she was unable to go against the wishes of her mentor.

She was convicted, as was Fumo, of all the charges brought against her.
She went down on 45 counts, including conspiracy, fraud and obstructing justice.

For her loyalty to Fumo, Arnao could conceivably be sentenced today to more time in jail than her boss.

Federal Judge Ronald Buckwalter sentenced Fumo to 55 months, setting off howls of protest that it was not enough and sent the wrong message to those involved in white-collar crime and public corruption.

Federal prosecutors are seeking a sentence of 70 to 81 months for Arnao.

It would hard to fathom that she could actually bet more time behind bars than Fumo. It’s unlikely that she will.

It certainly would not be just, almost as unjust as the 55 months doled out to Fumo.

Not cool, Jack


Everyone knows that Citizens Bank Park is now the place to be in the summer in Philly.

It’s a destination point. Party Central. And, by the way, they also play baseball games there.

Last night it became official. Citizens Bank Park received the ultimate emblem of a place that has arrived.

Jack Nicholson was in the house. Now that’s cool. The star was right there in his field box. You almost expected a Lakers game to break out.

Nicholson is in town to film a movie.

Only one problem. Nicholson was wearing a white Yankees hat.

What’s up with that?

Yo, Jack. This is Philly. We don’t do Yankees.

Last night as you might expect, the Phanatic got into the act, doing a takeoff on Nicholson’s Riddler character from the “Batman” movies. And Nicholson went along with the joke. Of course, the Phanatic did not dump a box of popcorn on Nicholson, as he sometimes does with fans wearing the attire of other teams.

That would not be cool. Neither is that Yankees’ cap, Jack.

A call to arms for Phils

Somebody better tell the Phillies they need Roy Halladay to become a serious contender to defend their World Series crown.

These guys almost seem intent on shouting, “We ain’t exactly chopped liver.”

The red-hot Phils made it nine wins in a row last night by torching the Cubs, 9-1.

And once again they teamed solid hitting and effective pitching. This time it was Rodrigo Lopez on the hill. Lopez threw six effective innings, giving up five hits and just one run. By that time the game was long over, with the Phils jumping out to a big lead in the first inning on the strength of a three-run bomb from Raul Ibanez.

But don’t expect the din crying out for Halladay to die down anytime before next week’s July 31 trade deadline. Especially if the Blue Jays do not make a move before then.

Add Times’ sports columnist Jack McCaffery to the list of those who believe the Phils should add Halladay to the rotation. Jack makes the solid argument that this core nucleus of Phillies, including Jimmy Rollins, Chase Utley, Ryan Howard have a window of opportunity of being a dynasty. And Jack believes Halladay would be the final piece to that puzzle.

He won’t be the only one. Pedro Martinez also threw a simulated game at their minor league complex in Clearwater yesterday.

For their part, the Phils admit that despite the fact that they have now won 13 of their last 14 games, they are still looking to improve. And that leads to talk of Halladay.

He won’t come cheap. Expect names such as J.A. Happ and young phenom Kyle Drabek to be involved.

Guess you could call it a “Call to Arms.”