Thursday, December 31, 2009

The Daily Numbers - Dec. 31

The Daily Numbers: 5 families chased from their home by gas fumes that enveloped an Aston neighborhood yesterday.
1 man brandishing what he said was a bomb who held up the M&T Bank in Ridley Park yesterday. It turned out the pipe was not explosive. He fled with a dye pack of money.
9,700 dollars ripped off from a state store worker who was headed to the bank in Aston. The suspect shouldn’t be too hard to track. He’s listed at 6-foot-7 and tipping the scales at 400 pounds.
147,000 price tag, what the Mummers have to kick into the city to hold their annual strut up Broad Street.
2.70 a gallon, what we’re paying for gas on average in the Philly region today. That’s as opposed to $1.69, what we were paying last New Year’s.
2 billion dollar shortfall reported in Pa. revenue in the third quarter compared to last year. That won’t help the state’s budget crunch.
16 million dollars being paid by Comcast to settle a class-action suit stemming from the cable company’s disruption of peer-to-peer networks.
50,000 cash bail for a Pottstown teen who has now been charged in a deadly crash in which 2 other teens were killed.
25 million dollar Powerball jackpot Saturday night. No one hit on Wednesday.
1 off-duty Philadelphia police officer wounded, 1 friend killed in a hold-up try that turned deadly in the Hunting Park section of the city last night.
18, as in No. 18 Temple, which held off Northern Illinois last night.
They face No. 1 Kansas on Saturday at the Liacouras Center.
3 goals for Simon Gagne for the hat trick as the Flyers routed the Rangers in New York last night, 6-0.
4 straight wins for the Flyers, who are in Boston for the Winter Classic at Fenway Park on Friday afternoon.
2 fireworks celebrations that will ring in the new year in Philly.
Call me a Phanatic: A look at the ups and downs of being a Philadelphia sports fan.The Flyers in the Winter Classic; Penn State going bowling; Temple tangling with No. 1 Kansas and the Eagles and Cowboys. Sounds like quite the sports weekend to kick off a new year.
I Don’t Get It: Investigators now say they believe hundreds of animals may have been sacrificed in a Philadelphia house where remains have been found. I don’t get it.

Today’s Upper: Kudos again to Rep. Bob Brady, who as usual was in the thick of things as the Mummers hammered out a deal with the city over finances involved with their annual strut up Broad Street.

Quote Box: “Obviously, we want to err on the side of caution because we
are dealing with a petroleum product.”
- Aston Fire Marshal Sean Joyce, investigating gas leak in the township.

Birds vs. 'Boys

In case you haven’t heard, the Eagles and Cowboys will get together for a little party Sunday afternoon.

I hate to admit it, but I don’t have a good feeling about this game.

Maybe this is the game that Donovan McNabb and Andy Reid will make a believer out of me. I have had my doubts about them all year, their recent win streak not withstanding.

The Birds have a lot riding on this game. Win and they become a legitimate Super Bowl contender, with a week off and playing at home against everyone but the Saints.

Lose and they will find themselves trudging right back to Dallas the next week for a Wild Card game. The Super Bowl will be a streach at that point.

I’ll make my pick on Saturday, as usual. Just don’t say I didn’t warn you.

A welcome change in attitude

Maybe, just maybe, the message is starting to get through.

Police earlier this week announced they had a suspect in the double-shooting that left one man dead and one badly injured in Chester.

They are now seeking Angus Richardson, of Chester. He remains on the lam.

They got the name because of what they are calling “extensive” witness cooperation.

It is the second time the public has come forward to provide information in a deadly Chester shooting.

Back in November, police also got information that led to the arrest of two teens in the stray bullet case the snuffed out the life of Kathy Ann “Kat” Stewart.

Maybe the tide is turning. Maybe the “no-snitching” culture that is so deeply rooted in too many communities is starting to crumble.

Now if only more residents, in more towns would get on board.

They can start by telling authorities where Richardson is so he can be brought to justice.

That’s what this is all about, after all.

Farewell to 2009

I don’t make New Year’s resolutions.

For the most part for the same reason I’m not very adept at giving up things for Lent.

If I was, I would have stopped cursing long ago. As anyone who spends any time in our newsroom can tell you, that is not the case.

Still, it is the last day of the year, and I suppose it calls for some kind of review of the past 365 days.

Here’s mine: Good riddance!

In case you have not realized it, I work in the newspaper business. This year has not been kind to us. We all too often found ourselves writing and reading stories about our industry. Not many of them were positive.

The words were repeated again and again: Cuts, layoffs, downsizing, price hikes.

Battered by an economy that was doing its best Titanic imitation, the newspaper industry took its lumps in 2009.

But the economy is showing signs it may have some life in it yet. I think the same will be said of newspapers, especially ones like ours that focus on local issues.

So let’s raise a glass one final time to kiss 2009 goodbye.

See you in 2010.

Please keep reading, both in print and online. We need all of them we can get!

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

The Daily Numbers - Dec. 30

The Daily Numbers: 17 to 35 more years in jail for John Worman for his despicable actions in a child sex and porn ring.
2 people shot after an argument ended in gunfire in Chester. An arrest warrant has been issued for a suspect in the case.
52 hours a week, how much the public library in Haverford will be open next year. That’s down from this year’s 53 hours. You guessed it. Budget cuts.
2 million dollars bail for the pastor in Darby charged in the Christmas Day fatal shooting of his son.
155,000 dollars believed ripped off from the Medicaid system by a foot doctor in Wynnewood.
30,000 individuals whose private information may have been breached by a computer hacking incident reported at Penn State.
4 Pa. policemen facing federal charges in connection with the fatal beating of an immigrant who have now resigned their jobs.
10 students suspended in the wake of attacks on Asian students at South Philly High School. The state Human Relations Commission now says it will launch in investigation of the situation.
100 children who could have been victimized by a pediatrician in Lewes, Del., who now faces molestation charges.
3 percent hike in tolls on the Pa. Turnpike that goes into effect on Sunday. It will cost drivers another nickel in most instances.
10,000 dollar reward now offered for information in the hit-run death of an 85-year-old woman last month in Cheltenham.
1,400 dollars, value of stolen puppy that is now back in its cage at a Springfield pet store.
28,000 dollars looted from bogus accounts at a Chester County bank set up by a suspect who stole credit cards.
32, where Philadelphia ranks on the list of most literate cities. That means there are 31 ranked above us in the nation.
2 fireworks celebrations that will ring in the new year in Philly.
36, age of Delco man who used a ruse as a photographer to lure a 20-year-old would-be model to a business where he sexually assaulted her.
6 Eagles named to the Pro Bowl.
1 Eagle who was not but should have been. That would be cornerback Sheldon Brown.
9 wins for Temple under Al Golden. Unfortunately that does not include yesterday’s EagleBank Bowl. The Owls fell.
4:15 start time for Eagles vs. Dallas on Sunday.
Call me a Phanatic: A look at the ups and downs of being a Philadelphia sports fan.What could be better for Eagles fans. A 4:15 game in Dallas with the winner taking the NFC East Crown.
I Don’t Get It: You read the sickening details of the charges filed against John Jackey Worman and you can only shake your head. I don’t get it.

Today’s Upper: Maybe people are starting to get the message. Police announced an arrest warrant for a man tied to a Chester shooting. And they said information from the public was the key to breaking the case.

Quote Box: “Your conduct was hard, appalling, dreadful and horrendous.”
- Delaware County Judge Bary Dozor to child porn ringleader John Worman.

Justice for Worman

It is very unlikely that John Jackey Worman will ever again walk out of prison as a free man.

And that might be too soon.

Worman, already looking at spending the rest of his life in jail for the almost incomprehensible child porn ring he headed, was back in court in Delaware County yesterday.

He pleaded guilty to several charges of raping the children involved in his sadistic pursuits.

He will be sentenced in March by Delaware County Judge Barry Dozor. That time will be heaped on top of the time he earned via his convictions in federal court.

Delco prosecutors decided to push the local charges as a hedge that Worman will never again see the light of day.


That kind of darkness, that kind of evil, should never again walk among us.

In court yesterday Worman seemed more interested in how soon he could get back to federal prison.

Not soon enough.

Our fine feathered friends

If we’re counting down the last few days of the year, that can mean only one thing to any red-blooded resident of the Philadelphia area.

Time to strut.

But the last couple of years, a little bit of the glow of the annual Mummers Parade up Broad Street has been diminished by the city’s financial crunch.

Last year city officials let it be known that the Mummers would be on the hook for any costs incurred by the city.

This year it was expected to be the same song, if not the same strut.

Never fear. City officials and representatives from the Mummers are planning a news conference for noon at which they will lay out the deal that will allow the strutting to go on uninterrupted again this year.

Imagine a New Year’s Day without the Mummers?

Like them or loathe them, the Mummers are one of the quintessential Philly events. Like the cheese steak and hating the Dallas Cowboys, the Mummers are in our blood.

Welcome back, our fine feathered friends.

Birds vs. 'Boys

It doesn’t get much better than this for Eagles’ fans.

Birds vs. Boys. 4:15 Sunday in Jerry Jones’ gazillion-dollar new playpen in Texas. Yeah, the new one with the old hole in the roof.

Winner takes the NFC East crown. If the Eagles win, they also will capture the No. 2 seed in the NFC, meaning they would get a week off before the playoffs and would play at home against anyone but the Saints.

Start beating the drums.

And just for a little more flavor, six Birds yesterday were named to the NFC Pro Bowl team, led by all-everything DeSean Jackson. He actually made it in two different positions, wide receiver and punt returner.

Bring on the Cowboys!

Hoot, Owls!

No, Temple did not with the EagleBank Bowl game yesterday. They actually were up at the half before watching as UCLA roared back in the second half for a 30-21 victory.

The loss does nothing to diminish what the Owls did this year. The fact that Temple was “bowling” at all is testament to just how far this program has come under Al Golden.

Temple’s biggest challenge moving ahead may not be getting back to a bowl game.

It just might be keeping Golden, who no doubt will be tempted with lucrative offers to take over bigger programs.

Hoot, Owls!

Saturday, December 26, 2009

The dreaded Saturday Eagles pick

Call it The Homecoming.

The is the game the Eagles' faithful have had circled on the calendar ever since the NFL schedule came out. I'm still trying to figure out how exactly the poobahs who run the NFL and the TV networks managed to NOT make this a prime time affair.

Brian Dawkins will jog onto the very familiar turf of Lincoln Financial Field, only wearing that garish orange of the Denver Broncos.

It likely will provide one of those special Philadelphia sports moments, and one of the highlights of the NFL season.

It should also provide another win for the Birds, their sixth in a row. I don't see Dawkins and the Broncos' defense stopping the Eagles offensive juggernaut, led by second-year superstar DeSean Jackson.

Once the emotions die down, look for the Birds to use their quick-strike capability to corral Dawkins and the Broncos.

Just for good measure, the Eagles also will get running back Brian Westbrook for the game, looking to get him at least some action as they head for the postseason. Westbrook is recovering from two concussions and has been cleared to play.

Make it Eagles 29, Broncos 24.

Last Week: I did not expect the 49ers to travel across the country after playing on a Monday night and beat the Eagles. They didn't disappoint. Now it's the Broncos' turn to fly across the country and land in Lincoln Financial Field. I don't expect the result to be much different. It will be close, but the Birds will win it.

Season Record: 10-4, I'm sticking with the Birds. Now I can start thinking about the Cowboys with the NFC East crown on the line next Sunday.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

A holiday break

The Heron's Nest is taking a few days off to celebrate Christmas with his family.

I wish you nothing but the best of the holiday season and a great 2010.

Keep reading, we need all of them we can get!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

The Daily Numbers - Dec. 22

The Daily Numbers: 7 year veteran of Ridley Township police who was fired and will face charges in connection with an assault case.
1 person shot outside a church in Brookhaven Monday night.
85,000 students in the Milwaukee School District. Chester Upland CEO Gregory Thornton is being considered for the top job there.
63, age of woman rescued from fire in Brookhaven Monday.
3 dollars per household increase in taxes in Darby Borough to keep the oldest library in the U.S. open.
5 million dollars for Piasecki Aircraft for development and testing of the Vectored Thrust Ducted Propeller helicopter.
9 wine kiosks to open in Delaware County supermarkets by the LCB, part of 100 across the state.
96 percent of city streets plowed in Philadelphia, according to city officials, despite complaints from many residents that their streets have yet to see a plow.
0 tax hike in Montgomery County, which approved its 2010 budget yesterday.
16 young victims now believed to have been sexually assaulted by a pediatrician in Lewes, Del.
16, age of teen in Wilmington who was shot as he made his way to go sledding.
2,000 Pa. inmates who are being shipped to venues outside the state.
24 hours a day through Christmas, the store hours for the Macy’s at Cherry Hill Mall in Jersey.
3 hours, maximum time an airline is to idle on airport tarmac, under new rules adopted by the feds yesterday.
14 losses in their last 17 games for the Flyers.
2-7-1, their record since dumping John Stevens and bringing in Peter Laviolette behind the bench.
9-9-2, the Flyers’ record at home this year.
2-8-1, their record so far in December.
104 career shutouts for Devils’ goaltender Martin Brodeur, who set all-time NHL record last night.
2,000 wins for the Kentucky basketball program, which they reached last night by drubbing Drexel, 88-44.
Call me a Phanatic: A look at the ups and downs of being a Philadelphia sports fan.Here we go again. The Eagles are again talking about putting Brian Westbrook back on the field Sunday against the Broncos. I wish they wouldn’t. How heart-breaking would it be if he suffered another concussion at the hands of his former teammate Brian Dawkins?
I Don’t Get It: While everyone is complaining in Philadelphia about plowing the streets, what was done and what wasn’t, no one in a city that is broke is talking about the cost and how to pay for it.
Today’s Upper: Kudos to Ridley Township Police Capt. Charles Howley, who talked about a very difficult issue in his department yesterday, with a veteran officer fired and facing charges.
Quote Box: “He had some personal problems unbeknownst to many members of this department, and I think his life kind of imploded upon itself.”
- Ridley Police Capt. Charles Howley, in wake of firing of veteran officer who now faces charges in an alleged assault.

Copping an attitude in Ridley

Our critics, those who believe we cower in the face of the powers that be in Delaware County, may be surprised by today’s front page.

They are the ones who complain non-stop that we are in the pocket of the authorities, including the police, who enforce the laws in this county.

Nowhere is that feeling more vehement than in Ridley Township.

Ever since word broke last week that a township officer was under investigation in connection with an alleged assault against a Wawa clerk, I have been under siege with e-mails, voice-mails and complaints ripping the newspaper for not doing more with the story.

We printed an item last Saturday laying out the initial details of the allegation. Granted, it did not paint a pretty picture. No one was talking about the case. Ridley Township police were not commenting. A spokesman for the District Attorney’s office confirmed only that an incident had occurred and it was being reviewed.

That did not quell those in the community looking for blood.

Today all the details are laid out in the paper, including being splashed all over our front page. The officer has been fired. Criminal charges have been lodged against him. He apparently is getting some professional help for the issues he’s dealing with.

The details of the incident are ugly. Just as ugly has been the reaction by some in the community.

Ridley Police Capt. Charles Howley discussed the incident in detail on Monday. It’s not a pretty picture. It’s also not one Howley shied away from or tried to cover up. He dealt with it head-on.

According to the affidavit of probable cause, the off-duty officer struck a Wawa clerk several times after an argument erupted when she asked for ID when he tried to buy chewing tobacco.

There also is a clear indication of a threat lodged against the clerk.

If proven true, it’s conduct that is reprehensible in general, even more so for a police officer.

But to hear from some in the community, it’s standard procedure in Ridley.

They see blood in the water, and they are attacking.

I doubt today’s front page and story will quell that. We’ll still be in the pocket of the Ridley cops. Afraid to print anything critical of police in general, Ridley in particular.

That’s not why we did the story today. We did it because it was important, a police officer being fired from his job and facing criminal charges.

We don’t back away from controversial issues. And we don’t knuckle under to the anonymous complaints from readers bashing us, the police, and anyone who doesn’t see things their way, either.

A holiday whine

The good folks at the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board have glad tidings for us at this festive time of the year.

The LCB is one of my pet peeves. Basically, all I want for Christmas is to push the plunger that would blow up the LCB, get the state out of the business of selling wine and spirits and move the whole thing over to private enterprise.

That isn’t going to happen anytime soon. We’ll have to settle for small gains.

Hey, I can not buy a six-pack of beer in Wegman’s. Joy to the World!

Now, I’m also going to be able to buy wine in kiosks. The LCB is announcing its plan to set up kiosks that will sell wine in supermarkets. There will be 100 of them sprinkled across the state, including 9 spots here in Delco.

I suppose this is progress. But it’s not what I want.

I want to be able to walk into Wawa and grab a six-pack from a cold case near the checkout line.

I’d like to be able to walk into a supermarket and buy beer, wine, liquor, soda and ice all in one spot, along with all the munchies my heart desires. And stick it all in my cart and pay for it in one trip through the checkout line with the rest of the groceries.

Maybe next year.

Rendell making the grade?

Gov Ed. Rendell, fresh off a 100-day budget debacle and still waiting for the Legislature to sign off on expanding legalized gambling in the state, has issued a report card for himself and our fine elected representatives.

“On process, I would give both the General Assembly and myself an F,”
Rendell said.

He’ll get no argument here.

Orange & Black? Black & Blue

There is good news and bad news on the sports pages.

Relax, this is not going to be another rant against Andy Reid and Donovan McNabb. I am fully aware that the Birds have now won five in a row and have locked up a playoff spot.

The Eagles are the good news.

The bad news is that eventually (OK, the cynic in me says it will come earlier rather than later), their season will end.

That leaves us with the Sixers and Flyers.

The orange and black were left black and blue again last night as they appeared lifeless – and nearly hopeless – after being scorched by the Panthers, 4-1.

They have now lost 14 of their last 17 games. It’s hard to believe that at one time the Flyers actually were 12-5-1. They dumped coach John Stevens, and things haven’t gotten much better under new boss Peter Laviolette.

Then there’s the Sixers. They’ve brought back Allen Iverson. He now is suffering from arthritis in his knees. Arthritis!

How many days until spring training?

Monday, December 21, 2009

The Daily Numbers - Dec. 21

The Daily Numbers: 23 inches of snow that fell on the region on Saturday. That’s a record for a December snow, and the second biggest storm in our history.
20 inches of snow, what we average for the most part for the year. Yes, it’s going to be a long winter.
19 inches recorded in Folcroft.
80 percent of flights canceled on Saturday at Philadelphia International.
15 billion dollars in sales usually recorded by stores on the Saturday before Christmas. They took a huge hit in the snow.
43 percent spike in calls to AAA on Saturday during the height of the winter storm.
50 percent of those calls were to extricate cars stuck in the snow.
25 percent were for towing.
0 schools open this morning in Chester Upland, which are taking a snow day.
0 schools open in the city of Philadelphia, either public or parochial.
0 tax hike in Aston, which held the line on taxes while approving its
$9.98 million budget.
36,000 dollars and change that has now flowed into our Merry Christmas Fund, which benefits the local Salvation Army.
20 billion dollar decline in value of public employees pension fund in Pennsylvania, a ticking time bomb that figures to hit taxpayers in the wallet.
2.69 a gallon, average price for gas in the 5-county region. Last year gas was going for $1.75.
7 percent pay hike for Philadelphia police officers under their new contract. That’s expected to cost the broke city $114 million over the 5 years of the new deal.
32, age of actress Brittany Murphy, who died Sunday of cardiac arrest.
5 straight wins for the Eagles, who locked up a playoff spot with their win over the 49ers Sunday.
3 hour delay in start time of the game to clear snow from the stadium and surrounding parking lots.
306 yards passing for Donovan McNabb, who went 21 of 36 through the air.
140 yards receiving for the electric DeSean Jackson.
Call me a Phanatic: A look at the ups and downs of being a Philadelphia sports fan.So the Eagles are in the playoffs. Again. Does anyone think this is a Super Bowl-caliber team? Not me. I’ll believe it when I see it.
I Don’t Get It: Don’t look now, but there is still no accord on table games in Harrisburg, which means technically that budget deal is still not in place, and Gov. Ed Rendell is talking about layoffs again. Nice to see he squeezed in time for his hosting duties on Comcast after the Eagles game.
Today’s Upper: Kudos to PennDOT for what looks like a very good job clearing the roads after we got socked with 23 inches of snow.
Quote Box: “A little snow isn’t going to stop us.”
- Eagles fan Dave Kemm, as he loaded up his tailgating goods to head for Lincoln Financial Field despite the 23 inches of snow that fell on the region.

Winter wonderland? Spare me

The calendar tells is that winter arrives today. We know better. It actually arrived Saturday. With a thud.

In short, we got hammered, with a pre-winter, pre-Christmas storm that dumped as much as 23 inches of snow on the region. That’s a record for a December snow.

There is something I should admit here when it comes to weather and the media. It is one of my pet peeves, that being the way TV and radio handle the weather, in particular that dreaded four-letter word that starts with s and ends with w.

Don’t for a minute confuse newspapers with our brethren in TV when it comes to snow. For them, all that white stuff translates into gold – big ratings.

For us, the ink-stained wretches of the newspaper business, it is something else entirely. Basically, it is a nightmare.

Let me try to explain. Our problems with snow in terms of the newspaper fall into three distinct categories.

First, we have to get staff into the building.

Second, we have to cover the story, which often means going back out into the elements.

Third, we have to deliver the paper. Yes, believe it or not, we still actually print and deliver a lot of newsprint, aside from all these bells and whistles we feature online.

Of course, we then also have to try to get home late at night after working all day.

In general, I hate winter just a little bit more each year. Yes, it was pretty. Yes, I went for a walk Saturday night while it was still snowing and glanced at all the Christmas lights in the neighborhood twinkling in that blanket of white.

And if I never saw another snowflake in my life, it would not bother me in the least.

White Christmas? Spare me.

Snow Job

The region returns to work this morning after a winter wonderland of a weekend. At least some of us do. There are some schools closed in the county. All public and parochial schools are closed in Philadelphia.

You undoubtedly will hear about treacherous patches of so-called “black ice” dotting the region. I must have missed them. I sailed in this morning with nary a problem.

As usual, my challenge most of the weekend was simply getting out of the driveway after being plowed in.

I tried to stay on top of the snow as it piled up on Saturday, clearing the drive several times during the day.

But there is simply no way to attack that wall of snow at the end of the driveway – courtesy of the friendly snow plow driver – until it’s all said and done.

Sunday morning I went out and dug my path back out to civilization.

I will for the most part forgo complaining about the way TV and to a lesser extent radio handle the weather, in particular snow. It is what it is, and it’s not going to change. Weather equals ratings on TV, so let the hype – and the flakes – fall.

But when I find a patch of “black ice” I’ll let you know.

How many days until spring?

Playoffs are for the Birds

Ho-hum, another Sunday, another 20 inches of snow, and another Eagles win.

The Birds have now won five straight after dispatching the Niners Sunday in the frozen tundra of Lincoln Financial Field. In the process they clinched another playoff appearance.

So why am I still antsy about this team? I wish I could say I was confident about their chances heading into the playoffs. I’m not.

Yes, they have without question what just might be the best offensive weapon in their history with the meteoric DeSean Jackson.

But the guy throwing him the ball is still Donovan McNabb. For a guy who just wins and wins and wins, McNabb still leaves me cold. And this after a game in which he threw for over 300 yards. But he also threw two bad interceptions and the requisite number of balls at receiver’s feet. He missed Jackson once when he was wide open behind everyone for a touchdown, and of course continues to fail to hit receivers in stride.

This team is good, not great, particularly on defense, which may yet be their downfall.

I’ll take the next two weeks, including that season finale in Dallas, with a grain of salt. The Eagles are in the playoffs. Wake me when we get there.

And when they’re dispatched early, remember where you heard it first.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

The dreaded Saturday Eagles pick

Four straight wins for the Birds, and I’ve been on board for all four of them.

They should make it five straight on Sunday against the 49ers. They caught a huge break from the NFL schedule-makers when San Fran got slotted for the Monday night game the week before catching the Birds. On a short week, they then have to fly across the country, land in a driving snowstorm, and then tangle with both the Eagles and elements at Lincoln Financial Field.

I don’t like their chances.

The name of the game for the Eagles in this game will be defense, something that was in short supply last Sunday night in that wild, prime-time shootout win over the Giants.

Several members of the Birds’ defense looked like they might have trouble tackling me. I think it’s pretty fair to say that Quentin Mikell is not going to have another week like that anytime soon.

The Eagles must find a way to neutralize Frank Gore, who ran all over the Cardinals last week for 167 yards and a TD.

On offense, the Eagles will face a 49ers defense that likely will put up more of a test than the swiss cheese-like Giants defenders.

Still, the home field tilts decidedly toward the Birds.

Make it Eagles 24, 49ers 17.

Last Week: I certainly didn’t see a blowout coming, but I did expect Michael Vick and the Eagles to get the better of the Falcons. They didn’t disappoint.

Season Record: 9-4, I continue to keep pace with the Birds. Don’t look now, but this team has a very good chance of running the table as they steam toward the postseason.

Friday, December 18, 2009

The Daily Numbers - Dec. 18

The Daily Numbers: 1 woman and 1 African-American to ever lead the Chester GOP. That would be Marrea Walker-Smith. Kudos to her.
24 pot plants found by police in the home of a Morton man.
0 tax hike on tap in Darby Borough, which is set to give final approval to its budget plan this morning.
0, also no tax hike included in Chester’s budget.
10 percent reduction in taxes in Yeadon, which is cutting its property tax while enacting an earned income tax.
0 tax hike in the Chester County budget that was approved by commissioners there yesterday. In the meantime, Delco home owners are staring at a 7.4 percent hike.
3-6 inches of snow, that’s the call for tomorrow. Of course, there’s always the chance it could be more, could be less.
3 Delco priests who have garnered honors from the archdiocese.
1,000 state employees who will be laid off if the Legislature does not give the OK to table games by Jan. 8. That’s the threat from Gov. Ed Rendell.
250 million dollar Parx Casino that opened its doors this morning at Philly Park in Bensalem.
3 hours, how long the Blue Route was shut down in both directions after a truck fire yesterday morning.
150 parking spots available starting today at the new cell phone waiting lot at Philadelphia International Airport, which opens today. It cost $500,000 to construct.
8.5 percent unemployment rate in Pa. in November. That’s a drop of .4 percent.
2.5 to 5 years in prison for another teen convicted in the beating death of Delco native Sean Conroy in a SEPTA subway concourse.
200,000 dollar winning Powerball ticket sold at a Turkey Hill in Downingtown, Chester County.
12 losses in their last 15 games for the Flyers, who fell to the Pens last night in a shootout.
14.4 points a game, what Allen Iverson is average since his return to the Sixers. He’ll miss tonight’s game at Boston with a cranky knee.
13-1, record for Villanova football this year. They lay it on the line for the FCS national title tonight vs. Montana. The Grizzlies are 14-0.
Call me a Phanatic: A look at the ups and downs of being a Philadelphia sports fan.Cliff Lee says he was “shocked and disappointed” to learn that he had been traded to Seattle. So are a lot of his fans back here in Philly.
I Don’t Get It: The bill to clear the way for table games in Pa. slots parlors – a crucial part of the state budget deal – is bogged down in the Senate. You’re shocked, I know. I don’t get it.
Today’s Upper: Our kudos to Marrea Walker-Smith, the first woman and first African-American to head the Chester Republican Party.
Quote Box: “People should make no mistake that I’ve worked very hard fo rthis. It’s not a patronage position.”
- Marrea Walker-Smith, on assuming the top spot of the Chester GOP.

Making history in Chester

There is a new era in Chester politics this morning.

Marrea Walker-Smith is the new leader of the city Republican Party.

That is notable for several reasons. In one fell swoop she becomes the first female and first African-American to head the city GOP.

You can read about it here.

It’s long past due.

Congratulations, Ms. Walker-Smith.

The city is on the move. And her ascendancy to the top of the party is another sign of just how far it has come.

Crapping out on table games

There are several developments this morning concerning legalized gambling in Pennsylvania.

First, to the surprise of absolutely no one, the move to add table games to the state’s slots parlors is still stuck in Harrisburg. Yes, I realize that is redundant. If it seems like everything is stuck in Harrisburg, that is not far from the truth.

The move to add table games is a crucial plank in the state budget deal, which only took our fine, elected representatives 100 days past the deadline to craft.

A bill to give the green light to table games has passed the House, but it crapped out in the Senate.

Now Gov. Ed Rendell is ready to turn up the heat. Rendell said yesterday that if he did not get a table games bill to sign by Jan. 8, he would be forced to lay off 1,000 additional state workers. In the meantime, he did release more than $700 million in subsidies for state universities that had been held hostage by the deadlock.

Meanwhile, there is a new kid on the block when it comes to gambling venues in the region.

That was not a Black Friday sale that people were lined up to get into at 6 a.m. in Bensalem. Those were gamblers ready to try their luck in Philly Park’s swank new Parx Casino.

The racetrack had been operating in temporary facilities. Not any more.
Parx is expected to give ritzy Atlantic City casinos like the Borgata a run for their money.

In the process, it likely will also provide some more competition for Harrah’s Chester, which already is struggling with a downturn in revenues.

In the meantime, everyone in the state continues to wait on table games.

I hope they’re not holding their breath.

Brady does it again

There was some surprising news yesterday concerning the Dad Vail Regatta. It’s not leaving the Schuylkill after all.

What is not in the least surprising is to see a very familiar face right in the middle of the deal to keep one of the oldest and most prestigious collegiate rowing events right here in the place it’s called home for 56 years.

That would be U.S. Rep. Bob Brady, D-1. Last time we saw his familiar face, he was walking out of marathon talks to announce a deal to end the strike by SEPTA’s city division workers that had crippled mass transit in the region.

When it comes to deals, Brady is the king. He’s the ultimate political insider. Simply put, he gets things done.

Organizers of the Dad Vail were preparing to row upstream – to Rumson, N.J., when they got a sweet offer, including $250,000 in corporate sponsorships.

But it turns out there were problems with the site, and not everyone involved was happy with the move.

Brady saw that slight crack in the doorway and barged through it.

He called Mayor Michael Nutter, who had been taking a ton of heat for fiddling while one of the city’s signature events burned, and told him to keep the dates open.

Yesterday Brady was standing there in the background while the deal was announced to keep the Dad Vail here where it belongs.

Another day, another deal. Well done, Mr. Brady.

Shocked in Seattle

If you’re one of those lamenting the loss of Cliff Lee, you’re going to hate this.

He feels the same way.

Lee, the stud who put the Phils on his back after arriving at the trade deadline last summer and becoming the Phillies best pitcher, compiling a 4-0 postseason record, says he was stunned at news that he had been traded this week.

Instead, Lee finds himself a member of the Mariners.

Call it shocked in Seattle.

Lee had been in contact with Phillies officials last week, swapping offers on a new deal. The left-hander believed he was going to be a Phillie for the rest of his career. Turns out he wasn’t even a Phillie for the rest of the week.

“At first, I didn’t believe it,” Lee said. “I thought I’d be spending the rest of my career there … I was under the impression they wanted to keep me for a long time.”

Lee went 7-4 with a 3.39 ERA after arriving at the trade deadline.

Roy Halladay better be good. Very good.

Heaven help him if he struggles while Lee lights it up in Seattle.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

The Daily Numbers - Dec. 17

The Daily Numbers: 116 bucks, how much the Delco SPCA wants to charge towns for stray animal costs. That’s up from $25, a 450 percent increase.
1,600 dollar reward handed out to the person who came forward with information that led to arrest in the death of Cuddles the cat.
26,000 dollars and change, how much has rolled into our annual Merry Christmas Fund. We’re on our way to our goal of $50,000.
40,000 dollars worth of goods bought by a guy from Upper Darby who police now think is responsible for a massive ID theft ring. As many as 1,000 people tied to UPenn Hospital may have fallen victim to him.
85 million dollar deal to bring a movie studio to Chester Township that is “very close” to being a done deal.
1.08 million that Radnor Township now wants back from their former manager. They’ve filed suit against him in court.
1 more charge filed against the woman who police say offered sex for World Series tickets. After her preliminary hearing, Susan Finkelstein now faces a prostitution charge as well.
28, age of man found shot to death outside the Mariott Residence Inn Hotel in southwest Philly early this morning.
4 malnourished horses and a goat seized when police raided an illegal barn in West Philly.
92 million dollars, value of Powerball drawing Saturday after no one had all the winning numbers drawn last night.
250 million dollar hole in state budget that isn’t going anywhere because the Senate failed to OK a bill expanding gambling in the state to allow table games at slots parlors.
9 current and former city workers who now face theft charges after police say they were literally cleaning out homeowners in a program designed to help them stay in their homes.
2 more months in prison for the Bucks County woman who admitting faking her abduction. Bonnie Sweeten will go free on home monitoring in February.
2 Cy Young winners who are trading teams. Roy Halladay is coming to the Phils. Cliff Lee is going to the Mariners.
7 prospects who parted the Phils in the two deals that brought Lee here last summer, and Halladay this week.
15.75 million dollars, how much Halladay is scheduled to make next year.
36 points for LeBron James as the Cavs beat the Sixers last night, 108-101.
4 point lead for the Sixers with 5:50 to play. They couldn’t hold on.
2 clutch 3-pointers for James in the final minutes as he took over the game.
26 points for Andre Iguodala to lead the Sixers; Allen Iverson added 16.
Call me a Phanatic: A look at the ups and downs of being a Philadelphia sports fan.Thanks to Roy Halladay, baseball season arrived early in Philly. Much to the chagrin, no doubt, of the Eagles. Who do they play again on Sunday?
I Don’t Get It: The folks in Harrisburg just can’t get out of their own way. Don’t look for a deal to give the green light on table games until early 2010. And that means there is still a huge hole in the state budget. These guys just don’t get it.
Today’s Upper: Our kudos to the Suter family, who had something of a family reunion yesterday when the state trooper visited his kids’
classrooms on his arrival back from a tour in Iraq. What a great Christmas present.
Quote Box: “We’re not trying to fleece you on this, we’re trying to stay in business.”
- Marcia Noa of the Delco SPCA, on new fees to handle animals brought to the facility

The Homecoming

One of the things I get to do each day is second-guess myself in terms of that day’s paper, in particular how stories get played.

I’m doing it again this morning.

I’ve known Rose Quinn for about 30 years. She’s a crackerjack police reporter. Every Thursday she and Cindy Scharr do a column on police and firefighters, often focusing on things that don’t normally make it into their police stories. So when she stopped in my office yesterday afternoon and mentioned how moved she was by what she had just witnessed, I paid attention.

What she saw was a homecoming for a state trooper who had been serving in Iraq. He visited his kids’ classrooms as a special holiday surprise.
You can read her story here.

There’s a photo of Trooper Mike Suter being hugged by his kids. We used it on Page One as one of our “teasers.”

We should have run it as our entire front page.

It doesn’t get much better than that.

Thanks, Mike, for your service. Here’s wishing your family a great holiday season, but I think they already got what they wanted for Christmas.

15 minutes of fame

So far as Andy Warhol is concerned, Susan Finkelstein no doubt has gotten more than her money’s worth.

And more than she ever wanted.

Warhol of course once famously commented about our society that “everyone will be famous for 15 minutes.”

Little did he know how our culture – and our media – would evolve.

Finkelstein is the West Philly woman who police in Bucks County say offered sex for Phillies World Series tickets. It’s a charge she vehemently denies.

When the story broke back in October, Finkelstein got her 15 minutes – and then some. It probably did not help that the team the Phillies were playing was the New York Yankees. Finkelstein soon found herself on the cover of the New York tabs, and from there a world-wide Internet sensation.

She was in court for her preliminary hearing on the charges yesterday.
It didn’t go very well.

A couple of Bensalem detectives testified in the case. One indicated that after he came upon her ad on Craigslist, with its “buxom blonde desperate for World Series tickets – price negotiable ad,” he contacted her. He testified that she sent him topless pictures of her.

It got worse. Another detective who met with her in a bar testified she exposed herself to him during their conversation.

Not only is Finkelstein facing trial on the original charges, she now faces a charge of prostitution.

She continues to profess her innocence, and her lawyer points out there is no corroboration for the salacious testimony, no video, no audio, just the cop’s word against that of his client.

Enough, already.

I’m not going to stand in judgment of Finkelstein. She’s paid a pretty steep price already, having lost her job in the fallout from the story.

I can’t help thinking this, however. Don’t the cops in Bensalem have anything better to do?

The Powers that be

The more I hear about Bob Powers, the more I admire him.

If the name is familiar, it’s because he’s been in the news recently.

The 74-year-old retired Marine (I know, there is no such thing as an ex-Marine), is the guy who put $23,000 in cash in a bag, then placed it on the roof of his car while he put some things inside, then promptly drove off.

He was headed to Annapolis to buy more tickets to last weekend’s Army-Navy game.

Along the way it dawned on him what he had done. He immediately called his son, who retraced his steps. They found the Fed Ex mailer, they found the purple velvet Crown Royal bag in which he placed the wad of bills. What they did not find was any trace of the $23,000 in cash.

Police say no one has come forward.

So how does the Chester Heights man react. He has a holiday greeting for whoever found the money: Merry Christmas.

He’s a better man than I am.

You can see the whole story here.

Roy to the World

OK, I admit it. I was one of those people who did not want Ruben Amaro Jr. to pull the trigger last July and send a bunch of the Phils’ best prospects to Toronto for Blue Jays ace Roy Halladay.

I was ecstatic when Amaro changed course and instead shipped some lesser prospects to Cleveland for Cliff Lee.

Fast-forward a few months. The Phillies yesterday formally announced their new ace. His name? Roy Halladay.

Excuse me if I’m not singing “Roy to the World.”

Pardon me Roy, but is that Cliff Lee now heading to Seattle? Yep, the guy who put the Phils on his back from the moment he arrived and went 4-0 in the postseason is now a former Phil, having spent just a few precious months in pinstripes.

It remains to be seen how this all will work out. Halladay is now signed to an extension, while Lee was looking to test free agency at the end of this year.

One way of looking at this is that the Philllies, via these two deals, bid adieu to seven of their top prospects and eventually got Halladay.

I hope Halladay is a stud. Everything he’s done in his career points to him being just that.

But I still feel bad about Cliff Lee.

That’s what’s wrong with sports today. Even on a day when you should feel great about what the Phils have done, you still have a bad taste in your mouth.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

The Daily Numbers - Dec. 16

The Daily Numbers: 7.4 percent tax hike included in the county’s $308.6 million budget plan.
48 bucks, how much more homeowners will have to fork over depending on average after the hike.
66 percent tax hike that is sparking outrage out in Bethel Township, along with a $160 annual trash fee.
75 people who packed a meeting out in Bethel last night asking supervisors to redo the numbers.
23 straight years without a tax hike for Upland Borough.
2 suspects being sought in separate robberies in Upper Chichester.
That’s on top of 3 home burglaries also under investigation.
200 people who gathered last night in Pottstown for a vigil to remember
2 Pottstown High School students killed in a car crash.
9 to 24 months for Bucks County mom Bonnie Sweeten, who faked an abduction attempt. She now wants to be released from prison early.
100,000 dollar reward posted for information in the death of Rowan University student Donald Farrell back in 2007.
18 presidents, that’s how many commanders-in-chief 106-year-old Sarah Carter Brown has seen come and go.
65 months in prison for a Souderton man guilty in a scheme that cost 13 victims $2.4 million in connection with his paintball business.
1,200 fewer employees at US Airways this year, putting them 5th for employment among the 7 major airlines. One of their main hubs is Philly Internationa.
2 police officers in Shenandoah charged with a cover-up in the beating death of a Mexican immigrant.
103-92 vote last night by which the Pa. House approved adding table games to Pa. casinos.
4 security officers and more than 60 cameras at South Philadelphia High School in wake of complaints of attacks on Asian students.
3 more people added to the list of those charged in the expanding Bonusgate probe in Harrisburg.
34,000 dollars in secret payments to a former Philadelphia detective from execs at a city charter school. She got a year in prison for taking the money.
220 million in new austerity measures needed to bail out Pa.’s ailing budget, according to Gov. Ed Rendell, who added he did not think more layoffs would be necessary.
6 goals surrendered by the Flyers last night as they got blown out by the Penguins, 6-1.
2 wins and 5 losses for the orange and black under new coach Peter Laviolette.
6 million dollars, how much the Phillies are getting from the Blue Jays to offset the cost of acquiring Roy Halladay.
3 prospects the Phils will ship to Toronto, along with sending Cliff Lee to Seattle.
Call me a Phanatic: A look at the ups and downs of being a Philadelphia sports fan.The Eagles beat the Giants in prime time, snag first place alone in the NFC East, and all people want to talk about is Roy Halladay and Cliff Lee.
I Don’t Get It: As expected, very few people bothered to show up for the public comment portion of yesterday’s County Council meeting. Council promptly passed the budget, including a tax hike.
Today’s Upper: Let’s here it for Bob Powers. He’s the retired Marine who left $23,000 in a bag on top of his car and then drove off. Powers is moving on, he’s not bitter, and he has a message for whoever found the
money: Merry Christmas.
Quote Box: “We do not have the means to change the tax system.”
- County Council Chairman Linda Cartisano, before voting for $308.6 million dollar budget, and a 7.4 percent tax hike.

Budget Blues

That lump of coal you’ll find in your Christmas stocking this morning is courtesy of Delaware County Council.

To the surprise of no one, Council yesterday unanimously approved a
$308.6 million dollar budget that will hike taxes 7.4 percent.

It will cost taxpayers on averageg another $48 more in taxes, bringing average tax tabs to $680.

A few people showed up for the public comment portion of the meeting before the budget vote to bemoan the hike, but this one was pretty much locked in stone. Much of the spending involves courts and the county’s Fair Acres Geriatric Center, things that are for the most part out of council’s hands.

For many county residents, it’s a double-whammy this budget year, with the county piling on what are already some steep hikes being considered at the municipal level.

Then there’s the situation out in Bethel Township. The sleepy little burg in the western part of the county is learning the perils of being a boom town. It’s expensive.

More than 75 residents packed a meeting last night to blast the current township budget plan, which includes a 66 percent tax hike and a steep hike in trash collection fees.

A resident with a home assessed at $250,000 is looking at forking over an additional $114 in township taxes. A trash fee of $160 is being slapped on residents who currently did not pay for the service.

Supervisors are expected to revise the budget. They will vote on it New Year’s Eve. Stay tuned.

This one could provide the New Year’s fireworks.

'Gold Standard' green with envy?

The “gold standard” down there at Nova Care Nation just might be turning into molten steel these days.

It’s not exactly a secret that the Eagles consider themselves the story in Philadelphia sports, and they’re not especially interested in sharing the limelight, or the Back Page.

They keep fairly close tabs on those pesky folks in pinstripes who play in their very own swanky new stadium across the street. You might say the Phillies – and the attention they have been demanding by winning a World Series and returning to the Fall Classic this year – gets under their skin.

So imagine what Jeff Lurie, Joe Banner and the boys must be doing this week.

All the Eagles did this week was bury the hated New York Giants in a spectacular Sunday night prime time affair, in the process boosting their record to 9-4 to assume sole possession of first place in the NFC East.

And what is everyone talking about this week? The Phillies. Roy Halladay. And Cliff Lee.

It’s enough to make the Eagles brass green with envy.

Clearly this calls for a bombshell announcement. Maybe they could announce they were starting Michael Vick at quarterback against the 49ers Sunday?

No, that won’t work.

How about this. Bring Cliff Lee in for the ceremonial pregame coin toss.
Allow him to offer one final salute to the Philly fans. And maybe permanently burn that bridge across the street in the process.

Ruben, Ruben

Ruben Amaro Jr. has a slight problem.

He’s just pulled off a blockbuster trade and acquired the former Cy Young pitcher that Phillies fans were clamoring for last summer.

Blue Jays ace right-hander Roy Halladay will be a Phillie, likely as early as today. That’s the good news.

Cliff Lee will not be. That’s the bad news.

Lee, also a former AL Cy Young winner, is the guy Amaro turned to when he deemed the Blue Jays’ asking price too steep at the trade deadline last summer. Amaro balked at giving up a bunch of young prospects, and instead sent a package of lesser minor leaguers to the Indians for Lee.

All Lee did was turn into the ace of the Phillies’ staff and a fan favorite. He was 4-0 in the postseason, including dazzling the Yankees in the Phils’ only World Series win.

But Lee made it clear he wanted to test free agency at the end of his current deal next year. The Phils apparently were not optimistic that they would be able to sign him, so they again turned their sights on Halladay.

Now Amaro has his guy; Halladay is in, Lee is out, dealt to the Seattle Mariners, with three more young stud players headed to Toronto, including pitcher Kyle Drabek and outfielder Michael Taylor. You may remember those names as the guys Amaro would not deal for Halladay just a few months ago. In the meantime, a lot of fans are ticked, wondering why Amaro did not keep both Lee and Halladay, at least for this one year.

That no doubt will come up when Amaro unveils his new acquisition, very likely today.

Maybe that’s a sign of just how far the Phillies have come as an organization. Maybe they really are becoming the Yankees of the National League.

Imagine just a few months ago the team announcing it was acquiring Roy Halladay, and being blasted by the fans in the process.

As Whitey likely would have said: Hard to believe, Harry!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

The Daily Numbers - Dec. 15

The Daily Numbers: 100,000 pennies collected by students at the Upper Darby School District Kindergarten Center for children in Pakistan and Afghanistan.
10,000 dollar donation for Darby Borough’s Fresh Start program from Verizon. The program mentors and counsels at-need kids.
2 moms in Delaware who face charges after police say they went shopping at Concord Mall and left their 3 kids alone in the car in the parking lot.
25 years as police chief in Marcus Hook for George McClure and 54 years as a member of the fire department. He has served as mayor for 16 years before being defeated in the May primary. He was recently honored by council at his last session.
16 dogs, 5 snakes seized when police raided a pet shop in the Olney section of Philadelphia.
5 vehicle break-ins reported in the parking lot of the Franklin Mills Mall in recent weeks.
4 people employed by a West Chester staffing firm indicted on charges they were scamming the nation’s visa program and bringing illegal workers into the country.
10 million dollar scam run by a West Chester investor who ripped off 4 school districts by selling high-risk, short-term bonds for a golf course project.
2 people dead after a crash in Cherry Hill that involved a car that went out of control and struck a man doing work in his front yard.
2 teens killed in a crash near Pottstown that involved an SUV full of high school students. 4 other kids were injured. It’s the second crash in a couple of weeks in which 2 young people were killed.
54, age of woman whose body was found in her car in the parking lot of a restaurant off Route 322 near Honey Brook, in Chester County.
4 people under arrest in Newark, Del., after they invaded an apartment of University of Delaware students. 6 young people were tied up with duct tape. Police now say they hit the wrong apartment.
97-95 vote in the state House last night to give green light to adding table games to Pa., casinos.
16.5 million dollar licensing fee the casinos – including Harrah’s in Chester – would pay for the right to add table games.
320 million dollars, how much table games is expected to add to state coffers over the first 2 years of operation.
20 million dollars to be spent to upgrade the Army training facility off West Chester Pike in Edgmont.
2.71 a gallon, what we’re paying on average for gas in the Philly region. This time last year it was $1.79 a gallon.
2 Philadelphia school security officers under investigation in connection with the beating of a student at Frankford High School.
27, age of murder suspect who is now back behind bars after walking out of prison in a mixup in Philly on Thanksgiving Day.
1,831 people who have gotten the H1N1 vaccine in Pa., according to state Health Department.
12 game losing skid snapped by the Sixers last night when they beat the Golden State Warriors, 117-101.
26 points for Thaddeus Young to lead the Sixers; Allen Iverson added 20.
3-1 win for Flyers over the Bruins in a preview of the Winter Classic that will be held at Fenway Park in New Year’s Day.
72 hour window in which the Phils need to complete the deal with Toronto to acquire Roy Halladay.
Call me a Phanatic: A look at the ups and downs of being a Philadelphia sports fan.Isn’t the deal that’s being talked about now for Roy Halladay the same one as was being bandied about in July. The Phils are still going to have to give up some prospects, only now they will swap in Halladay in their rotation instead of Cliff Lee.
I Don’t Get It: Two women are now charged in Delaware with leaving their kids in the car in the parking lot while they went into a mall Christmas shopping.
Today’s Upper: Let’s here it for the kids at the Upper Darby Kindergarten Center, who this year are gathering items to send to kids in Pakistan and Afghanistan.
Quote Box: “We need support to help these kids copntinue their education and stay off the streets.”
- Fresh Start Executive Director Leslie Lewis-McGirth, on Verizon’s $10,000 donation to her group.

Bet on it

It’s only taken 20 weeks – more than four months after it was supposed to be done – but it appears the Pennsylvania Legislature is finally signing off on some key elements of its never-ending budget process.

Those no doubt will come as comforting words to state Rep. Mario Civera, R-164, who has indicated he feels compelled to stay in his state House seat until the budget is a done deal. And maybe beyond.

In the meantime, if you’ve been salivating at the thought of those glitzy new slots parlors in Pennsylvania – including Harrah’s down there in Chester – being a bit more like their swankier cousins in Atlantic City and Las Vegas, this just might be your lucky day.

The move to add table games to those slots parlors finally passed a crucial barrier in the state House last night. You might remember that one of the key planks in that contentious budget was using a huge chunk of money that casinos will pay for the licenses to add table games to plug a big hole in the budget.

In return casinos will be able to add poker, blackjack and craps to the slots action. The state’s take of the action is expected to be in the neighborhood of $320 million over the first two years of operation.

Of course, there are still some things that need to be worked out. There are a few differences between the House and Senate versions of the legislation. Then there needs to be final votes on the bill, likely to happen this week.

Then they can start working on next year’s budget. At least that’s what Civera plans to do. He says he’s been asked by Democratic leaders, including House Appropriations boss Rep. Dwight Evans, D-Phila., to work on an expedited budget process that is supposed to start in late winter or early spring.

Does that mean Civera is likely to stay in the House, delaying any special election to fill his term? You can bet on it.

Party time for Pa. pols

It happens every year, but it never fails to leave me shaking my head.

It is not an exaggeration to say that Pennsylvania is facing its share of problems.

The state budget is not yet complete. There is crucial legislation to expand legalized gambling at state casinos to include table games.
State-related universities say they are being held hostage by budget talks. The state public employees pension plan is something of a ticking time bomb that no one seems terribly anxious to talk about. Certainly not Gov. Ed Rendell, who seems willing to let this slide onto the plate of his successor.

With all this and more going on, you would think there would be plenty to keep our elected representatives busy in Harrisburg. So where did they spend the weekend? The Big Apple, of course.

Yes, the Keystone State’s movers and shakers headed off to New York City for a weekend of partying, wheeling and dealing.

They do it every year for a gala of the Pennsylvania Society. And every year I just have to sit and shake my head.

Look, I know this is the way things get done, with a lot of back-slapping, drinks and cigar smoke. Fine, go ahead and have a party.
But if you have to rub our faces in the fact that you are different than us, could you at least do it here in Pennsylvania?

What, they could not convene in Philadelphia one year, Pittsburgh the next?

No, it’s not the Big Apple. Too bad. It’s Pennsylvania. Remember us? The people you were elected to represent?

I didn’t think so.

Amaro on Halladay

Ruben Amaro Jr. has a Christmas wish for Phillies fans, at least some of them.

Happy Halladays!

Unable to secure the Blue Jays’ stud right-hander Roy Halladay at last summer’s trade deadline, Amaro instead opted to bring in Cliff Lee. The deal worked out pretty well as Lee quickly established himself as the ace of the Phils’ staff.

But Amaro never lost his desire for Halladay. It’s an itch that he continues to scratch.

Now, it appears that Amaro is going to get his man. But it will come at a price.

Amaro is expected in the next couple of days to put the finishing touches on a deal that will bring Halladay to the Phils, while the team likely will have to bid goodbye to Lee and some prospects. And yes, that sounds a lot like the deal that was on the table back in July, when the Phils decided the price for Halladay was too big in terms of the young players they would have to give up.

There are several variations of the deal being floated around, but here’s what most have in common. The Phillies will get Halladay, while shipping Lee to Seattle for some prospects. They also will have to send some young players to Toronto, but it remains to be seen just who is involved and whether the Phils would have to bid adieu to prized prospects such as pitcher Kyle Drabek or outfielder Michael Taylor.

What this deal comes down to is that Lee seems intent on testing the free agent waters when his deal is over at the end of this coming season. On the other hand, it looks like the Phils are in the process of working out an extension with Halladay, who was in town to talk with the team on Monday.

If you wonder why the Phils don’t take on both Lee and Halladay, at lest for a year, take their best shot at another World Series crown, then let the chips fall where they may in terms of re-signing them, you are not alone. That will be the refrain heard over and over again from fans who fell in love with the gutty way Lee performed for the Phils last year.

But Amaro has Halladay on the brain.

Will it be a happy Halladay? We probably won’t find out until next October.

Monday, December 14, 2009

The DeSean Jackson Show

Welcome to the DeSean Jackson show.

On a night when neither defense decided to show up, the Eagles stud young wideout was head and shoulders above the crowd.

Jackson scored two touchdowns - including one on an electrifying 72-yard punt return - and another on a 60-yard pass, as the Eagles mauled the Giants in prime time, 45-38.

Suddenly, Jackson has become one of the most dangerous weapons in the NFL. He's worth the price of admission all by himself.

Jackson is one of those performers who has you on the edge of your seat every time he touches the ball.

Led by Jackson, the Eagles offense was firing on all cylinders. Good thing, because their defense took the night off.

Why Quintin Mikell made the trip up the Jersey Turnpike I have no idea.

But the Birds won, Dallas lost another December game, and the Eagles are sitting alone atop the NFC East.

Now they are home for Christmas for two straight 1 p.m. Sunday games against the 49ers and the return of Brian Dawkins with the Broncos.

Eagles fans already got their Christmas present.

His name is DeSean Jackson.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

The dreaded Saturday Eagles pick

Now this is more like it. Two bitter NFC East rivals facing off in prime time in the cold, snow and rain of Giants Stadium.

It will be the Eagles swansong in a stadium in which they have a lot of history. How could anyone forget “The Miracle in the Meadowlands.”

Next year the Giants move to a new stadium next door. But there’s still the little matter of a Sunday night game, the NFC East and some playoff possibilities to be decided.

This one is on Donovan. He torched the Giants in the first matchup back on Nov. 1 at the Linc. Don’t look for a repeat performance. Still, I think the Birds have enough momentum to hold off the G-Men, who have more than their share of problems.

It will be close, but a David Akers field goal will provide the difference.

The reason I say this one is on Donovan is because, with Andy Reid now in the nest with his cushy three-year extension, should the Birds somehow implode and not make the playoffs, this whole thing will get dumped in Donovan’s lap.

I don’t think he’s going to let that happen, at least not for another week.

Donovan does enough on a wet, windy night to get the W.

Make it Eagles 19, Giants 16.

Last Week: I certainly didn’t see a blowout coming, but I did expect Michael Vick and the Eagles to get the better of the Falcons. They didn’t disappoint.

Season Record: 8-4, I'm keeping pace with the Birds as they heat up in the stretch run. Now it’s on to Big Apple.

Friday, December 11, 2009

The Daily Numbers - Dec. 11

The Daily Numbers: 50 counts of dissemination of child pornography filed against a Marcus Hook man charged by county detectives with running a porn-sharing online network.
1 percent earned income tax approved by Upper Chichester commissioners last night.
10 dollar per capita tax that was axed by the board, which also cut property taxes by a half-mill.
1 percent earned income tax also getting the OK in Yeadon, where council cut their residential tax by 1 mill.
8 days, how long a man had been out of Graterford Prison when he allegedly went berserk when he caught his girlfriend with another man, stabbing them both.
15,910 dollars that rolled into the Merry Christmas Fund to benefit the Salvation Army yesterday.
8 day Festival of Lights, Hanukkah, that starts tonight.
7-2 vote by which Rose Valley gave the green light for a bow hunt to thin the deer herd in the borough.
100 residents who packed a meeting last night in Chester to push for a new supermarket in the city.
13 point lead for Sen. Arlen Specter over Rep. Joe Sestak in Democratic primary race, according to new Rasmussen poll.
46-42 edge for Republican Pat Toomey over Specter. 44-38 percent edge for Toomey over Sestak in the same poll.
4 police officers getting pink slips in Lower Merion as the township battles budget problems.
13.4 percent dip in revenue for Atlantic City casinos in November.
50 percent drop in profits being reported at Dover Downs casino in Delaware. Most of that is because the state is now taking a bigger share of their revenue.
200 workers being laid off this week by Independence Blue Cross. That brings to 855 the number of job cuts at the insurance giant since June.
1,250 dollar signing bonus on its way to SEPTA’s city division workers after the company signed off on their new contract.
1.2 million dollar Medicare scam the feds say was being run by a Philadelphia couple from their medical supply business.
20 million dollars in art police say an Allentown man stole from his famous father, more than 90 paintings.
700 million dollars in state aid for Pa. universities still tied up because the deal to OK table games has not yet been passed by the Legislature.
0 for 1 for Attorney General Tom Corbett in the Bonusgate probe. The first trial yesterday ended with a former state rep. being cleared of all charges.
23 of 24 shots stopped by Flyers goaltender Brian Boucher last night. They still lost, 2-0. One was an empty-netter.
22 saves made by the Senators’ Brian Elliott to seal the shutout.
1-3, Flyers record now under new coach Peter Laviolette.
11 goals in 7 games for the Flyers.
Call me a Phanatic: A look at the ups and downs of being a Philadelphia sports fan.Call me crazy, but I hope the Phillies pass on Roy Halliday and stick with the guys they have.
I Don’t Get It: In Buffalo, N.Y., the town is in an uproar over the release of a child molester. He is 100. I don’t get it.
Today’s Upper: Wonder if all those global warming folks have been outside yet today? Any time it wants to get warm again would be fine with me.
Quote Box: “No one is looking at this as a cash cow. It’s a way to get out of the hole we’re in and get ahead of it.”
- Upper Chichester Commissioners President Jim Stewart, on why they need a 1 percent earned income tax.

One final word on Tiger: Shame

I’ve moved beyond titillation in the Tiger Woods’ saga. Now I’m consumed with a couple of other thoughts.

The story is no longer especially interesting. Now it’s just sad.

Women continue to come out of the woodwork, or I suppose that should be “Woods-work,” each seemingly now offering more salacious details than the other.

Tiger and his wife, Elin Nordegren, seem to be in hiding. Good for them.

That does not mean I condone what he did. I don’t. I am sure I will never look at him quite the same again. There was a time when I could not take my eyes off the TV screen when Tiger was in contention on Sunday afternoon. He was mesmerizing. Now he’s a sideshow.

I shudder to think of just what kind of circus will ensue when Tiger returns to the tour in January or February. I’m kind of imagining something out of “Happy Gilmore.” He made his bed – literally. Now he gets to sleep in it. That won’t be his problem. His real issue will be escaping it. He used to do that on the golf course, where his legendary powers of concentration simply would put him in a zone that no one could penetrate. He’s likely going to find things just a little different when he returns.

For me, I’m pulling the plug. I’ve heard enough. I don’t need any more details.

I do, however, believe the story simply reinforces something I’ve become more and more convinced of in our media-driven, celebrity-soaked society.

We have lost our sense of shame.

There was a time when people involved in such tawdry behavior simply withdrew to deal with their issues in private. Now they go on the “Today” Show.

It’s called getting your 15 minutes of fame.

By my count, Tiger’s harem is now working on a couple of hours. The last number I heard of women coming forward to claim an affair with the greatest golfer on the planet is 12. Maybe he should make a calendar.

It is why we have been saddled with reality TV, with Jon & Kate (with or without their 8), parents who concoct a story about their son being afloat in a home-made hot air balloon, or a couple that decides to crash a state dinner at the White House.

I used to wonder just how low we could go. I don’t wonder any more. I just shake my head.

How sad.

2 historic events

There were a couple of items in Thursday’s newspaper that may have flown under the radar.

They should not have. Both mark milestones.

First came word of the death of Luther Smith of Villanova.

Smith is no stranger to these pages. We have featured him many times. He was a member of the famed black Air Force unit the Tuskeegee Airmen, flying 133 combat missions over Europe in World War II.

In 2007, Smith was among 290 Tuskeegee Airmen who gathered in Washington, D.C., to receive the Congressional Medal of Honor, the highest civilian award bestowed by Congress.

But he was just as likely to be seen attending the Veterans Day Parade in Media, or taking part in an educational session at the Pa. Veterans Museum, or visiting a classroom to talk history with young students.

Smith did not merely talk about history, he lived it.

Speaking of history, Marrea Walker-Smith is about to make a bit of her own in Chester.

There will be a historic changing of the guard at the helm of the city’s Republican Party.

Former mayor and current state Sen. Dominic Pileggi is stepping down from his position as the GOP leader in the city.

Walker-Smith is in line to become the new party chief, marking two firsts along the way.

She becomes the first African-American to lead the city’s GOP, as well as the first woman.

Both are long overdue.

Congratulations to Walker-Smith.

Happy Halladay?

Don’t look now, just two days away from a huge Eagles-Giants prime time affair, but it’s baseball season again.

There are several published reports that put the Phillies at the top of the heap in the Roy Halladay sweepstakes.

You remember Roy. He’s the guy the Phils did not get at the trade deadline last summer. Instead they picked up Cliff Lee. Worked out pretty well.

Halliday is leaving the Blue Jays. They’re entertaining offers, and it looks like things are heating up with the Phils.

Back on the block again, just as he was last summer, is young lefty J.A.

Happ. Also tossed in is likely to be one of their top minor league position players, someone like outfielder Michael Taylor.

This might sound weird but here is one vote against the deal. I don’t want the Phils to mimick the Yankees, and think they can merely buy a championship. To me, that would taint the effort.

Instead I’d like the Phils to go at it again with the lineup they have.

One of the problems they will face if they are serious about getting Halladay is payroll. GM Ruben Amaro Jr. has been adamant that the team will not go over its $140 million ceiling. That would mean another salary also would have to be jettisoned. The likely candidate there would be right-hander Joe Blanton.

Then the Phils would face the daunting task of having to sign both Lee and Halladay to extensions, or face the possibility of being left with nothing after this year.

Halladay is a great pitcher. He’d certainly look good in red pinstripes and be another stud in the Phils’ rotation.

I still don’t want them to do it.

Unfortunately, Amaro keeps denying there is real interest in Halladay .

Which tells me there probably is.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

The Daily Numbers - Dec. 10

The Daily Numbers: 1 possible foe in the GOP primary for Pat Meehan in the 7th District race. That would be former Fox 29 anchor Dawn Stensland.
450 percent hike in fees being proposed for Delco towns that utilitze the county SPCA. Many towns are balking at the fees.
19 people who turned out for last night’s public hearing on the county’s proposed budget, with its 7.4 percent hike in property taxes.
66 percent increase in Bethel Township budget that would cause a $114 tax hike and a $160 annual trash fee. Residents are not happy.
41 straight years that the folks in Chester Heights Borough have been spared a tax hike.
8 dollar tax hike looming in Concord.
100 dollars in cash and 100 dollars in cocaine, what a woman charged in a Ridley home invasion told police she got for several guns she fled the house with.
84, age of man inside the house who fended her off, including an exchange of gunfire.
3,474 dollars in stolen bank loot in Upper Darby that turned up in a township street sweeper. It had been tossed in some leaves.
2 inches of rain that was recorded yesterday morning at Philadelphia International Airport. There were reports of flooded roads all over the place. Particularly bad was the Cobbs Creek section of Yeadon.
89, age of Villanova resident Luther Smith, a member of the famed black Air Force unit the Tuskeegee Airmen. He died yesterday.
1, as in the 1st African-American and 1st woman named to head the Chester GOP. That would be Marrea Walker-Smith. Our kudos!
5 dollar bridge fare on Commodore Barry and 3 others run by DRPA, an increase of $1, that was set to go into effect in September. It’s been delayed.
6, age of boy found dead in his Kingsessing home in Philadelphia yesterday. It’s being labeled as suspicious.
32 robberies along the Main Line that police think might be the work of a man who has already been charged in 3 of the jobs.
795,000 dollars that Verizon has been ordered to pay New Jersey to settle complains about the company’s marketing and ads.
65 million dollar Powerball jackpot on Saturday night; no one hit the numbers last night.
15 year-old boy, age of teen a Philadelphia police officer is now charged with soliciting for sex.
19 years in jail for a Philly man charged in the shooting of a woman and her 2-year-old granddaughter.
30 assaults of Asian students at South Philly High that has drawn protests and claims that the staff also uses ethnic slurs.
10,000 fine for the Meadows Racetrack & Casino for letting 2 ineligible gamblers play.
7.1 percent increase the last quarter for Pa.’s huge public sector retirement fund. That puts it up 4.5 percent of the year.
22 points for Scottie Reynolds as Villanova prevailed over Saint Joe’s in the “Holy War.”
35 of 40, what the Wildcats went from the foul line in their 97-89 win.
11 points in 11 minutes last night for Allen Iverson in the Sixers loss.
11 straight losses for the Sixers.
3 more years for Andy Reid, who signed an extension with the Eagles that likely will pay him $5 million a year.
Call me a Phanatic: A look at the ups and downs of being a Philadelphia sports fan.Yes, I know all the numbers. I know that Andy Reid is the winningest coach in Eagles history. Why do I see this season ending the same way?
I Don’t Get It: Remember that state budget deal? It needs a law to allow table games at Pa. slots parlors. It’s still not done. And Ed Rendell is talking about more layoffs of state workers in the meantime.
Today’s Upper: Let’s hear it for Dawn Stensland. What appeared to be a cakewalk for Pat Meehan in the GOP primary for the 7th District Congress seat just got a lot more interesting. Go for it, Dawn.
Quote Box: “The only thing I can tell you is I was married in Delaware County, half my family is in Delaware County, I love Delaware County.”
- Former TV news anchor Dawn Stensland, who is mulling a run for the 7th District Congress seat.

Dawn of a new era?

I was still trying to digest the brouhaha between Delco Republicans and Bryan Lentz when it was eclipsed by another political bombshell.

Let me try to explain.

Lentz this week decided to fire a shot across the bow of longtime state Rep. Mario Civera. If you remember, Civera, R-164, of Upper Darby, seemed to make it pretty clear that he would give up his seat in the Legislature if he was successful in his run for County Council. To absolutely no one’s surprise Civera and incumbent Jack Whelan rolled to an easy win in the county.

But to a lot of people’s surprise, Civera suddenly got cold feet about his pledge to give up his seat. Now he’s talking about staying on to work through next year’s budget.

This did not escape Lentz’s notice. The Democrat, who represents the 161st District, announced he would put up legislation that would outlaw the practice of elected officials holding two seats. He never mentioned Civera, but it’s pretty clear he was the target.

The legislation sparked a spirited response from Civera’s fellow GOPers in the Delco state House delegation. They castigated Lentz as a hypocrite, noting he’s busy himself running for the 7th District Congress seat being vacated by Joe Sestak.

Which is fine except for one thing. Lentz’s bill didn’t target “running”
for two offices. It seeks to outlaw actually “holding” two of them.
There’s a bit of a difference.

Ironically, among those blasting Lentz was state Rep. Tom Killion, R-168, who happens to be running for lieutenant governor. It’s done all the time.

There’s also the small matter of a possible special election on primary day, when Democrats are expecting a huge turnout for races in both the 7th District Congress race as well as the donnybrook between Joe Sestak and Arlen Specter in the Democratic U.S. Senate primary.

It didn’t look like there was going to be much to drive Republican voters to the polls that day, making it a distince possibility they could lose Civera’s House seat.

After all, Pat Toomey is going to be their guy in the Senate race. And almost everyone was in agreement that Pat Meehan would be the man in the 7th. It did not look as if either would even have a primary opponent.

Uh, maybe not. Yesterday it was revealed that former Fox 29 anchor Dawn Stensland is mulling a run vs. the former U.S. Attorney and Delco D.A.

When contacted yesterday afternoon, Stensland wasn’t saying much, but she wasn’t denying the possibility either.

She wouldn’t be the first TV anchor to seek office. Diane Allen serves in the New Jersey state Senate. Ironically, Stensland’s husband, former anchor Larry Mendte, was once approached by the Delco GOP to run against Joe Sestak.

Of course, Mendte has had some problems of his own, including a guilty plea to the federal charges surrounding his relationship with fellow NBC-10 anchor Alycia Lane.

I don’t have any clue where Stensland stands on the issue. But I do know this. She has huge visibility in the region. I would say she’s probably better known than Meehan.

Whether or not she actually decides to get in the race remains to be seen. She offered this quote yesterday: “The only thing I can tell you is I was married in Delaware County, half my family is in Delaware County, I love Delaware County.”

It remains to be seen just how much the Delco GOP loves her, and the idea of her challenging their standard-bearer.

Yesterday most county GOP leaders indicated they were still solidly behind Meehan.

Right now Stensland and Mendte do not even live in the district; they reside in Chestnut Hill. That would not preclude her from seeking the seat, although she could always move. She also currently is registered as an independent. That would have to change.

Then there is the matter of why? One theory being floated is that this is a move to get back at Meehan, who headed the department that prosecuted her husband. Another is that she is being courted by conservatives who aren’t in love with Meehan.

At any rate, it’s big news, even for a former TV new anchor.

You might call it the Dawn of a new era.

Just dandy, Andy

I’ve never been a big Andy Reid fan.

Maybe it’s the Eagles’ penchant for taking us to the mountaintop, then throwing us off, coming up short of the peak year after year.

Maybe it’s the way he and Donovan McNabb routinely butcher the end of close games, again and again failing to get the job done.

Maybe it’s the way Reid consistently mangles clock management.

Maybe it’s his gruff, arrogant demeanor, glaring at anyone who dares question his wisdom.

Maybe it’s the way the team keeps referring to itself as the “gold standard,” or as Reid did yesterday as “the best organization in the NFL,” despite the conspicuous lack of a Lombardi Trophy on their mantle.

But the numbers don’t lie. Reid wins. He’s one of the few coaches who have won 100 games in a decade with one team.

And, as we learned yesterday, Reid isn’t going anywhere.

Big Red and the Birds inked a three-year extension to his contract that will keep him on top of the Eagles Nest through 2013. He’ll be paid in the neighborhood of $5 million a year to do it.

It’s hard to question the Eagles rationale for bringing Reid back. He’s the winningest coach in team history. And it’s not really close.

Maybe someone can remind me of that when they crash and burn in the playoffs again.

Time’s yours, Andy.

Same Answer for Sixers

The Allen Iverson buzz lasted all of one night.

Unfortunately for the Sixers, the Answer remains the same. They lose.

Iverson had 11 points last night as the Sixers lost their 11th straight game, 90-86.

A little more than 12,000 people went through the turnstiles, considerably less than the packed house that greeted Iverson’s return Monday night.

With the game on the line, it was not “The Answer” with the ball in his hands. Instead, it was top scorer Andrew Iguodala, who was wide open for a 24-footer – and promptly clanged it off the rim.

A Pistons’ rebound and two foul shots later, it was all she wrote as the Sixers went down again.

They get a chance to reverse their fortunes Friday night.

The Sixers may have signed Allen Iverson. But they’re still looking for an answer.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

The Daily Numbers - Dec. 9

The Daily Numbers: 2 brutal murders to which Jermaine Burgess yesterday pleaded no contest yesterday.
25 to 50 years on top of his life sentence for Burgess, which means he will never walk free again.
305 members of the Marple Newtown Education Association who have been working without a contract since July 1. About 100 members picketed last night’s school board meeting.
105,000 dollars believed ripped off from a Marcus Hook firm by a female employee who allegedly was selling the firm’s salt on the cheap and having the customers make the checks out to her.
5 people charged in the beating death of an Upper Darby man outside a Philly gentleman’s club who are due in court today.
400,000 dollars that the former manager in Radnor is alleged to have misspent, according to the results of a firm’s special audit of the township books.
2,015 that poured into the Daily Times Merry Christmas Fund on Tuesday.
Our goal is $50,000.
1,294 families who have signed up for a special Christmas dinner at CitiTeam Ministries in Chester. The agency is running short on supplies and is looking for more donations.
5 people charged in a foreclosure scam that targeted people in danger of losing their homes and then swiped nearly $15 million out of their accounts.
10, age of boy police in Delaware say was raped by an 18-year-old woman.
22, age of Amish man who was charged with DUI after police found him asleep at the reins while his buggy continued to roll down the road in East Lampeter, Lancaster County.
100 milllion dollar jackpot up for grabs in Friday’s Mega Millions lottery drawing.
2 school officials targeted by the D.A. in Northampton County. He doesn’t want them to be able to hold school board seats at the same time they serve on county council.
102 people nabbed on prostitution charges during a sting operation in Philly, including 76 men and 26 women.
6 weeks, how long Flyers will be without starting goalie Ray Emery, who will be operated on today for an torn muscle in his lower abdomen.
2 goals each for Mike Richards, Jeff Carter and Claude Giroux as the Flyers snapped their 5-game losing streak.
22 saves for Brian Boucher, who takes over the No. 1 goalie duties with Emery on the shelf.
2, as in Game 2 of the Allen Iverson Repeat Era tonight against the Pistons. Yes, A.I. also played for them.
Call me a Phanatic: A look at the ups and downs of being a Philadelphia sports fan.Brace yourself for The Holy War. Yes, it’s Villanova vs. Saint Joe’s tonight at the Palestra.
I Don’t Get It: An elderly couple in Collingswood, N.J., now have seen their Christmas decorations ripped off for the second time. I don’t get it.
Today’s Upper: They are saying that an inch of rain translates to 10 inches of snow. That means so far this morning if we were getting snow instead of rain there would be 20 inches on the ground, and counting.
Say it ain’t snow.
Quote Box: “It will burn in our minds and tear at our hearts for the rest of our lives.”
- Joe Elia, son of murder victim Marie Ott, in court yesterday during sentencing of Jermaine Burgess for the killing.

Budget blues

Taxes are going up in towns all across Delaware County.

It’s the trickle-down theory – in reverse. With the economy tanking, revenues are down, expenses are up.

Delaware County is not immune.

The county budget calls for a tax hike.

Tonight is the public’s chance to air their views on the county spending plan. Routinely the county holds these sessions and of course the public stays away in droves.

I will be interested to see how many people show up tonight.

The hearing is scheduled for 6 p.m. on the second floor of the County Government Building in Media, 201 W. Front St.

Say it ain't snow

First things first: Brace yourself as you head out the door this morning. It is absolutely miserable.

It was teeming from the time I left the front door to the time I got to the office. It did not let up even once.

The roads aren’t really a problem, but they are wet and there lots of standing water, which will translate to a much longer, more harried rush hour.

So why am I smiling? At least it’s not snow. Compared to what this storm dumped on the middle of the country, we’re getting off easy.

If this had been snow, we’d literally be buried. According to the local weather folks, the translation is 10 inches of snow to an inch of rain, which means there would be 20 inches piled up right now - and counting!

I’ll take my Christmas joy wherever I can get it.

The Westbrook Watch

Is anyone else a little queasy about the idea of Brian Westbrook returning to the Eagles’ lineup Sunday night against the Giants?

It appears as if the Birds’ star running back is going to give it a shot. He appears set to return to the lineup after missing several weeks due to concussion problems. He’ll be joined by star wideout DeSean Jackson, who also missed last week’s win in Atlanta with lingering effects of a concussion.

But it is Westbrook’s situation that causes the unease. He suffered his first concussion earlier in the season when he took a knee to the head against the Redksins. He admitted to being out cold.

Westbrook missed two games, then returned against the Chargers the following week, only to suffer another concussion. That was Nov. 15. He has not played since.

Last night in an interview on HBO’s “Joe Buck Live,” Westbrook offered his first thoughts on the subject and admitted he’s “really scared”
about his future in football.

I don’t blame him a bit. Concussions are a scary thing. And most people with knowledge of them will tell you that once you’ve had one, you’re more susceptible to another one. Not good news to someone who now has had two and makes a living banging helmets with very big, very fast men.

Even with his concerns, Westbrook is hoping to play Sunday night in a very big game against the Giants. He likely will be limited in what he does at practice this week.

I like Brian Westbrook. I would like to see him play. But not if there’s the least indication that he is still suffering from concussion symptoms.

It’s not an easy choice. Westbrook has to weigh the present against what is really an unknown, the effect the concussions could have on his health in the future.

I wish him luck. And offer the following advice: Err on the side of caution.