Friday, April 30, 2010

A night to remember

I had a rare opportunity last night.

I stood in a room packed with more than 500 people, and listened to them heap praise on the newspaper.

The occasion was the annual Partners in Learning Celebration put on by our friends at the Franklin Mint Federal Credit Union.

The Daily Times is a sponsor of the dinner, as well as big proponent of the two big awards being doled out. Those would be the 20 kids named to the 2010 All-Delco Hi-Q team, as well as the 2010 winners of the Excellence in Teaching Awards.

I hope you saw the Sunday and Monday papers. On Sunday we featured the All-Delco Hi-Q team, which is fashioned after the All-Delco teams the newspaper names for each high school sport.

I still find it hard to believe that it’s been six years since John Unangst, from the Credit Union, and Harry Jamison, then boss of the county Intermediate Unit, paid a visit to my office and asked if I’d be interested in formulating an All-Delco team for the Hi-Q tournament, the nation’s oldest scholastic quiz competition.

The rest, as they say, is history.

On Sunday we featured the students, one from each school school that participates in Hi-Q. On Monday we ran similar photos and bios of the 19 teachers named to receive the Excellence in Teaching Awards.

This year we added a new wrinkle. When each student and teacher arrived at our offices here in beautiful downtown Primos to be interviewed and have their picture taken, we also took a video clip of them. The videos appeared on our Web site. They also were played at the banquet last night in front of those 500-plus people. I wonder if they could see me beaming.

In my remarks, I told them of the struggle I face every day in trying to balance “bad” news with “good” news. It’s not easy. Actually it’s all too easy to simply portray a skewed image of our towns, our schools, and especially our young people.

That’s part of the reason I did these two stories, and why they appeared on our front page.

I admitted to the audience that we are not going to agree on everything.
I don’t doubt for a minute that there were many teachers in the house last night who disagree vehemently with some of our editorial positions when it comes to teacher contracts. It didn’t show to me. They could not have been more gracious.

At least for one night, we were all on the same page.

I can’t tell you how unusual it is for a newspaper editor to stand in a crowded ballroom listening as everyone in the house showered praise on the newspaper.

Believe me, it doesn’t happen often.

Thanks to John Unangst, Rick Durante and all the folks at the Franklin Mint Federal Credit Union for another great night.

And to all the students and teachers, as well as their families, who were honored last night: We could not be more proud to be a part of your success, and letting everyone in this county know about the special young people, and their mentors, in our midst.


Sheetz hits fan on beer sales

Earlier this week I talked about the editorial board’s visit with state Sen. Anthony Williams, who is seeking the Democratic nomination for governor.

I like him. He speaks his mind, and he doesn’t especially care whose toes he steps on in the process. That’s a good thing.

We don’t, however, see eye to eye on everything.

Specifically, we are diametrically opposed on the matter of Pennyslvania’s archaic method of selling alcohol.

I am a firm believer in pushing the plunger and blowing up the state Liquor Control Board and turning the whole matter over to private enterprise.

Legislation to at least do part of that – the part handled by the Pa.
State Stores – which sell wine and spirits, has been introduced in the Legislature. I don’t expect it go anywhere. These plans never do.

Williams is OK with that. He’s not a proponent of dumping the current system. His big beef is that he doesn’t want a lot of low-grade alcohol being sold in neighborhood stores. He also notes that the state stores provide a big chunk of revenue in the state.

We can agree to disagree.

My point is this. I want the whole notion of alcohol sales in this state revised. That means I want to go one place and be able to buy beer (either a six-pack or a case), wine, alcohol, soda and ice.

Right now that might be as many as three trips.

If I want a six-pack, that’s a trip to a local bar or deli, where I likely will pay through the nose. A case takes me to a beer distributor, but I can’t buy a six-pack there. Wine and spirits? That of course means a visit to the state store.

Some supermarket chains are making inroads in this system. Wegmans is now selling beer in some of their supermarkets. But even there it’s more than one trip. You can’t grab a six-pack, put it in your cart, and do the rest of your grocery shopping. Instead you have to pay for the beer at a separate checkout line in that portion of the store. Wonderful.

You also can’t grab a six-pack in your local convenience store, as I once did while living in Colorado. I’ll never forget the first time I was in a 7-Eleven out there, and noticed the cooler right next to the checkout line. What a novel idea. Supermarkets there had complete sections where you could buy beer, wine or alcohol. I don’t recall sales of booze to minors being a big problem. Nor did I notice a bunch of drunken drivers clogging the parking lots.

If the folks at the Sheetz convenience store chain have their way, Pennsylvania just might be entering a new era of beer sales. They have gotten an OK from the courts to sell takeout beer at one of their locations in Altoona. There are no Sheetz stores in the Delco area.

As you might guess, the beer distributors are not thrilled about this prospect. They are vowing to go to court to fight it.

Only in Pennsylvania.

Bring on Gotham

Should be an interesting sports weekend for Philly-files.

There is the always interesting mix descending on Citizens Bank Park when the New York Mets make the trip down the New Jersey Turnpike, accompanied by hordes of their loyal fans.

The Phils will have a new face in the lineup. Closer Brad Lidge will be available tonight. All eyes will be on whether looks like the guy who put together a perfect season two years ago, or struggled with injuries all last season. Lidge underwent two off-season injuries and now says he is throwing pain-free. Hopefully, we’ll get the chance to see him in action this weekend. When Lidge enters the game, it usually means the Phils are looking to slam the door on a win.

If hockey is your cup of tea, the Flyers (remember them?) finally get back on the ice Saturday afternoon in Boston.

Faceoff is at 12:30 for NBC’s nationally telecast game. The problem with that is we’re going to be having some most un-hockey like weather. It’s supposed to be in the mid-80s here over the weekend. It will be interesting to see what kind of ratings the game draws. For some reason, I don’t see myself sitting in front of the TV all afternoon on what could be an almost summer-like Saturday afternoon.

Then there are the Eagles. The Kevin Kolb Era will kick off officially later today with a mini-camp (OK, Organized Team Activity) today down at the Nova Care Center.

The only thing missing is the Sixers. Yeah, they’ve been missing for awhile now. Interesting that two Delco guys are in the middle of all this. Our beat writer Dennis Deitch talked to Lansdowne native Pat Croce, the man who put the team on his effervescent personality and drove them to the NBA Finals, along with Larry Brown, about the team’s struggles. Croce said what has happened to the team since his ugly split with owner Ed Snider makes him “nauseous.” Most fans likely would agree.

The other Delco guy, Ed Stefanski, the team’s current president, apparently is in the process of interviewing candidates for the head coaching job. What might be even more interesting is if Stefanski will still be here when that decision is made.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

The Daily Numbers - April 29

The Daily Numbers: 1 person struck and killed by an Amtrak train early this morning near the Folcroft Train Station.
94, age of victim of home invasion in Aston. The suspect is his step-grandson.
3 million dollar budget shortfall in the Radnor School District.
2.7 million dollar spending gap staring at William Penn School District.
27 years as borough manager in Marcus Hook for Bruce Dorbian. He was honored recently by the state for his innovative practices in the borough.
16, age of suspect who is now believed to have once again tried to get behind the wheel of a SEPTA bus in Upper Darby.
139 million dollars, final winning bid for the Philadelphia Inquirer and Daily News.
97 percent of Temple University Hospital nurses who voted in favor of new contract. They’ll be back on job Friday.
45 million dollar Powerball jackpot Saturday night after no one hit Wednesday.
2 sex abuse lawsuits filed against Delaware priests that have been tossed out by a judge.
5.64 percent hike in contributions from local districts needed to pump up a public employees pension plan.
14-11 vote in Pa. House committee in favor of bill to mandate sex education in the state.
2 alligators found in a trash bin in Philadelphia.
80 students and 11 teachers inside an elementary school yesterday that was hit by an SUV that went out of control in Aston.
3 copper thefts being investigated in Bensalem.
4 arson fires now being probed as a spree in Montgomery County.
4-5 record for Phils on their West Coast trip.
3 run double from Jayson Werth that tied the game in the 9th. How can they not sign this guy?
2 NBA rookies of the year from Delco. Tyreke Evans today is expected to join Geoff Petrie in hoops lore.
Call me a Phanatic: A look at the ups and downs of being a Philadelphia sports fan.What do you think the reaction Charlie Manuel would have gotten if he had done what Giants manager Bruce Bochy did yesterday when he took out his ace in the 9th, only to see the bullpen implode.
I Don’t Get It: I can’t believe that still another person has been struck and killed by a train in the county. I don’t get it.
Today’s Upper: Flyers vs. Bruins. Just like old times.
Quote Box: “I hope he learns from this, but I don’t think he will.”
- Home invasion victim John Johnston, after hearing for his step-grandson, who is charged in the incident.

Champions on Ice

Orange & Black vs. Black & Gold.

Count on one thing. It will be black and blue.

It is only appropriate that as we mark the 35th anniversary of the Broad Street Bullies, the Flyers and Bruins will offer an encore performance of one of the historic playoff series in Philadelphia sports history.

Tuesday night HBO will unveil a documentary looking at the legend and lore of the Broad Street Bullies.

That legend reached its peak on May 19, 1974. It was a Sunday afternoon. It would soon be history.

Sparked by a gap-toothed center from Flin Flon, Manitoba, and a French Canadien in goal, the Flyers changed the National Hockey League.

They did it with brute force.

They took on the mantra of their eccentric head coach, Fred Shero, who urged them to “take the most direct route to the puck, and arrive in ill humor.”

They did that all right. After seeing their undersized team pushed around for a couple of years, the Flyers brass decided to take a new direction.

The Broad Street Bullies were born. And hockey would never be the same.

The lowly expansion team Flyers not only quickly won back their respect, they soon learned they were something else – feared.

They terrorized the NHL, and made the Spectrum one of the most difficult places on earth for visiting teams to play.

Don’t believe it? Ask the mighty Soviet national team, which was having its way with the best of the NHL, embarrassing the league’s best teams, until they arrived in South Philly.

The Soviets soon learned what most of the NHL already knew, the Spectrum was the home of the Broad Street Bullies. After being bumped all over the ice, the Soviets retreated to their locker room, only to return to the ice when the Flyers’ brass informed them they wouldn’t get paid if they did not.

The Flyers’ win that day restored some of the luster to the NHL. For one day, all hockey fans were Flyers fans.

No one gave the Flyers much chance in the Stanley Cup finals against the vaunted Bruins of Bobby Orr and Phil Esposito.

The Flyers had other ideas. Backed by their good luck charm, Kate Smith and her rendition of “God Bless America,” the Flyers stunned the world.

Bernie Parent stood on his head, shutting out the Bruins, 1-0.

If you listen close enough, you can still hear the voice of the immortal Gene Hart, “Ladies and gentlemen, the Flyers … are going … to win …. the Stanley Cup.”

For emphasis, he then repeated it again and again.

“The Flyers win the Stanley Cup.”

Bobby Clarke, Dave ‘The Hammer’ Schultz, Bob “The Hound” Kelly, “Moose”
Dupont, Don “Big Bird” Saleski. The Watson Brothers.

They were champions.

In the process, they did something else.

They turned a city of losers, where most fans knew little other than a litany of terrible teams, into winners.

Thirty-five years later, it was still that band of hockey renegades that changed a city’s fortunes.

Mike Schmidt, Dr. J., Moses Malone, Ron Jaworski, Dick Vermeil, Curt Schilling, Charlie Manuel, Chase Utley and Ryan Howard would follow.

But the Orange and Black were first.

In the standings, and in our hearts.

Bring on the Bruins.

And crank up Kate Smith.

A tale of 2 districts

 Let’s call this one a tale of two school districts.

It pretty much tells you everything you need to know about the inequities involved in how this state funds public education.

School districts all over the region and struggling to control costs.

The operatative word in many districts is cuts.

School boards basically have two options. They can cut costs, which translates into programs, teachers and other staff, or they can raise taxes.

These days they are actually limited by state law to a tax hike that basically matches the state rate of inflation. Anything more than that they have to apply for permission to the state, and might even have to put the measure on the ballot.

We’ve seen recently how well that idea has been received in New Jersey, where a majority of school budgets were rejected by voters.

Of course, school budgets and the ability of residents to pay, can vary widely. Nowhere is that more evident than here in Delaware County.

Out in Radnor, the school board is looking at a budget gap of somewhere in the vicinity of $3 and $4 million. The board is looking at a 2.9 percent tax cap.


But an odd thing happened on the Main Line this week. The board’s meeting was packed with people who actually urged against any further cuts, saying they would rather the board hike taxes than cut more education programs.

Compare that with the situation in William Penn, one of the most distressed districts in the county.

There the school board also is looking at a shortfall of $2.7 million.

Board members are warning residents that more cuts are coming.

They shouldn’t hold their breath waiting for residents to rise up against the cuts, instead asking them to raise taxes.

That’s not likely to happen. The district’s tax base is devastated, and many senior citizens and those on fixed incomes are already taxed to the max.

Board President Charlotte Hummel is the one facing these daunting numbers. I don’t envy her even a little bit.

Board Vice President Jennifer Hoff said they likely will be looking at cutting more programs, which is about the last thing William Penn schools need.

But unlike their colleagues in Radnor, they don’t have much choice.

Delco's Rookie of the Year

A lot of good things have come out of the city of Chester.

Today something very special, with roots in Chester, will be honored.

Tyreke Evans, who grew up in the city and starred at American Christian Academy in Aston, is expected to be named the NBA’s Rookie of the Year.

In the process he becomes only the second person in the legendary history of Delco hoops to gain such an honor. Springfield’s Geoff Petrie, who ironically drafted Evans in his role as president of basketball operations for the Sacramento Kings, was named the league’s best rookie 39 years ago.

After his scintillating career at American Christian, Evans spent a year at the University of Memphis before turning pro.

He never looked back. Evans has been a force for the Kings, averaging
20.1 points per game, 5.3 rebounds and 5.8 assists.

Evans name now stands among the game’s greats, names like Oscar Robertson, Michael Jordan and LeBron James.

Well done, Tyreke. You did us proud.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

The Daily Numbers - April 28

The Daily Numbers: 723 jobs preserved at the Kimberly Clark plant in Chester with new contract.
40 days of negotiations, how long it took to reach the new labor deal.
5 years, length of the contract.
17 straight years that the Penncrest High School has captured the Envirothon competition at Ridley Creek State Park.
27 years as borough manager in Marcus Hook for Bruce Dorbian. He was honored recently by the state for his innovative practices in the borough.
35 trees planed on the Chester High School campus yesterday by students to celebrate Earth Day and boost the local environment.
9,700 dollars stolen from a 70-year-old man in South Philly when 3 men answered his ad placed on Craigslist.
2 women found shot to death in a Reading motel.
1,500 Temple University Hospital nurses who could be headed back to work after they reached a tentative deal on a new contract.
63, age of former exec at National Constitution Center who is now facing sentencing on child porn charges.
500 million dollars to be paid by drug giant AstraZeneca for sales of a drug that were not approved by the FDA.
800 people who showed up at a job fair held by the new SugarHouse Casino being built on the Philly waterfront.
550,000 dollars, how much Lower Merion School District has racked up in legal bills in their Webcam controversy.
25 years, how long SEPTA has been operating their Airport line. They’ll hold a party to celebrate today.
2, as in 2nd place, where Phillies find themselves this morning after losing again in San Francisco.
4 runs on 10 hits surrendered by Phils’ starter Jamie Moyer over his 6 innings.
4-0 record for Tim Lincecum, who takes the mound vs. Phils this afternoon in San Fran.
2-1 loss for the Union as they drop two in a row to New York Red Bulls.
Call me a Phanatic: A look at the ups and downs of being a Philadelphia sports fan.The Phillies hot start was a mirage. They beat the Nats and Astros. What have they done since? They need to get healthy, they need better pitching, and (what else is new) they need to get timely hits.
I Don’t Get It: Three guys answer a Craigslist ad placed by a 7-year-old man in South Philly. When they get there they hold him up and flee with $10,000 in cash. I don’t get it.
Today’s Upper: Kudos to the union and Kimberly Clark for agreeing on a new contract that will protect jobs at their Chester plant.
Quote Box: “We have a five-year agreement that ensures the viability of the Chester plant and the jobs there for the next five years. Now that’s very important.
- Carl Jones, chief negotiator for the United Steelworkers at Kimberly Clark.

A conversation with Anthony Williams

One of the men who wants to be governor dropped in on us here in downtown Primos yesterday.

It’s hard not to like state Sen. Anthony Williams.

Williams, a Democrat from Philly who also covers a portion of Delaware County, has a big, engaging personality.

He speaks his mind, and her doesn’t particularly care whose toes he steps on in the process.

Take education, for instance. Most candidates are very wary of crossing the powerful teachers unions in this state. Not Williams. He makes it clear that he’s a proponent of school choice. And he doesn’t back away when he’s confronted with a question of several of his biggest financial backers, who also just happen to be big fans of school choice.

They’ve given him a million bucks, by far his biggest backers. He makes no bones about it. They see eye to eye on education issues. They get no special deals out of it, no sweet contracts.

But it’s in talking about the economy that the ebullient Williams really comes to life.

He paints a fairly stark picture of the Pennsylvania economy: “We have cancer,” he says. “It’s the economy.”

Williams does not talk like a Democrat who has just enjoyed eight years of working with a Democratic governor. He says the state’s problems go back much farther than Ed Rendell, and they’re deeper than simply Republican or Democrat. They’re both at fault.

He believes Pennsylvania has fallen behind economically because we have not made the connection that we are not just competing state and region-wide, but world-wide.

He wants to push business incubators, not only to get more business to invest here, but to stay here. Today he believes too many business that start here move elsewhere because we don’t work with them nearly enough.

He makes it clear that people also have to take responsibility, including young people. They need to understand what tools it takes to compete in the marketplace and what to do once they get there, including something as simple as showing up for work on time.

He doesn’t want to hear about the tough circumstances many young people find themselves in. He consider much of it excuses.

He faces several other Democrats in the primary on May 18. Right now he’s busy building his name recognition in other parts of the state.

That’s where all those TV commercials urging people to “think outside the box” come in.

He’s already very much “outside the box,” at least in terms of what most politicians deliver.

All you have to do is talk to him for five minutes to understand that.

Bleeding ink

These are not the best of times for those of us who work at newspapers.

Nobody has to tell us that. Our parent company recently emerged from Chapter 11 bankruptcy. It’s not a lot of fun. It’s a little bit like walking on eggshells, not really sure if your next step is going to be your last.

Our company emerged from Chapter 11 and we are now embarking on something of a new course in diversifying into a multi-media company. We are pushing more and more content online, including the use of a lot of video. A couple of our sister papers will be taking part in what we are calling the Ben Franklin Project. They will create an issue of their publications using only tools available online.

But the truth is our hearts remains in newspapers.

So our hearts are heavy today for our colleagues who work at the Philadelphia Inquirer and Daily News. The newspapers are on the auction block, with current boss Brian Tierney locked in a bidding war with the creditors he borrowed much of the money from to buy the papers in the first place.

Some reports indicate that if the creditors win control of the company, all 4,500 employees will be fired and then have to reapply for their jobs. Only about half would be hired back.

In this business we all bleed ink.

Some of us more than others.

A Cowboy Eagles fans can love

Here’s a guy Eagles fans are just going to love.

And he’s a Cowboy.

Dallas signed a 6-foot-4, 251-pound tight end from New Hampshire.

So what’s the big deal? Well, it’s his name.

Scott Sicko.


Finally, a Cowboy Eagles fans can love.

Phillies looking up

The start of the Phillies season has been something of a mirage.

Today they find themselves in a place they have not been in almost a year.

Looking up.

Jamie Moyer could not stop the bleeding last night as the Phils fell to the Giants, 6-2. Moyer surrendered 10 hits and four runs in six innings.
The Phils’ bats also remained for the most part silent.

New $125 million man Ryan Howard got thrown out at second when he eased up on what he thought was a sure double into the right-field corner.

None of this should come as a surprise to Phillies’ fans. It is April, after all. The Phils almost always struggle in the first month of the season. And they never seem to play well in San Francisco.

The only reason they got off to a hot start this year was because the National League scheduled makers graced them with the Nationals and Astros for their first nine games. They have found out that other teams in the NL make for a tad bit more formidable foes than that lowly duo.

Today they will try to salvage one game in San Francisco by sending the human enigma, Cole Hamels, to the mound. He will be opposed by Tim Lincecum. How do you think that one will turn out?

The season might just begin in earnest Friday, when the Mets travel down the New Jersey Turnpike for their first series of the season.

And that team the Phils are now looking up at? That would be those very Mets, who have now won six straight.

Let the season begin.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

The Daily Numbers - April 27

The Daily Numbers: 125 million dollar contract extension signed by Ryan Howard and the Phillies yesterday.
0-for-3 with a strikeout, what Howard did last night vs. the Giants.
2 weekend shootings probed in Chester that left 2 men hospitalized.
75, age of homeowner in Aston who came face-to-face with burglary suspect in his home.
4 2-foot-high pot plants seized when police responded to a domestic disturbance in an Upper Darby home.
7-2 vote by Interboro School Board to hold half-day on Primary Day and half-day on Saturday, June 5 to make up for snow days.
3 million dollars, what the state is spending to push their 54-day tax amnesty program, which they hope will result in $190 million in new revenue.
3 bidders who will step up to the plate today as the Philadelphia Inquirer and Daily News go on the auction block. Our thoughts are on our colleagues at the city newspapers.
11 to 23 months in jail for the owner of a tractor-trailer that was involved in a fatal accident on the Schuylkill Expressway.
25, age of woman missing since she left a New York City bar with a man. Her remains were found yesterday in a remote spot in Pa.
24 pit bulls seized from a home in Delaware.
1 day cut off the teachers’ strike in the North Penn School District. A judge ordered teachers back to the classrooms today. The teachers are asking him to order the board to restart contract talks. Not a bad idea.
26, age of man killed when he was struck by a hit-run driver in Cherry Hill.
16, age of the victim, 61, age of a doctor in Philadelphia accused of raping a teen girl.
1.2 million being donated to Temple University for a new communications center by philanthropist Kal Rudman.
12.5 million paid for a residence in Philly, highest price in the city’s history.
7 innings and 5 strikeouts last night for Roy Halladay, but he fell for the first time to the Giants, 5-1.
4-1 record now for Halladay, with an ERA of 1.80. Not too shabby.
Call me a Phanatic: A look at the ups and downs of being a Philadelphia sports fan.Now that Ryan Howard is locked up pretty much for life, expect all eyes to turn to Jayson Werth. Do the Phils have any money left for him?
I Don’t Get It: What does it say about us that we are willing to pay a man $125 million to play a kid’s game, albeit better than almost anyone on the planet, at least when it comes to slugging balls into the cheap seats. Unfortunately, there really aren’t any cheap seats any more.
Today’s Upper: Kudos to Ridley police and the other departments who corraled a guy they suspect may be responsible for a series of pharmacy heists in the region.
Quote Box: “What was most important in a deal like this, was Ryan wanted to be a Phillie and they wanted him to be a Phillie for life.”
- Casey Close, agent for Ryan Howard, after the slugger and team agreed on $125 contract extension.

Howard plays Powerball

Like most working schlubs, when a lottery jackpot heads for the stratosphere, I casually toss in a couple of bucks to the office pool.

It’s not so much I think we have a chance in hell of hitting one of those mega-jackpots.

It’s the deep fear that the one time I don’t get in, my co-workers will hit it big, and snicker at my frugal (OK, cheap) ways as they file out the door.

I have no interest in being the only person left in the office.

Then there’s Ryan Howard. The Phillies power hitter hit his own Powerball jackpot yesterday.

The Phillies signed their slugger to a five-year contract extension worth $125 million.

That is not a typo. Howard will be paid $125 million to don the pinstripes and mash baseballs into the far reaches of Citizens Bank Park through 2013. In other words, Howard is likely going to be a Phillie for life.

That’s a good thing. So why does the whole thing rub me the wrong way?

It has nothing to do with baseball. I still love the game. It was the sport I fell for first, and the one still closest to my heart. I don’t blame Howard. Or the Phillies. The market forces driving sports these days are all about money. All those fans who jam into Citizens Bank Park all summer are there in part to see Howard.

There’s just something about someone making that kind of money to play the same game I played for hours on end as a kid just strikes me as a bit unnerving.

It’s not just baseball. It’s all sports. They throw these dollar figures around like it’s spare change. A million here, a couple million there, and finally $125 million there.

Make no mistake, we all pay for these salaries, at least in part. That’s why you need to take out a second mortgage to take the family to a game.
Realistically, have you ever counted up just what a day at the ballpark costs? For you, the wife, and two kids, add up the tickets, parking, something to eat and a souvenir, you’re staring at a tab that approaches several hundred dollars.

Then there is the ultimate slap in the face. The $6.75 beer, and a lousy one at that.

I wince every time I buy one of those, knowing my dad is rolling over in his grave.

More power to you, Ryan. Me? I guess I’ll just have to keep playing the Powerball.

School on Saturday?

Think you’ve heard the last of the cruel winter of 2009-2010?

Not exactly, especially if you happen to live in the Interboro School District.

You see there’s this pesky little state law that mandates students attend school for 180 days each year.

This year Old Man Winter wreaked havoc with that kind of schedule.

And now kids in the district are about to pay the price.

In order to get in the required amount of time, the Interboro School Board recently voted to hold a half-day of class on Primary Day, May 18, and another half-day on June 5.

No big deal, right?

There was some discussion about the problems of having kids in Norwood School on primary day, but that’s not really the one that caught my eye.

It was that other date, June 5. So what’s the big deal? June 5 is a Saturday.

Ouch! I’m glad I did not have to make that decision.

I’m guessing it is not going to be well-received.

Hey, maybe it will be a cold, rainy day. But if it’s a gorgeous sunny Saturday, I think we can predict a sudden case of “summertime blues” to grip the district, and a high absenteeism rate.

School on Saturday. Just the sound of it is probably enough to send tremors through the hearts of young people.

Pardon me, Roy

It turns out Roy Halladay is human after all.

He’s got plenty of company on the Phillies’ suddenly struggling roster.

The Phils’ bats once again showed last night what has become something of their calling card as they fell to the Giants, 5-1.

Hopefully you didn’t stay up to see this tired old song.

The Phils twice had the bases loaded and failed to score.

You can read all about it here.

And it turns that Halladay is human after all. He wasn’t helped by a constantly changing strike zone, but the Phillies’ ace suffered his first defeat of the season.

Halladay got touched for all five runs on 10 hits over seven innings. He struck out five.

Ryan Howard, maybe tired from carrying that $125 million check to the bank, took an 0-fer, going 0-for-3 with a strikeout.

The really bad news for the Phils is what happens now. The ageless one, Jamie Moyer, goes to the hill tonight.

The Phillies need someone else other than Moyer to step up. And they need to find their bats, especially when they have runners in scoring position.

Then again, it’s still April. Relax. The Phils remain in first place, barely, over the Marlins.

Everything will be all right. Won’t it?


Monday, April 26, 2010

The Daily Numbers - April 26

The Daily Numbers: 12,000 square feet of new playground in Haverford Township with the completion of Freedom Playground. Bravo!
184,000 square foot facility being planned by Costco for Concord Township.
19 Delaware County teachers named winners of the 2010 Excellence in Teaching Awards.
112,000 dollar bid for sewer installation in Concord Township.
32, age of Aston man facing child porn charges.
12, age of the alleged victim of a rape case in Delaware. The suspect, 27, is a state worker for the Division of Family Services.
2.86 a gallon, the 18-month high national average for the price of gas.
Yes, that is called pain at the pumps.
2.89, what we’re paying here in the Philly area.
1 person killed when jumped in front of a train in Philadelphia last night. It’s been ruled a suicide.
54 days of tax amnesty being offered by state of Pa. You can pay what you owe without getting smacked with penalties or interest.
2 boaters who are still missing in the Delaware Bay after their boat capsized.
1 week, how long teachers in the North Penn District have been on strike. No classes again today, the start of week 2.
1 month, how long nurses have been on strike against Temple Hospital.
5 members of a Delaware family injured in a bad crash on I-495 last night.
4 good innings yesterday for Phillies starter Kyle Kendrick.
Unfortunately, he imploded in the 5th, giving up two homers and turning a 3-0 Phils lead into a 5-3 deficit.
2 runs on 4 hits surrendered by Phillies reliever David Herndon.
53,000 people who jammed into Franklin Field Saturday to see Usain Bolt and his Jamaica teammates set a meet record in the 4x100 relay.
Call me a Phanatic: A look at the ups and downs of being a Philadelphia sports fan.Other than Roy Halladay, the Phillies starting pitching has nothing to write home about. The bullpen has not been any great shakes either. Not a good combination.
I Don’t Get It: Does it seem to anyone else that is has been weeks since the Flyers played? They’re waiting for winner of Caps-Canadiens series.
The two teams play tonight. If Montreal wins, they’ll play a Game 7 Wednesday night. Who knows when the Flyers next series will start?
Today’s Upper: Kudos to all this year’s All-Delco Hi-Q students, as well as the winners of the Teachers in Excellence Awards.
Quote Box: “I love each and every one of my kids.”
- Joanne Mallon, teacher at Pennington School in Glen Mills, and one of 2010’s winners of Excellence in Teaching Awards.

A tale of students and teachers

 Of the many things I get accused of every day, two usually rise to the top.

One complaint I pretty much can count on hearing every day is why there is so much negative news in the newspaper every day, especially when it comes to young people.

Then there are those who insist we never miss an opportunity to criticize the teaching profession.

First, let me admit that the complaints are not completely without merit. They just don’t tell the whole story, sort of what people accuse us of doing on a daily basis.

Yes, we report it when people do things they are not supposed to be doing. That includes young people. Do we present a skewed image of our young people by constantly focusing on the negative. Maybe.

That’s why we did this story on Sunday. It’s one we’ve been doing the past couple of years.


Congratulations to all the member of this year’s All-Delco Hi-Q team. In fact, kudos go out to all the kids who take part in this scholastic tournament. Well done.

Of course, those kids might not have the interest in scholastics that they so clearly possess without dedicated teachers.

Kind of like the ones we featured here.

Surprise, surprise, we do not believe everyone who goes into the teaching profession does so in order to have summers off.

It’s about time we put that old fallacy to rest.

These outstanding Delaware County teachers are testament to what the job entails.

I don’t expect these two stories to change people’s perceptions of the newspaper and how we cover stories.

But one thing I’ve realized over and over again in this profession is that there are two sides to every story.

Maybe our legions of critics can agree. I’m not going to hold my breath.

Welcome to Eddystone

We had a visit last week from the folks at Camden Iron and Metal Inc.

They did not have horns growing out of their heads.

Which might come as a bit of a surprise if you are paying attention to the dustup over their plan to bring their business to the borough of Eddystone.

A lot of people in the town are not exactly putting out the welcome wagon. In fact, there is a fairly vociferous opposition to the project coming to the old Foamex site off Route 291 at all.

You can read our story – and view the video – here.


The opposition to the plan is what you would normally expect – lots of truck traffic rumbling through the town, decreased property values, pollution problems.

They are legitimate concerns.

But I came away from the meeting trying to weigh the two sides of this issue - the clear economic advantages vs. the concerns of local residents. It is exactly the kind of question local municipal leaders face every day.

CIM plans to relocate their metal-shredding operations from Southwest Philly to the 63-acres site in Eddystone. They are bringing 237 employees with them. And they say they plan to add more once they get there. They hope to add 25 new jobs every year if they get the green light.

Of course, they also are bringing something else. Trucks. Lots of big trucks, maybe as many as 175 a day.

But it’s not exactly like these trucks are going to be rumbling through residential neighborhoods. For the most part they likely will be going up and down Route 291, not terribly different from what traverses the industrial tract now.

Those who oppose the plan also wonder about the environmental impact of the shredding operations. It is a legitimate point.

The folks at CIM seem like they are willing to work with the group, along with the borough, to satisfy any concerns.

The matter is now in the hands of borough council. When exactly they will make their ruling is not known. A legal challenge, regardless of how they rule, could be in the making.

But for right now, it’s hard to argue with the economic boost CIM will bring to Eddystone, even with the baggage they bring with them.

That's the challenge the local group has in front of them, convincing their elected leaders of their concerns and that this project will have a decidedly negative effect on their town.

And that sounds like exactly what they plan to do.

Phils need a call to arms

Kyle Kendrick continues his Jekyll & Hyde act.

After struggling in his first couple of starts, Kendrick tossed a gem last week. Of course, that was the day the Phils’ bats went to sleep.

Yesterday, Kendrick took the hill in Phoenix and looked like he was going to pick up right where he left off.

He was lights out for four innings. Unfortunately, he went back out to the mound for the fifth, and promptly imploded. You can read beat writer Ryan Lawrence’s take on the game here.

It’s almost as if “Cole Hamels disease” is spreading on the Phils’

staff. Kendrick got dinged for two long balls in the fifth as the D-Backs batted around. Just like that a 3-0 Phils lead was now a 5-3 deficit.

Something to think about with this team. If their starting pitchers (non-Roy Halladay division) can’t get past he fourth or fifth innning, Charlie Manuel’s bullpen arms will have the consistency of overcooked spaghetti come August.

The Phils need more consistent pitching.

They’ve now lost their first road series, in the process dropping two of three in the desert. That means they’ve now lost five of their last eight.

They need a stopper.

Thankfully, Halladay takes the mound tonight in San Francisco.

They need him to come up big time. Again. It’s something we’re already getting used to, even this early in the season.


Friday, April 23, 2010

The Daily Numbers - April 23

The Daily Numbers: 13th pick in the NFL Draft, where Eagles jumped up to from 24th to take Brandon Graham, defensive end from Michigan.
4-1 margin by which the Flyers ushered the New Jersey Devils out of the Stanley Cup playoffs.
6 strong innings for Phillies starter Jamie Moyer as they beat the Braves, 8-3.
20 percent of purchases at the Chick-fil-A in Concord yesterday that went to a special fund for injured state Trooper Jean Altomari. That’s a good thing.
17, age of girl from Brookhaven who has been missing since Tuesday.
19, age of victim of a shooting who was hit several times as he stood with friends on Burnside Road in Darby Township Wednesday night.
6-3 vote by which the Rose Tree Media School District approved a new contract for teachers.
150 million dollar budget gap staring at Philly Mayor Michael Nutter.
3 7-Eleven stores struck by robbers within a span of an hour early Thursday in Olney. In one the clerk was pistol-whipped.
48, age of the head of Wilmington’s Legal Aid Society, who was struck and killed by hit-run driver.
1,500 dollars worth of merchandise police say a woman ripped off from a Kohl’s store in Wilmington. She had her daughter, 10, and a niece, 8, with her at the time.
2 Philly police officers injured when their cruiser collided with another car last night at 48th and Chestnut streets.
3 teens shot outside a rec center in Cobbs Creek Thursday night in West Philly.
9 times in 11 meetings the Flyers got the better of the Devils this year.
28 shots stopped by Flyers goalie Brian Boucher.
500 people who gathered at the Wachovia Center last night to watch the Flyers beat the Devils on the big board. Admission was free. The beer was not.
2 errors last night for Chase Utley, which led to the Braves scorring 2 runs.

Call me a Phanatic: A look at the ups and downs of being a Philadelphia sports fan.Anyone else have smoke coming out of their remote control last night trying to keep track of the Flyers, Phillies and NFL Draft.
I Don’t Get It: Still another street shooting, this one occurred in Darby Township. Not good.
Today’s Upper: Kudos to all involved in the fundraiser to help injured state Trooper Jean Altomari. Well done.
Quote Box: “Jean, we love you.”
- State Police Cpl. Leo Becerra, at yesterday’s fundraiser for injured Trooper Jean Altomari.

Super Troopers

I get plenty of opportunities to deliver bad news. It kind of comes with the territory. Too often the headlines deal with people at their worst, or others dealing with some of the most horrific circumstances life can deliver.

So I am always looking for a positive story.

Today we have a good one. No, make that a great one.

The headline on Page One pretty much tells you everything you need to know. But you should still check out Rose Quinn’s story here.

“Delco opens heart

to injured trooper”

State Trooper Jean Altomari was paralyzed in a car crash while vacationing in the Caribbean. She’s not about to let that keep her down.

Now she’s getting a little help from her friends. Yesterday her fellow troopers as well as the public turned out in force for a fundraiser at the Chick-fil-A in Concord.

The place was packed most of the day.

It’s a good story. No, make that a great story. It tells you a lot about the people who live in this county.

Earlier in the day, Altomari learned she was named Trooper of the Year for the Philadelphia, Media and Skippack barracks.

Well done, Jean.

And well done to all those who showed up to offer a helping hand.

Super troopers, all around.

How not to win friends in high places, Sestak style

You get the feeling Joe Sestak is starting to enjoy jabbing his party’s leaders in the eye.

Sestak has not exactly made a lot of friends in high places with his Don Quixote-kike mission to topple the long-term incumbent – but newly minted Democrat –Arlen Specter.

This week things heated up even more when both camps rolled out their first TV ads. Specter is going negative, with a piece blasting Sestak for his attendance record, referring to him as “no-show Joe.” But that’s not what has really gotten under Sestak’s skin.

It’s the inference in the ad that Sestak was “relieved of duty in the Navy for creating a poor command climate.”

Sestak, who retired from the Navy as an admiral, is not amused. Neither is a bunch of vets who back him. They’ve called on Specter to pull the ad. That’s not likely to happen.

But Sestak isn’t done. He’s taking his message to the top. Or at least the next rung down. Sestak has called on Vice President Joe Biden to repudiate the ad, which Sestak likens to the “Swift Boat” campaign used against Sen. John Kerry. Biden has opposed such tactics. Now Sestak is calling on him to be true to his word.

All of which takes this campaign full circle. You might remember Biden, the longtime senator from Delaware, was driving the welcome wagon when Specter made his infamous party switch last spring.

He was joined by President Barack Obama and Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell.

Sestak had been approached to run before Specter’s switch. After it, everyone expected him to step aside. They thought wrong. Sestak has been rubbing the party bigwigs the wrong way ever since.

It will be interesting to see if Biden reacts, and if he has anything to say about the Specter ad.

One thing’s for sure: Sestak is doing this his way. He might not have many friends left in the party when this is over. Then again, if he wins, and dumps Specter, all will be forgotten.

That’s why they say politics makes strange bedfellows.

All eyes on the Draft

It was one of those nights where a real Philly sports fan was put to the test. As was his TV remote.

The Flyers were in the process of sticking a fork in the Devils. The ageless wonder, Jamie Moyer, was leading the Phils over the Hot-Lanta Braves.

But real Philly fans know there was only one event going on last night.

They have turned the NFL Draft into a three-day, prime-time event.

You always know it’s draft time when the best hair on the planet – which sits atop Mel Kiper’s head, starts popping up on your TV again. What does this guy do the rest of the year?

If you were like me, you clicked over from the Flyers game to the draft to keep tabs on the Eagles, who had the 24th pick in the first round.

But right after Roger Goodell announced the No. 12 pick, with San Diego taking Ryan Matthews with a pick they got in a trade with Miami, the talking heads on ESPN announced the Eagles had moved up as well, swapping first-round picks and a couple of third-round picks with the Broncos.

Of course they all then proceeded to spend several minutes explaining the Eagles did so in order to nab safety Earl Thomas out of Texas.

Wrong, draftnik breath.

Goodell strode to the mic and announced that with the 13th pick, the Eagles had selected Brandon Graham, defensive end out of Michigan.

Graham very likely becomes a starter and immediate impact player on the Birds’ D-line.

Most interesting will be what happens in the second round today, where the Birds have a ton of picks.

The Flyers now move on to the second round, very likely against the Caps, although that series might not start until next Thursday.

The Phillies head west to Arizona.

Which means, for now, the Eagles and the draft have the stage.

Just the way Jeff Lurie and Joe Banner like it.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

The Daily Numbers - April 22

The Daily Numbers: 3 men charged with drug and weapons offenses in the wake of a wild street shooting in Darby Borough.
17, age of teen girl who has been missing since she was last seen Tuesday in Brookhaven.
1 winning ticket in last night’s $252 milllion dollar Powerball drawing. Relax, it was sold in Missouri.
150,000 Kia and Hyndai cars that will be unloaded each year at a new facility at Pier 38 on the Delaware River neat the Walt Whitman Bridge.
12,000 square feet of space being turned into a very special playground for disabled kids at the new Community Park at Haverford Reserve.
25 million dollars infused into the local economy by the visit by Tiger Woods to Aronimink Golf Club in Newtown Square in July.
63,000 dollars put up by Philadelphia, along with a grant of $15,000 to refurbish the Joan of Arc statue at the entrance to Kelly Drive.
3 people discovered living in an armed camp in the woods in Upper Dublin, Montgomery County.
48, age of man from West Grove, Chester County, killed when he was run down on Wilmington street by hit-run vehicle that was involved in several crashes. The driver also hit 3 cars and a parking meter.
6 school buses that had their tires slashed yesterday morning, delaying classes at Clearview High School in South Jersey.
1 woman killed when flames roared through a home in Northeast Philly overnight.
30, age of suspect who was arrested for a convenience store robbery in Delaware when the clerk turned the tables and held him until police arrived.
3.2 billion dollar spending plan unveiled by school officials in Philly, which is dependent on $163 million in fed stimulus money.
12,700 students in North Penn School District who remain out of school for 4th day in teachers strikes. There are talks scheduled tonight.
5 hits and 0 runs, all Roy Halladay gave up as he shut out the Braves last night.
4-0, Halladay’s record.
0.82, his ERA. Just outstanding.
1 more win, all the Flyers need to put away the Jersey Devils. They clash tonight in North Jersey.
24th pick, where Eagles will select in tonight’s first round of the NFL Draft.

Call me a Phanatic: A look at the ups and downs of being a Philadelphia sports fan.In case you forgot, this is why the Phillies went out and got Roy Halladay. Think there’s anything going on tonight in sports. You’ve got Flyers and Phils, the NFL Draft, and just for good measure the Penn Relays kick off at Franklin Field.
I Don’t Get It: It never ceases to amaze how quickly people resort to gunfire to settle their differences. It happened again this week in Darby Borough, just down the street from an elementary school. I don’t get it.
Today’s Upper: The Philadelphia Union continues to cement its ties to the city of Chester, where it will play its home games, with a new marketing partnership with Widener University.
Quote Box: “We are not going to have another summer like the one we had last year. We’re just not going to tolerate it.”
- Darby top cop Bob Smythe, on latest shootout not far from a local elementary school.

Sestak vs. Specter, taking off the gloves

It took awhile, but the heat is finally being turned up in the expected Democratic donnybrook that is the primary battle between longtime Sen.
Arlen Specter and U.S. Rep. Joe Sestak.

Not surprising, it comes at the same time the two camps finally rolled out their TV ads this week.

Specter struck first. Now you know why he is sometimes referred to as “Snarlin’ Arlen.”

Specter went negative, blasting Sestak as “no-show Joe” for his voting record, and questioning his leadership qualities, saying the retired admiral was relieved of duty in the Navy “for creating a poor command climate.”

Sestak returned fire, calling the ad a “Swift Boat” tactic and rallying veterans who asked Specter to pull the ad. Don’t hold your breath, was the senator’s reply.

Sestak also rolled out his first TV ad this week.

Guess who plays a minor supporting role? We do. By that I mean this newspaper.

In the ad Sestak talks about why he first ran for office, the situation involving his daughter, who successfully battled a brain tumor, and how grateful he was for the health care benefits afforded him in the Navy and how it was his mission to make sure all Americans had something comparable. He then talks about other things he pushed while in D.C.

That’s where we come in. You have to look quick, but a couple of newspaper articles flash on the screen.

One of them lauds the candidate with the headline, “Sestak works hard to create new jobs.”

But there’s one thing about that article. It’s actually a letter to the editor. We printed it. It was from a Sestak supporter.

This newspaper is often accused of being in Sestak’s pocket. No doubt that will continue since we’re now in his ads as well.

We are about a month away from the primary. Get used to seeing Sestak and Specter on TV.

And buckle your seat belts. This one looks like it’s going to be a bumpy ride.

Laying down the law in Darby Borough


Sounds like the marshal of the “Wild, Wild West” that is Darby Borough these days is looking to restore a little law and order.

That’s the word from Chief Bob Smythe after the latest wild shootout in the tiny town.

 Smythe is vowing to get things under control and not have a repeat of last year’s summer, which was pockmarked by street shootings.

Smythe could not be more clear:

“We are not going to have another summer like the one we had last year.”

In particular, he called out what he referred to as “drug-dealing punks.”

“This is not going to be Dodge City,” the chief proclaimed.

That’s a good thing.

Because as we also report today, residents are concerned for their safety.


This week’s street shooting happened just down the street from Park Lane Elementary School.

It’s way past time for someone to bring law and order back to Darby’s streets.

Maybe Darby Borough has reached the tipping point.

Maybe citizens, borough officials and police can put aside their long-standing differences and unite behind a common theme.

Enough is enough. We’re mad as hell and we’re not going to take it anymore.

'Doc' operates

This is why the Phillies went out and got Roy Halladay.

They had lost three in a row. They had gotten eight strong innings from Cole Hamels, only to have their bats go south. Then they got a great outing from Kyle Kendrick, only to have their bullpen implode.

They needed a stopper. Enter Halladay.

Halladay went the distance last night, shutting out the Braves on five hits. In the process he extended his record to 4-0 and lowered his ERA to an infinitesimal 0.82.

But Halladay wasn’t alone in the heroics department.

The Phils are known for their bats, but last night they flashed some serious leather.

You might say that they showed their new ace some serious “glove.”

Shane Victorino scaled the center-field wall to bring back a sure home run and turn it into an out.

When the Bravbes loaded the bases with the Phils nursing a 2-0 lead, Chase Utley dove for a hot grounder headed up the middle and turned it into an inning-ending double-play. Instead of a tie game, the Phils headed for the dugout. And Ryan Howard also made a stellar play at first.

Halladay continues to amaze.

Think he can skate? Maybe the Flyers could put him out there for injured Jeff Carter or Simon Gagne tonight.

Is he a draftnik? Maybe the Eagles brass should consult the hottest guy in town for his thoughts before they make their pick tonight.

The Sixers? Nah, they’re beyond help.

Halladay is the real deal. They don’t call him “Doc” for nothing. Last night he was operating, and the Phils were doing the same behind him.

End of losing streak.

'Doc' Halladay operates

This is why the Phillies went out and got Roy Halladay.

They had lost three in a row. They had gotten eight strong innings from Cole Hamels, only to have their bats go south. Then they got a great outing from Kyle Kendrick, only to have their bullpen implode.

They needed a stopper. Enter Halladay.

Halladay went the distance last night, shutting out the Braves on five hits. In the process he extended his record to 4-0 and lowered his ERA to an infinitesimal 0.82.

But Halladay wasn’t alone in the heroics department.

The Phils are known for their bats, but last night they flashed some serious leather.

You might say that they showed their new ace some serious “glove.”

Shane Victorino scaled the center-field wall to bring back a sure home run and turn it into an out.

When the Bravbes loaded the bases with the Phils nursing a 2-0 lead, Chase Utley dove for a hot grounder headed up the middle and turned it into an inning-ending double-play. Instead of a tie game, the Phils headed for the dugout. And Ryan Howard also made a stellar play at first.

Halladay continues to amaze.

Think he can skate? Maybe the Flyers could put him out there for injured Jeff Carter or Simon Gagne tonight.

Is he a draftnik? Maybe the Eagles brass should consult the hottest guy in town for his thoughts before they make their pick tonight.

The Sixers? Nah, they’re beyond help.

Halladay is the real deal. They don’t call him “Doc” for nothing. Last night he was operating, and the Phils were doing the same behind him.

End of losing streak.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

The Daily Numbers - April 21

The Daily Numbers: 3 teen boys who were struck by a car driven by a Lansdowne woman back on Nov. 24. She was held for trial in the case.
3 men in custody in a gunbattle that raged on a Darby street yesterday afternoon. It happened near an elementary school.
41, age of the former head of the Special Victims Unit in Bensalem. He now faces charges of sexual assault.
31, age of woman, a convicted sex offender, in Lansdale who now faces new charges of having sex with a teen boy.
2 people struck by a car last night on the campus of West Chester University.
24 more sex charges filed against Dr. Earl Bradley in southern Delaware.
The pediatrician already faces charges that he videotaped and molested hundreds of children.
270 full-time jobs being created by an auto-finishing plant being proposed for a waterfront site in Philly near the Walt Whitman Bridge.
260 of 479 school budgets in 19 counties rejected by voters in New Jersey.
400 vote margin, by which the budget in Cherry Hill was voted down.
2 Philadelphia firefighters, a father and son, who now face charges in a road rage case in which another driver was beaten up.
13, age of skateboarder struck and killed by a motorist in Bucks County on March 17. A 25-year-old driver has now been charged with being under the influence at the time.
1 million dollars now being offered for Valley Swim Club in Montgomery County, site of racial bias case last summer.
2 home runs surrendered by Ryan Madson last night as the Phils blew a 3-0 lead and lost to the Braves, 4-3.
8 strong innings for starter Kyle Kendrick, which went down the drain thanks to the bullpen.
3 straight losses now for the suddenly scuffling Phillies.
3-1 lead for the Flyers as they look to put away the Devils Thursday night.
3 of October, circle the date, that’s when Donovan McNabb returns to Lincoln Financial Field with the Redskins.

Call me a Phanatic: A look at the ups and downs of being a Philadelphia sports fan.Brad Lidge can’t get back soon enough. And if he struggles, don’t ask what the Phillies are going to do for a closer. One thing we now know once again. Ryan Madson is not a closer.
I Don’t Get It: If there’s a more sinister, uglier case than the child molestation charges swirling around Dr. Earl Bradley in Lewes, Del., I haven’t seen it. Almost beyond belief.
Today’s Upper: Let’s hear it for the kids who staged a “flash” without the “mob” yesterday in Rittenhouse Square. Well done.
Quote Box: “At any time in those next 15 or 20 minutes there could have been 20 or 30 kids there.”
- Darby top cop Bob Smythe, on a shootout yesterday not far from a local elementary school.

A toast to Rep. Mike Turzai

I have a new hero.

His name is Rep. Mike Turzai. He’s a Republican from Pittsburgh. I won’t hold that against him.

Why am I a fan of a state representative from the other side of the state? He is proposing something I have been promoting for years.

Turzai wants to push the plunger on the state Liquor Control Board.
That’s right, not tinkering with expanded hours, or dressing up state stores, or educating clerks on fine wine.

He wants to blow it up. I’ll drink to that.

Turzai today is expected to introduce legislation that would get the state out of the booze business. He’d auction state stores to the highest bidders and also ax Pa.’s 18 percent tax on alcohol sales.

Turzai is doing it for fiscal reasons. The state is broke and desperately needs the money the sale of the system would raise. He’ll get no argument from me. I’ve been voicing the belief that the state should turn this entire thing over to private enterprise for years.

It’s would end the antiquated way the state sells alcohol.
Unfortunately, it would not affect the bizarre method that state applies to beer sales. You’d still have to go one place for beer, another for wine or other spirits. And of course you’d still have to go to a deli or local tavern if you only want to purchase a six-pack, and pay a steep price along the way. If you want a case, you have to go to a distributor. But you can’t buy a six-pack there.

Beer is now being sold by the six-pack in some supermarkets, but they’re few and far between.

Here’s what I want. I want to be able to pick up a six-pack in the local convenience store. I want to be able to buy beer (a single, six-pack or a case), along with wine and spirits, as well as beer and ice all in one spot, preferably while I am buying groceries.

I still won’t be able to do that under Turzai’s plan, but at least it’s a start.

Turzai says the sale of the system’s stores could raise $2 billion. And he suggests the tax revenue could be made up from license renewal and transfer fees.

Any such talk has always been opposed by one rather formidable group.
That would be the United Food and Commercial Workers who represent state store workers. I’m not buying. I think most of those jobs simply would be transferred to private entities.

Turzai’s bill doesn’t really address the beer situation. You’d still face the same obstacles and hoops that you have to jump through now.

And it would be unlikely that wine and spirits would show up in your local supermarket anytime soon.

It would simply close the state stores and turn those facilities over to private enterprise.

But it’s a start.

And I’ll be the first to raise my glass.

Here, here, Rep. Turzai.

The tax wars

Ever wonder why local school boards are loathe to the idea of putting their budget plans on the ballot?

Take a gander at what happened across the river in New Jersey yesterday.

It was a bloodbath.

Fueled by a bare-bones budget by new Republican Gov. Chris Christie and a spitting match between him and the state teachers’ unions over spending cuts, voters showed up at the polls in much larger numbers than normal.

Keep in mind that, unlike here in Pa., voters in N.J. routinely vote on their school budgets.

Most of the time it’s little more than a rubber stamp of the fiscal plan developed by the school board.

Not yesterday.

The early count indicates as many as 260 of 479 budgets across the state got shot down by voters.

One place where voters made their voice clear was Cherry Hill, where a budget that called for a 4 percent tax hike and the loss of 89 teachers was soundly rejected by voters. It was the same story in a lot of towns across South Jersey, such as Maple Shade, Voorhees and Woodbury.

What’s not yet clear is whether the budgets were rejected because they call for tax hikes, with the blame going to Christie’s austere budget, or if residents rejected them out of a fear of what staff cuts would do to their education system.

What is clear is that we shouldn’t hold our breath waiting for school boards here to put their budget plans on the ballot.

The voters are made as hell, and at least in New Jersey, they’re not going to take it anymore.

Oct. 3, circle the date

Oct. 3. Circle the date, Eagles fans.

If you thought the return of Michael Vick was a circus, you ain’t seen nothing yet.

It will be Week 4 of the NFL season when Donovan McNabb leads the Washington Redskins into Lincoln Financial Field.

Ironically, the NFL schedule makers did not deem this classic grudge match worthy of prime time. Instead it will air as a national game at 4:15.

As if there was not enough heat swirling around the game, McNabb yesterday threw another couple of logs on the fire when he suggested to D.C. management that they add his old pal Terrell Owens. Mike Shanahan did not seem especially amused.

Neither will the Linc faithful.

Maybe the bigger question is just what the Eagles record will be in Week 4. They face a very tough opener against Green Bay at the Linc on Sept.
4, then hit the road for games at Detroit and Jacksonville.

When they make the hike down I-95 to meet Donovan in D.C., that game will be on Monday Night Football on Nov. 15.

The NFL has certainly deemed the McNabb-less Eagles ready for prime time, even if their match with the ‘Skins is not. The Birds will play five prime time games, either Sunday or Monday night.

Which is a lot more than we can say about Ryan Madson, at least in terms of his efforts as a closer.

We’ve been down this road before. Now it’s happening again. Every time the Phils have been forced to turn to Madson to fill the closer’s role, he promptly closes the door on his foot.

Last night the Phillies sailed into the ninth inning with a 3-0 lead, bolstered by an outstanding eight-inning performance from Kyle Kendrick.

Unfortunately, after throwing 108 pitches, the Phils turned to Madson to slam the door on the Braves in the ninth.

Uh, not exactly. Madson gave up two homers to tie the score, then Jose Contreras gave up one more in the 10th as the Phils squandered a great Kendrick effort and a sure win, losing 4-3.

Finally, there is the Flyers. Thank god for the Flyers.

And thank god for Chris Pronger. This is why the Flyers acquired the rugged defenseman. He is a big-game player, a leader, someone who knows when to flip the switch when the playoffs arrive.

The Flyers now hold a commanding 3-1 lead over the Devils and will look to seal the deal in North Jersey Thursday night.

And I can’t help but make the comparison. In just one year here, Pronger has proved to be everything Donovan McNabb was not in a decade.

Everything Pronger does simply exudes leadership. Everything McNabb did seemed to skirt it.

See you on Oct. 3, Donovan.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

The Daily Numbers - April 20

The Daily Numbers: 2 brothers arrested in the daylight stabbing of a man on an Upper Darby sidewalk.
16, age of teen now charged as an adult in the shooting death of a 23-year-old man in Chester.
3 men charged in a series of home break-ins targeting residents in Upper and Lower Chichester.
6 people who escaped serious injury when fire broke out in their Claymont home early this morning.
3 horse-drawn carriages in Philadelphia damaged when they were struck by an out-of-control car. Charges are pending against the driver.
41, age of the former head of the Special Victims Unit in Bensalem who now faces charges of sexual assault.
6 people swindled out of thousands of dollars as well as their pets by an unlicensed Wilmington dog trainer, according to police.
56,000 images now believed to have been captured by Lower Merion School District off student laptops as that story explodes.
2 students at Allentown Allen High School slashed. Another student faces charges.
2 women shot as they stood outside a store in South Philadelphia Monday afternoon.
30 people involved in a fight between frats at Indiana University of Pennsylvania using cinderblocks, a shovel, baseball bat and a machete.
5, as in 5th round draft pick, what Eagles gave up for linebacker Ernie Sims, who they got from the Lions.
1 start that will be missed by Phillies pitcher J. A. Happ, who is having soreness in his throwing elbow.

Call me a Phanatic: A look at the ups and downs of being a Philadelphia sports fan.
The Phillies insist that the soreness that will cause J.A. Happ to miss a start is no big deal. Sure.
I Don’t Get It: The one-time head of the Special Victims Unit in Bensalem, Bucks County, has been arrested. What’s the charge? Sexual assault. I don’t get it.
Today’s Upper: There is now grass on the “pitch” at PPL Park in Chester, home of the Philadelphia Union. Talk about your splendor in the grass.
Quote Box: “They could have killed him.”
- Upper Darby top cop Mike Chitwood, on vicious stabbing attack on a sidewalk outside a place of worship in broad daylight.

Remembering Greg Greenday

In this business, where deadlines once were a daily occurrence, and now in the Internet age are a minute-by-minute affair, stress levels tend to run high.

People react to stress in different ways. Some of us curse, scream and kick things. OK, that’s actually just me.

Then there was Greg Greenday.

I had the singular honor of working with Greg every day for more than 20 years.

During that time, especially in the last decade when I found myself in the editor’s chair and Greg was one of my trusted assistant city editors, I must have gone into my Mount St. Helens act hundreds of times.

I never once saw Greg lose his cool. Or raise his voice. He was the consumate professional.

We shared a couple of passions. We were both avid golfers. One of us could actually play. It wasn’t me.

Years ago, back when many of the editors were routinely off on Fridays, Greg used to put together golf outings over at Beckett Golf Club in New Jersey.

Make no mistake, Greg could really play. The rest of us were hackers. I had just taken up the game. A couple of decades later, I can actually get around a course fairly well. I have no great desire to go out with a bunch of guys who don’t know a pitching wedge from a club sandwich, who think golf etiquette is a T-shirt that doesn’t have holes in it.

But Greg loved it. He would cajole us around the course, offering encouragement, giving a tip here and there. And always sharing that huge smile. He was happy on the golf course. But that was not terribly different from any other place he landed in life.

The other passion we shared was the quaint notion of putting ink on paper.

Like me, Greg was a bit of a throwback. He was what we now refer to as a “print guy.”

Greg started at the Daily Times covering sports as a correspondent. It was the start of a lifetime love affair.

After a side trip to Widener University as their director of sports information, Greg joined our sports staff in 1984. Over the next 23 years, he would do just about everything you could do in sports. And when that was not enough, he “crossed over,” landing on the city desk as an assistant sports editor.

Saying Greg was well-known in the Delco sports community is kind of like saying the pope is Catholic. Ya think?

When it comes to Delco, I’m a bit of an outsider. I grew up in Chester County. Every time I meet someone in Delco and I tell them where I work, they inevitably ask me the same question. “Do you know Greg Greenday?”
What usually followed is a testament to something Greg had done for them, or something he wrote.

Over the years, Greg wrote a lot. He wrote about community sports. He wrote about bowling. He wrote about golf. He would beam every spring as the calendar ticked down toward April and his annual jaunt to Augusta National to cover the Masters. Eventually he took on the Eagles beat, and he brought with it the same warmth and humanity he used to cover sports in Delaware County. He was one of the first to zero in on a vast, untapped area of sports coverage – summer softball. His work formed the backbone of what – 25 years later – is one of this newspaper’s greatest legacies, the annual Champs ‘N’ Charity Classic. The funds from that tournament every year go to the American Cancer Society.

Eventually, Greg made the decision to try something else in life, but his heart always remained in newspapers. When his new venture didn’t work out, he went back to what he loved, becoming sports editor of the Daily Local News in West Chester.

And he immediately went about instituting the same kind of community coverage he pushed here. He was instrumental in the move to create the Chester County Sports Hall of Fame.

I still would talk to Greg often. He was now working in Chester County, but his heart remained here in Delco.

Greg Greenday died over the weekend. He leaves behind a hole in his family here at the Daily Times, and in the sports communities of both Delaware and Chester counties that will be impossible to fill.

I have lost a dear friend. And if you read this newspaper, or if you were involved in local sports, you may not realize it, but you also have lost a friend.

That’s the kind of guy Greg Greenday was.

A newspaperman. And one of the best I ever knew.

Rest well, Greg.

And one other thing. When you get to those heavenly links, hit ‘em well.

For Chester, call it Splendor in the Grass

I’m learning more about soccer each day.

That’s because soccer is about to become a very big player on the Delco sports landscape.

The Philadelphia Union started play this year in Major League Soccer.
Their name says Philadelphia, but their home is in Chester.

We were at Turbine Hall in the restored old Peco Power Station Saturday for a job fair being held by the Union to fill jobs at their new home, PPL Park.

The stadium is under construction under the Commodore Barry Bridge on the city’s waterfront.

Yesterday we went inside PPL Park.

For those of you – like me – who didn’t know it before, the playing surface in soccer is not called a field. It’s called the pitch. Don’t ask me why.

Yesterday they started installing the sod on which some of the best soccer players in the world will soon compete.

In Chester.

Many of the 18,500 seats are already in place. There’s no mistaking it, a major league franchise will soon be playing its home games in Chester.

Unfortunately, their first appearance is still more than two months away.

The Union has played “one” home game at Lincoln Financial Field. They will play one more game there. But most of their early schedule will feature road games.

They will not play a game in their new home in Chester until June 27.

But make no mistake. There is a stadium in Chester that is nearing completion. Almost 20,000 people will flock there to watch soccer.

In Chester.

For a city that spent a lot of years down on its luck, but is now in the midst of a renaissance, you might call it Splendor in the Grass.

Or the Perfect Pitch.

Chester is a major league city again.

2 key dates for Eagles fans

By this time tomorrow, there will be two dates circled on the calendar of every die-hard Eagles fan.

Thursday night’s NFL Draft, in which the Birds have a ton of picks, is not one of them.

The NFL releases its 2010 schedule tonight.

Eagles fans will be especially interested in a couple of games next year, that being the two games against the Washington Redskins.

Yes, the Eagles play their key NFC East opponent every year. But this year the ’Skins will be led onto the field by a new field general. He’ll be the guy wearing No. 5. Maybe you’ve heard of him. His name is Donovan McNabb.

If I’m the NFL, I’m making the return of McNabb to Lincoln Financial Field a featured game on either Sunday or Monday night the first week of the season.

It’s a natural storyline, the spurned QB returning to the stadium where he starred for years, but never delivered the one thing the fans cried out for – a Super Bowl title.

In the meantime, the Eagles continue to remake their roster. Yesterday they added linebacker Ernie Sims from the Lions for what seems like the bargain price of a fifth round draft pick. Just a few years ago, the Florida State star was the No. 9 pick in the entire draft, a first round star nabbed by the Lions in 2006.

Yesterday Sims sounded the theme of many stars on their way out of town – “it just didn’t work out.”

Sims suffered a shoulder injury last year and played in just 11 games.
He also tore a hamstring later in the year.

He becomes an immediate starter for the Birds.

And he’ll be one of many looking to shut down McNabb twice next year.

Monday, April 19, 2010

The Daily Numbers - April 19

The Daily Numbers: 30 of April, when state Rep. Mario Civera says he will resign from his post.
60 days, how long the House Speaker must wait before calling for a special election to fill the seat.
3 firefighters injured battling a blaze at a home in Yeadon Sunday morning.
37.7 million dollar renovation project set at Springton Lake Middle School.
100,000 bail for 3 burglary suspects charged in a rash of home break-ins in Chester and Delaware counties.
8 p.m., when kids now have to be off the street in Marcus Hook under a curfew that is being strictly enforced.
1,000 who showed up at PPL Park in Chester Saturday looking for jobs at the new soccer stadium that will be home to the Philadelphia Union MLS team
252 million dollars up for grabs in Wednesday night’s Powerball drawing. No one hit Saturday night.
211 million dollar Powerball drawing won by a school board member in North Jersey.
12,700 students out of class today in the North Penn School District in Montco after teachers went on strike.
30,000 teachers who might retire in New Jersey in the wake of budget cuts that could affect their pensions.
2.88 a gallon, what we’re paying on average at the pump in the Philly region for gas.
46, age of former elementary school aide who admitted there was enough evidence to convict him of abusing 3 boys.
12, age of boy riding a scooter who was struck by car in Bucks County Sunday night. He suffered severe head trauma.
21, age of man in New Castle, Del., charged in the rape of a 21-year-old woman.
1 person killed in crash on I-95 near the Ben Franklin Bridge in Philly Sunday morning.
7 gunshot wounds for victim of robbery in North Philly. It was one of several violent confrontations in the city over the weekend.
2-1 lead over Devils for Flyers after they won, 4-3, in OT last night.
70 percent of time, how often team that wins Game 3 of Stanley Cup series goes on to win the series.
2-1 loss for the Union last night in Toronto
14 shots taken by the Flyers in their first game against the Devils, a
3-2 win. They might need more than that tonight in Game 2.
8 strong innings for Phils’ pitcher Cole Hamels. They still lost, 2-0.

Call me a Phanatic: A look at the ups and downs of being a Philadelphia sports fan.Tough break for Cole Hamels. Yesterday was clearly his best outing of the young season. He won his two previous starts, but lost yesterday when the Phils did nothing at the plate. Go figure.
I Don’t Get It: The Mario Civera Watch is almost over. He’s going to leave his state House post on April 30, making it impossible to hold special election on Primary Day.
Today’s Upper: They are laying the sod in PPL Park today in Chester. Go Union! Go Chester!
Quote Box: “The reason I stayed as long as I did is that I wanted an equal playing field, so the two candidates could discuss issues that are going to be before the General Assembly in the next two or three years.”
- State Rep. and County Councilman Mario Civera, on his decision to delay stepping down from state post.

The Civera Watch

The Mario Civera Watch is almost over.

It’s about time.

In fact, this whole thing has been entirely about time.

To review, last November Civera, R-164, was elected to Delaware County Council.

During that campaign, Civera made it quite clear he had no intention of holding both offices.

But when exactly he would give up his state rep’s post is open to debate.

It seemed clear to us that Civera had indicated that he would send a letter of resignation to the House Speaker shortly after winning election, or at least when he was sworn into his new county post.

That’s also the way it sounded to county Democrats.

But that’s not the way Civera remembered it. He said he never specified exactly when he would step down from Harrisburg. At first he indicated he would need some time to get things in order in the capital. For one, he wanted to smooth the road for fellow Republican Bill Adolph, R-165, of Springfield, to fill his seat as the minority boss on the House Appropriations Committee.

Then he said he had been approached by Democrats – including Gov. Ed Rendell – to start work on an early budget process, in the hopes of avoiding another debacle like the state endured last summer, when still another fiscal deadline came and went, and a 100-day standoff ensued.

Still, Civera seemed to still be indicating he really didn’t want to hold both seats, one in the state Legislature and one in Media.

That changed when it became apparent that Democrats were finagling to set up a special election to fill the 164th seat on Primary Day, May 18.

That happens to be the day when Democrats will be flocking to the poll to decide between Sen. Arlen Specter and U.S. Rep. Joe Sestak as their candidate in the U.S. Senate race.

Republican don’t have much in the way of a contest to get their faithful to the polls. They feared – probably correctly – that they could get swamped by the Dem turnout and lose Civera’s seat in the House.

So Civera changed course – and dug in his heels. He said he would not give up his House seat so long as Democrats were intent on holding the special election on Primary Day.

He’s giving up his seat now because state law mandates that a special election can’t be held until 60 days after the pol steps down.

Civera now says he will send a letter to the Speaker saying he is stepping down effective April 30, taking Primary Day out of the equation.

The Speaker can then call a special election or leave the seat vacant until the general election in November.

Costs of a special election vary, depending on whom you talk to, with it likely checking in at anywhere from $200,000 to $400,000.

In a state with the kind of budget issues Pennsylvania is battling, that seems like a foolhardy expense.

Then again, the people of the 164th District deserve representation in Harrisburg.

Civera has served this state well for three decades in Harrisburg. He has often been a voice of moderation, of common-sense negotiations, especially when it comes to the state budget.

Which is why it is that much more unfortunate that his career in Harrisburg is ending on this ugly note.

It is, in fact, what all too often passes for “common sense” in Harrisburg. Or, more like it, horse sense. It was politics, plain and simple.

“All I wanted was a level playing field,” Civera said in the fallout from his decision not to step down so long as the special election was going to be held on Primary Day.

He still doesn’t have one. What he does have is a political victory of sorts.

Civera says he believes the cost of a special election to be closer to $50,000. And he points out that will be peanuts compared to the tax hikes Gov. Rendell is likely to push through with another Democrat in the Legislature.

That might sound like common sense to some.

To me it sounds like politics as usual.

Perfect pitch for Chester

It’s another very big day for the Union – and the city of Chester.

For those of you unaware of just who the Union are, they are the region’s newest professional team, playing in Major League Soccer.

They will play their home games in an 18,500-seat stadium that is being constructed in the shadow of the Commodore Barry Bridge on the Chester waterfront.

But not for awhile.

They are not due to play their first home game there until June 27.

In the meantime, they will play a ton of road games and two games at Lincoln Financial Field in South Philly. Their first tilt at the Linc drew 35,000 fans.

But today they will gather at PPL Park in Chester to install the sod in the stadium.

That’s a fairly important item.

In soccer, they call the playing surface the “Pitch.”

For the city of Chester, and as part of the economic renaissance taking root in the city, PPL Park is the perfect pitch.

Be sure to check back on our Web site later today for updates on the proceedings, as well as new photos and video from inside the stadium, which is quickly rounding into shape.

A professional sports franchise in the city of Chester. It’s still hard to believe.

What a kick!

He gets Cole shoulder from Phils' bats

Cole Hamels just can’t get a break.

The Phils left-hander posted two straight wins to start the season, while not throwing all that well. Fans once again were grumbling about what happened to the Cole Hamels who was the World Series MVP two years ago and appeared ready to put the team on his shoulders.

Yesterday Hamels went out and issued a statement of his own – with his left arm.

Hameld had his best outing of the young season, going eight innings and one batter into the ninth before exiting. He gave up only a home run to Dan Uggla (although the run in the 9th was credited to him.) He struck out eight along the way.

So he’s 3-0 this morning, right?

Uh, not exactly.

Hamels’ arm was alive; the Phils’ bats were dead.

For the second day in a row.

The Phils’ red-hot offense has now gone into a spring hibernation.

They failed to score at all yesterday after plating just one run on Saturday.

In the process they lost their first series of the season, against a division opponent and a good team, not the dregs that constitute the Nationals and Astros that they feasted on to start the season.

And things get tougher from here. The Phils now hit the road, starting with three in Atlanta.

At this point, they’re being outscored by the Flyers.

That’s not a good thing. Unless you happen to be a hockey fan.

Friday, April 16, 2010

The Daily Numbers - April 16

The Daily Numbers: 300 people who gathered last night in Darby Borough to honor the memory of murder victim Mohamed Kamara.
4 people who suffered minor injuries when panic ensued after a girl’s hair caught fire. The vigil went on without further incident.
3 students who face weapons charges after a security sweep at Penn Wood High School in the wake of the shooting.
2.3 million dollars raised by GOP Senate candidate Pat Toomey in 1st quarter, bringing his war chest to more than $4 million.
1.16 million dollars raised by Sen. Arlen Specter, leaving him with
$9.06 million cash on hand.
442,000 dollars raised by Rep. Joe Sestak. That brings his total to $5.3 million.
42-28 lead for Arlen Specter over Joe Sestak in a Susquehanna poll, this the day after a different poll put the gap at just 2 percentage points.
46-38 lead for Toomey over Specter.
3 teachers from Ridley High who gave birth at Crozer Chester Medical Center on Wednesday. That brings to 9 babies for the staff so far this school year and 4 more early next school year.
773 million dollars that will be available for property tax relief in Pa. from revenue derived from slot machine gambling. That comes to nearly $200 per household.
566 to 716 million dollars Pa. must put back into a fund to help physicians pay malpractice insurance premiums. That won’t help the state’ shaky fiscal condition.
22,600 nonfarm jobs created in Pa. in the first quarter of the year.
60 cats seized by animal control officers who converged on a home in Torresdale.
3 social workers sentenced for fraud in Philadelphia in connection with the death of Danieal Kelly.
21, age of man who police say vomited on a cop and his family, including an 11-year-old girl, at a Phillies game. He now faces charges.
2 men suspected of setting a fire that heavily damaged the Pennsylvania National Guard Armory in Phoenixville yesterday.
2-1 loss for the Union last night in Toronto
14 shots taken by the Flyers in their first game against the Devils, a
2-1 win. They might need more than that tonight in Game 2.
9 years and 329 days between playoff wins for Flyers goalie Brian Boucher.
1 season on the bench for fired Sixers coach Eddie Jordan.
2 home runs surrendered by Phils reliever Danys Baez as the Phils blew a game to the Nats yesterday.

Call me a Phanatic: A look at the ups and downs of being a Philadelphia sports fan.Get used to a lot of games like yesterday’s come-from-ahead loss for the Phillies, at least until J.C. Romero and Brad Lidge get back on the hill.
I Don’t Get It: Ever wonder why Philly fans get a bad rap. Check out the case of the 22-year-old neanderthal who is now charged with vomiting on a family at Phillies game this week. Nice. How long before that one makes it to SportsCenter.
Today’s Upper: Slots machine gambling continues to pay off for Pa.
Officials yesterday said there would be $772 million available this year thanks to the largesse of those pumping money into the one-armed bandits. Bring on table games!
Quote Box: “We love you and Mohamed loves you.”
- Flier handed out last night at vigil for murder victim Mohamed Komara.

Putting community journalism to work

 Community journalism is alive and well at the Daily Times.

Last night I held another session with the members of our community journalism lab.

We munched on pizza and talked about the newspaper, journalism and the process we go through every day to create our Web site and print edition.

It’s a conversation with our readers and public that is long overdue.

Yesterday we featured a blog from Jennifer Hoff, a member of the William Penn School Board, focusing on some of the ugly aftermath from a shooting that took the life of a Penn Wood High student.


Ironically, when she first posted the blog, she e-mailed me to alert me.

I got the feeling she was a little leery about the content in her blog.

I actually loved it. And I let her and our other community bloggers know that last night. Look, we’re not always going to agree. I actually warned Hoff that we were running a story in today’s paper about a search at the high school in the aftermath of the shooting that turned up some weapons and resulted in charges against three students.

She already knew about it.

We considered leading the paper with it this morning, changing plans last night when events at a vigil for murder victim Mohamed Kamara took precedence.

That’s one of the things about this business. They don’t call it news for nothing. Some days we make a plan first thing in the morning and stick with it all day. Other days the plan doesn’t last 15 minutes before it’s turned upside down. And even our best-mapped-out efforts sometimes get tossed out the window when breaking news dictates a new plan.

That’s what happened last night.

After my meeting with our community journalists.

I’m excited about what we’re doing. I like the idea of featuring more voices in the paper. We are running Hoff’s blog item in the paper.

That’s something else we’re doing more and more of – sharing content across the several platforms in which we deliver news to our consumes.

I don’t expect our bloggers to always agree with us. And I suppose there will be times when I don’t agree with them. That is part of the process.

And it’s one I’d like you to take part in. If you think you’d like to join our community journalism lab, give me a call at 610-622-8818. Or send me an e-mail at

I can promise you only one thing: A sense of fulfillment that you are taking part in the vital notion of informing your community.

I’ve been doing it now for the last 30 years. But I’m finding myself up to my ears in new tricks.

Why not get on board? It’s a wild ride.