Friday, January 29, 2010

The Daily Numbers - Jan. 29

The Daily Numbers: 5,000 dollars raised by family of Chester murder victim as they seek information in his murder.
556,000 dollars ripped off from the trust fund of their kids by a Bethel man and their stepmother. They pleaded guilty this week.
32 million dollars in bonds OK’d by Chester Upland School District for several renovation projects.
275,000 dollar contract to run the Milwaukee School District for Chester Upland schools boss Dr. Gregory Thornton. The Board of Control that runs the district now will reopen talks in an attempt to keep Thornton here.
5,300 for 4 bulletproof vests that Colwyn Borough will pay gun dealer Dusty Rhoads to settle their dispute.
2 dead pit bulls removed from separate homes in Chester.
15 years, how long those Blue Route ramps to meter traffic entering the highway have been in the works. They’re about to go back into service in February.
25.6 million in federal stimulus funds coming to Pa. to fund high-speed rail projects. That’s out of $8 billion being spent nationally.
2 winning Powerball tickets worth $1 million each sold in Pa. Relax, they weren’t around here. One was sold in York, the other in Beaver Falls.
40 to 45 feet, how much deeper dredging project in the Delaware River will do to the channel.
6 members of a sorority at Rutgers after a pledge complained she was consistently paddled in a hazing incident.
50,000 dollar reward now posted for info in shooting deaths of two pet dogs in Chadds Ford.
12,000 dollars worth of computer equipment stolen by thieves who tunneled through the wall of Cecil B. Moore Branch of the Free Library of Philadelphia.
1 more robbery now linked to man wielding hypodermic needle he says contains HIV-infected blood. That’s now 2 in Delco, and 2 in Delaware.
79 million dollar loss in the 4th quarter posted by US Airways, down from $543 million the year before.
8,000 jobs being slashed by drug giant AstraZeneca, which has its U.S. HQ in Wilmington. That’s 12 percent of its work force.
150 jobs being axed by Barclaycard US in Delaware.
2 goal lead coughed up by the Flyers, who lost to Atlanta, 4-3.
634 games played as a Flyer for Simon Gagne.
19 days until pitchers and catchers report to Phillies spring training in Clearwater on Feb. 17

*
Call me a Phanatic: A look at the ups and downs of being a Philadelphia sports fan.Can anyone explain to me why local fans hold such a grudge against Kobe Bryant? He’s only the greatest basketball player on the planet.
*
I Don’t Get It: A man getting groceries what violently attacked for no reason in an Acme market in Vineland. I don’t get it .
*
Today’s Upper: Kudos to the Chester family that have raised $5,000 in hopes someone will come forward with information about the murder of their loved on.
*
Quote Box: “We know who did it, but we need somebody to come up and to say what they saw or what they know.”
- Mohammed Habib, family friend of murder victim Abulaash Ansari.

Table games wars

This is what they call upping the ante.

Brace yourself for “table games wars.”

A few weeks ago, the Pennsylvania Legislature finally got on board and approved a measure that would add games such as poker, blackjack and roulette to the offerings at the state’s new slots parlors.

That would include Harrah’s Chester.

Of course, that did not sit especially well with our neighbors a few miles south on I-95. That would be Delaware.

They were the first to challenge Atlantic City as a gambling destination when they added slots parlors.

Pennsylvania then matched them. Revenues have been sinking at both Atlantic City and Delaware gambling halls ever since.

So Delaware added sports betting. Their original plan got shot down in the courts, so they were left with parlay betting, packaging bets on three games.

Then, faced with a staggering budget deficit last summer, Pennsylvania legislators decided to expand once again, giving the OK to table games.
Of course, it took them more than 100 days to finalize the budget, and a couple months longer to actually sign off on the table games legislation.

Now it looks like you’ll be able to sit at a poker table on the Chester waterfront sometime this summer.

Obviously, Delaware is envious. The First State, which was first in slots, was second in table games. But they’re not wasting any time in getting in on the action.

Gov. Jack Markell Thursday signed legislation putting the state in the table games business.

Now the race is on. Delaware believes they should be able to get table games up and running in four months. That might put them slightly ahead of Pennsylvania, which has targeted mid-summer as their start date.

Why do I think it might be sooner.

Can you say Memorial Day weekend?

Bet on it.

Let's get in Pileggi's ear

Maybe someone can explain this one to me.

The Pa. House this week approved a bill that would ban the use of hand-held devices while driving by a 189-6 vote. It now goes to the Senate.

You’re be hard-pressed to find anyone who does not believe this legislation is necessary, a simple piece of common sense that is long overdue.

Remember when a lot of people actually eschewed the use of seat belts?
Now most of us buckle up when we get in the car as a matter of routine.

Unfortunately, that sentiment may or may note be shared by the denizens of the Pennsylvania Senate.

Erik Arneson, top aide to GOP Senate Leader Dominic Pileggi, R-9, of Chester, says he’s not sure the legislation has enough support to pass.

Pileggi earlier voted for a measure that would have limited texting while driving. He’s apparently still up in the air on the wider ban.

Delaware County’s three other senators, Democrats Anthony Williams and Daylin Leach, as well as Republican Ted Erickson, are all solidly behind the bill.

Maybe it’s time to show Pileggi how much we need this legislation.

Call him. E-mail him.

Urge him to push for support of this law.

You can reach him through his Web site at senatorpileggi.com.contact.htm.

The Greatest

The greatest basketball player on the planet will take to the hardwood at the Wachovia Center tonight.

Unfortunately, he will be wearing a Lakers’ jersey.

Yes, the pride of Lower Merion, Kobe Bryant, will lead the Lakers into his home town for a matchup with the struggling Sixers.

Bryant, son of Sixers and Philly legend Joe “Jelly Bean” Bryant, is the native son Philadelphians love to hate.

I’ve never been sure why.

Maybe it’s because he was considered something of a suburbanite, instead of a city kid.

Maybe it’s because he grew up in Italy, where his dad played for years, and speaks fluent Italian.

Maybe it’s because he wears that hated yellow Lakers jersey.

It probably didn’t help back in 2001, when Allen Iverson and the Sixers took Game 1 of the NBA Finals vs. L.A., only to see Kobe and the Lakers flip the switch and sweep the next four.

And his comments about “cutting the heart out of the Sixers” undoubtedly didn’t endear him to the locals.

But the truth is if Bryant put on a Sixers jersey, he’d likely be a hero here. Pete Rose in baggy short pants. Not with everyone, but with most. For some reason some people just have it in for Bryant.

Maybe it’s time for that to change. Maybe it’s time for Philly to open its heart to one of the greatest players ever to step on the court.

Sixers fans certainly don’t have anything else to cheer for in this wretched season.

If you’re going to the game tonight, consider this. Consider rising to your feet and offering a standing ovation to a local kid who has earned it.

Kobe Bryant is the best basketball player in the world. And he is one of our own.

It’s about time we recognized that.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

The Daily Numbers - Jan. 28

The Daily Numbers: 2 robberies in western part of Delco in which the suspect threatened clerks with hypodermic needle he said contained HIV-infected blood.
4 day manhunt for Corey Cooper, suspect in Chester stray-bullet shooting, that ended when he turned himself in yesterday.
2 year veteran of the Philadelphia Police who faces charges of domestic assault in Upper Darby.
36, age of man who police say jumped in a Ridley Township Police SUV and fled. He was captured, along with the SUV, in Upper Darby.
1st degree murder charge against Darby pastor that was dropped yesterday in shooting death of his son on Christmas Day. He still faces third-degree murder and other charges.
1,000 in merchandise police say was ripped off from the Babies ‘R’ Us in Springfield.
499 bucks, what it will cost you to get your hands on one of those swanky new iPad tablet computers rolled out yesterday by Apple.
4 billion dollars in damages being sought by local developer Brian O’Neill in a suit against Citizens Bank.
116,000 dollar fine slapped on Foxwoods by the state Gaming Control Board for failing to meet the deadline to submit construction plans for planned Philly casino.
1.02 billion in revenue reported by software giant SAP, with its HQ in Newtown Square, in fourth quarter. That’s down from last year.
2 people and a dog who have now been attacked by raccoons in Wilmington. A similar raccoon attack in Philly also is under investigation.
50,000 dollar reward now posted for info in shooting deaths of two pet dogs in Chadds Ford.
90 million jackpot now up for grabs Saturday night in the Powerball drawing. No one hit last night.
1 of 3 men charged in brutal home invasion slaying in Montgomery County who took the stand and admitted his role in the killing yesterday.
10 months in prison for former pal of longtime state Sen. Vince Fumo.
Howard Cain of Wayne pleaded guilty for not filing income tax returns.
3 teens found dead in a car in a frozen pond in Zelionople, Pa.
15 days in the rubble for a teen in Haiti who was pulled to safety yesterday.
19-1 start for No. 3 Villanova, who beat Notre Dame in Big East contest last night.
15, as in No. 15 Temple, which fell last night at Charlotte.

*
Call me a Phanatic: A look at the ups and downs of being a Philadelphia sports fan.Does that goofy smile that Donovan McNabb is always flashing bother anyone else, or is it just me?
*
I Don’t Get It: You walk out of the police station after booked and released on a pot possession charge. What do you do? Jump in a red police SUV and take off, of course. I don’t get it.
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Today’s Upper: Kudos to those residents of Chester who turned up the heat on the suspect in a street shooting that left an innocent bystander in critical condition. Corey Cooper turned himself in yesterday.
*
Quote Box: “It was a whole yar’s worth of tears that wenated to flood, to see that my boy was coming off the bus.”
- Dori Oliver, on shedding a few tears as she greeted her Marine son yesterday in Ridley after he returned from Iraq.




Two odd cases

Was their something in the water yesterday?

It was a day for some strange stories.

First there was the saga of one James Bolton.

He had been arrested on a fairly minor pot possession charge in Ridley Township. Bolton, 36, of Philadelphia, was booked and then released at the township police station.

Bolton’s car was in the impound lot – just a short walk from the police station. But apparently Bolton was not in the mood for a stroll.

Instead, for some reason, police say he decided to use someone else’s wheels. Theirs.

Bolton bolted – in a bright red Ridley Police SUV. He eventually was nabbed at an Upper Darby intersection.

Ridley police say Bolton searched the inside of the car until he found the keys, which were there for the next officer to use on his shift.
Might want to rethink that policy.

Odd is not the word for the next story. Creepy is. Or maybe just scary.

Police are looking for Kevin Michael Cox in connection with two robberies of businesses along Route 202 in Concord Township.

What makes his case alarming is the weapon he allegedly displayed in holding up the joints.

Police say he would enter the businesses – usually where there was only one female employee working – confront her and demand money.

They say Cox would reach into his pocket and grab a hypodermic needle, and then inform the clerk that he is HIV-positive and that the needle contains infected blood and that he will stab them with the needle if they do not turn over the cash.

Nice guy.

Cox remains on the lam. He is 36 and is believed to be from the Wilmington, Del., area. He may be in the company of a female who drives the getaway car. Cox also is suspected of using a similar ruse in a hest in Rehoboth Beach, Del.

They can’t get this guy off the street fast enough.

Gives a whole new meaning to the words “Stick up.”

Hence our P. 1 headline this morning.

The State of the Union

Nice speech, Mr. President.

Of course, that was pretty much what was expected, isn’t it?

This was Barack Obama in his element. Faced with a crisis, battered by recent political setbacks, he would fall fack on the one given about his presidency – the man can flat-out give a speech.

But this was a different Obama, clearly a more modest one, a politician who has taken his lumps after a couple of games of ‘hardball.’

Obama talked a lot about jobs, and less about health care, not that he’s abandoning what his been the signature issue of the first year of his presidency.

But he clearly has heard the public. They angry – and worried. Too many of them are out of work. And they’re wondering when the jobs are going to start coming back.

What they did not need to hear was the nearly non-stop ovations that interrupted the president’s speech.

By most counts, Obama was interrupted 68 times.

Was this the State of the Union, or the Academy Awards?

Actually, it might have been a combination of the two, with Congress looking to capture best performance in a supporting role.

And the best actor award? That one is still to be decided. Obama has three more years to grab the statue.

The Donovan McNabb show

Brace yourself, Donovan McNabb is talking again.

The Eagles QB was having some fun in the sun yesterday as he started practice sessions for Sunday’s Pro Bowl in Miami.

McNabb just couldn’t contain himself while answering questions from the media, including several scribes who made the trip from Philly.

McNabb apparently does not do this act locally. He saves this for those occasions when he can perform on the national stage.

Yesterday he talked about how much he loved it in Philly and that he appreciated Coach Andy Reid’s statement that McNabb would be back as the Eagles signal-caller for a 12th year.

So far, so good. But McNabb wasn’t done, especially when asked about the fact that he is going into the final year of his contract and whether he would seek an extension.

McNabb said he was sure he was staying with the Eagles. And how exactly did he know? A psychic told him.

Honest, that’s what he said.

And of course it was accompanied by that McNabb signature - that goofy smile. You know the one. The same one he used while playing air-guitar before his team was dismanteld by the Cowboys. The same one he flashes every time he misses a wide open receiver behind the opponent’s secondary, or when he throws one of his classic two-hoppers to a receiver open in the flat.

We should be used to it by now.

Here’s something else we probably should get used to, Donovan included.

Word from Phoenix indicates Kurt Warner is likely to announce his retirement today. McNabb lives in Phoenix in the off-season. Let the rumors begin.

McNabb says he wants to stay in Philly. Reid says McNabb will be his guy. But neither is saying anything about a contract extension, and it is unknown if McNabb will play without one.

This soap opera is about to hit the spin cycle.

Good news, bad news on hoops front

What Sixers game would be complete without watching Andre Iguodala clang the final shot of the game – and a potential game winner – off the rim.

Happened again last night as the Sixers fell on the road to the Milwaukee Bucks, 91-88.

Of course, we shouldn’t be too hard on Iguodala. Elton Brand missed on a layup – what he referred to as a “choppie” – in the final seconds. Why he didn’t just slam dunk the ball might be interesting to know.

Take heart, hoops fans.

So the Sixers are in the tank.

They’re not even the best team in town.

That honor just might go to the Villanova Wildcats, who beat Notre Dame in a Big East game last night in a jam-packed Wachovia Center.

The Wildcats are now 19-1, the first time in history they’ve held that lofty record.

They are currently ranked No. 3 in the nation, and likely will move up to No. 2 next week since No. 1 Kentucky was toppled earlier this week.

The’Cats look like they are prepping for a long NCAA run.

Good thing. Because the Sixers are going nowhere.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

The Daily Numbers - Jan. 27

The Daily Numbers: 9 p.m. tonight, when President Obama will deliver his 1st State of the Union address to a joint session of Congress – and the nation.
15 minutes, how long it took police to corral a suspect who escaped this morning in a Ridley Township police SUV.
50 dollar fine for anyone caught using a hand-held cell phone while driving, under measure passed by Pa. House yesterday.
39, age of janitor at Beverly Hills Middle School charged with corruption of minors after he allegedly tried to woo a 12-year-old student.
18, age of Philadelphia teen who now faces charges after he allegedly punched a Yeadon cop in the eye while the officer was trying to disperse a crowd.
27 dollars an hour, what full-time nurses at Fair Acres make. Their union is asking county council to lift salary freeze and give them a pay raise.
30-13 lead for Arlen Specter over Joe Sestak in latest Franklin & Marshall poll in the Pa. U.S. Senate race.
50 percent of those polled who say they remain undecided in the race.
45-31 lead for Republican Pat Toomey over Specter in a general election.
41-19 percent lead for Toomey over Sestak.
2 teen girls arrested after a security guard was stabbed while breaking up a fight at Trenton Central High School.
100 pounds of pot seized during a car stop on Route 222 in Berks County.
20, age of suspect police call a serial flasher busted in Bethlehem. He’s been charged in 6 incidents in which he exposed himself in public.
1991, when a man fled a double-murder charge in Sacramento, Calif. He was arrested yesterday after living without incident for 2 decades in Elkins Park.
24 years, how long Joe Hoeffel has been in public service. The Montgomery County commissioner yesterday tossed his hat in the ring for the Democratic gubernatorial nomination.
3, as in No. 3 for Villanova, and they may be moving up because No. 1 Kentucky was toppled by South Carolina last night.
50 pounds lost in the offseason by Phillies manager Charlie Manuel.
2, as in the No. 2 spot, where Manuel says he likely will use new third baseman Placido Polanco.
21 days until pitchers and catchers report to Phillies spring training in Clearwater on Feb. 17

*
Call me a Phanatic: A look at the ups and downs of being a Philadelphia sports fan.Charlie Manuel yesterday admitted he would have loved to have had both Cliff Lee and Roy Halladay in his lineup. The Phils skipper talked openly about his feelings, and about how tough it was to call Lee after he was deal to Seattle. Think Andy Reid would have shared that with the fans?
*
I Don’t Get It: A suspect in several store robberies in Glen Mills is wielding a new – and troubling – weapon. Police say he threatened employees with a hypodermic needle.
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Today’s Upper: The Pa. House is moving to fine drivers who use hand-held cell phones while behind the wheel. It’s about time.
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Quote Box: “This isn’t about punishing someone after-the-fact, this is about preventing the accident from occurring.”
- Rep. Josh Shapiro, author of bill to band use of hand-held cell phones while driving in Pa.

The State of the Union, & Senate race

There’s lots of political news today.

First and foremost, President Barack Obama will talk to the country tonight in his first State of the Union Address.

For the last couple of weeks it’s been the other way around. The country has been talking to Obama. Actually, they’ve been shouting at him. Or, in the case of Massachusetts voters, they’ve offered a cold slap in the face.

The nation has for the most part told the president they are not happy, with his policies, with his move to reform health care, with deficits over a trillion dollars, with bailing out failing businesses, with a federal government creeping increasingly into our lives.

Basically, they’ve said the State of the Union remains worried. They are still wary of a shaky economy, and wondering when the stimulus is going to trickle down to them. There are too many people out of work, and they continue to wait for the much-ballyhooed stimulus plan to ease that problem.

The night should be magic. In part, because this will be Obama in his element.

Let’s face it. Regardless of how you thought about President George W.
Bush, public speaking often was not his forte.

On the other hand, Obama has clearly shown the ability to rise to the moment. The man can flat-out deliver a great speech. Which is why I am looking forward to the State of the Union.

Locally, there’s another poll out today. And that means more bad news for Joe Sestak.

The State of Sestak’s Union – and his uphill campaign to snag the Democratic Senate nomination away from Sen. Arlen Specter – is becoming only more so.

A Franklin & Marshall College Poll shows Sestak trailing Specter 30 percent to 13 percent. If he’s looking for a silver lining, Sestak can take heart in the fact that the poll also showed 50 percent of voters remain undecided.

The surprise in the Senate race is that likely Republican nominee Pat Toomey now is leading over either Specter or Sestak in a general election race.

Toomey leads Specter 45-31, and Sestak by 41-19.

Don’t expect Sestak to as much as blink in the wake of the bad polling.
He’s nothing if not determined. After all, he was trailing Curt Weldon by similar numbers before ousting the longtime incumbent in the 7th District Congress race. Granted, he was helped in no small part by a probe into Weldon and raid by federal agents on the homes of a key ally and a family member, a raid that has yet to result in any charges.

Instead look for Sestak to hammer away at Specter’s electability, which continues to suffer in the wake of his party-switch.

In the meantime, Toomey can sit back and wait for November.

Why we love Charlie Manuel

It turns out Charlie Manuel is just like the rest of us.

No, not because he has battled a bulging belly. The newly svelte Manuel lost 50 pounds in the offseason.

He met with the media yesterday for the first time since losing the World Series to the Yankees.

Manuel indicated he would have loved to be able to look at his starting pitching rotation and see both Roy Halladay and Cliff Lee. Didn’t happen.

The Phils signed Halladay, whom Charlie called the best pitcher in baseball. But they dealt Lee to Seattle for some prospects, touching off an emotional backlash from the fans.

Charlie feels your pain. Turns out he felt the same way.

No wonder people like Charlie Manuel.

Tiger's tale

I don’t have a lot in common with Tiger Woods.

For instance, I don’t live in a mansion in a gated community outside Orlando, Fla. Then again, I am not a current resident at a clinic for an apparent sex addiction in Hattiesburg, La., either.

However, we do both play golf. Actually, I play golf. And not particularly well. As the saying goes, Tiger plays a game with which I am not familiar.

But I am also not all that enamored of a lot of the technology that I find myself increasingly swimming – or is it sinking? – in every day.

I only recently have started carrying a cell phone with me. Of course, I don’t always remember to turn it on. I’m told that kind of defeats the purpose.

I also do not text. I’m thinking right about now Tiger wishes he were maybe a little more like me.

It seems that his penchant for texting led to the collapse of his marriage and the most famous fender-bender, in which Tiger lost a one-on-one battle with a fire hydrant, in U.S. history.

The story now goes something like this. Tiger apparently was forced to confide to his wife, Elin Nordegren, that the National Enquirer was going to publish a story that he was cheating on her with a woman named Rachel Uchitel. Tiger actually called Rachel and had her talk to Elin to deny the story, saying they were just friends.

Tiger then took an Ambien and decided to call it a night. Elin apparently was not convinced. With Tiger zonked, she took his cell phone and started going through it. She sent a text to Rachel, under the guise that it was from Tiger. Rachel responded. Elin then called her on the phone.

Busted!

She then confronted Tiger, who fled the house – and a golf club wielding Elin, jumped in his SUV, headed down the driveway and into tabloid infamy.

I have said many times that, just once, I would like to get my hands around the neck of the person who keeps telling me, “This technology is going to make your life so much easier.”

I think Tiger might agree.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

The Daily Numbers - Jan. 26

The Daily Numbers: 12, age when the suspect in a Chester drive-by shooting had his first encounter with the law.
2 incidents in which Chester residents have now become innocent victims of stray bullets from city gun battles.
30 percent tax hike being considered in Norwood, where borough officials are dealing with a deficit of $718,000.
100 residents who packed a borough council meeting Monday night to air their concerns about the situation.
0 tax hike in Glenolden, where borough council managed to hold the line on spending in approving their new budget.
5-4 vote by which the William Penn School board accepted the resignation of principal of Aldan Magnet School. Sherrell Mickens says she’s the victim of racial discrimination in the district.
3 people held for trial in the beating of a man outside an Upper Darby pub. The victim, who was nearly stomped to death, has no recollection of the incident.
2 inches of rain and 60 mph wind gusts that wreaked havoc across the county Monday.
7 local firefighters who were honored by Middletown council Monday night for their efforts in rescuing a woman whose car had run off a slick road and into a rampaging Chester Creek.
275,000 dollars, how much Chester Upland Schools Superintendent would likely make if he takes the post heading the Milwaukee schools. He makes $211,150 to lead CU.
5 to 10 dollar fee hikes for parking in Eddystone that have been overturned by borough council.
3 Lower Chi police officers who have come under attack during recent incidents in the township.
50 dollar fine that would be slapped on anyone caught driving while using a hand-held cell phone, according to new bill being considered by state House.
2 people shot during a disturbance in the parking lot of a bowling alley in Wilmington, Del.
2 raccoon attacks in recent days in Delaware. The attacks included a woman and child, and another where the critter went after a security guard.
10,000 workers being laid off by Sam’s Club, a division of Wal-Mart.
17 percent increase in applications to the University of Pennsylvania.
3.3 percent hike in tuition at Princeton this year.
8.7 million iPhones sold, fueling Apple’s best quarter in history. But sales of iPods are down, in part because they are included in the popular phone.
35 percent dip in sales of existing homes in the region in December.
2 game winning streak for Sixers snapped as they fell to the Pacers last night at home.
22 points for Andre Iguodala to lead Sixers; Allen Iverson chipped in 20.
9 Eagles now headed to the Pro Bowl this weekend in Miami.
22 days until pitchers and catchers report to Phillies spring training in Clearwater on Feb. 17

*
Call me a Phanatic: A look at the ups and downs of being a Philadelphia sports fan.Donovan McNabb and Quintin Mikell are headed to the Pro Bowl. You’re thrilled, I know.
*
I Don’t Get It: Everyone laughed when Lower Chi tried to regular use of hand-held cell phones while driving. Now the state is trying to do the same thing.
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Today’s Upper: Kudos to the emergency responders lauded at Middletown Council last night for their efforts to rescue a woman and her daughter after their car went into Chester Creek.
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Quote Box: “In the real world of driving, I fear it’s going to make us all into criminals.”
- Rep. Greg Vitali, D-166, opposing law outlawing use of hand-held cell phone while driving in Pa.

Pa. catches up to Lower Chi

Looks like Pennsylvania is trying to keep up with Lower Chichester.

You may remember a few years back the good folks down in Lower Chi decided to take matters into their own hands by outlawing the use of hand-held cell phones while driving on township streets.

They took a lot of heat for the move, with many wondering if they had the authority to do so (many think that regulating driving lies solely with the state Legislature), whether or not they could enforce it, and if they did if any fine or penalty would hold up in court.

What no one argued is that township officials were trying to make their streets safer.

Now, it looks like the state agrees.

The state House yesterday gave preliminary approval to a bill that would ban use of a cell phone that does not utilize a hands-free device. That, of course, would include today’s ubiquitous technology du jour, the text message.

The measure, which would include a fine of $50 for violators, could get a final vote in the House today. It then would move to the Senate, where its fate is still up in the air.

One of the votes against comes from right here in Delaware County.

Rep. Greg Vitali, D-166, believes the measure is a little heavy-handed.

“In the real world of driving, I fear it’s going to make us all into criminals,” Vitali said.

He may be right.

But if it’s going to mean one less person out there texting while eating lunch and cruising down the Blue Route at 70 mph, I’m all for it.

The folks down in Lower Chi were right. Now it’s time for the state to get on board.

Tense times in Norwood

Things are getting a little tense in Norwood these days.

That’s what happens when you discover that the town is $700,000 in debt and that bills have not been paid.

At times like this, you can pretty much count on two other things happening. Fingers start getting pointed. And taxes likely will go up.

The new borough council is saying this problem got dumped in their lap by the former council.

And last night, they unveiled what they plan to do about it.

A packed house showed up for the council meeting. As you can imagine, most were not happy about their town’s plight. And they were even less thrilled about the 30 percent boost in taxes council is looking at as a way to plug the hole in their budget.

The borough has until Feb. 15 to finalize a budget for 2010. Expect fireworks in the meantime.

Wandering in the sports desert

A couple of nuggets to past the time until the Phillies head to spring training on Feb. 17, exactly 22 days from today. Or until the Stanley Cup playoffs begin, which doesn’t happen until April.

The Sixers played last night. Try not to yawn. The locals had a chance to win three straight games for the first time this season. Didn’t happen. Instead, they lost badly to the Indianapolis Pacers, a team they handled on the road last week.

Look at it this way. Each loss gets the Sixers a little closer to a lottery pick in the NBA Draft. Yes, that’s how far the Sixers have fallen.

And it’s only going to get worse.

Of course, you could always be cheered by the NFL’s Pro Bowl, which will take place this Sunday.

The geniuses at the NFL figured that we needed something to get us through the wilderness of the “off week” between the AFC and NFC title games and the Super Bowl. So they decided to uproot the Pro Bowl from Hawaii and plunk it down in Miami, where the Super Bowl will be played, this Sunday.

Of course, none of the players on the Saints and Colts, the two teams actually still playing in the NFL, will play in the Pro Bowl. So lots of new names are being added to the rosters.

Those would include Eagles QB Donovan McNabb and safety Quentin Mikell.
That brings to nine the number of Eagles in the game.

McNabb may find himself fending off questions about a possible trade.

And Mikell? Someone explain to me how a season that almost everyone believes he struggled in earns him a trip to the Pro Bowl.

Actually, he should fit right in. No one tackles anybody in this game anyhow.

Monday, January 25, 2010

The Daily Numbers - Jan. 25

The Daily Numbers: 64, age of Chester grandmother caught in crossfire of gun battle. She was hit in the back and is in critical condition.
2 incidents in which Chester residents have now become innocent victims of stray bullets from city gun battles.
18, age of teen being sought in connection with the latest incident.
2 killed, 1 shot and 1 stabbed in a violent weekend in Philadelphia.
35,000 grant that will be used to demolish the former VFW Post in North Morton Avenue in Morton.
20,000 dollars in red ink that is still swirling in Ridley Park. The new council is trying to get a handle on borough finances.
150,000 victims of the Haiti earthquake who have now been buried in mass graves. Authorities believe as many as 50,000 more may still be buried in debris.
1 challenger for U.S. Rep. Pat Murphy in Bucks County. Former Congressman Mike Fitzpatrick.
22, age of Marine from South Jersey killed in Afghanistan.
187 pairs of shoes recovered in Delaware that police believe may be the haul of a man charged in a series of thefts.
15 million dollar fundraising goal by the Philadelphia Orchestra as it tries to avert bankruptcy.
2.82, average price of gasoline in the Philly region. That’s down a penny from the week before.
5 yard penalty for too many men in the huddle that cost the Vikings a shot at winning NFC title game in regulation. They lost in OT.
6 fymbles and 2 interceptions that did not help their cause.
1 Super Bowl appearance for the Saints, who beat the Vikings to advance to Miami.
4 to 4.5 point favorite, what Vegas has installed the Colts over the Saints in the Super Bowl.
8.85 million dollar extension for Phillies catcher Carlos Ruiz.
500,000 dollars, what he made last year.

*
Call me a Phanatic: A look at the ups and downs of being a Philadelphia sports fan.Good for New Orleans, and good for the Saints. And to top it off, head coach Sean Payton is a former Eagles assistant who at one time lived in Newtown Square. Who Dat?
*
I Don’t Get It: A guy trying to rob a sandwich shop in Rehoboth Beach, Del., over the weekend used a unique weapon. He was wielding a syringe and told the employee he was infected with the AIDS virus. Nice.
*
Today’s Upper: Hey, look on the bright side this morning. All this rain could be snow.
*
Quote Box: “She’s a very nice, giving woman who loves God.”
- Tara Lee, daughter of Chester shooting victim Andrea Lee.

It's happened again in Chester

It has happened again.

For the second time in the past couple of months, an innocent life has crossed paths with the violence that continues to torment Chester’s streets.

Back on Nov. 15, it was Kathy Ann Stewart, who was sitting on the bed of her mother’s home talking on a cell phone when the mean streets of the city intruded, snuffing out her life.

This weekend a 64-year-old grandmother was caught in the cross fire.
Police say Andre Lee was hit by bullets from two warring factions of young men near her home on Seventh Street near Yarnall. Lee was listed in critical condition.

Police have issued an arrest warrant for Corey Wyatt Cooper, 18. He is considered armed and dangerous.

Just ask Lee.

Police believe Cooper fired several shots at an SUV that was driving in the 2200 block of West Seventh Street around 4:30 Saturday afternoon.

Lee had just parked her car and was walking around it when she was struck in the back by at least one bullet.

Investigators said neighbors angry over the shooting came forward with information on Cooper.

Good for them. Chester is making great strides. But too many of its streets – and too many of its residents – continue to be victimized by this kind of senseless gun violence.

It has already cost the life of Kathy Stewart. It has put Andre Lee’s in grave danger.

Enough already.

Specter, Sestak taking heat

The two Democrats seeking the Democratic nomination for the U.S. Senate in Pennsylvania both took some body shots in recent days.

But these punches were not landed by their respective opponents.

Joe Sestak, the upstart second term congressman challenging his own party as well as Sen. Arlen Specter, is feeling some serious heat to get out of the race. And it’s coming from his own party.

State Democratic Party boss T.J. Rooney came out last week and said the party would be better off if Sestak gave up his campaign to snag the nomination away from Specter and instead concentrated on running again for his 7th District seat in Congress.

The move comes in the rubble of the Democrats’ disastrous loss in the Massachusetts Senate race, and the resultant panic in national Democratic circles.

Expect the pressure to be ratcheted up on Sestak this week. It’s not a secret that party leaders were not enamored of his decision to challenge Specter. They had opened their arms after Specter’s party-switch, with President Barack Obama, Vice President Joe Biden, and Gov. Ed Rendell leading the welcome wagon.

They now believe Specter could get bogged down in a costly primary that might leave him vulnerable to GOP challenger Pat Toomey in the fall.

Right now, all signals from Admiral Sestak are that it’s full speed ahead. He has no interest in getting out of the race. Even if his own party’s leaders are looking to scuttle the ship.

Specter did not escape the week unscathed either. He has drawn some rebukes and sharp criticism for a conversation he had with conservative Republican Congresswoman Rep. Michele Bachmann.

In a radio interview Specter – apparently thinking that Bachmann, R-Minn., was interrupting him – asked her to “act like a lady.”

The remark sent Republican heads spinning, and put them in attack mode against the former Republican senator.

Bachmann originally said she was stunned by the arrogance of the remarks. Several leading Republicans repudiated Specter and demanded an apology.

Specter did just that over the weekend, and now he wants to move on.

No kidding.

Now if he could just shake Joe Sestak.

Let it rain

I am often heard lamenting our weather here in the Delaware Valley. In fact, I have been known to champion a new slogan our fine state:

“Welcome to Pennsylvania, world’s worst weather, 365 days a year.”

That said I am eternally grateful for small miracles.

OK, miracle might be a tad strong. But we are being drenched this morning, due to get as much as an inch of rain.

I’ll take it. On Jan. 25, it is going to be close to 60 degrees today.
All that rain could very easily be snow. I’m told that the rain that is falling on the county today would equate to about 2 feet of snow.

Now if we could just figure out what the strange gas smell is that has been lingering over much of the county since last night.

And no, it is not the last remnants of the Eagles season.

The Childress-Reid connection

I think it can now be said that Brad Childress is a mentor of Andy Reid.

You might remember that the Vikings’ head coach spent time here as Reid’s offensive coordinator.

He must have learned well.

Yesterday the Vikings were in position to kick a field goal and win the NFC title game at the end of regulation.

So what happened?

The Vikings were called for having too many men in the huddle. Honest.

That moved them out of field goal range and Brett Favre thew an interception on the next play.

The Saints went on to win in overtime.

About the only thing missing would have been Childress declaring after the game that “I have to do a better job of putting players in position to make plays.” You think?

The Vikings have no one to blame for themselves for the fact that they are not advancing to Miami to play in the Super Bowl.

They fumbled the ball six times and Favre threw two interceptions.

But there is a silver lining, and another link to Reid and the Eagles via the Saints.

You have to feel good for the city of New Orleans, as it continues to rebound from Hurricane Katrina.

Then there’s head coach Sean Payton. He’s another former Eagles assistant and a resident of Newtown Square.

So it will be the “Who Dats” against the Colts in the Super Bowl. But first we have to muddle through the Pro Bowl, which has been moved from Hawaii to Miami and will fill the bill in the week off before the Super Bowl.

A smattering of Eagles will be on hand.

Hopefully all of them will be in position to make plays.

Friday, January 22, 2010

The Daily Numbers - Jan. 22

The Daily Numbers: 16 years on the force for DRPA Cpl. Christopher Milito, who was struck and killed on the Walt Whitman Bridge last weekend. Rest well, officer.
1 man believed linked to a home invasion in Concord who was captured on store surveillance video using a credit card stolen during the heist.
3 teens from Delco charged in a home burglary in Plymouth Meeting.
2 kids, a brother and sister home for the MLK holiday, who chased off two home invaders. Police have now released a composite of one of the suspects.
67, age of Upper Darby barber charged with selling drugs out of his shop.
21 point lead for Sen. Arlen Specter over challenger U.S. Rep. Joe Sestak, according to new Rasmussen poll. Specter leads 53-32.
49-40 edge for likely GOP candidate Pat Toomey over Specter in a general election run. Toomey leads Sestak 43-35.
200,000 owed by Norwood Borough to their sewer authority, just part of the $700,000 in bills owed by the borough.
2.1 billion in slots revenue in Pa. in December, as opposed to just $2 billion in New Jersey, the first time Pa. has outstripped its neighbor.
19, age of neighboring kid now charged in the brutal beating death of an 86-year-old woman in her Philly home. She had known the teen all his life.
17, age of teen charged in Del. with stealing a car while a baby was still strapped in the car seat in the back seat. The baby was uninjured.
8.9 percent jobless rate in Pa in December, that’s up .4 of a percentage point from November.
240 jobs that will be created by Boscov’s department stores as it recovers
3 percent pay hike for teachers in Philadelphia in two of their new 3-year contract.
2.3 million vehicles being recalled by Toyota to fix problems with gas pedals that can stick, causing the cars to race out of control.
36, age of pizza delivery man from Upper Darby shot and killed in West Philadelphia.
24 million reasons to smile for Phils right-hander Joe Blanton. He signed a new 3-year deal yesterday.
22 million dollar deal expected to be formalized by the Phils with centerfielder Shane Victorino today.
19 games played for Allen Iverson this year. He’s still be voted as a starter for the East in the NBA All-Star Game.

*
Call me a Phanatic: A look at the ups and downs of being a Philadelphia sports fan.Want to know with having fans vote for all-star teams. Allen Iverson has been voted as a starter for the East squad.
*
I Don’t Get It: John Edwards now says that despite his earlier denials, that baby his mistress delivered is his. He also initially denied cheating on his wife, who is battling cancer. Shame on him.
*
Today’s Upper: The emergency that was declared yesterday after Jewish teen donned a headpiece used during prayers could remind us all that we could stand to learn a little more about other religions.
*
Quote Box: “I think they were in awe of how many people came out to show their love and support for their brother.”
- Rev. Joseph McLoone, speaking of family of DRPA Officer Christopher Milito, who was buried yesterday.

Choppy water for Sestak

Joe Sestak made his bones as an admiral in the Navy.

Now his campaign for the U.S. Senate is taking on water. The good ship Sestak took another couple of shots across the bow yesterday.

First some new poll numbers came out that showed Sen. Arlen Specter, the newly minted Democrat, widening his lead over the challenger Sestak in their primary race for the seat Specter has held for a couple of decades.

Specter now leads Sestak by 21 points, according to the latest Rasmussen poll, with 53 percent of likely voters saying they would back the incumbent, and just 32 in the corner of the upstart second-term congressman.

When he visited with the editorial board a week ago, Sestak downplayed the polls, instead focusing on Specter’s electability numbers, which continue to flounder. Yesterday’s Rasmussen poll numbers continued that drumbeat, pointing out that just a little more than half the voters approve of Specter’s performance.

There were worse numbers later on in the day for Specter, when Rasmussen released polling data that indicated Republican Pat Toomey stretching his lead over Specter.

But the news got decidedly more ominous for Sestak a little later in the day.

Apparently state Democratic chairman T.J. Rooney has seen enough. No doubt spooked by the upset win by Republicans in the Massachusetts Senate race, and the new numbers showing Toomey pulling away from Specter, Rooney said the party would be better off if Sestak got out of the race.

That would allow Democrats to unite behind Specter, and also clear the path for Sestak to seek re-election to his 7th District congressional seat.

That was the original plan when Specter announced his party switch.
President Barack Obama, Vice President Joe Biden, and Gov. Ed Rendell all embraced Specter with open arms. Someone forgot to invite Sestak to the party.

Rooney wants Specter to be able to focus on Toomey in the general election, not get mired in a rough primary with a fellow Democrat.

So far, Sestak does not seem especially keen on the idea.

Rooney even tried some language that might strike a chord with the longtime Navy man.

“We need all hands on deck this year,” Rooney said of the Senate race.

Sestak is vowing to stay in the race.

All hands on deck? Sestak might be ready to sound general quarters.

The shame of John Edwdards

This one’s for my sister.

It takes a special kind of person to do battle with cancer. It is a harrowing experience, as much mentally as physically.

It helps to have a loving, supportive spouse at your side.

Then there’s John Edwards.

I work with words every day. But I’m at a loss to come up with a description for Edwards.

I suppose sleaze might suffice. Or perhaps slime.

There’s a part of me that always suspected that Edwards’ act was phony.
Maybe it was the $400 haircut.

For those not yet aware, Edwards this week confirmed what most had already suspected. He was the father of the baby born to his ex-mistress.

It’s not the first time a man has strayed. Nor the first time a person in the spotlight has turned out to be something other than his public persona. See Woods, Tiger.

But the Edwards case is different. For several reasons.

At the time of his dalliance – with the woman he hired to be the videographer on his campaign – Edwards’ wife was battling an incurable form of cancer.

Edwards had denied he was the girl’s father, even after he finally admitted cheating on his wife.

And he apparently went to great lengths to try to cover up his paternity. That includes having a key aide say publicly that he was actually the father. And it includes a bizarre tale including dirty diapers and bogus DNA tests.

He had that part right. Because that’s what this entire story smells like. It’s a stench that now is permanently attached to Edwards’
pretty-boy smile.

Remember, this guy was a U.S. Senator. No, that does not make him immune to personal failures. This was a little more than that.

Edwards used his wife, he used his aides, he used the voters.

At one time he was John Kerry’s running mate. He could have been the vice president. A lot of people thought this guy had what it takes to be president of the United States.

Now he’s a sleaze.

And so richly deserved.

Shame on you, John Edwards.

Oh, I forgot. That’s part of the problem. We’ve lost our ability to be shamed.

I expect Edwards to show up and shed a few tears with Oprah any day now.
I only hope his wife will not be with him.

The joke of NBA All-Star voting

Allen Iverson will be starting for the East squad at the NBA All-Star Game.

A few weeks ago, he was retired. At least for a couple of days.

Iverson has played 19 games this season. He originally was on the West ballot since he began the season with the Memphis Grizzlies. He lasted all of three games there.

He’s played 16 games with the Sixers, and is averaging 14.8 points per game. His votes shifted over to the East when he returned to his roots here in Philly.

Hey, it could have been worse. At least Steve Nash finally overtook Tracy McGrady to be a starting guard for the West.

McGrady has played in just six games for the Rockets.

This is why having fans vote for All-Star teams is a joke.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

The Daily Numbers - Jan. 21

The Daily Numbers: 17, age of Interboro student William James Bradley V, who was struck by a car and killed as he rode his bike home from school.
40, age of DRPA Police Cpl. Christopher Milito, who was struck and killed by a car as he came to a motorist’s aid on the Walt Whitman Bridge last weekend.
24 to 47 years in jail for a man convicted of gunning down a man on a Darby street.
21,000 dollars believed ripped off from dead clients by a disbarred lawyer from Newtown Square. He had previously pleaded guilty to ripping off disabled vets. Nice.
17,500 dollars in fines and court costs for truancy violations by a former Interboro High student. He’s now in jail when the law caught up with him.
13,500 dollar reward for information leading to the arrest of the suspect who shot and wounded a Westtown-East Goshen officer this week.
125 parents who packed a meeting last night in an effort to keep Saint Joseph’s School open in Collingdale. The archdiocese is mulling a recommendation to close the doors after this year.
718,417 dollars in debt. That’s what the new council in Norwood says was left in their lap by the outgoing board. That includes $504,000 in unpaid bills.
25 percent of all donations to the Haiti relief funds that’s been done by text message. That’s $24 million in $10 increments. All you have to do is text ‘Haiti” to 90999.
25 birds seized when SPCA officers raided a home in Kensington section of Philadelphia suspected as being a base for a cockfighting ring.
189 million dollars, amount players lost in casino slot machines in Pa.
in December. It’s the first time the Pa. number has been greater than New Jersey. Pa. is now No. 1 in the Northeast.
15 years in prison for an investment adviser from West Chester who admitted swindling elderly clients out of $1.5 million.
7.5 hours a day, how much time the experts tell us kids are spending using electronic media.
65 million dollar jackpot up for grabs Saturday night after no one hit all the Powerball numbers last night.
3 men charged in a plot in which 2 of them were hired by a New Jersey bowling alley owner to torch a rival lanes. The place was destroyed.
24 points for Andre Miller as the Trail Blazers beat the Sixers last night. Nah, they don’t need him.
19-8, the Blazers record in the games in which Miller has started.
8 straight wins for Villanova, which rolled over Rutgers last night, 94-68.
22 points for Temple senior standout Ryan Brooks as the Owls won a big game over A-10 rival Xavier, 77-72.
16 of 20 losses recently for tonight’s Flyers foe, the Columbus Blue Jackets, coached by our old pal Ken Hitchcock.

*
Call me a Phanatic: A look at the ups and downs of being a Philadelphia sports fan.Donovan McNabb has surfaced with a new blog item. He has titled it ‘Unfinished Business.’ Spare me.
*
I Don’t Get It: Talk about a hot business rivalry. The owner of a bowling alley in New Jersey apparently tired of losing business to another lanes not far away. His solution? Police say he hired two guys to burn it down. I don’t get it.
*
Today’s Upper: The family of a former Villanova lacrosse star who was shot in a street confrontation in Old City over the weekend say he was a hero, putting his body between the shooter and his friends.
*
Quote Box: “I’m sorry. Really, really sorry.”
- Card left at makeshift memorial to Interboro student William James Bradley V, who was struck and killed as he rode his bike home from school.

Two very sad stories

There is almost nothing as sad as the death of a young person. And it’s something we find ourselves doing all too often. Today we're reporting on two such incidents.

It’s an all too familiar scene. Officers standing at attention as the coffin containing a comrade goes by.

The long blue line formed once again this morning outside the Basilica of SS. Peter and Paul in Center City for the funeral of Delaware River Port Authority Cpl. Christopher Milito, of Upper Providence.

He was killed last weekend while doing what he did so often, coming to a motorist’s aid on the Walt Whitman Bridge. Milito was struck and killed by another motorist.

He has that in common with William James Bradley V. The Interboro High School student was riding his bike home from school on South Avenue in Glenolden Tuesday afternoon when he was struck by a car. He died of his injuries.

Yesterday, his classmates gathered near the scene to honor their friend.
Last night they held a candlelight vigil there to remember a guy who friends said "made everybody smile.”

Milito was 40. Bradley was just 17. Both gone way too young.

Too much of what we report every day is just overwhelmingly sad.

None more so than today.

A visit with Pat Toomey

Pat Toomey was in Delaware County yesterday to meet the county GOP brass and press the flesh at an event last night.

No doubt there were smiles all around. That’s because Republicans here and across the country were beaming in the afterglow of what happened on Tuesday in Massachusetts.

Before his meeting with local Republicans, Toomey sat down with the Daily Times Editorial Board.

The first thing I asked him was to “read the tea leaves” of what happened in New England. He did not mince words.

Toomey is looking to do the same thing Scott Brown did in Massachusetts.
Brown stunned the political world by capturing the Senate seat held for 47years by Ted Kenendy. A Republican, Toomey will likely be the party’s nominee for the U.S. Senate. He will face off in November with the winner of the Arlen Specter-Joe Sestak battle royal for the Democratic nomination.

Toomey said voters in Massachusetts sent a message to the nation’s capital that will ring across the country, a warning that the Democratic Party has been hijacked by the most extreme ideologues within the party running and agenda that does not represent the wishes of the majority of the country. He believes that message was delivered loud and clear, a vote against outrageous spending, trillion-dollar deficits and bailing out failing banks and businesses.

Instead, Toomey is calling for Washington to recalibrate, re-focus on jobs and strengthening our economy.

He’d start with health care, by pulling the plug on the plan now being pushed by Democrats.

Toomey is the first to admit that many of the economic problems that drove the economy into the worst recession since the Great Depression were rooted in the previous Bush Administation. He chides the former president for failing to take advantage of a mandate and Republican Congress, and for abandoning fiscal restraint and disciplined spending.
And he points out that Obama is in the process of making the same mistakes.

Toomey is of the belief that you can’t spend your way out of a recession, and warns that the “bubble” that torpedoed the economy in the housing and mortgage industry could well be repeated if spending is not controlled. That’s one reason he believes jobs have yet to show real indications of a turnaround.

Toomey has been down this road before. He narrowly lost a GOP primary to Specter in 2004.

I asked him if he’s the same candidate, one who critics said was too far to the right to win a statewide race. He disputed that belief, and said he’s ready to do what he did three times as a Congressman, win in a Democratic district.

Toomey especially warmed to the task in talking about his old foe, the newly minted Democratic Sen. Specter.

Toomey harpooned the longtime senator for losing any shred of credibility with his recent party switch meant only to salvage his own political neck.

And he has a warning for all those Democratic leaders who were quick to jump on the Specter bandwagon. He would not be surprised in the least should Sestak pull the upset.

Of course, that might be wishful thinking on his part, seeing himself as much more of a middle-of-the-road candidate than the “extremely” liberal Sestak.

One thing is sure. Toomey is ready for the race.

And he will prove a formidable candidate regardless of who the Democrats rally behind.

The 76ers lost season

It was old home week at the Wachovia Center again last night.

You’ll have to forgive Sixers fans if they were not in the mood for a party.

The familiar face in the Portland Trail Blazers uniform was that of Andre Miller. You might remember him. His work at point guard unified a young Sixers team and led them to the playoffs the last couple of years.

Unfortunately, in the offseason the Sixers decided they no longer needed Miller’s services, and allowed him to sign a free agent deal with the Blazers.

Not only did the Sixers indicate they no longer required Miller’s veteran expertise, they didn’t have much use for a point guard – period.

After all, they had hired Eddie Jordan as their new coach, and he was planning to implement the vaunted “Princeton offense.” Jordan assured us a point guard wasn’t essential to his plan.

How’s that worked out? The Sixers are in the midst of a hellish season.
The next time the Sixers display anything that remotely looks like Pete Carril’s famed weave of picks, backdoor cuts and intricate passes will be the first.

And Miller? He led all scorers with 24 points last night as the Blazers won, 98-90.

No, the Sixers don’t need Miller. They don’t need a point guard.

Here’s a question for GM Ed Stefanski and Jordan: What exactly is the point of this lost season?

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

The Daily Numbers - Jan. 20

The Daily Numbers: 50,000 dollars, how much the family of Marcus Reason is asking for in wrongful death suit filed against NBA rookie Tyreke Evans. That’s minimum.
3.6 million dollars, how much Evans will make this year in the NBA.
12 archdiocesan schools that have closed their doors in Delco since 1990.
13, if as expected St. Joseph’s School in Collingdale becomes the latest victim of declining enrollments.
230 kids currently enrolled at St. Joe’s. That could drop under 200 after graduation this June.
4 archdiocesan parish schools in Lower Bucks County that will be merged into one regional school next year.
4 years old, age of Marcia Reyes, thrown to her death from a bridge in Chester in 1993. Gov. Rendell yesterday signed a new death warrant for her father, Angel Reyes.
20,000 dollars needed to complete a park in honor of Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. in Chester.
17, age of Interboro High School student killed when he was struck by a car while riding his bike on South Avenue yesterday afternoon.
50,000 dollar grant for Chester police that will be used to buy new handbooks.
2 siblings with a business in Upper Darby charged by the feds yesterday in another elaborate bribery sting operation.
23 percent increase in number of Delco residents receiving food stamp or other forms assistance in the last year.
20 million dollar gift from an alum to the University of Pennsylvania.
2.5 million dollars of tree work for Asplundh Inc. in a big deal from Peco for trimming projects around power lines.
80, age of woman in Del. charged with abusing her husband. He’s 82.
She’s getting 8 years in prison.
7 veterans remains that will be the first interred in a new cemetery in Bucks County today.
5 goals for the Flyers as they rolled over former coach Ken Hitchcock and the Blue Jackets last night.
16 of 20 losses recently for tonight’s Flyers foe, the Columbus Blue Jackets, coached by our old pal Ken Hitchcock.
2 goals for former Flyer R. J. Umberger in a losing effort.
29 days until pitchers and catchers report to Phillies Spring Training camp in Clearwater.

*
Call me a Phanatic: A look at the ups and downs of being a Philadelphia sports fan.This could only happen to a Philly fan. Jimmy Rollins is in the Grand Cayman Islands, where he will get married this weekend. Several teammates are supposed to be there. Yesterday they had an earthquake.
Rollins is fine.
*
I Don’t Get It: Police are asking for the public’s help in the murder of an 86-year-old woman in Philly. She was beaten to death in her home with a frying pan. I don’t get it.
*
Today’s Upper: A setback in court yesterday for convicted killer Mumia Abu-Jamal and a new date with death for Angel Reyes in the murder of his daughter, Marcia. Good.
*
Quote Box: “Tyreke Evans did nothing wrong related to this incident involving Marcus Reason.”
- Hayes Hunt, Evans’ attorney, in response to wrongful death suit filed against the NBA star and three others yesterday.

The Civera Watch

Mario Civera was back at work as the newest county councilman yesterday.

There were no protesters as was the case the week before when a small band of Upper Darby Democrats marched outside the Media courthouse to show their displeasure over Civera’s decision to keep both his state House seat and his post on County Council, at least for the forseeable future.

That doesn’t mean they’re going away. Yesterday they took a new tack in their efforts to get Civera to give up his 164th District seat in the Legislature.

Instead of pleading with the longtime Upper Darby Republican, they now are taking their case to County Council Chairman Jack Whelan. They sent him a letter urging him to intercede and ask his fellow Republican – and running mate – to give up his state House post.

I hope they’re not holding their breath. I doubt that’s going to happen.

We also now have heard from Keith McCall. He’s a Democrat from Carbon County. (Quick, raise your hand if you know where Carbon County is.) He also happens to be the Speaker of the state House of Representatives.

In a letter published in this newspaper on Sunday, Civera made it clear he believes this is all about politics, and that the Speaker and other Democrats have set a special election for May 18, Primary Day, in a partisan fashion in order to capture the 164th District seat Civera has held for 30 years. Civera says he has no intention of going along with the Dems’ plan, and will simply stay in the House until the point where it would not be legally possible to hold the special election on Primary Day, a day when Democrats are looking for a huge turnout due to the U.S.
Senate race between Arlen Specter and Joe Sestak.

Today McCall fires back. In a letter of his own, he denies politics had anything to do with his decision to call the special election on Primary Day. He maintains he simply wanted to hold the election when it would be the most economical – there are already three other seats to be decided in special elections that day – and in an effort to get as many people to the polls as possible.

I’m not sure I’m totally buying that argument.

This is all about politics. And the battle for power in Harrisburg.

And just one more reminder of what’s wrong with this system.

The Tyreke Evans case

Tyreke Evans is well on his way to being an NBA superstar.

The Sacramento Kings guard is averaging 20.8 points per game. He is considered the front-runner to be the NBA Rookie of the Year.

That’s a long way from the streets of Chester where Evans grew up, and where at a very early age most people who saw him play predicted great things for him.

Evans starred at American Christian Academy and for a year at Memphis before entering the NBA Draft. He has never looked back.

But his past may be catching up with him. Evans has left Chester, but he still has not escaped the events of Nov. 25, 2007.

On that night Evans was driving his Ford expedition in Chester Township.
In the SUV with him were three other men, including his cousin Jamar.

According to police, the four men in the car that night believed a man approaching the vehicle did not want to talk hoops. They believed he meant them harm, most likely with a gun.

Jamar Evans pulled out a gun and fired a single shot, killing Marcus Reason. No gun was found on Reason.

Tyreke Evans was never charged in the case. Jamar Evans eventually pleaded guilty and is serving nine to 20 years in prison. Tyreke Evans cooperated with police and testified against his cousin at his preliminary hearing.

But the family of Marcus Reason is not satisfied. They have filed a wrongful death suit against the four men in the vehicle that fateful night. Only one of them is due to make $3.6 million this year.

The attorney who filed the suit for the Reason family alleged that some of Tyreke Evans’ actions that night contributed to Marcus Reason’s death, including the fact that Evans knew which direction was he was driving when he approached Reason, and that he knew the other the other three young men in the SUV were carrying guns.

An attorney for Tyreke Evans denies both those accusations, saying “Tyrone Evans did nothing wrong related to this incident involving Marcus Reason.”

I suppose there are two ways to look at this case. One would be a money grab against a young man who is now a star NBA athlete and millionaire.

The other would be the still-mourning family of a murder victim who continue to seek justice in their loved one’s death, one they don’t necessarily believe was delivered by the plea deal entered by Jamar Evans.

It will be very interesting to see if a jury ever gets to make that call.

One other thing should be said here. There were no shortage of people willing to offer their opinions about Tyreke Evans, both at the time of the incident, and throughout his career at American Christian.

But for almost the entire time he left Chester for Memphis, and so far in his rookie season in the NBA, he has been described as nothing short of a model citizen and budding young superstar.

But he still has not completely escaped from the streets of Delaware County, and some of the things that happened here.

An epic upset in Mass.

It’s still a little hard to comprehend.

The U.S. Senate seat held for 47 years by Ted Kennedy, and even longer by the legendary Massachusetts political family, now sits in the hands of a man with an R next to his name.

The “Liberal Lion” of the Senate, who died in August, must be rolling over his grave.

And the election of Scott Brown over Democratic state Attorney General Martha Coakley might just put President Barack Obama’s agenda in grave danger.

That’s because the election of a Republican means the split in the Senate will now be 59-41, instead of the current 60-40. And that means that the president’s measures – including health care reform – are no longer veto-proof.

Brown ran hard on the idea that this was the “people’s seat,” not one that belonged to the Kennedys.

Not much question today about how Massachusetts felt about it.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

The Daily Numbers - Jan. 19

The Daily Numbers: 200,000 people now feared dead in the devastation left in Haiti.
250,000 people injured, with 100 million dollars in emergency aid already pledged in the U.S.
40, age of Christopher Milito, a 15-year veteran of the DRPA police force, who was struck and killed on the Walt Whitman Bridge early Saturday.
150 participants who took part in an “Empty Bowls” fundraiser on the Widener campus to mark the Martin Luther King Jr. Holiday.
3 armed men who burst into a home in a quiet residential area on Ivy Mill Road in Concord over the weekend.
2 men who barged into a home in Bethel while 2 children were home on Monday, the holiday from school.
7, age of girl abducted and then released last week in Delaware. It’s drawn the attention of police in Bethel, who continue to probe a similar incident in their township a couple of months ago.
2 suspects, a man and woman, being sought after a police officer in Chester County was shot during a routine car stop investigation in East Goshen.
53 Haitian orphans being brought back to Pa. by Gov. Ed Rendell, who led a team of medical personnel to Haiti to retrieve the kids on Monday.
23, age of former Villanova lacrosse star who was gunned down during an altercation at 4th and Market streets in Philly over the weekend. A Temple Law School student now faces charges.
9 months, age of baby found inside car that was carjacked in Philly. Both the baby and the car were recovered without incident. A 37-year-old homeless man now faces charges.
5 months old, age of baby returned unharmed after another carjacking, this one in New Castle County, Del.
68, age of woman found beaten to death in the basement of her home in the Germantown section of Philadelphia.
175 jobs being eliminated by Lonza Group Inc. as the chemical supplier closes a plant in Conshohocken.
47 years, how long Ted Kennedy held a U.S. Senate seat from Massachusetts. That could end today in a special election.
20 point lead blown by the Sixers yesterday as they suffered maybe their worst loss of the season, falling to the T-Wolves in OT.
16 of 20 losses recently for tonight’s Flyers foe, the Columbus Blue Jackets, coached by our old pal Ken Hitchcock.
61 carries for 274 yards this season for Brian Westbrook. He also had 25 catches for 181 yards. Westbrook’s cranky knee might case him to retire.
2.125 million deal for Chad Durbin, who signed 1-year pact with Phils yesterday, thus avoiding arbitration.
3 other Phils who could exchange salary arbitration figures with the team today, Shane Victorino, Carlos Ruiz and Joe Blanton.
30 days until pitchers and catchers report to Phillies Spring Training camp in Clearwater.

*
Call me a Phanatic: A look at the ups and downs of being a Philadelphia sports fan.Anybody have any ideas on how to fix the Sixers, aside from simply blowing the team up and starting all over again. I don’t envy Ed Stefanski. Of course, he got himself in this position, re-signing Andre Iguodala to a long deal, then signing Elton Brand, who looks like a shadow of his old self, and firing Mo Cheeks and bringing in Eddie Johnson, which has not exactly worked out.
*
I Don’t Get It: Don’t look now, but what were once thought to be fairly safe communities are no longer immune to serious crime. Police are investigating two home invasions yesterday in quiet areas of the western part of the county.
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Today’s Upper: Kudos to all those who took part in MLK Day activities yesterday. The key now is to put those lessons to work every day.
*
Quote Box: “He was just the best person in the world.”
- Gianna Furlan, the 8-year-old niece of DRPA Police Officer Chris Milito, who was killed in the line of duty Saturday morning.

End of an era?

The eyes of the nation today will focus on Massachusetts, where something once thought unimaginable just might happen.

Ted Kennedy’s seat in the U.S. Senate could fall into Republican hands.

A special election will be held today to fill the remainder of the “Liberal Lion” of the Senate’s term. Democratic State Attorney General Martha Coakler, who once looked like a lock to fill Kennedy’s seat, is now in the fight of her life with Republican Scott Brown, a state senator. Recent polls have shown Brown pulling ahead.

There is much at stake in this race, and no shortage of irony as well.
It was one of Kennedy’s lifetime goals to reform the health care system in this country. How ironic would it be if the key vote against that proposal would come from the seat he held for decades?

If elected, Brown would negate the Democrats’ 60-seat supermajority in Washington and prove a huge problem for President Barack Obama’s legislative agenda, including health care reform.

Brown has not shied away from running against the history of the state, and this Senate seat in particular.

His rallying cry has been that it’s “not the Kennedy’s seat, it’s the people’s seat.”

“It’s us against the machine,” he told a rally this week. “Make sure that we send a message to Washington that business as usual is not how we like to do business.”

For the Kennedy family, business as usual has meant holding that Senate seat since Jack Kennedy went to the Senate in the 1950s.

That reign just might end today.

Bet on it

Don’t start counting all the loot that’s expected to roll into Pennsylvania’s new slots parlors this summer when they start offering table games.

They might have company.

Delaware is about to raise the stakes, so to speak. Again.

The ever-increasing war to remove every last dime from would-be gamblers’ pockets has been slowly but surely ratcheting up in recent years. First it was Atlantic City looking to be the Las Vegas of the East Coast. Then Delaware got into the act. Pennsylvania, tired of seeing money bleed out of almost every border, and also desperate for a way to tame out of control property taxes, jumped in with slots parlors a couple of years ago. Atlantic City has been feeling the hit ever since. Delaware decided to fight back by trying to legalize sports betting. A court blocked that attempt, leaving bettors only able to take part in parlay bets on three games at a time. To cure their most recent budget woes, the Pa. legislature has finally signed off on table games.
Soon players will be able to sit at tables at Harrah’s in Chester and play poker, roulette and craps.

That has not gone unnoticed in nearby Delaware. Pols down I-95 have now introduced their own version of table games. It could be taken up in the Delaware House this week. Backers of the move say it will create 750 jobs, permitting table games at the state’s three existing casinos, Dover Downs, Delaware Park and Harrington.

Harrah’s has said the addition of table games will mean another 300 jobs on the Chester waterfront. This Saturday they will hold a job fair tied to table games.

All of which makes you wonder where all this gambling is going to wind up. Are we now destined to cure every budget ill, every unfunded program, with another game of chance?

I think you can pretty much bet on it.

The winter of our sports discontent

For Philly sports fans, welcome to the winter of our discontent.

At first, we smiled as the Vikings dismantled the Cowboys on Sunday. Then our frown turned upside down when we realized that what the game really underscored is just how far the gap has become between the Eagles and the NFL’s elite.

The Cowboys manhandled the Eagles on two successive weekends. In the process they became the so-called “hot” team in the NFL, and the darlings of the national media. Owner Jerry Jones and quarterback Tony Romo talked of how Dallas had finally exorcised the December and playoff demons that had haunted them for more than a decade. The Cowboys kicked the Eagles to the curb, and were now ready to reclaim their status among the NFL’s best.

Uh, not exactly.

But if Sunday’s game vs. the Vikings was humbling for the ‘Boys, it also should serve as an eye opener for Eagles fans. Just how big is the gulf that separates the Birds from the Vikings and the Saints, who will meet Sunday in the NFC title game? You might remember the Eagles crossed paths with the Saints in Week 2 of the NFL season and got blown out.

The thought was that Andy Reid and the rest of the self-proclaimed “Gold Standard” down at the Nova Care Center would have to devise a way to make the Eagles competitive with the Cowboys next year. They still do, if they expect to win the NFC East. But the Eagles now must come to the realization they’ve fallen behind the real powers in the NFC as well.

Of course, we can always turn to winter sports to ease our pain. Take the Sixers. Please.

All they did Monday was suffer what likely was their worst defeat of the season, blowing a double-digit lead in falling to maybe the worse team in the league, outside of themselves, of course.

The Flyers? They’re trying to figure out why the guy visiting tonight as the coach of the Columbus Bluejackets is still not standing behind their bench. And their captain is at war with the media.

How many days until spring training?

Monday, January 18, 2010

The Daily Numbers - Jan. 18

The Daily Numbers: 31 of Delco’s 49 municipalities that hiked taxes in their budgets this year. And that does not count the county, which also hit taxpayers with a hike.
7 percent increase in the levy on Delco taxpayers for their county tax bill.
94,700 dollars in merchandise ripped off from Terrain at Styers in Concord last week.
4 gunshots suffered by an Upper Darby teen during a struggle with 2 other teens.
5,000 worth of jewels that were stashed in a freezer in a Middletown home.
100 years of Catholic worship celebrated Sunday at Sacred Heart Parish in Clifton Heights.
1 person shot 4 times Saturday night after an altercation at 4th and Market streets in Old City Philadelphia.
16 year veteran of the DRPA police force, Christopher Milito of Media was struck and killed on the Walt Whitman Bridge early Saturday.
450 million deficit already looming in the state. Gov. Ed Rendell says he’s cut just about everything he can. Any other forms of gambling available?
4 survivors of the devastating Haiti earthquake who were airlifted out and are being treated at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania.
2.83, average price of gas in 5-county Philly region as the prices continues to creep up.
3 points scored by the Cowboys yesterday as they got blown out by the Vikings.
27 points for Scottie Reynolds as Villanova rolled to an 82-77 win over Georgetown.
2 goal lead for the Flyers but they couldn’t make it hold up and lost, 5-3, to the Caps.

*
Call me a Phanatic: A look at the ups and downs of being a Philadelphia sports fan.Yes, I can admit to thoroughly enjoying watching the Cowboys fall to the Vikings yesterday, including that last touchdown that the ‘Boys believe was a case of running up the score by the Vikes.
*
I Don’t Get It: The Golden Globes. How many days until the Academy Awards?
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Today’s Upper: Kudos to American Red Cross Emergency Preparedness Director Alex Agosti, who visited a church in East Lansdowne with a large Haitian population Sunday and offering his condolenes to those grieving, and help for others.
*
Quote Box: “Our couhntry is in agony.”
- Pastor Henry Dorval, to his congregation at Deliverance Church of God in East Lansdowne, about the situation in Haiti.

The dream

Today is the day we set aside each year to try to make “the dream” a reality.

I refer to the famous speech and vision of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

You can read the entire text of King’s famous speech, and watch a video by CLICKING HERE.

I have a theory when it comes down to race in America. Maybe it’s because of what I do for a living. My theory comes down to this:
Everything comes down to race.

Don’t believe me? Come in here and answer the phones some day. Read the Sound Offs that don’t make the paper. Read the comments that are posted on the stories on our Web site every day.

It doesn’t matter if it’s about crime in Upper Darby, or the Eagles signing Michael Vick.

It seems every story is seen in black and white.

A year ago I believed the nation had reached a milestone in race relations when Barack Obama was sworn in as the nation’s first African-American president.

A year later I’m not so sure. More than that, I’m not sure we’ll ever get beyond some of our issues with race.

Each year I marvel as I read the words and listen to Dr. King deliver his famous speech.

In part because of what I do, just once I would like to pen something with that kind of power. It is a tremendous speech, maybe the best speech I have ever read. And Dr. King’s delivery only adds to the thunder.

I just wish the dream contained a little more reality in our everyday lives.

That’s my dream.

How 'bout dem Cowboys!

So much for the vaunted Cowboys.

Yes, I can admit that I thoroughly enjoyed the dismanting of Dallas this weekend by Brett Favre and the Minnesota Vikings.

But there was one thing missing for much of the game. As the rout was on in the second half, I kept waiting for Fox to give me one of those shots of Cowboys’ owner Jerry Jones that they like to shove down our throats when the ‘Boys are winning.

I noticed that Jones was conspicuously absent from my screen as Tony Romo et al reverted to their normal blundering playoff modus operandi.

Before the game, I had to stomach a big piece on how the Cowboys had finally exorcised their demons – at the hands of the Eagles.

I was once again wondering where Jerry was when, lo and behold, there he was on my screen.

Eventually the owner made his way down to the field. To do exactly what I have no idea.

Then another thought struck me while I was gloating over the Cowboys’
demise.

Is it OK to enjoy the way the Cowboys fell, or wonder just how far away that puts the Eagles from being competitive with the NFL’s elite.

The Cowboys now are right back to the same doubts and questions they had before those two games with the Eagles.

Exactly where that puts the Eagles I am not sure. And I don’t think I want to know.

Not so Golden

Maybe it’s just me, but does it strike anyone else as just a little bit
absurd to watch all those Hollywood celebrities marching around the red
carpet at the Golden Globe Awards last night, while in Haiti people have
no water, no shelter, no medicine and little help.

I know that life has to go on, but maybe, just this one time, did anyone
even consider simply scrapping the event and giving all the money to the
fundraising drive for Haiti.

Then again, I also noticed that NBC is going to give Conan O’Brien $30
million NOT to go to work. This is all part of the Peacock’s implosion
and the failed experiment with Jay Leno in prime time.

They’re now going to move Jay back to his old spot, and give Conan the boot.

Conan is not happy. But he is going to get a huge check to go away.

And again I wonder how much good that check could do in Haiti.

Friday, January 15, 2010

The Daily Numbers - Jan. 15

The Daily Numbers: 50,000 people feared dead in the devastation left in the rubble of a 7.0 earthquake that flattened much of the capital city of Haiti.
1 coed from the Trenton area who is still missing and feared buried in the rubble of a collapsed hotel in Haiti.
1 year since popular mobile grocer Abe Farkas was gunned down in his bus in Chester.
0 suspects arrested in the case.
10,000 dollar reward that remains for information in the case.
6 men charged with illegal hunting in Upland. You read it right. They were hunting deer near the Caleb Pusey Plantation.
2 Democratic U.S. Senate candidates who yesterday joined the chorus asking state Rep. Mario Civera, R-164, to step down from his post now that he’s been sworn in as a new county councilman.
1 debate set between Joe Sestak and Arlen Specter as they face off for Democratic nomination for U.S. Senate.
20,000 dollars, what Aldan Borough says it spent cleaning up from the big snow storm on Dec. 19-20.
20 to 40 years in the slammer for a man convicted of robbing a bank.
10,000 reward now offered for info on the murder of an 86-year-old woman in her Lower Moreland home.
80, age of man in Montco held for trial in the beating death of his wife. He is due to get psychological testing.
8, age of N.J. child who has found himself on the TSA’s “No-Fly” list.
He shares a name with person who draws suspicion from the feds. His parents are not amused.
300 dollar fine to be slapped on Sunoco by Philadelphia for that stench that emanated from a spill at their refinery in South Philly and covered much of the area overnight Thursday.
4.6 billion in revenue in the fourth quarter for software giant SAP, which has its North American HQ out in Newtown Square.
161 million more in cuts put in place by Pa. government. They can’t get those table games in place fast enough.
40 million up for grabs in Saturday night’s Powerball jackpot. Wonder if Gov. Rendell is buying tickets?
0 booze that will be available during “rush” activities for Penn State frats under a new rule.
15,000 birds that will be killed at a State College airport to avoid mid-air collisions with jets.
2 million dollars pocketed by a computer training school before it closed its doors. It’s now being sued by the Pa. AG.
0 goals last night for the Flyers, who saw their win streak snapped by the Maple Leafs.
2 surgeries for Phillies closer Brad Lidge this offseason. He had work done on his elbow, now he’s had a procedure on his cranky right knee.
1 year as Eagles special teams coach for Ted Daisher. He was fired yesterday.

*
Call me a Phanatic: A look at the ups and downs of being a Philadelphia sports fan.You probably did not know that it was their special teams that caused the Eagles to get blown out two weeks in a row by the Cowboys. The team fired their special teams coach yesterday, along with two strength and conditioning coaches.
*
I Don’t Get It: Radio talk show host Rush Limbaugh yesterday advised listeners not to give money to Haiti charitable drives, saying that’s why we pay taxes. I don’t get it.
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Today’s Upper: Upper Darby High School today will rally around a student from Haiti. Our hearts are with them.
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Quote Box: “A day doesn’t go by that I don’t miss him or think about him.”
- Maureen Beail-Farkas, widow of slain Chester grocer Abe Farkas. He was murdered a year ago. No arrest has been made.

The Decker case: Get the picture?

One of the things I like most about working online is the increased interaction we can have with readers.

If you don’t scroll down to the end of stories on our Web site, you’re missing a rare treat.

At the end of every story, readers have the ability to comment on the stories. As you might guess, our readers are not exactly shy. They point what they believe are flaws in our reporting, give their opinions on what happened, and often assume the role of judge and jury – on both the cases and us.

Almost nothing we have done online has generated the kind of response as the arrest of former Ridley Township Police Officer Brian Decker for allegedly assaulting a Wawa clerk.

And there has been a specific question asked again and again that I want to address.

Many commenters have pointed out that we have not used a photo of Decker. They believe we are giving him a break, and suggest it shows that we are biased in favor of the police. Some have gone so far as to say we are “in the pocket” of the cops, and that we do – and report - anything they want.

If that were the case, I can assure you the Decker story never would have gotten the publicity it did.

But the online world continues to wonder why Decker’s photo has not been plastered all over Page One and our Web site, as have so many other people who get arrested in this county. Some believe it’s because he’s a cop; others go so far as to indicate that if Decker were black we would be treating him differently.

None of these comes close to the truth, which is simply this. Decker’s photo has not appeared in the paper because we don’t have one. We were unable to get a picture of him when he was originally charged, nor were we able to get him when he left rehab and was arraigned. Very often police make available the “mug” shot taken when a suspect is booked.
That has not happened in this case.

This week we reported that Decker’s preliminary hearing, which was scheduled for Thursday, was continued. Again, no photo.

Rest assured that when Decker arrives for his preliminary hearing, we’ll be there. Both reporters and photographers. We will make every effort to get his picture.

Not that I think that will quell the online community who insist our handling of the Decker case is just the latest example of our bias in handling crime stories.

Feel free to add your own opinion. Welcome to the new world of community journalism.

We certainly have a big voice in it. Now, so do you.

Dems pile on Civera

I’m getting ready to throw a penalty flag on Delaware County Democrats.
Their foul? Piling on.

A series of Democrats yesterday came forward and urged state Rep. Mario Civera to resign his House seat.

Civera, as we have reported at length, has had a change of heart when it comes to holding two elected positions. Despite saying during the campaign for County Council that he had no intention of holding both the county post as well as the state House seat he has held for 30 years, he’s now had a change of tune.

And if you’re a Republican, it’s hard to blame him.

Then again, if you’re a Democrat, fire away.

Here’s the deal. Civera clearly now is reluctant to step away from his 164th District seat because the special election to fill the post is almost certainly going to fall on primary day, May 18. Democrats are rejoicing because they know they are sure to have a huge turnout that day as they decide between U.S. Rep. Joe Sestak and Sen. Arlen Specter in the U.S. Senate race.

Republicans, on the other hand, already facing a changing demographic in the 164th where Democrats now outnumber Republicans, want a more level playing field. That would include holding the election on a day other than primary day, despite the additional cost.

Yesterday, Democrats were coming out of the woodwork to call for Civera to step down.

Both Specter and Sestak got in the game. State Rep. Bryan Lentz, who is running for the 7th District Congress seat Sestak is giving up, already has legislation ready that would ban holding two positions.

For now, Civera is holding his ground. Today, he will sit down with our columnist Gil Spencer to tell his side of the story. I can’t wait to hear it.

We’ll give it to you on Sunday.

Lidge goes under knife - again

Stop me if you’ve heard this one before.

Brad Lidge is going under the knife. Actually, he already has. And guess what? He may not be ready for opening day. Opening Day? At Citizens Bank Park? What happened to Clearwater and spring training?

Lidge hasn’t been the same since Ryan Howard fell on him after he ended that perfect season in 2008, sealing a World Series victory for the Phils.

The problem is once again a balky right knee. Yes, the same one he had surgery on before that 2008 season. If you remember, Lidge showed up for the press conference announcing his arrival in Philly on crutches.

It’s not even his first surgery of this offseason. He already had a procedure to clean out his elbow.

Still, you have to wonder about the timing of this. A quick check of the calendar indicates the Phils have not played a game since November. But Lidge is having surgery now, a month before the team heads to Florida?

The Phils are saying it’s no big deal, that Lidge is likely to start a throwing program in about 10 days.

But they’re also saying their closer may be available on Opening Day.
Can you say Danys Baez?

Maybe Lidge just doesn’t like spring training.