Friday, July 30, 2010

The Daily Numbers - July 30

The Daily Numbers: 3 pitchers acquired by Phillies GM Ruben Amaro Jr.
Roy Oswalt, Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee. Not too shabby.
57,000 dollars stolen from the Norwood Athletic Club by the group’s former president, who apparently blew the money at casinos.
6 to 12 months in jail for Kevin Seng, which breaks down to 3 months in jail on 45 consecutive 48-hour periods. He also got 90 days on electronic home monitoring, 240 years of community service, and 5 years probation.
33 times this summer we’ve gone over the 90-degree mark.
1.3 million in bogus personal injury claims from fakes accident reports admitted to by a Philly man. Wallace Morris orchestrated 44 fake accidents in the scheme. The loss to 17 insurance companies was more than $1 million.
185,000 dollars pocketed by a Philadelphia Records Department cashier by selling police reports at a discount.
1 man killed in a stabbing incident in West Philly last night.
20 police officers facing layoffs in Vineland, N.J.
42 percent dip in profits at Dover Downs casino in Delaware in the 2nd quarter.
3 people, including a man from Morton, charged in a pot-growing operation that was housed in a North Philly warehouse.
825 dollars missing from a safe at Pat’s Café in North Philly. A city police officer is under investigation in the theft. 2 other officers who were in the bar are being cleared.
8 straight wins for the red-hot Phillies.
11 consecutive wins at Citizens Bank Park. They now play 6 on the road.
2.5 games back of the Braves, who lost against yesterday to the Nationals.
4 year deal for Eagles 1st round pick Brandon Graham. He will be He will be on the field for practice today.

Call me a Phanatic: A look at the ups and downs of being a Philadelphia sports fan.It’s Roy Oswalt Day today in Philly. He’ll be on the mound tonight for the Phils as they invade the nation’s Capital to play the Nationals.
I Don’t Get It: A 34-year-old woman in Newark, Del., is charged with groping several teen boys at a public pool. I don’t get it.
Today’s Upper: If there’s a better story than that of Vince and Nancy Lowry today, I haven’t seen it. Make sure you read Gil Spencer’s column.
Quote Box: “I’m not going to let the mistake of one person ruin the five years that they spent there, or the wonderful care they were given.”
- Father of 20-year-old autism victim who was left inside steaming van by employees of social service agency in Elkins Park.

One more view on 'The View'

Your eyes did not deceive you.

That was the commander-in-chief who decided to take a little time and enjoy “The View” yesterday.

Barack Obama became the first president to appear on a daytime talk fest.

It is the society we live in today. You take the message to where the people are.

That’s why we are awash in Twitter, Facebook and blogs. That’s why media of all kinds – print included – are expanding their offerings and moving into new platforms to deliver the product.

Still, a lot of people believe Obama’s appearance on “The View” was below the dignity of the office.

Among those taking issue with the move was the governor of Pennsylvania.

You know, Ed Rendell. The guy who spends Sundays in the fall as the post-game analyst on Eagles games.

How’s that view, governor?

Roy to the World

Roy Oswalt. Roy Halladay. Cliff Lee.

Those are the last three pitchers acquired by Phillies GM Ruben Amaro Jr.

Sure, you can say in retrospect that the decision to trade Lee after his heroics in the playoffs and World Series last fall was a debacle.

My guess is that even Amaro might like a do-over on that one.

It doesn’t change his track record.

What Amaro, and his mentor Pat Gillick before him, has done is fundamentally change the image of this once moribund bunch.

There is nothing small-time – or small market – about the Phils anymore.

They are a player.

Amaro targets the player he wants, then goes and gets him.

They don’t come cheap. Acquiring Oswalt from the Astros meant parting with young pitcher J. Happ. Reeling in Halladay cost some of the best young arms in the Phils’ system, inlcuding Kyle Drabek.

But you have to like this move. It was there on the table, and unlike so many who preceded him, Amaro wasted no time pulling the trigger.

So how many Phillies fans do you think make the hike down I-95 to Washington to see Oswalt’s debut tonight?

My guess is that there will be as many Phillies fans as those rooting for the Nats in the house.

The Phillies can now match up with anyone with their pitching triumvirate of Halladay, Hamels and Oswalt.

Roy to the World!

Confessions of a Philly fan

Only a cynical fan would believe the Eagles timed the signing of their No. 1 draft pick to try to steal some of the thunder from the Phillies blockbuster signing of Roy Oswalt.


Yeah, not even this longtime Iggles fan can go that far.

I think.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

A verdict that pleased no one

It’s not unusual for one side or the other to be unhappy with a jury’s verdict.

It’s a little more unusual when both sides are grumbling.

That seems to be the case in the case against Stephen Fischere. A Delaware County jury Wednesday acquitted him of the more serious charges of first- and second-degree murder in connection with the death of 4-year-old Zander Grogan. They convicted him of aggravated assault and reckless endangering.

Neither side is especially happy. Fischere supporters are grumbling that he was convicted of anything at all. Those aligned with the baby’s mother are bemoaning the fact that he was not convicted of the murder charges.

Fishchere now faces at least five years in prison.

That is not nearly enough to satisfy members of the Grogan family.

“I can’t believe (Fischere) got away with murder,” Zander’s grandmother Valorie Grogan said outside court.

Friends of Fischere continued to stand by him, saying they know he could not hurt a child.

“I would trust (Fischere) with my son any day of the week,” one of them commented.

Perhaps it was left to defense attorney Mark Much to put the case in perspective.

“This was a tragedy,” he said.

No one will question that. A 4-year-old boy is dead.

And there remains lots of questions as to why, and who is responsible.

Why was this guy free?

Montgomery County D.A. Risa Ferman is asking a question that’s probably on a lot of people’s minds.

What in God’s name was Reginald McNeill doing back on the street?

McNeill was the guy you saw sauntering back into custody in handcuffs in Abington, along the way offering an apology to his victim.

He had a lot to apologize for.

Police say the lifetime con assaulted and then abducted a 20-year-old woman as she walked to her car in the parking lot of the restaurant where she worked after she finished her shift around 1 a.m.

McNeill is alleged to have sprayed her with pepper mace and threatened her with a knife before jamming her into her car and taking off.

In this instance, the victim fought back. The 20-year-old managed to break free, even after McNeill slapped handcuffs on her. Police say they believe she could have been raped and murdered if she had not fought back.

But the even bigger question is why McNeill, with a history of violent offenses, was out on the street in the first place. He was charged back in June with a break-in at the Union League in Philadelphia. But that charge was dropped and McNeill was allowed to go free on bail.

He now likely will return to jail, where he spent three decades of his life.

He apparently didn’t learn his lesson.

And it seems we still have not learned our lesson in dealing with violent criminals, and the revolving door that too often stands for our justice system.

What can Brown do for you

What can Brown do for you?

A lot, if you happen to be a Phillies fan.

Rookie phenom Domonic Brown proved all that and more in his sparkling debut in the Phillies lineup. On his first swing in the major leagues, the right-fielder smoked a ball off the top of the wall in right, driving in the Phils first run in what would be an easy, 7-1 win behind Roy Halladay.

After being greeted with a standing ovation as he stepped up to the plate for his first at-bat, Brown delivered the goods. He added a single later in the game, scored a run and drove in two.

In short, he’s got phenom written all over him, a five-tool guy that doesn’t come around very often.

The only splotch on his night was a play in the ninth that likely cost Halladay a shutout. Brown attempted a diving catch of a sinking liner with a man on first. He failed to come up with it, and it skipped behind him all the way to the wall, allowing the Diamondbacks to get on the board. The veteran play there would be to keep the ball in front of you.
Halladay got the next batter to fly out to end the ballgame, complete game – but not the shutout – intact.

Adding to the Phillies excitement today is word that they are very close to a deal for Astros’ ace Roy Oswalt.

In fact a Houston TV station is saying the deal is completed, needing only for Oswalt to sign off on it. He won’t come cheap. It likely will cost the Phils young pitcher J.A. Happ.

But it will give them a starting rotation headed by Halladay, Cole Hamels and then Oswalt.

Maybe the biggest question Charlie Manuel might have is what he will do with Brown when centerfielder Shane Victorino returns from the DL.
Suddenly Jayson Werth, who is now patrolling center with Brown in right, is red-hot at the plate. He had three more hits last night. And left-fielder Raul Ibanez is hitting over .300 since the All-Star break.

It’s a good problem to have.

For his part, Manuel liked what he saw from young Brown.

“I think they have a bobblehead coming out tomorrow,” the skipper joked.

Call it a Brown-out, only in this instance, the power is on.

The Domonic Brown era started with a bang. The Phils remain three and a half behind the Braves, and the trade deadline is Saturday afternoon.

Suddenly Eagles training camp is not such big news anymore. Kevin Kolb?
At least for now, he’ll take a back seat to the other new kid in town.

Right now, it’s Brown’s town.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

The Daily Numbers - July 27

The Daily Numbers: 200 people who gathered at a vigil last night for the latest victim of gun violence in Chester.

3 people shot, one fatally, since the city lifted its state of emergency on Friday.

525 bucks allegedly scammed from elderly folks in Upland by a fellow senior citizen who has since fled with the money.

2 armed men involved in a home invasion on Hampden Road in Upper Darby Tuesday morning.

2 lawsuits now filed in connection with the laptop spying scandal in the Lower Merion School District. Another student filed against the district this week.

200 gallons of fuel oil that spilled on a runway at Philadelphia International Airport Tuesday.

55, age of US Airways pilot who pleaded guilty to taking photos with his cell phone up the skirt of a teen girl in the airport.

5 bank heists police in Philadelphia believe are the work of the “mummy” bandit, so-called because he wears bandages on his face and hands.

42, age of man charged with indecent exposure after he was spotted swimming naked twice in a community pool in broad daylight.

42, age of woman accused of having sex with a 14-year-old boy after offering him drugs in Bath, Pa.

15 percent hike in profits at SAP, which has its North American HQ in Newtown Square.

45 bucks, what a man paid for some old glass negatives at a garage sale in Beverly Hill, Calif. Turns out they were done by famed photographer Ansell Adams. They’re now valued at $200 million. Beats the hell out of a 401K.

4, age of youth in Philly in fell into an open manhole. He was rescued by police.

20, age of woman assaulted and abducted by a convicted sex offender in Abington. The suspect is back behind bars. The victim was not seriously injured.

180,000 dollar a year job given up by the top public safety director at DRPA over allegations that he improperly used E-Z Pass benefits.

90 minute delays on Amtrak train lines in New Jersey after a woman was fatally struck on the rails at Hamilton.

6 straight wins for the Phils, who rallied for a 9-5 victory over the D-Backs last night.

games behind the Braves, where the Phils now sit after Atlanta lost last night.

23 of June, the last time Jayson Werth hit a home run, until last night.

3 starters now injured for Phils. Centerfielder Shane Victorino left the game last night with a hip problem. Jimmy Rollins missed the game with a sore foot. Chase Utley is still on the DL.

2, as in 2nd round draft pick, safety Nate Allen, signed yesterday by the Eagles. That leaves only top pick Brandon Graham unsigned.

4 names now for what used to be the Wachovia Center. It’s now called the Wells Fargo Center.


Call me a Phanatic: A look at the ups and downs of being a Philadelphia sports fan.
The more banged-up the Phillies get, the better they plan. Last night they lost Shane Victorino. They still won their sixth straight.


I Don’t Get It: Hard to believe you can “forget” a 20-year-old autism patient. That’s what apparently happened last weekend when a young man was left in a steaming hot van in the parking lot of social service agency in Elkins Park. He died.


Today’s Upper: Kudos to Condoleeza Rice, who joined soul superstar Aretha Franklin for a number last night at the Mann Center. Rice is an accomplished pianist, in addition to being a former secretary of state.


Quote Box: “He wasn’t a troublemaker. He wasn’t in the streets like everybody else.”

- Father of latest shooting victim in Chester, at a vigil held in the city last night.

Here's something to comment on

I work every day in two mediums – print and online.

Print is as old and familiar as my favorite tweed sportscoat. On the other hand, online is the new kid on the block. But it is where I spend more and more time each day.

Print has a sense of permanence, online is more fleeting.

That’s because material that we publish in print, as I remind reporters every day, is forever.

On the other hand, online is more of an evolution. Material we post online can change, we can develop it, add new information, new details.

We publish the print edition once each day. We can publish online every minute. We are in the process of transforming ourselves into a 24-hour news operations.

That’s one of the things I love about working online. It gives us the ability to deliver news to readers immediately, then update it constantly. Sometimes that means correcting information as it changes.

I don’t have that luxury in print. We get one shot to get it right. As much as we strive to do just that, we sometimes fall short. That’s why we run corrections.

There is another crucial difference between our print edition and our online website, one that I also am learning has its pitfalls.

Our website is much more of an interactive animal. We are engaging the readers, asking them to literally take part in our new “news ecology.”

A big part of that is the ability for readers to post comments on most of the stories we “publish” online.

That, as I am sadly learning, is not always a good thing.

Let me put it a little more plainly: Does every story boil down to race.
Black vs. white? Minority vs. Majority? Or is that merely a mirage created by the convenience of anonymous posters who feel emboldened to make statements they would never dare make if their name appeared beside them.

I don’t get that kind of convenient cover. Every day I write this blog and my name appears on the byline. On Mondays I do likewise with my print column. The same goes for all our reporters. Our editorial board, of which I am a member, stands behind the stance of the paper. It is clearly labeled as opinion and stands apart from our news coverage.

But those lines are becoming increasingly blurred online.

Here are the basic ground rules for posting on stories that appear on our website. We ask for commenters to register, but what they say is done so – at least as far as the public can see – anonymously.

Once they register, what they post appears immediately on the site. That is a powerful medium. I can tell you that because part of what I do here each day increasingly is trying to keep tabs on those comments. I delete a lot of what I see. Readers also have the ability to notify us via e-mail if they find a comment objectionable. We then review the material and make a decision. Some complaints are justified. Others are simply someone who disagrees with what someone says. That does not warrant us taking action.

If someone persists in posting objectionable material, we can “ban” them from making comments. Often that simply results in them re-registering from another e-mail address.

As you might guess, an overwhelming majority of the objectionable comments online boils down to basic racism.

If you think this country has come a long way when it comes to dealing with matters of race, come into my office someday and listen to the unedited Sound Off tapes that we whittle down to what appears in print each day. Online comments might be considered Sound Off on steroids.
There are those – including some on my own staff - who firmly believe we have no business offering that kind of anonymous platform to readers.

One thing should be made clear: The comments that appear on stories that run on our website are not the opinion of our reporters, nor the position of the paper.

That doesn’t change the fact that we are hosting this forum. For that reason, I believe we are responsible for that content.

We covered a vigil in Chester Tuesday night for the latest victim of street violence in Chester. Many residents made it clear they had problems with our coverage. What we found out was that it was not so much our coverage of the incident, but rather the comments that appeared under the story.

A review of them quickly confirmed why. It was right there in black and white. Literally.

That is why on the story that appears on the site today concerning last night’s vigil, we have disabled the comments capability.

It’s not something I like to do. I get accused of censorship all the time when I delete objectionable comments. I can only guess how this move is going to be received.

It also runs contrary to the spirit of the Internet, which is so free-flowing and based on a constant give-and-take.

Of course, we have the ability to make still another change. We can review every comment before it is posted on the site. I’m not sure we have the manpower to undertake that kind of effort given the surging popularity of our website, especially the comments posted on it.

It is something I will continue to wrestle with every day, and with every story that appears online.

For now, I will mimic the words of Rodney King: “Can’t we all just get along.”

I think I know the answer. At least where it concerns the online portion of my job.

Reality bytes. So do racist, hurtful comments.

Name change? Bank on it

Why don’t they just call it the Quick Change Center?

Or shorten it to The Bank. No, that might get it confused with Citizens Bank Park.

Attention sports fans. One your South Philly sports palaces is changing its name.

Again. Actually, for the fourth time.

The Wachovia Center will now be called the Wells Fargo Center.

This is not a recording. The place first known as the CoreStates Center when it opened in 1996, only to give way to the First Union Center, which morphed into the Wachovia Center, will now be called the Wells Fargo Center.

Don’t ask for how long.

With the price of the seats inside, they might honor the fans by calling it the Bank-rupt Center.

I supposed calling it the No Championship Center has been ruled out.

Just call them Comeback Kids

The Comeback Kids are back.

And they just might have one more setback to overcome.

The Phillies managed to scratch back from three separate deficits last night to post their sixth straight win, a 9-5 win over the Diamondbacks.

The Phils were powered by home runs by Ryan Howard, Jayson Werth and Cody Ransom. The Werth dinger was the right-fielder’s first since June 23. That’s 29 games and a ton of at-bats.

Werth, the focus of persistent trade talks as the swap deadline looms this weekend, appears to finally be coming out of his offensive funk.

That’s a good thing. Because he would end his evening in centerfield after Shane Victorino apparently strained an oblique muscle tracking down a fly ball. Victorino left the game, and Werth slid over in the outfield. The team was already playing short-handed, starting the game without shortstop Jimmy Rollins, who is day-to-day with a sore foot after fouling a ball off his “dog” Monday afternoon.

The Werth trade talks might now be moot; they need him to patrol centerfield, especially if Victorino lands on the disabled list.

The win moves the Phils to within three and a half games of the first-place Braves, who got shut out by the Nationals, even after rookie phenom Stephen Strasburg was scratched from his scheduled start at the last second.

Circle these dates on the calendar: Sept. 20-22. That’s when the Phils and Braves hook up at Citizens Bank Park for the only three games they play each other again this season.

The season might turn on those three dates.

But the Comeback Kids are back.

They keep falling behind. And keep coming back.

They keep losing players to injury. And keep coming back.

Last week they were seven games out. And they keep coming back.

A lot of people counted them out, this blogger included.

They have Roy Halladay going tonight.

Can you say seven in a row?

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

The Daily Numbers - July 27

The Daily Numbers: 2 hours, how long after Chester formally announced it was ending its state of emergency that a man was shot on a city street.
2 people shot, one fatally, early Saturday morning in Chester.
4, age of Aldan youth police believe was fatally beaten by his mother’s boyfriend. A jury is now mulling the case against him.
45 municipalities that have passed laws mandating residents report lost or stolen handguns. State Rep. Thaddeus Kirkland, D-159, wants Chester to join the group.
72 hours, how long Kirkland wants to give residents to notify authorities of a lost or stolen handgun.
14 people still being housed at a local community center after fire roared through their apartment complex in Lansdowne over the weekend.
3 fire companies that will be closed each day in Philadelphia starting next Monday on a rolling basis. It’s a money move, to ease overtime costs.
3, age of child left home alone, resulting in fire that damaged a home in the Olney section of the city. The young victim is in intensive care.
20, age of autistic man who died inside a van last Saturday, when temperatures approached 100 degrees.
1 child dead and several adults injuredin crash that shut down the Pa.
Turnpike near Morgantown yesterday.
128,452 megawatts of electricity used in the region on Saturday, a record for a weekend.
38 million dollar contract won by Alloy Surfaces Co. of Aston to produce more decoy services for the Navy.
39, age of woman and former volunteer with Plymouth Community Ambulance Co. now charged with terroristic threats in a series of fake e-mails sprading rumors about other volunteers.
66, age of grandmother in Port Richmond found stabbed to death, her body dumped in a stairwell.
2 Drexel hoops players, including the team’s leading scorer and point guard, charged in a home invasion case in the city.
2,000 pot plants found in the woods in western Pa.
1.1 billion dollars in tax revenue the state has hauled in from casinos in the fiscal year that ended June 30. That puts us ahead of Nevada.
2 straight days that Phils closer Brad Lidge has loaded the bases in the 9th inning. He escaped both times.
5 straight wins for the Phils, inlcuding a sweep of Rockies. They have not lost since dismissing hitting coach Milt Thompson.
.371 batting average for Raul Ibanez since the All-Star break.

Call me a Phanatic: A look at the ups and downs of being a Philadelphia sports fan.Suddenly the Phils look a lot more like the team we’ve all watched the last couple of years. Now if they can just get Brad Lidge to stop being the poster boy for Pepto Bismol.
I Don’t Get It: How can someone stuff a kitten into a book bin at a local community center? That’s what officials are saying happened in Elkins Park.
Today’s Upper: Shut off the A.C. Open the windows. Ahhhhhh! That’s more like it.
Quote Box: “Reporting lost or stolen handguns just makes good common sense.”
- State Rep. Thaddeus Kirkland, D-159, at press conference pusing for new law in Chester.

More violence in Chester

The state of emergency in Chester is over.

The violence is not.

Just hours after the crackdown that has seemed to be successful in clamping down on street violence expired, gunshots once again rang out on city streets.

One person was wounded in a shooting that occurred just after lunch time on Friday.

It would get worse.

A double-shooting that occurred early Saturday morning left one man dead.

Clearly Chester still has issues. Maybe the biggest is the problems with guns on city streets.

When he announced that the city was lifting the crackdown, with its 9 p.m.-6a.m. curfew and limits on public gatherings, Mayor Wendell Butler also announced a gun buy-back would be held in the city on Aug. 7.
Business should be booming.

Monday a group of politicians and civic leaders called for passage of new legislation that would crack down on anyone who does not report a missing or stolen handgun.

Too many of those weapons are winding up on the streets of Chester.

State Rep. Thaddeus Kirkland, D-159, held a press conference. His message was welcomed with open arms by Republican Mayor Butler and Council Member John Linder.

The problems in Chester go deeper than politics.

It will take a concerted effort by police and the city. But perhaps more than either of those, it will take citizens – in particular young people
- to step up and put an end to the violence.

The state of emergency worked for awhile. But it was never meant as a permanent solution.

Now it very well may be up the city residents themselves.

Another chance for Michael Vick

 Call it a belated birthday present for Michael Vick.

The man who was given a second chance, with the explicit warning that there would be no more, is getting another one.

Vick found himself once again front and center as the Eagles rookies and selected veterans headed back to Lehigh yesterday. In the process he managed to steal the spotlight from the man who actually will quarterback the Birds this year, new starter Kevin Kolb.

The NFL cleared Vick of any wrongdoing in the shooting that followed the ill-conceived birthday party held for Vick back at a Virginia hotel that ended in a shooting. The guy who got shot was Vick’s co-defendant in the dog-fighting operation that landed him in federal prison for two years.

I have already spent some time talking about Vick, and the fissure he has created among Eagles’ fans. If you missed my print column on Monday, you can check it out here.

Yesterday Reid said Vick was really a good guy and that he had learned some things from the birthday party flap.

I’d like to know what. Clearly two years in jail did not seem to get the point across to Vick that his every move is now being watched, and that he simpy cannot put himself in any kind of circumstance that might lead to trouble. What he was thinking when he showed up at that party I have no idea.

For his part, Vick again yesterday seemed to be saying all the right things. He was contrite, saying he actually had cried when he learned of the shooting that followed the birthday bash. Vick says he knows that he is on thin ice.

But his actions continue to belie his words.

Vick – and the Eagles – continue to temp fate.

He’s been told that he will get no more chances.

Maybe this time Andy Reid and Jeff Lurie will actually mean it.

Fight back in the Phils

Maybe it was all Milt Thompson’s fault.

After another rough road trip, the Phils fired their batting instructor when they got back to town.

They haven’t lost since.

Yes, a big part of the Phils’ problems have been rooted in their offensive problems this year.

But Milt Thompson had nothing to do with the injuries that have hounded the team, nor the lackadaisical play that has been their M.O. for too many games.

The team needed a message. They also needed a scapegoat. Enter Thompson.

Now the Phils are just four and a half back of the Braves, with a host of games left between themselves and Atlanta.

Brad Lidge continues to be walk a tight-rope on seemingly every outing; he’s now managed to walk the bases loaded two straight days, but he sealed the deal both times.

With the trade deadline looming on Saturday, the Phils are still looking to add an arm. Most of the talk continues to center on Astros’ starter Ray Oswalt, and Jayson Werth continues to be the name most mentioned as the bait.

After playing uninspired baseball most of the season, the Phillies just might be ready to prove us all wrong. Maybe you can flip the switch and turn it on.

If they do it, I’ll be the first to admit I was wrong.

I hope I am.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

The Daily Numbers - July 22

The Daily Numbers: 64 counts of forgery to which former Aston Magisterial District Judge David Murphy pleaded guilty to yesterday.
4 years probation for the former longtime local judge.
2 local district judges that have recently found themselves on the other side of the law. A senior district judge from Haverford faces charges of indecent assault.
1 vote against the move, again by Republican Andy Lewis.
4 men, including a retired Philadelphia police inspector, facing child porn charges here in Delco.
600 full-time jobs created by the arrival of table games at Harrah’s Chester Casino.
1,500 jobs total now at Harrah’s, an economic powerhouse on the Chester waterfront.
50 yard line of the new Giants Stadium over in Jersey, where Gov. Chris Christie announced his plan for a state takeover of the ailing Atlantic City casino district.
16 billion dollars, how much private colleges and universities mean to the Pennsylvania economy, according to a new study.
9 p.m. curfew for everyone 17 and under extended for another 30 days out in Lower Chichester.
2 million dollar grant lined up by Swarthmore Borough that will be used to develop Town Center West.
3 times in recent weeks that a dollar store on Bustleton Avenue in Philly has been robbed by the same armed gunman.
1 man shot and killed in Gloucester Township, N.J., in an encounter with
2 members of the U.S. Marshal’s Fugitive Task Force. The man was suspected in a sex assault and shooting earlier in the day.
36, age of woman who was also volunteer firefighter in Newark, Del., who was struck and killed while walking her dog with her kids. The family dog also was killed.
21, age of man who hoped to be a volunteer firefighter who admitted he set a fire in the Coatesville area last year. He will serve 33 to 66 months in prison.
52 million dollars up for grabs in the Powerball jackpot Saturday night. No one hit all the numbers last night.
59-39 vote by which the Senate last night approved another extension in unemployment benefits for almost 5 million unemployed. Most will get
$309 a week for another 73 weeks.
33 suspected gang members busted in a roundup yesterday in the Bethlehem area.
13 vehicles torched at a Philadelphia tow yard in what is now believed to be a tow company war between competing firms. Earlier an employee had been shot during a dispute at an accident scene and the firm’s office shot at by an unknown gunman.
3 pitches, how long it took Joe Blanton to strike out with the bases loaded and 2 out in the top of the 7th inning last night in Phils’ loss.
1st pitch Blanton threw in the bottom of the inning that was deposited in the seats by Matt Holliday.
5-1 loss for the Phils, their 4th in a row. They have dropped 6 of 7 since the All-Star break.
1-0 win for Manchester United over the Union last night.
44,000 people who jammed Lincoln Financial Field for the “friendly”

Call me a Phanatic: A look at the ups and downs of being a Philadelphia sports fan.Not exactly sure what Charlie was thinking when he let Blanton bat in the top of the 7th with the bases loaded and two out. No doubt he wanted to send a message to his slumping hitters. But the fact is Blanton has shown a remarkable tendency to be about done after 75 pitches. His next one was blasted for a home run.
I Don’t Get It: Amazing how so many politicians are now all in favor of the latest gambling era down at Harrah’s. I could have swore some of these same pols had been against the initial idea of expanded gambling in Pa.
Today’s Upper: Six Hundred full-time jobs created by table games at Harrah’s. Sounds like a winner to me.
Quote Box: “I am satisfied that you are a good person who has made some bad choices.”
- Visiting Judge John J. Rufe, in sentencing former Magisterial District Judge David Murphy of Aston to four years probation for forging signatures on his nominating petitions.

Some big numbers at Harrah's

There were a lot of numbers being tossed around at Harrah’s yesterday.

There usually are. People go there to bet.

“21” is usually pretty popular, especially with gamblers who plunk themselves down at the new blackjack tables at the Chester casino.

But there was another number mentioned yesterday at the little shindig they held to officially introduce table games that I found most impressive.


That’s how many people Harrah’s now employs at its Chester casino. Table games by themselves created 600 full-time jobs paying anywhere from $35,000 to $45,000 with full benefits.

Today is all about jobs, jobs and more jobs,” said Greg Fajt, the head of the state Gaming Control Board.

Sounds like a winning hand for Chester.

The case against Judge Murphy

I’ve never thought electing judges was a good idea.

Allowing politics to mix with justice just has never struck me as an especially “just” – or wise - thing to do. There are too many pitfalls involvedn the political process.

I think David Murphy might agree.

The longtime Aston magisterial district judge yesterday found himself on the other side of the bench. He pleaded guilty in county court to forging signatures on his nominating petitions. Specifically Murphy entered a plea to 64 counts of forgery, identity theft and making false signatures, as well as two counts of perjury. That perjury count likely proved especially painful to a man who donned a judge’s robe most every day of his adult life.

District justices are an elected position. And to get on the ballot you have to have a certain number of signatures. For whatever reason, Murphy didn’t have enough names on his petitions.

So he decided to give himself a hand. Literally.

Murphy now admits he forged signatures on his petitions for the post he has held since 1991.

He easily won re-election in November. The problem was that, had it been known that he did not have the requisite number of signatures on his petitions, he might not have been on the ballot at all.

Murphy yesterday entered a guilty plea and was sentenced to four years of probation by visiting Bucks County Senior Judge John J. Rufe, who was brought in to hear the case by a special arrangement with the Delco court because of Murphy’s role as an agent of that court. He also obviously gives up his position on the bench. He has been on leave since the probe was first announced back in March.

“I’m satisfied that you are a good person who has made some bad choices,” Rufe said.

I agree with him. No doubt many will holler that Murphy is getting off easy because he’s a longtime judge and intimately knows many involved in the process.

Spare me. I think instead Murphy’s life has been hell every since he put pen to paper on those petitions. He no doubt knew what he did was wrong.

He still was easily re-elected by the people in Aston.

It’s time to get politics out of this process.

Not a winning Manuel

Too bad the Philies weren’t playing ManU last night. They might still be playing.

Once again the Phils’ feeble bats managed only one run in another 5-1 humbling at the hands of the Cards. That run was provided by a solo home run by Ryan Howard, the one player in the lineup who seems to have come to play this year.

Legendary Manchester United also managed to put up one goal in posting a 1-0 “friendly” win over the Union in front of 44,000 soccer fanatics at Lincoln Financial Field.

There is nothing “friendly” surrounding the Phils these days. Fans are getting restless. The team is sinking like a stone in the NL East, seven games behind the Atlanta Braves and now slipping out of contention in the wild-card race as well.

They have won exactly one game since the All-Star break, and that one was handed to them on Saturday by the Cubs when it appeared that the tying run was dead at the plate, only to have the Chicago catcher drop the throw. With that bit of life, the Phils went on to win that game, but since have lost four straight.

Phils fans this morning are no doubt still scratching their heads at the managerial moves of Charlie Manuel last night. With the bases loaded in the seventh, starter Joe Blanton was due up with two outs and the score tied, 1-1. Manuel decided to let him hit. Blanton struck out on three pitches. His first offering in the bottom of the seventh landed in the bleachers, courtesy of Matt Holliday.

Now all eyes once again turn to GM Ruben Amaro Jr. He needs to make a move, most likely for a pitcher, and most likely involving Jayson Werth.

The candidates at the top of the list are Roy Oswalt of the Astros and Dan Haren of the D-Backs. Oswalt may have taken himself out of the picture with a demand yesterday that whatever team he is deal to honor the option year of his deal, for 2012, which would pay him $16 million.

In the meantime, the somnambulent Phils get an early wake-up call with an afternoon game today in St. Louis.

They need a wake-up call all right. But it’s one only Amaro can deliver.

Any time you’re ready, Ruben.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

The Daily Numbers - July 21

The Daily Numbers: 11 months, age of little Emma Grace Crossan-Scott, who desperately needs a heart transplant.
15 faces that appeared on the first installment of “Delco’s Most Wanted”
cable TV show last night.
3 percent hotel tax given the OK by county council yesterday. That’s a 1 percent hike from 2 percent.
1 vote against the move, again by Republican Andy Lewis.
4 men, including a retired Philadelphia police inspector, facing child porn charges here in Delco.
3 men charged in robberies that targeted local pharmacies.
17, age of West Chester teen who fell to his death from a cliff near San Francisco while hiking with his family.
12 medals awarded to a West Chester soldier posthumously at his funeral yesterday. He was killed in action in Afghanistan.
25 million fleeced from investors by a Kennett Square manager. Tony Young pleaded guilty in federal court yesterday.
11 heat-related deaths recorded in Philadelphia this summer. A 91-year-old woman has become the latest victim.
1 mom and the family dog struck and killed by a car near Newark, Del., yesterday as her kids looked on.
3 Philly police officers charged in conspiracy to rip off drugs and then re-sell them who are expected to be released on bail.
45 guns found in the home and car of a man who walked into a police precinct in Northeast Philly yesterday.
7 straight wins for the St. Louis Cardinals, who walloped the Phils again last night, 7-1.
5 of 6 the Phils have now lost since the All-Star break.
1 inning for starter Jamie Moyer, who left last night’s game with an elbow strain. He’ll likely end up on the DL.
90 pitches, all Cards’ starter Chris Carpenter needed to blow through 8 innings against the Phils.
.375 batting average, with 7 homers and 30 RBI for Ryan Howard when he plays in his home town of St. Louis.
4, as in No. 4 on the list of most marketable athletes. That’s where Ryan Howard sits. Only Derek Jeter is No. 1.
16 million dollars, how much Astros pitcher Roy Oswalt will make next year. He’s at the top of Phils’ GM Ruben Amaro’s shopping list.
10 seasons with the Flyers that came to an end yesterday when the team traded longtime winger Simon Gagne to Tampa Bay.
17-year deal for Ilya Kovalchuk with the New Jersey Devils that was nixed by the NHL.
5 days before rookies and selected veterans report to Eagles Training Camp at Lehigh.

Call me a Phanatic: A look at the ups and downs of being a Philadelphia sports fan.Need more proof that this is not the Phils’ year. Yesterday they lost two starting pitchers and another game to the Cards. Kyle Kendrick was sent down, Jamie Moyer lasted only inning before his elbow gave out, and the Phils got shelled again by the Cards. But if GM Ruben Amaro can coax starter Roy Oswalt out of the Astros, all might not be lost.
I Don’t Get It: N.J. Gov. Chris Christie will roll out the latest plan to reinvent Atlantic City this afternoon. How many lives does A.C. have?
Today’s Upper: You have to pull for little, Emma Grace Crossan-Scott, the Secane tot who is desperately waiting for a heart transplant.
Quote Box: “The public is our best source of information and it is the one tool that still produces the best results.”
- Delco Sheriff Joe McGinn, talking about the debut edition of his cable TV show, “Delco’s Most Wanted.”

State of Grace

Most days I find myself up to my ears in depressing stuff.

Murders, crime, corruption seem to be lurking around every corner.

Where are the good stories, readers often ask? Where is the inspiration?

I give you Emma Grace Crossan-Scott. She not only has Grace in her name, she is grace personified.

Read it. Be inspired!

A tale of two cities

They’re having a little party down at Harrah’s in Chester today. In Atlantic City, they’re holding a wake.

A couple of days after they took the wraps off their swanky new table games, a host of dignitaries will hit the Chester casino to announce that the city, county and state have hit the jackpot. They will cut a ribbon to mark the official opening of table games at Harrah’s.

In the meantime, down in Atlantic City, Gov. Chris Christie will hit town this afternoon and announce a plan to completely revamp the shore gambling mecca – again.

Christie will announce a plan to have the state take over almost all aspects of the town’s casino district, including the boardwalks and beach areas.

Gambling was supposed to save Atlantic City. For a awhile, it did. Now they are literally not the only game in town. Neighboring states such as Pa. have slowly but surely been chipping away at Atlantic City’s gambling stakes.

The dagger in the heart may have occurred Sunday, when Harrah’s in Chester, Parx in Bucks County, and the Sands in the Lehigh Valley all kicked off table games.

Now Christie once again will try to reinvent the wheel, at least the gambling wheel, in Atlantic City.

It would only be appropriate if they had classic Bruce Springsteen tune playing in the background.

Everything dies, baby, that’s a fact.
But maybe everything that dies someday comes back.
Put your makeup on, fix your hair up pretty, And meet me tonight in Atlantic City.

Let’s just hope that someday they’re not singing the same song about Chester.

Phils hit the trifecta

The Phillies hit the trifecta yesterday. They managed to lose two starting pitchers and a game to the Cardinals. They now sit seven games out. Trade rumors are beginning to swirl. Philly fans are looking forward to Eagles training camp.

This all actually started the night before, when Kyle Kendrick got torched again, giving up three home runs in one inning. He was jettisoned back to Triple-A Lehigh Valley. Andrew Carpenter was called up. Good thing. Carpenter was pressed into service last night when Phils starter Jamie Moyer suffered an elbow strain in the first inning.

Carpenter and the impotent Phils’ offense then got smoked again by the Cards, 7-1.

All signs point toward GM Ruben Amaro Jr. putting out the for sale sign. Amaro is in the market for some pitching. Apparently Jayson Werth is being used as the bait.

Amaro doesn’t have time to get the best offer. The Phils now need starters for two games this weekend after losing two-fifths of their starting rotation.

Moyer’s injury appears similar to the one that put J.A. Happ on the shelf for a couple of months. You have to wonder if this is the end of the line for the 47-year-old Moyer, who up to this point has defied the baseball gods by pitching effectively even as he approached age 50.

The Phils are no longer defying the baseball odds.

As for their fans, one name continues to stick in their craw. That would be Cliff Lee. As we all know, instead of keeping him for the final year that he was under contract, the Amaro instead traded him for some prospects.

Lee would look pretty good in a rotation with Roy Halladay and Cole Hamels.

Joe Blanton takes the hill against the Cardinals tonight. He has not been so hot recently either.

But right now, he’s all the Phils have. It’s now up to Amaro to change that.

As for the hitting, well that’s another story.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

The Daily Numbers - July 20

The Daily Numbers: 2 weeks, how long Jenna Lord was missing before her body was discovered in a weed-strewn Camden lot Sunday.
200,000 dollars raised Monday for state Rep. Bryan Lentz at an event in Philly that drew House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Vice President Joe Biden.
45-38 percent lead for Republican Pat Toomey over Democrat Joe Sestak in the latest Rasmussen Poll.
15 to 20 of Delco’s ‘Most Wanted’ who will be featured in cable TV show tonight.
2 times in a matter of months that a jar containing money for a charity was stolen from the counter of a convenience store in Warminster, Bucks County.
5, as in a 5th grader from Philly who wrote a letter to President Obama to complaint about bullying and got a personal response.
2 tow truck operators who got into a dispute at a crash scene in Philly yesterday that erupted into gunfire. One of the truckers was wounded.
472 million dollars that Pa. still needs for transit projects. Gov. Ed Rendell said he is willing to look at an increase in fees and a hike in the gas taxes to get the money.
850 million dollars in federal Medicaid assistance money the state is still hoping to receive. If it does not, more cuts could be on the way.
14 suspected gang members indicted on racketeering charges in Trenton.
2.78 billion dollars in net income for Bank of America in 2nd quarter. That’s up 15 percent from last year.
6 windows smashed out at a building in Greenville, Del. Police arrested a worker who had been fired from his job.
80 slot machines that arrived at the long-delayed SugarHouse casino project in Philadelphia this morning. It’s 1 of 2 casino projects in the city. The Foxwoods site has yet to even stick a shovel in the ground.
400 feet, how far a 17-year-old boy from West Chester fell while hiking a mountain path near Muir Beach, Calif. He was killed.
2 skydiving senior citizens killed when their parachutes became entangled in the Pocono Mountains. They plunged 75 feet to the ground after the accident.
3 home runs in 1 inning surrendered by Phils starter Kyle Kendrick as the Phils fell to the Cards last night.
4 of 5 games the Phils have lost since the All-Star break.
6 games behind the Cardinals, where the Phils sit. They are 2 back in the wild card race.
4-0 with a 1.67 ERA, what Kendrick had been in 5 previous starts against the Cardinals.
7 runs in 5 innings given up by Kendrick.
10 seasons with the Flyers that came to an end yesterday when the team traded longtime winger Simon Gagne to Tampa Bay.
259 goals and 265 assists for Gagne in his decade with the orange and black.
6 days before rookies and selected veterans report to Eagles Training Camp at Lehigh.

Call me a Phanatic: A look at the ups and downs of being a Philadelphia sports fan.This is not a good sign. Jimmy Rollins decided last night, after Kyle Kendrick got shelled and the team again made a multitude of mistakes in a loss to the Cardinals, to inform the media that it’s the players, not the writers, who decided when it is over. Any time you’re ready, Jimmy.
I Don’t Get It: A thief in Delaware scooped up some tools and other items during a house burglary. Oh, and other thing. He also took the family dog. I don’t’ get it.
Today’s Upper: Kudos to legendary soccer club Manchester United, who will do a clinic for some kids in Chester tonight at a city park.
Quote Box: “Her body was exposed to the elements for some time, making a definitive conclusion on her cause of death impossible at this time.”
- Statement from Camden medical examiner’s office on autopsy performed on body of Jenna Lord.

Someone knows what happened to Jenna Lord

The mystery of Jenna Lord’s death remains just that.

Her family deserves better.

Lord, a 23-year-old Collingdale mother, was last seen alive July 5 at a train station in Camden. For two weeks, her worried family waited on word from their loved one. They handed out fliers in Camden. They worked with police. They heard nothing.

On Sunday a search organized by family members confirmed their worst fears. Jenna Lord’s decomposing body was found in a weed-strewn lot in Camden.

An autopsy performed on Monday could not determine a cause of death. It was listed simply as “inconclusive.” Because of the condition of the body, it is not believed that toxicology tests would be able to determine a cause of death either. The medical examiner indicated there were no obvious signs of foul play.

Lord was the mother of a 3-year-old son. Her family now is left only with the heartache of not knowing what happened in those fateful two weeks.

They do not know how Jenna died, nor when, and how long her body may have been lying in the deserted, desolate lot.

It is not a comforting thought.

There is one person who may hold the key to what happened to Jenna Lord.
He is one of two men seen on a surveillance video getting off a train with Lord in Camden on the morning of July 5. It was the last time he was seen alive.

The Camden County Prosecutor’s office indicates they are continuing to interview anyone who had contact with Lord on the last day she was seen alive.

They are not commenting beyond that.

One thing is clear. Someone knows the answer to the riddle of Jenna Lord’s death. They need to come forward and tell authorities what they know.

So that Jenna Lord can be laid to rest. And her family can move forward with the knowledge of what happened to her in her final hours.

ManU comes to Chester

ManU is coming. ManU is coming.

And not just to Lincoln Financial Field.

Yes, the legendary British soccer club Manchester United is touring North America. They will face off with the Union in Philly Wednesday night.

But before that, they will be in Chester tonight.

That’s right, maybe the most famous soccer club in the world will be cavorting with a bunch of kids in a Chester park tonight.

Several members of Manchester United will be at Chester Park tonight from 7 to 9.

A great opportunity for Chester kids to meet some of the best soccer players in the world.

Today's Phillies folly

Somebody forgot to tell Kyle Kendrick that they held the home run derby last week.

The consistently shaky Phils’ starter got torched last night, giving up three home runs to four Cardinals batters in a disastrous fifth inning, resulting in another Phils loss. They have now lost four of five since the All-Star break.

For some reason with a runner on second and first base open, the Phils opted to let Kendrick pitch to All-Everything Cardinal Albert Pujols. Not a good idea. The resounding sound of Pujols’ bat connecting with Kendrick’s pitch thundered throughout the stadium. Pujols’ blast was followed two batters later by back-to-back dingers by Allen Craig and Skip Schumaker.

Game, set and match. A 3-0 Phils lead in the first inning resulted in an 8-4 loss.

And that might not be their biggest concern.

After the game, shortstop Jimmy Rollins decided to visit the notion of some in the media as well as some fans writing off the Phils.

“It’s not over,” Rollins said. “It’s not over. You can write that it’s over. But the guys with the bats and the balls they control what the pen says.”

Actually Jimmy, they don’t. They control what happens on the field. And what has been happening on the field looks increasingly like a team in desperate need of having a message delivered.

Jayson Werth managed to get picked off first base by the catcher last night. Then there was the decision to pitch to what had been a scuffling Pujols. The Phils continue to sleepwalk through the season. The guys with the pens don’t play, they just report what is going on in the field. And what is going on with the Phils on the field now can’t be written off to injuries or bad luck or anything else. This team for some reason believes it can sleepwalk right into the playoffs. They need to wake up and smell the standings.

Getting the Phils out of their funk now falls in the lap of Manager Charlie Manuel and GM Ruben Amaro Jr. Manuel continues to tinker with his lineup, looking for a combination that will provide a spark.

The Phils are now six games back of the Braves in the NL East. They are two back in the wild card standings, with several teams standing between them and a possible post-season berth.

They send Jamie Moyer to the mound tonight. Moyer has been shelled in his last two starts. It would not be a good idea to make it three in a row.

Monday, July 19, 2010

The Daily Numbers - July 19

The Daily Numbers: 23, age of Jenna Lord. The body of the Collingdale woman was found yesterday in a lot in Camden, N.J.
3, age of her son.
6 a.m. Sunday, when they threw open the doors to table games at Harrah’s Chester and several other Pa. casinos.
51 blackjack tables at Harrah’s, along with 25 poker tables, 5 craps tables.
9 p.m. curfew in effect 7 days a week in Darby Township.
7,500 dollars donated by Conoco Phillips to a community program in Trainer.
67 counties that could absorb 2,566 municipalities across the state in a consolidation move being pushed by a state rep from Berks County. It is not expected to pass.
19, age of man shot by Philadelphia police after he allegedly pulled a gun on them.
3, age of child shot when gunfire erupted between men who had been arguing on a SEPTA trolley in Southwest Philadelphia.
5, age of boy struck and killed by a pickup truck in Bristol.
100 residents of a nursing home in East Norriton who were temporarily evacuated during a smoky fire that hit Sunday night. No serious injuries were reported.
40 rescues during 3-day period done by lifeguard crews in Fenwick Beach, Del., as they battled nasty riptides.
40 feet up in a tree, where a Del. man got stuck while trying to cut it down. He was rescued by fire crews.
2 pedestrians struck, killed in separate incidents in Delaware.
5.5 games back, where the Phils sit after losing 3 of 4 in Wrigley Field over the weekend. The truth is they probably should have been swept.
3 runs on 5 hits, all the Phils managed to scratch out against Cubs starter Tom Gorzelanny.
2 times the Cubs scored this weekend on suicide squeeze plays.
18 consecutive scoreless innings thrown by Phils starter Roy Halladay before the Cubs got to him for 4 in the second.
6 innings, all Halladay could go vs. the Cubs.
7 days before rookies report to Eagles Training Camp at Lehigh.

Call me a Phanatic: A look at the ups and downs of being a Philadelphia sports fan.I’ve said it before, I will say it again. This is not the Phillies year.
Let’s go Eagles.
I Don’t Get It: Why exactly did it take two weeks to find the body of Jenna Lord on a weed-strewn Camden lot. A search organized by family and friends found her within 2 hours yesterday.
Today’s Upper: Lots of happy faces entering Harrah’s bright and early yesterday for the start of table games. Wonder if they were still smiling when they left?
Quote Box: “I’ve very excited; you’re right here; don’t have to go to Atlantic City.”
- Debbie Taylor of South Philadelphia, at opening of table games at Harrah’s Chester Sunday.

A grisly discovery in Camden

This is what everyone had feared, what everyone had hoped would not happen.

The family and friends of Jenna Lord hit the streets of Camden Sunday, searching for their loved one, who had last been seen at a Camden train station on July 5.

After a couple of hours, their worst fears were realized. A body was found in a weed-strewn lot at Fifth and Division. While an official identification has not yet been made by the Camden County prosecutor’s office, family members confirmed it was the 23-year-old mother.

The distinctive Mickey Mouse tattoo on her arm told them it was Jenna.

An autopsy will be done today to confirm the ID and also to determine a cause of death.

Family members tried to comfort one another last night.

Part of their anguish undoubtedly is the knowledge that officials believe Jenna had been lying in those high weeds for some time.

There are still lots of questions about what happened to Jenna Lord after she left a holiday barbecue in Collingdale, then went to spend the night with her grandmother in Collingswood, N.J.

That and a lot of heartache for her family and friends.

A new era of gambling in Pa.

Kevin Costner, meet Harrah’s Chester.

If you build it, they will come.

The Chester casino officially entered the table games era Sunday. The place was packed.

Players were waiting in line at 6 a.m. when officials took the wraps off their poker table, roulette wheels and craps tables.

They had a trial run on Friday, with $5 maximum bets and the money going to a local charity.

But bright and early Sunday morning it was time for the real deal. Our John Roman was there for the opening. You can see his report here.

I’m not the least bit surprised that Harrah’s was packed yesterday. It was really only a matter of time before table games arrived here. My guess is that legal sports betting will be next on the agenda.

One thing to keep in mind, especially for home owners struggling with rising property taxes. Sometimes we forget that the reason Pennsylvania got involved in this huge expansion of legalized gambling was to provide relief from skyrocketing property taxes.

Pennsylvania took a big bite out of the revenue raked in by all those slots machines. But it is not getting nearly as big a chunk out of table games.

If people suddenly start turning their backs on the slots in order to play table games, what will happen to property tax relief? Just something to keep in mind.

The other thing to watch is Atlantic City. Once a ghost town that was revived by gambling and marketing itself as Las Vegas east, the shore town now is facing another huge test.

With table games now in place at Pa. casinos, why would people drive to the shore to get their poker fix.

And one final thought. How much eventually is too much when it comes to gambling. I have noted in this space several times that revenue from Harrah’s slots operations has been off now for more than a year.

That was hard to believe yesteday, as crowds jammed the tables in Chester.

It’s a new era of legalized gambling in Pennsylvania.


Phils' freefall continues

Brian Schneider was chugging around third base, and looked for all the world to be dead on arrival at home plate.

Schneider represented the tying run Saturday night and got a green light from third base coach Sam Perlozzo as the Phils tried to rally against the Cubs. They had already lost the first two games of the series and could ill afford to drop three straight.

Schneider was a good five or six steps up the line when the throw arrived. He was toast. Then the Phils got a huge break. Cubs catcher Geovany Soto could not handle the throw. Schneider slid head first in with the tying run and the Phils had life. After being down to their last out, trailing 1-0 and wasting another gem from Cole Hamels, they rallied for a 4-1 win.

The elation did not last long. They sent their ace to the mound in the nationally telecast ESPN Sunday night game of the week. But Roy Halladay got roughed up and the Phils fell, 11-6.

The truth is, in reviewing what happened to Schneider, the Phils should have been swept in Wrigley. They managed to escape with one win. Now it’s on to St. Louis, where the first-place Cardinals likely will not roll out the red carpet for the defending two-time National League champs.

The Phils continue to trail the first-place Braves by five and a half games. Maybe most alarming about their fall is the way they are doing it. Listless might best describe the way they are playing.

Consider this: The Cubs twice this weekend scored on suicide squeezes.
The Phillies just don’t have the edge they carried the last couple of years. Maybe it’s complacency. They keep saying it’s not time to panic, that they have plenty of time to turn this around.

Not with this lineup. They are not getting Chase Utley back until September. But they need help now. It’s time to send a message to the locker room. Sit Raul Ibanez, or Jayson Werth. Or both. Call up Domonic Brown. Ruben Amaro Jr. needs to do something, and quick.

The Eagles go to camp next Monday. The last couple of years the Phils have stolen a lot of the Birds’ thunder. That might not be the case this year.

Unless the Phils manage to turn it around. I see no indication that is about to happen.

Friday, July 16, 2010

The Daily Numbers - July 16

The Daily Numbers: 3 fans of the Celtic FC charged with disorderly conduct after lighting flares in PPL Park.
18 to 36 months in jail for a lawyer convicted of trying to sneak drugs into Delaware County Prison.
4, age of boy allegedly shaken to death by his mother’s 27-year-old boyfriend in Aldan. A jury was selected to hear the man’s trial.
0 sightings of 23-year-old Jenna Lord, the mom from Collingdadle who has been missing since being seen July 6 in Camden.
1 police officer shot when suspects opened fire with automatic weapons during a traffic stop in Philadelphia. He will recover.
2 casinos in Atlantic City that are struggling without air-conditioning this weekend, with temperatures expected to be in the 90s. It comes at the same time Pa. casinos are rolling out table games.
5 bucks, maximum bet during a “soft” opening for table games at Harrah’s in Chester today.
300 jobs being axed during a shakeup by Johnson & Johnson that will affect their plant in Fort Washington.
4 percent tuition hike at Rutgers University.
26, age of soldier from the Lehigh Valley killed in action in Afghanistan.
100,000 dollars believed scammed from an elderly Philadelphia man by three people, including a young woman who had done the same thing before in Upper Darby.
3 New Jersey shore towns that reported shark sightings in their waters.
30 percent of its workforce being shed by drug maker Adolor of Exton.
9.2 percent jobless rate in Pa., hanging steady for the second straight month.
3 innings, all the Phils got out of Jamie Moyer vs. the Cubs last night.
6 runs, including 2 homers, surrendered by Moyer.
2 home runs for Ryan Howard in a losing effort.
12 straight runs scored by the Cubs after the Phils took a 2-0 lead in the top of the 1st. Final was 12-6 Cubs.
2 million, how much a judge wants the friends of Michael Vick to pay back from the money he gave them.
Call me a Phanatic: A look at the ups and downs of being a Philadelphia sports fan.So much for that 4-game winning streak before the break. That’s 2 straight bad starts from Jamie Moyer. The cracks are starting to show in the Phils’ rotation. Joe Blanton goes today. Hold your breath.
I Don’t Get It: Sports fans continue to show a remarkable inventiveness in being knuckleheads. Three fans of the Celtic FC decided to support their team by lighting flares in PPL Park. They were arrested.
Today’s Upper: Another strong showing on the streets of Chester last night as a crowd turned out for the mayor’s weekly unity rally.
Quote Box: “Whether I’m the mayor or not, I’m going to be here with you.”
- Chester Mayor Wendell Butler at last night’s unity event.

A hot time in A.C.

It’s pretty safe to say that casinos in Atlantic City are feeling the heat – in more ways than one.

This is probably not exactly what they needed. There was a time when Atlantic City was it when it came to gambling on the East Coast. It was either there or Vegas.

Not anymore.

More and more states have jumped into the realm of legalized gambling, in no small part as a way to replenish disappearing revenue.

Pennsylvania got tired of seeking money flow out of seemingly every border. First they put in slots parlos, including the new casino in Chester.

Now they’re really throwing down the gauntlet.

Today Harrah’s will have a “soft” opening of table games. That’s right, you’ll be able to play poker, blackjack, craps and roulette.

This is the last thing Atlantic City needed. Their revenue has been declining for years.

Now the question is will players from Pennsylvania still drive to the shore when they can play table games right here at home.

Just to provide another kick when they’re down, two Atlantic City casinos lost their air-conditioning yesterday.

Temperatures inside Caesars and Trump Plaza were zooming into the 80s.
Talk about some hot action at the tables.

A.C. without the AC. Probably not the slogan they were looking for down the shore.

Don't blame this one on Chester

A lot of people have wondered – mostly in private – about safety issues at the new PPL Park in Chester.

It sort of goes with the unfortunate image so many people connect with the city of Chester. After all, while sports fans tailgate and check out the soccer action under the Commodore Barry Bridge, much of the rest of the city continues to live under a state of emergency enacted after an unprecedented spate of deadly street shooting earlier this summer.

Mayor Wendell Butler was back out on the streets last night, holding another of his rallies and unity events. He’s held one every Thursday night since the crackdown went into effect.

Meanwhile, back at PPL Park, it should be noted that the first incident recorded at PPL Park occurred inside the stadium and had nothing to do with the citizens of Chester.

Instead it had to do with something we’re also all too accustomed to – sports fans acting like knuckleheads.

Police believe several fans of the Celtic FC club that was playing the Philadelphia Union decided to celebrate by lighting flares in the stands.

It was quite the sight. You can see it here and read our account of the arrests.

Three Celtic fans from New York were charged with disorderly conduct and recklessly endangering.

“These guys decided to come down here and be fools,” said Chester Police Major Joseph Bail.

Well said.

This guy of fan-aticism was a staple of Veterans Stadium. There also have been issues at Phillies games at Citizens Bank Park. And fans have been known to get a bit boisterous at Lincoln Financial Field.

And now we have the latest chapter of fans behaving ugly at PPL Park. Just don’t try to hang this one on the city of Chester.

Someone call Judge Seamus McCaffery. He’s the judge (now a member of the state Supreme Court) who ruled over the court put into the basement of the Vet to handle unruly fans.

We also should point out that these guys were not Union fans.

Call them outside agitators.

Sure, Chester has its problems. This wasn’t one of them.

Not the start the Phils wanted

If I told you that Ryan Howard kicked off the second half of the season by launching two balls out of Wrigley Field, you’d probably be all smiles.

Unfortunately, sandwiched in between those two Howard dingers were 12 straight runs put up by the Cubs.

Folks, your fightin’ Phils are in trouble.

The Phillies got smoked in their first game back from the All-Star break, and didn’t look especially good doing it.

Jamie Moyer looked every bit the 47-year-old journeyman, getting lit up in just three innings. He surrendered six runs on five hits and had the indignity of having a Cub steal home while he bounced an offering to the plate.

The Phils also looked sloppy in the field. Shane Victorino couldn’t catch up with a bullet over his head, then seemed to be in no great hurry to get the ball back into the infield while a speedy Cubs runner stretched it into a triple.

This was not what the Phils had in mind after they won four straight in dramatic fashion to end the first half.

There’s no rest for the weary. The Phils and Cubs have an afternoon date at Wrigley.

Joe Blanton gets the call for the Phils. The Phils need Blanton to come up big, setting up their big two, Roy Halladay and Cole Hamels, for the weekend.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

The Daily Numbers - July 15

The Daily Numbers: 1 goal scored by the Union in their exhibition “friendly” win over Celtic FC at PPL Park in Chester last night. Make it 1-0 Union.
18,500 the capacity seating for PPL Park. There were considerably fewer than that who made it through some horrendous flooding and traffic conditions to get to the game.
0 stray animals from animal control officers that will be accepted by the Delaware County SPCA after June 30, 2011. The facility is moving toward becoming a “no-kill” center.
30 day extension of state of emergency in Chester that expires next week. Council took no action on the matter yesterday at their last meeting before it expires.
2.88 inches of rain the deluged the region yesterday. Flooding was reported all over the county, in particular in Prospect Park, Ridley and Trainer.
43-43, where a new poll has the Senate race between Joe Sestak and Pat Toomey in a dead heat.
50 chihuahuas taken from a filthy home in South Philadelphia.
14 counts of animal cruelty that drew a guilty plea from a Montgomery County woman in whose home police found dozens of dead animals.
10 percent hike in tolls on the Pa. Turnpike for drivers who use cash.
They go into effect on Jan. 1. EZ Pass users will see a 3 percent increase.
47 million dollars in new cuts being unveiled in Philadelphia by Mayor Michael Nutter.
6.3 million in cuts for Philadelphia police; 3.5 percent for firefighters.
80 mph winds that were clocked in a storm that blew through a region in Lehigh County yesterday.
47 people shot overnight in 2 separate incidents in Philadelphia.
30 years spent in prison by a man who was freed yesterday. He insists he did not commit the crime. A judge allowed him to go free.
47 wins posted by the Phils in the first half. They likely will have to do better in the 2nd half to make the postseason.
109,901, that’s the capacity at the newly expanded University of Michigan Stadium. That drops Penn State into the No. 2 spot.
107,292, what they pack into the joint at Happy Valley.
Call me a Phanatic: A look at the ups and downs of being a Philadelphia sports fan.You have to like the attitude of Eagles’ QB Kevin Kolb stepping up to the plate and defending his teammate Michael Vick. Make no mistake, Kolb will be a much different kind of leader than the departed Donovan McNabb.
I Don’t Get It: They took somewhere between 50 and 100 chihuahuas out of a house in South Philly that was rife with dog feces and declared unfit for human habitation. I don’t get it.
Today’s Upper: A sparkling gem on the waterfront. That would describe the scene last night as they held the first night game at PPL Park in Chester.
Quote Box: “That is not going to be part of what we do here.”
- SPCA Manager Kerry Bruni, talking about the decision by SPCA officials to stop taking in stray animals in an effort to halt euthanizing of animals.

I'll drink to that

I was just about to jump all over Republican gubernatorial candidate Tom Corbett for his remarks on the jobless when something else caught my mind.

If you missed it, the attorney general who would like to move into the governor’s mansion has been under fire for comments he gave during a TV interview that amounted to calling the unemployed lazy, that they’d rather collect benefits than go out and try to find a job.

He’s been retreating ever since, when he wasn’t ducking for cover as organized labor and Democrats blistered him for his stance.

“I regret that in that one statement, I may not have been clear or complete as I possibly could,” Corbett said.

Ya think?

But in an interview with the Associated Press, Corbett said something else that caught my eye.

Corbett indicated he wanted to explore the possibility of privatizing the state’s liquor and wine business as part of the effort to pull the state out of its economic morass.

I’ll drink to that.

This will not come as a big secret to anyone who reads these rants religiously.

My own personal crusade is to get Pennsylvania out of the liquor business. I want to be able to grab a six-pack and a bottle of wine while I am doing my grocery shopping.

I don’t want to make one trip for a six-pack, another for a case of suds, and one more for wine or liquor.

I’d love to be able to grab a six-pack at my local convenience store.

I know the unions are against this move. So are the beer distributors.

But I’m saying it’s time. And while I found Corbett’s comments on the unemployed unthinkable, I salute his move to look at getting Pa. out of the booze business.

In fact, I’ll drink to that.

Kolb takes control of Eagles

The great Michael Vick debate reignited just in time for the lull provided by the baseball All-Star break.

While the Phils have been away, the talk surrounding the Eagles troubled backup QB has continued to simmer.

Something happened yesterday, however, that regardless of your feelings on Vick, could bode well for the team.

The Eagles’ brass has been pretty much silent on the birthday party and subsequent shooting outside a Virginia nightclub that has Vick’s life back under the microscope.

Our own Jack McCaffery this week noted that since Jeff Lurie pledged to outraged fans that Vick would be on a very short leash, so to speak, the owner now should cut the cord over this latest flap. Lurie has had nothing to say about the latest Vick affair. Ditto for Joe Banner. Andy Reid has said only that he was aware of the issue.

But yesterday a new voice was heard. It came from the team’s new leader.

Kevin Kolb is now filling the gaping void left by the Birds’ brass. Kolb came to Vick’s defense, saying he’s one of his best friends on the team and rallying behind his backup.

In doing so, Kolb takes a dramatic step in putting his stamp on the 2010 Eagles, and easily becomes the voice of the locker room.

I can’t imagine Donovan McNabb stepping into such a void left by management.

There is, however, one down side to this issue. Kolb is talking a very good game. Now he must play one as well. Based on what he did last year, I don’t think that’s going to be a problem.

However, should Kolb struggle and the Birds get off to a shaky start, it will be very interesting to see if that very short leash the Eagles have on their backup QB suddenly gets a little looser.

If Kolb does not play well, make no mistake, the fans will voice their plea for Vick.

For now, Kolb is the man, and he’s standing by his pal, his backup.

Meet the new leader of the pack. His name is Kevin Kolb.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

The Daily Numbers - July 14

The Daily Numbers: 1.36 inches of rain that fell on the region, according to the folks at the airport, where they measure these things.
3 inches, what may have fallen in Drexel Hill, which got socked with flash flood conditions.
1 to 2 more inches of rain that was expected overnight, leading to a flash flood watch for the entire region through the morning hours.
18, age of woman assaulted in a road-rage incident on the Blue Route in Marple.
2 Upper Darby brothers held for trial in a stabbing incident outside a local mosque.
18 three-story homes in the area of Hillside Nursery in Clifton Heights that is now being targeted for demolition to make way for apartment buildings and retail space.
449 home Ashford development planned for Newtown that got the OK from the township planning commission.
150,000 dollars needed to keep the Chester YouthBuild program afloat, an alternative education and employment training service.
8 DUI convictions for a man from Montgomery County who is now appealing his sentence. He says the judge was too harsh.
3 Philly cops charged with conspiring with a heroin ring.
15,000 dollars worth of heroin they’re charged with stealing during a bogus traffic stop and seizure that they intended to sell on their own.
1 missing, 1 rescued in 2 separate incidents on the flooded Pennypack Creek in Philly yesterday. A 20-year-old man who was rafting over rapids last night is believed to have drowned.
4,400 employees that will be hired by three Pa. casinos that introduced table games yesterday. Harrah’s will join the fray on Sunday.
3.1 million dollars raised by GOP Senate candidate Pat Toomey in the last quarter.
2 million dollars raised by his opponent, Democrat Joe Sestak, in the same time period.
25,000 dollars in school supplies donated to local kids by Citizens Bank.
4,000 dollars in coins ripped off outside the federal bank in downtown Philly yesterday.
50 dead animals found in a freezer of a home in the Olney section of the city who is believed to have been hoarding pets and other animals.
1 year deal signed by Flyers tough guy Dan Carcillo.
2 at-bats for Ryan Howard in last night’s All-Star Game. He struck out and grounded out.
2 batters retired by Roy Halladay in his one inning of work.
13 year losing skid snapped by the National League with their 3-1 win.
Call me a Phanatic: A look at the ups and downs of being a Philadelphia sports fan.The Phils will have home-field advantage if they return to the World Series because the NL won the All-Star Game last night. Hey, you gotta believe, right?
I Don’t Get It: The defense of the man charged with breaking into and then setting fire to the offices of Philadelphia International Records?
He was too drunk to remember what he did. I don’t get it.
Today’s Upper: Hey, look on the bright side. At least we didn’t lost power during yesterday’s storms. At least most of us.
Quote Box: “The water was up over the car tires within 15 minutes.”
- Marshall Road resident in Upper Darby on yesterday’s fierce storm and flooding.

Nutter's salty vocabulary

For the most part, I like Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter.

Sure he’s something of a geek, but he seems like an honest public servant doing a nearly impossible job. Maybe that’s why I admire him. I guess I can empathize.

But he does one thing that absolutely drives me up the wall.

Hizzoner has a penchant for speaking anything but honorably. He was at it again yesterday.

Staring into a bank of live microphones, the mayor vented after the announcement that three city police officers had been arrested for being involved in a drug conspiracy.

The mayor was upset. I don’t blame him. I do fault him for the language he used. Once again he felt the need to describe his demeanor with a particularly salty word. It starts with a p and rhymes with hissed. It is not the first time he’s dropped such off-color language into a public appearance.

You get my drift. No, I am not naieve. I can swear with the best of them. But I try to confine my outbursts to private settings, or at least my office. OK, so an occasion rant is overheard emanating from these walls.

But I don’t broadcast those outbursts. And I wish the mayor would not, either.

One of my great fears is that as a society, we seem to get just a little coarser every day. A big part of that is the language – once considered not fit for public usage – that is slowly creeping into our everyday vernacular. The next thing you’ll be telling is that the F-bomb is suddenly OK. We all know that it is not. I wish we treated other crude expressions with the same disdain.

We should be better than that. I know the mayor is. I just wish he would speak that way.

Or maybe more to the point, not speak that way.

Feeling secure in a storm

I’m asking for the public’s help with this one. And for it I will go back into my personal confessional.

Is there a more comforting experience that being snug in your bed on a warm summer night when a hellacious thunderstorm breaks out?

What is it about that sense of security that feels so good? I have no great fondness for rain. Especially on weekends. And during the day thunder and lightning, while often spectacular, more often than not lead to inconvenience such as power outages. I think we’ve all had more than our fair share of that already this summer.

But when the sun goes down, and darkness descends, and we retire for the evening, there is something almost indescribably comforting about the sense of security your domicile gives you when Mother Nature is unleashing her fury.

Anyone else feel this way? Please tell me it’s not just me. If you love a good overnight thunderstorm, post a comment and tell me why.

Home-field advantage

Good news, Phillies fans.

No, Chase Utley has not miraculously recovered from his banged-up thumb.
His expected arrival still looms well off on the horizon, very likely in September.

If, however, Utley does return and helps the Phils scratch their way back to a third straight appearance in the World Series, they will have the home-field advantage.

That’s because the National League did something last night they had not done in 13 years. They were victorious in the All-Star Game.

Under skipper Charlie Manuel, the Nationals posted a 3-1 win over the American League.

The Phils start the second half Thursday in Chicago, sitting four and a half games behind the front-running Braves. The Mets are just a half-game ahead of the Phils in second.

That home-field advantage would have come in handy last October vs. the Yankees.

Something tells me getting back there this year is going to pose a much bigger challenge for the Phils. Will Ruben Amaro make a move at the trade deadline at the end of the month? Will Jayson Werth still be on the team should they make another push into post-season play?

We’ll find out starting tomorrow. You know where I stand on this one.
I’d like nothing more than for the Phils to go back to the World Series.
I don’t see it happening.

The last team to represent the NL in three straight World Series since the Big Red Machine in the ’70s.

Don’t look for it to happen this year, either.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

The Daily Numbers - July 13

The Daily Numbers: 43, age of father and pastor from Darby who pleaded guilty in the fatal shooting of his 21-year-old son in a Christmas Day family argument.
77, age of man found dead last week in his sweltering apartment in Upper Chichester.
2 U.S. Senate candidates who held events just blocks away from each other in Haverford. It was the duel in Delco between Joe Sestak and Pat Toomey.
23, age of Collingdale woman who was last seen July 5 at a train station stop in Camden. Family members say the woman has vanished.
10 and 5, age of 2 kids left home alone by a couple in Upper Darby, according to police.
2 people tubing down the Brandywine who had their interlude rudely interrupted by a man who fired a paintball gun at them. A suspect from Chester is being sought.
5th, as in the 5th amendment, what is being invoked by a crew member on that tug that rammed a disabled duck boat last week. He is refusing to speak with investigators.
74 people killed in terrorist bombings that targeted groups watching the World Cup final in Uganda. Among them was a former student and rubgy player at the University of Delaware.
2 more Pa. casinos that are bringing their table games online today. You can now play at Mount Airy and Mohegan Sun. Harrah’s will enter table games era on Sunday.
39, age of suspect who struck and killed a woman on a bicycle in the Frankford section of Philadelphia.
1 person dead in shooting in Atlantic City.
200,000 dollars, how much Philadelphia paid for its new high-tech trash compactors. A new report blasted the move yesterday.
68, instead of the Field of 64, for the NCAA hoops tourney. They will add four teams that will play for the right to get into the field of 64.
19 home runs in the final round to give the Red Sox’ David Ortiz the home run derby crown at last night’s All-Star Game festivities.
100,000 dollar fine slapped on the owner of the Cleveland Cavaliers by the NBA for his comments about LeBron James after the star bolted to sign with the Miami Heat.
13 straight wins for the AL in the Mid-Summer Classic.
Call me a Phanatic: A look at the ups and downs of being a Philadelphia sports fan.Can anyone remember the last time the National League won an All-Star Game? It was back in 1996. Ryan Howard will be looking to change that tonight when he looks to lay the lumber as the NL DH.
I Don’t Get It: The tragedy that befell one Delaware family yesterday is almost beyond belief. Nate Henn, a University of Delaware grad and former rugby player at the school, was killed in a terrorist bomb attack in Uganda on groups watching the World Cup final. A few hours later, his brother was flying home to be with his family when his planed crashed.
He was injured; the pilot was killed.
Today’s Upper: OK, we can stop all that talk about the drought. We also can stop the rain anytime now.
Quote Box: “No government can ever protect me better than myself.”
- Eddystone resident Jim Pelurie, in speaking against the plan to allow metal-shredding facility in the borough.

Summertime, and poliltics heats up

Politics is a contact sport.

Joe Sestak and Pat Toomey proved that again yesterday in Havertown, when they almost bumped into each other while holding events just blocks away from each other.

If you thought you were going to get the summer off when it comes to the Pennsylvania Senate race, guess again.

Toomey put out an advisory last week that he would be holding a press conference at the home of a supporter in Haverford to spell out the differences between himself and Sestak when it comes to federal bailouts. He’s agains them, and raps Sestak’s support for them.

As is the new political form these days, that prompted the Democrat Sestak to rush into action, holding his own event in the same neighborhood and blast Toomey as allegedly being out of touch when it comes to small business, even questioning Toomey’s background as a guy who started his own business.

You can read about it here.

Used to be Labor Day was the traditional starting point for the fall campaign.

Now maybe it’s the Fourth of July.

One thing is certain. We aren’t going to be “independent” from politics this summer.

The Sestak-Toomey race to replace Sen. Arlen Specter promises to be a barn-burner.

Not far behind will be the increasingly contentious battle for Sestak’s 7th District Congressional seat. Republican Pat Meehan and Democrat Bryan Lentz seem to lob grenades at each other on a daily basis.

Think the weather outside is bumpy? That’s nothing to what the political landscape is going to be like around here for the next couple of months.

Buckle your seatbelts. It’s going to be a rough ride.

A hot time in Eddystone

The controversy that has enveloped the little town of Eddystone isn’t going anywhere.

Council met last night and was met by another large group of residents who wanted to tell them – in no uncertain terms – exactly what they thought of the plan to allow Camden Iron & Metal to relocate their metal-shredding facility at the old Foamex site in the borough.

Last month borough council approved a preliminary land development plan that would allow the move.

Some residents believe council is rolling out the red carpet for the company, and not paying nearly enough attention to residents’ complaints about traffic, quality of life, and possible health and environmental complications stemming from such an operation.

They couldn’t even agree on where to hold the meeting. Yesterday I noted that the residents’ group was upset that council would not move last night’s meeting to a larger facility to accommodate the crowd, as had been done with a previous hearing on the matter.

Yesterday I got a call from the borough with a little more information about that. The person I talked to said the citizens group had been putting flyers all over town asking people to call borough hall in an effort to get the meeting moved. The official said that after all that they got responses from five citizens.

In the meantime, the group reiterated their opposition last night. You can read the story and check out a video of the meeting here.

Council is in a tough spot here. They have an opportunity to bring in a company that will undoubtedly bring with it jobs and tax benefits to the struggling town. On the other hand, they have to weight that against residents – at least some of them - who clearly do not want this plant in their town.

Yep, tough spot.

Figuring out the Phils

It’s time for the Mid-Summer Classic.

Not the Major League Baseball’s All-Star Game. Yes, they will play that one tonight in Anaheim. Count on a couple of things. The game is listed as starting at 8 p.m. Don’t believe. They won’t throw the first pitch in this thing until after 8:30. It will case deadline headaches for newspaper editors everywhere, and also cause a lot of people to simply check out.

No, what I’m really talking about is that favorite Philly – and Phillie – fodder: What do you think of the Fightins’ chances in the second half of the season?

Amazingly, the Phils’ 47-40 mark is on par with what they have done the past several years. What is different is that the Braves, currently sitting in first place, and the Mets are both playing a lot better. The Braves lead the Phils by four and a half, and the Mets by four.

The question is whether or not the Phils can catch Atlanta in the second half.

Here’s Jack McCaffery’s answer. He sees the Phils’ struggles at the plate as the reason they will not be going back to a third straight Fall Classic.

I have to agree with him. There’s just something about this team that has not been right. I can’t quite put my finger on it. I know they’ve had lots of injuries, losing three-fourths of their infield for varying times. Jimmy Rollins is back, Placido Polanco will be soon, but Chase Utley is on sabbatical until September.

They say good pitching beats good hitting. If nothing else the Phils proved that over the weekend, when their feeble offense managed to scratch out just two runs, but they won both games on back-to-back shutout ball tossed by Roy Halladay and Cole Hamels.

They will need both of them to continue throwing that way in the second half.

Jack has a great moniker for the Phils’ dynamic duo. He refers to them as the 2-H Club.

Will they be enough? It says here that’s not the case.

I just hope I’m wrong.