Friday, September 30, 2011

The Daily Numbers - Sept. 30

The Daily Numbers: 37 current or former Boeing workers snagged in a fed drug probe at the plant.

4 year investigation that culminated in yesterday’s 7 a.m. raid at the Ridley facility.

2 Aston residents who have constructed a memorial to that 5-foot alligator that was put down after being found along Chester Creek.

4 dead kittens, several of them mutilated, under investigation in Chester County.

6 million dollar scam believed run by a former Pottstown pastor and his wife on their faithful.

16 million dollars in indirect spending in the region tied to the Phillies appearance in the playoffs.

223 pounds of pot found in tractor-trailer in Norristown.

3 alarm blaze overnight in Bucks County that destroyed several homes.

1 woman who remains missing after the car she was driving careened into the Schuylkill River in Philly yesterday afternoon.

77.1 percent of students in Pa. who tested as proficient in math.

73.5 percent in reading.

75 percent in writing.

60.9 percent in science.

50 percent approval rating for Pa. Gov. Tom Corbett.

5:07 p.m. Saturday, Game 1 NLDS Phillies vs. Cardinals.

8:07 p.m. Game 2 Sunday night.

6-3 Cardinals win the season series over Phils, with wins over Halladay, Lee and Hamels.

.233 with 32 runs scored for the Phils vs. Cards in those 9 games.

.368 batting average with 9 HRs for Ryan Howard vs. his hometown Cardinals.


Call me a Phanatic: A look at the ups and downs of being a Philadelphia sports fan.Red October has arrived. Go crazy.



I Don’t Get It: Why anyone would put a solid career at Boeing in jeopardy is beyond me. And these weren’t all line workers. A lot of union officials also got snagged in this bust.


Today’s Upper: Kudos to everyone wearing red today.


Quote Box: “During the investigation, we took affirmative steps to coordinate with Boeing, to make sure that the steps and mechanisms were in place to ensure the quality and safety of the airplanes that were being constructed.”

- U.S. Attorney Zane Memeger, announcing arrests of Boeing workers.

The Boeing 37

Anyone who’s ever worked on a production line knows it can be mind-numbing work.

One of the most miserable summers of my life was spent at an orange-juice factory outside the town where I grew up. The job amounted to taking those little plastic containers of OJ used in hospitals and other places and putting them in a carton.Two at a time. Again and again and again.  I’ll never forget the day I had a small paper cut on my hand. Any idea what orange juice does does to that? It was agony. For 8 long hours.

So I’m not totally surprised that possibly some Boeing workers might look for something to ease the monotony.

Still, I don’t think this was exactly what officials had in mind.

Federal agents swooped down on the Ridley plant early yesterday and hauled out more than 30 current employees. U.S. attorney Zane Memeger, in a press conference later yesterday afternoon, said it all surrounds prescription medications, mostly some high-powered painkillers such as oxycodone.

First alerted by the company, the feds launched a four-year investigation that resulted in yesterday’s arrests.

No doubt a lot of people are wondering about what comes out of that plant, namely Chinook helicopters and fuselages for the V-22 Osprey. Boeing officials stress they were the ones who actually blew the whistle on the drug ring in the plant and called in the feds. They also say there was never any indication that quality controls at the facility were being compromised.

There are more than 6,000 workers at the Boeing plant. Yesterday 37 of them ran afoul of the law.

No one will be talking about them today. Everyone will be talking about the “Boeing 37.”

In the meantime, work at the plant will go on. That’s the way it works.

It’s not always fair, I’m the first to admit it.

I will no doubt get calls today saying we never show up for the good news. Actually that’s not true. We gave front-page coverage just last week to the 50th anniversary of the Chinook and the new production facility at the plant that should insure that work – and those key jobs – stay here.

Boeing is one of the last icons of Delco’s industrial golden age. With the recent announcements that both Sunoco and ConocoPhillips are looking to sell their refineries – and shut them down if a buyer can’t be found – Boeing is more important then ever.

The rogue acts of 37 workers are not going to change that.

Another animal control crisis looms in Delco


I think we can now officially sound the alarm: Delaware County is facing an animal control crisis. Again.

Yep, it’s déjà vu all over again. You can read all about it here.

That basically was the word from the newly formed Animal Protection Board this week. They’re the group formed to oversee construction of a new shelter on a site in Darby Township that eventually will take the reins of animal control from the county SPCA.  You might remember the SPCA is intent on getting out of the animal control business.

If this all sounds familiar, it should. It was just a few months agao back in the summer that  the county faced a similar crisis. Faced with a July 1 deadline, calmer heads prevailed and the SPCA was coaxed into offering a six-month extension of their services.

No one is pretending that is going to happen again when the deal expires on Jan. 1.

And now the new board is admitting there is almost no way that the shelter will be up and running by the deadline.

So now it’s on to Plan B. But no one seems to know exactly what Plan B will entail.

The most likely scenario is that the county will have to ship strays to an out-of-county facility. Maybe for several months. That is going to be a very expensive proposition.

In the meantime, back in Darby Township, not a lot is happening at the proposed site of the new shelter because several studies that need to be done first have yet to be started.

Not good.

Remember where you heard it. Come the holidays, municipal officials will be throwing up their hands at the notion of a looming crisis in animal control.

They will act surprised. They shouldn’t.

You can see this one coming.

Red and Green and Red October all over

An interesting twist arrives this weekend in the sometimes prickly relationship between the Big Two in Philly sports.

I know, the Phillies and Eagles always smile and make nice when it comes to the attention paid the other. Don’t believe it. The competition is real. In particular, it strikes me that the success of the Phillies bothers those who reside across the street at Lincoln Financial Field.

That’s why this weekend is very important to the Eagles. In short, they must win on Sunday. A loss to their old pal David Akers and the 49ers, at the same time Red October is rolling across the region, could relegate them to an afterthought. At least as long as the Phillies are alive in their pursuit of another World Series title.

Then again, if the Eagles should lose on Sunday – which I don't happen to think is going to happen – they might just welcome all the attention focused on the Phils.

That’s for the two teams to slug it out.

For the fans, it’s simply nirvana. We’ve got Game 1 of the NLDS at 5:07 on Saturday, followed by what amounts to a doubleheader on Sunday. Eagles vs. 49ers at 1 at the Linc. With Game 2 of the NLDS with the Phils & Cardinals providing the nightcap at Citizens Bank Park at 8:07.

Make it Phillies in 4.

And the Birds? Of course you’ll have to check back tomorrow for the Dreaded Saturday Eagles pick. Here’s a hint. I like the Eagles. A lot.

Of course, there’s always the chance that David Akers is lining up the game winner from 35 yards out with 3 ticks left on the clock. Niners trailing, 27-26. I can just hear Merill now. “The kick is up. It’s ….” Merill? Merill?

It couldn’t happen, could it?

Say it ain’t so Andy.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

The Daily Numbers - Sept. 29

The Daily Numbers: 102 wins for the Phils after their thrilling come-from-behind win over the Braves last night.

1,000 jobs at risk with possible closure of Sunoco and ConocoPhillips refineries in the lower end of county.

1 million dollars, the size of hole in Marcus Hook borough budget should the Sunoco plant close.

2.7 million tax loss for the Chichester School District.

1 Jan, the deadline for a new animal shelter to be built in the county. Officials of the county's new Animal Protection Board yesterday admitted they weren't likely to be up and running by that point.

1.2 million loan agreement OK'd by the Darby Creek Joint Authority to build the shelter.

2 individuals who held up a school principal as he arrived for work in Chester.

1 billion dollars added to the cost of the expansion project at Philadelphia International Airport.

6 years since Gary Drais was murdered in Aston. Police are still hunting for his killer.

37,000 dollars OK'd by County Counci for new computers for several departments in the courthouse.

36 more students who got the boot from Upper Darby School District for being illegally enrolled.

331,000 dollars saved by the district by the dismissals.

81, age of woman who was attacked and raped in southwest Philly.

22, age of substitute teacher in Del. charged with showing 15-year-old male student naked pictures of herself on her phone.

6,000 dollars and a Cadillac Escalade, the alleged payment in a murder-fire-hire alleged in Chester County.

2 dead and 2 injured in another incident of gunfire in South Philly.

10.5 game lead by the Braves in NL Wild Card race on Aug. 26. They were eliminated last night.

7 runs scored by the Braves in last 5 games.

646 wins for Charlie Manuel, most by any manager in Phillies history.

Call me a Phanatic: A look at the ups and downs of being a Philadelphia sports fan.

A salute to Charlie Manuel and the Phillies. They never quit, not even in the 13th inning of the 162nd game. Bravo!

I Don’t Get It: So much for the genius of Terry Francona. The BoSox will be watcing the playoffs.

Today’s Upper: We desperately hope that efforts by local officials and unions are able to find new buyers for the Sunoco and ConocoPhillips refineries here in Delco.

Quote Box: "I was frustratede. I don't want any special treatment."

- Eagles QB Michael Vick, day after criticizing refs.

An uneasy future in the lower end of Delco


We certainly hope that yesterday's confab of elected and union officials down in Marcus Hook is not the last one.

We hope they get an opportunity to gather once more to announce a buyer for both the Sunoco and ConocoPhillips refineries.

We fear they will not. Here is our editorial today on a huge economic blow to the county.

Refining gasoline these days does not make money. At least not enough money to satisfy the corporate boards that now run companies such as Sunoco and ConocoPhillips.

There was a time when Sun was an extension of the Pew family.

Not anymore. It's about the bottom line.

And the fear is that means a lot of Delco workers will be out on their rear end.

A magical night of baseball

Let's make this real simple.

Sports doesn't get better that what happened last night in Major League Baseball. No doubt this is exactly what Bug Selig and his pals had in mind when they expanded the playoffs.

Both leagues went into last night's games with questions surrounding their Wild Card teams. No less than six games meant something on the final night of the season.

The result was a rare night of sports and theater, culminating in a minute-by-minute thrill ride into the playoffs.

The Phils decided 162 games weren't enough and went extra innings before putting away the Braves. For Atlanta it was a slow, bitter death. The Braves managed to blow an eight-and-a-half game lead in the Wild Card race.

A same fate befell the vaunted Boston Red Sox, who somehow managed to blow a lead to the lowly Orioles, wait out an excruciating rain delay, and then fall on their sword. Literally minutes later, the Rays' Evan Longoria blasted a home run to complete a wild comeback win over the Yanks, pushing them into the playoffs and a knife into the hearts of Boston fans.

Phils in. St. Louis in. Braves out.

Rays in. Boston out.

Just pure magic.

102 wins!

It took them more than four hours, but the Phillies finally put an exclamation point on a very special season last night.

The beat the Braves - eliminating them from Wild Card contention - and in the process set a new record for wins by the franchise.

102. Roll that one around on your tongue for awhile. 102 wins.

There were years around here when we wouldn't accumulate that many victories in two years.

Congratulations to Charlie Manuel, who also becomes the winningest manager in Phillies history. And also a team that simply refused to cave in all season, through any number of injuries, and even through an eight-game skid after they had clinched the NL East crown.

It was only fitting that the Phils rallied from behind to tie the game and send it to extra innings, befoer finally winning it in the 13th.

But of course this is only the appetizer. Now it's on to the main course.

Red October awaits.

The view from Atlanta

One of the great things about the Internet – especially for sports fans – is that it allows you to check out the coverage in the other team’s town.

So how do you think they’re feeling this morning in Atlanta? Uh, not good.

Columnist Mark Bradley of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution wastes no time in leading the charge to castigate the Braves as an utter failure.

CLICK HERE to check out his column.

In short, it's the Tomahawk Chop turned Tomahawk Choke.

Those of us who somehow managed to survive the Phils’ epic collapse in 1964 can empathize with Atlanta fans. The Braves somehow managed to blow an eight and a half game lead in the NL Wild-Card race.

And just for good measure, the squandered a 3-1 lead to the Phils last night.

They had company in Beantown. The Red Sox blew a game to the Orioles and in the process cost themselves a shot at the AL Wild-Card spot.

No such angst here in Philly. It’s on to Red October and a date with the St. Louis Cardinals at Citizens Bank Park.

Unfortunately all we know is that they’re playing the Cards. We still don’t know the times. They have not yet been set by Major League Baseball.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

The Daily Numbers - Sept. 28

The Daily Numbers: 1-2 punch in the lower end of Delco. First Sunoco, now ConocoPhillips. Not a good day for the region’s economy.

400 jobs at the ConocoPhillips plant in jeopardy if a buyer can’t be found for the Trainer facility.

600 workers at Sunoco’s Marcus Hook plant.

3 weeks between the two stunning announcements.

300 refineries operating in the U.S. in 1980. That compares to 120 today.

185,00 barrels of oil processed a day at the Conoco plant.

1925, when Sinclair constructed the refinery in Trainer that is now ConocoPhillips. In between it was owned by BP and Tosco.

1 billion dollars added to the cost of the expansion project at Philadelphia International Airport.

466.5 million dollars for the project approved by the FAA.

70, age of man carjacked outside his house of worship in Lansdowne Sunday morning.

49, age of man charged in luring incident in Ridley Township.

16 people killed in a listeria outbreak traced to cantaloupes.

20 year high for price of copper, which is believed to be spurring string of thefts of commercial air conditioning units. They have yards of copper tubing inside. Thieves are getting $400-$500 for the tubing at scrap yards.

2, age of child among 4 wounded when fight at South Philly High School led to melee in a nearby home.

7 years of Gun Court in Philly coming to end. The court is being disbanded.

3 hits over 6 innings for Roy Oswalt as the Phils beat the Braves again last night.

3 homers from Chasey Utley, Jimmy Rollins and Hunter Pence.

101 wins for the Phils, tying most in franchise history. They can set a new mark tonight in the regular season finale.

3 straight wins for the Phils, as the Braves are now tied with the Cardinals for the NL Wild Card slot.


Call me a Phanatic: A look at the ups and downs of being a Philadelphia sports fan.Charlie Manuel looks like a genius again with his lineup tinkering that now looks like the answer to the Phils’ offensive problems.



I Don’t Get It: Just another horrific announcement for the lower end of the county, with ConocoPhillips saying it will follow Sunoco’s lead in seeking a buyer or closing their Trainer refinery.


Today’s Upper: The Delaware County Democrats held their kickoff event last night in Lansdowne. On to November.


Quote Box: “I don’t understand why they just turned their back on our community and walked away.

- State Rep. Steve Barrar, R-160, on hearing word that ConocoPhillips was bailing on the Trainer plant.

Another punch to the gut

The weather matches the mood in the lower end of the county this morning.


Still reeling from news a few weeks back that Sunoco would close its iconic Marcus Hook refinery if a buyer could not be found, the region got hit with a second haymaker yesterday.

ConocoPhillips was following suit.

The company said it would begin to shut down business at its Trainer plant. If a buyer can’t be found for it as well by the end of the year, it also will be shuttered.

Combined, more than 1,000 jobs are at stake at the two facililities.

But it’s more than that. If you live in the lower end of Delaware County, it’s a way of life.

One that is apparently going away.

You can read our coverage here. And here.

A couple of generations of Delaware County families have given their lives to the companies that ran these refineries. In return they were given a decent wage that formed the backbone of a solid, middle-class life.

Now the companies are walking away. Easy for them. Not so easy for the people, and the towns, and the school district that is left behind.

Our front page today declared: It’s oil over. That’s the stark reality of an overcast rainy, morning in the lower end of the county. It’s one of many that is headed their way.

Dems the breaks

I apparently got the attention of county Democrats with my Monday column.

In it I noted the challenges they face in the November elections. Despite the many gains and inroads they have made, there is one place they have yet to make a dent in. That, of course, would be the Media Courthouse.

I suggested they have no exactly been keeping a high-profile in the campaign so far. They demurred. County Council candidate Keith Collins even sent me a great letter disagreeing with my stance. You can read it below.

They also were more than a little intrigues by my pointing out that there were no Democrats on the dais for the county’s official 9/11 ceremony at Rose Tree Park. Of course the Republican slate was there, and were introduced as part of the ceremonies.

I didn’t think it was appropriate to point out then, it was a day to remember the horrific events of Sept. 11, 2001. But it was obvious to me what was going on.

The Democrats surfaced last night and held their kickoff event. You can read about it here.

And here is Collins’ letter. Now it’s on to November!

To the Delaware County Daily Times:Greetings Mr. Heron, it must be election season. I haven’t seen this much beautification (new street signs, flower gardens etc...) and roadway projects since last election. From Chester to major arteries like Chester Pike road crews are feverishly working. You can also see them in places like Ridley, Springfield, and Upper Darby among other locations. A movement is afoot and large sums of money are being spent to enhance the county aesthetically. I’m in favor of having a county that this appealing and easy on our vehicles, but the timing is a concern.


Further confirmation of election season is found in your recent article, “Uphill battle in council race awaits Dems.” Any astute follower of Delco politics is aware of the political paradigm shift in our county. Republican strongholds like Upper Darby have given way to a majority of Democratic registered voters on the heels of newly elected State Rep. Margo Davidson. Chester has a two to one edge in Democratic registration and Councilman (Professor) John Linder is poised to become Chester’s next mayor. The recent passing of one of the most austere state budgets in history has motivated Democrats and moderate Republicans to question the “status quo.”

For the record I held a campaign announcement on Feb. 12 at the American Legion Post 777 (where I am a member). There were 127 people there from around the county. We have been campaigning vigorously since 2010 and reached out to over 25,000 people through canvassing, phone banking, and participating in community events. We also have websites and facebook pages which will allow you to monitor our activity should you choose to visit them.

I have been to or walked in Bethel, Colwyn, Radnor, Chadds Ford, Springfield, Marple-Newtown, Folcroft, Sharon Hill, Chester Township, Yeadon, Media, Haverford, Trainer, Marcus Hook, Chester, Swarthmore, Upper Darby, Parkside, Lansdowne, Secane, Darby Township, Aldan, Lansdowne, Ridley Township, Ridley Park, Morton, Clifton Heights, Darby Borough, Norwood, Neither Providence, and Upper Providence.

I didn’t notice you or your staff while out on the trail. We have not staged sanitized photo ops, we have covered the length and breadth of this county talking to people, all people, young and old, haves and “have nots”, listening to their desires and dreams and feeling their pain.

I was somewhat taken aback by your 9/11 Ceremony comments. As a journalist you and your staff have an obligation to process information before it goes to print. Your reference to a lack of Democrats at the 9/11 Ceremony in Rose Tree troubles me. As a veteran (1st Lieutenant U. S. Army and decorated police officer) your subtle inference

implies a lack of patriotism on behalf of Democrats or the Democratic Party. I thought the “Times” was above this type of myopic journalism. Mr. Heron there were a myriad of ceremonies all over the county and the country. This most solemn occasion was observed by me and my colleagues.

It will take more than an article in the “Times” to stop the movement that has begun. Things are heating up, on August 23 there was rally for jobs at the Media court house, I didn’t see any County Council members of any of our distinguished opponents. Surely they want to create and preserve jobs.

In a county where just about everything is politicized, it’s time to “Move in a Bold New Direction.” People want and deserve a government that is of the people, by the people and, for the people, where it doesn’t matter whether you have a D or R behind your name.

That time has come for Delaware County. On behalf of all of my distinguished colleagues, Jayne Young, Lin Floyd, Kendall Brown, Larry DeMarco, Sally-Ann Heckert Bickin and, Michael Schleigh we have found common ground and a place of agreement regarding your sentiments.

Don’t bet on it! Don’t bet the house and don’t bet the farm. It’s not over till the fat lady sings…see you at the polls.

It's a great letter, but I could not disagree more with your statement about Democrats and patriotism. I never questioned it. In fact, I think you entirely missed the point I was making about the 9/11 ceremony. It had nothing to do with patriotism. It had everything to do with the fact that the GOP slate for County Council was included on the dais, while the only Democrat I saw there was Media Mayor Bob McMahon.

That is proof of the entrenched power of the GOP, and the challenge facing Delco Dems in trying to wriggle their way into the halls of power in the Media Courthouse.

The genius of Charlie Manuel

Clearly, Charlie Manuel is a genius.

And a patient one at that.

While bridges all across the region were packed with people getting ready to leap as the Phils were mired in an 8-game losing streak after clinching the NL East crown, Manuel stayed calm at the helm of his suddenly shaky ship.

Manuel simply allowed his bang-ed up starters time to heal, then after loss No. 8 reminded his players after the game that they haven’t won anything yet.

The Phils headed to Atlanta, where the Braves desperately needed to win to hold on to their very tenuous Wild Card spot.

And Manuel trotted out a new lineup. Chase Utley was now hitting second behind Jimmy Rollins. Hunter Pence was in front of Ryan Howard at the No. 3 spot. Shane Victorino was behind Howard at No. 5.

The Phils have now pasted the Braves two straight nights.

Manager of the Year? The Phillies have now won 101 games, despite one injury after another, and that 8-game skid.

Give the hardware to Manuel. The man’s a genius.

Calling all Eagles fans: 'Live From the Newsroom' tackles the Birds

Who’s to blame for the Eagles early-season struggles that have them sitting at 1-2 with a banged-up quarterback and fuming fans?

Andy Reid, for his questionable decisions such as making offensive line coach Juan Castillo his defensive coordinator, and ignoring the linebacker position?

Castillo, for not being up to the task of putting together a defense that features a glittering secondary and D-line, but a huge soft spot in the middle at linebacker and safety?

Michael Vick, for not playing up to the standards of that $100 million contract?

The injuries that have knocked Vick out of games now the last two weeks?

DeSean Jackson, for suddenly turning into a non-factor?

We want to know your opinion.

Join us tonight for our weekly Internet live-stream broadcast, ‘Live From the Newsroom,’ when we will hold an Eagles roundtable dissecting the Birds’ flop in their home opener, as well as their early-season struggles.

Eagles beat writer Bob Grotz and lead sports columnist Jack McCaffery, both of whom witnessed Sunday’s debacle vs. the Giants at the Linc, will join me to talk turkey about the Birds.

Have a question you’d like answered? Email me at Or log on to tonight at 7 and join our live chat. Or post it as a comment on this blog.

We might even have a special guest. Calling all Eagles fans. Here’s your chance to vent and get your feelings on those exasperaing Iggles.

See you at 7!

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

ConocoPhillips follows Sunoco in shutting down

The other shoe fell this morning down in the "lower end" of the county.

First Sunoco, now ConocoPhillips. The Trainer refinery announced it would be halting operations at its Delco plant while it seeks a buyer. It's not wasting any time either. The plant is being idled immediately. If a buyer can't be found by the end of the year, it will be shuttered.

There are more than 400 jobs at stake at ConocoPhillips. That comes no the heels of a similar announcement several weeks back from Sunoco. They indicated if they could not find a buyer for their iconic Marcus Hook refinery, they will padlock the joint as well, along with their South Philly refinery. More than 600 people go to work every day at the Hook plant.

Conoco says it will try to redeploy employees to other company operations. But there are no guarantees.

Guess the refinery business isn't what is used to be.

It's an economic death knell for that end of the county, and in particular for the Chichester School District.

The Daily Numbers - Sept. 27

The Daily Numbers: 100 wins for the Phillies after they beat the Braves, 4-2, last night.

3 times in franchise history they have hit triple digits in victories.

1, as in No. 1, where Phillies rank in attendance in Major League Baseball this year.

3,680,718 people who made their way through the turnstiles at Citizens Bank Park this year.

204 consecutive home sellouts at the Bank.

1 teen, an 18-year-old and the only adult to face charges, who pleaded guilty in that flash mob incident in which a group of teens sacked the Upper Darby Sears store.

14 to 35 years in jail for a Philadelphia man convicted of third-degree murder in the death of a Yeadon man.

139,000 stuffed inside the socks of a couple stopped at Philadelphia International Airport.

20,000 in jewelry cleaned out from a household in Chester County, allegedly by a maid from Aston.

3.59 a gallon, what we’re paying on average at the pump for gas in the Philly region. That’s down 3 cents over the weekend and down from #3.66 last week.

4.05 a gallon, the peak price we hit back on May 5.

9 of November, date for resentencing for former Philly political power broker and longtime state senator Vince Fumo. Fed prosecutors want him to do 15 years behind bars.

1 person killed and her child injured when a car slammed into them on the curb on Roosevelt Blvd.

500 people being hired by Capital One as it expands its operations in Delaware.

467 million dollars for the airport expansion plan being delivered by the FAA.

4 people in 1 family dead in murder suicide in Mather, Pa.

1 game margin for Braves over the Cardinals in the NL Wild Card race. Both lost last night.

17-8 record for Cliff Lee, who got the win vs. Braves last night.


Call me a Phanatic: A look at the ups and downs of being a Philadelphia sports fan.Good news: Michael Vick’s hand is bruised, not broken. Bad news: He still might not be able to play Sunday vs. 49ers. The way he’s been playing that might not be a bad thing.



I Don’t Get It: Michael Vick turned to the tried and true method when hitting a bump in the road in pro sports: Blame the refs.


Today’s Upper: That woman who donated a kidney to her son in Philly but lost her job in the process is back on the job after the company thought better about its actions. Good.


Quote Box: “I was kind of character and being too candid in that aspect.

- Michael Vick on Monday, talking about his comments on the refs after Sunday’s loss to the Giants.

The Michael Vick Experience: Is this all there is?

And now for today’s installment in the Michael Vick Experience.

I coined this terms a few weeks ago to remind readers – and fans – that there is good and bad that goes with No. 7.

Today I’d like to take it one step farther.

In the hysteria surrounding Vick’s new contract this year, his concussion last week and now his broken – or just bruised – hand this week, one thing has been largely left out of the equation.

Michael Vick is not playing especially well.

Look, I’ve been the guy’s biggest fan. I’ve admired what he has done in rebuilding his career – and his life – since spending almost two years in prison for his role in running a dogfighting operation.

But that’s behind us now. Well, most of us. Some fans will never get past it.

What I want to focus on right now is what Vick does on the field. For a couple of months last year, Vick was an absolute revelation. He defied his critics and did exactly what everyone said he could never be. He was a pinpoint pocket passer. He was playing the quarterback position the way they all said he never would be able to do. He was reading defenses. He was patient. He was going through his second and third options. He was not always looking to make plays with his legs, playing as if his hair was on fire, pulling the ball down and taking off at the first hint of trouble.

In short, he was the New Michael Vick.

That was then. This is now. Actually, it’s more than now. Lest we forget, Vick cooled off at the end of last year. He once again had trouble picking up blitzes. He was pulling the ball down and taking off. He was fumbling, and throwing interceptions. It started in the first half of that miracle in the Meadowlands. It didn’t get talked about because Vick led the team to the most improbable of wins.

But the struggles continued, including a loss to the Packers that looked very familiar to Eagles fans. The Birds had a chance to win in the final minutes, but their quarterback threw an ill-adivised interception to seal their fate.

Vick was rewarded by the Eagles with a $100 million contract this summer. But his play on the field suggests maybe the Birds are not getting the bang for the buck they thought they would get.

So far this year Vick’s play has been spotty. Not great, not terrible. But he is not playing at the level he did during that torrid stretch last year when he took over for Kevin Kolb, ironically suffering from a concussion.

Slowly, Vick has reverted back to his "just make a play" days. And in the process turned into a turnover machine. He's fumbling. And throwing interceptions.

And, of course, there is the constant in the Michael Vick Experience. The injuries. It now goes without saying that Vick has a track record. He gets hurt. He is going to miss time – and likely games. It is part and parcel of the abandon with which he plays the game.

But consider this for a moment? Is there any chance that those sizzling weeks last year were a mirage?

What if that was as good as Vick gets? And what if now instead we spend all our time talking about injuries, whining about not getting the calls from officials, and not being able to finish games.

The Eagles made Vick a $100 million man. It’s time for him to start playing like it.

The way he did last year.

Phils - and their fans - are No. 1

Before we return to the saga otherwise known as the Michael Vick Experience, we must first take time to salute the Phillies.

They beat the Braves last night to notch win No. 100 on the season. It’s only the third time in the franchise’s history that a Phillies team has hit triple digits in wins.

And while we’re at it, let’s offer a salute to the fans as well.

We’ve already beaten the Yankees at one thing, and the playoffs have not started yet.

The Phils sit on top of the heap when it comes to attendance. The Phils saw 6,680,718 fans go through the turnstiles at Citizens Bank Park this year. That’s best in baseball, topping the 3,653,680 the Yankees drew.

Best team in baseball. And the best fans.

Eat your heart out, New York.

Monday, September 26, 2011

The Daily Numbers - Sept. 26

The Daily Numbers (Eagles Home Opener Edition): 1-2, where the Eagles sit after a humiliating loss in their home opener to the Giants yesterday.

128 yards on 24 carries for LeSean McCoy, who is now averaged 5.3 yards per carry yesterday.

2 catches for DeSean Jackson, who was a non-factor.

1 broken hand, on his non-throwing hand, for Michael Vick, adding injury to insult.

2 interceptions thrown by backup Mike Kafka, who proved he’s not ready for prime time. Calling Vince Young.

2 times the Eagles were inside the 5-yard line and failed to score 4th and 1 with 11 minutes left in the 4th quarter. For some reason Andy Reid decided to go for it. Of course, they didn’t get it. Game, set and match. That’s your game right there.

4 TD passes the Birds vaunted defensive backs gave up to the Giants. Of course, one of those was actually to Brandon Jacobs, who beat linebacker Casey Matthews.

64 points given up by the Birds in their last 2 gams.

16 of 23 for 176 yards for Vick before leaving the game with a busted mitt.

7-10 record for Eli Manning against the Eagles.

15-3, what Eagles were outscored by in the 2nd half.

3 interecptions thrown by Birds that led directly to 14 points for G-Men.

16 fumbles in last 11 games for Vick.

254 yards passing for Eli Manning.

3 catches for 110 yards for Giants wide receiver Victor Cruz.


Call me a Phanatic: A look at the ups and downs of being a Philadelphia sports fan.Get used to it. Every team the Eagles play this year is going to be revved up to beat the so-called “Dream Team.”



I Don’t Get It: Andy Reid and Howard Mudd put together a small offensive line and then think they are going to convert from 1-yard line and on 4th and 1? I don’t get it.


Today’s Upper: Hey, at least the Phils finally broke their 8-game losing streak.


Quote Box: “Let’s talk about some football, can we?”

- Andy Reid as this post-game press conference, which last all of a couple of minutes.

'Dream' on, Eagles fans

No matter how hard they try to make them disappear, the words of Vince Young will hang around the Eagles’ necks like an albatross all year.

“Dream Team.”

No sooner had the words escaped Young’s lips in a moment of glee at Eagles training camp at Lehigh, than everyone down at Nova Care Nation took part in a collective cringe. Then tried desperately to back away from them.

Now they spend every week hearing the opposing team talking about taking down the “Dream Team.”

After yesterday’s disheartening home opener loss to the Giants, the “dream” is officially a nightmare.

For starters, the Eagles inexplicably came out flat upon returning to their home turf after spending the first two weeks on the road.

They shut down the Giants on their first possession and then drove the ball down the field. It looked like they were on their way to an early score and setting the tempo. Didn’t work out that way. Vick got flushed out of the pocket (big surprise there.) He tossed a ball that clattered off the hands of Steve Smith (no exactly a great way to start the day against your former team) and right into the hands of the Giants.

From that point the Giants rolled down the field. And it didn’t take them long to find Casey Matthews, even after he was moved out of the middle to outside linebacker. Fans had images of Joe Jurevicius running down the sideline as Matthews chased Brandon Jacobs all the way into the end zone.

The Giants added another score to go up 14-0 as the Eagles continued their funk.

Then Andy Reid got involved. Not a good thing.

Reid’s play-calling was abysmal as the Birds appeared ready to cash in a touchdown from inside the 5-yard line. This team has never been a smash-mouth offense. It’s always gadget plays and finesse, Reid trying to show everyone he’s smarter than everyone else. That’s why they always struggle at the goal line. No different yesterday. The Eagles got stuffed and then were left to kick a field goal. They did the same just before halftime, another field goal when they should have been cashing 6.

But the real pivot of the game, and condemnation of Reid, came with the Eagles having regained the lead, 16-14, and driving with about 11 minutes left in the 4th quarter. The Eagles had failed (again a complete failure in a short-yardage situation) on third down. Everyone knows you punt the ball and pin the other team deep in their own territory. Everyone but Reid. In effect, Reid told you everything you need to know about his defense with that decision.

To add insult to injury, Michael Vick continued to take a horrific beating. He would suffer a broken hand on what appeared to be a borderline late hit while in the pocket. He went to the locker room, got an X-ray, returned to the game, and eventually was forced to retreat to the sideline when the hand swelled.

Mike Kafka came into the game and for some reason was armed by Andy Reid to throw a deep ball on his very first play. It never had a chance, and was intercepted by the Giants.

It appears Vick is likely to be out several weeks, meaning Vince Young better get well in a hurry.

The insults weren’t over, however. Vick made it clear after the game he was starting to feel insulted by the refs who fail to give him the same kind of protection other quarterbacks in the league routinely get.

And finally there was Reid, his smug, arrogant self on display after the game.

Why writers bother to attend these things and put up with Reid’s act is beyond me.

So is the feeling that this team might be a Super Bowl contender. I have a tendency to come to these decisions too quickly. It is not beyond possibility that the Eagles could still turn this thing around. The season is still very early.

But that will depend largely on Reid, the guy who decided to shuffle his offensive line the week of the regular season opener. The guy who does not believe linebackers are all that important, and that Casey Matthews is a NFL-caliber middle linebacker. The guy whose No. 1 draft pick is in civvies on the sideline, and who is not exactly getting a lot out of his drafts the last two years.

Time’s yours, Andy. I won’t hold my breath waiting for you to explain any of this. You’re above all that. Clearly you don’t feel the need to answer to reporters, let alone the fans.

I am certain of one other thing, too,

The “dream” is over.

Live from the Linc parking lot

It had been a long time since I had been in the parking lot before an Eagles game.

I forgot how good it smelled.

We did our pregame Fancast from the parking lot of Lincoln Financial Field. We had a blast. Little did we know that was going to be the highlight of our day.

Our thanks to my co-host, sports writer Steve Lienert, and his pals who graciously allowed us to set up shop outside the SUV, which supplied us with all the power – and food and drink – we would need.

There was a time when I did this every Sunday in the fall. It seems like a lifetime ago now. This was before marriage. Before kids. Before a job change that saw me working on Sundays for many years.

And of course it was before the Internet, and the idea of a newspaper doing a pre-game show that is live-streamed on its website.

If you missed the Fancast, you can check it out here.

We used to tailgate, but it paled in comparison with what I saw yesterday.

For starters, I know we used to get to the stadium pretty early, but what I saw yesterday takes it to a whole new level.

We were pulling into the lot around 9:45 to get set up for our 11 a.m. start time. The place was already packed.

This first thing that smacks you in the face when you roll down the window is the smell. Barbecue, specifically. Everywhere is the delicious aroma of meat simmering on grills.

These weren’t the little hibachis we used to set up on the ramp to the old JFK Stadium, where we used to hold our weekly pre-game party before heading into Veterans Stadium. I couldn’t believe how many full-size grills, smokers and other barbecue pits I saw set up.

That’s not the only thing that’s changed. We used to drive to the games. Today it seems the SUV – or better yet RV – is the accepted means of transportation.

The RVs in particular were impressive, and make the perfect party headquarters.

If you’re in the parking lot between the Linc and First Union Center, by all means stop by. We’re planning to be out there doing a pre-game show before every home game.

We’ll bring the Internet; you bring the food.

A win would be nice as well. Eagles fans waited a long time to get a glimpse at their "dream team." Maybe that's why the atmosphere in the parking lot was so electric.

Unfortunately, then game started, and the Eagles again proved this "dream" is more nightmare. Maybe the team should walk through the parking lot before the game to see the kind of passion they so clearly lacked in a lackluster, disturbing effort.

But that's the thing about Philly fans. Players come and go. So do coaches. Except maybe Andy Reid, who doesn't appear to be going anywhere, nor changing his arrogant way.

That's why my guess is the parking lot will be packed again next Sunday. Hope - and tailgating - apparently spring eternal.

See you outside the Linc!

It's election season

OK, Eagles fans, take a deep breath.

Your eyes did not deceive you. Your dream season is fast turning into a nightmare.

So, before we dissect what was a maddening home opener loss to the hated Giants, let’s take part in another proud Delco tradition.


Yes, Labor Day is gone. Election season is here.

I devoted my print column to this topic today.

Delaware County Democrats have made some impressive strides in recent years. But there is one GOP fortress they have yet to dent.

It is called the Media Courthouse.


You can read about the Dems' daunting challenge here.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

The dreaded Saturday Eagles pick

The dreaded Saturday Eagles pick is looking about the same as the weather - dreary.

The Birds coughed up a double-digit lead last week to give away a game to the Falcons they should have won. That put me in an 0-2 hole.

People spent most of the week talking about Michael Vick and the concussion he suffered in Atlanta Sunday night. They shouldn't have bothered. Did anyone really think Vick was not going to play in a huge NFL East matchup vs. the hated New Yorkers Sunday?

The story that got overlooked but in the long run will likely have a bigger effect was the decision by Andy Reid and his new defensive coordinator Juan Castillo to shuffle the linebacking corps. As usual, it took the Birds' brain trust a couple of months longer than their fans to come to the same realization: Rookie Casey Matthews was in over his head at middle linebacker. Sunday Jamar Chaney will be back in that spot, where he played well at the end of last year. For some reason Reid and Castillo seemed intent on anointing Matthews in that spot before he ever stepped on the field. Once he did, it seemed pretty obvious to everyone but them he wasn't up to the job. Hopefully Chaney will bolster a run defense that has been getting gashed in the gaps created by the Eagles new 'Wide 9' alignment.

Let's hope so, because with a depleted wide receiver corps, the Giants no doubt will look to control this game - and keep Michael Vick and the Eagles offense off the field - by running the ball. If the Birds can stuff the run, they should be able to take down the Giants.

If they can't, it just might be a long day, and an even longer season.

One caution on Vick. This is all part of the Michael Vick Experience. Simply put, the guy gets hurt. Don't look for that to change. He didn't miss any time from the concussion but I'm taking odds he misses a game or two along the way. That's part of the 'experience.' I don't look for him to change the way he plays, and that means he's going to get hit. That's a big problem for the Eagles. Buckle up that kevar helmet, Mr. Vick.

Of course they could alleviate some of that by utilizing LeSean McCoy, who is just aching to break out into an NFL superstar, but that would mean the Birds would have to run the ball, and we all know how much chance there is of that in Andy Reid's scheme.

Look for Vick to make several electic plays, and the Birds defense to come to life and force Eli Manning into a couple of key turnovers.

Make it Eagles 27, Giants 17.

Last Week: I'm still not a big believer in the Falcons, or Matt Ryan either. Disappointing day for Birds as they gave away a game they should have won. Don't blame the absence of Vick for the loss. He gave them a double-digit lead that they frittered away.

Season Record: I'm staring up from an 0-2 hole, not exactly an auspicious start for the Saturday pick. I'm looking to rally vs. the G-Men. The Eagles are 1-1 and looking like a talented team that has some very real problems they need to fix. Sunday would be a good time to start.

If you're going to the games, be sure to stop by and join the fun as do a live pre-game 'Fancast' before the Eagles home opener against New York Giants Sunday afternoon, we will be broadcasting live from the Lincoln Financial Field parking lot from 11 a.m.-1 p.m.

If you are at the game, come over and join us for the festivities. If you can't make it, point your browser right here as we give you the inside look on the game.

I'll be hosting the show and joined by Eagles beat writer Bob Grotz, and lead columnist Jack McCaffery, both of whom will be covering the game.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Phils putting moustache on Mona Lisa

The Phillies are busy painting a moustache on their Mona Lisa of a season.

The Phils lost their sixth straight last night. And they looked lousy doing it.

They managed all of one hit against rookie Nationals pitcher Brad Peacock.

You can read all the details here.

Of course, none of this means anything. But they have six games remaining, and those last three in Atlanta are going to mean a whole lot to the Braves – and the Cardinals.

St. Louis is closing in on the Braves for the Wild Card slot.

And the Phillies need to regain a little confidence, if not their swagger, before the playoffs kick off next weekend.

They get Ryan Howard back in the lineup tonight in New York. Hunter Pence is due to return Saturday.

The Phils have not win since the clinched the National League East crown last Saturday.

They have overcome a staggering series of injuries and other pitfalls to get to this point.

Let’s hope they can climb out of this hole as well.


Thursday, September 22, 2011

The Daily Numbers - Sept. 22

The Daily Numbers: 50 years of building Chinooks at Boeing in Ridley Township 130 million dollar facility for Chinook unveiled during a party at the plant yesterday.

10,000 dollar reward now in place for information on the murder of popular Collingdale shop owner Yogesh Bhavsar.

3 recent armed robberies believed to be the work of a 29-year-old man being sought by police in both Chester and Delaware Counties.

300 dollars, how much he got in his latest robbery at the Party Land Store in the Gateway Shopping Center.

100 people who packed a public meeting in Chester last night to discuss the effects of devastating budget cuts in the Chester Upland School District.

21 of October, when the ‘Mighty Macs’ movie detailing the Immaculata women’s basketball team will finally hit theatres.

2 men, one from Sharon Hill, charged in murder of a man in Phoenixville.

2 American hikers held for 2 years in Iran enjoying their 1st full day of freedom with their families in Oman.

15 million dollars put up to complete dredging project on Delaware River by Gov. Tom Corbett.

91, age of Phillies fan who was struck by hit-run driver Tuesday night outside Citizens Bank Park. He was right back at the game Wednesday night.

50 jobs being slashed by area insurance firm Radian.

7.7 percent increase in sales of existing homes in August.

2 people charged with using a stolen credit card from a slain Philly police officer.

4-2 loss for new goalie Ilya Bryzgalov and the Flyers last night vs. the Leafs.

5 straight losses for the Phils.

22-27 of May 2010, the last time the Phils lost 5 in a row.

8 singles all the Phils could scratch out against Nats’ starter John Lannan.

0 for 16 last night for Phils top 4 hitters, Rollins, Victorino, Polanco and Utley.

204 consecutive regular season sellouts for the Eagles.


Call me a Phanatic: A look at the ups and downs of being a Philadelphia sports fan.Andy Reid finally figured out what the fans already knew. Casey Matthews was overmatched as a starting middle linebacker in the NFL. He’ll shift outside and Jamar Chaney will move back into the middle, where he looked good last year.



I Don’t Get It: Why exactly is it that the fans always seem to know something before Reid and his coaches? And where are the Eagles high draft picks from the last two years? Not on the field, that’s for sure.


Today’s Upper: Kudos to former defense secretary Robert Gates, who will receive the Liberty Medal in Philly tonight.


Quote Box: “They built this thing with a slide ruler. And guess what, there’s nothing out there that can do what this … can do today.”

- Maj. Gen. William T. Crosby, at yesterday’s festivities at Boeing marking the 50th anniversary of the Chinook helicopter.

Pileggi raises eyebrows, hackles


Sen. Dominic Pileggi is not the most popular man in Pennsylvania politics these days.

That’s not totally unexpected. His proposal to change the way Pennsylvania decides elections – moving away from a winner-take-all format and instead awarding Electoral College votes by congressional district – was sure to raise some hackles.

What is a bit surprising is where some of the complaints are coming from.

Sure, Democrats are ripping the Chester Republican, saying it’s a blatant attempt to rig elections in the GOP’s favor in light of the state’s increasing tendency to back Democrats in presidential elections.

But what is surprising is the reaction of some Republican congressmen across the region. They’re not thrilled about it either.

Find out why here.

Sip, sip, hooray!

Just in case we haven’t made our stance clear in the great Pa. Booze Debate.

We repeat it here.

The Liquor Control Board’s ill-conceived winde-vending machine experiment is dead. You can stick a cork in it.

Now it’s time to do the same for the LCB. In fact, we’ll drink to it.

Fans have right Reid on Eagles

Fans in this town take a lot of heat for being critical of their team’s, in particular the men who coach them.

What often is left out of that equation is very often the fans are right.

Which is another way of saying Casey Matthews is no longer the starting middle linebacker for the Philadelphia Eagles.

Fans who watched Matthews in action in their first exhibition game doubted he had the size or the game to be the anchor of the Eagles’ defense.

It took Andy Reid and his appointed defensive czar, the former offensive line coach Juan Castillo, a little longer to come to the same conclusion.

Just as it took Reid awhile to acknowledge that, yes, it helps to have a game-breaking wide receiver.

For years Reid would roll out the same stock answer when asked about the Birds’ lack of a big threat. The eventual conclusion was revealed when the Eagles signed Terrell Owens, who promptly led the march to the Super Bowl.

Time’s yours, Andy.

Unfortunately, it always seems to take you a lot more time to come to the same conclusion as the fans.

Now, about those two guys you have playing safety….

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

The Daily Numbers - Sept. 21

The Daily Numbers: 2 American hikers expected to be released today in Iran.

300 new jobs that could be coming to Tinicum along with a new Fed Ex warehouse.

50 years of the Boeing Chinook helicopter being celebrated today at Boeing.

2 more people shot in unrelated incidents last night in Chester.

2 brothers in Marple who both now face child porn charges.

7 million bucks and change hauled in on table games at Harrah’s Chester Casino in August.

3rd out of 10 state casinos, where Harrah’s ranks in terms of table games revenue.

2 armed men who pulled off a home invasion in Middletown.

91, age of man who was struck by hit-run driver outside Citizens Bank Park last night.

3 men being sought in fatal carjacking at Atlantic City casino.

1,500 Aramark workers who could go on strike at Citizens Bank Park.

37, age of baseball coach at Neumann-Goretti High School in Philly charged with supplying alcohol, drugs to kids. Word today is that sex charges will be added against him.

4 straight losses for the Phils.

6 scoreless innings from someone named Tommy Milone for the Nats in the opener.

6 scoreless innings tossed by Phils starter Kyle Kendrick in Game 1.

3 runs on 11 hits and 9 strikeouts for Cliff Lee in the nightcap.

4-0 win for Flyers over Toronto in their exhibition opener last night.

203 consecutive regular season sellouts for the Eagles.


Call me a Phanatic: A look at the ups and downs of being a Philadelphia sports fan.Don’t look now but it was on this date in 1964 that Chico Ruiz stole home and started the Phils on that epic collapse. Thankfully, Phils have already clinched everything they need, even if they have lost 4 in a row.



I Don’t Get It: Does anyone really believe Michael Vick is not going to play on Sunday. Put the house on it.


Today’s Upper: Good call – finally – to pull the plug on that epic fail by the LCB, those bizarre wine kiosks in stores.


Quote Box: “We need this. Bring them on.”

- Tinicum resident Paul Cebek on jobs and tax revenue that would come from new Fed Ex facility proposed for township.


So much for those wine kiosks

Here’s a stunner. The state is pulling the plug on those silly wine kiosk vending outlets.

You can read all the details on the latest failing of the Liquor Control Board here.

Now it’s time to blow up the rest of the system.

The state has no business being in the business of selling alcohol. They should blow up the LCB, privatize the whole operation, and while they’re at it revamp the way the state sells beer as well.

All in a day’s work.

Cucina Chatter comes to 'Live From the Newsroom'


Make sure you tune in for our weekly live-stream Internet broadcast, “Live From the Newsroom,” tonight.

We have a very special show on tap featuring Lorraine Ranalli and her Cucina Chatter gang.

Cucina Chatter is a blog. And a radio show. And a state of mind. Basically it’s a lot of food and fun. And we’re bringing it to Primos tonight.

Lorraine will be here with her normal cast of characters, including two local chefs whose blogs are featured on

Chef Jacquie, otherwise known as Chef Jacqueline Peccina-Kelly writes the Chef Jacquie’s Taste4Travel blog. You can check it out here.

Chef Dom, sometimes known as Chef Dominic Condo, runs the Cucina Domenico blog. You’ll find it here.

They are planning to bring some of the favorite specialties. They’ll find lots of friends here in the newsroom.

We’ll also be joined by actress Natalie Stone, and local writer/blogger Jim Vanore, who are also part of Lorraine’s gang.

Lorrainie has been boasting that she can bring 500 viewers to our ‘Live From the Newsroom’ show.

I sure hope so. Tune in tonight at 7 at for our live show, and please take part in our online chat.

See you at 7.

Red October? How about red-faced mid-September

How’s this for bad karma, Phils’ fans?

Not only did your Fightin's flop yesterday, losing both ends of a day-night doubleheader, they also had a injury added to insult. Hunter Pence now has a balky knee as he battles some patellar tendinitis. He’s due for an MRI today.

And there is this unsettling bit of history. It was on this date (Sept. 21) in 1964 that Chico Ruiz stole home, giving the Reds a 1-0 win over the Phils, who went into a tailspin, losing 10 straight, coughing up the National League pennant, and leaving an imprint on Philly sports fans that many have never recovered from.

We don’t have to worry about that. The Phillies have clinched the NL East crown and home-field advantage through the playoffs.

But you have to be a bit concerned about the way they are playing, especially their slumbering bats. They even threw in three errors in an uncharacteristic sloppy day at Citizens Bank Park.

They got solid outings yesterday from Kyle Kendrick (who is quietly putting together a solid season) and Cliff Lee, and only have two losses to show for it.

Red October is still coming. But right now the Phils are giving us a red-faced mid-September.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

The Daily Numbers - Sept. 20

The Daily Numbers: 325 students in the Upper Darby School District who face hearings to determine if they are legal residents.

7 students who have already been booted by the district.

$8,000 to $9,000 per student, how much it costs Upper Darby to educate each student.

589-41 vote by which archdiocesan high school teachers accepted new contract and will head back to the school.

$1,300, $1,400 and $1,600 pay raises in each of the three years of the new contract.

212,000 square foot Fed Ex warehouse being proposed for Lester section of Tinicum Township.

2 more women in Upper Darby facing charges or burglary and theft. That comes after the so-called ‘Thelma & Louise’ duo were charged in a string of home beak-ins.

$1,000 reward posted for info on sexual offender Roy Duncan, whose last known address was in Chester.

3 teen girls robbed at gunpoint at a Claymont car wash.

3.4 acre tract in Chester Heights being purchased by the borough.

5 foot tall letters that spell out Haven in new statue outside the school that greeted students.

61, age of convicted killer Tom Capano. The former Delaware power lawyer was found dead in the prison cell where he was serving a life sentence for the murder of Anne Marie Fahey.

1996, when Fahey went missing after last being seen at dinner with Capano.

17 months, how long it took investigators to build their case against him and finally arrest Capano for murder.

2 fatal carjackings in parking lot of Taj Mahal Casino in Atlantic City in less than a year.

62, age of pastor in South Jersey who is facing charges of sexual abuse of a teen girl.

2 parents who have been charged in Philly with leaving their children in a car while they gambled in Sugar House Casino.

2 American hikers whose release after being held for 2 years in Iran on spying charges is now said to be ‘imminent.’

3 of 4 taken by Cardinals over the Phils as they continue to see a Wild Card playoff spot.

7 strong innings from former Phil Kyle Lohse, who gave up just 1 run and 7 hits while striking out 5.

4 runs over 8 innings surrendered by Phils ace Roy Halladay.

242 yards, 2 TDs and 1 concussion for Mike Vick from Sunday night game vs. the Falcons.

200 consecutive regular season sellouts for the Eagles.


Call me a Phanatic: A look at the ups and downs of being a Philadelphia sports fan.Andy Reid is now saying NBC offered an apology for not having a quick replay on a crucial interception that led to a Falcons’ TD Sunday night. Sure makes me feel better. Isn’t that supposed to be the responsibility of the coaching staff?



I Don’t Get It: What is it all of a sudden with girls gone wild in Upper Darby. Police have now charged two sets of two young women with home break-ins.


Today’s Upper: Kudos to teachers for accepting proposed contract offer and heading back to class in the archdiocesan high schools today.


Quote Box: “Everybody wants to know whether Mike’s going to play, everybody wants to know whether Mike’s going to practice. We’re going to go through our protocol.”

- Eagles trainer Rick Burkholder talking about Michael Vick.

Remembering the Capano case

Some names you don’t forget so easily.

Today we are reminded of two of them.

Tom Capano.
Anne Marie Fahey.

It was another time, another era, especially when you do what I do for a living.

This was before Twitter. Before Facebook. Hell, even before Nancy Grace.

Still, it’s hard to describe the day-to-day mystery that swirled around the connected lawyer from a pre-eminent Delaware family, and the young woman connected to him who had gone missing.

I’ll always remember Anne Marie Fahey for her smile. And I’ll never forget Tom Capano for the feeling that this was a guy who likely had very rarely in his privileged life ever heard the word “no.”

Fahey was the secretary to Delaware Gov. (now U.S. senator) Tom Carper. Capano was a high-profile Delaware lawyer who moved in the highest echelon of the power elite in the tiny state. He had worked in the state attorney general’s office as a prosecutor, was legal counsel to Gov. Mike Castle and also an aide to Wilmington Mayor Daniel Frawley.

Fahey went missing in 1996. Turns out just after she had dinner with Capano. Investigators immediately turned their sights on the lawyer. It was revealed Capano and Fahey had been intimately involved. She was ready to move on. He was not.

It took 17 months as prosecutors slowly built their case, but eventually they squeezed Capano’s brother and got him to turn on his sibling. Tom Capano was arrested as he was driving to the airport.

The region devoured every detail of the sensational case. It turns out Capano shot Fahey to death, stuck her body in a huge cooler, and dumped it in the ocean off the Jersey shore.

There is still not one day that I visit the beach, sit there and look at the water, that I don’t think of Anne Marie Fahey.

And how Tom Capano could possibly have done what he did.

Tom Capano was found dead yesterday in his prison cell where he was serving a life sentence for the murder of Anne Marie Fahey.

They should dump his body in the ocean.

Putting a hurtin' on the Michael Vick Experience

Fans who have fallen in love with the Michael Vick Experience (including this one) forget that this is a big part of the deal.

Vick gets hurt. A lot. He misses games.

The Eagles QB with that new $100 million contract in his pocket got his brains scrambled when his noggin smacked off his own offensive lineman Todd Herremans at an odd angle against the Falcons Sunday night. Vick left the game (but not before pointing to the scoreboard as he was mocked by some Atlanta fans). At the time the Birds were up by 10.He did not return. Of course, we all know they lost. That was not necessarily the fault of backup Mike Kafka, who played well when inserted into the game and was driving the Eagles toward the winning score when Jeremy Maclin dropped a fourth down pass that hit him right between the numbers.

Now everyone is wondering if Vick will be able to play on Sunday. I don't think he should. That does not necessarily mean he won't.

Eagles trainer Rick Burkholder yesterday was glowing in talking about how well Vick was doing. That’s good to hear.

But it doesn’t change the fact that the team already made it clear that Vick suffered a concussion. The league is looking much closer at these situations these days. Unless the Eagles want to use some kind of semantic twists to wriggle out of Vick’s diagnosis, he likely is not going to play on Sunday against the Giants.

This will be a fascinating week to watch all the machinations surrounding Vick’s condition, on the part of the player, the team, and the league.

Just remember this. Even if Vick plays (and I don’t think he should), don’t be surprised if we see him shuffling toward the sidelines again at some point this year.

Even if it’s not a recurrence of concussion symptoms.

Vick now has a pretty clear track record. He gets hurt. He can’t help it. It’s how he plays the game. No one is going to be able to convince the somewhat diminutive QB he’s not a bruising fullback.

If Vick in fact does not play on Sunday, remember where you heard this. It won’t be the last time this year.

Monday, September 19, 2011

The Daily Numbers - Sept. 19

The Daily Numbers: 16,500 students at archdiocese high schools who could be back in class as early as tomorrow with tentative deal between teachers and archdiocese.

4 archdiocesan high schools in Delco.

10 a.m., when 700 teachers will convene to vote on the deal 20 operation errors reported by air traffic controllers at Philadelphia International Airport.

9, death toll from air show in Nevada when a vintage plane crashed into grandstands.

23 million dollar awarded to amputee who lost portions of both legs to infection in an Allentown nursing home.

1 killed, 1 injured in fire in home in South Philly on Sunday.

3.66 a gallon, average price of gas in the Philly region. That’s down from $3.69 the week before.

2.66, what we were paying a year ago.

3.60 a gallon, the national average.

1 person killed and 1 injured in carjacking inside parking garage at Trump Taj Mahal in Atlantic City.

32, age of Wilmington man charged in fatal stabbing of New Castle County police officer.

2 pit bulls found malnourished and buried in trash in back yard of Philly home.

2 hikers who remain in jail in Iran as negotiations continue to free them.

4 TD passes for Falcons QB Matt Ryan against the vaunted Eagles defensive secondary to rally Atlanta over the Birds.

2 TD catches for Falcons tight end Tony Gonzalez.

13 catches for 171 yards for Eagles wide receiver Jeremy Maclin.

1 crucial drop for Maclin that would have given the Eagles a first down at the Falcons 15 with just more than a minute left. It hit him right in the chest.

19 of 28 with 1 pick for Michael Vick before leaving with a concussion. He also rushed for 25 yards.

7 ot 9 for 72 yards for Mike Kafka in relief of Vick.

16, age of Lexi Thompson, who won LPGA tournament event over weekend.

5 straight NL East titles for the Phils.

5-0 loss for the Phils to the Cards last night.

199 consecutive regular season sellouts for the Eagles.


Call me a Phanatic: A look at the ups and downs of being a Philadelphia sports fan.You knew it was going to happen. Yes, Michael Vick has already missed time to injury. With a concussion, he might not be cleared to play next Sunday.



I Don’t Get It: Falcons’ corner Dunta Robinson is a headhunter who needs to be dealt with severely by the league.


Today’s Upper: Both Phils and Eagles lost, but 5 straight NL crowns.


Quote Box: “It was a wild one, for sure, but we hung in there.”

- Falcons QB and Exton native Matt Ryan on the win.


A salute to the Phils

While we are licking our wounds over the Eagles come-from-ahead loss and waiting for some more words of wisdom from Andy Reid, a salute to the Phillies.

Yes, even after they took last night off, losing 5-0 to the Cardinals.

That’s because 24 hours before, they beat the Cards to wrap up their 5th straight National League East title.

An interesting aside from last night. The Phillies enjoyed their 199th straight regular season sellout and 212th overall, including the postseason.

Which is exactly where this Phillies team is headed again. This team is not about clinching a playoff spot. Or ever an NL crown.

Instead this team was built to go deep into the playoffs, to the World Series, and hopefully win it.

That’s why they enjoyed another home sellout at the same time the Eagles were on national TV. There was a time when that would have been unthinkable.

Not anymore.

Red October, here we come.

Back to school for Catholic high schoolers

Looks like that extended vacation for archdiocesan high school students is just about over.

The archdiocese and lay teachers at their high schools announced a tentative deal to end the two-week-long strike late yesterday afternoon.

A vote is scheduled by the teachers this morning.

You can bank on them accepting the deal. This dispute wasn’t about the usual sticking points, salary or health benefits. Instead the union was balking at new education initiatives the archdiocese was looking to implement that they believed would undermine seniority and lead to an influx of part-time teachers.

No details of the deal have been released.

It looks like classes for the 16,500 students at 17 high schools – including four in Delaware County – could start as early as Tuesday.

Come-from-ahead loss for Eagles

Well, that didn’t take long.

Even before watching Michael Vick run for his life – and for the most part escape – during a Week 1 win over the Rams, I was convinced that he would wind up missing some time because of the way he plays the game.

The Eagles quarterback was forced to the sidelines in the third quarter of last night’s come-from-behind, then come-from-ahead loss to the Falcons. Vick was getting banged around as usual, but it was a collision with one of his own offensive linemen that left him on the sidelines, nursing a sore neck and concussion.

Vick’s absence didn’t offer any excuses for the Eagles’ defense, which allowed Exton native Matt Ryan to rally the Falcons to the win.

It also didn’t stop a lot of the same nagging questions about this Eagles team.

Such as:

* Why is it exactly Andy Reid feels compelled to always resort to some sort of gadget play instead of just lining up and beating a team at the line of scrimmage. It was just such a play that led to a huge Vick fumble as the Birds looked ready to cash in a big 2nd quarter score and instead set up the Falcons.

* The Eagles simply will not – or maybe can’t – line up and play smash-mouth football every time they’re faced with a key third and short situation. It’s either gadgetry, trickery or another Andy Reid pass call. Too often it blows up in the Birds’ faces. Hey, Andy, that flanker reverse is getting old. It hasn’t worked in awhile.

* Why is it that the Eagles simply cannot defend the tight end. Did it come as a surprise to this team that Atlanta would bank on guaranteed Hall of Famer Tony Gonzalez. He tortured the Eagles all night. Anyone think it might be a good idea to bump him off the line of scrimmage?

* Is Casey Matthews on this team. I wouldn’t be surprised to see his picture on a milk carton this morning. The rookie middle linebacker is a non-factor, something the Eagles “9-wide” defense with those yawning gaps can’t afford. Juan Castillo needs to rethink his linebackers. Oh, that’s right, the Eagles never think about linebackers.

* Even before he was injured, Vick was a little bit like what we saw in Week 1, flashes of brilliance marred by turnovers. Vick needs to protect the ball better. His turnovers are the unfortunate downside of his electric play-making abilities.

* Will Andy Reid ever master the challenge? Replays showed that an interception by the Falcons that led to a score likely would have been overturned because the ball clearly hit the turf. Reid never reached for his hankie.

The Eagles are now 1-1. Andy Reid will tell us that he needs to do a better job of putting players in position to make plays. If he can figure out how to do that with Casey Matthews, he should be coach of the year.

We’ve all watched this game a million times. Things don’t change.

Time’s yours, Andy.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

The dreaded Saturday Eagles pick

For the first five minutes of yesterday's game, everything that concerned me about this Eagles team was coming to fruition.

Special teams checked in with an early mistake, with Dion Lewis returning the opening kick from eight yards deep in the end zone. Anybody can return kicks, right Andy?

The Eagles offensive line looked like a group that had not played together at all on the Birds' first series. Oh, they hadn't? Nice call, Andy. Michael Vick was running for his life.

A rookie punter uncorks a line drive punt that fails to push the Rams on their own side of the 50-yard line.

Make your offensive line coach your new defensive coordinator? No need to get talented linebackers? How did those decisions look after Steven Jackson waltzed untouched 48 yards into the end zone on the Rams' first play?

And yet, the Eagles simply shrugged, looked toward Michael Vick, and shouldered on. Vick promptly put the team on his shoulders and willed the Eagles to a surprisingly easy win.

This week, Vick heads back to Atlanta - where he first became the face of an NFL franchise - as the clear face of the Eagles. He's a starter again, and has the $100 million contract to prove it.

The Falcons aren't likely to let Vick beat them with his legs. Instead I see them adopting the plan  teams used toward the end of last season. Put early pressure on Vick, make him read blitzes and get rid of the ball early. The longer plays go on, the more dangerous Vick becomes.

On defense, the Eagles must again stop a premier runner in the Falcons' Michael Turner. Then they can focus on turning their fearsome pass rush loose on Exton native Matt Ryan.

For some reason, I see Vick as entirely ready for prime time. He's been waiting for this moment for a long time. He again will push the Birds over the Falcons as a national TV audience takes in every moment.

Make it Eagles 26, Falcons 23.

Last Week: My pick of the Rams was looking good - for the first five minutes of the game. Not so hot afterward as the Birds steadied themselves and routed the Rams. Anyone else wonder what would have happened if Steven Jackson had not exited the game after scorcing the Eagles for a 48-yard TD on the Rams' first offensive play? He wasn't touched, but still blew out a quad muscle.

Season Record: I'm in the hole at 0-1, while the Eagles are 1-0 and looking to go 2-0 with two straight wins on the road. Not an easy feat.

Friday, September 16, 2011

The Daily Numbers - Sept. 16

The Daily Numbers: 2 women dubbed ‘Thelma & Louise’ busted in string of home break-ins in Upper Darby.

1 person who could face death penalty in brutal murder of Aston landscaper.

0 archdiocesan high schools open as teachers strike drags on, affecting 4 schools here in Delco.

6, age of child toted along by woman and her boyfriend as they sought to buy drugs in Lansdowne, police say.

41, age of man who died during a police stop in Chester after he ingested what is believed to be cocaine.

1 of 2 women struck by a car in the driveway of their Haverford home who has now died.

5 years in jail for 2 men convicted of attempted murder in a robbery and shooting that left a Darby man hospitalized.

100 years of service marked by Delco SPCA at a gala last night.

1 worker killed in Atlantic City yesterday when the Revel casino construction site was struck by lightning.

8.2 percent jobless rate in Pa in August. That’s the biggest jump in more than 2 years.

17 members of Philly city council who voted to override Philly Mayor Michael Nutter move to kill the controversial DROP program.

12 strikeouts for Cliff Lee against Marlins last night. But he did not get the win after giving up a homer in the 9th.

2 outs and 2 strikes on batter when he gave up dinger to tie the game and send it to extra innings.

2, Phils Magic Number to win the NL East.

8-6 record for Kyle Kendrick, who won the afternoon game for Phils.

2 more sellouts for Phils, bringing streak to 209.


Call me a Phanatic: A look at the ups and downs of being a Philadelphia sports fan.Two out, 0-2 count on batter in the 9th. That’s how close Cliff Lee came to another shutout. Instead he did not even get the win. But the Phils did, and the Magic Number is now down to 2.



I Don’t Get It: There’s another story, this one from the Main Line, of a person stealing a candy jar with money donated for charity from a store. I don’t get it.


Today’s Upper: A Phils win and Braves loss tonight clinches 5th straight NL East crown.


Quote Box: “It’s very difficult to believe anyone would want to run against him.”

- Political pundit Terry Madonna, on GOP moves to recruit candidates to go against U.S. Sen. Bob Casey Jr.


Will Meehan run?

We’ve been hearing whispers about it for weeks.

Now it’s out in the open, thanks in no small part to our lead story today.

Republican who are seeking a candidate to oppose U.S. Sen. Bob Casey Jr. are wooing our own newly minted 7th District Congressman Pat Meehan.

Delco GOP boss Andy Reilly confirmed the interest to our Danielle Lynch this morning.

Of course, Meehan is not talking about it. Right now he’s busy being a congressman. But he’s not ruling it out either.

He would have several other GOPers to leap over who have already indicated they’re getting in, including veteran David Christian, northern Pa. businessman John Vernon and Steven Welch. You might remember Welch as the guy who toyed with running in the 7th District race before discovering he actually lived in the 6th. He ran there unsuccessfully.

Meehan has a higher profile than any of these guys and would no doubt give Casey a stern test.

It also would set off another battle royal for always prized 7th District seat. Which brings to mind this question: What is Joe Sestak doing these days, other than fending off calls from our own Gil Spencer to run against President Barack Obama.

One statewide political website is envisioning a battle between Sestak and GOP Sen. Dominic Pileggi. Now that would be a great race.

Yep, Labor Day is behind us. It’s election season.

'Thelma & Louise' in Upper Darby?

Remember that girl duo that is believed to be hitting houses in the Cardington section of Upper Darby?

Upper Darby police continue to look for them after investigating five break-ins in which a lot of valuable stuff was not only ripped off, but the places were trashed as well. Read the story here.

Now it turns out that “Thelma & Louise” may not have limited their work to Upper Darby. I got a call yesterday from a man in Prospect Park who believes they may be the women who hit his home. He believes they may have been doing their handiwork all up and down Chester Pike. We’re going to check it out today.

In the meantime the two burglars are described as women, about 18 or 19 years old. One is white, the other black. The white woman is described as having red hair and tattoos. Top Cop Mike Chitwood believes they are looking for cash and jewelry to feed a drug habit.

Winning effort from Lee, but no 'W'

Cliff Lee was one strike away from recording another shutout and his 17th win of the season.

Didn’t happen.

But that didn’t stop the Phils from sweeping the Marlins in a day-night doubleheader, in the process slicing their “Magic Number” to clinch the NL East crown to two.

Lee had cruised into the ninth, striking out 12 and allowing just five hits. He recorded two easy outs and had two strikes on Jose Lopez. Lee admits he made a mistake with the next pitch. Lopez did not, lining it into the seats.

Tie game.

Lee exited, but the Phils rallied for run in the bottom of the 10th when Michael Martinez walked and scored when Ryan Howard lined a ball into the gap in left.

It was Howard’s league-leading 113th RBI.

A win tonight, coupled with a loss by the Braves, would give the Phils their 5th straight NL East crown.

You can read Rob Parent’s coverage of the game here.


Thursday, September 15, 2011

A reader respons on Vick

Reader David McGee offers a great response on the Micahel Vick issue. This is the whole idea people. Don't be shy, join the conversation.

Here's his reply:

I do not condone what Michael Vick did. I do not condone the culture that promotes abuse to animals. Morally, what he did was reprehensible, and many would characterize it is as unconscionable, cruel and disturbing. I am glad that the man had to accept the consequences of his actions, and pay a hefty price for his involvement in the crimes for which he was convicted, sentenced and served.

Our judicial system is setup in such a way as to attempt to rehabilitate offenders, steering them back to the accepted behaviors of society; the norm. It is our fervent hope that when we punish someone for their crimes, it drives home the point that if the criminal continues their behavior, they should expect even more of a punishment when caught next. It is also our hope that the punishment dissuades others from committing similar acts, thereby acting as both prevention and deterrent of and to those who would consider breaking the law.

Michael Vick served his time, paid his debts and continues to show regret, sorrow and acceptance that what he did was wrong. He devotes himself, his time and his money to keeping others from the same path, to rescuing animals from fates in which others place them and to the SPCA (who have, by the way, publicly forgiven him). He shows no sign of recidivism. There is no more the man can do to show anyone that he has turned the page and learned from his lesson.

What is happening now is that people are targeting Michael Vick as a way of gaining exposure for themselves. They are not chastising Michael Vick. They are not protesting Michael Vick. They are not rallying to punish the man further. They are using his prior actions and his past reputation and his current celebrity for the promotion of their agenda. How moral, conscionable or right is that? After all, would it not be wrong to use someone's likeness without their permission in a positive campaign? Why then is it okay to use it in a negative campaign?

The news media participate. If they didn't, the protests would, indeed, go away. Free exposure through the news outlets is the goal of the protesters, and the media opens the gap for them to run with it. I don't see reports of people picketing other convicted felons at their places of employment. Heck, I don't see people, in general, getting this upset when a murderer of humans is set free after serving their time, paying their debt. It seems as if many of these groups hold in higher regard the life of an animal over that of a child, husband, mother or other human being.

And, maybe that's the problem. All too often, we allow our emotions to override our rationality. We hold onto the perceived slight, wanting to hang onto that which we can focus our anger and use it as a way to speak to other perceived slights, unleashing all of our venom on someone who has done something worthy of it. We feel justified in our actions because of their actions. Unfortunately, this is what's known, in psychological circles, as displacement; taking one's anger out on someone who does not, truly, deserve it.

Individuals and groups that refuse to forgive Vick for his past transgressions will not go away. They'll still troll message boards, they'll still crow their self-righteous, hypocritical, close-minded voices, and they'll still hate. We can't help them. We can help ourselves. We can decide whether we will respect the man for using his crime as an opportunity to raise awareness. We can decide that he has paid his debt, in full.

We Americans have the right to protest. When something is wrong, we should protest it. Unfortunately, all too often, that is where it stops. Too few follow through. Therefore, we now have a culture who are all too ready to judge and condemn based upon perception and opinion, rather than evidence and a good sense of right and wrong. According to the news outlet, many Americans are spiritual and/or religious. Is not one of the highest tenets of many religions "Do unto to others as you would have done to you?" Here's another: "Judge not lest you be judged." How about, "Turn the other cheek," "Love thy neighbor" and all others which promote kindness, forgiveness and mutual respect for one another? I have a spare mirror for anyone who would like to reassess their position on where they stand.

The Daily Numbers - Sept. 15

The Daily Numbers: 7,500 dollar reward for information on the slaying of popular Collingdale store owner Yogesh Bhavsar.

2 persons of interest police are still seeking to interview in connection with the case.

0 archdiocesan high schools open as teachers strike drags on, affecting 4 schools here in Delco.

2 parents of students at Lansdale Catholic who have started a Facebook page urging parents to withhold their tuition payments.

1 Chester police officer injured in car crash.

2 females being sought by police in Upper Darby in connection with a rash of burglaries in the Cardington section.

723 job seekers who came to Chester City Hall for a job fair yesterday.

775,000 dollars ripped off by the former finance boss of the Valley Forge Convention & Visitors Bureau. He got 15 to 30 months in jail.

5.2 million in state welfare payments now being scrutinized by the state auditor general.

2 teens being sought by police in southwest Philly in connection with a robbery and rape of a couple accosted as they walked on the street.

7 disaster recovery centers now open across Pa. in the wake of flooding from Irene.

254 dollars worth of Polo underwear stolen from the Boscov’s store in Exton Square Mall. 2 male employees have been charged.

3 men now on trial in Philly in connection with an alcohol-fueled brawl in which a man was killed outside Citizens Bank Park.

5 straight years the Phillies have made the playoffs. They clinched yesterday with a win over the Astros.

1 run scored by the Phils yesterday; 0 scored by the Astros.

4 runs scored in the 3-game series by the Phlailin’ Phils.

4, Phils Magic Number to win the NL East.

6 hits and 7 strikeouts for Roy Halladay, who upped his record to 18-5.

32-21 record for the Astros against the Phils since 2004. That’s the best of any team in the NL.


Call me a Phanatic: A look at the ups and downs of being a Philadelphia sports fan.Yes, the Phils clinched. Yes, it was nice to see they did not celebrate. This team isn’t about the playoffs. It’s about winning another World Series.



I Don’t Get It: You’re going to be hearing a lot about Sarah Palin today. A new unauthorized bio on her is coming out – and it’s full of tawdry details. I don’t get it.


Today’s Upper: Good news today for Riddle Hospital. They’ve been named one of nation’s top performers by a key panel that follows health care orgs.


Quote Box: “This is the first thing I think of every morning.”

- Collingdale Police Chief Bob Adams, on the unsolved murder of shop owner Yogesh Bhavsar.