Thursday, March 31, 2011

The Daily Numbers - March 31

The Daily Numbers: 7 foot bronze replica of beloved Phils broadcaster Harry Kalas that its backers hope to have placed at Citizens Bank Park as early as today.


36, where Delco ranks among Pa. counties in terms of health care.


Chester County comes in at No. 3, Bucks 5 and Montco 6. Philadelphia comes in dead last at 67.


4 DUIs racked up by Philly man who was arrested recently in Upper Darby.


44 degrees today, 49 tomorrow for Opening Day at Citizens Bank Park.


33, age of tow truck driver shot during an incident in Chester yesterday.


7 fishermen, 5 from Delco, cited for violations of fishing and boating law during a recent tournament on Delaware River.


7 lawn fires that are under investigation in Folcroft.


2 more retired priests placed on leave by the Archdiocese of Philadelphia as allegations of sex abuse against them are reviewed.


41 foot motor coach, a holdover from Rendell Administration, being sold off by Gov. Tom Corbett.


6,000 dollars fleeced from an older in Torresdale by a phone scammer posing as a jailed grandson.


20,000 dollar reward posted for information in case of kidnapped Atlantic City mother.


629 million dollar shortfall now facing the Philadelphia School District. Among the items being considered for cuts are music and athletic programs.


1 more win needed for the Sixers to make the NBA playoffs.


7 games played for Luis Castillo. The Phils cut the former All-Star second baseman yesterday.


1 more day until opening day at Citizens Bank Park.


*


Call me a Phanatic: A look at the ups and downs of being a Philadelphia sports fan.The Phils will kick off the season Friday at Citizens Bank Park with some World Series-style weather. High will be in the 40s. Boys of Summer? Not for a couple of months.


 


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I Don’t Get It: The cuts now being proposed by the school district in Philadelphia – including music and athletic programs – prove just how dire things are going to get in Gov. Tom Corbett’s budget is approved.


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Today’s Upper: Word from Chester is that the Kimberly-Clark plant, where union workers wondered if their jobs were on the chopping block, is not going to be closed. That protects 650 Delco jobs.


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Quote Box: “That this project is fan-drive is something my father wold be really excited and happy about because he was so receptive to the fans and enjoyed their company. He would also be very humbled by it.”


- Brad Kalas, talking about push to erect statue of his famous father Harry outside Citizens Bank Park.


 

Justice & Judge Liberace

Maybe it’s just me. Maybe I’m getting soft. Or maybe I'm just getting older and can sympathize with the man.

But for the life of me, I don’t see what the point is of putting a 69-year-old former magisterial district judge behind bars.

That’s what happened this week when former longtime Haverford D.J. Gerald Liberace was whisked out of a Media Courthouse courtroom in handcuffs. Today the judge is getting a view from the other side of the bars, as a “guest” of the Delaware County Prison.

I don’t for a minute challenge that what Liberace did was wrong. He was convicted of endangering the welfare of a child and corruption of a minor for fondling a 12-year-old girl. He was acquitted of the more serious charge of indecent assault.

I don’t mean to diminish what happened to that young girl, or the anguish she has gone through since. I certainly don’t condone what Liberace did.

But what exactly is the purpose of putting him in jail? Is he a danger to the public? I don’t think so.

Instead, what I think Liberace is, is a symbol.

In fact, visiting Judge John L. Braxton of Philadelphia, who was brought in to hear the case because of Liberace’s long ties to the Delco bench, pretty much said the same thing.

“I don’t take lightly sending judges or former judges to jail,” Braxton said as he sentenced Liberace to six to 12 months in prison. The former judge had been free on bail. “A slap on the wrist would send the wrong message.”

I guess so. But I’m not sure putting Liberace in jail sends the right one, either.

Mr. Smith goes to Harrisburg

I have a new hero. His name is Sam Smith. He’s the Republican Speaker of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives.

What makes him so special. No, he’s not throwing his weight behind the move to blow up the LCB and get the state out of the booze business.

But he is advancing something that is almost as appealing.

The Speaker believes there are too many representatives in Harrisburg.
This week he introduced legislation to reduce the 203-member House by 50 members.

At a time when the state is peering into the abyss of a $4 billion deficit, and Gov. Tom Corbett is proposing draconian cuts in education funding, it’s nice to see at least one person proposing that Harrisburg share in the belt-tightening.

No doubt Smith didn’t exactly make himself Mr. Popularity in the halls of the state Capitol.

But he gets a big thumb’s up from us. Bravo, Mr. Speaker.

The stuff hits the fans, again

Here’s a question for the poobahs the run Major League Baseball.

The Phillies are kicking off the regular season Friday against the Houston Astros. You know, as in Houston, Texas.

The temperature today in Houston is expected to be 76. Tomorrow it will climb into the mid-80s.

Today in Philadelphia the high will be 44 degrees with a cold rain.
Tomorrow, Opening Day, will feature much the same only with a chance of wet snow as well.

So where are the two teams playing? Why, Citizens Bank Park of course.

I don’t get it. Why is this series not being played in Houston? In fact, why does baseball not schedule at least the first week of games in warm-weather cities.

Instead, there will be 44,000 diehard Phillies fans freezing their fannies off in brutal conditions. That’s if they get the game in at all.

If Major League Baseball gave a damn about its fans, they wouldn’t subject them to these kinds of conditions.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Morning shout-out to kids at Glenolden School

This morning I will be taking part in a career day program at Glenolden School.

I’ll be talking to middle school students about what I do for an inordinate amount of time every day.

Actually, they don’t know it, but I’m planning to give them a quiz on current events.

That should make me real popular. Nothing new about that.

Here’s a big shout-out to the kids at Glenolden School. And thanks to Peggy Cellucci for inviting me back. Guess I didn’t wear out my welcome the last time I was there.

Brace yourself, kids, I’m about to give you a crash course in today’s journalism.

Sip, sip hooray! More on the state store battle

The LCB is apparently feeling the heat.

Good.

A lot of people, including several state reps as well as new Gov. Tom Corbett, are at least considering the idea of selling off the state stores to private entities and getting Pennsylvania out of the booze business.

It’s my own personal mission. As I’ve said many times, I want beer, wine and liquor available in my supermarket so I can pick them up at the same time I’m getting groceries.

I don’t want to have to go one place for beer, another if I only want a six-pack, and somewhere else if I want a bottle of wine or booze.

The head of the state Liquor Control Board apparently has heard our pleas.

The LCB brass want to change the rules to give them more flexibility to meet consumer needs.

They want additional Sunday hours and let Pennsylvanians have wine shipped directly to their homes.

The head of the union representing state store workers also is on the defensive. Wendell Young IV spoke to the Pennsylvania Press Club. He trotted out the old arguments of how state-owned wine stores do a better job collecting taxes, enforcing the drinking age and offering a broad selection of products at competitive prices. I am assuming he said that with a straight face.

I’m not buying.

I am willing to concede that my beliefs on this issue have nothing to do with the state’s budget crisis and whether or not selling off the state stores could be part of the solution, or just one more factor in the problem.

I just want to be able to do what I did while I lived in Colorado. I could grab a cold six-pack at the checkout line in the 7-Eleven. I could grab a case of beer and put it in my car along with the rest of the groceries in the supermarket. I could peruse full aisles of wine in the same supermarket.

And I did it all in one spot.

I don’t think Pennsylvania should be in the booze business. It’s a dinosaur left over from Prohibition.

It’s time to blow this thing up and start over.

In the meantime the bureaucrats at the LCB are preaching that we should modernize, not privatize.

I’m not going to drink to that.

Woe be Phils

The Phillies have made like the swallows, only instead of heading to Capistrano, they have returned to South Philly.

Unfortunately, they didn’t bring that glorious South Florida weather with them. They did, however, bring their injury woes. And they got worse even before the Phils could take the field at Citizens Bank Park for the first of two “On Deck” games vs. the Pirates.

General Manager Ruben Amaro Jr. informed the media that the “biceps tendinitis” that had been plaguing closer Brad Lidge is actually a rotator cuff problem. He’ll be on the shelf for three to six weeks. And that’s before he even thinks about throwing.

Manager Charlie Manuel indicated yesterday he will give Jose Contreras a shot at the closer role, keeping Ryan Madson in the setup spot.

Here’s today’s Phillies trivia question, while wondering if Friday’s opening day will be snowed out.

Who do you think we see on the field first for the Phils, Lidge or hobbled second baseman Chase Utley? Post a comment on this blog with your answer.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

The Daily Numbers - March 29

The Daily Numbers: 45, age of Rutledge Mayor C. Scott Shields, who died Friday in a skydiving accident.


12, age of girl in Radnor charged with using a tree branch to beat a fellow female student she was fighting.


48, age of Collingdale firefighter charged with a lewd act in the parking lot of a local Walgreen’s drug store.


32 years since we first became intimately familiar with the idea of a nuclear accident, at Three Mile Island outside Harrisburg.


600 deer culled during a recent hunt to thin the herd at Valley Forge National Historical Park.


19, age of woman believed kidnapped at gunpoint in Atlantic City


2 dollar surcharge being slapped on fares on the Cape May-Lewes Ferry.


16 percent decline in shares of Tasty Baking Co. yesterday. The parent company of Tastykakes continues to teeter on the edge of financial ruin.


100 mile relay that ended with hundreds of students protesting yesterday in Harrisburg against proposed education cuts by Gov. Tom Corbett.


21 points for Thaddeus Young as the Sixers upset the Chicago Bulls at home last night, 97-85.


5 home losses for Bulls, including last night’s stunner by the Sixers.


46 degrees tonight when the first pitch is thrown out in the first of two On Deck games for Phils vs. the Pirates.


49 degrees and rain in the forecast for Friday, opening day vs. the Astros.


3 days until opening day at Citizens Bank Park.


*


Call me a Phanatic: A look at the ups and downs of being a Philadelphia sports fan.Does it make sense to anyone that the Phils spend a month playing in gorgeous sunshine and warm temperatures, only to come north and kick off the season in miserable cold, rainy weather? Why doesn’t Major League Baseball schedule at least the opening week in good weather cities?


 


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I Don’t Get It: A pilot discovered a hole in the fuselage of a US Airways flight from Philly to Charlotte. That’s not a good thing.


*


Today’s Upper: Kudos to the Chester Clippers, PIAA AAAA boys hoops champions. For the 7th time!!


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Quote Box: “Scott loved what he was doing. He loved his friends, he loved the law, he especially loved skydiving.”


- Art Shields, father of Mayor C. Scott Shields, at memorial service held in Rutledge last night.

Mayor of Rutledge

Almost every time C. Scott Shields got his name in the paper – which was a lot – it was usually preceded by two words.

Rutledge Mayor.

Not everybody was thrilled with the notoriety that often accompanied the causes Shields championed. They wanted us to differentiate between Shields the controversial lawyer, and Shields the mayor of Rutledge. They seemed to take great umbrage that their little town was being dragged into the limelight, along with hizzoner.

I happened to like Shields, even though I disagreed with him most of the issues.

Shields, an attorney in addition to being the mayor of the tiny borough of less than 1,000 people, was tragically killed on Friday in a skydiving accident.

Those of us in the same “social media” circle as Shields knew of his affinity for living on the edge, and skydiving was his latest passion. He posted about it often on his Facebook page.

You could say C. Scott Shields was a "driven" person. He was always pushing the limits, and that included both his personal and professional lifes.

Every conversation I had with Shields, he could not have been nicer. No, we didn’t usually agree. And yes, he often called to disagree with an editorial stance we had taken or say we were mischaracterizing one of his positions.

I always made him the same offer I make to most people who disagree with
us: Give me your side of the situation and I’ll run it on the op-ed page. Only Shields usually did just that. He would make a forceful, powerful argument for his positions, which almost always fell on basic Constitutional beliefs.

As a lawyer, Shields made a name for himself challenging the status quo, and liberal positions. He was what you could probably define as a “passionate conservative.”

He would routinely represent the National Rifle Association, and hustle into court whenever some local governing body took aim at gun laws. That would include successfully blocking an attempt by the city of Philadelphia to make its own restrictions on firearms. While it was being applauded by many, Shields pointed out one tiny problem, the courts have ruled that role is the sole province of the state Legislature. The law was blocked.

He also would put his name behind people like street evangelist Michael Marcavage of Lansdowne. Marcavage had a habit of making a scene at events promoting things he disagreed with, in particular gay-lesbian affairs. Sometimes he would be cited or arrested for his vigorous opposition. Shields would represent him, and argue that the First Amendment was not restricted to protecting speech we agree with.

Shields died last week at an impossibly young age of 45. There’s nothing fair about it.

But I’m glad I met him. And I’m glad his opinions graced our pages as often as they did.

And for those who tired of seeing “Rutledge Mayor” precede his controversial stands, I make no apology.

Neither would Scott Shields.

A tale of two presidents

As I watched President Obama on national TV last night making his case for taking military action against Libya, I was left with one haunting image.

Substitute George W. Bush for Obama, what do you think the reaction would be?

I thought so.

I think Obama made a passionate case for moving against Moammar Gadhafi before we witnessed scenes of atrocity.

I also think Bush would have been crucified had he tried to make the same case.

We can deny it all we want, but there’s no question that Bush got treated differently at almost every turn.

He was constantly attacked, challenged, and at times even belittled as somehow intellectually unfit for office.

It’s just the way people, and yes, the media, reacted to him. They react to Obama in a much different way.

That does not mean Obama also does not have his knee-jerk reactionaries who will attack everything he does. But they do so for a different reason. It’s more on a policy level.

The attack on Bush was more personal. And I still don’t understand it.

The Boys of Shiver are back

The Boys of Summer are back!


But we might be referring to them as the Boys of Shiver. The Phillies apparently did not bring any of that gorgeous weather north with them from Clearwater. Temperatures in Florida were in the 90s over the weekend.


When the Phils touched down at Philly International last night, temperatures were in the low 40s and dipped below freezing overnight.


The Phillies will play their annual “On Deck” series tonight against the Pirates. Temperatures are not expected to get out of the 40s and could be in the upper 30s by the end of the night. Bundle up, fans.


Tomorrow they are playing an afternoon game, but it won’t be a lot warmer. In addition, there is a chance of rain. In fact, we could see rain Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, opening day. High for the opener against the Astros is expected to be just 49 degrees.


Here’s something to warm the hearts of Phillies fans. At the game tonight, the team will unveil their monstrous new high-def scoreboard, which replaces the former structure in left-field. It’s the biggest scoreboard in baseball. Too bad it doesn’t heat the ballpark as well.


The Phils have planned a full week of events to celebrate Paint the Town Red Week. You can get all those details here.


In the meantime, summer starts tonight, even if the temperatures are more like winter.


Look at it this way. The Phils will start their season in the kind of weather we expect them to end in come November.


Welcome back, guys.

Monday, March 28, 2011

All hail the Chester Clippers

They are known, simply, as “The High.”


And this morning, “The High” is back in their normal perch. Yes, the Chester Clippers are once again kings of Pennsylvania basketball.


The Clippers held off a determined bunch from Mount Lebanon Saturday night at the Bryce Jordan Center in State College. The game went to overtime when Chester stepped on the gas pedal and rolled to a 72-60 win. That final score is deceiving. Mount Lebanon had a chance to win with the final shot in regulation. Didn’t happen. And Chester looked like a team possessed in the overtime.


The Clippers captured their unprecedented seventh state title, and the first for Coach Larry Yarbray, who follows in the footsteps of local legends Fred Pickett and Alonzo Lewis.


It is sometimes said that Mayor Wendell Butler does not have the toughest job in the city. Instead that label goes to the man directing the Chester High boys hoops program. Anything less than a state title is something of a disappointment.


For that reason you have to feel good for Yarbray.


Me? I have my own reasons for loving the Clippers’ story.


They were stated best by two women who posted comments on our Facebook page shortly after news hit that the Clippers had won.


“It’s better to be on the front page all bold just like all the bad news you constantly report on the city of Chester and its residents,” said Crystal Chandler.


She’s right. The city of Chester – and its young people – very often get portrayed in a negative manner in the pages of this newspaper and website. That is one of the reasons we put all those smiling faces on Sunday’s front, right next to that huge No. 1.


Hopefully Ashley Bazemore noticed. She chimed in shortly after Chandler filed her post. “You couldn’t have said it better! Not all bad things come out of Chester. It’s a whole lot of good too,” she said.


I hope she picked up the paper this morning. There she would again find Chester kids doing good splashed all over today’s front page.


That does not mean that Chester will not be back on the front page in a negative light in the future. What it does mean is that there is another side to that coin, and it’s incumbent on us to show those images as well.


All hail the Chester Clippers, kings of Pa. basketball.


You’ve done Delaware County proud.

Friday, March 25, 2011

The Daily Numbers - March 25

The Daily Numbers: 4 suspects from Philadelphia corraled for a series of smash-and-grab burglaries that stretched across 4 counties.


13 area convenience stores that were targeted by the gang.


100,000 dollars in cigarettes, what the gang specialized in ripping off.


They then resold them, according to police.


4-0 vote by the Springfield Zoning Board to reject request for large billboards along Baltimore Pike.


27,000 people without power and 90 homes destroyed after a tornado slammed into a town in western Pa.


312 million dollar Mega Millions lottery jackpot up for grabs tonight.


12, age of girl sexually assaulted in her Delaware townhome community after she came home from school.


2 decades of sponsoring the Philadelphia Flower Show coming to an end as PNC Bank pulls plug on its sponsorship.


84, where Villanova Law School now ranks in the nation, that’s down from


67 after the school admitted it had submitted inaccurate admissions info for years.


24 Wal-Mart stores in Pa. getting those wine kiosks.


15 months of DUI cases in Philly now under review because of problems with the calibration of the breathalyzer machines the city police were using.


2-1 loss for Flyers last night in another shootout.


20 shots on goal, all they could muster against the Penguins.


6 runs – including 2 dingers – surrendered by Phils starter Cole Hamels yesterday.


7 days until opening day at Citizens Bank Park.


*


Call me a Phanatic: A look at the ups and downs of being a Philadelphia sports fan.Add Brad Lidge to the Phillies walking wounded. He now has an ailing shoulder and could be headed for the DL. Swell.


 


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I Don’t Get It: Maybe it’s just me, but are the only people who are going to get rich off these billboard battles here in Delco the lawyers?


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Today’s Upper: Kudos to the Archbishop Carroll girls and Chester boys as they seek PIAA AAAA hoops titles this weekend.


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Quote Box: “I was trying to stop the blood coming out of his neck. No matter how hard I held his neck, the blood was pouring over my fingers.”


- Tearful Sean Burton, on the stand yesterday in his murder trial concerning the wounds of James Stropas.

Billboard wars

 The first real shot has been fired in the great billboard war.


Springfield zoners last night turned thumbs down on a request to erect the monster billboards on several sites along Baltimore Pike.


You can read our full story on the meeting here.


The vote was not unexpected. Neither will be the response by the Bartkowski Investment Group. They likely will take the township to court.


And so the lawyers will continue to feast on this zoning issue. Last Sunday we reported that Delco towns had already spent more than $360,000 to keep the billboards out of their towns.


Expect that figure to go higher.


And expect something else, too, something the townships already know.


They must make some type of accommodation for these billboards somewhere in their towns. The courts have ruled that you can’t just ban them altogether.


See you in court.

Get on with it, Chase

Phillies General Manager Ruben Amaro Jr. yesterday pretty much confirmed what everyone already assumes. Don’t hold your breath looking for Chase Utley on the field at Citizens Bank Park.

The Phils’ starting second baseman, who has yet to take part in a spring training game, is headed for the disabled list to start the season. The only question now is when the Phillies will make the official announcement.

Which makes me wonder what exactly Utley and the Phillies are waiting around for.

Utley has been taking batting practice. And they even went to the absurd end of placing a chair out in the field so Utley could take some ground balls.

But right now he has trouble putting weight on his aching right knee, he can’t run, and he can’t move from side to side. Other than that, he looks great.

Here’s how I see this playing out. It’s not good.

Utley starts the season on the DL. At some point he is activated and he guts it out for a couple of weeks. Hit hits maybe .240 and has no home runs.

Eventually Utley pulls the plug. He is scheduled for surgery and is gone for the year.

What I don’t understand is why they’ve delayed this thing. If Utley waits until some point in the season to have surgery, not only will his season be over, but he also puts the start of next season in jeopardy.

Chase Utley is 32. He may just be the best second baseman in Phillies history.

But right now he is hurting. And without his potent bat in the lineup, so will the Phils.

Consider this. The Phils enter this season without the offense supplied last year by Utley and Jayson Werth.

That’s going to put a huge load on the shoulders of Jimmy Rollins and Ryan Howard.

They will need to have monster years.

Chase Utley’s year is simply going to be monstrous.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

The Daily Numbers - March 24

The Daily Numbers: 2 Delco high schools who will play for state basketball titles this weekend. The Chester High boys and Carrolls girls both will be seeking AAAA crowns.


2 Delco teams who fell in last night’s semifinals. Penn Wood dropped a tough OT decision to Mount Lebanon, and Delco Christian fell, 52-48, to Steelton-Highspire.


50,000 dollar bail for a Megan’s Law offender in Upper Darby where police seized a cache of weapons.


2 U.S. airmen rescued from Libya after they ejected from the fighter jets by crew in a V-22 Osprey.


100,000 dollar lottery jackpot claimed by a woman in Aston.


250,000 winning ticket sold at a store in Essington.


50,000 dollars in lunch money believed stolen by a cafeteria employee in the Garnet Valley School District.


64, age of Darby Township woman killed in a crash on the Route 1 bypass in Upper Providence yesterday morning.


15 sessions held by Springfield zoners in controversial huge billboards being proposed in the township. They will vote on the plan tonight.


79, age of film goddess and Hollywood icon Liz Taylor, who died yesterday.


30 homes damaged by tornado in western Pennsylvania.


60-foot plunge down an embankment for a young driver in Bucks County who lost control of her car on a curve, went through a fence and off the road.


3 council members in Philly who can stay on the ballot, according to a judge’s ruling that rejected an attempt to boot them because they took controversial DROP retirement payouts.


28, age of state trooper from Philly who now faces charges of theft.


Authorities say he was ripping people off during traffic stops.


1 more weird injury for Phils yesterday after starter Roy Oswalt was beaned by a line drive off the bat of Manny Rodriguez. Oswalt seems to be OK.


8 days until opening day at Citizens Bank Park.


*


Call me a Phanatic: A look at the ups and downs of being a Philadelphia sports fan.I said yesterday that I liked Leonard Weaver. I still do, maybe even more so now that the Eagles fullback has apologized for comments equating the NFL labor impasse with slavery.


 


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I Don’t Get It: Maybe the Phils should just pack things up and head north now. They seem to get another key player hurt every day in Florida.


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Today’s Upper: Kudos to the much-maligned V-22 Osprey, which was key in rescuing the crew from a downed fighter jet in Libya.


*


Quote Box: “I loved both men in different ways.”


- Theresa Murphy, on stand at the murder trial of her former husband Sean Burton, who is charged with killing her boyfriend.

The church and abuse

 We had a great discusssion last night concerning the sex abuse scandal dogging the Catholic church on our weekly live Internet show, “Live From the Newsroom.”


Many thanks to our two special guests who joined Gil Spencer and myself for the show.


Frank Finnegan, the Collingdale man who went public with his plight last week when he filed a lawsuit against the archdiocese and several church leaders alleging sexual abuse and a cover-up, again made a passionate call for change in church policies and its hierarchy.


Frank was joined via conference call by his brother Jack, who lives in California. Jack told a similarly harrowing tale of abuse by a now-dead priest, a close friend of the family who came into their home and had dinner with the family every week for 30 years, who is now deceased.


We also were joined by John Salveson, a Radnor resident, former regional director of SNAP (Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests), and now president of the Foundation to Abolish Child Sex Abuse. Salveson, like Finnegan, is himself an abuse victim.


If you missed the show, you can watch the replay here.


There is no easy way to deal with this topic. The Catholic Church is not the only place where this kind of abuse takes place, but it certainly is in the spotlight.


One thing is certain, it is not going to go away, no matter how much the church, some archdiocese leaders, and many parishioners wish it would.

Kudos to Leonard Weaver

Yesterday I admitted that I liked Leonard Weaver, even after his silly comment endorsing comments by Vikings’ superstar Adrian Peterson equating the labor impasse for NFL players to slavery.

It was a dumb thing to say.

Today I like the Eagles fullback even more.

That’s because yesterday he did something not a lot of people do. He admitted he was wrong.

Weaver, who was being harpooned by lots of media outlets, as well as being filleted on social media, admitted it was “a bad choice of words.”

Good for him. The Eagles fullback signed a three-year, $11 million extension, then promptly blew up his knee on his first regular season carry last year. He’s now rehabbing to get back on the field. It’s an uphill struggle. Weaver’s injury was particularly gruesome. The lockout is now helping guys like him.

I hope Weaver makes it back onto the field. And I hope that NFL owners and players can sit down and hammer out an agreement. It would be a shame for Weaver to work this hard to get back on the field only to see his chance stolen by a labor impasse.

Leonard Weaver is a good guy. He was a good guy before his “slavery”
comment.

He’s an even better guy now.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

The Daily Numbers - March 23

The Daily Numbers: 20 Interboro High School students who have formed the group ‘Save Our Swamp’ to fight airport runway expansion plan.


12 to 24 months in jail for former Yeadon finance boss Terri Phifer Vaughn, who was charged with misappropriating borough funds.


67,498, how much money was missing from the borough.


14 concert-goers at a recent Tower Theater show who face charges of disorderly conduct and public drunkenness.


30, age of married veterinarian from Upper Gwynedd who has now been charged in the murder of his pregnant mistress.


5 killed when flames consumed an apartment in Altoona.


3 days, how long a woman must wait before getting an abortion, under new law enacted in South Dakota.


20 percent hike in real estate tax hike in Philly.


3 year deal approved by Radnor teachers and the school board.


1.57 percent pay hike in year one, 3.26 percent in year two and 2.66 in year three for teachers. They also will pay more for their health care.


18 gunshots suffered by man in incident in North Philadelphia last night.


11 inches of snow being forecast for some areas of the Poconos. In Allentown the ground is now covered, but nothing is sticking on the roads.


5-4 loss in shootout for Flyers to the Caps last night.


1 point lead they cling to over the Caps in the Eastern Conference of the NHL.


1 day late for Luis Castillo. He’s expected in the lineup today for the Phillies.


16 pitches yesterday for Phils closer Brad Lidge, 12 of them for strikes, in a minor league outing.


9 days until opening day at Citizens Bank Park.


*


Call me a Phanatic: A look at the ups and downs of being a Philadelphia sports fan.The Eagles Leonard Weaver agrees with the Vikings Adrian Peterson’s comments that the current impasse between NFL owners and players makes these guys something akin to “slavery.” Pretty well-paid slaves.


 


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I Don’t Get It: A married veterinarian in Upper Gwynedd has been charged with murdering his pregnant girlfriend. I don’t get it.


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Today’s Upper: Kudos to the Interboro High kids who are getting involved in the fight against airport runway expansion that will have a deleterious effect on their town.


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Quote Box: “It’s great to hear they are getting involved and it’s great to hear they have the interest.”


- Tinicum Commissioners President Thomas Giancristoforo, on kids banding together to fight airport plan.

Focus on church abuse

It's not exactly a secret that the Archdiocese of Philadelphia has been in the throes of a tumultuous month.

Ever since several priests, a former priest and teacher were criminally charged by Philadelphia D.A. Seth Williams, the church has been under siege. Perhaps most eye-popping were the criminal charges Williams lodged against Monsignor Lynn, for his role as secretary of the clergy under then-Archbishop Anthony Bevilacqua.

Lynn was not charged as an abuser, but rather for knowing about the situation and not doing anything to stop it, in effect taking part in a cover-up. Lynn has denied the charges. In the process he became the highest-ranking church official in the U.S. to face criminal charges in the priest sexual abuse scandal.

Tonight on our 'Live From the Newsroom' live-stream Internet broadcast, we are going to focus on the situation in the archdiocese.

We will be joined by John Salveson, the former regional director of Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests (SNAP), and an advocate for victims of abuse.

Salveson will offer his views on the situation. So far, the archdiocese has not supplied anyone to offer their version.

Do you have a question you'd like to put to Salveson concerning the situation? E-mail them to me at editor@delcotimes.com, or simply post a comment on this story.

Also you can tuned in tonight at delcotimes.com and take part in a live chat.

Join us!

Say it ain't snow

We have this just in from our intrepid TV news organizations.

The roads are wet. I repeat, the roads are wet. Use extreme caution.

Mesmerized as they always are by the sight of flakes, the local TV folks fell all over themselves today as they raced up the Northeast Extension of the Turnpike to get to Allentown, where it was in fact snowing.

Yes, spring officially arrived on Sunday. No, that does not mean we no longer get snow.

None of this sticks to the roads. It’s not really a big deal. Unless, of course, you happen to be watching TV. Then it is Armageddon.

The only thing missing is a reporter sticking a ruler in the snow.

And that’s the latest on the not quite Spring blizzard. Unreal.

NFL players are slaves? Yeah, right

Eagles fullback Leonard Weaver continues to rehab his wrecked knee, despite being locked out by the NFL owners.

He should consider doing the same for his mouth.

I like Weaver. He seems like a nice guy.

But in a recent appearance on Comcast Sports Net, he endorsed comments made by Vikings running back Adrian Peterson, likening NFL players and their plight to “slavery.”

Before he got hurt, Weaver signed a three-year contract extension worth
$11 million, believed to be one of the richest ever paid to an NFL fullback.

Sure sounds like slavery to me.

The fact that these modern-day athletes could so blithely place their current labor impasse alongside one of the darkest moments in American history just shows how out of touch they are.

I’m not for the owners or players in this thing. I just want to see their labor impasse settled and get them back playing football again.

And if someone wants to make me an $11 million slave, then all I have to say is where do I sign up?

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

The Daily Numbers - March 22

The Daily Numbers: 16, age of Clifton Heights teen who had been missing since March 3 who was found safe and sound in Philadelphia.


2,000 dollar reward that had been offered for info on her whereabouts.


42, age of Sean Burton, who is on trial this week in a love-triangle slaying. He’s charged with stabbing his estranged wife’s boyfriend to death in the parking lot of a crowded Springfield shopping center.


850,000 dollars in federal aid that has helped the war on crime in Chester in recent years. That aid is now in jeopardy.


44.83 percent of Chester High students who graduate, second worst in the state, according to new state figures.


99.16 percent of kids in Garnet Valley who graduate, tops in the county.


10 cents more, what it will cost to buy breakfast and lunch in Springfield School District next year.


650,000 dollars, apparent sale price of the former borough hall building in Media.


4 sex abuse suits filed against the Archdiocese of Philadelphia in the past few weeks.


50 bags of heroin, along with 31 empty bags, prescription pills and


$51.22 in cash found after authorities did a body cavity search on a woman in Scranton. Don’t ask where they found the cache.


4 inches of snow possible in some northern portions of Pa. tonight into Wednesday as a new storm blows through. Welcome to spring.


10 million gift to Penn State by a graduate and his wife for 2 endowments for the university’s liberal arts college.


6,000 faculty members and coaches at Pennsylvania’s state-owned universities who are willing to talk about a pay freeze.


2 men who pleaded guilty in Philly yesterday in an armored car heist, chase and shootout that left a city officer wounded.


.290 hitter, that would be Luis Castillo, who the Phils signed yesterday as possible insurance for injured second baseman Chase Utley.


7 plus innings from Phillies ace Roy Halladay yesterday as the Phils beat the Red Sox.


10,000-plus fans who packed into Bright House Field. This team sells out everywhere.


10 days until opening day at Citizens Bank Park.


*


Call me a Phanatic: A look at the ups and downs of being a Philadelphia sports fan.Let’s hear it for March Madness, Delco Style. We have four teams still in contention for state titles. The Archbishop Carroll girls play a AAAA semifinal game tonight.


 


*


I Don’t Get It: An 8-year-old was charged with stabbing his great-grandmother 3 times in the back in Cheltenham.


*


Today’s Upper: We’re glad to hear that missing teen Anna Evans, who had last been seen by her family on March 3, has been found safe and sound.


*


Quote Box: “It’s just a shame that a police officer hurts another officer.”


- Colwyn Borough Council President Tonette Pray, on allegations that one of her officers was injured in a scuffle with Darby police.

A thank-you from a great man

The travails of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia continue.


Yesterday the church was hit with the fourth lawsuit in recent weeks by a man claiming abuse at the hands of a parish priest.


It is not an easy topic to approach, here in overwhelmingly Catholic Delaware County.


That is why I was delighted at a phone call I got yesterday afternoon.


It was from Cardinal John Foley, the Sharon Hill native who rose to the right hand of the pope during his illustrious career, and who is now back in Darby Borough, retired at Villa St. Joseph.


Foley did not call to discuss the troubles of the church. He simply called to offer a thank-you.


We had profiled him a couple of Sundays ago. He wanted to be sure to thank us for our kind words, saying he had been getting calls from around the globe on his return to Delaware County.


You can read staff writer Patti Mengers' story here.


 


In the midst of the storm of controversy swirling around the church, it’s easy to overlook stories like Foley’s. There are lots of them.


When he was a kid, Foley was a paperboy, delivering this newspaper’s predecessor, The Chester Times.


His eminence told me a great story about his days as a paperboy, one that struck a chord with me.


The man who would rise to the highest echelons of the church was dealing with something I have dealt with any number of times. The cost of the newspaper was going up.


From 3 cents to a nickel.


His manager from the newspaper decided to take his delivery kids out for ice cream sodas to break the news of the price hike. He asked the kids if they had any ideas about how to ease the increase for customers.


Foley was not shy about speaking up.


“I told him to go back to three cents, it’s not worth a nickel,” Foley quipped.


Today that same newspaper costs 75 cents. There are very few kids still working delivering newspapers.


And there are very few people quite like Cardinal John Foley.


Welcome home, your eminence.

March Madness? We've got hoops heaven

No, we don’t have Temple or Villanova to kick around anymore.


That does not mean March Madness is over. Not here in Delaware County, home to no less than four teams still in the running for PIAA basketball titles.


Who needs the NCAA when you have the Chester High and Penn Wood boys, as well as the Archbishop Carroll and Delco Christian girls.


This all kicks off tonight when the Carroll women tangle with Boyertown in a PIAA AAAA seminfinal at Spring-Ford High.


You can read Harry Chaykun’s advance and thumbnail glance at the game here.


And if you can’t make the trip out to Spring-Ford High tonight, make sure you come back to Delcotimes.com. We’ll be offering a live blog from the game to keep you up to date.


In fact, we’re planning to do live blogs for all four teams as they look to bring home the crowns.


With both Chester and Penn Wood in action tomorrow night, the there is the distinct possibility of an All-Delco state final. The Delco Christian ladies also take up their hunt for an A girls title Wednesday night.


As if we didn’t already know that Delaware County is home to the best high school basketball in the state!

Monday, March 21, 2011

The Daily Numbers - March 21

162,000 dollars spent in Springfield; 150,000 dollar tab in Haverford; 45,000 in Marple; $40,000 in Concord.


2 males who staged a home invasion in Upper Darby, beating the homeowner and trying to steal his car.


400 people who turned out at a job fair in Eddystone. That’s a sign of the times.


18, age of victim of shooting in Chester early Sunday. Ironically, there will be a meeting in the city this morning with U.S. Sen. Bob Casey on the possible loss of some crime-fighting fed funds.


3 juveniles who confronted a bus driver in Philly Saturday night.


27, age of pregnant woman whose body was found in a nature preserve near Allentown. She had been shot to death.


3.57 a gallon, average price of gasoline in the Philly region. That’s unchanged from last week.


2.83, what we were paying this time last year.


3.55, the national average price of gas.


6.2 percent decline in visitors to Atlantic City casinos last year.


1 run scored by the Phils yesterday in a Grapefruit League loss to the Yankees.


11 days until opening day at Citizens Bank Park.


*


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


The Phillies move to sign Juan Castillo as a backup second baseman tells me not to look for Chase Utley anytime soon.


*


I Don’t Get It: Friday it was 75. Today it’s in the 40s and sleeting.


Welcome to spring.


*


Today’s Upper: Thanks to all who came out for our Community Blogging Expo Saturday at Edgmont Country Club.


*


Quote Box: “I guess that’s the price of freedom. You have to spend money to protect your town.”


- Springfield Commissioner Thomas Mahoney, On the $162,000 bill racked up by Springfield fighting plans for huge billboards in the township.

The new news ecology

I got another big taste of the so-called “new news ecology” on Saturday.

In conjunction with our sister paper, the Daily Local News in West Chester, we held a blogger expo at Edgmont Country Club.

About 60 people turned out to learn about how to get involved in this noble experiment we refer to as community journalism.

What I can tell you is that there is still a passion out there for writing.

I met people from just about every aspect of life, from a high school student to senior citizens.

They were united by one thing, a love of writing and a hunger to be part of their community.

That’s one of the reasons we are pusing this whole notion of community journalism.

Those in attendance Saturday had a chance to hear from Nicole Brewer, the Philly TV market’s first “digital journalis.” Nicole, who just happens to be a Marple native and former Miss Pennsylvania, detailed what she does and how it differs from so much of what is usually involved in the newsgathering process.

They also heard from Bob Garrett, one of the leading social media consultants in the Philly region.

I joked once again about being a dinosaur, about how I am at times overwhelmed at the prospect of pushing content online, developing video, and maintaining the newspaper’s presence on social sites such as Twitter and Facebook.

But listening to our speakers on Saturday, I became more convinced than ever that we’re on the right track.

My industry is undergoing a core change. We are still delivering the message, but we are no longer alone.

We are going to be joined by community members who will be reporting beside us.

The bottom line is that people will be better informed than ever. There will be more watchdogs, more features, more niche writing. And my hope is to deliver all of it to you right here on delcotimes.com.

Welcome to the new news ecology. And again, I will make this offer.
Don’t just be a consumer. Be a creator.

If you’d like to know more about this community journalism mission, or would like to try your hand at a blog, e-mail me at editor@delcotimes.com.

The high costs of billboard wars

 


Those plans to erect huge billboards in several Delco municipalities have proved to be very unpopular.


But it turns out that fighting them is not an inexpensive proposition.


Check out Danielle Lynch’s rundown today on what towns are spending to keep these mega-billboards off their streets.


Springfield Township has already dropped a cool $162,000 on the fight. Haverford has spent $150,000. The nmbers are less in Marple, Concord, Newtown and Morton.


It will be interesting to see if opposition fades at all once people learn how much they’re spending to keep these behemoths out.


What do you think?

A replacement for Utley?

We interrupt March Madness to bring you this update from beautiful Clearwater, Fla.

There are storm clouds forming around the Phillies. You remember them.
Went out in the off-season and brought back local hero Cliff Lee to form one of the most formidable starting pitching rotations in Major League history.

They were expected to waltz to a National League pennant and their rightful place in the World Series.

Turns out they might be limping.

Yesterday’s news on the Chase Utley front is troubling. Utley has not played yet this spring as he battles tendinitis in his knee. You can pretty much scratch him from your Opening Day lineup, which is now less than two weeks away. Utley appears headed for the disabled list to start the season.

Instead you can write in Wilson Valdez, who filled in so admirably for both Utley and shortstop Jimy Rollins during injuries last year, as your opening day second baseman. But he might not stay there. He might have competition for the job.

To give you an idea of just how concerned the Phils are about Utley, they’re making contingency plans.

The Phillies signed former Met Luis Castillo to a minor league contract.
The former All-Star was released by New York on Friday. No doubt Phillies Phanatics will soon get over the notion of hiring a former Met if Castillo proves an effective replacement.

Maybe even more worrisome is the state of the Phils’s offense. The team is now looking at the prospect of starting the season without two of the biggest cogs in their offense – the injured Utley and the departed Jayson Werth.

OK, that’s enough. Now back to basketball.

How ‘bout those Villanova Wildcats! Oh, they’re one and done?

Let’s go, Temple! Uh, they lost Game 2 in 2 overtimes.

Get well soon, Chase.

Friday, March 18, 2011

The Daily Numbers - March 18

The Daily Numbers: 3 Darby Borough police officers ensnared in test cheating scandal who have been fired by borough council.


15 Delco police officers who have been decertified by state agency in fallout over alleged cheating.


15,000 dollar jackpot in our Going For the Green contest won by a men from Gilbertsville.


32 percent tuition hike at Kutztown University that sparked protests on campus, and howls of protest from students and parents.


2 basketball hoops removed from Dermond Field in Drexel Hill in a move by council that is drawing protest from the community.


8 percent unemployment rate in Pa. last month, the lowest it has been in


2 years.


23,700 jobs added by Pa. employers in February.


73, expected high today. It will be the first time we have hit 70 degrees since Oct. 28 last fall.


78, the record high for today.


34, age of Bucks County tattoo artist who police say had sex with a 15-year-old girl in exchange for a tattoo.


200 stores being closed by Borders Books, including its major anchor store in Center City Philadelphia.


5 Philly firefighters who suffered electrical shocks while battling a blaze in South Philly.


50 police officers and 15 firefighters who had been laid off who will now be rehired by Camden.


66-64 win for Temple over Penn State in NCAA Tourney.


11-game losing streak in the tourney that coach Fran Dunphy can now put in the rear-view mirror.


2 home runs in a 5-run fourth inning surrendered by Cliff Lee.


4-3 loss for Flyers to Atlanta in shootout.


2 days until spring. 73 today. Yep, sounds like spring to me.


*


Call me a Phanatic: A look at the ups and downs of being a Philadelphia sports fan.Cheers for Fran Dunphy, who got a big win when his Temple Owls topped Penn State, getting him off an 11-game losing streak in NCAA play.


 


*


I Don’t Get It: Still don’t understand what those 15 police officers were thinking when it comes to that recertification test. Darby Borough has now moved to fire 3 of them.


*


Today’s Upper: We just might threaten the record today, with a high 0f 73, two days before we even officially hit spring. That won’t stop Spring Fever from breaking out all over.


*


Quote Box: “With summer approaching, we will have the manpower we need.”


- Darby Borough Police Chief Bob Smythe, on move by council to fire three officers.

Dems the breaks, folks

Yesterday I noted an interesting development out in Chester County.

Not only do they have a minority representative on their county council, but this week they actually made her vice chairman. And to cap it off, she was nominated for the post by a Republican.

Which got me thinking about things here in Delco, and the possibility of something similar happening here.

Yeah, sure.

A Democrat has not sat on the Delaware County Council since the county Home Rule Charter was changed back in the early ‘70s. If there’s no Democrat on the five-member panel, it’s going to be a little hard to get one elected vice chairman.

Republicans always say this is the will of the voters, they’re the ones who put the people on the council. They say that having a mandated minority – read Democrat – member on the council would take away the voters’ choice.

Maybe.

But I still think that board could use a dissenting voice.

And I don’t mean Andy Lewis. The maverick Republican – who cast one of the only dissenting votes in memory – will not seek a second term.

It’s now up to Democrats to mobilize and win a seat on council.

Democrats have been making gains across the county, but have yet to make a dent in the final GOP stronghold. That would be the county courthouse.

Democrats are mobilizing their forces again. They will need them if they expect to win a seat on the all-Republican council.

But as they say down at Harrah's, I wouldn't put the house on it.

Sunoco boss gets award - & criticism

Sunoco boss lady Lynn Elsenhans got a bit of a surprise yesterday.

Not the fact that she was honored with the Paradigm Award by the Greater Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce.

Rather it was the voices of protest raised at the swanky luncheon.

Elsenhans has rubbed a lot of workers the wrong way. Yesterday they let her know how they feel.

Union members representing workers at both the Marcus Hook and South Philly refineries outside the Mariott downtown.

Jim Savage, head of Local 10-1 of the United Steelworkers at the Hook plant, is not an Elsenhans fan. He’s been critical of her cost-cutting style, which has slashed the workforce.

Elsenhans likely was not fazed by the protests. She’s one of 15 women to run a Fortune 500 company. And she makes no bones about her approach to the bottom line.

Her remarks were well-received by the Chamber audience, including a lot of women execs.

A nice guy wins one

When Juan Fernandez’ last-second jumper hit nothing but net, no one likely was more relieved than his coach, Fran Dunphy.

The NCAA Tourney has not been kind to the Temple boss. Dating back to his days at Penn, Dunphy’s teams had developed a nasty habit of being “one and done.”

Or, as some critics sneered, “one and Dunphy.”

Not yesterday.

They had to go all the way to Tucson to do it, buy Dunphy and the Owls got a win in a riveting back-and-forth contest against state rival Penn State.

The game appeared headed for overtime when Fernandez appeared to be bottled up as the clocked ticked off the final few seconds. But Fernandez squirmed free, leaned in and tossed up an off-balance jumper.

Nothing but net.

The final minute of the Temple-Penn State game is the essence of what makes the NCAA men’s basketball tournament a very special event.

It seemed like that very same scenario was played out again and again on Day One, as it almost always does.

Madness. And nobody enjoyed it quite as much as Fran Dunphy.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

The Daily Numbers - March 17

The Daily Numbers: 3 lawsuits now filed against the archdiocese of Philadelphia connected to sexual abuse by priests and an alleged cover-up by church officials.


49, age of Collingdale resident who filed suit yesterday.


0, how much young people paid for a haircut last night at Supreme Hair Stiles in Upland. It was part of a mentoring effort by Brothers of Concern.


2 Republican Delco state reps who are saying they will not support the steep cuts in education in Gov. Tom Corbett’s budget plan.


625 million dollars in cuts for higher education in the plan. That’s a


52 percent reduction.


9 million dollars that would to Cheyney. That number is now in jeopardy.


90 percent of Cheyney students who depend on financial aid to offset their tuition costs.


1 cent decline in price of gas across the nation. It’s now at $3.55 a gallon. In the region, however, it’s still at $3.57 a gallon.


52 percent of Pennsylvanians who believe state is headed in wrong direction, according to new poll.


31 percent who say they are worse off than this time last year; 57 percent say they’re about the same.


1 year pay freeze for state educators being pushed by Gov. Tom Corbett that the president of the state education association is urging his members to “seriously consider.”


5 DUIs for a Delaware woman, charged again after she apparently left her daughter at a gas station.


416 DUI cases in Philadelphia that are in jeopardy because the Breathalyzers being used were not properly calibrated.


2 alarm blaze that heavily damaged an apartment building last night in Philly.


104-94 win for the Sixers last night in L.A. against the Clippers.


3 of 4 Delco high school hoops teams posted wins last night. Chester, Penn Wood and Delco Christian girls advance in the PIAA tourney. Sacred Heart fell.


3 days until spring.


*


Call me a Phanatic: A look at the ups and downs of being a Philadelphia sports fan.Time to pull for the local guys. Fran Dunphy has now seen his Temple team booted three straight years in the first round of the NCAA tourney.


 


They get a shot at reversing that trend this afternoon against Penn State.


*


I Don’t Get It: A woman in Delaware faces DUI charges – for the 5th time – after she pulled into a gas station, took her daughter into the bathroom, and then pulled out without her. I don’t get it.


*


Today’s Upper: Legislatures across the nation – including here in Pa., are considering reducing their size to battle budget deficits. About time.


*


Quote Box: “I don’t want somebody who is 7 today to be me in 409 years.”


- Collingdale resident Frank Finnegan, at press conference announcing lawsuit against Archdiocese of Philadelphia yesterday.

Bipartisanship breaks out in Chesco

Something very interesting happened the other day out in Chester County.

They elected a Democrat as vice-chairman.

The three-member board has been controlled by Republicans seemingly since the dawn of time.

It probably won’t break the trend of 2-1 votes, with the board’s two Republicans holding sway, but it does strike me as progress.

What makes it all the more surprising is who nominated Democrat Kathi Cozzone to be second-in-charge. That would be none other than new Republican Commissioner Ryan Costello.

Costello just joined the board, filling the seat vacated when Republican Counilwoman Carol Aichele took a post in the new Corbett Administration.

Costello admitted that Cozzone’s three-plus years on the board trumped his three weeks. The move was backed by Republican board Chairman Terrence Farrell.

I think they call that bipartisanship.

Bravo!

Some support for Corbett, from an odd place

Here’s one I can honestly say I didn’t see coming.

You may remember that during his budget speech, new Pennsylvania Gov.
Tom Corbett had a request for the state’s teachers.

While he was hacking away at education funding in general, the Republican also asked teachers to take a voluntary one-year pay freeze to save money.

Of course, that’s not something either Corbett or the Legislature controls. Those contracts are negotiated by the teachers unions with local school boards.

So it was a bit astounding yesterday to hear Corbett’s idea draw support – from the state teachers union boss.

James Testerman, president of the Pennsylvania State Education Association, sent a letter to members asking them to “seriously consider” the pay-freeze idea.

Too bad it’s supposed to be in the 60s today and mid 70s tomorrow. I wanted to check to see if hell is freezing over.

We immediately put in calls to most of the local teachers unions here in Delco. We didn’t hear back from any of them.

They’re probably still trying to put their teeth back in their mouth.

Tying one on for St. Patrick's Day

TheI am wearing a tie today that I don exactly one time every year.

On this day, the 17th of March.

It belonged to my father. And it came from Ireland. I never got the story of how he came to acquire it. But I know that it was special to him.

It’s special to me, too.

Happy St. Patrick’s Day, Dad.

I don’t put much stock in the usual reveling that accompanies so much of the St. Patrick’s Day tradition in America and elsewhere.

I always remember my mother telling me that in Ireland St. Patrick’s Day is much more of a religious holiday than it is here. I don’t know if that is the case. I have never been to Ireland, never met the Heron’s that I am told still live there. I have always threatened my wife, who hails proudly from a very Italian family, that when I go I want a one-way ticket.

I will not quaff green beer today. I don’t drink beer during Lent. It’s a lousy idea, I know. But it’s one I’ve done for years now.

I won’t war any funny green hats, vests or buttons, either.

At some point this weekend I might sit down and watch “The Quiet Man,”
one of my favorite flicks. My family always tell me they named the movie after me.

If you’re Irish, be proud today. And every day. If you’re not, by all means share in all our sentiment today.

If you see a guy in a tartan plaid, skinny wool tie, that would be me.

Top of the morning to you!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

The Daily Numbers - March 16

The Daily Numbers: 1.26 million dollars, how much Haverford Township paid for the Philadelphia Chewing Gum Corp. site in condemnation proceedings.


6 million dollars, how much the Delaware County Board of View has now ordered them to pay the family that owned the site.


1 to 2 years in prison for a Haverford man in another child porn case.


3 people charged with credit card fraud in Upper Darby.


3 meetings that are being held by Cardinal Justin Rigali with priests of the archdiocese. 1 of them was Tuesday in Newtown Square.


4,000 dollars, how much a Lehigh University student told police he was robbed of in a street mugging. Turns out he actually blew it gambling at a local casino.


15,000 dollar jackpot we will give away to a lucky reader on Thursday as the grand finale to our ‘Go For the Green’ contest.


2 killed when fire roared through a Philly apartment Tuesday.


13, age of young girl that the FBI claims a former prof at Rider University believed he was going to have a sexual liaison with, along with her mother. He now faces charges.


3-2 win for the Flyers over the Florida Panthers last night.


9 straight wins for the red-hot Washington Capitals, who remain just a point behind the Flyers.


3 to 4 weeks on shelf for Chris Pronger, who underwent successful surgery on his hand.


1 more Phil now on the shelf. Add Placido Polanco to Brad Lidge, Chase Utley and Domonic Brown. Polanco hyperextended the same elbow he had surgery on in the off-season.


4 days until spring.


*


Call me a Phanatic: A look at the ups and downs of being a Philadelphia sports fan.Let the Madness begin. And let me save you some headaches. Kansas will win the NCAA men’s hoops tourney. You heard it here first.


 


*


I Don’t Get It: A 3-year-old child is being treated for alcoholism in England. I don’t get it.


*


Today’s Upper: Let’s hear it for the priests who apparently gave Cardinal Justin Rigali an earful during a meeting in Newtown Square yesterday. Good for them.


*


Quote Box: “Yes, I think it raises questions.”


- Defense attorney Mike Malloy, on convictions in cases involving police officers who have now lost their certification.

An offer to the archdiocese

Cardinal Justin Rigali met with a group of priests from across the diocese here in Delaware County yesterday.

They gathered in the gymasium at St. Anastasia School out in Newtown Square. No media was allowed into the meeting, but the word is that the cardinal might have gotten an earful from his own priests

Good for them.

No one is suffering more during the priest chilid sex abuse scandal that is eating away at the church than the overwhelming majority of priests who are good, decent men.

They’re the ones who face the stares every time they where their collars in public.

Apparently they are not especially thrilled with the way Rigali has gone about the latest response to the crisis ever since several priests were criminally charged a few weeks ago.

One of those targeted by the grand jury was Monsignor William Lynn, charged with endangering the welfare of children in his role as secretary of the clergy under then-Archbishop Cardinal Anthony Bevilacqua.

It sounds like some priests believe that Lynn was merely following the policies in place and is now being viewed as something of a fall guy.

Here’s an offer to the archdiocese.

I would like to devote one of our “Live From the Newsroom” sessions to the issues dealing with the church here in Philadelphia. I’d like to have someone from the archdiocese come on and tell their side of the story.

We also will seek to get someone to advocate on behalf of the victims.

I would love to have a local priest come on and talk plainly about what their everyday life is like now that all priests are dealing with this cloak of suspicion.

My guess is that I will not hear from the archdiocese. Then again, maybe they'll surprise me and prove me wrong. But I won't hold my breath.

Judging by the way they've deal with this latest scandal, that just might be part of the problem.

Some things you can't explain

It was bound to happen.

I got a phone call from a very nice elderly woman yesterday. She wanted to complain about something in the newspaper.

“I just don’t understand all this fuss about Japan,” she informed me in about as courteous a voice as you can imagine.

“Don’t you remember what they did to us in World War II?”

I tried to explain to her why she was wrong. Every point I made she said she agreed with, then added another caution. Clearly, this was a person who had lived through that horror and was permanently scarred by it.

It brings to mind something I seem to do here all the time.

Some days you just sort of sit here and shake your head.

Need NCAA tourney help: I'm here

This just in …. The First Four are now to two.

Games that is. There are still six teams in the running. Two "play-in" games were played last night. There are two more tonight.

Clemson and UNC Nashville won last night. They now get the opportunity to be annihilated by a No. 1 seed.

The “First Four” is the latest gimmick by the NCAA to build hype for an event that does not need any.

Every office in America is losing valuable productivity this week as employees pore over their NCAA tournament bracket.

Let me save you the trouble. Kansas will win. This tournament is always dominated by guard play, and Kansas has the best guards.

In the meantime, both Temple and Villanova will face stern first-round challenges.

Temple is going all the way to Tucson, Ariz., to face cross-state rival Penn State on Thursday.

Villanova will square off with George Mason on Friday.

Both teams will have to play very well if they want to avoid the dreaded “one and done,” something Temple has been all too accustomed to in the past few years.

I’m still looking for someone to tell me how much money changes hands during this tournament. It must be bigger than the GNP of some small countries.

The fascinating thing about the NCAA tournament, especially during the first round, is the number of games being played at the same time, and the distinct possibility of seeing one “fantastic finish” after another.

It’s one of the truly unique – and great – moments in sports.

And it takes our minds off the increasing storm clouds forming over the Phillies, who seem to lose another starter each day. Now Placido Polanco has re-injured the elbow he had surgery on in the off-season. That can’t be good, especially when the team tries to downplay it. That injury bothered Polanco all last season. He joins Chase Utley, Brad Lidge and Domonic Brown on the shelf.

We have all been focusing on the Phils’ brilliant starting pitching. We haven’t spent too much time thinking about something else. This lineup is getting very old, very fast.

But that’s for next week and beyond.

For now, let the Madness begin. Remember, put the house on Kansas.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

The Daily Numbers - March 15

The Daily Numbers: 4 Ridley students who were injured by a hit-run driver Friday night. Yesterday the school rallied to their aid, in particular a Ridley Middle School student Anthony Oswald.


52, age of the driver who faces charges in the incident.


150,000 cash bail for Tyrone Williams. He remains in Delco Prison.


22 years, how long the Graf family of Ridley Township have had their Phillies season tickets. Yesterday they got a visit from the Phillie Phanatic with this year’s package.


12 persons busted so far this year by the county Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force. The latest is a 26-year-old Upper Darby man.


15,000 dollar jackpot we will give away to a lucky reader on Thursday as the grand finale to our ‘Go For the Green’ contest.


7 child victims of deadly Pa. farmhouse fire who will be buried today in southcentral Pa.


2 killed, 40 injured in crash of tour bus heading from NYC to Philly last night.


2 women who have been groped by the same man, both times caught on videotape, in Philly.


3.56 a gallon, the national average.


1 more Phil now on the shelf. Add Brad Lidge to Chase Utley and Domonic Brown. He’s being shut down for a few days.


1 more loss for Sixers, who fell in OT in Utah last night.


5 days until spring.


*


Call me a Phanatic: A look at the ups and downs of being a Philadelphia sports fan.I don’t like the sound of that bit of news on Brad Lidge. Sore biceps?


 


Uh-oh.


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I Don’t Get It: Another man busted for child porn by the county Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force. I still don’t get it.


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Today’s Upper: They say it’s going to be in the mid-70s on Friday. I feel a cold coming on.


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Quote Box: “It’s the Ridley family and this is how we do things here.”


- Ridley Schools Superintendent Lee Ann Wentzel, talking about how students are rallying behind an injured classmate.

Another tough day for the church

I still can’t get used to the idea of seeing my parish priest walking into court.

But that was Monsignor William Lynn in downtown Philly yesterday.

He was among a group of priests, former priests and a teacher who now face criminal charges connected to the church child sexual abuse scandal.

Monsignor Lynn also now carries the moniker of being the highest-ranking church official in the U.S. ever criminal charged in the scandal that continues to engulf the Roman Catholic church.

Last week he showed up a couple of times on the national network news.

I still can’t get used to it.

I continue to hope that he’s innocent. But I have read both grand jury reports. And I am deeply troubled by the allegations they contain.

My guess is that the monsignor was simply following the directions of his boss, then Archbishop Cardinal Anthony Bevilacqua. The cardinal is now ailing, apparently suffering from both cancer and dementia. He has not been charged.

If what I read is true, he likely should have been.

And I simply wish the monsignor had stood up and told him, “I can’t do this.”

In the meantime, I guess I will have to get used to what I saw yesterday.

Just sad.

Anyone else remember 'Vehicle'?

What's all this about the Ides of March? They did that 'Vehicle' tune, right?


You know, “I'm Your Vehicle, baby, I'll take you anywhere you want to go?”


Yeah, I know. I’m old.


Now I am going to have that song in my head all day.


Enjoy! If you're old , too!



Ides of March for Phillies fans

Stop me if you’ve heard this before.

The Phillies are shutting down closer Brad Lidge for a few days. Nothing serious, both the pitcher and team say. Yeah, sure, the dreaded, “we’re just going to shut him down for a few days” routine.

Yes, I have heard that one before.

Lidge will get a seat next to Chase Utley because of soreness in his biceps. That’s not a good thing for a pitcher.

That is now two key cogs in a team that pretty much everyone expects to make an appearance in the World Series now on the shelf.

Beware the Ides of March, Phillies fans.

Monday, March 14, 2011

The Daily Numbers - March 14

The Daily Numbers: 2 explosions that have now rocked a nuclear plant in Japan as fears of a nuclear meltdown grow.


10,000 people feared dead in wake of Japan quake and tsunami.


8.9 quake on Richter scale that caused widespread devasation after unleashing tsunamis on Japan.


15 police officers who are now off the job, accused by a state agency of cheating on a certification test.


7.79 percent tax hike looming in the proposed Marple Newtown School District budget.


2 people wounded when gunshots rang out on basketball court in Chester on Saturday.


4 Ridley youths injured when they were struck by a hit-run driver Friday night. A Philadelphia man has been charged.


188 million dollar surplus for Pa. Legislature, even as huge cuts are being forecast to fight a $4 billion budget deficit.


3.57 a gallon, average price for gas in Philly region as we start a new week.


3.56 a gallon, the national average.


7 cent uptick in a week, 42 cents in a month and 76 cents since last year.


7 seed for Temple, 9 for Villanova as they head for NCAA hoops tournament action.


1 as in No. 1 seed for Ohio State, who Villanova will face if they get past George Mason.


6 days until spring.


*


Call me a Phanatic: A look at the ups and downs of being a Philadelphia sports fan.Both Temple and Villanova are in, with the Wildcats staying in the East, while the Owls are headed all the way to Tucson, Ariz., for the opportunity to play Penn State.


 


*


I Don’t Get It: A Philadelphia man is facing 2 to 7 years in prison for setting a dog on fire.


*


Today’s Upper: Kudos to the agencies scrambling to bring aid to earthquake and tsunami-devastated Japan. It is direly needed.


*


Quote Box: “Let’s get Ohio State.”


- Villanova student yesterday after learning of the Wildcats’ draw in the NCAA tournament. First they would have to beat George Washington.

About that police cheating scandal

Someone will have to explain this one to me.

There are 15 police officers, many of them veterans, off the street today. They cannot work because they have been relieved of duty. That is because they are no longer certified to carry a weapon.

And why is that? A state agency claims they cheated on the certification test.

The Municipal Police Officers Education and Training Commission voted for the “permanent revocation” of their certifications. The officers now have 30 days to appeal. For now, they cannot work as cops.

The state agency alleges that one officer got the answers to the test, and shared it with others back in February 2009.

And just like that, more than a dozen careers went up in smoke.

But here’s the weird part. From everything we’ve been told, it is almost impossible to fail this mandated Act 180 exam. In fact, if for some reason you do not pass, you get to take the test again.

Given all that, why would you risk your career by allegedly cheating on the exam?

Unbelievable.

Taking a gamble on Pa.'s budget woes

Villanova is no longer on the bubble. They are in, and will face a familiar foe in George Mason on Friday.

Temple also is in, and will take part in an All-Pa. matchup in the West against none other than the Penn State Nittany Lions.

Yes, the madness has begun.

Speaking of madness, here’s something I have always wondered.

Exactly how much money do you think changes hands on the NCAA men’s basketball tournament?

How much does productivity sag in offices around the country today as so-called “bracketologists” pore over their picks.

We’re as guilty as the rest. We print a full-page bracket in the paper knowing full well it likely will get cut out and copied to form the basis of all those office pools.

We also have a contest on our website where you can win some fairly significant prizes.

The truth is America loves to gamble on sports.

Attention Tom Corbett: That $4 billion deficit you’re grappling with?
And all those unpopular cuts you’re taking heat over? You could wipe them out in a heartbeat with the one bit of gambling Ed Rendell did not manage to ram through the Legislature.

Can you imagine how much money the state could rake in by running its own NCAA pool?

I know there are a lot of hoops to go through before a state can even consider sports betting. Still, it’s something to think about.
Especially when the cuts are as draconian as those being suggested by Corbett.

Time to think outside the box, and perhaps inside the brackets.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

The Daily Numbers - March 10

The Daily Numbers: 21 priests whose names became public yesterday after they were placed on administrative leave by the Archdiocese of Philadelphia in connection with allegations of sexual abuse.


6 of the priests have ties to Delaware County.


16, age of Anna Evans, who has been missing from her Clifton Heights home since March 3.


2 year old boy found wandering on the street in Chester Township yesterday morning. An uncle who was supposed to be watching the tot now faces charges.


52 points for Garnet Valley as they rolled to the Hi-Q title in the scholastic quiz competition.


18 years as a Hi-Q coach for Garnet Valley adviser Carol Rockafellow, who is retiring this year. She’s going out on top.


2-3 inches of rain possible today.


0.6 percent increase in population for Philadelphia, about 8,500 people, the first increase for the city in 60 years.


23 straight days where the price of gas has gone up.


18 state-supported colleges and universities whose leaders met yesterday and blasted budget cuts announced by Gov. Tom Corbett.


34 points and 16 rebounds for Kevin Durant as the Oklahoma City Thunder rallied to win over the Sixers last night.


5 point lead with a minute left, but the Sixers could not seal the deal.


3 run homer for Brian Schneider as the Phils won yesterday.


2 year contract extension finalized by Charlie Manuel. The Phils and their skipper cut a deal this morning.


*


Call me a Phanatic: A look at the ups and downs of being a Philadelphia sports fan.Good for Charlie Manuel. He has a new, 2-year deal to lead the Phils.


 


And with a nagging injury to Chase Utley gumming up the works, he likely will have to earn his money.


*


I Don’t Get It: There just seems to be no end to the controversy swirling around the Archdiocese of Philadelphia. I can’t help but feel that Cardinal Rigali is bringing a lot of this on himself by bungling this from the start.


*


Today’s Upper: Kudos to the kids from Garnet Valley who captured the Hi-Q crown yesterday. And also to Penncrest and Chi as well.


*


Quote Box: “The priests, the bishops, the archbishops, they’re all human beings. They’re not gods.”


- Marie McDonald, of Philadelphia, as she went into Ash Wednesday service at Basilica SS. Peter & Paul in the city yesterday.

Covering Ash Wednesday

The timing could have been better.


Actually, it could not have been much worse.


Yesterday was Ash Wednesday, the day when Christians start the 40-days of introspection and repentance leading to Easter.


But that was not what was being talked about on this Ash Wednesday. Not in parishes across Philadelphia. Not even at the Basilica SS. Peter & Paul in Philadelphia. It was there that Cardinal Justin Rigali, archbishop of Philadelphia, took to the podium and discussed, for the first time in public, the controversy that is engulfing the church.


The day before Rigali had announced the archdiocese had placed on administative leave 21 priests suspected of being involved in the sexual abuse of children.


But the archdiocese did not disclose the names.


It didn’t take long for word to leak out. I actually received an anonymous e-mail with the list of names Tuesday night. We confirmed them Wednesday afternoon.


If you want to read the full list, click here.


Several of the names were linked to parishes here in Delaware County.


It was already a big story. The Delco angle made it an even bigger one for us.


If you want read our coverage, click here. If you want to read the reaction of one of the affected parishes, St. Philomena in Lansdowne, CLICK HERE.


I fully expect to hear from several people today who believe we took great pleasure in splashing the travails of the church all over our front page once again.


They believe we delight in knocking the church, and its priests.

Catholic-bashers is how they usually refer to us.


They could not be more wrong.


They will not mention the photo and story we did on the kids at St.

Gabriel’s in Norwood talking about what Ash Wednesday means to them.


The scandal embroiling the church is not going to go away anytime soon.


We are not going to ignore it. Doing just that, on the part of all too many archdiocesan officials, is what put the church in this position in the first place.

Why we're doing 'Live From the Newsroom'

Last night is a perfect example of why I wanted to start a local, live Internet broadcast on our website.


It gives us the opportunity to bring in the people who are literally making the news that affects people’s lives here in Delaware County.


Writing about them is one thing, hearing it directly from them is another.


Last night’s “Live From the Newsroom” tackled the controversial issue of the Delaware County SPCA’s plan to get out of the animal control business.


We had a great panel, including Justina Calgiano, community relations director from the SPCA, and Rick Matelsky, interim SPCA executive director, debating the issues with Tom Hickey, a member of the state Dog Law Advisory Board, and Springfield Police Chief Joe Daly.


If you missed the broadcast, you can see the replays here.


I cam away from the session more convinced than ever of one thing: All of these people bring a passion to what they do, and neither has any intention of backing down.


Calgiano reviewed the reasons why the SPCA decided, almost a year ago, to get out of the animal control business and move toward being a no-kill facility.


Hickey and Daly urged a one-year delay in the move, saying the county and municipalities simply were not yet ready for the change and predicting dire circumstances on July 1, when the change is supposed to go into effect.


You would think these two sides could get together and at least consider a delay. That would be up to the SPCA board, according to Matelsky.


If they don’t get one, I see either the county or state going to court in an attempt to block the move.


At any rate, I was glad that all four decided to come on and air the issues. That is what this weekly program is supposed to do.


Do you have an idea for a show you’d like to see addressed? Post a comment on this blog or e-mail it to me at editor@delcotimes.com.


Here’s one I would like to do. I would like to have at least one parish priest, and maybe one official from the archdiocese come on to discuss the child sex abuse scandal that is quickly turning into a conflagration.


Do I have any takers?

All wet

Just keep telling yourself this today: It could be worse. This could all be snow.
Brace yourself, it is going to be wet today. Very wet.
As if we could possibly forget. You can’t turn on a radio or TV (or visit a newspaper website for that matter) without being inundated (pardon the pun) with word that it is wet outside. That is what constitutes for news these days.
You can’t pass a stream or river without running into a fleet of TV news vans.
There is no flooding right now, but you never know about these things.
The truth is we are expecting several inches of rain today, and there is the possibility of small stream and river flooding. The worst of that is likely to be tonight and tomorrow morning.
If you live in one of the usual spots – attention Darby Borough – it might behoove you to keep an eye on the rising water.
Me? All I know is that it is not snow. I’m going to go out on a limb here and say we have seen the last of the snow this winter.
Yes, it means my prediction in the Great Heron’s Nest Snow Prognosticating Event is going down the drain.
I can live with that.
I can even live with a day of rain.
I’m not sure I can live with being told about it non-stop for 24 hours.
Just wait, it’s coming.
As for now, it’s just wet.
Kind of like the forecast.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

The Daily Numbers - March 9

The Daily Numbers (Pennsylvania Budget Edition): 27.3 billion dollar budget proposed yesterday by new Pa. Gov. Tom Corbett.


1 billion dollar cut in education funding in the state.


50 percent cut in funding for state-affiliated higher education at Penn State, Pitt, Temple and Lincoln.


10 percent cut, $550 million in funding for K-12 instruction in public schools.


1,500 Pa. employees who will be looking at pink slips under the Corbett plan.


0 new taxes, including no tax on extraction of natural gas from the Marcellus Shale region.


3 percent cut in spending overall.


7 percent increase in aid to the Department of Public Welfare.


*


Call me a Phanatic: A look at the ups and downs of being a Philadelphia sports fan.Hard to believe that at one time Villanova was ranked among the Top 5 college basketball teams in the nation. They now might not make the NCAA Tourney after dropping a first-round Big East Tourney game to South Florida last night.


 


*


I Don’t Get It: The archdiocese continues to bungle its response to the recent grand jury report. Yesterday they decided to place 21 priests on administrative leave who have credible allegations against them. But they are not naming them, and these same priests had their cases reviewed once before by the archdiocese and were cleared.


*


Today’s Upper: It’s Ash Wednesday. Not sure about anyone else, but I have more than my share of things to repent for.


*


Quote Box: “I know a lot of districts are crying poor, but we were poor before poor was popular.”


- William Penn School Board President Charlotte Hummel, reacting to the Corbett budget proposal.

Ash Wednesday indeed

Today is Ash Wednesday, the day when Christians kick off 40 days of introspection and repentance on the journey toward Easter.

Which is pretty appropriate for the Archdiocese of Philadelphia.

Yesterday the archdiocese announced it was suspending 21 priests who were named in a recent scathing grand jury report as possible suspects in the sexual abuse of children.

The grand jury found allegations against the men to be credible, even though they were cleared by the archdiocese’s own review board.

It is believed to be one of the biggest such actions in the history of the church in America.

But the archdiocese was not yet ready to name the suspected priests.
That likely will come today, when Cardinal Justin Rigali addresses the issue at Ash Wednesday services at the Basilica SS. Peter and Paul.
Parishes where the priests were stationed also are to get letters from the cardinal today. It is not yet known if any of the suspected priests is in service in Delaware County.

The move appears to be the result of a recommendation from Gina Maisto Smith, a former sex crimes prosecutor in the Philly D.A.’s office.

After the grand jury finding that resulted in criminal charges against two priests, a former priest and a high-ranking archdiocesan official, Rigali moved to put three priests on leave who had been identified by the grand jury as having credible accusations against them.

But the grand jury reported that as many as 37 priests were allowed to stay in active ministry with credible charges against them. Rigali at first denied that claim.

The archdiocese stressed yesterday that the move to place the priests on administrative leave is not a final determination, but rather an “interim measure” while the archdiocese takes a new look at the claims.

Victim abuse groups again criticized the church for not releasing the names of the priests.

Ash Wednesday, and it would appear that the archdiocese is indeed in ashes.

I know I need at least 40 days to repent.

I’m not really sure how long the archdiocese is going to need.

“Bless me father, for I have sinned…..”

Corbett lowers the boom

Tom Corbett wasn’t lying.


He said the day of reckoning was coming in Pennsylvania. He said there would be pain.


There is lots of it.


Corbett rolled out his first budget yesterday. It was not pretty.


The governor, saying he was delivering something not seen in Harrisburg in a long time – a reality-based budget – wants to slash more than $1 billion from public education, eliminate 1,500 state jobs, half of those in mental-health services.


Corbett said he had a message for Pennsylvania taxpayers: “We get the picture. It’s your money,” the governor said. “I said we’d cut. I’m not asking you to read my lips. I’m asking you to read my budget.”


Corbett lived up to his campaign pledge of not raising taxes.


Among those taking the biggest hit under the Corbett plan would be higher education, specifically the four state-related schools, including Penn State, Temple and Lincoln, which would see a 50 percent reduction in state aid.


The fear is that all these cuts will result in “trickle-down” tax cuts. Local school districts, with less state aid, will be forced to raise property taxes. To that end, Corbett called for a cap on tax hikes at the local level and putting anything exceeding the rate of inflation before the voters.


He even went so far as to ask the state’s teachers to voluntarily take a one-year pay freeze.


Hope he’s not holding his breath on that one.


To see how local educators are reacting, check out Tim Logue’s piece today.