Saturday, December 31, 2011

The dreaded Saturday Eagles pick

Raise your hand if you’re excited about the Eagles possibly clawing their way back to .500 Sunday with a win over the Redskins. Thought so.


Spare us any talk of salvaging the season. That went out the window about the time the Eagles started specializing in giving away fourth-quarter leads. That’s when this season was lost. That’s when the dream season turned into a nightmare.


Sure, the Eagles want to win four straight, climb to .500 and look ahead to next year. That’s easy for them. It’s not as easy for the fans. The season ended early in the fourth quarter last week when we learned the Jets had gone belly-up against the Giants, eliminating the Birds from any possible playoff contention.


I don’t care if LeSean McCoy breaks any more records. I don’t care if Michael Vick throws five touchdown passes. It was all those turnovers early in the year – as well as another three weeks when he was MIA because of bum ribs – that direly cost this team.


Andy Reid, Joe Banner and Jeff Lurie no doubt will start to trot out the issues of the lockout, not having mini-camps, all the new faces – both players and coaches – along with an abbreviated training camp, as the reasons for the team’s horrible start.


I’m not buying. They knew all about the lockout and the effect it might have. That didn't stop them from handing the keys to their defense to an untested offensive line coach.


The Eagles are not going to the playoffs. The dream season was a mess. End of story.


And even with all that, I still like them to take care of business against the ‘Skins.


Make it Eagles 34, Redskins 16. Time’s still yours, Andy. At least for another year. How ‘bout this time when we say ‘all in,’ we actually mean for the first five weeks as well.


Last Week: The Birds were impressive for the third straight week in taking care of their end of the bargain vs. the Cowboys. Unfortunately, the Jets came up lame in the early game, meaning the Eagles were eliminated just as their game was beginning. That and the injury to Cowboys QB Tony Romo in their first series means it’s hard what exactly to take out of the game. Give the Eagles credit, however, for showing up and playing hard even after they were eliminated.


Season Record: Can I make the same excuses as the Eagles? I’ve gotten on a bit of a roll, just as the Birds have, as the curtain comes down on the most disappointing season in memory. Last week’s win pushed my mark to 4-11. Of course the Eagles climbed to 7-8 and need a win over the Redskins to finish the season at .500, a less than dream season of 8-8.


And one final thought: If it was up to me, Reid would be out of here. It was his arrogance in promoting Castillo, then not realizing his defense was a mess in the first half of the season, that sunk this team. But it says here that Jeff Lurie and Joe Banner continue to drink the Koo-Aid, and Reid and Castillo are both back next year.


Which leads me to Reid’s first post-game press conference after the season opener.


“I have to do a better job of putting players in position to make plays.”


Bet the house on it.


Happy New Year!


 

Friday, December 30, 2011

The Daily Numbers - Dec. 30

The Daily Numbers: 3 women who are accusing a former Darby Township cop of coercing them into sex.


24, age of suspect who turned himself in yesterday for stalking and the following an 86-year-old man home from Harrah’s Casino in Chester and then robbing him outside his home in Bethel.


3.8 million dollars, how much Chester Community Charter School is suing the Chester Upland School District and state for, saying they are owed the money.


2 Sears stores in the region targeted for closing, including the store at 69th Street in Upper Darby.


79 stores being closed altogether.


42 of 49 Delco municipalities that will start taking stray animals to the Chester County SPCA on Sunday, as opposed to the Delco SPCA. They’re getting out of the animal control business.


30 of June, how long the deal will be in place with the Chesco SPCA.


1 state trooper injured when his cruised was slammed by an SUV out on Route 1 in Chester County yesterday.


47, age of woman from Glen Mills who now faces DUI charges in connection with the crash.


25 people forced to evacuate their homes after a massive sinkhole developed in Allentown.


300 jobs being eliminated by Susquehanna Bancshares. Some of the layoffs will be in the Philly region.


9 Iron Hill locations across the region, with the latest pub opening in Chestnut Hill.


4-2 win for Flyers over Pens.


3 days until the Winter Classic.


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Call me a Phanatic: A look at the ups and downs of being a Philadelphia sports fan.How do you think Joe Banner and Jeff Lurie feel about all this fuss being made over Citizens Bank Park and the Winter Classic. Meanwhile, they’re playing a meaningless game across the street Sunday at the Linc.


 


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I Don’t Get It: I’m all for the Winter Classic. But the prices are outrageous. I don’t get it.


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Today’s Upper: Kudos to County Council for getting a plan in place to handle stray animals starting Sunday when the SPCA gets out of the animal control business.


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Quote Box: “Animal control was a very big part of our history. It took us a long time to get here, to become an organization that is more practive than reactive.”


- Justina Calgiano, of the Delco SPCA, on their move to get out of animal control.

A toast to the end of the LCB? Not yet

Just as I did last year, I will likely try futilely to stay up to watch the ball drop ushering in the new year on Saturday night.

My days of New Year’s Eve revelry are pretty much in the rear-view mirror.

However, it’s entirely likely I will celebrate the occasion with my bride with a bit of bubbly.

Which, of course, means only one thing. No, we won’t be passed out together. At least she won’t.

It means one final 2011 trip into the wonderful world of alcohol sales in Pennsylvania.

My goal for 2011 has failed miserably.

Despite support from Gov. Tom Corbett, and a new push in the Legislature, including our own Delco state Rep. Nick Miccarelli, R-162,, it does not appear Pennsylvania is any closer to getting out of the booze business.

So tomorrow morning I likely will make one trip to the state store for perhaps a bottle of wine and another of champagne. And should I want to grab a six-pack of beer, that will be one more trip. And if I would like to purchase a case? Well, that’s one more destination.

Welcome to Pennsylvania, land of giants.

And once again I will make the same resolution I have made now for several years.

All I want for the new year is to be there, with my hands on the plunger, when we blow up this system and turn the entire process over to private enterprise.

Imagine, wine, beer, spirits, a six-pack, a single all in the same aisle of your favorite supermarket of liquor outlet.

Yeah, I know. Keep dreaming.

And so, a toast, just as I made last year, ringing out the old and in the new, and praying for the end of the LCB.

Maybe next year.

A different way of hitting the jackpot

Let’s hope this is not a new local crime trend.


For the second time in a month, a patron has been followed home from Harrah’s Casino in Chester and then robbed.


The latest incident happened out in Bethel, where an 86-year-old man was the victim after spending the day at the casino.


And police made it clear he was targeted. The suspect had been stalking him on the floor of the casino for hours.


The earlier incident happened in Clifton Heights, and the suspect got more than he bargained for when the victim pulled out a gun and opened fire.


Yesterday the man pictured on the surveillance tape from Harrah’s who was wanted in the Bethel incident turned himself in.


You can read the full story here.


This guy clearly had something else in mind when talking about hitting the jackpot.

Eagles Vs. Winter Classic: It's ice-ing on cake for CBP

File this one under Philly sports oddities.

This weekend will be treated to an Eagles game no one cares about, sandwiched around two hockey games that are the hottest tickets in town.

That’s correct, I said hockey. You know, that “niche” sport.

But call it the Winter Classic, play it on a rink constructed outside in Citizens Bank Park, and you have sports magic.

So how do you think the Eagles brass – those folks who brought us the gold standard – are taking to having their finale, usually a riveting NFC East affair vs. the Redskins – consigned to an afterthought?

And it must be especially galling for them to hear Phillies boss Dave Mongtomery crowing about how we can now cross another item off the bucket list for the South Philly sports complex.

It's just another feather in the cap and the magic created by their little bandbox home. This weekend the eyes of the hockey world will be on Citizens Bank Park, while across the street at Lincoln Financial Field, fans will be giving the Birds - and their brass - the cold shoulder.

For the Phillies and Citizens Bank Park, it’s the ice-ing on the cake. But for Joe Banner and Jeff Lurie, it must be the winter of their discontent.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

The Daily Numbers - Dec. 29

The Daily Numbers: 2 times in a month a patron has been followed home from Harrah’s Casino in Chester and robbed.


86, age of man victimized after he was followed from the casino back to his home in Bethel.


26, age of Nafis Nichols, one of the new Democrats elected to Chester City Council and one of our Movers & Shakers for 2011. Go get ‘em, Nafis!


10 years as mayor coming to a close for Chester boss Wendell Butler Jr. He will be missed.


0.34 mill tax hike coming in Ridley Park.


0 tax hike in Eddystone.


2.5 percent tax hike in Lansdowne.


0 tax hike in Folcroft.


0 tax hike in Lower Chichester.


81 months in prison for a Rutledge man in a $2 million credit card scam that victimized some in his own family.


2 day delay in passing the budget in Yeadon Borough, which is trying to get out from under a $500,000 deficit without a bunch of nasty cuts in jobs and services.


45,828 dollars donated to the Merry Christmas Fund as it closes in on its goal of $50,000 this holiday season.


7, age of girl who died in a house fire in Pembertown Township, N.J.


2 people killed in a crash on Whitehorse Pike in N.J.


8 cars torched in Olney and Feltonville sections of Philly.


4 days until the Winter Classic.


1 win for the Sixers after they crushed the Phoenix Suns to even their record at 1-1.


15 points for Andre Iguodala, Jrue Holliday and Thaddeus Young to lead the 76ers.


83-69 loss for Villanova in a Big East game at West Virginia.


310 wins for Saint Joe’s coach Phil Martelli, making him the school’s all-time leader in victories.


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


One of the NFC’s best teams is not going to the playoffs. Raise your hand if you agree it’s the Eagles.


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I Don’t Get It: It’s one thing to lose at the casino. It’s another altogether to be followed home and robbed.


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Today’s Upper: Kudos to all those who donated to our annual Merry Christmas Fund, which is closing in on its goal of $50,000.


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Quote Box: “I’m leaving with a great sense of accomplishment.”


- Chester Mayor Wendell Butler Jr., as his term comes to an end.

Butler era comes to end in Chester

It’s the end of an era in the city of Chester.


Mayor Wendell Butler presided over his final meeting of city council on Wednesday. With the arrival of the new year he will turn over the reins to new Mayor John Linder, the Democrat who defeated him in the November election.


I’ve always liked Butler. And I feel for him. The guy has one of the toughest jobs in the county.


He’s guiding a city desperately trying to remake itself. It shows tremendous growth in some areas, while still plagued by problems in others.


And, it is still saddled with one of the worst school districts in the state.


Butler should be remembered for the spectacular growth that is underway along the city’s riverfront, where Harrah’s, PPL Park and the Wharf at Rivertown form a troika pointing the way to the city’s promising future.


But I will choose to remember Butler for the series of town hall meetings he held two summers ago, when a rash of fatal shooting was threatening the progress the city was making and tear it apart at the seams.


Critics would say those sessions were little more than political theater. I disagree. Every Thursday night Butler went to a different section of the city and talked to people.


Butler has given much of his adult life to the city where he grew up, first as a city cop, then as chief, and finally as mayor. His towering presence in the city will be missed.


You can read John Kopp’s profile on the mayor here.



One of NFC's best teams not going to playoffs; guess which one

One of the best teams in the NFC is not going to the playoffs.

At least one of the best teams right now.

That would be your Philadelphia Eagles. Go ahead and snicker. Name me a team that has been playing better over the last three weeks.

None of that is likely to soothe the ruffled feathers of Eagles fans perturbed at the fact that the Birds will be watching the playoffs on TV along with the rest of us.

And we have Andy Reid to blame for that. Of course, it should be said we also have Andy Reid to blame for the Eagles’ turnaround.

The 2011 Birds were cooked by Reid’s rash decision to bring in a completely untested defensive coordinator in Juan Castillo. Put that together with a volatile mix of a lockout, no min-camps, an abbreviated training camp, and you have the disaster that was the first half of the year.

Never fear, Reid will be back to take another shot at this thing.

Still up in the air is whether Castillo will be with him, at least in his role as defensive coordinator.

Yes, Castillo was put in a horrible position of having to learn on the job. The NFL is no place for such foolhardy decisions.

The Eagles learned that the hard way.

For now, we have to be reassured that Reid and his team will actually “do a better job” when next season rolls around.

Eyes of hockey world turn to Philly

Forget Motwown; Philly is about to become “Hockeytown.”


The eyes of the hockey world are about to descend on Philly as the Winter Classic extravaganza rolls into town.


The fun starts with the return of Eric Lindros and a host of other Flyers legends in the Alumni Game vs. the Rangers greats Saturday afternoon, followed by the Main Event, Rangers-Flyers on the outdoor rink at Citizens Bank Park Monday afternoon.


To help you celebrate this historic event, we’ve put together a special keepsake section. Make sure you pick up a copy of today’s print edition of today’s Daily Times for this special section that you will want to keep.


We’ve got a complete schedule of events, features on the local college kids who will be playing a game on the rink, and a look at how prized tickets for the game are, as well as the all-important weather forecast.


Here’s a preview of what’s inside.


 

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

The Daily Numbers - Dec. 28

The Daily Numbers: 400 to 500 state troopers who could be facing layoffs amid more state budget concerns.


5 state police barracks targeted for shutdown.


1,500 state troopers who are eligible for retirement in the next 5 years.


12,540 police believe was scammed out of several suspects by a Brookhaven man who was selling phony Eagles and Phillies tickets.


500,000 deficit that could spark big tax hike in Yeadon, which votes on its budget tonight.


7-0 vote by which Sharon Hill Borough Council voted to stop using Sunoco products for the borough vehicles to support refinery workers.


2 robbers being sought in Upper Darby after they used a stun gun on a security guard who was trying to take them into custody.


13 copper downspouts stolen from a church in Wayne, Radnor Township.


1 passenger under 18 allowed to be in car driven by new driver under new Pa. law.


100 Sears and Kmart stores on the chopping block after a disappointing holiday sales season.


5-1 loss for the Flyers last night in Tampa.


2 goals for Steven Stamkos.


1-3-1 mark for Flyers over their past 5 games.


5 days until the Winter Classic.


1 loss on the season so far for the Sixers. They play again tonight.


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Call me a Phanatic: A look at the ups and downs of being a Philadelphia sports fan.Andy Reid is not going anywhere. And the guess here is that Juan Castillo is not either. Brace yourself for the “all the new faces” excuses for the Eagles missing the playoffs. I’m not buying.


 


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I Don’t Get It: Gettting caught shoplifting is one thing. Using a stun gun on the security guard is another. I hope these two thugs are caught in a hurry.


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Today’s Upper: Kudos to Sharon Hill Borough Council for their move to stop using Sunoco products in support of refinery workers.


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Quote Box: “It’s our only option at this point.”


- Edgmont Manager Samantha Reiner, who prospect of cuts in state police, which the township uses to patrol their streets.


 

Making a statement in Sharon Hill

Some people don’t forget where they’re from.


And what is important in their community. And in their county. After all, they’re also your neighbors.


So it is that the folks down in Sharon Hill borough are not standing silent as they look on at what is happening in Marcus Hook and Trainer.


That would be the two Delco towns that are reeling at the prospects of two local refineries – ConocoPhillips in Trainer and the iconic Sunoco plant in the Hook – closing their doors forever if a buyer can’t be found.


Borough council recently voted 7-0 to stop using Sunoco products for borough vehicles.


You can read the entire story here.


Call it a statement. It may not have any effect on the final outcome of the two plants, but it is important nonetheless.


We like their style.

December to Remember? Nah!

Raise your hand if there was not a Lexus with a big red bow on it out in the driveway out in the driveway on Christmas morning.

Thought so.

So much for a December to Remember.

For some reason, that commercial really bothered me this year. Maybe it’s because it seems to crystallize for me the commercialism that has taken over the holiday.

And maybe because it’s clear that Lexus upped the ante this year. I remember the commercial in years past, but it was for the most part one spot that you saw a couple of times.

This year you could not switch the channel without seeing one of several stories involving that ubiquitous jingle and the scenario in which the new luxury car is bestowed on a lucky spouse.

Of course it did not help that in one version a very young couple is celebrating their good fortune. When I was their age, I wasn’t sure I was going to be able to pay the rent, let alone a new car.

They say that an ad is deemed successful if you remember it, even if it’s for the wrong reason.

If that’s the case, Lexus has likely succeeded beyond their wildest dreams.

I really only want to know one thing. Just how much do you think they spent on that campaign.

And has anyone ever actually gotten a new car with a red bow on it for Christmas?

If you have by all means post a comment and let us know the details.

Same old Sixers - and Eagles

Here’s a couple of sports thoughts after a holiday weekend.

For the Sixers, the more things change, the more things stay the same.

After falling behind Portland in their delayed season opener, the Sixers scratched their way back and were within three with the ball with seconds left.

Stop me here if you know what’s coming.

Yep, that was Andre Iguodala throwing up the three-pointer – and clanging it off the rim. Sixers lose.

Have we not seen enough of this to sincerely hope that Iguodala never be allowed to take another shot with the clock winding down?

And yet the Sixers lose the season opener exactly the same way they lost so many games the last few years.

Then there’s the Eagles. I suppose I should thank the Jets, in particular quarterback Mark Sanchez, for saving my Christmas Eve. When I left for Mass, the Giants were cruising. Sanchez failed to do anything as the Eagles won, thus eliminating the Birds from the playoffs and rendering their final two games – including that win over the Cowboys – meaningless.

Now the question is who will be back.

You can count on Andy Reid. Not so clear is the status of Juan Castillo.

One report from San Diego yesterday had Castillo being replaced by Steve Spagnuolo, who is expected to get the ax as head coach of the lowly Rams. Everyone is denying that right now.

Make no mistake. Changes are needed. Spare us all the talk about the lockout, the absence of mini-camps and organized team activities and the abbreviated training camp.

The Eagles were well aware of all that, and still went “all in” with a ton of new players and coaches.

And they knew that when they handed the reins of the defense over to the untested Castillo, who was offensive line coach. It's nice that the defense finally seemed to gel late in the season, but those early-season disasters still count, and it was those games that kept the Eagles out of the playoffs.

Don’t be surprised if Castillo is back on the offensive side of the ball next year.

As for the head coach? Reid it and weep, Andy haters. He’s not going anywhere.

And it says here that when the lose their opener next year, Reid proclaims he has to do a better job of putting players in position to make plays.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

The dreaded Saturday Eagles pick

There's very little about this 'dream season' that has gone right for the Eagles.

But in the last two weeks, they've given us a taste of what they could be. Today they will put that progress to the test when they invade Dallas for a Christmas Eve encounter with the Cowboys, still hanging on to their slim playoff hopes.

Actually, the Eagles will know when they take the field whether the game actually means anything. The Giants play the Jets at 1 and the Jets - mauled by the Eagles just six days ago - must rally to top the struggling G-Men to keep the Birds' hopes alive. A Giants' win will render the Eagles-Cowboys game meaningless, with the Birds eliminated.

However, a Jets win will make for an early Christmas gift for the Birds, giving them something they have not had for about a month, a chance to control their own destiny, at least for a few hours. Should the Eagles win, they will still need help next week. They would have to beat the Redskins at home while the Giants beat the Cowboys.

Hey, crazier things have happened.

The Eagles played their best game of the season in November, handling the Cowboys easily at Lincoln Financial Field.

I don't think this time will be nearly as easy.

Don't ask me why, but I'm starting to believe. The Eagles will be without Asante Samuel, which does not bother me in the least. I like Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie at the other corner aside Nnamdi Asomugha to shut down the Cowboys' big receivers. That will give Juan Castillo a chance to concoct more blitzes to put pressure on quarterback Tony Romo.

The Eagles again will lean heavily on LeSean McCoy, and a harried Romo makes a couple crucial mistakes to give the Birds the win.

Make it Eagles 27, Cowboys 26. And on to the final weekend. Merry Christmas, Eagles fans.!

Last Week: The Birds were impresive for the second straight week in battering the Jets. Juan Castillo seems to be coming into his own as the defensive coordinator. And that has been predicated by a return to what the Eagles have been known for in recent years - the blitz. They'll need to dial up some more today vs. Romo.

Season Record: I actually managed to get one right, backing the Birds and hiking my anemic mark to 3-11. The Eagles are showing signs of being the team we thought they were and now sit at 6-8. They're shooting for an 8-8 mark, tied with both the Giants and Cowboys, which would give them the NFC East. Should they do so, things could get even more bizarre. There's no reason why this team could not win a couple of playoff games and find itself playing in the NFC title game.

I know, first things first. The Eagles still need to win and have a couple of other games go their way. Put those at the top of your Christmas wish list.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

The Conlin story: When words fail

For years, his were some of the first words I sought out in my daily diet of sports lore.


Now I find myself searching for the words to explain what exactly we are to make of the Bill Conlin story.


The legendary sports writer and columnist retired from the Philadelphia Daily News yesterday, just a few hours before their sister paper the Inquirer posted a story on their website in which several people accused him of sexually molesting them decades ago.


I have loved sports – in particular Philly sports – since I opened my eyes.


Every day I devour the sport sections of at least three daily newspapers. I am a devout listener of sports talk radio. Now I can read what writers are saying in every town thanks to the wonders of the Internet. I watch SportsCenter. I surf the Web in search of the latest news involving the Phillies, Eagles, Sixers and Flyers. Or just the hot national sports story.


But there was always one constant. I always wanted to know what Bill Conlin had to say.


It was my love for his writing, which always seemed to include a military reference that I would later learn was something he studied in college, that likely inspired me write myself.


After 30 years in this business, all on the news side, I often turn to sports as an escape from the often gritty, depressing “news” we report every day.


Then came Jerry Sandusky. Now Bill Conlin. The sports section is a lot more than games and scores these days.


I wish I knew what to say. And write. I am shocked. I feel terribly for the victims. I feel anger if in fact the accusations are true.


I continue to yearn for another time. Maybe when things were simpler. More innocent. Yes, maybe even more naïve.


I also would like to hear from Conlin himself. All I know right now is that he retired from the Daily News and hired a lawyer to represent him. George Bochetto indicated yesterday Conlin was “floored” and that he would now work to vindicate his name.


I guess floored is as good a word as any.


You could say I was floored. I guess a lot of us were.


As I usually do, I come back to the words. What do you say? What do you write?


I wish I knew.

Grim words from archbishop

The words from new Philadelphia Archbishop Charles Chaput were stark and to the point.


There is going to be pain for area Catholics in 2012.


That is especially true when it comes to archdiocesan schools.


That’s not exactly news to Delaware County, which has seen any number of schools closed in recent years. But for the most part, the closings have involved elementary schools.


Not it appears as if the ax is going to swing on some high schools.


Sitting in the middle of all this is the Rev. James P. Olson. He happens to be president of Monsignor Bonner and Archbishop Prendergast high schools. As they have been for years, Bonner is for boys; Prendie is for girls. That’s the way it’s always been, but probably not for much longer.


Olson admits he is not exactly sure what to expect when a blue-ribbon archdiocesan panel makes its ruling on Jan. 6.


Olson says that it is his job to prepare the schools’ extended families of students and staff for all possibilities.


You can read the story here.


In the meantime, a pall hangs over the archdiocese at the most festive time of the year.


Things promise only to get worse in the new year. Archbishop Chaput has give everyone fair warning.


It’s not going to be easy; in fact it’s going to be “painful.” When it comes to archdiocesan education, that’s something Delaware County is all to familiar with.


 

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

The Daily Numbers - Dec. 20

The Daily Numbers: 2,000 jobs at stake, as well as perhaps 20,000 ancillary ones, as efforts to save three local refineries continues.


6 of January, that is when Catholic schools will learn their fate in the latest reorganization in the archdiocese. It is believed the county likely will see more schools close.


42 years without a tax hike in Chester Heights. That came to an end last night.


41 dollars more, what the average taxpayer will have to fork over, that comes to $66.


500,000 deficit that is causing budget problems in Yeadon.


3.28 percent tax hike looming in the Chichester School District.


2 firefighters who suffered minor injuries fighting a house blaze last night in Springfield.


4 units in a Claymont townhouse development ravaged by fire yesterday afternoon.


12 people busted on drug charges in Wilmington. Authorities say the ring was delivering drugs to southern Chester County and Elkton, Md.


1 man from Delaware County named in the indictment.


1.7 billion dollar capital budget up for vote today in Harrisburg.


24, age of man struck and killed by train in Hatboro yesterday.


40,000 dollars in cash taken by 2 gunmen who hit the Marshall’s store in South Philly yesterday.


9 branches being closed in the Philly region by Citizens Bank, with 250 workers being laid off.


2 of the locations are in Delaware County, 1 being consolidated and 1 being closed.


3-2 loss for Flyers last night in a shootout in Colorado.


33 million reasons for Jimmy Rollins to be happy this Christmas as he celebrates new 3-year deal with Phils.


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Call me a Phanatic: A look at the ups and downs of being a Philadelphia sports fan.Jimmy Rollins is back. That’s good. And he says he still considers himself a leadoff man. Not so sure about that one.


 


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I Don’t Get It: The public safety director of Bethany Beach has been arrested. For groping a woman. At the office Christmas Party. Ho, ho, ho.


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Today’s Upper: A happy Hanukkah season to our readers.


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Quote Box: “It’s time for Sun Oil to step up …. As a partner … We need them at the table.”


- Union official Pat Eiding at meeting in Marcus Hook yesterday.

Battle for Marcus Hook rages

 


The battle for Marcus Hook continues unabated.


And it is becoming increasingly clear that the fight to save jobs and a way of life in the county’s lower end is going to be an uphill battle.


You can read our latest story here.


Both Sunoco and ConocoPhillips have made it clear they are getting out of the refinery business. Both have idled their plants, in Marcus Hook and next door in Linwood respectively. They say they are looking for buyers, but they aren’t getting much in the way of offers.


U.S. Rep. Pat Meehan, R-7, of Drexel Hill, tried to put a positive spin on things, indicating the two plants have drawn inquiries from a “small handful” of potential buyers.


He was one of a group of politicians, including Rep. Bob Brady, D-1, of Philadelphia, as well as Republican U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey, who held a meeting at the Marcus Hook Community Center.


Meehan says we likely will not hear anything definitive on the plants until sometime in January.


That will not make for the merriest of Christmases for local families.


These folks don’t want coal in their stockings. They’d rather have oil. Heavy crude, to be exact, and the refining jobs that go along with them.

At 14, he's suspect in crime wave

Anyone else notice the age of the suspect in those break-ins that have put an entire neighborhood in Drexel Hill on edge?


He was 14.


That was not a typo. He was 14.


Police say they caught him with an X-Box stuffed into his backpack.


You can read the full story here.


Am I the only one who thinks this is incredibly sad?



Reid gets defensive about Eagles' turnaround

OK, I’m ready to say it.

The Eagles defense has played very well the last two weeks, first smothering the Miami Dolphins and then thoroughly befuddling Mark Sanchez and the New York Jets.

You can’t say that without also noting that the defensive unit is still under the command of embattled defensive coordinator Juan Castillo.

If it seems like every finger in Eagles nation has been pointing at Castillo when it wasn’t aimed at Reid in this most disappointing season, that’s because it has.

Castillo has been skewered – and rightly so – for the Eagles defensive woes.

Now we are hearing the expected explanation for the Eagles poor early play on the defensive side of the ball. No less an authority than Reid at his day-after press conference chimed in on the Birds' D’s sudden, remarkable turnaround.

And that’s where I have problems with the whole thing.

Reid fell back on the lockout, and the lack of off-season work, along with all the new faces – both players and coaches – for the Eagles struggles early this year on defense.

Which leaves me with a big question.

If everyone knew the league was hurtling toward a lockout, what exactly was Reid thinking of in turning over the defense to his offensive line coach, who had not coached defense since his college days?

Reid and the Eagles brass knew very well it was unlikely this was going to be a normal year. There were no organized team activities (or mini-camps to the rest of us). Training camp was an abbreviated version.

The Eagles brought in several high-profile players, not the least of which was Nnamdi Asomugha.

They also brought in a new defensive line coach with a whole new system – the wide nine.

They decided Casey Matthews was a starting middle linebacker in the NFL. On what basis they made that decision I have no idea.

How did all this work out? As you might expect, it was a meltdown.

Now the defense is playing better. Credit to Castillo.

But if the Eagles fail to make the playoffs, questions must be asked about the decisions the Eagles made in the off-season, prime among them Reid’s move to hand the keys to the defense over to his offensive line coach.

Monday, December 19, 2011

The Daily Numbers - Dec. 19

The Daily Numbers: 45-19 win for the Eagles over the Jets to keep their playoff hopes alive.


3 TDs yesterday for LeSean McCoy, giving him 19 for the season. That breaks the team’s single-season TD record set by the legendary Steve Van Buren back in 1945, which he got in just 10 games.


102 yards rushing for McCoy yesterday to lead the Eagles attack.


6-8 record for the Birds. Now they need to win their last 2 games, while the Jets beat the Giants Saturday and the Giants beat the Cowboys on the final week of the season.


8 sacks in his last 3 games for Jason Babin. That gives him 18 for the season.


5 catches for 156 yards for Eagles tight end Brent Celek.


14, age of boy charged in 6 Upper Darby break-ins.


2 charged in the theft of a wallet from a senior citizen in Upper Chi.


9 to 36 months in jail for 63-year-old man convicted of molesting a girl, 10.


9:30 a.m. meeting today in Marcus Hook for an update on attempts to sell two local refineries.


39, age of man whose body was found wrapped in plastic in a Chester lot.


1 million dollar jackpot at a poker table won at Harrah’s Atlantic City.


58, age of man struck and killed by hit-run driver in Philadelphia last night.


2 police officers shot in a confrontation near I-70 in western Pa. town of East Washington.


2 men killed in stabbing incidents in Philly over weekend.


1 person killed, 1 wounded in shooting that took place in driveway of home in Montgomery County.


2,475 that flowed into the Merry Christmas Fund yesterday. We’re still a long way from our $50,000 goal.


3.32, average price for gas in the Philly region.


3.35, average price a week ago.


3.11, what we were paying last year.


*


Call me a Phanatic: A look at the ups and downs of being a Philadelphia sports fan.Why do I get the distinct feeling that the Eagles are somehow going to find a way into the playoffs, and will be in position to do some damage once they get there.


 


*


I Don’t Get It: Police have made an arrest in a series of home break-ins in Drexel Hill. The suspect is 14 years old. I don’t get it.


*


Today’s Upper: The push to save jobs and a way of life continues this morning in Marcus Hook. We’ll be there to cover it.


*


Quote Box: “If they run the table, I’d like to talk to all the people who have been knocking Andy Reid the last few weeks.”


- Eagles fan Fran Czaplicki, enjoying the Eagles win yesterday.

The battle for Marcus Hook

The battle for Marcus Hook goes on.

With the seconds counting down until the end of the year – and the end of the refining era in the lower end of the county – a meeting will be held this morning to update all involved in the effort to save the Sunoco and ConocoPhillips refineries.

Republican U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey will join U.S. Rep. Pat Meehan, R-7, and others at the meeting at the Marcus Hook Community Center at 9:30 a.m.

Sunoco landed the first blockbuster back on Sept. 2, when they indicated they would put their iconic Marcus Hook facility up for sale, and if none came forward they likely would shutter the facility.

That was followed two weeks later by a similar announcement from ConocoPhillips. Only they decided to shut down production immediately.

Two weeks ago Sunoco announced they were speeding up their timetable. Instead of operating the refinery until July while seeking a buyer, they indicated that the downturn in refining was focing their hand, and they also would shut down production.

Check back to DelcoTimes.com all day for updates on this important meeting this morning.

Eagles rise from the ashes

There goes Christmas Eve.

Attention, Eagles fans. Your beloved Birds are still alive in their longshot hope of making the playoffs.

But in trouncing the Jets yesterday to keep those flickering hopes alive, they rained all over Christmas Eve.

The Eagles play the Cowboys at 4:15 Saturday. Yes, on Christmas Eve.

But here is all you really need to know. Watch the early game first. If the Giants manage to beat the Jets – and both New York teams looked atrocious yesterday – then the Eagles are eliminated.

The Jets must rally from yesterday's debacle to beat the Giants, and the Eagles must prevail in Dallas, to send this bizarre year in the NFC East down to the final weekend.

Right about now the Eagles are probably cursing all the games they gave away at the beginning of the season with a series of 4th quarter collapses.

Yes, I still remember that they had a 20-3 halftime lead over the 49ers only to fold up in the second half.

Then there’s the no-show against the Cardinals. That actually might be the game that keeps them out of the post-season.

You can bet that the rest of the league is hoping the Eagles get eliminated. Based on the way they’ve played the past two weeks, no one wants to play them in a playoff game.

Even beleaguered Juan Castillo and his defense seem to be coming around. Give Castillo credit for some of those innovative formations yesterday, including using sack machine Jason Babin in a linebacker spot.

Of course if you've been hoping this less than a "dream" season would lead to the exit of Andy Reid, you might not be thrilled by this turn of events. It would appear Reid will be back next year.

In the meantime, early Mass on Christmas Eve just went out the window.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

The dreaded Saturday Eagles pick

There's a part of me that would really like to put this season behind us. It's been a nightmare ever since the words 'dream team' escaped the lips of Vince Young. From that point on, this prodigious collection of talent has disappointed at every level - front office, coaching and most of all the players.

One thing has not happened this year that I certainly thought would. I have not seen Michael Vick put this team on his shoulders and will it to a big win, as he did in such thrilling fashion against the Giants last year.

Instead, the truth is that Vick has flat-out been a disappointment. He has not played well, looking more like the guy who played in Atlanta, inaccurate, making poor decisions, with happy feet looking to run rather than going through his reads.

The result has been a lot of running - admittedly some of the time running for his life behind a shaky offensive line. When Vick does that you can count on one thing. He will get hurt. And he is currently nursing two broken ribs that kept him out of the lineup for three weeks.

So Sunday, against a very good defense in the New York Jets, you would not think would be the day Vick reverses that pattern. But nothing else about this season has gone the way I've envisioned.

So I say the Eagles manage to squeeze just enough out of Vick and LeSean McCoy to get the win, while Juan Castillo's defense harasses Jets QB Mark Sanchez into a couple of key turnovers.

However, should that not happen, should the Eagles fall behind early, look for the return of the 'Fire Andy' chants before that crowd makes an early exit.

That would be two straight home debacles weighing on the front office. I think this team manages to avoid that fate.

Make it Eagles 24, Jets 23. Still alive. Unreal.

Last Week: The Birds put together one of their better performances of the year, especially on defense, in dispatching the Dolphins. The Fish were so disappointed in being filleted they stuck a fork in head coach Tony Sparano on Monday. Were you watching, Mr. Lurie?

Season Record: Things can't get much worse for me. Actually, you could have made a pretty good living just going the opposite way from my picks. I now sit at a rank 2-11, while the Eagles are limping along at 5-8, clinging to the miracle that they, the Giants and Cowboys all wind up 8-8, which would give the Eagles the NFC Least and a playoff spot.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

The Feast of the 7 Fishes

No one is ever going to mistake me for Italian.


One glance at this ruddy complexion and 'distinctive' nose tells you I'm all Irish.


But 28 years ago I had the great fortune of marrying into a very Italian family. And I became immersed in the traditions that accompany such strong families.


For example, Sunday dinner was served at 1 o'clock sharp. Your attendance was expected. That created some problems during Eagles season.


Easter morning was accompanied by something called a frutata -an exotic egg dish. The week before on Palm Sunday it was holiday soup. I love the soup, but I don't eat eggs. Thankfully, my mother-in-law usually presented me with a heaping plate of bacon adn toast.


But without question the biggest mystery to me rolled around every Christmas Eve, with something called the Feast of the 7 Fishes. Now I need to make a confession here. I don't eat a lot of seafood, with the exception of maybe some fried flounder during Lent (heavy on the bread crumbs, if you please). I am assuming fish sticks don't really count as seafood.


So I was always fascinated by the Christmas Eve feast, in particular the kinds of fish and the long traditions that were upheld and revered.


I soon realized this was a very important thing with Italians. I always wanted to do a feature story that focused on this holiday rite.


Last night I did better than that. I actually got to sample a 'feast.'


I will be eternally grateful to chef Jacquie Peccina-Kelly, part of our blogging team and the Cucina Chatter gang, who brought an entire Feast of the 7 Fishes in and walked us through it on our 'Live From the Newsroom' Internet broadcast.


Jacquie did a great job going through each course, what kinds of fish are usually used and the meaning and lore behind all of it. It was an eye-opener - and delicious to boot.


We were joined by chef/actress Natalie Stone, chef Dom Condo, and Cucina Chatter host Lorraine Ranalli. They all added in their own family's twists on the tradition. We even had some readers offer questions and their own family's special rites.


If you missed the show, you can watch it here. We also will repost it on Christmas Eve to enjoy with your own family traditions.


Consider it our holiday gift to you.


Mangia! That's about as Italian as I get.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

The Daily Numbers - Dec. 14

The Daily Numbers: 2.3 percent tax hike approved by Delaware County Council yesterday.


324 million spending plant that will cost average resident 16 bucks in additional taxes.


5.35 mill tax rate approved in Upper Chichester. That’s actually a tax cut.


0 tax hike in Brookhaven under their budget.


7 as in 7th District, which take on a whole new look in the wake of the bizarre redistricting plan rolled out yesterday in Harrisburg.


2 people, a man and woman, facing drug charges in Upper Darby with a child in tow.


14 break-ins and thefts in Drexel Park area that so far are unsolved.


17, age of teen robbed at gunpoint on Margate Road.


2,475 that flowed into the Merry Christmas Fund yesterday. We’re still a long way from our $50,000 goal.


2 public services set on Thursday and Friday for Delco native Cardinal John Foley. One is at St. Charles Borromeo, the other is at the Basilica SS. Peter and Paul in Philly.


2 funerals set for teen victims of hit-run in Glenolden. The first service is tonight.


7 puppies abandoned in a crate on a Chester street yesterday.


100 million dollars, price of license for a private wine wholesaler to open up shop in Pa., under new bill in Harrisburg.


50,000 dollars, how much a license would cost a beer distributor who wants to sell wine.


620 state stores that would remain in business in Pa. under the plan.


3,800 unionized workers in those stores.


496 million in revenue those stores produce each year.


2 brothers charged in chop shop operation in Philly that specialized in older model Honda Accords.


5-1 win for the Flyers as they beat the Caps last night without their 2 biggest stars, Chris Pronger and Claude Giroux.


2 Flyers stars now suffering with concussion symptoms.


68-43 win for Villanova over BU last night.


*


Call me a Phanatic: A look at the ups and downs of being a Philadelphia sports fan.The Flyers were without their 2 top players last night, but still rolled to an easy win over the Capitals.


 


*


I Don’t Get It: Pennsylvania needs to get serious about drawing up political maps via redistricting.


*


Today’s Upper: Curious George is going home for the holidays. The emaciated pit bull that was nursed back to health by the Delco SPCA is now in the loving arms of a new family.


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Quote Box: “This is an unmitigated, absolute disgrace.”


- State Rep. Greg Vitali, on the newly redrawn 7th District Congressional district boundaries.

New home for George, and a new problem

Remember that emaciated pit bull puppy that was gracing these pages back around Halloween?


He has a new home for the holidays, by George.


After spending a week at dog training school in King of Prussia, Curious George yesterday went home with his new guardians.


Here’s the story.


At the same time, we got another reminder of the problem of stray animals in the county.


Seven puppies were found abandoned in a crate on a Chester street.


That story is here.


Which reminds me, how are things coming on that new county animal shelter?

Don't toast the end of the LCB just yet

So much for my hope of being able to toast the new year with the knowledge that Pennsylvania soon will be out of the booze business.


No such luck.


But we are making some progress.


It’s no secret where I stand. I want to be able to go to one place – preferably the supermarket while I am getting my groceries – and also take care of my “spiritual” side.


I want to walk down an aisle full of anything I might want – wine, spirits, beer (singles, six-packs and cases).


Ain’t going to happen.


The bill that would blow up the state Liquor Control Board and turn the operation over to private enterprise has been hijacked in Harrisburg. Kind of like everything else that happens out there.


You can read the story here.


Not that the plan was perfect. It wouldn’t have had any effect on beer sales at all.


Yesterday a state House Liquor Committee (I know, how do you get that job?) approved House Bill 11 and sent it to the full House.


It will give consumers some more options, while keeping the state store system – along with the jobs and revenue it produces.


Chalk this one up to the power of unions protecting all those state workers’ jobs.


What are we going to get? Beer distributors would be able to sell wine and get more options in terms of being able to sell you something other than a case of brew. State stores likely would get another expansion of their hours.


It also could open the door for wine super stores, such as those nearby just over the line in Delaware, to set up shop in Pa., but only if they fork over a fairly hefty license fee.


Looks like state Rep. Nick Miccarelli might wind up losing his bet. He told me I was going to get my wish, that I would be able to push that plunger and blow up the hated LCB.


Now the system is being saved, in the Nick of time, you might say.


Don’t blame Miccarrelli. He’s in favor of privatization. But for now this is likely the best we are going to get.

Now pinch-hitting for the Phillies....

Here’s a little Phillies hot stove trivia for a cold December morning, along with a more serious question for NHL fans.

What do you think the over-under is on the number of times Charlie Manuel uses newly acquired pitcher Dontrelle Willis as a pinch-hitter?

I’ll go with 5. Feel free to post your own number.

On a more serious note, is anyone else worried about what is going on in the National Hockey Leauge?

The Flyers two best players, defenseman Chris Pronger, and budding superstar Claude Giroux, the NHL’s top point-getter, are both now sidelined with concussion symptoms.

This comes at the same time that reigning “best player in the world” Sidney Crosby has once again been forced off the ice by recurring concussion symptoms.

And isn’t ironic that all this comes at a time when none other than Eric Lindros, whose star-crossed Flyers career was short-circuited by concussion issues, is coming back to Philly for the first time as part of the Winter Classic extravaganza.

Lindros knows better than anyone the dangers that accompany this increasingly brutal game.

It’s time the league take a long, hard look at what is leading to this sudden spike in problems.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

The Daily Numbers - Dec. 13

The Daily Numbers: 6,000 population of Bellefonte, Pa., where the Jerry Sandusky preliminary hearing will be held today.


100 media members packed into the courtroom 100 more in a satellite courtroom in the same building.


2 prior criminal cases for the suspect in the hit-run deaths of 2 Academy Park students.


1 million dollars bail for Maurquis Thompson, who is charged in the hit-run case.


16,150 dollars in the Merry Christmas Fund, which is lagging this year as it inches toward its $50,000 goal.


2 public services set on Thursday and Friday for Delco native Cardinal John Foley. One is at St. Charles Borromeo, the other is at the Basilica SS. Peter and Paul in Philly.


155 more Chinook helicopters being pursued by Boeing in Ridley Township. That would be the final part of a $4.3 billion, 5-year deal.


2,000 workers at the Boeing plant who depend on the Chinook program.


3 year contract for the professional staff at the Delaware County Intermediate Unit.


4-1 vote by which the state Legislature Reapportionment Commission OK’d the new boundaries for legislative seats.


3 Salvation Army red kettles stolen in Philadelphia.


6 homes on the Main Line that have reported Christmas decorations being stolen.


146-45 vote in the state House to limit funding for abortions.


8, age of boy who was in backseat of car after it was stolen. The thieves kicked him out of the car. He was not injured.


.259 batting average for Ben Francisco, who was traded by the Phils to the Blue Jays.


23-15 minor league record for Frank Gailey, the Archbishop Carroll product the Phils got in return.


*


Call me a Phanatic: A look at the ups and downs of being a Philadelphia sports fan.Let’s all hope the Eagles lose Sunday and get the misery out of the way, as opposed to making us tune in when they play Dallas on Christmas Eve.


 


*


I Don’t Get It: Someone is stealing Salvation Army kettles in Philadelphia. I don’t get it.


*


Today’s Upper: Kudos to those taking the time to remember and honor the legacy of Delco’s own Cardinal John Foley.


*


Quote Box: “There were a lot of concerns by students in terms of just dealing with the reality of Michael and Mark not being at school and the reality of having classes with them and them not being there.”


- Southeast Delco Superintendent Stephen Butz, on the tragic hit-run deaths of 2 students and the reaction of the Academy Park student body.

Mourning 2 young lives lost

This is the reason I didn’t follow in the footsteps of my father and become a cop.


Among those who responded to the horrific scene of Friday night’s hit-run carnage on Chester Pike in Glenolden was Collingdale Chief Bob Adams.


It was left to him to identify the body of Michael Taylor, one of the 15-year-olds who was killed. Taylor died at the scene. Mark McNeill died Saturday afternoon at Crozer-Chester Medical Center.


Adams had known Taylor all his young life. More than that, Adams was good friends with Taylor’s father. It was left to the cop to deliver the news to his friend.


It was left to us to deliver the news surrounding this incredibly sad story to most of the people in Delaware County.


I can assure you there is no good way to do it. The best way is simply to tell people what we know. Of course, now we do it instantaneously.


Our first reports Friday night and into Saturday morning did not include the names of the victims. That is in part simply because we did not know them, and also out of respect to the families. In these instances we always take care to be sure families have been notified before we make such information public.


Still there are two families in Delaware County mourning the loss of two 15-year-old kids just two weeks before Christmas. At Academy Park, where both young men went to school, there also is a palpable sadness.


Officials there braced for what they termed  a “very difficult” day as students returned to class on Monday for the first time since learning of the deaths of their two classmates.


You can read today's coverage here.


Later this week there will be two incredibly emotional funerals. Our plan right now is that we likely will take a photo from a distance outside the funeral home to demonstrate what will undoubtedly be a large, emotional turnout.


I don’t really think any other coverage is needed. There is nothing we can add by asking a lot of kids how they feel.


They feel like we all do. Numb at the thought that two young, vibrant lives can be taken from us in an instant.


I didn’t become a cop. I became a newsman instead. Some days the jobs are a lot alike.

The circus comes to tiny town of Bellefonte

In the tiny Pennsylvania burg of Bellefonte, population 6,000, the circus is in town.


Welcome to the Jerry Sandusky preliminary hearing.


The former Penn State coach will face his accusers in court for the first time this morning.


And just about every media member on the planet will be in attendance.


So unparalleled is this event that the judge presiding over the hearing has lifted Pennsylvania’s normal ban on electronic reporting from inside the courtroom.


Meaning that reporters will be allowed to tweet, blog and post on Facebook all day.


You can follow all the developments here.


Or you can ignore it. I can tell you now what is going to happen. Sandusky will be head for trial on probably all the charges that he abused as many as 10 children, now grown men. Many of the alleged victims will take the stand and testify against Sandusky. Also possibly set to testify is Penn State assistant coach Mike McQueary, who told a grand jury that he witnessed Sandusky sexually assaulting a boy in a locker room shower.


This is not a trial. This is the preliminary hearing. At this hearing it is up to the prosecution to present enough evidence to convince a judge that the case should go forward to trial. They almost always do just that.


Don’t tell the media, however. They will be breathlessly reporting from Bellefonte all day.


Anybody care to fathom a guess as to the over-under on how many times the word Sandusky is uttered today?

This Grinch will be rooting against Eagles

It pains me to say this, but in the spirit of Christmas, Eagles fans (or at least their families) might want to wish for a Birds' loss this Sunday, thus officially putting them out of their misery.

Die-hard fans like me are still clinging to the far-fetched idea that the Eagles can make the playoffs.

To do that they must win their final three games, then hope that both the Giants and Cowboys basically choke, each losing at least two of their last three.

This week the Eagles are at home and have a sizable task with the Jets, who are in the midst of trying to secure an AFC Wild Card spot themselves.

If the Eagles lose, their season is over. Which might not be all that bad a thing.

Because if they win and extend this messy affair another week, there will be a lot of Christmas plans thrown into havoc.

That is because the Eagles have a Christmas Eve date in Dallas. The 4:15 start could wreck a lot of family traditions. Then again, I suppose a lot of family traditions could include gathering the clan and cheering on the Birds over the hated Cowboys.

And what better Christmas gift can an Eagles fan ask for then another classic El Foldo by the guys with the stars on their helmets.

For me, I think I’ve had plenty of disappointment from this Eagles team already.

I’m ready to move on, and I don’t need the Eagles raining on my Christmas parade.

Call me a Grinch. I’ll be rooting for the Birds to fall on their sword this weekend.

Monday, December 12, 2011

The Daily Numbers - Dec. 12

The Daily Numbers: 76, age of Cardinal John Foley, a native of Sharon Hill, who died Sunday.


2 15-year-olds killed when they were struck by a hit-run driver in Glenolden Friday night.


19, age of driver charged in the incident.


18, age of man struck and killed by SEPTA trolley in Haverford early Sunday.


3 age of child in stroller who mom was pushing along the aisles of Home Depot while she was stealing merchandise, according to police.


500,000 to $600,000 in earned income tax revenue that would disappear from Marcus Hook budget if the Sunoco plant closes, officials said this week.


2 towns that took a stand on the new proposed animal shelter in Delco. Brookhaven is for it; Rutledge has voted against.


400 to 500 state trooopers who could be laid off, according to an internal memo.


26 toes, 2 extra on each paw, on a cat that is becoming a sensation in Wisconsin.


3.5 pounds of pot discovered in a car and 3 suspects under arrest in Delaware.


5 people homeless after fire roared through a home in Gloucester Township, N.J.


3.99 percent, average rate for a 30-year mortgage.


10,000 dollar bet offered by Republican Mitt Romney to Rick Perry in debate flap over Romney’s health care plan.


5-8, Eagles record after big win over Dolphins yesterday. They’re still alive in the playoff race.


9 sacks recorded by the Eagles.


208 yards passing for Michael Vick.


27 carries for just 38 yards for LeSean McCoy against tough Miami defense.


37-34 win for the Giants last night over the Cowboys, which is what the Eagles needed.


*


Call me a Phanatic: A look at the ups and downs of being a Philadelphia sports fan.Anyone else get the feeling that the Eagles season – and playoff hopes – is going to come down to Christmas Eve in Dallas? Merry Christmas.


 


*


I Don’t Get It: For the third year in a row the war memorials at Penn’s Landing have been vandalized. I don’t get it.


*


Today’s Upper: Kudos to all those who took part in Sunday’s event at Granite Run Mall, where video messages for troops overseas were recorded.


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Quote Box: “When you use the expression ‘24/7,’ that was him. Twenty-hour hours, seven days a week he worked.”


- Monsignor Hans Brouwer, on Cardinal John Foley.

Remembering Cardinal Foley

John Patrick Foley rose to the highest echelons of the Roman Catholic Church, sitting next to popes.


But he always considered himself a kid from Sharon Hill.


That is why Carindal Foley, perhaps best known as the “voice of Christmas Eve” for his longtime role as the commentator on the pontiff’s annual Christmas Eve Mass, was so beloved.


He never forgot where he came from, his roots. And Cardinal Foley’s roots were in Sharon Hill, where he was a paperboy who once delivered the Chester Times, the predecessor of the Delaware County Daily Times.


Foley must have had ink in his blood. That early newspaper job was probably a harbinger of his future work.


That’s something else I had in common with Foley. No, I’m not exactly a saint, as anyone who has heard one of my newsroom tirades can attest.


Foley was a newsman, serving as the longtime editor of the Catholic Standard and Times.


Cardinal Foley lost his battle with cancer, dying in his sleep early Sunday. He was 76.


You can read our full story here.


Back in March, we ran one of our many profiles on Cardinal Foley on his decision to retire and return to Villa St. Joseph, in Darby Borough, the town where he was born, to deal with his health issues.


After that profile ran, the cardinal, the man who had consulted with popes, called me to thank the newspaper for our kind words.


It was one of the best phone calls I’ve ever received in three decades in the news racket.


You can read that column here.


I will miss Cardinal John Foley. So will a lot of people from Delaware County. And in the Vatican.


That’s the kind of guy he was. A prince of the church, who counted popes as his friends. And a guy from Sharon Hill, who never forget where he was from.


Rest well, dear cardinal.

A tragic weekend in Delco

It was a particularly gruesome weekend in Delaware County.

It started Friday morning with word that a beloved Sunoco A-Plus market owner had been gunned down.

There has not been an arrest in the murder of Mohammed Fareed.

The vigil for Fareed had barely ended Friday night when we got word of a nasty hit-run on Chester Pike in Glenolden.

A suspect fleeing from police after a traffic stop blew through a red light and slammed into two Delco teenagers.

Academy Park High School students Michael Taylor and Mark McNeill were killed. Taylor was killed instantly in the intersection. McNeill died Saturday at Crozer Chester Medical Center.

A suspect, 19 year-old Maurquis Javon Thompson, fled the scene, abandoned the car not far away in Norwood. He was spotted on a nearby street by a Norwood officer and arrested.

He faces numerous charges, including being under the influence at the time of the crash.

That huge story was followed first thing Sunday morning with news of the loss of beloved Delco native Cardinal John Foley.

Not a good weekend. It was our job to deliver a lot of bad news, and deal with tons of heartbreak.

It goes with the territory. But it doesn't make it any easier.

Eagles are still alive

They’re still alive.

Barely, but they’re still alive.

I guess you could say the ‘dream’ is still alive as well. The dream team, as the Eagles were so nicknaked by backup QB Vince Young last summer, live for another weekend.

I did not expect the Eagles to go down to Miami and win yesterday. But they did, and they were fairly convincing in the process, especially on defense.

Maybe all that talk of “working hard” from embattled defensive cooordinator Juan Castillo finally got through to his troops. The Eagles ran roughshod over the Dolphins offensive line, recording nine sacks.

The offense, with Michael Vick back at the helm, had an explosive second quarter, wiping out a 7-0 deficit and rolling to a 24-7 halftime lead.

No, they didn’t do much in the second half, but with the defense playing the way they were, they didn’t really need to put up any more points.

Then last night, the Giants helped the effort by knocking off the Cowboys in a wild affair, 37-34. The Giants scored twice in the final four minutes, then blocked a possible game-tying field goal with seconds left on the clock.

Remember, going into the weekend, the Eagles knew that they needed to win out, while the Cowboys went 1-3 and the Giants 2-2. So you needed the Giants to win last night.

So far, everything is going according to plan.

It gets a little dicier next week, when the Jets come to the Linc for a 4:15 game.

But for now the Eagles are alive.

Chalk it up to “hard work,” and “doing a better job of putting players in position to make plays.”

Saturday, December 10, 2011

The Dreaded Saturday Eagles Pick

I’m done with this team. And why not? They seem to have given up the ghost as well, at least based on that putrid performance they offered a national TV audience in Seattle.

Yes, technically the Eagles are still alive. Don’t believe it. This team is dead. The only question now is who pays for it? Andy Reid? Juan Castillo? Both?

The Dolphins, after an 0-7 start, have actually been playing much better of late. The Eagles, on the other hand, keep saying they know each week is a must week, and keep losing. Not only that, but looking fairly disinterested in the process.

LeSean McCoy will find it fairly tough going against a surprisingly stout Miami defense. That is, if Andy Reid deigns to give him the ball. After all, Andy is an offensive genius and knows so much more than all the rest of us. That’s why he decided to ignore the league’s best running back the last few weeks and take his chances with Vince Young trying to beat NFL teams. How did that work out for you, Andy?

Sunday he goes into Miami with a banged-up Michael Vick. Sounds like about 45 passes to me.

Make it Dolphins 29, Eagles 17. Dead. Officially. End of season.

Last Week: One thing is certain. No matter what the Eagles do, they won’t look worse than they did in losing at Seattle. About as bad a performance as we’ve seen in the Andy Reid Era.

Season Record: It’s been a brutal season – for both me and the Birds. I’m sitting at 2-10, just waiting to be put out of my misery. Same thing could be said for the Eagles, wheezing along at 4-8, clinging to some mirage of playoff possibilities. That should end Sunday.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Today's Daily Numbers - Dec. 9

The Daily Numbers: 1 man gunned down in an apparent robbery gone bad early this morning in Chester.


27 homicides to date in 2011 in the county, this would make it 28.


18 of them have taken place in the city of Chester.


14 recent break-ins that caused a community meeting in Drexel Hill last night.


200 residents who turned out for a meeting with township top cop Mike Chitwood and Mayor Tom Micozzie.


3 union leaders who took their case for saving the Sunoco and ConocoPhillips refineries in Chester to our political leaders in Washington, D.C.


54 deer bagged in the second day of 2-day hunt at Ridley Creek State Park.


.10 mill tax hike looming in Swarthmore.


3 aides who are headed to trial today for allegedly abusing an elderly resident at the Quadrangle senior living center in Haverford.


17, age of teen found guilty of 1st-degree murder yesterday in shooting of his 23-year-old friend in Chester.


52 dollar per person local services tax approved in Chester Heights.


21 of 24 Americans who admit to texting while driving, according to a recent poll.


6 dead pit bulls found in yard of home in Philly.


250,000 bail posted by Jerry Sandusky. He’s now free on home monitoring.


2 Philadelphia police officers injured in collision of 2 cruisers Thursday night.


3-2 win for Flyers over Pens last night, giving them possession of 1st place.


37 points for the Flyers, to 36 for the Pens.


2 year, $2.5 million dollar deal now official for Laynce Nix with the Phillies.


*


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


The word is the Cardinals now have their eyes set on Jimmy Rollins after losing out in the Albert Pujols Sweepstakes. Or Ryan Howard. Or both?


*


I Don’t Get It: Another fatal shooting overnight in the city of Chester. Another store owner and solid citizen who became a victim of the city’s persistent gun violence.


*


Today’s Upper: Good for Mike Chitwood and Tom Micozzie. They met with 200 Drexel Hill residents last night


*


Quote Box: “Don’t hike keys under the mat or in the fake rock. Burglars look for the fake rock.”


- Community Officer Tom Nee, to Drexel Hill residents fighting wave of robberies and break-ins.

Another fatal shooting in Chester

It couldn’t last forever.

The sound of gunfire once again resounded overnight in the city of Chester.

With deadly results.

Police say a robbery went bad at the Sunoco A Plus Mini Mart at Ninth and Kerlin streets. It ended with a man shot. He died on the way to Crozer Chester Medical Center.

It almost assuredly will be ruled a homicide. Before he lapsed into unconsciousness the victim was able to give police a pretty good description of his attacker. The station also had surveillance video. Police are seeking the shooter.

This will bring the county murder total for 2011 to 28, 18 of them in Chester.

We have a reporter at the scene. We’ll bring you more details as they develop.

If you know anything about the victim, feel free to share it with reporter Cindy Scharr at cscharr@delcotimes.com.

What's going on at St. Madeline's

Interesting situation brewing down at St. Madeline-St. Rose School in Ridley Park.


This was doesn’t follow the usual trend. It’s not about sex abuse. It’s not about missing money. It’s not about the possibility of the school closing.


It’s about Principal Dennis Reitano, and why he’s been placed on administrative leave.


The archdiocese made the move earlier this week after several students indicated they were “uncomfortable” with Reitano’s actions during a Safe Environment lesson.


But there’s a twist. Ridley Park Police Chief Tom Byrne says that after his department checked out the situation, they are not going to file any charges.


Thursday night they held a meeting at the school. The place was packed with parents, many there to support Reitano and wondering what happens now. You can watch the video we picked up from NBC10 here.


The ball is now in the archdiocese’s court. We’ll keep our ear on it to see if Reitano gets his job back.


By the way, if you are a parent, or a staffer, and want to talk about the situation, feel free to give us a call. You can reach me at 610-622-8818, or you can email me at editor@delcotimes.com.


The same offer goes to Reitano, who now is in something of Catholic school limbo.

Baseball Heaven


I heard one of the most amazing sports interviews I have ever encountered on the way into work this morning.

St. Louis Cardinals General Manager John Mozeliak was talking about Albert Pujols.

You would think Mozeliak, who had just seen the centerpiece of his Cardinals’ team turn his back on the franchise, walking away to accept a $10-year-, $250 million deal with the California Angels, would be bitter.

You would expect to hear words like traitor, betrayal, ingrate.

I heard none of those.

What I heard was a man who showered superlatives on Pujols, who certainly was disappointed at losing his superstar, but understood why he did what he did.

I heard a man who clearly had hoped for a different outcome (and was willing to put a boatload of money behind it), only to be rebuffed by his best player.

Mozeliak talked about what Pujols had meant to the Cardinals, including that World Series win back in October (after they dispatched the Phillies in the NLDS).

He talked about the future, and all the money he now had to spend on other players.

He went on to talk about what baseball – in particular the Cardinals – means to St. Louis.

It was extraordinary.

I can only imagine what the reaction would have been if something similar had occurred with a superstar here in Philly.

Maybe that’s why they call the place “baseball heaven.”

Pujols may now be wearing an Angels’ halo, but he left heaven behind in the Midwest.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

The Daily Numbers - Dec. 8

The Daily Numbers: 2 new victims who have come forward to say they were molested by former Penn State Coach Jerry Sandusky.


250,000 bail for Sandusky, who spent the night in a Centre County jail.


1 person who showed up to testify at last night's County Council budget hearing.


2.3 percent tax hike included in the Delco budget.


300 people who packed a budget hearing in Montgomery County.


40 million dollar shortfall in Montco, where they are proposing steep cuts in library and parks funding.


4 juveniles and 1 adults busted yesterday after a brawl near Park Lane Elementary School in Darby Borough yesterday.


0 criminal charges that will be brought against the principal at St. Madeline-St. Rose School in Ridley Park. He was placed on administrative leave after students indicated they were concerned by his actions during a recent assembly.


2 counts of 3rd-degree murder on which a Chester man was convicted yesterday.


30 years, how long Maureen Faulkner waited for Mumia Abu-Jamal to be put to death for the murder of her husband, Phillly Policeman Daniel Faulkner. Won't happen. He'll serve life in prison.


14 years in prison for former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich on corruption charges.


5-4 win for Flyers over the Sabres last night, after being down 3-0 in 1st period.


36 points this season for Claude Giroux, who had the game-winner in OT.


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


Sounds like the Phillies are getting closer to a deal with Jimmy Rollins. This is going to look an awful lot like the same lineup that went so quietly vs. the Cardinals.


I Don’t Get It: Hard to believe the Jerry Sandusky case could get more horrific. It did.


Today’s Upper: Mumia Abu-Jamal will not be put to death, but he will neve go free either.


Quote Box: “Dishonest cowards.”


- Maureen Faulkner, widow of Philly Officer Daniel Faulkner, on the judge who overturned his killer's death penalty.

'Live From Newsroom' focuses on Sunoco

Last night we got still one more view of the situation swirling around Sunoco’s decision to idle their Marcus Hook refinery while they seek a buyer.


Actually we got two.


Our thanks to Michael McLain, a member of United Steelworkers 10-901 that represents workers at the plant, as well as Marcus Hook Mayor James Schiliro.


Schiliro talked about the economic death knell that is sounding over the town where he was born and raised.


McLain talked about the human toll the move is taking on workers and their families.


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


It is without question the most important story in the county today.


It is literally the end of an era.


This morning I received an email from McLain thanking us for our continued coverage of the story.


He made one of the best arguments I’ve heard for another refiner coming into the plant.


Here’s what he said:


"We realize that we will not be working for Sunoco or Conoco any longer, and our focus must be to attract new owners to these refineries. With the right owners, a functional management team and the world class workforce that we provide, there is money to be made in these facilities.


" In the past, the Pew family rode out many of the peaks and valleys of the refining industry. Whether through adaptation of the processes, technological advances, or just plain perseverance, the company always survived to live another day and reach the peak again with a fist full of money.


"In the modern day business environment, companies such as Sunoco are unwilling to ride out the roller-coaster. These corporations parachute off the ride to safety, leaving the employees and communities to go down with the ship, scrambling for a seat on the life boats.


"However, I am hopeful that there is a company out there willing to ride out the storm. As I said last night, the age of motor fuel is a long way from being over, and market conditions will change. The question is, when the next northeast refining boom is in sight, will there be anyone left in the northeast to benefit from the windfall or will the profits float overseas never to be realized in this region again. I hope for the good of the nearly 20,000 families that will be directly effected by these closures a savior appears. If they do, our memberships will be there to welcome them with open arms, willing to work at making these businesses successful. "


Amen to that, brother!

A tale of 2 counties

This is a tale of two counties.


Yesterday morning in Norristown, a huge crowd turned out to protest budget cuts included in Montgomery County’s proposed budget.


For three hours, residents urged commissioners not to cut funding for county libraries, parks and Montgomery County Community College. All those proposals are included in the budget due to a $40 million shortfall.


Last night, Delaware County Council held its public hearing on their spending plan, which includes the first tax hike in years. The 2.3 percent increase will cost the average homeowner an additional $16.


Exactly one person showed up. You can read out story here.


A Tinicum man indicated people are for the most part “satisfied” with the job council is doing.


Apparently a lot more satisfied that the folks in Montgomery County.

Today in History: Imagine

Last summer I managed to cross another item off my “bucket list.”

I visited Bethel, N.Y. If you’re not sure why that town is famous, let me give you a hint. It’s 45 minutes away from a much more famous town. I am guessing you’ve heard of it. It’s called Woodstock.

Yes, I stood at the top of the hill and looked down into that bowl on Yasgur’s farm, and yes, the hair stood up on my neck.

Just as it had a few years earlier when I crossed off another item on my list, also music-related.

My wife and I were visiting New York City. We made our way into Central Park. Neither of us said a word, but we both knew where we were going.

Eventually we came to the small stone in the shape of a peace sign adorned with the single word.

Imagine.

My wife didn’t especially want to, but I insisted we walk across the street and join the crowd that goes there each day to gawk at the Dakota, where John Lennon lived.

The door man with the distinctive coat somehow managed to keep his dignity as people came up to him and he confirmed this was indeed the spot where the former Beatle was gunned down.

I looked at the entranceway and all I could think if was a single word.

Imagine.


Say it ain't snow

I for one am glad the local TV stations managed to find some snow. Of course, they had to go to Camelback in the Poconos to find it.


Yes, winter has arrived. And with it breathless reports of flurries that managed to dust some lawns.


If you missed it, you weren’t alone. We did not get anything but a miserable rain all day yesterday.


That drenching was enough to case problems on the roads. But the problem was flooding, not snow.


CLICK HERE for the complete regional traffic report for your morning commute.


But you can leave the shovel in the garage.


Only in Philadelphia.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

The Daily Numbers - Dec. 7

The Daily Numbers: 3 refinery union bosses who will be in Washington, D.C., today seeking help for their cause.


70 years today that Japan bombed Pearl Harbor, leading the U.S. into World War II.


5 survivors of the attack who are still alive and living in Delco.


44, age of woman who tearfully apologized in court yesterday for crash in which she slammed into 3 middle-schoolers in Upper Darby.


45, age of man facing road rage charges after a confrontation with a woman in Radnor. Police sayd he had his son, 10, in the car at the time.


1 school principal at St. Madeline-St. Rose School in Ridley Park placed on administrative leave. No one is saying why.


157 Delco members of the union representing workers who clean office buildings in the region. They voted to authorize a strike yesterday if a deal cannot be reached.


1,000 dollar donation to the Merry Christmas Fund from the widow of a Ridley man. It continues the family’s 30-year tradition of making a donation.


6 victims expected to testify at preliminary hearing for former Penn State football coach Jerry Sandusky on child sex abuse charges.


4,500 jobs being cut by Citigroup.


12 percent spike in homes under contract reported by Toll Brothers. Their revenue was up, but profits were down in the 4th quarter.


30 years ago that Philadelphia Police Officer Daniel Faulkner was gunned down by Mumia Abu-Jamal. The city today will announce whether it will appeal ruling on the death penalty or allow him to serve life in prison.


5 women who have come forward to claim they were sexually assaulted in a Philly church by a volunteer.


3 straight days that Father Judge High School in Philly has been closed because of a hazmat probe of a situation that sickened dozens of people at an event there last weekend.


12 million to be paid to the IRS by PHEAA, the agency that provides low-interest loans to Pa. students.


10 year, $200 million deal being offered by the Miami Marlins to free agent Albert Pujols.


3 straight losses for Villanova hoops. They fell to No. 10 Missouri last night.


*


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


Hard to believe that the biggest issue surrounding the Sixers is a new mascot.


*


I Don’t Get It: Then there are the three choices the team is putting out there for their new mascot. I don’t get it.


*


Today’s Upper: Don’t forget tonight is your chance to air your concerns about the county budget -–and tax hike. The public hearing will take place at 6 p.m. in the county government center.


*


Quote Box: “Sunoco is doing everything it can to find a buyer for Marcus Hook and Philadelphia.”


- Sunoco spokesman Joe McGinn.


 

Staying on top of the Sunoco story

UPDATE: Marcus Hook Mayor James Schiliro will join us tonight at 7 for our "Live From the Newsroom' Internet broadcast.

Perhaps nobody in the region is more acutely aware of what is at stake in this situation as Schiliro. The borough's budget likely will have a $1 million hole in it should the refinery be closed.

We also have an invitation out to Chichester School Superintendent Barbara DiMarino. We're still waiting to hear back from her. Chichester schools could lose as much as $3.8 million in tax revenue should both the Sunoco and ConocoPhillips plants close their doors.

Join us at DelcoTimes.com tonight at 7 for a discussion abour Marcus Hook and Sunoco.


Clearly the situation involving the shutdown and possible sale of the Sunoco refinery in Marcus Hook is a big story in Delaware County and the region.


That’s why it’s been on our front page the last two days.


And that’s why I wanted to focus on it for tonight’s live-stream “Live From the Newsroom” show.


But that’s where I’ve hit some problems.


At first I wanted to talk with several key union officials involved in the plant shutdown and  possible sale. But they’re all going to be in Washington, D.C., today, seeking support for their cause.You can read our latest story on their mission here.


Then I thought maybe we could have some of our state legislators who admitted last week that they have not had any conversations with anyone who wanted to operate the site as a refinery. Those statements raised a lot of eyebrows, especially among rank-and-file refinery workers. The problem is the Legislature is in session and they are all in Harrisburg.


Then I thought maybe County Council boss Jack Whelan could join the panel. Unfortunately tonight is the public hearing for the county budget – which just happens to include a tax hike this year.


I guess I could invite Sunoco CEO Lynn Elsenhans to come on the show, but for some reason I don’t think she’s available. But the invite goes out anyhow. Hey, Lynn, any chance you’re free tonight?


I have a couple of other angles I’m pursuing. If any readers have an idea, you can email me directly at editor@delcotimes.com.


I know how important this story is to the lower end of the county, with a way of life on the line.


I have no intention of letting it slip through the cracks.

Heron's Nest: Confessions of a media member on the Matthews story

I have a bone to pick with the media this morning.

Yes, I realize that’s a little like spitting into the mirror. But there is something that a lot of media outlets have a tendency to do that I find unfair.

I can confess that there are times when I have been as guilty of this as anyone. Sometimes it takes a while to learn these things.

Here’s the deal. It has to do with the arrest of Montgomery County Commissioner Jim Matthews yesterday on charges that he lied to a grand jury.

I have no problem with that. In fact, I will tell you that if that happened in Delaware County, we would be screaming the news on our front page and our website.

But I find one aspect of the coverage troubling.

You see, Matthews happens to be the brother of MSNBC commentator Chris Matthews. And that’s how several media outlets identified Jim Matthews – as Chris’ brother. In fact some outlets led with it: "The brother of MSNBC commentator Chris Matthews ...."

Anyone else think that’s unfair?

Luckily, we picked up coverage from our sister paper The Times Herald, which has covered Matthews and the allegations surrounding him and the way the county did business for months. They did not make the link. Neither did we.

Chris Matthews has nothing to do with this story, other than the fact that he’s Jim’s brother and he has a high profile. Why so many outlets felt the need to link the two I don’t know. Actually, I do. It gives the story a little more “sizzle” than it would otherwise have.

But this story didn’t really need sizzle. It’s an important local story.

I deal with this all the time, but usually not in a story that draws national attention.

It is not unusual for prominent people in the county to have a family member who for one reason or another winds up in the newspaper. Very often these episodes involve circumstances that are at best embarrassing, and at worst criminal.

I try to examine the story and see if there is any good reason for noting the family relationship in such stories. I don’t think it’s fair to drag parents and other family members through the mud for the actions of another adult. I think those people should stand on their own.

I will admit it’s not always possible. Sometimes there are extenuating circumstances.

Still, it has always bothered me.

And it really stuck in my craw yesterday. My guess is it didn’t do much for Chris Matthews’ day either. Matthews is a local guy and longtime political operative and media guy. He knows how this game is played. He no doubt already was concerned about the situation involving his brother.

He probably didn’t need to have his name casually tossed out there in a story that didn’t involve him.

His MSNBC show is called “Hardball.” Yesterday he got a taste of it himself.

I don’t think it was the media’s finest hour.