Friday, March 30, 2012

The Daily Numbers - March 30

The Daily Numbers: 540 million bucks, what the Mega Millions jackpot is going to be worth when it goes off tonight at 11. It likely will be worth even more by then.

28 years, now long it would take you to fill out all the cards necessary to take every possible combination of numbers. Guess that rules out that tactic.

30 million dollars, how much you lose if you have to share the jackpot with another winner.

250,000 dollar winning ticket sold in Wedneday night’s Mega Millions at Shamrock Beverage in Ridley.

10,000 dollars a week for life winning ticket sold at Pantry One in Wallingford recently.

50 times as likely to be hit by lightning as hit the lottery, according to experts. That won’t stop many people from playing.

8,000 times more likely to be murdered. That would certainly dampen the celebration.

20,000 times more likely to die in a car crash.

42 states and Washington, D.C., that are selling Mega Millions tickets.

200 people who rallied last night in Darby Borough for justice in the case of Trayvon Martin, who was shot and killed in Florida.

33 years of service honored for Ridley police Lt. Sgt. John Crooks in Ridley Township.

39, age of Upper Darby man who was victim of fatal shooting in Chester.

50 laptops being purchased by the county for the Department of Human Services.

29, age of man now facing federal charges after he tried to take some firecrackers and explosives material on a flight from Phillly International.

25 caliber handgun found in baggage of Chester County man at the airport just a few hours later.

1 in 75 children in Pa. now being diagnosed with autism.

48-0 vote in the Pa. Senate to allow shipment of domestic wines direct to state consumers.

4 year low for jobless claims.

50 Best Buy big box stores being shut down.

87 months in prison for the former head of Temple University School of Ophthalmology for over billing patients.

21 students injured in the latest school bus accident in New Jersey.

7-1 blowout win for Flyers over Maple Leafs last night.

3 hits and 1 run surrendered by Cole Hamels in his final spring outing yesterday. He’s ready for the regular season, even if he does not have a long-term deal with the team.


Call me a Phanatic: A look at the ups and downs of being a Philadelphia sports fan.Yes, it was good to see Eric Lindros back on the ice with the Flyers yesterday. The former superstar accepted an invitation from GM Paul Holmgren to visit the team and take part in the morning skate. Want to feel old? Some of the current Flyers indicated Lindros was their idol when they were kids. Ouch!



I Don’t Get It: What is it with the sudden spike in people getting caught with guns or explosives while trying to get on a plane. Duh.


Today’s Upper: Kudos to those who peacefully assembled and marched in Darby Borough last night in an effort to seek justice in the case of Trayvon Martin.


Quote Box: “This was something the Darby community needed to do.”

- Darby Borough Council President Janice Davis, on the protest.

Everybody into the pool!

Here’s today’s dilemma.

Every office is likely having an office pool to get in on the Mega Millions mania gripping the region.

A shot at winning $540 million will do that to you.

Unfortunately, the odds of winning are about as long as me winning the Masters next weekend. That won’t stop people from playing. Hey, somebody has to win. Actually, I suppose it could roll over again.

Here’s what I want to know. There’s no way you can risk not getting into the office pool, is there?

I mean, could you ever forgive yourself if by some miracle your crew won and you were the only person who didn’t get in? How would you feel trudging back into the office Monday morning.

I know. You can’t risk it.

Fork over that dollar.

Order wine? I'll just whine instead

Soon residents of this fine, forward-leaning state will be able to order wine from domestic makers and have it shipped directly to their homes.

No more trips to your friendly neighborhood state store. Swell. Is this a great state or what?

Unless, of course, you need something in a hurry. Or maybe just want to grab a bottle to go with dinner. Or perhaps need a mixed drink.

Oh, you want beer? That’s still a different store.

Six-pack? That’s another trip.

In other words, don’t wait for me to do backflips because you can now have wine shipped to your house.

Show of hands, please? How many people have ever ordered wine that way? Thought so.

But all is not lost.

My hero, state Rep. Mike Turzai, indicates the Legislature still might take up the issue of privatizing liquor sales this spring.

I won’t hold my breath. And I am stil putting my name on the list to volunteer to push the plunger and blow up this archaic system and turn it all - beer, wine, booze - over to private enterprise.

That's right. I'm greedy. I want cold six-packs in the Wawa checkout lines. I want to see entire aisles in the local grocery stores. And I want to put what I want in the car and check it out with the rest of the groceries.

Someday all or at least some of that might happen in Pa.

But I won't hold my breath. And it’s pretty unlikely I’ll be ordering any wine either.

In the meantime, I’ll just continue to waste gas making three different trips.

Good thing I give up beer for Lent.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

The Daily Numbers - March 29

The Daily Numbers: 2 more months for ConocoPhillips to work on a sale of their Trainer refinery.

185,000 barrels of oil a day, what was refined there before it was shut down in September.

700 employees and contractors laid off since January.

7 percent raise for ConocoPhillips CEO in 2011, his last year at the helm of the firm.

19.2 million dollars in salary, compensation and stock options for the retiring exec.

100 semifinalists for the state Geography Bee to be held at Penn State Friday. Among them will be Benjamin Morbeck of Strath Haven Middle School.

150,000 dollars for the war on cancer raised by a recent HEADstrong Foundation gala. The charity was started by the late Nick Colleluori of Ridley.

48 years of service to Holmes Fire Co. in Ridley for John Hudyma. He was honored at a banquet.

219 SEPTA police officers who have been on strike since March 21. More talks are set today.

48-0 vote in the Pa. Senate to allow shipment of domestic wines direct to state consumers.

500 million dollar Mega Millions jackpot now up for grabs Friday night. What exactly do you do with a half-billion dollars. Aside from saying hi to all your new friends.

12 cars damaged with some type of caustic liquid in the latest vandalism spree in Northeast Philly.

7 feet, the wingspan of All-Delco boys hoops player of the year Rondae Jefferson of the state champion Chester Clippers.

17-4 win for Radnor High girls in lacrosse.

11 runs surrendered on 11 hits in a rough final spring outing for Vance Worley.

* A look at the ups and downs of being a Philadelphia sports fan.Andy Reid says he goofed in choosing that linebacking corps to start the season last year. Ya think?

Call me a Phanatic:



I Don’t Get It: Some very troubling testimony at the trial of two priests downtown. And it’s just starting. Ugly stuff.

*: Kudos to Benjamin Morbeck. The eighth-grader at Strath Haven Middle School will compete in the state Geography Bee on Friday at Penn State.

Today’s Upper


Quote Box: “It’s more wait and see what happens. It’s more playing with people’s futures.”

- Union leader Denis Stephano, on word that ConocoPhillips will extend deadline for sale of its Trainer refinery.

Tackling the state of the city of Chester

We had a special opportunity yesterday to “marry” our ‘Live From the Newsroom weekly live-stream Internet broadcast with a special ‘On The Road’ edition of ‘Journalists Roundtable’ with the good folks at PCN, the Pennsylvania Cable Network.

First things first. These folks don’t travel lightly. You should see all the equipment they hauled into our library for the one-hour show, which you can watch tonight on PCN at 8.

Then there's the makeup. Yes, you heard it correctly. They broadcast in hi-def, and they needed to powder us down. They probably should have used a fire hose in my case.

Of course, since we were using this for our weekly ‘Live From the Newsroom’ show, you also can click here to check it out.

Our focus was on the city of Chester, which was fortuitous since just a couple of hours before, new Mayor John Linder delivered his first “State of the City” address to a Chamber of Commerce audience.

I was joined on the panel by reporter John Kopp, who covers Chester for the Daily Times, Paul Bennett of the weekly Chester Spirit newspaper, and my lead columnist Gil Spencer.

Heading our panel was PCN moderator Corinna Wilson, and for the second half of the show we were honored by presence of the mayor himself.

Linder strikes me as a thoughtful man, probably linked to his background in education.

That’s a good thing, since the education debacle that is the Chester Upland School District is one of the biggest crises facing the city. We talked about that a lot on the show.

Linder said he has a plan for the district, which just might involve the city taking over some element of control. He’s also well aware of the myriad problems the district faces, not the least of which is the increasing number of kids enrolling in charter schools. After all, he was one of the founders of the Village Charter School.

Linder touched on a number of topics, and our panel had a lively discussion of where Chester is now and where it’s going.

I happen to be an optimist. I look at some of the spectacular growth along the city’s riverfront, I see it starting to leach out into the downtown and neighborhoods, and I see good things in the city’s future.

But it still must deal with its education issue, and it must continue to aggressively attack a crime issue that tends to paint a picture of the city as a place that is unsafe, which may or may not necessarily be the case.

Check us out on PCN tonight at 8. Or watch the show now on

Violence in Chester


Our editorial this morning focuses on Chester, and the daunting task of new Mayor John Linder as he works to reverse the belief that the city is not safe.

You can read it here.

His job just got a little tougher. An overnight shooting left a man dead in the city. Check the details here.

The shooting marks the sixth homicide in the county so far this year. Five of them have been in Chester.

Andy Reid says he goofed - again

Andy Reid has done it again.

I’m always amazed at how many times the Eagles coach comes around to something the fans have already realized.

This time it’s his linebacker. Specifically the set he decided to start last year with. In a word, it was a disaster. Most football “experts” knew it. The fans knew it. Now Reid agrees.

The Eagles were changing their alignment, featuring the so-called “Wide 9” fashioned by line coach Jim Washburn and lorded over by defensive coordinator Juan Castillo. You know, the guy who used to be the offensive line coach who hadn’t done anything with defense since his college days.

The linebackers, starting with the choice of Casey Matthews as a decidedly undersized starting middle linebacker, were a disaster. The gaping holes in the Wide 9 are supposed to be plugged by linebackers. Instead the Birds’ backers got steamrolled.

Watching Rams tailback Steven Jackson go 51 yards for a TD – without an Eagle as much as breathing on him – was probably an omen. It’s a problem that dogged the Eagles for weeks.

Matthews lost his job. The Eagles lost their shot at the playoffs in those first eight weeks.

“I goofed,” Reid admitted to the media at this week at the owners’ meetings in Florida.

We know, coach. We could have told you that.

Maybe you should listen to us once in awhile.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

The Daily Numbers - March 28

The Daily Numbers: 476 million dollars. What exactly do you do with that kind of money? That’s what’s up for grabs now that no one has nabbed the Mega Million jackpot. Next drawing is Friday night. Get your tickets.

2 pit bulls who attacked a killed a neighbor’s dog in Upper Darby. They then turned on cops who showed up, requiring 1 of them to fire on the dog.

4 part-time officers hired by Darby Borough.

43, age of mother who led her family to disrobe and cavort around outside Upper Darby High School. She’s now been charged in connection with the incident.

4 mayors who joined Chester Mayor John Linder in Harrisburg yesterday seeking better gun control laws.

1 year, how long Media Elementary School will be closed to repair roof trusses.

38, age of man shot in the leg while standing on a Chester street last night.

25, age of former teacher at a religious school in Montgomery County charged with having sex with one of her former students.

4 children killed in fire in Shenandoah, Pa.

22, age of man charged in the stabbing death of a Radnor native outside her West Philly apartment.

21, age of man charged in what police are calling a ‘copycat’ incident in which tires were slashed on 9 cars in Northeast Philly.

17 cars damaged by either acid or paint thinner poured on them last night in Lawncrest.

229,000 dollars, price tag for a McLaren MP4-12C. The luxury car dealership opens today on West Chester Pike in Willistown. Maybe you could buy one if you hit that Mega Millions jackpot Friday night.

31 points for Jodie Meeks as the Sixers rolled over the Cavs last night.

3 hits and 0 runs surrendered by Phils starter Cliff Lee yesterday over 6 innings vs. the Pirates.

2 billion dollar price tag for L.A. Dodgers, sold to group including Magic Johnson.


Call me a Phanatic: A look at the ups and downs of being a Philadelphia sports fan.The Bryz has a bone chip in his foot. He’ll miss the Thursday night game and then be day-to-day. Just when he was rolling, too.



I Don’t Get It: Has tire slashing suddenly become an Olympic sport or something? Now copycats are getting into the act in Philly.


Today’s Upper: Kudos to The Boss. Bruce Springsteen returns to the area tonight with two sold-out shows at the Wells Fargo Center. Welcome back.


Quote Box: “All of us are struggling to find more creative ways to get people busy again.”

- Chester Mayor John Linder, who delivers his State of the City address today, on challenge of joblessness and connection to crime.

The story behind the story of Springsteen's sofa

‘The Boss’ is back.

And he’s back on our front page as well.

And, as you might expect, there’s a story behind the story of how the sofa Bruce Springsteen used to bunk on wound up in Swarthmore.

Back in January, when Springsteen announced the ‘Wrecking Ball’ tour, I wrote a blog item wondering how he was going to replace one of the signature sounds of the E Street Band. That, of course, would be the wailing sax of ‘The Big Man,’ Clarence Clemons. Clarence died from complications after suffering a stroke. He joins bandmate Danny Federici, who succumbed a few years ago to melanoma.

I immediately went to the website to see if there was any mention of a sax player for the tour. Nothing. So I put it out there to readers, asking how they thought Bruce would replace what was basically irreplaceable, if you could even have an E Street Band without a sax player.

As it turns out, one of the responses I got was from a Springsteen-file from Swarthmore. Not only that, but Amie Richan had some personal connections to Bruce and members of the band.

We exchanged a few emails. A few days later Springsteen announced the full band that will do this tour, including a full horn section featuring Clemons’ nephew on sax.

It turns out you can have an E Street Band without Clarence.

Last weekend I got another email from Amie, wondering if by any chance I was going to either of this week’s shows at the Wells Fargo Center. I told her my concert days are pretty much in the rear-view mirror.

But knowing of her connections to Bruce, I asked her if she’d like to write something in advance of the shows.

That story appears on today’s front page.

Anyone who is familiar with the rich, deep local lore surrounding Bruce has heard the story of how in the early days when he was in town, he would sleep on the sofa of one of his local benefactors, legendary FM DJ Ed Sciaky. Sadly, we’ve lost Ed as well.

But we have not lost that sofa. It is alive and well in Swarthmore. Amie Richan wrote her piece about Bruce while sitting on it.  I’m surprised they didn’t ask to have it included in that show at the Constitution Center.

Well done, Amie.

Don’t look for me at the show. But I’ll be there in spirit.

A Spirit in the Night, you might say.

Changes are coming to the comments section

Brace yourself, readers of Especially you folks who like to join the conversation and “comment” on the stories we post there.

Change is coming. Thursday.

We are tweaking our commenting procedures on the website. There’s a lot of reasons we’re doing that, but first and foremost is that we want to make it a better experience, with more thought and less mean-spirited nonsense.

No, we’re not looking to censor comments we don’t agree with. All you have to do is read the comments now to learn that’s not the case.

And readers will continue to be able to comment anonymously, although we will again ask you to register with an identity before commenting. We’ll also encourage readers to comment through their Facebook and Twitter accounts. Yes, you can make the argument that in essence will identify the commenter. But if you believe in what you’re saying – and are not embarrassed by it – why not stand behind it?

I do it every day. No, not everyone agrees with me, but they know where I stand, and they know that I am the author of The Heron’s Nest blog, as well as my print column.

Yes, I am aware that our daily editorial is unsigned. It is the position of the paper and the collective work of the editorial board, although it is usually penned by one member on any given day.

We will, at least for now, continue our policy of not moderating comments before they are posted. I know that leads to problems. But in all honesty what I am looking for is for our online community to take a big bigger role in this engagement. In essence, you can help us police the comments. Alert us when you think someone has crossed the line. That is not the same as merely disagreeing with what a reader has posted. You'd be surprised at how many people object to things they disagree with and urge us to take them down. That's not the way it works.

We will continue to flag objectionable material that readers alert us to; we also will be able to promote those 'posters' who offer high quality content through Twitter and Facebook accounts.

I’ll offer some more information on the changes tomorrow. The new commenting system will go into effect at noon Thursday.

If you have ideas you’d like to see implemented, post a comment on this blog, or email me at No profanity, please.

Above all else, this is being done to promote – not curtail – conversation and engagement with our readers.

Don’t sit on the sidelines. I know you have something to say. Now is the time to join the conversation.

Fast & Furious on Providence Road

Memo to the guy in the gray Saab (at least I think it was) who blew by me in the wee hours this morning out on Providence Road in Edgmont.

I sure hope you were having some kind of emergency, since you found it necessary to pass me on a winding country road.

Otherwise I have no idea what would have caused you to drive the way you did.

Here’s a couple of tips:

That double-yellow line? That means you’re not supposed to pass.

And that marker you ignored at the intersection? The red one? It’s called a stop sign. You’re supposed to stop at them, not hit the gas and barrel right through.

Sure, it was early. But if someone had pulled out into that intersection from the crossing direction, you would have slammed right into them.

Maybe you thought I was driving too slow. I might have been. That’s because I recently was reminded of the speed limit on the road by Upper Providence police.

Did you know that the speed limit when you enter into Upper Providence is now 35 mph? I didn’t, despite the sign proclaiming exactly that.

Wouldn’t have made much difference. When I was stopped, I would have been over the old 45 mph limit as well.

So, yeah, I drive the speed limit on that road these days. For anyone else who drives that road early, the good officers of Upper Providence tend to hang out around St. Mary Magdalen School. Consider yourself warned.

Why don’t you try doing the same. Or at least obey the simplest rules like a double-yellow line and stop sign.

Before you kill somebody.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

The Daily Numbers - March 27

The Daily Numbers: 1st lady Michelle Obama, who entertained a group of kids from Chester at a special gardening program at the White House yesterday.

2 priests went on trial yesterday in connection with the sexual abuse of children.

61, age of Monsignor William Lynn, who is on trial on charges of endangering the welfare of children in his role as secretary of the clergy.

40 years in Catholic education for Mary Rochford, who announced yesterday she will resign at the end of the school year for family reasons.

1st woman to lead Catholic education in the archdiocese for Rochford.

4 high schools and 45 parish grade schools, including 7 here in Delco, ordered shuttered under her watch just this year.

18 of those recommendations of a Blue Ribbon Commission that were overeturned by Archbishop Charles Chaput.

37, age of woman stabbed to death in the parking lot of a Chester County Wawa Sunday night. Her estranged husband, 45, is under arrest.

14 counts of theft of service on which Republican state Sen. Jane Orie was convicted yesterday.

1 suspect charged in rash of tire slashings that have plagued sections of Northeast Philly. But more tire slashings were reported this morning.

531, age of former Radnor woman who was found stabbed to death in her West Philly apartment.

98 gas drilling rigs operating in Pa. last week. That is actually down from a peak of 116.

5-3 loss for the Flyers at hands of Tampa Bay Lightning last night.

3 losses in their last 14 games for Flyers.

2 times in 3 games an opponent has now scored on 1st shot faced by Flyers goalie Ilya Bryzgalov.

3 goals on 11 shots in first 52 minutes for Lightning.

5 runs on 7 hits in 5 innings given up by Phils starter Joe Blanton.

4 times in 23 spring training games the Phillies have been shut out.


Call me a Phanatic: A look at the ups and downs of being a Philadelphia sports fan.Ruben Amaro is talking now about the situation with Chase Utley. He should have done that a month ago.



I Don’t Get It: One person is under arrest in all those tire slashings in Philly. But more incidents are being reported this morning.


Today’s Upper: Kudos to the Stetser Elementary kids who visited the White House Monday to take part in Michelle Obama’s special gardening program.


Quote Box: “If you catch a snakehead do not put it back.”

- Gary Stolz, manager of the John Heinz Wildlife Refuge in Tinicum, on news that the invasive fish called ‘Frankenfish’ has now showed up in waters there.

Chester kids, first lady plant seeds of success

Those plucky kids from Chester are back on the front page today.

Which no doubt will cause no small amount of ire to those folks who believe we are only featuring them because we’re in the tank for President Obama and this story is a way to paint them in a positive light.

This all started on Friday, when we featured the group of Stetser Elementary students who had been invited to the White House to take part in a special gardening program developed by First Lady Michelle Obama.

I wrote a blog item Friday saying it was refreshing to see a positive story about kids in Chester featured on the front page. Yes, I do think about the way the city – and its residents – is often portrayed in the pages of this newspaper and on this website.

That’s why we came right back on Sunday with a front page devoted to the exceptional effort of the Chester High boys basketball team, which captured back-to-back state titles in completing a perfect, 32-0 season.

If you want to know how we feel about them, check out today's editorial.

Today the Stetser gardeners are back on Page One, complete with a photo of them with the first lady.

I don’t doubt we’ll no doubt get an earful from people who claim it shows our bias in favor of Obama.

It’s all part of our liberal, left-wing agenda, you know.

You didn’t know? You must not be reading the comments on the website.

I welcome the conversation.

I don’t expect to convert anyone. Not in this partisan political atmosphere that so saturates the process.

And I’m not naieve enough to proclaim there is not a little bit of truth in some of their complaints.

I happen to think former President George W. Bush got a bad rap from the press. I always kind of liked him. I’m not so sure he was especially well-served by some of his aides, but that’s his legacy.

I’m not in the tank for anybody. I just wish we could enjoy a story for being a nice, positive look at some kids from Chester without trying to drown it out with a tired, old political argument.

By the way, we are going to be hosting a special episode of the PCN cable network’s “Journalists Roundtable” show on Wednesday. We are going to use it as this week’s edition of ‘Live From the Newsroom.’ We’ll be on at a special time of 1 p.m. It'll be live on the website, and then it will be on PCN a couple of times this week.

The topic: The state of the city. Chester, that is. We’ll be joined by Chester Mayor John Linder.

You’ve been warned.

Welcome All-Delcos

All hail the arrival of another series of All-Delco teams.

We kick off the winter sports selections today with our Wrestler of the Year, L.J. Barlow of the Haverford School.

You can read all about them here.

So, how many players from that undefeated Chester team that just captured back-to-back state PIAAA AAAA titles make the team. You’ll have to wait to find out.

One thing I know I won’t have to wait for. It happens every time we select one of these teams. That would be phone calls from irate parents wanting to know why their son or daughter was not selected for the team.

It goes with the territory.

The Utley Chronicles

The Phillies open their season in a little more than one week, and they will do so without the right side of their starting infield.

Ryan Howard continues to rehab from his Achilles surgery.

But they also will do an instant replay of sorts with starting second baseman Chase Utley. You might remember Utley missed the first 46 games of last season with chronic pain in his knees.

He’s having the same problem again this year, although the problem is now actually worse in his left knee.

Utley met the media on Sunday amid all manner of rumor and innuendo, a situation that is fomented because of his intense privacy and the team’s failure to get a handle on just what his condition was and relate that to their fans.

I like Chase Utley. I have a T-shirt with his name emblazoned on the back.

But this act is wearing thin. I don’t mean the fact that he is hurt again. That happens. He has bad knees. That is an unfortunate side effect of what Utley does for a living as well as the way he plays the game.

But it’s pretty clear that someone here was not being exactly honest about Utley’s condition. All we kept hearing all spring was that Utley was days away from getting his first action in a Grapefruit League game.

The next thing we knew Utley was on a plane to Phoenix to see a rehab specialist.

Now Utley is admitting he’s not going to be ready for opening day, but that he fully expects to play this season. When, however, seems to be anyone’s guess. Utley made it clear he’s not going to rush anything.


Utley has made a fortune as one of the best second basemen in Phillies history. The team still owes him $30 million over the next two years.

I don’t think it’s too much to ask for him or the team to level with the fans about his condition. It should have been done weeks ago.

Now Phils GM Ruben Amaro Jr. is trying to clear the air about what the team knew and when about Utley's condition. You can about it here.  It's something he should have done a month ago.

So, what do you say Phillies fans?

Let’s have a little over/under on Utley. I’ll put the line at 30 games missed.

I’m going over. What do you think?

Monday, March 26, 2012

About those kids on the front page

The Chester High boys basketball team are not the only young people in the city earning acclaim these days.

We used our front page on Friday to note the accomplishments of a group of kids from Stetser Elementary School who have been selected to participate in a special gardening program at the White House by First Lday Michelle Obama.

We will report back on their experiences later today after their trip to D.C.

On Friday I posted an item here in The Heron's Nest detailing our front-page coverage of those kids. We are often criticized for not taking note of the good things Chester kids are doing, and not playing up positive stories that offer another view of the city than the one that often makes the newspaper and website.

So of course that item sparked a bit of discussion online. Were people effusive in their thanks for our coverage of these great kids and their honor of being selected to go to the White House?

Uh, not exactly.

Most of the comments on that blog item accused us of putting it on the front page just so we could offer a positive story about the White House and Michelle Obama.

It's just the latest way we are 'in the tank' for Obama, what with us being 'left-wing liberals' and all.

So much for offering another view of kids in Chester.

Instead they're just pawns in the partisan political war that some people see in everything we do.

Must be Monday.

Perfection in Chester

Perfection and Chester.

Those two words aren't often used together in the same sentence. And a lot of readers often remind me that this newspaper's coverage of the city of Chester has something to do with its image.

This weekend, at least for awhile, that image was perfect. I explain in my print column.

Friday, March 23, 2012

The Daily Numbers - March 23

The Daily Numbers: 4 students at Stetser Elementary School in Chester who have been invited to the White House by First Lady Michelle Obama to take part in a special gardening program.

21, age of Chester man acquitted of attempted homicide charges yesterday in Delaware County Court.

31 acres in Upper Chi that commissions last night gave the initial green light to be turned into a sports complex.

200,000 dollar grant for Widener University to develop a soccer program in the Chester Upland School District.

2 counts of abuse that a defrocked priest pleaded guilty to yesterday in Philadelphia in a stunning development in the archdiocese sex abuse scandal.

32, age of Flyers fan who was ordered to stand trial on charges he attacked a Rangers fan after the Winter Classic in South Philly.

1 person killed when gunfire broke out last night during filming of an amateur rap video in Philly.

60 cents, how much the price of gas at the pumps has gone up since Jan. 1.

17,000 non-farm jobs that have been added to the rolls in February.

31 million Americans now working in ‘green’ industries.

5,000 fewer people on the unemployment rolls across the country last week. Those 348,000 are the lowest numbers since March 2008.

3,000 dollars, average U.S. tax refund check, so says the IRS.

4.08 percent, average rate for a 30-year mortgage. That’s up.

31-0 record for the Chester Clippers.

32 will make them state AAAA champs for the 2nd year in a row.

2-1 win for the Flyers over the Caps in a shootout.

26 seconds into the game, when Alex Ovechkin scored to give the Caps a 1-0 lead.

0 more goals surrendered by Flyers goalie Ilya Bryzgalov.

7 strikeouts yesterday for Cliff Lee, who threw 75 pitches over 6 innings.


Call me a Phanatic: A look at the ups and downs of being a Philadelphia sports fan.Good to see Ryan Howard without that boot on yesterday in Clearwater. Now is it time to put an APB out on Chase Utley?



I Don’t Get It: Gunfire broke out at the filming of a rap video? I’m shocked.


Today’s Upper: Kudos to the Stetser Elementary kids who will be going to the White House Monday to take part in Michelle Obama’s special gardening program.


Quote Box: “We’re thrilled beyond our wildest dreams.”

- Stetser Elementary Principal Janet Baldwin, on her school’s selection for the special White House gardening program.

What's that on today's front page?

I guess I should brace myself for the torrent of complaining phone calls today about how the paper is always full of bad news, especially when it comes to the city of Chester.

What’s that you say? Chester is on the front page again this morning? What have they done now?

It’s about a group of kids who are making headlines.

Meet the fourth-graders from Stetser Elementary School. They have been invited by First Lady Michelle Obama to take part in a special gardening program at the White House on Monday.

That’s right. A good story about Chester, showing some young people in a positive light.

No one will call. No one ever does when we do these kinds of stories.

It reinforces a theory of mine.

I am constantly asked why there is so much “bad” news in the Daily Times, and in particular why we take every opportunity to portray the city of Chester in a negative light.

They don’t call us the “Daily Crimes” for nothing.

It’s a good question. Thankfully, I have a good answer.

That’s what people read.

Don’t believe me? Don’t just take my word for it. Go to our website, Take a look at the metrics that determine what are the most read stories on the site every day. Guaranteed the crime stories will top the list. They always do.

Look, part of my job – not the only part and not the most important part – is to sell newspapers and draw readers to the website.

That does not mean we don’t do positive stories, including ones that involve young people, and in particular kids in the city of Chester.

Today they’re plastered all over our front page.

On Saturday night, the Chester High boys basketball team will seek back-to-back state titles. They have won 31 straight games. We’re hoping they make it 32.

So we can splash them all over the front page on Sunday.

Hold the presses!

Follow the high school hoops title tilts with our live chats

Just a reminder that it is a huge weekend for local hoops teams.

And if you are unable to make the trek all the way out to State College for the title tilts, it doesn’t mean you have to miss any of the action.

We will once again be offering live chats from both tonight’s Carroll girls AAAA game vs. Oakland Catholic, and again tomorrow night as Chester looks to capture its second straight boys AAAA crown.

You can read Matt Smith's advance on tonight's Carroll girls game here.

Our sports writers, Chris Vito, Matt Smith and columnist Jack McCaffery, will be chatting with fans and also posting live updates during both games.

Make sure you check back to so you don’t miss one second of the action.

The Phillies' little secret

The Phillies have a secret.

It has nothing to do with Ryan Howard’s Achilles. Or Chase Utley’s knees.

Nor does it involve their three aces, Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee and Cole Hamels.

The Phils’ secret is Citizens Bank Park. And it is about to be put to the test.

What the Phillies have done the past few years, aside from win a whole lot of games, is just this side of a miracle.

They have saved baseball. At least in this part of the country.

For years we heard one expert after another, especially here in Philadelphia, lament that baseball was dead. Its czars had sold out to television, ending one tradition after another, including playing all their World Series games in prime time at night. The result? Young people had turned their backs on the game.

Add to that mix the fact that the Phillies played in a concrete dungeon otherwise known as Veterans Stadium.

Fast-forward a few years. Take a look around their gem of bandbox, Citizens Bank Park. In particular look at the faces, young faces looking for a party.

And they’ve found one in South Philly.

That is the magic that the Phillies have pulled off. Citizens Bank Park is now the place to be for young people in the summer. It’s party central.

The question now is how long will it last. The Phils have sold out all of their home games for the last couple of years. It helps that they have fielded very good teams during that span.

There are a lot of questions about the team this year. Their power source, their slugger and cleanup man Howard will miss the first couple of months. No one is really sure – again – when Chase Utley will take the field.

We’ve seen the lure of new stadiums eventually dull in other locales, Baltimore and Cleveland come to mind. Their retro ballparks likewise were packed for years. Eventually, as the teams sank in the standings, the charm wore off and those games are now played at half-empty retro parks.

I wouldn’t hold my breath waiting for that to happen at Citizens Bank Park.

But I do wonder how long the place will be packed if the Phils don’t continue to excel on the field.

Sometimes I swear half of the people in the park don’t realize they’re playing a game.

Many of them are there because it’s the place to be, to see and be seen.

It’s the South Philly miracle. A bit of Phillies magic.

But how long can it last?

Thursday, March 22, 2012

The Dailiy Numbers - March 22

The Daily Numbers: 4, age of Marcia Reyes Martinez when she was thrown off a bridge in Chester by her father.

1993, when that heinous act occurred. Yesterday Angel Reyes dropped his appeals in the case in exchange for a life sentence, not the death penalty.

20 minutes, how much notice SEPTA says it got from its police force before they hit the bricks yesterday.

200 SEPTA police officers now walking picket line on strike.

157,000 dollar check awarded by Chester City Council to the J. Leweis Crozer Library.

3.28 percent tax hike still being whittled down by the Chichester School Board under pressure from taxpayers.

90 bucks, what that hike will mean for the average taxpayer.

877,000 dollars, what the city of Philadelphia owes the Boy Scouts in their lengthy legal dispute over the group being booted out of their Center City office space.

2 to 5 years in prison for former Pa. House Speaker John Perzel.

1 million dollar in restitution he also must pay in the Harrisburg corruption case.

200 people interviewed in the probe at Penn State into the school’s handling of the Jerry Sandusky situation.

31-0 record for the Chester Clippers.

1 win away from their 2nd straight PIAA AAAA title.

17 times the Clippers have appeared in the state title game.

7 times they have been crowned champions.

0-17 record for the Sixers this year in games decided by 3 points or less.

82-79 come-from-ahead loss for the Sixers at the hands of the Knicks last night.

399 wins and counting in the coaching career of Doug Collins.

3 times in the final 2 minutes the Sixers had the ball down by 3. They failed to convert all 3 times.

4-3 Eagles defense, which new linebacker DeMarco Ryans says is perfect for his game.


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

How many teams in the NCAA’s heralded Field of 64 do you think the Chester Clippers could beat?


I Don’t Get It: It’s been almost 20 years. I still don’t understand how you can toss your daughter off a bridge to her death.


Today’s Upper: Kudos to the Chester Clippers. 31-0. One more win to go.


Quote Box: “I can try to let go of the hatred I have inside. My Marcia would not want me to live like this. It is time to let go and move forward, concentrating on my family and their well-being.”

- Julia Martinez, on yesterday’s court proceeding for her ex-husband, who faces life in prison for the death of their daughter Marcia in 1993.

Perfection in Chester


It’s pretty hard to achieve. Most of us fail miserably. I know I do just about every day.

That’s why I appreciate what the Chester boys basketball team is trying to do.

The Clippers waxed another foe, Central Dauphin, last night to advance to the PIAA AAAA state title game Saturday night.

You can read about it here.

Chester High has now played 31 games this year. They have walked off the floor victorious 31 times.


One more win, against vaunted, longtime nemesis Lower Merion on Saturday night, and they will repeat as state champions.

Back-to-back titles.

The perfect season.

It will be considered a major upset if they lose. Then again, it’s pretty much an upset anytime Chester High loses on the hardwood. That is their legacy.

There are very few sports traditions that can rival Chester High hoops.

And you can put this team at the very top of that illustrious list.

Mutiny on Bounty? Goodell brings down hammer on NFL

Just in case they hadn’t realized it before, NFL boss Roger Goodell sent a pretty strong message yesterday.

It’s his league, you’re just players and coaches.

Goodell is carrying a very big hammer, and he’s not afraid to use it.

Just ask New Orleans Saints head coach Sean Payton. A couple of years ago, he walked off the field as a Super Bowl champion. Now he’s just walking off the field.

Goodell yesterday came down on the Saints like a ton of bricks for a team policy that paid cash bonuses for injuring players. Payton was suspended for the entire 2012 season – without pay.

Sean Payton makes $7 million a year.

The man at the center of what of course is now being dubbed “Bounty-gate,” former Saints defensive coordinator Greg Williams, has been suspended indefinitely.

I still don’t know why anyone is surprised that teams put up “bonuses” for KOing opposing players. The not exactly Saintly Saints were just dumb enough to make it a policy.

That does not mean I condone taking cheap shots and deliberately trying to injure opposing players.

But does anyone really think for a minute that every team that played the Eagles last season was not trying to knock Michael Vick out of the game?

Anyone else remember Vick complaining about how he wound up on the ground every time he dropped back to pass? Coincidence? I think not.

This is not exactly new ground here. The Eagles under Buddy Ryan once offered a bounty on a kicker, of all things.

Goodell is walking a tight rope here. There is mounting concern over injuries – in particular head injuries – and the long-term effect on players. The Saints also did not do themselves any favors by being less than forthcoming with the commissioner when word first started leaking out about the bounties.

But Goodell needs to be careful about how far he goes. Football is not a contact sport. It is a collision sport. The violence is part of its appeal, at the heart of what is a billion-dollar enterprise.

No one is going to pay to watch touch football.

NFL Films has made the brutal nature of pro football into art.

I don’t think much will change in the NFL, aside from no one admitting that they are looking to knock out opposing players.

But Goodell certainly has gotten their attention.

Just ask Sean Payton.

Tackling social media

I tweet, therefore I am.

I blog, therefore I am even more.

I post on Facebook, therefore I am “connected.”

We tackled the exploding world of social media last night on our ‘Live From the Newsroom’ live-stream Internet broadcast.

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

I am most grateful to Lisa Bien, who runs the Bien Marketing Group and is also an adjunct professor at Temple University. She brought along with her one of her young employees, Ally Martelli.

Both explained how social media is changing their business. I already know how it is changing mine. It was good to hear from Ally, a recent college grad who basically grew up with all this tech.

For me and others in the journalism biz like me, it’s been a bit more of a challenge. Kind of like stepping off a cliff.

The world of social media is not without pitfalls, and for that reason we were joined by Dr. Michael Madden, a Media psychologist. I wanted to talk to him – and really the entire group – about the biggest complaint I hear from people, that it is becoming increasingly difficult to “unplug.”

I often wonder about the effect of being “plugged-in” 24 hours a day. Madden agreed that it is indeed a problem, and that individuals have to make choices, and set personal boundaries.

My wife tells me that all the time.

I think I can say with a fair amount of confidence that there is no turning back now. Both Lisa and Ally agreed with me, and Mike concurred.

The technology is not going away. We simply have to adjust to it. That means continuing changes in the way we deliver the news.

And it also means knowing when to shut everything off.

What time does that start?

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

The Daily Numbers - March 21

The Daily Numbers: 1 person dead, 1 sought in what police are calling a ‘wild, wild West shootout’ on an Upper Darby street.

15 business leaders being sought for steering committee to help form an economic path for the county to follow.

32, age of Upper Darby man charged with viciously attacking his girlfriend with a boxcutter.

1,000 dollars in computers stolen from a church in Swarthmore.

12 deer bagged during a recent hunt to cull the herd in Rose Valley.

2,600 increase in the tapping fee staring at customers who connect to the sewer system in Bethel.

2 times, what police allege a Chester man tried unsuccessfully to kill another city man. He’s now on trial.

4 million dollar grant to fund construction of a project on Springfield Road in Darby that has been scrapped. The project for the tract at Little Flower Manor is now dead.

48-34 percent win for Mitt Romney over Rick Santorum in Illinois.

541 delegates now racked up by Romney. He needs 1,144 to secure the GOP nomination.

22, age of ballerina studying at The Rock School of Dance in Philly who was struck by a hit-run driver last weekend while to cross a street. She died on Tuesday. The 19-year-old driver now faces charges.

3 Republicans sentenced to probation for their convictions in Pa. corruption case.

11 people suffered minor injuries when an SUV slammed into a bus in West Deptford, N.J.

2 time Pro Bowl linebacker DeMarco Ryans signed by the Eagles.

2-1 loss for the Flyers to Panthers last night.

35 saves for Panthers goaltender Scott Clemmensen.

11 saves for Flyers netminder Ilya Bryzgalov.

5 game home winning streak snapped for the Flyers.

173 million dollar payroll for the Phillies this year. That’s No. 2 in all major league baseball.


Call me a Phanatic: A look at the ups and downs of being a Philadelphia sports fan.The Eagles just may have filled their ‘doughnut’ with the acquisition of DeMarco Ryans from the Texans. He becomes the starter at middle linebacker. Now about all those holes in the Phillies infield…..



I Don’t Get It: What is going on in Upper Darby? A wild west shootout on one street, while a guy is now charged with carving up his girlfriend with a boxcutter. Not good.


Today’s Upper: Kudos to Archbishop Carroll girls. They won last night and play for state AAA title Friday night. The Chester Clippers look to do likewise tonight in AAAA boys play vs. Central Dauphin at Geigle Complex in Reading.

*: “It was like the Wild, Wild West. There are bullet holes in cars parked on the street and one car has a flat tire from one of the shots.”

Quote Box

- Upper Darby top cop Mike Chitwood, on shootout on a township street.

Follow the Clippers tonight with out live chat

Follow the Clippers live tonight!

My guess is there's a lot of fans who will not be able to make it to Reading to catch the Chester Clippers as they continue their quest for another PIAA AAAA boys hoops titl.

That doesn't mean you have to miss any of the action as the Clippers tangle with Central Dauphin in a semifinal matchup.

Instead you can get all the flavor of being there through our live chat on Boys hoops guru Chris Vito and columnist Jack McCaffery will be doing a 'live chat' from the game. They'll offer updates as well as fill you in on the scene in Reading.

You can take part in the chat by visiting tonight at 7:30. You also can take part on Twitter by using the hashtags #chesterhigh or #chesterhoops.

Don't miss a minute of the action. Go Clippers!

How 'tweet' it is! We're talking social media tonight on 'Live From the Newsroom'

As is usually the case around this time most mornings, I am up to my eyeballs in social media.

I am furiously updating our website,, writing this blog, The Heron's Nest, tweeting, and posting both on the Facebook page as well as my personal Facebook page.

Welcome to the world of social media.

It’s not just communicators and journalists, either. It's everywhere. Yoy have to check in every time you go somewhere on FourSquare. Laws are being enacted to get us to put down our cell phones instead of texting while driving. We are boiling life's most intricate situations to 140 characters. Our personal lives suddenly become very public on Facebook. A new study this week indicated that teens’ preferred method of conversation is actually texting. That’s right, they don’t actually talk on their smartphones. They just send a text.

Tonight on our live-stream Internet broadcast ‘Live From the Newsroom,’ we’re going to delve into the world of social media, and the profound effects it is having on our society.

Simply put, it is changing the way we communicate. It certainly has changed the way my industry delivers the news.

To be honest, my biggest challenge most days is finding some time to get the hell away from it. To shut down the laptop, put down my phones (both of them!) and just breathe. It’s not easy as it sounds. The intrusion of social and other media into our everyday lives is having huge effects on our society, not all of them good.

I will be joined by Lisa Bien, a marketing consultant whose speciality is in media relations and an expert in social media and adjunct professor at Temple University, as well as Media psychologist Mike Madden. They'll talk about the pros and cons of social media, including what you really must know to effectively use this powerful new media, as well as the pitfalls you should be aware of before making the leap.

More importantly, I’d like you to join the conversation. If you have a topic you’d like to see us cover, email me your suggestion to Or you can fire me off a tweet to @philheron.

That is if I can find it in the ocean of information I wade through each day.

Join the show tonight at 7 on and take part in our live chat.

Don’t sit on the sidelines. What is it about social media that you like, dislike? What can’t you live without? And what effect do you think it is having on society.

Get engaged! Join the conversation. We’ll ‘chat’ tonight at 7.

Eagles plug their hole in the middle

While the Phillies continue to have holes pop up all over their infield, the Eagles appear to have solved their huge ‘donut’ issue.

You know, no one in the middle.

The Eagles last night acquired two-time Pro Bowl middle linebacker DeMeco Ryans from the Texans.

That’s the good news. Maybe the even better news is that they did not give up much to get the 27-year-old. They gave the Texans a fourth-round pick and will swap third-round selections with them.

The bad news is that Ryans’ statistics were way down last year after he came back from Achilles tendon surgery. Yep, the same ailment that is afflicting Ryan Howard and also took a big toll on Sixer Elton Brand.

They say it takes two full years to get back to full strength after the surgery. A lot of people would argue that athletes are never the same after going under the knife for an Achilles issue.

The Eagles are hoping they’re wrong. If so, they just might have pulled off a steal.

You can read about the deal here, and in Bob Grotz’s blog here.


Tuesday, March 20, 2012

The Daily Numbers - March 20

The Daily Numbers: 20 of March? Yep, it’s the first day of spring.

71, expected high for today. Mid-50s, the normal high temperature. Love it.

4, as in the 4th warmest average temperature ever for the period December through February.

40.7, our average temperature for the period.

4 inches of snow recorded, which makes this winter No. 4 on the list of winters with the least snow.

3 local refineries shutting down, focus of hear Congressional hearing at Neumann University yesterday.

75 U.S. refineries that have shut down since 1985.

68, age of retired high school teacher who fainted yesterday in Delaware County court after pleading guilty to a child porn rap.

2 men who engaged in a gunfight on Millbank Road in Upper Darby just before midnight.

22, age of Chester man shot early Monday morning.

15 to 30 months in prison for a former Wachovia Bank worker who admitted that he attempted to embezzle $600,000 from the bank.

2 girls in Ridley Township who reported to police that a man exposed himself to them as they were walking home from school.

152 attacks on SEPTA drivers recorded over the past 4 years.

9, age of Skyler Kauffman of Souderton. James Troutman yesterday pleaded guilty to killing her in exchange for not getting the death penalty.

3 stories, how far a child fell from an window in Philly. He was not seriously injured.

6 inch long cardboard tube that contained a pipe bomb found on a lawn in Forks Township, near Easton.

2, as in No. 2, where Wendy’s now sits after overtaking Burger King in sales. They still trail McDonald’s.

4 people killed by a gunman at a Jewish school in France.


Call me a Phanatic: A look at the ups and downs of being a Philadelphia sports fan.Have we seen the last of Chase Utley? Let’s hope not. Over-under: Do you think he’ll miss as many games as he did last year?



I Don’t Get It: The Chester Upland School Board will bring in an outside investigator to probe the brawl between the school board prez and a high school teacher.


Today’s Upper: Welcome spring.


Quote Box: “If Sunoco Philadelphia refinery closes, prices would likely rise, but specific price impacts are uncertain.”

- Howard Gruenspecht, acting administrator for the Department of Energy at yesterday’s congressional hearing on refinery closings.

Refinery hearings: A different kind of homeland security

The first in a series of Congressional hearings focusing on the shutdowns of three local refineries was held yesterday at Neumann University in Aston.

You can read Kathleen Carey’s account of the session here.

U.S. Rep. Pat Meehan, R-7, of Drexel Hill, brought his House Homeland Security Subcommittee on Counterterrorism and Intelligence to review the “implications” of the closures.

Those guys in the bright blue baseball shirts with the yellow sleeves could have told them all about the “implications.”

They are members of the United Steelworkers Union who used to be employed there.

For them, this is about homeland security all right, just not the kind Meehan and the other pols and experts were talking about.

Instead, this is the kind of homeland security that his achieved with a good paycheck that can support a middle-class family.

Spare me the talk about gas prices, how much fuel is available and where it comes from.

This is about a way of life. One that is disappearing in front of our eyes.

Spring has sprung

Spring has sprung.

Did I miss winter?

When did we move to North Carolina?

Hey, don’t hold your breath waiting for me to complain.

I’m not a winter guy. I hate it a little more each year. Snow stopped being fun for me the day I graduated from college and learned the real world did not exactly embrace the concept of “snow days.”

Snow is even more of a problem for newspaper editors. First you have to worry about getting the staff into the office. No, we’re not yet at the point where we can all work from home. Close, but not quite. Then, you actually have to cover the event. Snow, as anyone who has lived in this area for any amount of time, or is even a casual watcher of local TV news, is a big story. These people hyperventilate when the roads are wet. So when you get a big storm they go into overdrive.

No, I will not shed a tear for the fact that we did not get any serious snow storms, if you don’t count that weird dusting we got way back on Halloween.

Last weekend I actually spent some time in the yard working on the shrubs and the flower beds, mostly weeding.

I was reminded of it Monday morning, when it was all I could do to get out of bed.

So there’s not exactly a “spring” in my step, even if the calendar tells us that it is in fact March 20, the first day of spring.

Once we burn off this morning fog, we’re supposed to have another beautiful day.

Let us know what you are going to do to celebrate the first day of spring. And yes, that includes standing in line at Rita's for their tradition of free water ice on the first day of spring. Send us a photo at Jump on Twitter and use the hashtag #delcospring.

Bring on summer! OK, that might be a bit greedy. I can wait to don shorts and T-shirts. But is it OK to put the long underwear away?

Phils' pennant 'Chase' just got steeper

Spring, and a young man’s thought turn to …. Chase Utley’s knees.

The Pennant ‘Chase’ just got a little more difficult for your fighting Phillies. They now almost assuredly will start the season without the entire right side of their vaunted infield.

The team announced yesterday that second baseman Chase Utley has left training camp in Clearwater to get treatment on his ailing knees. You read that right. Knees. As in both knees. Utley missed the first 47 games of last season with tendinitis in his right knee. Now the left one is acting up on him as well.

The Utley situation brings up all kinds of questions, not the least of which is, have we seen Utley in pinstripes for the last time?

I remember saying the same thing last year. Of course, Utley eventually rejoined the team, even if he was not the same player he once was.

The more intriguing question here is just how truthful Utley was with the team, and how truthful the team has been with its fans.

Utley did not step on the field one time in a Grapefruit League game this spring. He was limited to a bit of batting practice and taking a few ground balls. Pretty much exactly what he did last year.

Except that last year every one admitted he was hurting and trying to rehab his aching right knee. There was no such talk this year. With all winter to rest his ailing legs, Utley was expected to be a full participant when he reported to Clearwater this year. Didn’t happen.

You have to believe the Phils weren’t fully aware of how bad Utley’s knees were. If they did you would think they would have held on to valuable utility man Wilson Valdez, who filled in for Utley last year.

Instead, Valdez was traded to the Reds.

Meet Freddy Galvis, your likely starter at second base. Of course, Galvis has always been a shortstop, but found himself mired behind Jimmy Rollins.

The Phils now face the prospect of opening the season without their two biggest numbers producers, Utley and first baseman Ryan Howard, who is on the shelf while he rehabs from a ruptured Achilles.

And consider this. Jimmy Rollins has proved the last couple of years that his legs are not exactly what they once were. Anybody believe Placido Polanco is going to go a full season without getting hurt? He seems like he’s been banged up forever.

Hunter Pence will have to come up huge for this team this year, along with their troika of aces on the mound, Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee and Cole Hamels.

But before the season starts, in particular if it does so without Utley, the Phils should come clean with the fans who have sold out every night at Citizens Bank Park for as long as anyone can remember about what they knew – or didn’t know – about Utley’s condition.

The first day of spring has not exactly put a ‘spring’ in Phillies’ fans steps.

Instead they’re Chase-ing answers.


Monday, March 19, 2012

The Daily Numbers - March 19

The Daily Numbers: 19,074 who piled into PPL Park in Chester yesterday for the Union’s home opener.

2-1 loss for the Union, dropping them to 0-2 on the young season.

600 people who went to work yesterday at the stadium on Chester’s waterfront.

6.92 million in table games revenue hauled in at Harrah’s Chester Casino in February. Yeah, things are jumping on the city’s waterfront.

56 million raked in across the state. Harrah’s had the 4th highest take.

10 a.m., when U.S. Rep. Pat Meehan, R-7, of Drexel Hill will kick off a hearing on homeland security tied to the closing of local refineries.

22,500 dollar in accrued time to be paid to suspended Bethel Police Chief John Cairo under a settlement.

7.6 million dollar budget approved by the Delco Intermediate Unit.

6 percent hike in gas prices in February, and a finger of blame is again being pointed at the shutdown of two local refineries.

2.2 percent hike at the pumps locally just last week.

3.79 a gallon, what we are paying on average for gas in the Philly region.

30,000 dollars in cash and a handgun taken by thieves in a violent home invasion in Philadelphia last night.

5 people injured and 7 parked cars damaged when a SEPTA bus and SUV collided in Southwest Philly. The bus then slammed into a row of cars.

1 suspected robber shot and killed during a holdup of a corner store in Hunting Park.

14 of 16 teams still alive in NCAA hoops tourney that come from major conferences.

0.9 seconds left in OT when Scott Hartnell scored his 2nd goal of game to lift Flyers to huge 3-2 win over the Penguins.

10-2 loss for the Phillies to the Blue Jays yesterday.

5 runs on 7 hits surrendered by Phils starter Cole Hamels. He still said he was happy with hit outing as he works on his pitches.


Call me a Phanatic: A look at the ups and downs of being a Philadelphia sports fan.Anyone else getting concerned about the Phillies yet. Just keep saying, “it’s only spring training.”



I Don’t Get It: Gov. Tom Corbett’s proposed budget will slash general assistance. There has to be a better, less catastrophic way to cut spending.


Today’s Upper: More kudos to the Chester High Clippers, who rocked Coatesville Saturday to advance to PIAA Boys Hoops Semifinals.


Quote Box: “Your behavior was inappropriate. It was a bad example … The state is watching us and then we have incidents like this.”

- Chester NAACP President Darrell Jones in asking Chester Upland School Board President Wanda Mann to step down.

A conversation about new media

They apparently read The Heron’s Nest in the Sunoco executive suite.

You might remember that on Friday I threw out an open invitation to new Sunoco CEO New Sunoco CEO Brian MacDonald to add the Daily Times to his goodwill tour of local movers and shakers as he tries to explain why the company is getting out of the refining business.

I got a call Friday afternoon from Sunoco PR guru Thomas Golembeski. They were apparently somewhat taken aback that I would make the offer in such a public way. They probably have a point.

I sort of put them on the spot. But I wanted to get their attention. I think I got it.

They indicated that while they would welcome the opportunity to come in and chat with us, they likely will not be able to make it this week for our Wednesday night ‘Live From the Newsroom’ show. Actually, I don’t think they’re completely sold on that venue, but at least the invitation is out there.

For now, I’m looking for a topic for Wednesday night’s show. And since we’re all about community engagement these days, why not let the audience decide.

Do you think there’s a pressing issue that we should discuss? Have an idea for a show? Email me at

There is one that I am intrigued by, suggested by my good friend Kate Claire.

Kate is one of our old community advisers who I have been trying to talk often into writing a blog.

Both Kate and I have concerns about the explosion of social media, the need to be “plugged-in” 24 hours a day, and what it is doing to all of us.

Kate wonders whether it is all “an empty bag.”

Kate suggests a roundtable or symposium on the effect of all this technology on us? Sounds like a great idea. Kate, I'll count you as the first member of the symposium. I’d love to hear from some educators, experts in social media and other communications gurus to see if they would be willing to come in Wednesday night and talk about the new world we live in – and what it’s doing to us.

If it sounds like something you’d be interested in, shoot me an email at

All eyes on the refinery issue

 There’s U.S. Rep. Pat Meehan on the morning TV news. Meehan, R-7, of Drexel Hill, is pushing the hearing he'll be holding today on a critical issue to Delaware County.

That's why he was on the front page of the Sunday newspaper and all over our website as well.

Meehan today will hold the first of what will undoubtedly be a series of Congressional hearings on future of three local refineries. He will convene the House Homeland Security Subcommittee on Couterterrorism and Intelligence at Neumann University starting at 10 a.m.

You can catch a live stream of the event here.

And you can follow live updates from reporter Kathleen Carey on Twitter via the hashtag #delcorefinery.

If all that is not enough, I also devoted my print column to this crucial issue today. You can read it here.

It’s the single most important economic issue in Delaware County. Make sure your voice is heard.

A 'Major League' city again

As our front page points out today, Chester is once again a ‘Major League’ destination.

Yes, the Union is back in town.

Unfortunately, the local representative in Major League Soccer is now 0-2 after dropping the home opener 2-1 yesterday to the Colorado Rapids.

You can read all about the game here.

More important, at least in my eyes, is that another sold-out crowd of 19,074 made its way into the city of Chester in a gorgeous late-winter day.

It’s hard to express just how much PPL Park and the arrival of the Union means to Chester's redevelopment.

Mayor John Linder noted that he spent last Thursday huddling in Washington, D.C., with the other cities tabbed for a special federal program called Strong Cities, Strong Communities. None of them have the kind of riverfront venue that was again on display in Chester yesterday.

It’s clear soccer fans have taken this team – and this site – to heart.

You can read about there here.

The Sons of Ben, that zany group of soccer fanatics that were instrumental to bringing the MLS to town, were out in force again yesterday.

Perhaps the setting could best be described by Rob Young.

“You’ve got this great weather, a beautiful stadium and all of those great fans,” he said. “How can you beat this?”

For a city often described as down on its luck, it’s proof once again this it is alive and kicking.


Friday, March 16, 2012

The Daily Numbers - March 16

The Daily Numbers: 100,000 dollars, how much the county will spend on a study of the best possible uses of the Sunoco refinery site in Marcus Hook. I guess with Citizens Bank Park packed most nights that a baseball stadium is out.

781 acres along the Delaware River that is now home to the iconic Sunoco refinery. This study sure doesn’t sound like there’s a future in refining at the site.

0 bids for the site, what Sunoco says it has gotten, despite talking to as many as 150 possible suitors.

5-4 vote by which Chester Upland School board rejected a call for President Wanda Mann to step aside while a probe of a fight between her and a Chester High teacher is concluded. Mann voted with her GOP counterparts against the move.

2 more men nabbed in another child porn sting by county detectives.

250 to 275 new freshmen expected next year at Monsignor Bonner/Archbishop Prendergast High School. They held a tour of the school for incoming students last night. That’s a far cry from the death knell that was sounded for the school back in January.

79 pounds, what an 82-year-old Philadelphia man weighed when he died. His son has been charged with abuse.

4 people charged with beating a woman and then setting her on fire in Philly.

51 million dollar deal for No. 10, with about $19 million guaranteed.

499 dollars, price of one of those new iPads going on sale today.

100 people in line when an Apple store opened this morning in Ardmore.

3.92 percent interest rate on 30-year mortgage.

40 more newsroom jobs being shed by the Inquirer and Daily News. Yep, tough times for this business.

12 pound baby boy delivered to woman at Paoli Hospital yesterday.

46 percent of those responding to a poll who back renaming the football stadium at Penn State for late coach Joe Paterno.

249 minutes and 43 seconds, how long Ilya Bryzgalov went without allowing a goal. He gave up 2 last night, but the Flyers still won.


Call me a Phanatic: A look at the ups and downs of being a Philadelphia sports fan.I’ll believe Chase Utley is just fine when I see him playing in Florida. So far that has not been the case.



I Don’t Get It: The Chester Upland School Board voted 5-4 not to suspend President Wanda Mann for her role in a brawl in school. Mann voted with her Republican colleagues against the move. Nice.


Today’s Upper: Chester High certainly needs some good news. Here’s hoping they get it tomorrow when the undefeated play Coatesville in the PIAA Boys Hoops Quarterfinals.


Quote Box: “Your behavior was inappropriate. It was a bad example … The state is watching us and then we have incidents like this.”

- Chester NAACP President Darrell Jones in asking Chester Upland School Board President Wanda Mann to step down.


An open invitation to Sunoco CEO Brian MacDonald

New Sunoco CEO Brian MacDonald is on something of a goodwill tour.

He’s met with local officials as he tries to smooth all the feathers ruffled by his predecessor, Lyn Elsenhans. Under her reign, Sunoco made it clear they wanted out of the money-losing refining business, and Elsenhans proved ruthless in carrying out her mission.

She announced the company would seek buyers for both its Marcus Hook and South Philadelphia refineries, and if none came forward they would close the doors and padlock the gates behind them on the way out. The iconic Hook facility was supposed to remain active for a few months, but the grim numbers changed that prognosis. It has now been shut down and its workforce largely laid off. The South Philly refinery is still operating, but the company has indicated that will change this summer.

The fallout from all this has landed squarely in MacDonald’s lap. He’s been meeting with local officials, as well as elected leaders in Washington.

Yesterday Delaware County Council met in the shadow of the refinery in Marcus Hook to announce the would commission a $100,000 study to determine the best possible uses for the site. You can read about it here.

That does not sound terribly optimistic about the potential for its future as a refinery, which would save most of the jobs being lost in this cutback.

Sunoco has indicated that although they have talked with as many as 150 suitors, they do not have a single viable bid for the Marcus Hook facility.

The union has their doubts about just how committed the company is in terms of seeking a buyer and just how much interest there is in the site.

One of the things that is raising eyebrows is one of those meetings MacDonald had, specifically a sitdown with Marcus Hook borough officials in which he told them the company was not especially thrilled about a possible zoning change that would severely limit what the company can do at the site in the future.

Since MacDonald is looking to build a little goodwill, I want to do our part since we’ve covered this story so extensively.

Hence, this is an open invitation to the Sunoco boss to join us for our ‘Live From the Newsroom’ show this coming Wednesday. We air it live at 7 p.m. Mr. MacDonald, if you can’t come here we’d be more than happy to come to you. If you’d like to meet down in Marcus Hook or with some union officials at the hall in Linwood, I’m quite sure we could work that out as well.

I would love to give you an opportunity to talk candidly to myself and my columnist, Gil Spencer, about the company’s plans, why it is taking the course that it is, and what lies ahead.

I’d love to hear from either you or your spokesmen, Tom Golembeski or Joe McGinn. I hope they're not tired of hearing from us. They probably have a direct line to our business writer, Kathleen Carey, who has been on this story from Day 1.

I can be reached at 610-622-8818, or email me at

What do you say? See you Wednesday at 7? I await your reply.

Mann, oh Mann!


Wanda Mann is still president of the Chester Upland School Board.

This despite starring in a production not even Damon Feldman could dream up.

Mann paid a visit to Chester High this week. She wanted to talk to teacher Leslye Jordan, who had fired off a letter to the board and district attorney that was critical of the way the district had handled her request for an investigation into threats she says were being made about her.

Well, they did a little more than talk. Voices were raised. So were fists. A full-scale brawl broke out, right in front of students. After the two women were separated, they both sought hospital treatment.

As it turns out there was a regularly scheduled meeting of the school board last night. Not surprisingly, “The Fight” came up. You can read John Kopp’s coverage here.

The board voted 5-4 to allow Mann to keep her post while the matter is investigated. The vote was split along party lines. Mann cast the deciding vote with her Republican counterparts against a suspension. How convenient.

At a minimum, Mann should have stepped aside while the investigation is being done.

No criminal charges have been filed, although the matter is still being reviewed.

For her part, Jordan says she likely will not return to her teaching post. She also expressed regret for the message the incident sent to students. Mann declined to talk about the fight again last night, referring to it as a “personnel matter.”

Chester Upland has a “no-tolerance” policy when it comes to fighting among students.

Apparently that policy does not apply to the president of the school board.

Phils not worrying, why should we?

Chase Utley has yet to appear in a Grapefruit League game in Florida. He says his focus is on the regular season.


Ryan Howard tried to work out on his injured Achilles tendon, and promptly wound up in a doctor’s office in Baltimore, getting treatment for an infection in his wound. Nice.

Unless you haven’t noticed, that is half of the Phillies starting infield, and a huge chunk of their offensive firepower.

What they did not need was a story asking questions about Roy Halladay’s velocity this spring. Some folks think it’s down, and that it could be a problem. Especially after Roy got lit up in his last outing.

Both Roy and Charlie Manuel say it’s spring training and not to worry.

So, repeat after me, Phillies fans.

It’s only March. It’s only March. It’s only March.

Hey, how ‘bout that DeSean Jackson deal!!!


Thursday, March 15, 2012

The Daily Numbers - March 15

The Daily Numbers: 2 women, the president of the school board and a Chester High teacher, who came to blows in the school. Nice.

26 of March, last day to register to vote in the primary. Also last election you’ll be able to vote without showing photo ID, under new state law.

1,000 people who streamed into the new Whole Foods in Concord in the first hour it was open yesterday.

25, age of man wanted in connection with a Radnor bank heist. He was quickly ID’d because of the crystal clear shot of him from surveillance cameras. Remember to smile when you’re robbing a bank, folks.

8 million dollar being sought from PEMA by County Council as reimbursement on wireless costs.

84 percent of those surveyed by AAA who say high gas prices are changing their driving habits.

1 dead, 20 hurt when a tractor-trailer slammed into a school bus in western Pa.

5 year deal for Eagles wide receiver DeSean Jackson.

51 million dollar deal for No. 10, with about $19 million guaranteed.

111-94 loss for the Sixers at Indiana last night.

21 points for Evan Turner in another decent effort, this time in a losing game.

6 points and 5 fouls for Center Spencer Hawes in his first action since being out weeks with a sore Achilles.

5 runs and 7 hits surrendered by Phillies ace Roy Halladay in spring training game vs. Twins yesterday.

100 victories in his career for Chester Clippers coach Larry Yarbray.

29-0 mark for the streaking Clippers.

3 more wins, what Chester needs for another state title.

*: A look at the ups and downs of being a Philadelphia sports fan.Not sure the Phillies brass are at all thrilled by Jimmy Rollins comment to a reporter yesterday that he’s not sure Ryan Howard plays at all this year.

Call me a Phanatic



I Don’t Get It: A school board president and a high school teacher come to blows right in front of students. Hard to believe.


Today’s Upper: That same school, Chester High, has produced one of the truly great teams in PIAA history. The undefeated Clippers are zeroing in on another state title.


Quote Box: “I’m telling you the truth. I did not hit that lady first.”

- Chester Upland School Board president on her altercation with a teacher at Chester High yesterday.