Friday, August 31, 2012

The Daily Numbers - Aug. 31.

The Daily Numbers: 2 brothers from Aston, 3rd man charged in brutal murder of man in Lancaster County.

200,000 dollars in the house, what police believe the trio were after..

3 cases of West Nile virus now reported in Delco.

2 alarm fire that heavily damaged a home in Haverford yesterday.

30,000 gallon propane storage tank being proposed by a local oil company that is raising some eyebrows in Nether Providence.

12 inches of rain that soaked much of Louisiana in the wake of Hurricane Isaac.

100, age of driver who slammed into crowd in a California parking lot.

60 million dollar pricetag on a new high school football stadium in Texas. The town OK’d borrowing money for it, along with seeking corporate sponsors.

18,000 fans that can pack into the new football home of Allen High.

93 percent of oil from Gulf region cut off by Hurricane Issac.

3.82 a gallon, what we’re paying this Labor Day weekend her in Philly region. Last year it was $3.65.

4-0 preseason mark for the Eagles after last night’s 28-10 win over the Jets.

1995, last time Birds ran the board in the preseason.

197 yards passing for Trent Edwards.

4-6 for rookie Nick Foles in his 1 quarter of work

3-2 win for Phillies over Mets in a game that saw the benching of Jimmy Rollins after failing to run out an infield pop-up and then a base-running gaffe.


Call me a Phanatic: A look at the ups and downs of being a Philadelphia sports fan.Charlie Manuel needs to sit Jimmy Rollins tonight. He’s make the manager – and the team – look bad. As if they don’t care.



I Don’t Get It: A town in Texas spent $60 million on its high school football stadium. Now that’s Friday Night Lights.


Today’s Upper: Kudos to the staff at Media Elementary, who are all set for the start of the school year – at the old Nativity BVM – while their school undergoes a yearlong renovation.


Quote Box: “This was in the planning stages for weeks, maybe months.”

- Lancaster County District Attorney Craig Stedman, on murder of man. Two brothers from Aston are charged.


Meet Brian MacDonald, CEO at Sunoco

Brian MacDonald knows a little something about the pain of a factory closing.

He grewup in a small coal-mining town in Nova Scotia. His father worked in a mine. It’s a tough way to make a living. It’s an even tougher one to lose. But the company that owned the mine shut it down. It caused a lot of pain and suffering.

MacDonald survived. But he remembers that feeling.

Which is why he knows how all those workers at Sunoco’s Marcus Hook refinery feel when the company decided to get out of the refinery business and shut down its iconic Delco plant.

MacDonald is their boss. He’s the CEO of Sunoco.

Yesterday I had a chance to meet him.

The 15th floor of 1818 Market Street doesn’t much look like a Nova Scotia coal mine. Or the Marcus Hook refinery for that matter. That’s where Sunoco’s corporate offices are. Specatcular view of the city’s skyline from thier conference room.

MacDonald hasn’t forgotten where he came from. Or Marcus Hook either, for that matter.

I was joined by staff writer Kathleen Carey and columnist Gil Spencer. We’ve spent a lot of time over the course of the past year writing about Sunoco.

You might remember that it was almost one year ago, in fact the Tuesday morning after Labor Day, that MacDonald’s predecessor Lynn Elsenhans announced the company’s intention to get out of the refining business. Sunoco said it would put its Marcus Hook and South Philly refineries on the market. If a buyer did not come forward, they would be shuttered.

One year later, Marcus Hook is a shell of its old self. Hundreds have lost their jobs.

Tied into the Labor Day weekend, we decided to take a look at what has been a tumultuous year in the refeinery business in this region.

As part of that, we certainly wanted to tell Sunoco’s side of this story. Carey tried repeatedly to get Sunoco officials to talk. Then yesterday morning we got a call - could we be downtown at 4:15?

I don’t want to give away everything we talked about with MacDonald. Carey and Spencer will do that on Sunday. But I will tell you this. I was impressed.

MacDonald makes a compelling case for what the company did. That does not mean he doesn’t feel for the workers who have been affected. I can assure you he does.

Our three-part series starts on Sunday with a look at how people came together in an effort to save the local refineries. We’ll also profile MacDonald. On Monday we’ll get the union’s side of what happened, and the deals that saved South Philly, as well as the Conoco-Phillips refinery in Trainer. On Tuesday we’ll profile one family’s struggle with being laid off from the Hook refinery.

MacDonald has a message for the people of Marcus Hook. He hasn’t forgotten you either. You can read all about it on Sunday.

Everything you need to know about Delco high school football

Yes, Jimmy Rollins is up to his old tricks. And the Eagles are trying to figure out their final 53-man roster.

But make no mistake, this day belongs to high school football.

Can you feel it? Are you ready for some high school football.

We are. And we’re packed with everything you need to know to kick off the Delco high school football season.

First off, click here for a rundown of every high football team in the county. It’s all part of our annual high school football preview, including a very special look at how schools are dealing with the growing problem of concussions.

But you’re going to want to pick up a copy of the print edition as well. That’s because in the centerspread of our football tab is a full-color schedule of the entire Delco football schedule.

Then tonight there is a full schedule of games. This is when things really start to get fun. You can keep tabs on all the games with our Delco Football blog. We’ll be posting updates and scores from all the games as they come in.

And you’ll also be able to follow our live tweets with score updates on Twitter by using the #delcofootball hashtag.

It promises to be another huge year for Delco football, and we’ve got every angle covered. They don’t call us Delco’s Sports Authority for nothing.

As Jimmy and the Eagles QBs turn

Jimmy Rollins is out.

It looks like Nick Foles and Trent Edwards are in, but Mike Kafka is out.

The Phillies beat the Mets yesterday, but the big story was another incident with Jimmy Rollins. He got benched after a base-running mistake and then failing to run out an infield pop that was dropped by the pitcher.

It will be interesting to see if Rollins is in the lineup tonight when the Phils open a series in Atlanta.

You can read all about that one here.

The Eagles wrapped up an undefeated preseason last night by beating the Jets, due largely to the efforts of backup journeyman QB Trent Edwards. Andy Reid now has a choice to make. Three quarterbacks are going to make this team. I’m not sure how Mike Kafka, who has missed a lot of time with an injury, makes the team.

Here’s beat writer Bob Grotz’s look at last night’s game, and his take on the Eagles final roster.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

The Daily Numbers - Aug. 30

The Daily Numbers: 300,000 dollars cash bail for rapper Beanie Sigel after his arrest in Tinicum on drug and weapons charges. He’s in jail after failing to make bail.

12 of September, when Sigel was due to report to prison on federal tax charges.

38 caliber fully loaded Smith and Wesson found in the car, in which Sigel was a passenger.

850 residents in Springfield without power for a while yesterday after a utility line fell on a house, sparking a fire.

4 goldfish killed in a fire in that spread through a home in Upper Darby.

2 men waived their hearing on charges they had sex with underage girls.

300 people who held a protest against welfare cuts outside the governor’s residence yesterday.

193 large metro areas in the U.S. that saw an increase in jobless rate in July.

114 in which they went down; they were unchanged in another 66.

8.3 percent national unemployment rate.

6 percent Pa. sales tax that online seller says it will start to collect, beginning on Saturday.

1 man killed, his 5-year-old son injured when they were struck by hit-run driver while trying to cross Roosevelt Boulevard last night.

2-1 loss for the Union last night at PPL Park in Chester.

3-2 loss for the Phils, their 2nd straight to the Mets.

6 solid innings for rookie Tyler Cloyd, who got the start in place of an ill Cole Hamels.

3 earned runs given up by the rookie, on 7 hits, including a 2-run homer that was the difference in the game.

5 strikeouts for the rookie.

11 of final 12 batters he faced were retired.


Call me a Phanatic: A look at the ups and downs of being a Philadelphia sports fan.The Phils are done. They had to be almost perfect to have a chance. Losing 2 straight to the Mets is hardly perfect.



I Don’t Get It: The Phils play this afternoon as they wind up their series with the Mets. A couple of hours later the Eagles cap off their preseason slate vs. the Jets. Two meaningless games.


Today’s Upper: Kudos to Phillies rookie Tyler Cloyd, who fared pretty well despite taking the loss in his major league debut vs. the Mets.


Quote Box: “I don’t care what the medical examiner said, I’m discounting the findings. He didn’t commit suicide. He was passed out.”

- Ridley Police Lt. Scott Willoughby, on ruling on cause of death for a man who was struck by train.


Putting Mayor Linder on the spot

We had a great sit-down with Chester Mayor John Linder on our live-stream show, ‘Live From the Newsroom,’ last night.

I wanted to talk politics, and Linder didn’t back down from a single question.

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

Linder is caught in a bit of a power struggle with some members of City Council. No matter that they are all Democrats. They’re not getting along, in particular when it comes to some personnel decisions.

Bottom line: Linder made it clear with this statement:

“There is only one mayor in Chester, and I’m sitting in that seat.”

Keep an eye on this one. It’s not likely going to go away anytime soon.

Meaningless games on both sides of street

Tonight they will play a meaningless exhibition game at Lincoln Financial Field.

A few hours earlier, they will do pretty much the same across the street at Citizens Bank Park.

This time I’m serious. You can stick a fork in the Phillies. They're done.

Oh, mathematically, the Phillies still have a chance at that second Wild Card slot. Realistically? Fugettaboutit! They aren’t going to make the playoffs. That’s what two straight losses to the Mets will do to your flickering chances.

How bad are things? Chase Utley certainly is starting to think of next year. Yesterday he was taking ground balls at third base, sending tongues - and pens - wagging with thoughts of the infield with Utley at third, Rollins at short, Galvis at second and Howard at first.

But for now, for this season, it looks like meaningless baseball has arrived for September.

It’s been a long time since the Phils have been in this position.

Not nearly long enough.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

The Daily Numbers - Aug. 29

The Daily Numbers: 21, age of sleepy burglar who was arrested after he was found snoozing inside a resident in Morton. You snooze, you lose. Yep, sounds about right.

28, age of woman who apparently took her own life in a Ridley Township police holding cell.

8.7 percent unemployment rate in Delco during July.

84 percent of the people who will be traveling this weekend will do so by car, according to the folks at AAA.

3.80, average price they will be paying for gas in the Philly region.

34, age of woman who was found with her 4-year-old daughter in car in parking lot of vacant Pathmark store in Broomall.

500 counts of child porn filed against a man from Parkside.

82, age of longtime Pa. U.S. Sen. Arlen Specter. He confirmed yesterday he is once again battling cancer.

10:35, what time Madonna finally took the stage at the Wells Fargo Center last night. What is she, on L.A. time?

3:15 a.m., when a Chalfont, Bucks County, police officer says he was shot during a routine car stop. Police now say it’s a hoax, the made the whole thing up and had staged the shooting earlier.

178 people sickened by salmonella believed link to cantaloupes from a farm in Indiana.

2 of the cases have been in Pennsylvania.

1 man shot and killed in parking lot of restaurant in North Philly.

9-5 come-from-ahead loss for the Phils to the Mets last night.

4-1 lead for the Phils after a grand slam by Ryan Howard in the bottom of the 1st inning.

4 runs on 4 hits surrendered by B.J. Rosenberg in the 10th inning.

4 game winning streak snapped for the Phillies, who missed a chance to gain ground on the Cardinals, who also lost.

171 minutes, how long the Union have gone without scoring. They plan again at PPL Park tonight.

*: A look at the ups and downs of being a Philadelphia sports fan.The Phils just can’t afford to lose games like last night. Same problem that has haunted them all year, bad bullpen.

Call me a Phanatic



I Don’t Get It: Madonna did not take the stage for her show at the Wells Fargo Center last night until after 10:30? What’s up with that. Was she taking in the Phillies game?


Today’s Upper: Kudos to Arlen Specter. If ever there was a fighter, it’s the longtime Pa. U.S. Senator. Specter announced yesterday he is again battling cancer, and vows to beat it. We wish him well.


Quote Box: “Prices could shoot up another 10 cents quickly.”

- Tom Kloza, oil analyst, on gas price spike expected because of refineries shut down on the Gulf coast in the wake of Hurricane Isaac.

'Live From the Newsroom' goes one-on-one with Chester Mayor John Linder

We have a very special guest lined up for tonight’s live-stream broadcast, ‘Live From the Newsroom.’

We’ll be joined by Chester Mayor John Linder.

These are interesting days, as usual, in the city.

While Democrats now control city government, after Linder and two Democratic council members were swept into office last November, their troubles now are not coming from Republicans.

They’re dealing with sniping from each other.

The feud seems to have splintered Chester’s government, pitting Linder against several factions on council.

Then there’s the matter of new taxes the city is mulling against entertainment venues that would seem to target Harrah’s and PPL Park. Officials from the Union, the Major League Soccer team that plays in PPL Park, have already cried foul, and put a halt to one project they were considering.

Then there is the situation with the Chester Upland School District, and the new chief recovery officer put in place by the state. John Watkins comes to the job with background strongly promoting school choice and charter schools.

We’ll question Linder about all these and more.

What I want to know is what questions YOU think we should ask the mayor.

Have something about the city you want to know? Do you have a question about safety or crime? Jobs? Education? Taxes.

Email them to me at and I’ll put them to the mayor.

This is an interactive show. You can log on to and take part in our live chat

We go live at 7 p.m.

Don’t stand on the sidelines. Get involved. Join the conversation.

We’re going one-on-one with Chester Mayor John Linder.

Madonna show sparks an old memory

Maybe someone can explain this one to me. I’ve always been something of a lukewarm Madonna fan. She has one song that I am in love with. Actually it's not so much love as much as it is haunted. It is called ‘Live to Tell.’ It was the theme song for a movie called ‘At Close Range.’

That movie holds a very special place in my heart.

It tells the story of Chester County’s infamous Johnston gang. They rocketed to fame as the target of a federal investigation into the theft ring that specialized in stealing farm equipment in the mid-’70s.

The story exploded when Bruce Johnston Jr., who had been subpoenaed to appear before a federal grand jury, was ambushed as he pulled into a driveway. The girl with him that sultry August night was Robin Miller. She was a friend of my family. I knew her, her sisters and her mother.

I had just arrived back east and was working as a stringer for the Coatesville Record. Some of the first stories I wrote were about the ambush-murder of Robin Miller. I covered the Johnston brothers saga for several years. The brothers eventually all were convicted of murder for killing Robin and several other young men who were subpoenaed.

At any rate, every time I think of Madonna, I think of that song. It was a lifetime ago. I wonder about the career I have chosen. How many murders? How many gruesome cases? But none of them hit me like the death of Robin Miller. I knew her. She was a friend. And then I had to tell her mother that I was working as a reporter, and was trying - pretty badly in fact - to separate my personal life from the job.

All of which brings me back to my original thought. Madonna was in town last night.

For some reason she thought it was OK to let people who had paid big bucks for tickets to her tour kickoff show in Philly sit around for three hours before taking the stage.

She eventually went sometime after 10:30 to a smattering of boos.

I don’t know if she did ‘Live to Tell.’

That was a long time ago.

But I still remember.

I have a tale to tell, too. And I’ve been doing now for more than 30 years.

Rest well, Robin.

You have not been forgotten.

An excruciating loss for Phils

Ah, the perils of being a Phillies fan.

This was one they really could not afford to lose. Staked to a 4-0 lead in the bottom of the first inning courtesy of a Ryan Howard grand slam, Vance Worley and the bullpen slowly, painfully frittered it away.

Eventually, the game was placed in the hands of one B.J. Rosenberg in the top of the 10th.

You can pretty much guess what happened next. A 5-5 tie ballgame was suddenly a 9-5, deflating win for the Mets.

You can read Dennis Deitch's gamer story here.

Making the loss even more costly was the fact that the Cardinals also lost, meaning the Phils blew a golden opportunity to seize a full game in the Wild Card race.

The Phils’ chances are a long shot. They need to go something like 27-7 the rest of the way, while the Cardinals lanquish near the .500 mark. The Cards did their part last night, but he Phils collapsed.

Of course, there’s another problem with these flickering Phillies’ playoff hopes They need to scratch their way past four teams to get in. That’s a tall order.

Efforts like last night, when they blew a 4-0 lead, are not going to help.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

The Daily Numbers - Aug. 28

The Daily Numbers: 4 Neumann students who were targets of armed home invasion at their off-campus house.

2 in the afternoon on Sunday when the crime occurred. Kind of makes you wonder what and where we’re safe anymore.

26, age of man who has filed suit against the Philadelphia Union following a stabbing incident in the parking lot of PPL Park in 2010.

1 man who was wearing a ski mask who kicked in the door at a Concord jewelry store and stole items on display.

3 hour standoff that ended last night in Parkside when police stormed a house where a man was holed up after he apparently refused to accept involuntary commitment papers.

3:25 a.m. on a Saturday, when a female Villanova student says she was attacked in her apartment by an intruder.

1,000 dollars a day, what a tax collection firm will owe a local tax group in a dispute over tax collections.

100 people who showed up at the Upper Darby School Board meeting last night to discuss a controversial elementary school plan.

16.5 million price tag for renovation/expansion plan for Nether Providence Elementary School.

1, as in first day of school for students in Ridley. Summer’s over, kids.

2 suspects now in custody in slaying of Philadelphia Police Officer Moses Walker, who was laid to rest yesterday.

2.3 percent increase in Labor Day travel being predicted by AAA.

444,000 travelers from Philly area expected to travel at least 50 miles from home this weekend.

85 percent, number of travelers who will go by car.

4 straight wins for the Phillies, who kick off a big series with the Mets tonight.

53, what Eagles have to have their roster down to by Friday night.

1 more exhibition game, Thursday night vs. the Jets.


Call me a Phanatic: A look at the ups and downs of being a Philadelphia sports fan.Anyone else expect Michael Vick to be in mid-season form after taking all of 12 snaps in the preseason? Thought so.



I Don’t Get It: School starts before Labor Day in Ridley. It’s something of a tradition that they are the first district in Delco to go back to school. Still doesn’t seem right.


Today’s Upper: Kudos to the kids in Ridley who have to troop off to school today while their counterparts in other districts are enjoying the last few days of summer.


Quote Box: “So when they come back on Tuesday, the are ready to go. We are working on academics.”

- Ridley Superintendent Lee Ann Wentzel, talking about reason for schools in the district starting before Labor Day.


Summer's over

The weather probably matches the mood for most kids in Ridley today.

That’s right, summer’s over.

It has been tradition for a few years now that Ridley is the first district in Delaware County to go back to school. This year is no exception.

Superintendent Lee Ann Wentzel offers a very good reason for starting early.

You can read it here.

Me? Still seems like a rotten thing to do.

For some reason I just can’t get my head around going back school before Labor Day.

Or course, the kids likely will be singing a different tune on Tuesday, when the rest of the county heads back into the classrooms.

They’ll be that much farther ahead.

At any rate, there is no avoiding it.

Summer’s over.


Go behind the scenes at the GOP Convention with Mike Puppio's blog

The Republicans are about to get down to business in Tampa, one day later courtesy of Tropical Storm Isaac.

Now the GOP faces the possibility of being upstaged if Isaac revs up into a hurricane as it takes dead aim at New Orleans, which is still coming to grips with the destruction wreaked by Katrina.

You can get all the details and a hurricane tracker here.

And while there will be tons of copy written from the GOP convention, there’s only one place where you will be able to hear from a Delco delegate at the shindig.

That would be right here.

Springfield GOP boss Mike Puppio is once again doing a live blog for us from the GOP convention.

Make sure you check in every day for Mike’s behind-the-scenes take on the convention, and also to keep tabs on what the Delco delegation is doing as they prepare to nominate Mitt Romney as their standard-bearer.

Nick at Night? Or until Vick falters, or gets hurt

Without question the biggest development in Eagles camp this summer has been the emergence of Nick Foles as a backup to Michael Vick.

Notice I said backup.

I don’t think anyone should be wasting breath debating whether Foles - who has yet to take a snap in a real NFL game - is going to supplant Vick as the Birds’ starter.

That does not mean Foles will not see meaningful time behind center for the green and white this year.

That’s because the biggest question about this team remains the same one that has hung around the neck of No. 7 for most of his career.

Can Michael Vick stay healthy? Is he willing to change his style of play, maybe not push the envelope quite as much. And if he does, will it affect his performance. Is Vick the same player when he’s not playing with his hair on fire.

Then again, if it means he’s not the turnover machine he too often was last year, that would not be a bad thing.

Here’s the bottom line. Michael Vick has taken exactly 12 snaps in two exhibition games this summer. He will not play again before the opener after banging up his thumb and his ribs in the first two practice games. That means his true preseason is likely going to take place in the first few weeks of the regular season.

Couple that with Andy Reid’s notorious penchant for teams that start slow, and you have a concoction just made to order for Iggles fans.

Should Vick struggle early, how long ‘til the ‘We Want Nick’ chants break out at Lincoln Financial Field?

Here’s something I think you can bank on. Nick Foles will play meaningful minutes at QB for the Eagles this year.

Just when that occurs will likely tell you everything you need to know about how successful this season will be.

Monday, August 27, 2012

The Daily Numbers - Aug. 27

The Daily Numbers: 2 men who police say invaded a home in Aston where some Neumann University students had moved in, terrorized them, and ransacked the joint.

700 dollars, along with cell phones, computers and Playstation among the items stolen in the home invasion.

1 police officer shot during a traffic stop this morning in Chalfont, Bucks County.

144,000 dollar salary for Joe Watkins, the new chief recovery officer in the Chester Upland School District.

4,500 students in Chester Upland.

1st, as in Students First, the pro-choice PAC that Watkins used to head.

49 students enrolled in one of the new charter schools in Chester, the Achieve Community Transformation Academy.

78 parking spots needed for a mosque that wants to locate in the World’s Largest Aquarium in Upper Darby.

2 suspects now in custody in slaying of Philadelphia police officer.

10 people killed by Tropical Storm Isaac in Haiti.

2 shot to death, 1 person killed in hit-run in another violent weekend in Philly.

11, age of girl raped by 2 men in West Philly.

3.73 a gallon, national average price at the pumps, according to AAA. That’s 24 cents more than a month ago.

18 percent of Pa. students who took the ACT college exam. That’s as opposed to 52 percent naturally.

3.75, what we’re paying in the Philly region.

2 cents higher than last week; $3.55, what we were paying last year.

9.5 games out of the Wild Card, where the Phils sit.

1 win at Citizens Bank Park for Cliff Lee after he led the Phils to a 4-1 win and sweep of the Nats.

0-6, what Lee was in his previous 12 starts at the Bank.

8-15, what Phils are in Lee’s last 23 starts.

4 straight losses for the 1st place Nationals.

4 straight wins for the Phillies.


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

Let’s east that talk about Nick Foles replacing Michael Vick as the Eagles starter. The kid hasn’t started a single regular season NFL game.


I Don’t Get It: Why do TV stations do stories on the personal lives of their on-air folks. It’s not news.


Today’s Upper: Kudos to the GOP faithful, who are convening in Tampa even as Tropical Storm Isaac soaks the region.


Quote Box: “Appointing him to rescue a public schol district seems like a really terrible fit.”

- State Sen. Daylin Leach, D-17, on naming of Joe Watkins as chief recovery officer in Chester Upland..


Job 1 for Joe Watkins in Chester Upland


A lot of people are facing big jobs as students prepare to go back to school.
None of them is bigger than the one facing Joe Watkins. And he’s not even a student.

He’s the newly minted chief recovery officer for the troubled Chester Upland School District. That in itself is a huge task.
But Watkins’ task becomes even more problematic because a lot of people are going to view him as simply the latest push by the Corbett Administration toward the privatization of public schools.
Chester Upland already faces a huge pitfall because so many of its students are enrolled in charter schools, siphoning off much-needed state funding from the district.
Residents now must come to grips that the man selected to lead the school’s recovery has very close ties to the charter school industry, including the biggest charter school in Pennsylvania, Chester Community Charter School.
Watkins is familiar with Chester Community Charter. He used to work for them.
He also headed a political action committee called Students First. It pushed the interests of vouchers and charter schools, including bankrolling the gubernatorial campaign of state Sen. Anthony Hardy Williams, who based his campaign on a renewed charter school push.
CLICK HERE to read John Kopp’s profile on Watkins.
He has an impressive background, having worked for a U.S. president and senator, as well as running for office himself. He’s also a pastor and Republican political pundit, who has routinely appeared on TV talk shows.
But he will need all those talents to convince the residents in Chester Upland that he is not here simply to dismantle what is left of their school district.
“I come to this with an open mind and an open heart,” Watkins said.
For far too long, the students of the Chester Upland School District have come last.
It is our hope that Watkins can change that.
We dont pretend to have the answers to what ails Chester Upland. The district has been in decline for so long it’s hard to know where to start.
That’s now Watkins’ job.
Right after he convinces people that the solution is not to simply turn the entire district over to the charters.
We wish him well.

Brace yourself for the arrival of our Social Media Wire


We’re getting ready to roll out our next step in our efforts tame the beast known as social media.
Do you have trouble keeping tabs on all your favorite Twitter, Facebook and blog feeds? Wondering what the best stuff on YouTube is? Interested in the best social media coming from right in your neighborhood?
That’s the idea behind our Social Media Wire.
I explain it in this week’s print column. Check it out here.
The key to making this thing really work is that your participation. Tell us what you want to see on our Social Media Wire.

Don't count the Phils out just yet

While entirely too many people debate the Eagles quarterback situation (save your breath, this is Michael Vick’s team), we’re intrigued by something else.

Anyone remember the Phillies?

Don’t look now, but, just one week before Labor Day, the Boys of Summer may not be done yet.

After a convincing weekend sweep of the first-place Washington Nationals, the Phils find themselves 9 1/2 games back in the race for that second National League Wild Card spot.

Yes, it would take a huge - some might say miraculous - effort. But it can be done. And the Phils need look no farther than the team in front of them. That would be the St. Louis Cardinals. Last year on Aug. 25 the Cards were 10 1/2 out. All they did was beat the Phillies in the divisional series and go on to win a World Series title.

The Phillies seem to have finally settled into a groove. They are getting solid starting pitching, and even getting sparkling outings from Kyle Kendrick. Yesterday Cliff Lee got just his second win of the season at Citizens Bank park.

Their much-maligned bullpen has now not allowed a run in about a week. Even Antonio Bastardo is getting into the act.

With Chase Utley and Ryan Howard back in the lineup, this is very much the team most fans expected to see back in April.

Bottom line? They’re probably still a longer shot than Nick Foles replacing Michael Vick as the Eagles starting QB. But the Phillies have a pulse. Don’t believe it? Just ask the Nats, who were heard grumbling loudly amongst themselves in the locker room after the game.

Weirder things have happened. The Phils witnessed that last year in watching the Cards come from nowhere to win it all.

Turns out there will be meaningful baseball in September after all.

Here’s the details on yesterday’s 4-1 and sweep over Washington.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Daily Times teams with Delco Literacy Council

As you can imagine, we take literacy pretty seriously.

A society that does not read does not bode well for newspapers and websites.

That's why we're excited to be teaming with the Delaware County Literacy Council for one of their biggest events of the year.

In honor of International Literacy Day, we are hoping to spread the gospel of literacy and also boost attendance at Literacy Council's Open House on Sept. 12..

We'll be out in force at the Literacy Council headquarters in Chester, and we'd like you to join us. We'll be doing our weekly live-stream Internet broadcast, Live From the Newsroom, from there, and we'll be joined by some of our bloggers and members of our Community Media Lab, such as Mary Ann Fiebert, who pens our very popular Top 10 blog.

If you have an interest in blogging, or just need help with literacy, why not join us.

Here's all the details on the Open House from Susan Keller, of the Literacy Council:

On Wednesday, September 12, the Delaware County Literacy Council (DCLC) will open its doors at 2217 Providence Avenue in Chester from 5:00 to 7:00 p.m. for a special Open House to celebrate International Literacy Day.

All are invited to hear about literacy from a variety of perspectives, to enjoy light refreshments, and to learn about the Literacy Council’s free services and volunteering opportunities. DCLC provides free one-on-one tutoring and small-group instruction to adults in reading, writing, math, English as a Second Language (ESL), and GED preparation.

Scheduled to appear at the event is Michael Lahoud, a midfielder for the Philadelphia Union soccer team. Lahoud is a native of Sierra Leone—one of several West African countries well represented among DCLC’s adult students. Immigrants from Africa, Asia, South America, and other parts of the world come to the Literacy Council for both ESL instruction and basic literacy services and often receive help from a volunteer literacy tutor.

Lahoud is scheduled to talk about his journey from Sierra Leone to the ranks of Major League Soccer, first playing for Chivas USA in Los Angeles and now playing for the Philadelphia Union at PPL Park in Chester. Lahoud is also scheduled to sign autographs following the program of speakers during the event.

Visitors also can learn about the “Real Men Really Read” Campaign from Jonathan Abdur Raheem King of Brothers of Concern, who will say a few words about the Chester initiative. Also, local Rotarians will be recounting some of their local and international activities relating to literacy.

The event will be streamed live on the Delaware County Daily Times’ “Live from the Newsroom” webcast, and several Daily Times’ bloggers as well as Editor Phil Heron will be in attendance to meet readers and share their thoughts on literacy.

The event is free and open to the public. For more information, visit, or call 610-876-4811.

The Literacy Council was founded in 1975 by volunteers who recognized a need for reading tutoring in the Chester area. For 37 years, the Literacy Council has worked with Delaware County adults who wish to read, write, speak and understand English. Currently, more than 50 adult students are waiting for tutors. To learn how to become a volunteer tutor, come to the September 12th Open House or call Susan at 610-876-4811.


Thursday, August 23, 2012

Fireworks over Penn State on 'Live From the Newsroom'

Somebody remind never to sit between Jack McCaffery and Gil Spencer.

We've been wanting to use our live-stream Internet show for some time now to focus on the Penn State-Joe Paterno saga, and we finally got around to it last night.

It wasn't long before I felt like the referee at a WWE match. Let's just say Jack and Gil, our two lead columnists in sports and news, have strong opinions and aren't afraid to voice them.

That's why they're so good at what they do.

If you didn't tune in, this is one you've got to see - and hear - to believe.

I started the show with what I thought was an innocent enough question: Who knew what and when in the Penn State Sandusky investigation. It was kind of like putting a match to a bonfire.

CLICK HERE to watch the replay.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

The Daily Numbers for Aug. 22

The Daily Numbers: 50 years, how long Nick Catania wielded power in Delaware County, as head of the Ridley GOP and also as county councilman.

86, Catania’s age when he passed away at Fair Acres yesterday.

17 Archdiocesan high schools, including Bonner-Prendie, that will now be operated by a private foundation, the Faith in the Future Foundation.

8 large bricks of heron found during a car stop on I-95.

5,445 dollars also found in the car; 2 women now face drug charges.

17, number of mosquitoes that tested postive for West Nile virus in the last 2 days in Delco.

62, age of Springfield man killed when the bicycle he was riding collided with a pickup truck.

1 million dollar loan OK’d by Upland Borough to buy a new fire truck.

11 security cameras installed in Garnet Valley High School as “deterrent to inappropriate behavior.” There are 1,110 students in the school.

15, age of teen girl in Woodbury, N.J., charged with setting fire to the house where her family lived.

118,000 dollar reward now posted for info on 2 suspects being sought in murder of off-duty Philadelphia Police Officer Moses Walker Jr.

18 percent of Pa. students who took the ACT college exam. That’s as opposed to 52 percent naturally.

22.4 average score for Pa. kids, that’s up from 22.3 in 2011.

400,000 dollars in good believed ripped off and then resold by the guy who headed the garage in the Bensalem School District.

0, how many more games Vick is likely to play in the preseason. He’s nursing a rib contusion.

2 more TD passes for rookie backup Nick Foles. He’s looking more and more like an alternative to Mike Kafka.

2 days before the Eagles are back on the field for an exhibition game in Cleveland.

5-4 loss for the Phils as their bullpen ruined another effort from Cliff Lee.

0 wins for Cliff Lee at Citizens Bank Park this season.

45,091 sellout crowd, each of whom received a Hunter Pence bobblehead.


Call me a Phanatic: A look at the ups and downs of being a Philadelphia sports fan.So far Nick Foles looks like he just might be the real deal as a possible backup for Michael Vick. Get used to seeing him. He likely will be the starter Friday night in Cleveland. And he could be making Mike Kafka’s role on the team very tenuous.



I Don’t Get It: A Bucks County tattoo artist has been convicted of trading tattoos for sex with teen girls. I don’t get it.


Today’s Upper: Kudos to the legacy of Nick Catania, one of the true icons of the Delco GOP and local politics.


Quote Box: “Nick was a gentleman through and through and a very good man.”

- Former Delco GOP leader Tom Judge Sr., on the passing of Nick Catania.

Passing of still another icon

One ruled Upper Darby. The other did likewise in Ridley.

Now both are gone.

Delaware County politics will never be quite the same.

Nick Catania died Tuesday at Fair Acres at the age of 86.

The longtime boss of the Ridley GOP passed away eight months after his contemporary, John McNichol, died suddenly back in January.

In today’s media saturated society, we throw around terms like ‘icon’ pretty easily. But I used it on today’s front page to describe the passing of Catania. I hardly think it was an exaggeration.

Nick Catania was a power to be dealt with in Ridley and Delaware County for more than half a decade. He led the powerful Ridley Republican Party. He was first a county commissioner and then a county councilman.

While McNichol worked behind the scenes, Catania was more of a public figure. He was an elected official.

Maybe that’s why he never lost his common touch, his respect for everyday people, and his concern for those who were struggling.

It simply is one of those names that will always be affiliated with Delco politics and the heyday of the county Republican Party.

Catania. McNichol.

The longtime leader of the Republican Party, Tom Judge Sr., remains from that era. As does former Springfield GOP boss Charlie Sexton. Both are retired now.

It’s unlikely we will see the likes of them again.

CLICK HERE for our full story on the passing of Nick Catania.

'Live From the Newsroom' tackles the Penn State-Paterno-Sandusky saga

The college football season is on the horizon. That includes what will undoubtedly be a strange season for Penn State.

Joe Paterno is no longer head coach. Months after being relieved of his duties amid the fallout from the Jerry Sandusky scandal, Paterno died of lung cancer.

But the issues surrounding him, his program and the school and the way they handled the allegations against Sandusky continue to make headlines.

It seems like everyone has an opinion on what really happened at Penn State. That includes us. And that’s why we’ve decided to host a roundtable discussion on Paterno and Penn State on tonight’s live-stream Internet broadcast. We call it ‘Live From the Newsroom.’

I’ll be joined by my two lead columnists, Gil Spencer and Jack McCaffery, both of whom have expressed strong opinions on Penn State.

But that’s not all. We want you to be a part of the discussion as well. If you have a question concerning the Penn State case, email me at

Or log on to tonight and take part in our live chat during the show.

We’ll be ‘Live’ at 7. Why not join the conversation?

Rib-It: The problem with Michael Vick

Michael Vick has bruised ribs.

Andy Reid and Cullen Jenkins may have bruised feelings.

And Eagles fans? Just another bruise in a long line of disappointment from the Iggles.

I have to make a confession here. In what was clearly a fit unrestrained fan-atacism, I took a look at what the Eagles accomplished in the offseason and pronounced that they were going to the Super Bowl.

Of course I was wise enough to put a huge caveat on that. I insisted the prediction would only hold up so long as Vick did. If he got hurt, all bets were off.

I didn’t realize Vick was going to have trouble just getting through the exhibition season. But I suppose I should have. After all, is anyone surprised that Vick is on the shelf again? He is not expected to play again in the preseason. He has played all of 12 snaps - exactly six each in the Birds’ two games.

He has complete four passes and led the offense to exactly one first down. His completions now equal his medical tests.

A lot of people - including no doubt Vick - are breathing a sigh of relief after a further MRI and CAT scan yesterday revealed no broken bones and no cartilage damage. Vick has a contusion in the soft tissue surrounding his ribs.

But remember, Vick missed games in each of the last two seasons because of similar rib problems.

Vick’s style of play is always going to make him vulnerable. He’s not a kid. I don’t know if he can learn new tricks. Clearly he’s not especially enamored with the art of sliding. His one effort Monday night produced an awkward, head-first pileup. And he still took a shot in the process. On the play he was injured he was trying to extend a doomed pass play when he heaved a long ball downfield to DeSean Jackson, leaving himself open to that helmet in the ribs.

What you see is what you get with Vick. I don’t think that’s going to change.

And that means the backup QB on this team is going to be very important. He very likely is going to be called on to win meaningful games in the regular season.

Which is why the development of Nick Foles just may be the biggest story coming out of the Eagles this summer.

He probably will be the starter again Friday night when the Eagles get right back on the field against the Browns, who they will play two weeks later in the regular season opener.

Keep an eye on Foles. He’s in the process of making Mike Kafka very expendable.

But it won’t change the fact that this team is only going to go as far as Vick carries them. And with bum ribs that could be an issue all season, I just don’t think he’s going to get very far.


Tuesday, August 21, 2012

The Daily Numbers - Aug. 21

The Daily Numbers: 5 Delco towns spraying today against mosquitoes and West Nile virus.

2 human cases of West Nile virus that have been confirmed in the county.

270 years of service that will be celebrated by the Darby Free Library. Once on the verge of closing because of financial woes, they’re now flourishing again.

63, age of man who now faces trial after he allegedly asked 2 teen girls for photos.

450 dollars, value of sunglasses police say were stolen from a TD Bank in Newtown.

279,700 dollars contract to pave a portion of the Darby Creek Trail in Haverford.

1,200 names hoped for on petition opposing Sellers Avenue bridge work in Ridley Park.

2 men seen on video who are being sought in the murder of Philly officer minutes after he finished his shift early Saturday morning.

88,000 dollar reward for information in the killing, the 4th Philly officer killed in the line of duty this year.

3 day care workers in Delaware who police say were encouraging 3-year-olds to fight.

27-17 win for the Eagles over the New England Patriots – minus Tom Brady and most of their starters – yesterday.

12 plays, 6 in each game, how much Michael Vick has played this preseason. He took a shot in the ribs last night.

0, how many more plays Vick is likely to play in the preseason.

2 more TD passes for rookie backup Nick Foles. He’s looking more and more like an alternative to Mike Kafka.

3 days before the Eagles are back on the field for an exhibition game in Cleveland. Yeah, the NFL is really concerned about the safety of its players.

6 year contract extension for the Flyers Scott Hartnell.

12-5 win for the Phillies over the Reds last night.

6 of their last 9, what Phils have won.

7-7 mark for Roy Halladay, who got the win last night.


Call me a Phanatic: A look at the ups and downs of being a Philadelphia sports fan.This one is pretty simple. Michael Vick cannot stay on the field. The Eagles are going nowhere unless he can reverse this sudden susceptibility to injury.



I Don’t Get It: The state police continue to say they have no problem with the Megan’s Law suspect using Naylor’s Run Park as his residence. I don’t get it.


Today’s Upper: Kudos to Nick Foles. The rookie from Arizona has made the most of his two preseason games with the Eagles, and making Mike Kafka look like maybe the third-string QB in the process.


Quote Box: “It’s also important for people to know that this is not a mosquito abatement program, They plan an important role environmentally. We’re just trying to reduce the risk of the West Nile virus to residents.”

- Maureen Hennessey Herman, director of the Delco Intercommunity Health, on spraying set to stop the spread of West Nile Virus.


Delco wages war on mosquitoes

Delaware County is under attack.

From mosquitoes.

We’ve already had two cases of West Nile virus from mosquitoes confirmed.

The state Department of Environmental Protection is continuing a spraying program to try to keep the exploding mosquito population under control.

Yes, it’s ‘Skeeter Wars.’

Which towns are being affected and what can you do to avoid the problem? CLICK HERE.

'Live From the Newsroom' tackles Penn State

The college football season is on the horizon. That includes what will undoubtedly be a strange season for Penn State.

Joe Paterno is no longer head coach. Months after being relieved of his duties amid the fallout from the Jerry Sandusky scandal, Paterno died of lung cancer.

But the issues surrounding him, his program and the school and the way they handled the allegations against Sandusky continue to make headlines.

It seems like everyone has an opinion on what really happened at Penn State. That includes us. And that’s why we’ve decided to host a roundtable discussion on Paterno and Penn State on this week’s live-stream Internet broadcast. We call it ‘Live From the Newsroom.’

I’ll be joined by my two lead columnists, Gil Spencer and Jack McCaffery, both of whom have expressed strong opinions on Penn State.

But that’s not all. We want you to be a part of the discussion as well. If you have a question concerning the Penn State case, email it to me at

Or log on to tomorrow night and take part in our live chat during the show.

We’ll be ‘Live’ at 7. Why not join the conversation?

Eagles fans can feel Vick's pain

Maybe Michael Vick should consider trying to wear that red jersey during games.

For the second straight preseason games, the Eagles QB lasted all of six plays. Last night against the Patriots he took a wicked shot to the ribs. He got up, then went back down to a knee, and the hopes of the Eagles season went with him.

X-Rays last night indicated no ribs were broken; more tests will be done today.

Proving the Eagles’ season has not been fractured will be a bit more difficult.

Vick has played in two preseason games, and lasted all of two series in both of them. That’s a total of 12 plays. Don’t look for him again until opening day - and that is if everything goes OK with that CT scan on his ribs that will be done today.

One of the biggest questions about this offseason has been Vick’s ability to stay on the field. His style of play makes him susceptible to injury. He has bristled in the past when that has been brought up. He was not bristling last night as he held his ribs as he walked gingerly to the locker room.

Vick can’t wear the red shirt in games that he dons in practice , thus making him off limits for hits. His one attempt at scrambling last night - and what appeared to be an effort to avoid a hit - produced an awkward head-first slide. By the way, Michael, the rules say you can still be hit when you do that. You only get a pass when you slide feet first.

It’s pretty apparent Vick is going to struggle with changing his game. The play he got hit on last night was once again Vick - to his credit - trying to make something out of nothing. For his effort he took a nasty helmet in his ribs.

Make no mistake, despite another decent showing last night from rookie Nick Foles in relief, this team will go exactly as far as Vick carries them.

Forget everything else. Forget another questionable effort from Juan Castillo’s still struggling defense. Forget a most uncharacteristic blowup on the sidelines by head coach Andy Reid with defensive tackle Cullen Jenkins.

Right now the only thing that matters is Michael Vick, and whether he can stay on the field. He’s 0-for-2 in the preseason. Anyone think that is going to change?

CLICK HERE to read Bob Grotz's full coverage of last night's game.

Monday, August 20, 2012

The Daily Numbers - Aug. 20

The Daily Numbers: 2 hotels and community center planned for tract in Ridley Townswhip.

65 years, how long May’s Water Ice has been in business in Chester. Now they’re getting ready to close up shop forever.

65,000 barrels a day of propane and ethane from the Marcellus Shale region headed to the former Sunoco refinery in Marcus Hook.

20 Delco communities who have filed suit against a tax collection agency. A hearing in the suit was continued on Friday.

9.7 million dollars in funding for Chester Upland in final settlement of their lawsuit vs. state Department of Education.

35,000 dollar reward posted in the slaying of a Philadelphia police officer who was gunned down minutes after his shift ended early Saturday.

19 year veteran of the force, Officer Moses Walker Jr. had hoped to retire next year.

4 city police officers who have been killed in the line of duty just this year.

3.79 a gallon, average price we’re paying at pump in the Philly region. That’s up from $3.76 the week before.

$3.67, what we were paying last year.

19 states, including Pa., where California firm shipped lettuce that is being voluntarily recalled in the latest salmonella poisoning fear.

5 cases of West Nile virus detected in humans in southeastern Pa., including 2 in Delco.

3 hits and 4 RBI for Domonic Brown as the Phillies beat the Brewers, 8-0

8 shutout innings for Kyle Kendrick.

15 straight scoreless innings from Kendrick.

7 minute rain delay at the start of the game, in a stadium with a retractable roof. Oops!

1-1 draw for the Union against DC United.


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

How exactly do you have a rain delay in a stadium with a retractable roof? Must have been one of those pesky pop-up storms.


I Don’t Get It: A man who must register as a sex offender under Megan’s Law has listed Naylor’s Run Park in Upper Darby as his residence. And that’s OK by the state police. I don’t get it.


Today’s Upper: Kudos to Domonic Brown. He’s beginning to look more and more like the guy we’ve been hearing about for years. And also to Kyle Kendrick, who now has not allowed a run in his last two outings, over 15 innings.


Quote Box: “It’s a little bittersweet because it is a family tradition.”

- Fran May, on the closing of May’s Water Ice, a landmark summer business in Chester. It’s been there for 65 years, but they are closing the doors forever.


The greatest generation

My father-in-law would have been 92 today. My mother would have been 98 on Saturday. He died a few weeks ago. Mom died in 2003. They were both members of what is often called ‘The Greatest Generation.’ You’ll get no argument from me. They just don’t make them like that anymore.

Not exactly a walk in the park in Upper Darby

Mike Chitwood is ticked again.

This time the ire of the man who routinely refers to criminal suspects as ‘scumbags’ in instead turned of some of his own.

Not members of the Upper Darby Police Department. But instead the Pennsylvania State Police.

Chitwood is irate that state police say it is OK for a Megan’s Law violator to list his address as a local park.

That’s right, this guy has listed Naylor’s Run Park as his domicile.

Kind of hard to argue with him on this one.

You can read all the details here.

Past & Present in the Hook

I had a chance recently to drive down to Marcus Hook for the title tilt of our annual softball shindig, the Daily Times/Exelon Champs ‘N’ Charity Classic.

But before that I wanted to do two things: I drove past what used to be the Conoco-Phillips refinery in Trainer, and then past the sprawling Sunoco refinery site in the Hook.

Talk about night and day.

It’s all in my print column today.

An important night for Michael Vick & the Birds

I’m not one to put a lot of stock in preseason NFL games. Except for this: At some point during these meaningless practice affairs for which the owners charge regular-season prices, you’d like your first team offense and defense to play well.

That means seeing your offense - in this instance with Mike Vick at the command - march down the field crisply and deposit the ball in the other team’s end zone.

The Eagles game vs. the Patriots tonight is important for that reason. Vick banged his thumb in the first game vs. the Steelers and basically didn’t show a thing.

So Vick needs to show something tonight. Because the Eagles are for some reason playing two games this week, they’re in Cleveland Friday night - it will not be what is usually the most important preseason game. That's what the third preseason game is usually tabbed as, a preview of the regular season opener. Not this year. It's also in part because the Eagles play the Browns in a few weeksin the regulard season and neither team will be showing much for the other team to use in their regular season game plan.

Instead that designation will be slapped on tonight’s contest.

The Eagles need to show us something vs. the Patriots.

Here’s the game preview.

Let the Domonic Brown Era begin

The first sign that something different was going to happen in Sunday’s Phillies game happened before the first pitch was thrown.

That’s because the afternoon tilt with the Brewers had a rain delay. Which probably would not be big news except for the small fact that the Brewers play in a stadium, with a retractable roof. You can’t make this stuff up.

The second surprise was seeing Dom Brown’s name in the lineup. That’s because the Brewers had a left-hander starting and Phillies skipper Charlie Manuel has been a bit cautious about sending Brown out against left-handed pitching.

The move paid off.

This is the game everyone has been waiting for from Domonic Brown, a guy who has been heralded as a ‘top prospect’ now for years, but seems to have fallen short every time he was given the chance.

Not yesterday.

Brown led the Phillies attack, lashing three hits with four RBIs, including a bases-clearing double, as the Phils rolled over Milwaukee, 8-0.

Brown is never going to turn anyone’s head in the outfield. The most recent example likely was a home run ball that just managed to elude his glove, a ball that many outfielders probably catch.

But there is no denying Brown’s ability at the plate.

There are any number of things about this year’s Phillies team that have been terribly disappointing, not the least of which is the fact that they continue to reside near the cellar of the National League East, 19 and a half games behind the Nationals.

But if you’re looking for bright spots, Domonic Brown just might be at the top of that list.

CLICK HERE for the game story on the Phils’ thrashing of the Brewers, including another sparkling eight innings of shutout ball from Kyle Kendrick. It's the latest tease from Kendrick, something, much like Brown, we've seen glimpses of before.

But can Brown keep it up, or will he soon revert to form. That's just one of the questions Charlie Manuel and the Phils need to answer over the next month.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Daily Numbers - Aug. 17

The Daily Numbers: 49, age of Marcus Hook man who died in a freak accident when he fell into the water from a sea wall at Ocean City, Md.

2, age of his son who fell with him but who was rescued.

20 Delco towns and 1 school district who are suing a tax collection agency, saying they have not collected the necessary taxes, costing them needed revenue.

260,000 dip in tax revenues being reported by Darby Borough, which is part of the suit.

79, age of Collingdale man who has been missing for a week.

7.885 million dollars in subsidies recently delivered to Chester Upland as settlement of its lawsuit against the state Dept. of Education.

4 Delco hospitals who are facing reductions in their Medicare reimbursements.

600 dollar a day fine facing a Chester Township woman in a flap over food distribution taking place at her home to help needy kids.

1,000 dollars, how much Angela Prattis needs for the zoning hearing the township tells her she needs to continue her charitable endeavor.

50th anniversary of Boeing’s Chinook helicopter. They held a party to celebrate the workhorse at the Ridley plant.

5 million flight hours for the Chinook.

7.9 percent jobless rate in Pa. in July, that’s up from 7.6 percent in June.

2,000 more people who applied for unemployment benefits last week nationwide.

1.1 million dollar settlement in discrimination suit filed against a Montco swim club by kids who said they were victims of racial insults in a visit.

5,000 dollars ripped off in a scam pulled on an elderly woman in West Philly.

7 American soldiers, 4 Afghans killed in crash of Black Hawk helicopter in Afghanistan.

7-4 loss for the Phillies at the hands of the Brewers last night.

4-3 Phils lead when Lee exited in the eighth.

2 batters before reliever Josh Lindblom gave up game-winning grand slam.

3 hits but also a crucial error that would have ended that fateful 8th inning for Kevin Frandsen.

*: A look at the ups and downs of being a Philadelphia sports fan.

Call me a Phanatic

Charlie Manuel decided not to bench Jimmy Rollins for not hustling on a couple of plays in Wednesday’s loss. Why am I not surprised?


I Don’t Get It: Why is Chester Township picking on a woman who is giving away free food to needy kids in the township. Would certainly seem as if the township has bigger fish to fry than this case.


Today’s Upper: Kudos to all those coming forward to support Chester Township resident Angela Prattis in her flap with the township over her food giveaway program.


Quote Box: “He was just the greatest father, husband in the world.”

- Colleen Ostan, on her husband who died in a fall at Ocean City, Md.


Angela's Assets: Town rallies behind woman in flap with Chester Township

Looks like maybe Chester Township may have bitten off more than it can chew with Angela Prattis.

She’s the woman who gives away free food from the archdiocese to needy kids from her home.

The township recently informed her she did not have the required zoning.

Turns out the community is in her corner, coming forward with all kinds of support, including more than enough donations to pay the cost of the $1,000 zoning hearing.

You can read all about it here.

2 days, 2 Boeing stories

Yes, that is Boeing on today’s front page again.

I have to admit that when I saw the advisory on the event – first thing Thursday morning – I got that familiar wince in my stomach.

That’s because Boeing already was making news on the front page of Thursday’s paper. In fact it was screaming in our lead headline.

A former union leader at the plant got jail time in connection with a federal investigation into drug sales at the Ridley plant.

But we were right back at the plant yesterday for their wingding to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the rollout of the first Chinook helicopter.

You can read the story about the Chinook here.

Hundreds of Boeing workers took part in the ceremony, stopping to mark an important milestone for the company, one of the county’s industrial icons – and biggest employers.

About 5,000 people are employed at Boeing in Ridley Township. The overwhelming majority of them were not involved in the drug sting at the plant.

Just thought I’d point that out.

Congratulations on the 50th anniversary of one of the military’s most enduring vehicles, the mighty Chinook, created right here in Delaware County.


Phils hit trifecta in dispiriting loss to Brewers

Everything that has been wrong with this Phillies season was on full display last night in another dismal, dispiriting loss to the Brewers in Milwaukee.

Another Cliff Lee start, another no-decision. The Phillies wasted seven and two-thirds decent innings from Lee, who still has just two wins against seven losses. He left last night with the Phils clinging to a 4-3 lead. That lasted all of two batters.

Lee surrendered two home run balls, but little else in scattering five hits and giving up three runs.

Then there’s third base. It’s still a problem. By all rights the Phils should have been out of the eighth with that 4-3 advantage intact. But Kevin Frandsen booted a ground ball that would have ended the inning. It's a shame because Franden had three hits to lead the Phils' offense. But his error ended Lee’s night.

Enter the recurring bullpen nightmare. Skipper Charlie Manuel went to reliever Josh Lindblom, who issued an intentional walk to load the bases. Of course Corey Hart hit a ball that barely eluded the glove of Domonic Brown in right field for a grand slam. And yes, a more accomplished outfielder may have made the leaping grab at the wall.

7-4 Brewers. Game, set and match.

All this and not a word about Jimmy Rollins and his lack of hustle on a couple of plays Wednesday night.

Manuel says he talked to Rollins Thursday but decided to keep him in his lineup. It’s too late for the Phillies to start cracking the whip on J-Roll. They signed off on his act when they coughed up that lucrative extension last winter. You know what you are going to get with Rollins – an unorthodox leadoff hitter, who will lead off some games with a home run, but will also fail to run out some ground balls.

In the meantime, that Wild Card glimmer of hope is starting to look more like a mirage.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

The Daily Numbers - Aug. 16

The Daily Numbers: 1 winning ticket – worth $337 million dollars in last night’s Powerball jackpot. Unfortunately, it was sold in Michigan.

1 ticket worth $1 million sold in Pennsylvania in last night’s drawing. Remember when $1 million used to sound like a lot of money?

6 months in prison for former union boss at Boeing in connection with a federal drug probe and raid at the Ridley site.

50 years of the Chinook helicopter to be celebrated by 1,000 employees at the Ridley plant today.

1 employee of Chester Water Authority killed in a freak accident when his truck was struck by another vehicle. The truck was pushed forward, striking him as he checked waterlines in a hole.

5 and a half to 20 years in jail for a Clifton Heights man in the strangling death of another man.

175 people show showed up for last night’s Upper Darby School Board meeting to review the school’s new realignment plan.

2 different towns, Upper Darby and Marple, that are now investigating similar thefts of purses during church services.

300 dollars taken from a purse of worshipper at St. Pius Church in Marple.

1 person killed in collision between box truck and tractor trailer on I-95 South in Delaware overnight.

44-38 percent lead for President Obama over Mitt Romney, according to latest Franklin & Marshall College poll. That’s down from the previous poll.

46 percent of voters who have favorable view of Obama, to 32 percent for Romney.

35-23 percent lead for Sen. Bob Casey over Republican challenger Tom Moore in their U.S. Senate race, with 39 percent undecided.

48-42 percent margin in Pa. for those who would like to see the new federal health care law overturned.

9-2 loss for Roy Halladay and the Phils at hands of Marlins yesterday.

300 fans who showed up at the National Constitution Center for the party as the Sixers introduced their new center, Andrew Bynum, and shooting guard Jason Richardson.

7 for 12 lifetime, that would be Greg Dobbs numbers vs. Roy Halladay. He homered off him yesterday.

50 game suspension for the All-Star Game MVP, Melky Cabrera.


Call me a Phanatic: A look at the ups and downs of being a Philadelphia sports fan.Jimmy Rollins is taking some heat for not running out a ground ball that he might have been able to beat out after the Marlins shortstop backed up on it. Why is anyone surprised. Not the first time we’ve gone down this road with J-Roll.


I Don’t Get It: Why would guys put their good-paying jobs on the line at Boeing by dealing drugs at the Ridley plant? I don’t get it.

*: Kudos to all those coming forward to support Chester Township resident Angela Prattis in her flap with the township over her food giveaway program.

Today’s Upper


Quote Box: “It appears that the court was satisfied that the law will be applied in a nonpartisan fashion, whish is a good thing.”

- Delco GOP Chairman Andy Reilly, on court ruling upholding new Voter ID law in Pa.

Our stance on political infighting in Chester

It appears as if not everyone is particularly interested in solutions in the city of Chester.

The mayor and City Council are involved in an old-fashioned political war. This is all about power, who is going to wield it, in particular when it comes to key positions in the city such as the police commissioner.

But it does nothing to help the city.

You can read out editorial here.

A night dedicated to solutions in Chester

I probably should have been disappointed that the star of our show last night couldn’t make it.

We had planned to have Shakiyl Smith on our live-stream Internet broadcast, ‘Live From the Newsroom.’ He was going to talk about street violence in Chester, and a unique project he is involved in to help ease the problem.

Smith knows a little bit about street violence and the gun problem in Chester. He sits in a wheelchair because of it. He was shot while leaving a party back in 2008.

Friday will mark the fourth anniversary of that tragic encounter.

Smith wants to meet the person who pulled the trigger and condemned him to life in a wheelchair. But he does not seek revenge; he wants to forgive, and reconcile.

Our hope was to have Smith on the show last night, along with Chester entrpreneur and blogger Ulysses ‘Butch’ Slaughter. Together they have dubbed their mission to get the person responsible for Smith’s shooting to come forward ‘The Lazarus Project.’

Smith had transportation problems and could not make it to the office last night. Our attempts to reach him on the phone also were unsuccessful.

I supposed I could be upset. I had made these arrangements several weeks ago. Then I stopped and thought of what life in a wheelchair must be like. Suddenly I couldn’t really be upset with Shakiyl Smith.

And I also got to spend a half-hour talking with Slaughter, one of the most interesting people in the city of Chester.

If you didn’t see the show, and are interested in a possible answer to the violence in Chester, I highly recommend you check out the replay. CLICK HERE to view it.

And Shakiyl, don’t worry. We can get you in here to the office another time.

For now, the fact that ‘The Lazarus Project’ is out there is enough for me. I’m proud that we’ve been able to shine a light on this initiative. I think it’s what a community newspaper should be about. That would be working toward answers to a community’s needs.

‘The Lazarus Project’ certainly is doing that.


Sixers throw a little party

It’s the middle of August. The Phillies are struggling mightily to scratch their way back into the National League Wild Card race. The Eagles are preparing for their second exhibition game.

So how about those Sixers?

Yes, we’re talking hoops. In August.

That, folks, is called marketing.

And it’s something the Sixers have not done terribly well since Delco’s own Pat Croce left town.

The slick new Sixers owners threw a little party yesterday to introduce their huge offseason acquisition. But they didn’t simply set up a table at the Wells Fargo Center with name cards for new center Andrew Bynum and shooting guard Jason Richardson.

Instead they threw a wingding at the National Constitution Center. They invited their fans to take part. The place was packed. Fans cheered wildly when Bynum intimated he was so moved by the reaction that he might sign a long-term deal here.

It’s safe to assume the addition of a legitimate star in the 7-foot Bynum will also have an effect on putting people in all those Wells Fargo Center seats. That's the idea. That and winning games.

Check out Chris Vito’s coverage of the wild Sixers press conference here.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

The Daily Numbers - Aug. 15

The Daily Numbers: 320 million dollars up for grabs in tonight’s Powerball jackpot.

1 ticket worth $1 million sold at D&I Beverages out in Glen Mills.

5 year contract extension for Widener University President James Harris.

1 year contract extension for police officers in Marcus Hook.

2nd incident where a purse was filched from a pew. It happened first at St. Lawrence in Upper Darby. Now police in Marple say it also happened Sunday at St. Pius.

100 dollar bonus for any homeowner in the Viscose Village section of Marcus Hook who voluntarily removes their front-yard fence.

1 million dollar Powerball ticket sold at D&I Beverage on Baltimore Pike in Glen Mills last weekend.

3 months, how long it took for hotel plan for Springfield Country Club to get a final OK.

35,000 dollars stolen from his employer by former Penn-Delco School Board member John Green. He’ll get 3 to 23 months in prison for his crime.

21,000 dollars Green previously admitted swiping from a sports club at Sun Valley High School.

2 tourists who were slain in Atlantic City. Now the woman charged in the crime is due in court.

41, age of state trooper from Chester County who will face trial in a fatal DUI crash.

1 person struck and killed by SEPTA Broad Street line train this morning.

7 shutout innings for Kyle Kendrick last night as Phils blanked Marlins, 1-0.

700 wins for Charlie Manuel as Phillies manager.

2 consecutive shutouts over the Marlins for the Phils, who are now 10 games back in the Wild Card hunt.

1,731 games for Jimmy Rollins at shortstop after last night, all-time leader as he goes by Larry Bowa.

41 times Rollins has led off a game with a homer.

2 times in Phillies history that a leadoff homer has held up for a 1-0 win.

27 consecutive innings in which the Marlins have failed to score.


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

Maybe it’s not over yet. Phils are closer in Wild Card race than Cardinals were this time last year. All they did was eliminate the Phils on the way to winning World Series.


I Don’t Get It: Political infighting in Chester. By Democrats? So much for getting along.


Today’s Upper: Hey, we all need a reason to dream. And today we have 320 million reasons to do just that. Powerball fever, anyone?


Quote Box: “It may be legal, but it’s not right. It’s not what Haverford is all about.”

- Resident Bill Corcoran to township commissioners, complaining about a new tobacco shop in town.

'Live From the Newsroom' meets 'The Lazarus Project,' dealing with violence in Chester

Of the many people with ideas about how to deal with violence in Chester, easily the most interesting is the case of Ulysses ‘Butch’ Slaughter and Shakiyl Smith.

(p>They will be our guests tonight on our weekly live-stream Internet broadcast, ‘Live From the Newsroom.’

Smith knows a little bit about the gun problem and street violence in Chester. He sits in a wheelchair because of it.

Smith was leaving a party in the city in 2008 when someone opened fire on the car he was riding in. He’s been in a wheelchair ever since.

But Smith, with the help of Chester entrepreneur Slaughter, wants to meet the person who fired that shot. He’s not interested in revenge; he instead is looking to forgive.

He also does not want the person to face any criminal charges.

Slaughter has gone down the same road himself, a tortured path to reconciliation with his father, who gunned down his mother as Slaughter looked on as a child.

Slaughter and Smith have dubbed their efffort “The Lazarus Project.”

We’ll talk about it tonight. Join us at 7 on

And if you have a question you’d like to ask Slaughter or Smith, email to me at and I’ll make it part of our conversation.

Or just go on tonight and take part in our live chat.

Join us at 7.

A rush to judgment against Paterno?

It doesn’t look like the Jerry Sandusky-Penn State saga is going away anytime soon.

Now the Middle States Commission on Higher Education is getting involved, waving a pretty big hammer at the Nittany Lions, threatening to pull their accreditation.

It’s a serious threat. But it’s very unlikely to happen. For one thing, it would cripple the university, making it much more difficult for students to get financial aid. No one is going to let that happen.

My colleague Gil Spencer takes a pretty dim view of what is going on with the bureaucrats at Middle States. CLICK HERE for Gil’s take on the situation.

Later this week the two Penn State officials charged in the Sandusky scandal are due in court for a pre-trial hearing. Former athletic director Tim Curley and VP Gary Schultz face trial for lying to the grand jury investigating the Sandusky affair.

But maybe one of the most interesting things I’ve read recently on the Sandusky case appears today on our op-ed page.

It was penned by a documentary filmmaker and media critic who believes legendary Nittany Lion football coach Joe Paterno is getting a raw deal in all of this.

And John Ziegler has some fairly startling polling information to back up his case.

Ziegler is pointing a finger of blame at the media for creating the frenzy and rush to judgment against Paterno.

I’m not sure I agree with him. I’m not sure we’ll ever know just what Paterno knew and when he knew it. But after talking to Ziegler, he has a very interesting theory that I don't think anyone has yet considered.

I’ve written about the Penn State fiasco any number of times, including my belief that very little happened at Penn State that Paterno did not sign off on, so I guess you could say Ziegler also is pointing a finger at me.

That doesn’t mean I won’t offer him the opportunity to give his side of things.

He does just that in his guest column today.

Anyone happen to agree with him?

Maybe the Phillies aren't dead yet after all

Don’t look now, but the baseball season might not be over just yet.

Consider this little nugget. The Phillies now sit 10 games back in the race for those coveted Wild Card spots in the National League. Yes, they are helped immeasurably by the fact that this year, for the first time, two teams will make the Wild Card.

Don’t wait for me to complain.

But here’s the kicker: Despite being eight games under .500 at 54-62, the Phillies actually are closer in the Wild Card race than the Cardinals were at this time last year.

You remember the Cardinals. They beat the Phillies in the NLDS and went on to win the World Series.

Last night the Phils got seven sparkling innings out of Kyle Kendrick as they shut out the Marlins for the second night in a row.

Yes, that Kyle Kendrick.

Check out Ryan Lawrence’s game story to learn the secret that Kendrick is crediting for his turnaround.

All of a sudden, the Phillies vaunted pitching rotation is living up to its reputation. Cole Hamels is on fire, with a 20-inning shutout streak. Roy Halladay will be on the hill this afternoon as the Phils got for a sweep in Florida. He’s been looking more and more like the Halladay we got used to seeing blow teams away.

Maybe, just maybe the Eagles and football season will just have to wait until after Labor Day.