Tuesday, January 31, 2012

The Daily Numbers - Jan. 31

The Daily Numbers: 10 years since Upper Darby Police Officer Dennis McNamara was gunned down in the line of duty.


25,000 donated to build a gym in his honor at the Upper Darby Police Administration building.


360 dollars stolen from the cash box at Maggie O’Neill’s in Drexel Hill. A former employee has been charged.


6.8 million dollars, how much Chester Community Charter School says the Chester Upland School District and state owe it. Commonwealth Court has nixed a request to make them pay up.


550 dollars, how much a company is ponying up to pay the cost of a flagpole in front of the Cheese Club in Haverford.


2.67 percent tax hike being eyed in Marple Newtown School District.


4-3 vote by which Parkside Council passed an ordinance limiting use of firearms outdoors.


12 suspects arrested in Chester County in what police are calling gang-related slayings in the southern part of the county.


98.78 per barrel, price for crude oil yesterday as it slipped below $99 a barrel.


100 million dollar asking price for Philadelphia Media Network, which owns the Inky, Daily News and Philly.com.


4 people bused in connection with the brutal attack on a cabbie in Burlington County, N.J.


3 teens charged with attacking a man was he got out of a cab at 15th and Chestnut streets.


20, age of man in Newark, Del., charged with sexually assaulting a 17-year-old woman and then throwing her out of a 2nd-floor window.


71,269 people who went through the doors on the first weekend of the Philly Auto Show.


74-69 win for the Sixers over the Magic last night.


9 points, what the Magic scored in the 3rd period.


38 percent, what the Sixers shot from the floor.


27 percent from the 3-point line; 53 percent from the foul line.


11-2 record for the Sixers at the Wells Fargo Center. They 15-6 overall.


16,299 people who went through the turnstiles to see the game.


12 noon, when Andy Reid will address the media for the 1st time since the Eagles’ inglorious end of the season, one in which they did not make the playoffs.


*


Call me a Phanatic: A look at the ups and downs of being a Philadelphia sports fan.Anyone think Doug Collins should be named the Sixers defensive coordinator?


 


*


I Don’t Get It: Suddenly it seems to be open season on cabbies and people riding in them. I don’t get it.


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Today’s Upper: The gym that was dedicated at the Upper Darby police department will make for a fitting tribute to slain Officer Dennis McNamara, gunned down 10 yeas ago.


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Quote Box: “We promised together that we would never gorget. Once again, we stand together to remember that wonderful person, husband, father, police officer Dennis was.”


- Upper Darby Mayor Tom Micozzie, in remembering Officer Dennis McNamara.

10 years gone, RIP Dennis McNamara

 


I’m always amazed in this job at how quickly time goes by.


It seems like yesterday we were reacting to the worst two words that can possibly go out over police radio:


Officer down.


It was 10 years ago that we lost Upper Darby Officer Dennis McNamara.


He is not forgotten. Not by his fellow officers. Not by the citizens of Upper Darby Township, and not by this newspaper.


Yesterday, his widow again bravely stood for her husband as the township dedicated a new gym inside the Upper Darby Police Department in his memory.


You can read the story here.


It’s my sincere hope we never have to do another story like that again.


It’s my worst fear that won’t be the case.

Spring Fever - in January!

Forget February. We’re apparently skipping the shortest month of the year altogether this year.

Today, on the last day of January, we’re expected to push 60 degrees after a chilly start. Tomorrow, on the first day of February, the thermometer readings will hit the low 60s.

In the meantime, there is little or no indication of any big storms – as in snow.

Don’t expect me to complain.

If we don’t see another flake, that would be just fine with me.

But I realize that is not everyone’s cup of tea, nor everyone’s idea of winter.

And we also know that this lack of snow has a bigger effect on some people than others, such as newspaper editors.

We’re planning a story for this weekend on who wins and who loses in this kind of mild winter.

If you’d like to take part, contact reporter Jeff Wolfe at jwolfe@delcotimes.com.

In the meantime, in your face Punxsatawney!

Spring Fever never felt so good.

Andy Reid's version of Groundhog Day

Maybe Andy Reid should just hire Doug Collins as his defensive coordinator.

Last night the Sixers scored only 74 points – and still won. That’s because they held the vaunted Orlando Magic and Dwight Howard to 69 points, including just 9 in the third quarter.

Even with a horrific offensive performance on a night when they shot 38 percent from the floor, 27 percent from three-point land and just 53 percent from the free throw line, the Sixers used their smothering defense to make the Magic disappear and raise their record to 15-6.

Things won’t get any easier for the Collins’ surging bunch. They host the Chicago Bulls Wednesday and LeBron James and the Heat Saturday.

In the meantime, Reid will do his best Groundhog Day imitation today, emerging from his burrow at noon at the NovaCare Center. Rumor has it that Reid will see his shadow and predict another year of Juan Castillo.

After that he’s going to tell us how Todd Bowles coming on as the defensive secondary coach is going to make all the difference when it comes to putting players in a better position to make plays.

In other words, despite all those words from Eagles owner Jeff Lurie, not much is going to change in Birds land.

Time’s yours, Andy.

Monday, January 30, 2012

The Daily Numbers - Jan. 30

The Daily Numbers: 1.23 million dollars raised so far by friends, alums of Monsignor Bonner-Archbishop Prendergast.


500 people who packed into Casey’s Restaurant in Drexel Hill yesterday for the latest fundraiser.


1 man charged in a wild brawl inside a tavern in Lower Chichester.


2 men shot while they sat inside a home in Lansdowne by a gunman who fired from outside the home.


36, age of Morgan Mengel, of West Chester, who goes on trial today for plotting with her lover to kill her husband, whose body was found dumped behind Marple Newtown High School.


2 people arrested at an Occupy Philadelphia rally in the city yesterday.


21,500 dollars taken by robbers who held up the Greyhound bus terminal in Philly yesterday.


2 people, a woman and her teen daughter, shot in North Philadelphia Sunday night.


3 teens charged with the brutal beating of a Philly cab driver.


1 million dollars allegedly ripped off by the former chief financial officer of the Philadelphia Archdiocese.


6 days until the Super Bowl.


6 days of unending hype as well.


2 carries, and 1 fumble for Eagles’ LeSean McCoy in the Pro Bowl yesterday.


2 assists for Scott Hartnell at the NHL All-Star game yesterday.


*


Call me a Phanatic: A look at the ups and downs of being a Philadelphia sports fan.Maybe it’s time the Eagles put out an all points bulleting for Andy Reid. It’s kind of hard to believe the team has allowed this much time to go by since Jeff Lurie announced he was bringing his head coach back without any word from Reid.


 


*


I Don’t Get It: Other than the Major League Baseball’s Mid-Summer Classic, you can put all-star games in this category. Any game that’s based on physically colliding with other players is pretty much going to be just a shell of itself in an all-star format. No one is going to risk getting hurt.


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Today’s Upper: Another huge fundraising effort yesterday for the backers of Monsignor Bonner and Archbishop Prendergast. They’ve now raised $1.23 million.


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Quote Box: “Look at this turnout. It makes me proud to be a Bonner guy.”


- Sean Knapp, at yesterday’s Bonner-Prendie fundraiser at Casey’s.

The irony of Catholic Schools Week

There is a certain irony that the Archdiocese of Philadelphia yesterday kicked off the celebration of Catholic Schools Week.


That’s because, for at least seven elementary schools and Monsignor Bonner-Archbishop Prendergast High School, they are wondering if it will also be their last.


Those eight schools are on the list of those that an archdiocese Blue Ribbon Commission recommended be closed as part of a huge cost-cutting move that would shutter 49 schools across the region.


The folks at Bonner-Prendie, as well as several of the elementary schools, have filed formal appeals of that ruling, and have met with archdiocesan officials to plead their case.


In the meantime, they continue to raise money.


The latest Bonner-Prendie fundraiser was held yesterday at Casey’s in Drexel Hill. To date the group has raised $1.23 million.


School President the Rev. James Olson had said he believes the schools need $5 million to assure its financial viability down the road.


Of course, that is if their appeal is granted.


Now the waiting begins.


I offered my thoughts on the Bonner-Prendie situation in my print column today as well. You can read it here.


The tradition of single-sex education is almost certainly going by the boards.


But a merged Bonner-Prendie appears to be a very good possibility.


Of course, no one believed the commission would recommend both schools in the first place.


Keepin’ the faith? Absolutely.


And trying it at the same time.

A lifetime in newspapers

My first real job – other than mowing lawns in the summer – was also my introduction to the newspaper world.
I delivered 44 Philadelphia Evening Bulletins.
The ink must have gotten in my veins. I’ve been in newspapers ever since.
I’ve now spent more than three decades as an ink-stained wretch, although today I probably spend more time every day working online, writing this blog among other things.
I was thinking about that whole notion of the past 30 years this weekend.
That’s because it was 30 years ago yesterday that the Bulletin closed its doors forever. I still have a copy of the last edition of the paper.
There was a time when I could not fathom the notion of a newspaper as grand as the Bulletin going under.
Not anymore.
The newspaper where I cut my teeth in the business, the place where I started my career after getting out of college, was The Record in Coatesville.
It has something in common with the Bulletin. It no longer exists, either.
This morning there is word that Philadelphia Media Holdings, the company that owns the Inquirer, Daily News and Philly.com, may be putting those venerable institutions back on the market.
They are owned, in part, by the same people that own us.
These are very difficult times for newspapers. Readers’ habits are changing. They are much more likely to get their information online than in print.
That means fewer readers in print, which means fewer ads. That means less revenue.
The good news is that advertising and readership online is exploding. I’m still amazed that in any month four million people now go to DelcoTimes.com.
The problem, in the short term, is that the print ads are much more lucrative for our industry than online ads. There also is the notion that many online readers hate the pop-ups and other devices we use to create revenue online.
The saying in the industry is that while we traditionally dealt with print dollars, we are now in competition for digital dimes.
So we are stacking the dimes.
I’ve never done anything else in my adult life aside from newspaper work.
I sure as hell don’t want to start now.
I’m a lifer.
Even if some of the places I once toiled are not.

A lost sports weekend

If there’s a worse weekend for sports, I’d like to know what it is.

Yesterday we were treated to two of the biggest farces in sports. Those would be the NFL’s Pro Bowl, and the NHL’s All-Star Game.

Both suffer from the same problem. They bring together the best players from two very physical - you could say violent, - games, and then they spend several hours trying desperately not to collide with one another.

No one wants to get hurt in one of these affairs, and the results show it. Hitting is at a minimum, and that is a huge part of the basic appeal of both games.

So both leagues have turned to gimmicks in an attempt to spark interest.

The NFL has moved their all-star game, which used to occur after the Super Bowl, to the week in the interim. I suppose you could make the argument that it gives us our football fix for this dead weekend before the Super Bowl hype machines revs up. But that would assume that you could call what happens in the game football. I’m not so sure that’s the case. And, of course, in moving the game you automatically remove from contention any players on the two best teams who are busy preparing for their date next Sunday in the Super Bowl.

The NHL has another problem. Its farce of a game manages to take any notion of defense out of the equation altogether. What looks like fun for a lot of offensive players must be a nightmare if you happen to be one of the players who has to stand in those goal in what is little more than a shooting gallery.

Maybe it’s time for both these games to go by the boards. These innovations haven’t worked.

Hell, even Tiger Woods couldn’t save the weekend. Tied for the lead going into the final round of a tournament in Abuu Dhabi, Tiger failed to deliver the goods as well. He finished third.

Now we have to sit through a week of superfluous Super Bowl interviews before getting another dose of real sports.

Maybe it's time to start paying attention to the Sixers.

Then again, how many days until pitchers and catchers report?

Friday, January 27, 2012

The Daily Numbers - Jan. 27

The Daily Numbers: 385 workers at the Conoco Phillips refinery in Trainer who are getting layoff notices.


2 shifts got the word yesterday, 2 more will hear today.


175,000 barrels a day, how much crude the nearby Sunoco refinery handled. Now there’s word investors may be willing to operate the facility as a refinery, saving hundreds of jobs.


8-0 vote by the Chester Upland School Board to reject the application for a charter school from Chester Upland School of the Arts.


20,000 dollar reward being put up by city of Philadelphia for information on murders.


500 dollars for info on anyone with an illegal gun.


8 years in jail for Bucks County hoax mom Bonnie Sweeten.


1 million dollars, how much she stole from friends and co-workers.


48, age of Ukrainian ice hockey coach charged with molesting one of his players.


65, age of man who shot 2 teens who tried to rob him as he rode his bike in Reading.


42 percent responding to poll who now support firing of Joe Paterno. That’s down from 55 percent in November.


76 million dollars in earnings in the quarter for Sunoco Logistics.


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Call me a Phanatic: A look at the ups and downs of being a Philadelphia sports fan.Joe Paterno is gone. The Penn State story is not. This one is not going away for a long time.


 


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I Don’t Get It: I’m not quite sure I’m ready to back raising money for schools by keeping the bars open an extra hour, until 3 a.m.


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Today’s Upper: Kudos to Upper Darby Officer Ray Blohm, who was awarded a federal medal and accepted it in the name of slain Upper Darby Officer Dennis McNamara. Class move.


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Quote Box: “Hopefully someone will buy it, but I’m not expecting to come back.”


- Laid-off ConocoPhillips employee Rich Wright Jr.

Comings & goings in refinery biz

The ax fell yesterday in Trainer.


This was the outcome so many workers feared back in September when ConocoPhillips announced it would idle the plant and seek a buyer.


The pink slips started going out yesterday.


Workers seemed resigned to their fate.


“I like working here,” said Rioch Wright Jr. “Hopefully, somebody willl buy it, but I’m not expecting to come back.”


You can read our full story here.


In the meantime, there is a sliver of hope next door at the Sunoco refinery in Marcus Hook.


Sunoco CEO started all this back on the day after Labor Day when she announced the company was getting out of the refinery business and would seek a buyer for their iconic plant on the Delaware River.


Not it appears there is at least one serious suit interested in opoerating the facility as a refinery.


You can read that story here.


 

Fiery morning for Chester Upland

It is a very important morning for the Chester Upland School District.
There will be two separate hearings centering on the financially ailing city schools.
First, state Sen. Dominic Pileggi, R-9, who just happens to be a former Chester mayor, will hold a forum from 8:30-9:30 at the Chester Upland School District Administration Building, at 15th and Melrose in the city.
Pileggi wants to hear from concerned parents and also offer an update on the district’s cash crisis.
Then at 10 a.m. state Rep. Bill Adolph, R-165, of Springfield, will hold a public hearing of the state House Appropriations Committee, which he chairs. The hearing will take place at Widener University. Both state and local officials are expected to testify.
There also is word that both the school district and Chester Community Charter School are expected to hold a press conference this morning to rap the state for a lack of funding.
In the meantime, it is beginning to look more and more like the state plan is to put the district back under state control, as it was for 16 years.
A draft plan from the state Department of Education points to a “Special Board of Control.”
It would have fiscal control over the district, as well as control over personnel and the authority to convert a public school to a charter school.
We’ll likely hear more today, including the public reaction to such a plan.
Stay tuned.

What's next for Penn State?

Now comes the hard part.
Joe Paterno has been properly Lion-ized.
We still have to deal with Jerry Sandusky, the man who brought such pain and anguish to Happy Valley.
And also the two Penn State executives who were charged with lying to a grand jury.
The more I think about it, the more I wonder about the move to sack Paterno. But part of me will always wonder why he did not do more. And yes, I am of those who believe that very little happened in State College, Pa., that did not come under Paterno’s scrutiny.
For Sandusky, I have no doubts.
One or two kids might be able to get together and make up such a story. But this number? I don’t think so.
Here’s a prediction. Sandusky never sees a courtroom. He cuts a deal and spends the rest of his life in jail.
Not so for Tim Curley and Gary Schultz. I say they both go to trial – and both are acquitted.
The state has a big problem with the crucial testimony of Mike McQueary. He appears to have told the grand jury one thing, but something else to his father, and a friend of the family who was in the room at the time and who will testify that McQueary never gave them the detail he gave the grand jury.
In the meantime, Penn State will remain in the headlines for a long time.
Joe Paterno is gone. This story is not.
And it will not be pretty.
Child sexual abuse never is.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

The Daily Numbers - Jan. 26

The Daily Numbers: 66 percent boost in profits for ConocoPhillips last quarter. This morning they will start laying off workers at Trainer refinery.


3.4 billion in earnings for ConocoPhillips, compared to $2 billion same period last year.


235 union jobs in jeopardy out of 385 employees at the refinery.


100,000 dollars a year savings being eyed by Norwood Borough, which laid off the highway department and an assistant secretary.


50 jobs at the new Save-A-Lot supermarket that opened in Drexel Hill.


5,000 dollar reward for suspect in bank holdup last month.


3 of the 7 archdiocesan elementary schools in Delco targeted for closing that are appealing the ruling.


1,166,925 now raised in the effort to save Monsignor Bonner and Archbishop Prendergast high schools.


3-6 years in jail for an Upper Darby man in the rape of a child.


1.2 million square feet of development in revised plan for the former Franklin Mint site in Middletown.


200 age-restricted residential units, 120,000 square foot office building and 2 150,000 square foot commercial buildings in the plan.


50 percent smaller, how this plan compares to initial one dubbed “The City” by critics who opposed it.


31 homicides in 25 days to start the new year in Philadelphia.


2 dead in murder-suicide in the Logan section.


3 a.m. closing for bars in Philly, 1 hour later. That’s plan being pushed by city council member to raise money for education.


5 million dollars a year, how much the move could generate.


4 people rescued from burning home in Kingsessing.


29 points for Nets point guard Deron Williams to lead Jersey over the Sixers, 97-90.


2 home losses now for the Sixers.


*


Call me a Phanatic: A look at the ups and downs of being a Philadelphia sports fan.A bit of a hiccup last night for the Sixers. They should not lose at home to the Nets.


 


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I Don’t Get It: Why is anyone surprised that the state high court rejected that legislative redistricting plan. I’m only surprised the congressional plan has survived. This process needs to be taken out of the hands of politicians.


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Today’s Upper: All those people lining the path of the funeral cortege for Joe Paterno. That is his true legacy.


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Quote Box: “Our decision to idle and sell the Trainer refinery was based on the level of investment required to remain competitive in the U.S. East coast refining market that has been under severe market pressure for several years.”


- ConocoPhillips spokesman Rich Johnson.

Back to drawing board for legislative redistricting

So much for that much-debated Pennsylvania legislative redistricting plan.


Delco Democrats cried foul when it was rolled out, arguing that several areas were specifically being redrawn to help Republicans.


Yesterday the state Supreme Court agreed with them. A divided high court knocked down the plan, calling it “contrary to law.”


Among the areas that drew derision was the 166th District in Haverford, where several wards in the township were being pulled out of state Rep. Greg Vitali’s turf. He argued that splitting up areas in a municipality was in itself unconstitutional. Dems claimed the move of those areas into the 163rd was an effort to aid Republican Rep. Nick Micozzie.


Now it’s back to the drawing board.


You can read the full story on the court ruling here.


One important thing to note, however. This affects only the plan for state legislative districts.


The bizarre redrawing of the 7th District congressional district will stand.


We’ll be dealing with that with an extended look at the new district on Sunday.

The good news in Chester

I had a very interesting phone call earlier this week.


Brenda Johnson lives in Chester. She says she stopped reading the newspaper a few years ago because she was tired of the way her city was so often portrayed in these pages.


But she said her daughter had a copy of Monday’s paper and it was sitting on a table in her house when she picked it up.


She was calling to tell me she enjoyed my column. In it I lauded the work being done in the city by a grass roots organization called Brothers of Concern. They are rolling out a very important literacy initiative called Real Men Really Read. The newspaper is going to partner with them.


I had a very nice conversation with Ms. Johnson. But first, I had to admit to her that there is some truth to the argument that a lot of bad news emanates from the city. And it usually ends up in this newspaper. And that’s why I told her it was incumbent upon us to be sure to point out there are other stories in the city as well.


She seemed genuinely surprised that I felt that way.


She might be surprised at today’s editorial as well.


It details more good news in the city.


You can read it here.

The Paterno Legacy

I have to admit I was never much of a Penn State fan.

And I always thought their crusty, old coach, the guy wearing the rolled up khakis with the coke bottle glasses, was a bit much.

But I have to admit I’ve been moved by what has happened the past couple of days in Happy Valley.

I have been among those who have said that Joe Paterno was Penn State. It’s part of the reason I could not understand why he did not do more when confronted with allegations against his former defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky.

But that’s for another day.

The last two days, and one final public service today, have been for remembering the man they simply called ‘JoePa.’

Over 61 years, he became the face of Penn State.

He touched countless young lives. Over the past few days, they have tried to repay the favor.

They all came back, all those players, all those students who identified him as a mentor and father figure.

They came back to pay their respects, and to offer a simple thank you.

That, much more than anything that has happened over the past few months, is Joe Paterno’s legacy.

Rest well, coach.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

The Daily Numbers - Jan. 25

The Daily Numbers: 21 years, how long Sara Ferguson has been teaching in Chester Upland. She was the guest of the first lady at the State of the Union Address last night.


16 years, how long the district spent under state control. Now the state Education Department is mulling a ‘Special Board of Control’ to do it again.


18 months, how long it has been back under control of the elected school board.


600,000 dollars, how much a Ridley woman is charged with stealing from the company she worked for in Folcroft.


3-6 years in prison for a Haverford man who pleaded guilty to a fatal hit-run in which he struck and killed a man on a bicycle.


105,000 dollar salary for the new county solicitor. The old one, John McBlain, made $109,000. He’s now on County Council.


7.2 million dollar contract from the Army for Alloy Surfaces of Chester Township.


1 half mile, how long the line was at one point yesterday as mourners waited to say goodbye to Joe Paterno.


7 minute, how long it took for 16,000 tickets to the Thursday memorial for JoePa to be snapped up.


33, age of woman gunned down in her Philly convenience store. Police now believe she was executed, either by drug gangs or possibly because she witnessed another murder.


20 million dollars, how much Mitt Romney made last year. Yeah, he’s just one of us.


15 percent, his tax bracket, which in fact is more just like the rest of us.


37 million iPhones sold by Apple in the last quarter.


2 billion dollar loss posted by Verizon last quarter, even though it sold 4.3 million of the iPhone 4S.


153 members of the state House, down from the current 203, under a plan being considered in Harrisburg.


3-2 win for the Flyers in a shootout over the Florida Panthers.


25 goals for Scott Hartnell, who was added to the NHL All-Star Game.


*


Call me a Phanatic: A look at the ups and downs of being a Philadelphia sports fan.Eyes of the nation will be on Chester come July 25, when Major League Soccer holds its All-Star game at PPL Park in Chester.


 


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I Don’t Get It: Some mourners who got tickets to the public memorial for Joe Paterno were posting them for sale on eBay. I don’t get it.


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Today’s Upper: Kudos to Sara Ferguson, the Chester Upland teacher who was selected to join First Lady Michelle Obama in her box at the State of the Union last night.


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Quote Box: “I was a public school student who was taken to the White House by a teacher. So, for me to come back and represent teachers is a joy.”


- Sara Ferguson, on her honor at the State of the Union last night.

Seeking solutions in Chester Upland

We went searching for answers to the financial riddle that is the Chester Upland School District last night on our live Internet broadcast, “Live From the Newsroom.”


Our guest was state Rep. Thaddeus Kirkland, D-159, of Chester. The representative joined us via the phone from his office in Harrisburg, where the Legislature is in session.


We also were expecting Thomas Persing, the assistant superintendent of Chester Upland, to join us in the office, but he had a conflict come up at the last moment and had to cancel.


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


A lot of people talk about Chester Upland, about its money problems, and its future. Not nearly as many people have an idea of what to do about it.


The state Education Department is apparently considering a 'Special Board of Control' to take over the district. You can read about that plan here.


Kirkland has a different idea, and he talked about it last night.


First off, he plans to meet with state Auditor General Jack Wagner this morning about his request for a forensic audit of the school district’s finances.


Seems like a good idea. Last week the district was flat broke. They weren’t going to be able to pay their bills – or their staff – until a federal judge ordered the state to turn over $3.2 million to tide them over until the end of the month.


But that’s not really an answer. It's the result of a lawsuit filed by the district against Corbett and the state Education Department. Since then Gov. Tom Corbett and Sen. Dominic Pileggi, R-9, of Chester, held something of a summit about Chester Upland with the Delco delegation in Harrisburg. There was lots of talk, not much in the way of solutions, other than a pledge to keep the schools open the remainder of the year.


Of course, there’s always the option of just throwing more money at the situation.


Even Kirkland concedes that hasn’t worked.


Here’s what he wants to do. He wants to place the district not back under state control, where it spent 16 years, but instead under the wing of the city and new Mayor John Linder.


Linder is a longtime educator and has experience in running a charter school.


I have no idea if the mayor, who as you might guess has a pretty full plate in the city in the early days of his administration, is interested. I also don’t know what kind of reaction it would get from the elected school board, which has been back in control for the last 18 months.


It likely would take an act of the state Legislature to pull it off, but it is at least something no one else has considered.


Give Kirkland credit for that.


Today we’ll go about getting more reaction to Kirkland’s idea.


And a reminder to Gov. Corbett, Sen. Pileggi, anyone from the school district and the state Education Department: Our invitation stands. If you want to come on the show and talk about the problems facing the district, feel free. You can reach me at 610-622-8818, or email me at editor@delcotimes.com.


I can be an equal opportunity publicist. I have the platform. Now I need more people to get involved.


In the meantime, our thanks to Rep. Kirkland for coming on the show.

A question for all E Streeters

And now to the burning question of the day, at least for a major Bruce Springsteen fan like myself.


I noticed yesterday that Bruce and the E Street Band announced a new tour to back up release of a new album, “Wrecking Ball.”


They’ve already released a single, “We Take Care of Our Own.” You can listen to it here.


The tour kicks off March 18 in Atlanta, Ga., and will arrive for two nights at the Wells Fargo Center in South Philly on March 28-29. Tickets go on sale at Comcasttix.com Saturday morning.


Life is good, right? Absolutely.


I don’t know if it’s because I grew up in a small town, or that most of what we did as teens amounted to riding around in cars, trying to impress girls and drinking beer, but I’ve always identified with Springsteen’s lyrics and his music.


And therein lies the problem. It's not just Bruce. It's the band, in my humble opinion the best, tightest band I've ever seen, and I've seen tons of them. OK, not in a lot of years. It's the E Street Sound that first drew me in a lifetime ago when I discovered 'Greetings From Asbury Park.' I will never forget regaling my friends at the University of Colorado, and urging all of them to join me to see for themselves when Springsteen and the E Street Band played the picturesque Red Rocks Amphitheatre on the 'Darkness on the Edge of Town.' Many of them got so tired of hearing me talk about it that they went along for the ride. They didn't regret it. It's still the best Springsteen show I've ever seen. "Big rocks you got out here," he deadpanned.


But when the band takes the stage March 18 in Atlanta to kick off their U.S. tour, something will be missing. Something integral. The signature of the E Street Sound.


The Big Man won't be there. Clarence Clemons, the legendary E Street Band sax player and longtime Springsteen sidekick, died last summer of complications from a stroke.


This will mark the first tour since his passing.


So here is my question. Can you have an E Street Band without its signature sound? I refer of course to that wailing sax, so integral to so many Springsteen classics.


When I heard about the tour, I went to brucespringsteen.net to get more information. They listed the members of the band. There is no one listed as playing sax.


The E Streeters have been through this before. Danny Federici died of melanoma a few years ago, and the band persevered. Charlie Giordano is playing keyboards on this tour.


But replacing that wailing sax, which to so many "is" the E Street sound, is another matter.


What I’m wondering is if they can tour without a sax player, or if they are simply not yet ready to announce who will try to fill the Big Man’s boots.


If anyone knows, please post a comment on the blog.


I have always loved Springsteen and the E Street Sound. I’m just not sure it’s the same without its signature sound.


Rest well, Clarence. 


A big day for the city of Chester



Pretty good day for the city of Chester yesterday.

Yesterday morning, Major League Soccer announced that it would bring its All-Star game to the city’s waterfront on July 25.

The league’s best and brightest will assemble at PPL Park, in the shadow of the Commodore Barry Bridge, where the Philadelphia Union play their home games.

The game will undoubtedly bring an economic fusion to the city and region, and will also once again put the city in a national spotlight.

Then last night, none other than a teacher from the embattled Chester Upland School District was the guest of First Lady Michelle Obama and sat in her box for the State of the Union Address.

Sara Ferguson is a Chester native who has been a teacher at Columbus Elementary School for 21 years.

She was tapped by the White House because of her efforts – along with the other members of the Chester Upland Education Association – to remain in their classes despite the possibility that the financially ailing district might not be able to make its payroll.

Ferguson said her initial reaction on learning of the honor was “shock” at what she referred to as the thrill of a lifetime.

More than that, she wanted to deliver a message.

“I want everyone out there to know that I’m from the Chester Upland School District, but there are other districts suffering the same fate,” Ferguson said.

Well said.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

The Daily Numbers - Jan. 24

The Daily Numbers: 90 minute meeting between Gov. Tom Corbett and members of the Delco delegation concerning Chester Upland School District yesterday.


3.2 million dollars delivered to Chester Upland by a court order last week. That should get them through the end of the month.


1 million dollars raised in the effort to save Monsignor Bonner-Archbishop Prendergast high schools.


4 people charged with the ambush murder of a pizza delivery man in Philadelphia. The victim was from Chester.


21 ball python snakes at the center of a dispute that ended in gunfire in Ridley Township. 1 man was wounded, another is facing charges.


15, age of girl who was victim of attempted luring in Chester. Police are looking for a suspect.


15,000 dollars given to Community Action Agency of Delco by Boeing.


1 clerk gunned down in a Kensington convenience store last night.


15,000 dollar reward posted for info in the murder of a Chinese takeout restaurant in Philadelphia.


7.2 million dollar contract from the Army for Alloy Surfaces Co. Inc. of Chester Township.


15 JC Penney’s stores in the Philly region. All 1,200 U.S. stores in the company are expected to be hit with layoffs, which could number in the thousands.


74, age of longtime Phillies broadcaster Andy Musser, who died yesterday.


17 points for Elton Brand as the Sixers rolled over the Wizards again last night.


20 point margin for Sixers, who won, 103-83.


3 wins for the Sixers over the Wizards already this year.


31 and 13 point victories in the other 2 contests.


*


Call me a Phanatic: A look at the ups and downs of being a Philadelphia sports fan.Too bad the Sixers don’t play the Wizards every night. That is one bad basketball team. Poor Flip Sanders looked miserable on their bench last night.


 


*


I Don’t Get It: If someone can make sense out of the numbers in Chester Upland, could you give me a call? I don’t get it.


*


Today’s Upper: Kudos to the friends and alumni of Monsignor Bonner-Archbishop Prendergast. They hit their goal of raising $1 million.


*


Quote Box: “He buried it.”


- Andy Musser, in his classic all of Mike Schmidt home run back in October 1980 in key Phils’ win over the Expos, leading to Eastern Division title.

Following the money in Chester Upland

They held that much ballyhooed “summit” in Harrisburg yesterday to focus on the financial condition of the Chester Upland School District.


Not surprising is that everyone agrees the district is in fire fiscal straits. Even more surprising is that no one seems to know what exactly to do about it.


You can read our story here. And an editorial on what the future of Chester Upland might look like here.


Gov. Tom Corbett and Sen. Dominic Pileggi, R-9, of Chester, have pledged to keep the schools open.


That’s going to be easier said than done.


In the meantime, we will revisit the subject tonight with our live-stream Internet broadcast, “Live From the Newsroom.”


Joining us will be Chester Upland Assistant Superintendent Thomas Persing here in the office. And on the phone from Harrisburg we’ll have state Rep. Thaddeus Kirkland, D-159, of Chester.


Should be interesting. Tune in at 7 at delcotimes.com.


If you have a question you'd like answere concerning Chester Upland, email it to me at editor@delcotimes.com. You also can log in to DelcoTimes.com tonight during the show and take part in a live chat on Chester Upland.

Crunch time for archdiocese sex abuse scandal

It’s crunch time for the sex abuse scandal involving the archdiocese of Philadelphia.


In a Center City courtroom yesterday, prosecutors dropped this little bombshell. They accused the archdiocese of being an “unindicted co-conspirator” in the sex abuse case involving priests and children.


And prosecutors also laid out more details of the crux of what they believe was going on, that the archdiocese was involved in a cover-up and simply moved problem priests from one parish to another without warning parishioners.


In effect, they allege that the archdiocese’s tactics supplied a steady supply of children to predator priests.


Yes, it is that ugly. And it no doubt will get uglier.


All of this comes as several priests and Monsignor William Lynn prepare to go on trial. Lynn is the highest-ranking church official in the nation to be criminally charged in connection with the abuse of children by priests.


Lynn is not charged with abuse, but instead of putting children at risk through his work as the secretary for the clergy for then Archbishop Anthony Bevilacqua.


Lynn has declared his innocence. His lawyers maintain he was merely following the policy created by Cardinal Bevilacqua. Specifically, yesterday they objected that much of what was being described by prosecutors occurred either before or after Lynn’s tenure.


Here is the full story.


How ugly is this going to get? One defense attorney, in referring to nuns who had complained about some priests to the archdiocese, ripped them as “rats and wimps.” He said the priest was merely disturbing their peace.


The hearing will continue today. Don’t look for it to get any easier to stomach.

A salute to the 'other' voice of summer

He was the “other” voice of summer.


Andy Musser, who spent much of his long broadcasting career toiling in the shadow of Harry Kalas, died Monday. He was 74.


You can read our story here.


Every night, Musser’s distinctive baritone would deliver an arcane stat, something only Andy and his attention to detail could deliver.


Musser’s biggest fault likely was that he was not Harry Kalas, the beloved Phils’ broadcaster who teamed with Rich Ashburn to become the voice synonymous with Phillies baseball.


For 26 years, Musser was the other guy in the booth.


But this secondary voice of summer earned a special place in my heart on a raw, rainy October night.


And he did it with just three words.


“He buried it.”


The Phillies, who had done nothing in my lifetime aside from breaking my heart in 1964, appeared once again ready to stick in the dagger.


It was Oct. 4, 1980. I was sitting in a restaurant in Ridley Park with my girlfriend (not yet wife), and a friend of hers.


If my memory serves correct, the Phils had blown a lead and the game was now creeping into extra innings. A loss would put a serious chill on any Eastern Division title hopes.


That’s when Mike Schmidt stepped up to the plate, with Andy at the mike.


It was one of those “no doubt about it” swings. Schmidt nailed it. So did Musser.


“He buried it,” he intoned into the mic. Maybe it’s because the stoic Musser showed so much emotion that it has stayed with me all those years.


All I know is that a few weeks later, I was among the throng celebrating the Phillies world championship. None of that would have happened without that Schmidt home run, and that classic call by Musser.


Andy Musser broadcast Phillies games for 26 years. He also worked for the Eagles, Sixers and Villanova basketball.


But I will always remember that miserable wet night in October.


It was the night that a guy who played the backup role most of his career got his night on the stage.


Andy, you buried it!


If heaven has baseball team, and surely they do, I don’t doubt that Kalas, Ashburn and Musser will be behind the mike.


We bury bodies. But not the memories.


Thanks, Andy.


 

Monday, January 23, 2012

The Daily Numbers - Jan. 23

The Daily Numbers (Joe Paterno Edition): 1926-2012, R.I.P, JoePa.


61 years, how long Paterno worked at Penn State.


1966, he takes over as head coach from Rip Engle.


409 wins, most in Division 1 college football history.


136 losses.


2 national championships.


27 bowl game appearances.


5 undefeated, untied teams.


23 Top 10 finishes.


250 players who went on to play in the NFL.


7 foot bronze statue of him that sits outside Beaver Stadium.


34 million dollars he gave the university for new wing on library that now bears his name.


87 percent graduation rate among his players.


*


Call me a Phanatic: A look at the ups and downs of being a Philadelphia sports fan.No doubt there will be plenty of time to debate Joe Paterno’s legacy. For now let us mourn the loss of a great man.


 


*


I Don’t Get It: There are people who called the newspaper early yesterday incensed that some of the coverage of Paterno’s death included news of the scandal that ended his career. I don’t get it.


*


Today’s Upper: I still love those rolled-up khakis, white socks and black coach’s shoes.


*


Quote Box: “When we get past the issues of the last few months, I think the focus will return to what the man was all about and the 61 years of his life he dedicated to educating young men to be good citizens of the world.”


- The Rev. James Olson, president of Monsignor Bonner-Archbishop Prendergast High School, announcing they would appeal recommendation the schools be closed.

The legacy of Joe Paterno

Joe Paterno lived for football, in particular Penn State football.

That's why I was not terribly surprised that without it, he only last a few months.

That gives Paterno something in common with another legendary coach, Alabama's Bear Bryant, who died of a heart attack less than a month after stepping down as boss of the Crimson Tide.

Paterno led the Nittany Lions program for more than half a century. Along the way, he became the winningest Division I college football coach in the land.

In many ways, Paterno was Penn State. He was larger than life, but he was not larger than the problems we all encounter along the way.

After 61 years at Penn State, Paterno was summarily sacked by the Board of Trustees in the fallout from the ugly child sexual-abuse scandal surrounding his former defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky.

Now we are left to ponder his legacy, as a great man, a great Pennsylvanian and a superior coach.

For a man who accomplished so much, I am still taken aback by his own words in the wake of the scandal that brought him down.

“I should have done more.”

That was Paterno’s own assessment of his actions after he reported to his superiors allegations against Sandusky that were brought to him by a graduate assistant.

“I should have done more.”

In listening to person after person who spoke of him yesterday in the hours after his passing, I am left with the same impression I’ve had of this sad ending since the story first broke.

Those who knew him, coached with or against him, played for him, or worshipped him as an alum, all talked about what he meant to them. He was a molder of men, not just football players. His concern for them, and his love of all things Penn State, made Paterno a legendary figure. He put the Happy in Happy Valley.

But his ending, and the way he parted ways with the school he loved, and to which he gave so much, was anything but happy.

I agree with those who believe he deserved better than a late-night phone call from a trustee to inform him that he was no longer the head coach of Penn State.

But it is all those same comments, all the praise, all the knowledge of what he meant to Penn State, that lead me back to the same thing I’ve wondered now for months.

How could he not know? And how could he not have done more? Paterno did what he was supposed to do. He reported the incident to his superiors.

But that's part of the problem. That's not what we expect of Joe Paterno. We expect so much more.

The truth is I have never been a big Penn State fan. But I’ve always admired Joe Paterno.

I still do.

The single image I will carry with me is that of Paterno in those rumpled khaki slacks, rolled up to his ankles, white socks and black coach’s shoes leading the Nittany Lions out onto the field.

Some today are saying Paterno died of a broken heart. His health deteriorated quickly after his dismissal. And he lost a final battle with lung cancer.

Happy Valley’s heart is certainly broken, as fans come to grips both with the loss of the legendary coach, and how exactly his legacy will be remembered how that it has been scarred by the ugly Sandusky affair.

It is an impossible question to answer, and maybe an unfair one.

This is not the ending we reserve for legends. In the end, Paterno proved to be just that. And something else.

Human.

And a damn good one at that.

Big day for Chester Upland, Bonner & Prendie

There are two very important events concerning education in Delaware County happening today.


First, Gov. Tom Corbett and state Sen. Dominic Pileggi, R-9, of Chester, will hold a summit with Delco legislators looking for some kind of solution to the financial riddle that is the Chester Upland School District.


On Friday, Corbett and Pileggi announced they would deliver the funds necessary to make the sure the school stay open through the end of the year.


Corbett no doubt did so through gritted teeth. He is on record as being against any other financial bailout of Chester schools. He and his Education Department instead have pointed a finger at CU administrators and mismanagement in the school district.


Right now the two sides appear headed for another court appearance in the suit that was filed by the district against Corbett and the state.


Meanwhile, representatives from Monsigner Bonner and Archbishop Prendergast high schools will head downtown for their meeting with archdiocese officials as they try to save some version of their beloved institutions.


Friends and alumni have raised almost a million dollars toward the goal. You can read about their latest fundraising efforts here.


The Rev. James Olson, school president, will lead the contingent. We wish them well.


You have to love the tag alums came up with for today. They’re referring to it as “Million Dollar Monday.”

Another kick in the gut for Akers

While everyone was rooting for a Harbaugh vs. Harbaugh Super Bowl, I had someone else I was hoping would find a spot in the big game.

As it turns out, neither of the Harbaughs will be coaching in the Super Bowl. Jim’s 49ers lost to the Giants; John’s Ravens fell to the Patriots.

John had ties to the Eagles, he was a longtime special teams boss for Andy Reid; Jim did not. But it was his Niners I was backing, and that also has a special teams connection.

I wanted to see David Akers win a Super Bowl.

Yes, the same guy that kicked for so many years for the Eagles, only to be kicked by the curb by the team after Andy Reid decided to throw him under the bus for a playoff loss the Eagles lost by five points after Akers missed two field goals.

Football is a pretty cold business, but Akers deserved better. After he signed on with the 49ers, Akers took out full-page ads here to thank the Philly fans.

As it turns out, both games left us with some memorable goats. The Ravens’ kicker Billy Cundiff put a nasty hook on a 32-yard field goal that would have tied the game and sent it to OT.

And Kyle Williams fumbled a punt to set up the Giants for the winning field goal in OT.

I don’t know how many more chances Akers will get. That’s why I wanted him to be able to come back here and shine that big ring in the faces of Reid, Joe Banner and Jeff Lurie.

Instead, a special teams mistake left the Niners out of the Super Bowl. Another one did the same to the Ravens.

Talk about a kick in the gut.

Friday, January 20, 2012

The Daily Numbers - Jan. 20

The Daily Numbers: 3 p.m. Monday, when Bonner-Prendie officials will make their appeal of recommendation they be shut down.


500,000 dollars, how much alums and friends have raised so far to boost the schools’ chances.


1 million dollars, how much they are hoping to have by Monday.


5 million, how much officials believe they would need to make the school viable into the future.


100 residents who packed into Chester High School for a meeting of the school board in the financially ailing district.


23 of February, when both sides in their lawsuit against the state over funding heads back to court.


2 payroll periods, how long the $3.2 million they received from the state this week is likely to last.


58, age of woman killed in crash in Haverford yesterday.


96 percent in favor, union vote on severance package offered by ConocoPhillips.


2,700 layoffs needed in ailing Philadelphia School District.


2 people hurt in a fire that roared through a South Philadelphia home.


7.6 unemployment rate in Pa. in December, down from 7.9 percent the month before.


20,000 dollars now being offered for information in fatal beating of man in Old City section of Philly.


64, age of retired veteran who was brutally beaten on a Philly street.


14, age of boy a Ukrainian hockey coach is accused of having sex with in New Jersey. He faces a court hearing today.


13 game losing skid in Philly snapped last night by the Islanders.


4-1 win for the Isles at the Wells Fargo Center.


*: A look at the ups and downs of being a Philadelphia sports fan.No Steve Spagnuolo to run the Eagles defense. He’s going to New Orleans. Something is wrong inside the Eagles.


Call me a Phanatic


 


*


I Don’t Get It: The TV folks are once again beside themselves because we are supposed to get some snow tomorrow morning.


*


Today’s Upper: This one is strictly personal. We have had zero snow this winter, not counting that freak Halloween storm. Doesn’t bother me at all.


*


Quote Box: “I have a real sense of inner peace and I’m convinced that’s the way we should go.”


- The Rev. James Olson, president of Monsignor Bonner-Archbishop Prendergast High School, announcing they would appeal recommendation the schools be closed.

The Daily Numbers - Jan. 20

The Daily Numbers: 3 p.m. Monday, when Bonner-Prendie officials will make their appeal of recommendation they be shut down.


500,000 dollars, how much alums and friends have raised so far to boost the schools’ chances.


1 million dollars, how much they are hoping to have by Monday.


5 million, how much officials believe they would need to make the school viable into the future.


100 residents who packed into Chester High School for a meeting of the school board in the financially ailing district.


23 of February, when both sides in their lawsuit against the state over funding heads back to court.


2 payroll periods, how long the $3.2 million they received from the state this week is likely to last.


58, age of woman killed in crash in Haverford yesterday.


96 percent in favor, union vote on severance package offered by ConocoPhillips.


2,700 layoffs needed in ailing Philadelphia School District.


2 people hurt in a fire that roared through a South Philadelphia home.


7.6 unemployment rate in Pa. in December, down from 7.9 percent the month before.


20,000 dollars now being offered for information in fatal beating of man in Old City section of Philly.


64, age of retired veteran who was brutally beaten on a Philly street.


14, age of boy a Ukrainian hockey coach is accused of having sex with in New Jersey. He faces a court hearing today.


13 game losing skid in Philly snapped last night by the Islanders.


4-1 win for the Isles at the Wells Fargo Center.


*: A look at the ups and downs of being a Philadelphia sports fan.No Steve Spagnuolo to run the Eagles defense. He’s going to New Orleans. Something is wrong inside the Eagles.


Call me a Phanatic


 


*


I Don’t Get It: The TV folks are once again beside themselves because we are supposed to get some snow tomorrow morning.


*


Today’s Upper: This one is strictly personal. We have had zero snow this winter, not counting that freak Halloween storm. Doesn’t bother me at all.


*


Quote Box: “I have a real sense of inner peace and I’m convinced that’s the way we should go.”


- The Rev. James Olson, president of Monsignor Bonner-Archbishop Prendergast High School, announcing they would appeal recommendation the schools be closed.

Fight goes on for Bonner-Prendie

The Rev. James Olson is a man of his word.


A few weeks ago, I had Rev. Olson on for an encore performance on our live Internet broadstream show, 'Live From the Newsroom.' It was just a few days after the archdiocese's blue ribbon commission released its report recommending that Monsignor Bonner and Archbishop Prendergast high schools in Drexel Hill be closed.


Olson is president of Bonner-Prendie.


It was my hope that he would use our show to announce that he was formally filing an appeal of the decision.


He wasn't ready to do that yet. Rev. Olson made it clear that he did not want to get the hopes of students, staff and families up only to have to disappoint them all again.


At the end of the show, I gave it one last shot.


He told me that when he made up his mind, we would be the first to know.


He wasn't lying.


I got a call yesterdray from him, just after he left a meeting with Archbishop Charles Chaput. He was ready to announce his decision. I was only more than happy to do just that.


Minutes later, I tweeted the official confirmation that Bonner and Prendie would appeal the ruling that they be shut down. Once again my Twitter account surged.


You can read our full story here.


Alumni have already raised more than $500,000 to preserve the schools in a single, merged entity.


A group leading the effort has been rallying the troops all morning in hopes of raising a million dollars by Monday.


Olson and his team will get their audience with the archbishop and the panel Monday afternoon. The final decision rests with the archbishop, who has steadfastly indicated he would be open to changing the recommendation made by the blue ribbon panel.


For some reason, I get the distinct impression that Olson heard something in his conversation with Chaput that made him optimistic about the process.


Part of that involves a partnership with a local college.


For now, the fight goes on. Bonner and Prendie are not dead yet.


You read it here first.


Thanks, Rev. Olson.

Another district in financial mess

Turns out the Chester Upland School District is not the only one teetering on the edge of the financial abyss.

In Philadelphia, the School Reform Commission, the folks who run the city schools, admitted yesterday they were drowning in red ink, and laid out a fairly painful way out.

Can you say job cuts? They need to come up with $61 million by June.

Maybe this is why Gov. Tom Corbett and his Education secretary, Edward Tomalis, are taking such a hard line on the Chester Upland crisis. CU offficials went to court to get the state to release an advance on subsidies. A judge ordered the state to fork over $3.2 million. But Chester Upland wanted $20 million to get through the rest of the school year.

The $3.2 million is only expected to last a couple of pay periods. Both sides are expected back in court on Feb. 23,

In Philadelphia, they are considering some fairly draconian cuts, including all spring sports. Also on the chopping block are instrumental music and gifted programs.

Then there's the job cuts. Isn't there always? A big chunk of district employees - 2,700 - have received layoff warnings. Five hundred non-union workers will not be getting their raises. Those making more than $75,000 will be looking at pay cuts.

That's education in Pa., folks.

In the meantime, down in Chester Upland, here is what they are looking at the next couple of weeks.

You heard it here first: They'll be back in court on Feb. 23, once again looking at the possibility of closing the doors when the money runs out.

Spag's all, folks

Forget Steve Spagnuolo, Eagles fans.

All indications are that the former Eagles assistant is not coming back to take over the Birds' defense from beleaguered Juan Castillo. Instead he will be introduced today as the new defensive coordinator of the New Orleans Saints.

And the silence coming from the Nova Care Center is deafening.

There's been no word from the Eagles since owner Jeff Lurie spent 15 minutes explaining why Reid should be fired, then announced he was bringing him back for another year.

Reid has made no comment.

Spagnuolo, who once served under Jim Johnson, was fired after three losing seasons as boss of the Los Angeles Rams.

This is beginning to look more and more like Reid will bring the same group of coaches back for one more shot.

Better put the wagons in a circle, coach.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

The Daily Numbers - Jan. 19

The Daily Numbers: 3.2 million dollars, how much is going to arrive at the Chester Upland School District today. It is likely to help avert a financial collapse and keep schools through the end of the month.


3 public meetings on the troubled district set.


6 p.m. meeting tonight by state Rep. Thaddeus Kirkland at the Chester Fine Arts Center.


12 weekends in jail for a Newtown Square man who posted a sex video of his girlfriend online without her knowledge.


300,000 dollars so far in efforts to save Monsignor Bonner and Archbishop Prendergast high school.


119 pairs of women’s panties swiped from the Victoria’s Secret at Springfield Mall.


179 dollars in baby formula ripped off from the Rite Aid in the Newtown Square Shopping Center.


1 Springfield High student stabbed and another charged in altercation outside a local Wawa.


72 hours to 6 months in jail for a Montco man who pleaded guilty to DUI – while riding a bike.


1 million dollars, how much a Bucks County mom who faked her own kidnapping is now believed to have stolen from her employer.


8.5 to 10 years in prison, how much time she is looking at.


400,000 dollars bail for a South Jersey man charged with the brutal attack on a fan wearing a Rangers jersey after the Winter Classic.


20,000 dollars now being offered for information in fatal beating of man in Old City section of Philly.


3 billion in revenue from Pa. casinos in 2011. That’s up 22 percent.


5 million dollars fraud charged against a Philly dentist and his daughter who kept the books.


6 game home winning streak snapped when the Sixers fell to the Nuggets last night in OT.


28 points for former Sixer Andre Miller, including the last 10 for the Nuggets in regulation.


15,201 at the Wells Fargo Center for the Sixers-Nuggets game.


1 for 2 for Andre Iguodala from the line with 4 seconds left in game and Sixers down 1.


84-76 win for Villanova over Seton Hall in a Big East tilt.


76-70 win for Temple over La Salle.


*


Call me a Phanatic: A look at the ups and downs of being a Philadelphia sports fan.The Sixers need that one guy who puts fear in another team’s eyes in the final seconds of a game. Too often they turn to Andre Iguodala, with bad results.


 


*


I Don’t Get It: The pleas of a couple of women who were with him went unheeded as a group of men fatally beat Kevin Kless on an Old City street. I don’t get it.


*


Today’s Upper: The community will get another chance to offer their take on the troubled Chester Upland School District tonight at 6 at the Chester Fine Arts Center.


*


Quote Box: “Please, please stop. Please help us.”


- Pleas of women during a fatal beating of man who was with them in Old City.

Clock still ticking in Chester Upland

The money should be arriving at Chester Upland today. The staff will receive their paychecks. Some vendors will be paid.

But make no mistake. The clock is still ticking on the Chester Upland financial timebomb. It’s just been reset. The $3.2 million a judge ordered released to the district will get them through the end of the month, or maybe a week or two into February. Then what?

Good question.

Residents will get another shot to air their concerns when state Rep. Thaddeus Kirkland, D-159, of Chester holds a public meeting that will be held at 6 p.m. Friday at the Chester Fine Arts Center East, 17 E. 17th St., in Chester. We’ll be there to cover it.

Next week there will be two meetings focused on Chester Upland.

State Sen. Dominic Pileggi, R-9, the former mayor of Chester, will hold a public hearing on Friday, Jan. 27 at the Chester Upland Administration Building.

That will be followed by a hearing held by state Rep. Bill Adolph, R-165, of Springfield, of the House Appropriations Committee at Widener University. Adolph is the majority chair. That means he controls the purse strings when it comes to state funding.

In the meantime, Kirkland has fired off a letter to state Auditor General Jack Wagner asking for an audit of the school district finances.

In particular, Kirkland points out that former state Education Secretary Gerald Zahorchak said back in March 2007 that the school district was back on solid financial footing after more than a decade under state control.

While they lost a round in court, both Gov. Tom Corbett and his Education Secretary Ronald Tomalis have indicated they are dead set against another financial bailout of the district.

One thing no one is talking about. What happens if in fact the district runs out of money and closes its doors.

What happens to the education of 3,700 students. It’s never happened before, and it does not seem as if anyone knows exactly what would happen if it happens in Chester Upland.

Maybe it’s time to have that discussion.

How quickly we resort to a raise fist

It used to be guns. Now it is fists.


I am astounded at how quickly we allow ourselves to resort to violence.


And for what? For having the temerity to wear the apparel of the opposing team. That is what apparently sparked a vicious beating of a Rangers fan a few hours after the Winter Classic outside Geno’s Steaks in South Philly.


Or in a few harsh words directed at a cabbie that those in a nearby car may have believed were directed at them? That’s what cost a new Temple grad his life in a savage beating in Old City.


Life is so precious, but we value it so cheaply when we raise a fist at the smallest slight.


Remember that the next time someone cuts you off in trafffic.


Take a breath. Don’t flip the finger. It could have deadly results.


Our editorial.

Miller time highlights problem with Sixers

The Sixers need someone who can seal the deal.

Someone other than Andre Iguodala.

I have nothing against Iquodadla. He’s a solid NBA player. But he’s not a killer, and that’s what this Sixers team teetering on the brink of being very good desperately needs.

Someone who comes up big at crunch time, Someone the team can look to in the final seconds to deliver the goods.

Someone not named Andre Iquodala. He's proved too often he simply cannot get it done.

Last night, with a six-game home winning streak hanging in the balance, Iquodala again had the ball in his hands at crunch time. Down one, ‘Iggy’ drove to the basket and was fouled.

Two shots, down by a point. Sixers win, right?

Not exactly. You just knew what was coming.

CLANG.

First shot off the front of the rim. Second shot good. Game goes to overtime. Former Sixer Andre Miller takes over and does exactly what Iquodala too often fails to do. He put the team on his shoulders and said, “This one’s on me fellas.”

Miller scored the Nuggets’ last 10 points, and also starred in the OT.

In the meantime, the Sixers dropped to a still very good 10-4.

But they will never be a great team until they have an assassin who they can count on in the final minutes.

And Andre Iguodala is not that guy.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

A reprieve for Chester Upland

Chester Upland got a reprieve; not a pardon.


The ailing school district is still on death row, but it's date with the executioner simply was delayed.


A federal judge yesterday ordered the state to release $3.2 million to the district. That means employees will get paid, and the doors will remain open.


For now.


You can read full coverage of another wild day in the district here.


But this much should be clear. Gov. Tom Corbett was not a big fan of this ruling, though he certainly will comply with it. It does not change the fact that his administration still does not believe in one more bailout of the longtime financially distraught public schools in Chester.


We focused on Chester Upland on last night's live-stream Internet broadcast, Live From the Newsroom. If you missed it, you can see the replay here. Originally we were supposed to be joined by a group of community activists, including longtime Chester Upland critic the Rev. Bernice Warren, head of Chester Eastside Ministries.


But the were involved in a daylong standoff at the Glen Mills offices of state Sen. Dominic Pileggi. Read about that here. They were demanding to speak to the Republican former mayor of Chester. Unfortunately, he was in Harrisburg. Eventually they were escorted out of the office last night. They are vowing to return today. We'll be there to cover it.


I am eternally grateful to Korri Brown, a representative from the Pennsylvania State Education Association, who joined myself and columnist Gil Spencer and offered a spirited defense of the teachers in Chester Upland who reported for work and kept the classrooms open despite knowing they likely would not be paid.


That situation has been resolved, albeit temporarily. They will get their paychecks this week. How long that will be the case is anyone's guess. You can pretty much bet the house (as they might say at Harrah's Chester) that we will be right back in this predicament in a month. That's about how long the $3.2 million wil last.


Make no mistake; Chester Upland is broken, the product of a faulty state funding mechanism made only worse by steep cuts enacted by the Corbett Administration last summer as well as years of fiscal mismanagement in the district.


I'm not sure how you fix it. I'm sure of one thing: You can't simply close the doors.


It's interesting that while everyone considers that a possibility, no one is exactly sure what would happen if it did. That's because it's never happened before. Anywhere. No public school has simply shut down.


Chester Upland just might be the first. Unless someone can come up with a plan in a month, expect the district to be teetering on the edge of the abyss once again a month from now.


That's because in Chester Upland, some things never change.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

The Daily Numbers - Jan. 17

The Daily Numbers: 3.2 million dollars headed to help the Chester Upland School District keeps its doors open, according to tentative deal announced this morning.


3,700 students in the district who were looking at the possibility of not having a public school to attend.


45 percent of district students currently enrolled in charter schools.


7 p.m. meeting between the Rev. James Olson, president of Bonner-Prendie, and alums at the school.


115,000 dollars in donations that have come in to the effort to save the school. Another single anonymous $100,000 donation also has been received.


3,185 responses to the alumni survey on the school principal’s Facebook page.


50 men who took part in the kickoff meeting for a program called Real Men Really Read in Chester. It’s the brainchild of the community anti-violence group Brothers of Concern.


16 people left homeless after fire roared through a home in Chester yesterday.


30,000 dollars a month, how much Delco is paying the Chesco SPCA for animal control until a new shelter in the county be be constructed and get up and running.


4-10 years in jail for a Harrisburg man who pleaded guilty in Delco court of homicide while DUI.


38, age of dead woman whose body was found bound and gagged in her home in Springfield, Montco.


58, age of woman who slammed her car into a Walgreen’s in Delaware.


2 killed, 1 injured in head-on crash on the Kelly Drive in Philly yesterday.


3 straight wins for the Sixers; they beat the Bucks, 94-82.


24 points for Jrue Holiday.


9 or 14 shooting for Andre Iguodala.


17,281 at the Wells Fargo Center for the MLK Day matinee.


1 year deal likely for Phillies lefthander Cole Hamels later today. Then they’ll work on a long-term deal.


*


Call me a Phanatic: A look at the ups and downs of being a Philadelphia sports fan.Suddenly, Steve Spagnuolo doesn’t appear to be all that interested in coming to the Eagles. I can see Andy putting the wagons in a circle and bringing the exact same gang together next year, as if this year never happened.


 


*


I Don’t Get It: A lot of people think it would be just fine if the Chester Upland School District closed its doors forever. I don’t get it.


*


Today’s Upper: Kudos to those who took the time to do community service yesterday to honor the legacy of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. The dream is alive.


*


Quote Box: “For a long time, the voice of this community has been silent.”


- Tina Johnson, at rally for Chester schools yesterday.

2 huge issues in the city of Chester


Two important stories came out of the city of Chester yesterday.


First, I had the pleasure of attending a kickoff meeting of a new program called Real Men Really Read. It is the brainchild of a group called Brothers of Concern.


CLICK HERE to read the story. Of course, if you can’t read the story, if you can’t read at all, especially if you are an adult, than this story is more important than you know.


That’s because you are not alone. A lot of adults have literacy problems. A lot of them live in Chester. Of course, they live all over the county, but the problem is especially acute in Chester.


Brothers of Concern, a grassroots organization that is tackling long-standing issues that have plagued Chester, is making it their mission in increase literacy rates, in particular among men.


They plan to mentor men, tutor them, and most of all get books into their hands.


This newspaper plans to partner with them on this important issue.


It’s our honor.


The other story is, in a way, related, and all too familiar to the residents of Chester.


That would be the crisis that continues to swirl around the Chester Upland School District. They problem is they’re broke. Their teachers are working without pay, but no one knows for how long.


In short, without an infusion of cash or a state takeover the city’s schools could close.


You can read the latest here.


Tonight on a special Tuesday edition of our Internet live-stream broadcast, ‘Live From the Newsroom,’ we’ll tackle this critical issue.


We’ll be joined by several community activists. I’d love to be able to tell you right now that we’ll also have a spokesman for the district, as well as someone from the Corbett Administration or the Department of Education. Right now we’re waiting to hear from them.


You can tune in at 7 at www.delcotimes.com. If you have a question you’d like to see the panel answer, email me at editor@delcotimes.com. You also can take part in a live chat during the show tonight.

Catholic school coverage debated

So you want to be a newspaper editor?


Last week I got a call from a guy who wanted to tell me how tired he was of seeing the story about Catholic school closings plastered all over the front page.


It wasn’t that he thought it wasn’t important, or that it affected a lot of people in the region. He was just tired of seeing it.


“Isn’t there any other news out there?” he implored me. “What about the violence in Chester and all this stuff about Romney. Couldn’t that go on the front page?"


The more I talked to him, the more I got the impression this guy simply was anti-Catholic. He didn’t really give a damn what happens to the archdiocesan schools, and he certainly didn’t want it splashed all over the front page of his daily newspaper.


Then there was the voice-mail I had this morning.


A woman called last night to complain about my column from yesterday and all the 'negative' news we’ve been publishing about Catholic schools.


Honest.


“I’m a proud Prendie grad and I’m real tired of your newspaper's negativity,” she said in a booming voice. “And my kids are tired of seeing it, too.”


Sorry to disappoint her. If reporting on the possible closing of Monsignor Bonner and Archbishop Prendergast is considered being “negative,” she will simply have to learn to deal with it. This story isn't going away anytime soon.


But I’m once again flabbergasted at how the newspaper and website’s coverage is interpreted by readers.


This woman obviously is convinced that we have it in for Prendie with our “negative” coverage.


I actually think we’ve been their biggest booster.


The Monday column specifically pointed out that not all change is good as I lamented the sad decline that has led us to this point – the closings of dozens of archdiocesan schools.


Some days I should just stay in bed.

Monday, January 16, 2012

The Daily Numbers - Jan. 16

The Daily Numbers: 1,500 people who showed up at rally for Monsignor Bonner-Archbishop Prendergast at the schools yesterday.


5 million dollars, how much an alumni group is hoping to raise to help the effort to keep the schools open.


600 Bonner-Prendie T-shirts that sold in less than an hour for 20 bucks a pop.


200 years of worship that came to an end last week with the closing of Leiper Presbyterian Church in Ridley.


60 people who attended the final service.


31 members of the church left in its final months.


6.4 billion dollar price tag on the Philly airport expansion plan. Several key airlines are now balking at the cost.


13 years, how long it would take to fully implement the plan, which includes construction of a new runway.


27, age of Trainer man struck by a freight train in Upper Chi over the weekend.


3 people being sought in connection with the fatal beating of a 23-year-old Temple grad in the Old City section of Philly.


1 person killed in a fire in Northeast Philly.


5 killed, 15 still missing in capsizing of cruise ship off the coast of Italy.


370 million dollar contract won by Boeing to build 14 more Chinook helicopters.


18.7 million dollars still needed by Chester Upland School District to stay afloat.


85, age of former Penn State coach Joe Paterno, who looked frail and weak in his first interview since his ouster.


1-1, Eagles record vs. Giants this year. The G-men beat the Packers yesterday to advance to the NFC title game.


20-3 lead over the 49ers that the Eagles blew on the way to a loss.


*


Call me a Phanatic: A look at the ups and downs of being a Philadelphia sports fan.Yes, the Eagles beat the Giants once and led them in the other game going into the fourth quarter. And they had a 20-3 lead over the 49ers before doing a disappearing act in the second half. What’s it mean? It means they should have a new coach, but won’t.


 


*


I Don’t Get It: A 23-year-old man is beaten to death in a crowded section of Old City Philly on a Saturday night. I don’t get it.


*


Today’s Upper: Kudos to Brothers of Concern and all those looking to do service today to honor the memory of Dr. King.


*


Quote Box: “Right now I’m trying to figure out what I wanna do. ‘Cause I don’t want to sit around on my backside all day.”


- Former Penn State coach Joe Paterno, in his first interview since his firing.

Taking a stand in Chester with Brothers of Concern

The holiday that bears the name – and more importantly honors the legacy – of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. has been slowly evolving over the past few years.

Instead of a day of talking about King’s ideals, it has become more of an opportunity to put those beliefs into practice.

It’s a day on, not a day off.

I will be in Chester this afternoon to join a group that is putting King’s words into action.

Brothers of Concern is holding a kickoff event for a program that is direly needed in the city.

They call it ‘Real Men Read.’

It is a grass roots push to improve reading skills among men in the city.

This newspaper is going to partner with them to push the program.

A billboard will soon loom over the city on I-95 to spread the word. I’m also going to use the pages of the newspaper as well as DelcoTimes.com to get the message out.

Brothers of Concern are a group of local men who are tired of talking about the problems in Chester and are taking action. They know better than most all about the problems inherent on Chester’s streets. Many of them have experienced them first hand.

Join us today at 1 p.m. at Trinity United Methodist Church, 9th and Kerlin streets, for a program that will help the city in some many ways.

The print column - change not always for the best

The print column is up. You can read it here.


It's something I've been thinking about a lot since the archdiocese Blue Ribbon Commission came out with its recommendations of schools that should be shuttered.


I spent eight years in a Catholic elementary school. It is part of who I am and why I do what I do.


It's an experience I treasure.


And it's one I fear we are slowly losing. Like I said in the column, times are changing.


And not always for the better.

Keeping the faith at Bonner-Prendie

There is still no official word from the good folks at Monsignor Bonner and Archbishop Prendergast as to whether the schools will appeal the ruling of the Blue Ribbon Commission that they be shut down.


Word on an appeal could come later today, or early this week.


If the two schools were looking for a show of support in making their decision, they got one yesterday.


More than 1,500 students and alums from Bonner and Prendie took part in a rally on the school athletic fields in Drexel Hill.


You can read about it here.


The archdiocese reacted to rumors that were sweeping the region on Friday that there was a huge fee associated with getting a hearing on appeals of the commission’s ruling. That was not the case, the archdiocese assured the faithful.


That is not to say that money will not play a huge part in the decision-making process.


The archdiocese is not terribly interested in hearing about the tradition or sentiment connected to the schools. They are interested in numbers.


That’s why Bonner and Prendie alums also are raising money – lots of it.


Bonner-Prendie President the Rev. James Olson indicated he would like to have as much as $5 million in hand if and when he goes downtown for his appeal hearing.


To that end, Bonner alum Dan Praz, the Delco businessman who joined our panel to talk about the schools on last week’s Live From the Newsroom show, took out a full-page ad in the Sunday Times to urge alumni to help with the fundraising effort.


The problem is not just raising the money for year one, but it’s all the years to come as well.


It’s a huge financial burden to carry. But it’s one that local alumni are taking up.


That’s called Keeping the Faith.

Birds, fans left to wonder what might have been

Oh, how the mighty have fallen.

And oh, how it hurts to watch all this unfold in Philadelphia.

Here’s the deal.

The San Francisco Giants will host the New York Giants in the NFC title game for the right to go to the Super Bowl.

In easily the two best games over the Divisional Playoff weekend, the Niners stunned the Saints in one of the best playoff games you’ll ever see, while the Giants knocked the vaunted Packers off their perch in Green Bay on Sunday afternoon.

Of course, Eagles fans will likely look at this another way.

They will look at the Niners as the team the Birds had buried, 20-3, at the Linc back in October, only to fall asleep in the second half and watch San Francisco score three unanswered touchdowns to escape with a 24-23 win.

It was a repeat of the week before, when the Eagles went into the fourth quarter with a 16-14 lead over the Giants, only to see it disappear in the fourth quarter, The Eagles would do this five times - blowing second half leads.

By Week 11, the Eagles were finally rounding into form and took the measure of the G-Men in North Jersey, 17-10.

Bottom line? I still think one of the best teams in the NFC did not make the playoffs.

That is likely to come as little consolation to Birds fans.

We will have to live with the idea that one of the teams in the Super Bowl is going to be one the Eagles had dead to rights, or in the case of the Giants actually beat once.

I said it before and I will say it again.

That home loss to the Cardinals kept the Eagles out of the playoffs. It is unforgiveable.

It should have cost Andy Reid his job. Obviously that is not going to happen.

Enjoy watching the Giants and Niners in the NFC title game.

And thinking about what might have been.

Friday, January 13, 2012

A voice & plan for Bonner-Prendie

On our Wednesday night live-stream Internet broadcast, I was joined by a panel of alums from Monsignor Bonner and Archbishop Prendergast.

One of the people who joined us was Annmarie Montgomery, Prendie Class of ‘77. She not only has strong feelings about her alma mater, she also has a plan to salvage the two Drexel Hill single-sex schools as a merged, coed facility.

She did not get an opportunity to fully detail her plan on the show, so I am going to turn the Heron's Nest over to her this morning. She has written a great letter to Archbishop Charles Chaput spelling out her plan and why she thinks a merged school would be a viable entity.

She obviously got the attention of another member of our panel, the Rev. James Olson, president of Monsignor Bonner and Archbishop Prendergast. He is the man who will decide - maybe later today or over the weekend, whether or not to appeal the decision of the Blue Ribbon Commission that the schools both be closed.

Montgomery gives him some powerful ammunition for his argument.

But her words are far better than mine.

Here is her letter to the archbishop:

January 9, 2012
The Most Reverend Charles J. Chaput, Archbishop of Philadelphia

Archdiocese of Philadelphia

222 North 17th Street

Philadelphia, PA 19103

Your Excellency,

I respectfully present to you the following response to the Blue Ribbon Commission's recommendation to close Monsignor Bonner and Archbishop Prendergast High Schools. I have read the report in its entirety and I have based this response on key points that should be considered worthy of further investigation and/or evaluation.

It is my belief you will see as you review this information that when applying the approach that the Commission itself cites as determining factors for their recommendations, the unique opportunity to merge these two schools does not only seem viable, but it also has merit.

I have pulled the following from an article in the January 7, 2012, Philadelphia Inquirer written by David O'Reilly outlining an interview with you:

"If pastors and the people of a parish say, 'This [closing] is a good idea - something we should have done a long time ago,' " then it will proceed quickly, he said.

But if they can show him the schools commission made "errors of fact," he will review its decision.

"I'm very accessible," he said, "but not everyone can visit me in my office." Parents and others eager for his intervention should go through their pastors and principals. "It will come to me, I assure you," he said.

Invitations for him to visit schools slated for closure would likely make little difference, he said. "I trust all the schools are good places," he said, "but I have to make decisions based on facts."

The Bonner/Prendergast community do not find the decision to close the schools to be a good idea. However, Your Excellency, it is vital that this not be perceived as solely an emotional opinion based upon decades of well-deserved devotion to these schools.

The appeal presented herein raises questions that legitimately qualify being further investigated to determine if the interpretation of the statistics presented in the Commission's Report have resulted in "errors of fact." At the very least, I believe there have been "errors of omission" in evaluating key components that exist in and around Bonner/Prendergast that seriously question the viability of this decision.

While I understand your statement regarding school visitations and completely agree that you can safely trust that they are all good places, again I need to ask you to question if you are truly confident that your decision regarding Bonner/Prendergast is based on all of the facts.

Considering that the Blue Ribbon Commission was essentially assigned the responsibility of performing a due diligence on our parochial school system, it would seem reasonable to have expected, especially regarding the secondary schools, that there would have been some physical inspection of the operations of the schools and the assets being considered for disposal. As the ultimate decision-maker regarding these closures, it seems both unfair and unsound to ask you to make your judgments based on a presentation of cold statistics compiled by a Committee that you did not personally formulate.

With this in mind, Your Excellency, please rest assured that a warm invitation is still extended to you and any interested member of the Blue Ribbon Commission from the Bonner/Prendergast community and we would be grateful for your presence there.

It is with the understanding that you must be completely overwhelmed at this point that I offer you my most sincere gratitude for taking the time to review the information presented below. I pray that you are willing to be open to the opportunity to further investigate and evaluate whether the interpretation of the statistics as presented by the Commission failed to effectively present the potential for a strong merger.

BONNER/PRENDERGAST APPEAL/RESPONSE

TO THE BLUE RIBBON COMMISSION RECOMMENDATION FOR CLOSING

1) Bonner/Prendergast combined enrollment places them 4th out of the 17 high schools in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia.

2) According to the report, the Bonner/Prendergast annual "plant costs" are the most expensive at $900,000 per year with a 31% utilization factor. What analysis was performed to project the annual "plant costs" and utilization factor if the two schools were merged into one building?

3) As it relates to Item #2 above, and with the decision to close West Catholic High School, what analysis was performed to project the increase in enrollment this would have at Bonner/Prendergast?

4) The geographic proximity of Bonner/Prendergast and West Catholic High School (both closing) results in an increased challenge of accessibility on the neighborhoods of Upper Darby and Southwest Philadelphia (two regions with very high population density). The Commission has stated the following in their report, "Two of the most important dimensions parents consider in choosing a school are price and proximity." The decision to close both of these schools does not appropriately serve the families in either of these areas.

5) As it relates to Item #4, what consideration was given to the fact that accessible public transportation from all directions runs day and night to the front door of the Bonner/Prendergast campus?

6) Within the last year, utilizing grant funding, the technology at Bonner/Prendergast has been upgraded and enhanced resulting in a state-of-the-art environment. It may be the only wireless campus in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia.

7) Bonner/Prendergast ranks as a leader in the Archdiocese for the number of graduates who receive college scholarships.

8) Bonner/Prendergast has produced multiple National Merit Scholarship finalists and recipients.

9) The following was pulled from the "Frequently Asked Questions" link of the Blue Ribbon Commission Report:

"Why was my school chosen to regionalize, partner or close when other Archdiocesan schools in the area remain open? In its analysis, the Blue Ribbon Commission examined the trend and data across the Archdiocese. In addition, its members examined the educational programs offered at each school, current and historical enrollment figures, overall finances for the schools and parishes, current and projected capacity, facility improvements that would be needed and overall demographic trends in our diocese. All of these factors contributed to the commission’s recommended restructuring plan."

Educational Programs - Bonner/Prendergast would have to rank among the highest in this category based upon its general curriculum and faculty tenure. This is further enhanced by both the Drexel Program and the 1:1 Initiative Program that are not offered at the other high schools in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia. The Commission should reveal its hard data on this point so a factual comparison can be made.

Current and Historical Enrollment Figures - Bonner/Prendergast combined enrollment ranks them 4th highest in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia before any projected transfers from West Catholic High School.

Overall finances for the schools and parishes - With the policy of allowing students to choose the high school they will attend, there are a significant number of schools and parishes subsidizing more than one high school. The Commission should reveal its hard data on this point so a factual comparison can be made.

Current and Projected Capacity - The 31% capacity rate that the Commission has applied to make its decision would be dramatically adjusted if Bonner/Prendergast were housed in one building. So much so, that it would most likely put Bonner/Prendergast in the Number 1 position throughout the Archdiocese in this category, again, before any projected transfers from West Catholic High School.

Facility Improvements Needed and Overall Demographic Trends -Bonner/Prendergast has a recently installed athletic field complex and state-of-the art technology environment on campus. The Commission should reveal its hard data on this point so a factual comparison can be made.

10) The campus site currently housing Archbishop Prendergast High School and Monsignor Bonner High School was once owned by the family of Saint Mother Katharine Drexel. Did the Commission take into consideration that a canonized saint lived and prayed here? Does Canon Law restrict the alternative uses of this property under these circumstances? For this reason, the future plan for the use of this campus should be of paramount concern for all Catholics in the Archdiocese.

In closing, Your Excellency, I would be more than willing to offer my time and help in any way you or the Commission my deem worthy to support a further evaluation of the viability of merging Bonner/Prendergast. I can be reached at the contact information listed below. Along with all of the teachers, children, and parents of our diocese who are being impacted by the Blue Ribbon Commission's recommendations, please rest assured that my heartfelt prayers include yourself and the members of the Commission.

Prayerfully and gratefully,

Annmarie Montgomery

Archbishop Prendergast High School Class of 1977


That's a powerful argument.

I have a feeling that eventually Olson will decide to file the appeal. I hope the school's get a chance to make their case.

And it would behoove them to make the points laid out her by Montgomery a big part of their argument.