Wednesday, February 29, 2012

The Daily Numbers - Feb. 29

The Daily Numbers: 29, as in Feb. 29. Happy Leap Day!


50,000 dollar bail for a homeless man charged in an attack on a pregnant woman in her Upper Chichester apartment.


34, age of woman charged with hitting 2 kids in Radnor waiting for school bus. She waived her preliminary hearing.


24 hours before having an abortion, when a woman would have to have a mandatory ultrasound, according to legislation being proposed in Harrisburg.


5 teens who attacked another teen in Upper Darby. 4 of them are now under arrest.


10 burglaries since Jan. 1 that have a Haverford neighborhood alarmed.


100 dollar demand by a woman during a holdup of Kyj’s Bakery in Brookhaven. She has now pleaded guilty.


43, age of athletic director at Jenkintown School District who has been charged with having a sexual affair with a 17-year-old female student that lasted 6 months.


11 jurors now selected for the child sex-abuse trial involving Philadelphia archdiocese priests.


2 huge wins for GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney over Rick Santorum last night in Michigan and Arizona. Now it’s on to Super Tuesday and a huge battleground state in Ohio.


13,005.12, where the Dow Jones average closed yesterday, the first time it’s ever ended the day above the 13,000 mark.


1,100 workers getting the ax from IBM.


500 million dollars that may be doled out as bonuses to GM workers.


60 million dollars in environmental funds that Delco Rep. Greg Vitali says Gov. Corbett is using to balance his budget.


67-52 win for the Chester Clippers last night as they advance to the District 1 title game.


26-0 mark for the streaking Clippers.


2-2 mark vs in District 1 title games vs. their foe Friday night, Lower Merion.


2 losses to the great Lower Merion teams headed by a kid named Kobe Bryant.


97-68 win for the Sixers over the Pistons to kick off the 2nd half of the NBA season.


2 straight shutouts for the struggling Flyers.


*


Call me a Phanatic: A look at the ups and downs of being a Philadelphia sports fan.Baseball season starts today. Phillies vs. Florida State. Bring it on.


 


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I Don’t Get It: A woman in York, Pa., is charged with trying to poison her grandmother with drug-laced chili. I don’t get it.


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Today’s Upper: Kudos to all those who will be part of “A Taste of Bonner and Prendie.” The event tonight welcomes eighth graders who are considering attending the school. This time last week no one even knew if there was going to be a new class entering the school next year.


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Quote Box: “My kids are gamers. They look forward to a game like this.”


- Lower Merion coach Gregg Downer, on a looming date Friday night with Chester for the District 1 title.

Join us for for 'A Taste of Bonner-Prendie' tonight on 'Live from the Newsroom'

This is going to be a very special day - and night - at Monsignor Bonner-Archbishop Prendergast High School.

And not just because our live-stream Internet show, ‘Live From the Newsroom,’ will broadcast live from the school tonight.

It’s because of what will happen for the two hours before.

The schools will welcome potential members of the Class of 2016. The tradition is alive.

They are calling it a “Taste of Bonner and Prendie.” It’s a night for eighth-graders who are considering attending one of the two high schools to visit and get a feel for the two schools.

They don’t know how lucky they are.

It took more than a little faith to get Bonner-Prendie to this point. It took $5 million bucks.

More importantly, it took the unshakeable faith of a group of boosters determined not to let the two schools and their tradition of single-sex education die.

The community was stunned on Jan. 6 when the archdiocese Blue Ribbon Commission announced that both Monsignor Bonner and Archbishop Prendergast, along with West Catholic and two other high schools, would close their doors forever at the end of the school year.

It was the same tired tune – declining enrollment, skyrocketing expenses.

What happened next, however, was anything but the same. Of course, first there were tears. Then anger. Then an amazing thing happened. A community came together in a way, frankly, that I have never seen before this side of the amazing story of Tommy Geromichalos and St. Cyril's.

Spurred by a few believers, they decided you could fight City Hall, and the archdiocese at the same time.

And they won. They raised $5 million in a matter of weeks, and in the process laid the groundwork for a partnership that not only saved their school, but the three other high schools as well.

Tonight we’re going to meet some of the people responsible for the “Miracle In Drexel Hill.” We’ll be joined by Principal Bill Brannick; school President the Rev. James Olson; Annemarie Montgomery and Trish Scepansky, two parents who helped immensely with the fundraising efforts; and maybe most importantly, some Bonner-Prendie students. We’ll hear from them first-hand what they have experienced in the last month.

Remember the show will broadcast at a special time tonight. We’ll go live at 8 p.m., after the completion of the “Taste of Bonner and Prendie” event. If you’re in the area or planning to attend, by all means stop by and say hello.

Miracles do happen.

That fact that there is going to be a Class of 2016 at Monsignor Bonner-Archbishop Prendergast is proof of that.

A novel way to do business

A most interesting thing happened to me recently.

I had an encounter with a business – and the guy did something that I have not had happen to me in a long time.

It involved an issue with my car. I took it to his shop to have it looked at.

He gave me an estimate – the job was likely going to cost about $700. Then he did the damnedest thing. He told me there was a chance I didn’t need it at all.

I almost spit my teeth out.

He easily could have just done the work, pocketed the money and never blinked an eye.

That’s not what he did.

As it turns out, that was exactly the case. It turned out I didn’t really need to have this work done.

He took money out of his own pocket – and put it back in mine.

He did something else as well.

He won a customer for life.

Maybe there’s a lesson there for newspaper people and just about every other business.

The first time I visited his shop, he recognized the name and asked if I was the editor of the Daily Times. I gave him the usual wise-guy response I offer when asked that on the street: That depends on who wants to know.

He told me he grew up in Delco and reads the paper all the time, although most of the time he now checks us out online.

I hope he reads this.

And accepts this humble thank you.

Taking a flying leap

I will resist the urge to tell the first person who calls with a complaint today to “take a flying leap.”

It is, after all, Leap Day. Yep, check the calendar. It's Feb. 29. Happens just like clockwork every four years.

Don't you think it would be a much better idea to have an extra day in, say, July, as opposed to February. Although to be honest I suppose I shouldn't complain about the weather. Sure it's going to rain today, but most years we'd be getting hammered by snow.

They say it's going to be in the 60s on Saturday. I'm not complaining.

We decided to skip the usual feature story today on a person who was born on Leap Day. After you say that, and calculate their age according to their actual birthday, what else is there to say?

Instead I will choose to “leap” into baseball season. That’s right, the Phillies play their first exhibition game today in Clearwater against a college squad from Florida State.

I assure you it will be most reassuring to see Jimmy Rollins step into the batter’s box. So long as he doesn’t pop up the first pitch.

Remember guys, we’re being more selective this year.

I can just hear the entire Phillies team telling me to take a flying leap right now.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

The Daily Numbers - Feb. 28

The Daily Numbers: 20 to 40 years in jail for John Joe Thomas, the Upper Darby man who beat his elderly neighbor to death.


70, age of Murray Seidman. His attacker is 29.


20 million dollar loan for capital projects that has gotten the initial OK from Delco Council.


3 break-ins that are part of a disturbing rash of incidents under investigation in Newtown.


24, age of man charged with firing a shot into the home of his girlfriend.


1.8 million federal funding and $3.2 in state funding allocation that will be used by Chester Upland School District to make its payroll this week. The district says it does not have the money to make its March 14 payroll.


160,000 barrels of oil being taken out of circulation in the Northeast by the shutdown of two Delco refineries. That will balloon to 240,000 barrels next year if all three local refineries are shuttered.


1 million dollars being sought by Marcus Hook Borough Council from Sunoco as it considers an ordinance that would limit what the company can do in the future at its borough refinery.


4-3 vote in Folcroft to join Sharon Hill and County Council in boycotting some Sunoco products in light of the company’s move to shut down local refineries and eliminate jobs.


61 stray animals so far that have been transported from Delco to the Chesco SPCA since the Delco SPCA got out of animal control on Jan. 1.


491 dollars, how much Delco is paying for each animal being sent to Chesco.


19, age of Yeadon man who entered a guilty plea on child porn charges this week.


2 month delay being sought by Jerry Sandusky for his trial on child abuse charges.


5 jurors seated for the trial of Monsignor William Lynn and several current and former priests in Philly.


2 month delay in his trial on sex abuse charges now being sought by Jerry Sandusky.


440,000 dollars fleeced from 2 dozen victims, including some local nuns, by a shady financier from New Jersey. He’s charged with 13 counts of wire fraud.


2 students now dead in rampage in a high school in Ohio. 4 other students were wounded.


1 man dead in shooting incident in Christiana, Del.


12 dogs rescued from suspected dog-fighting operation in Kensington home.


2 12-year-old students facing arson charges for a fire that hit a middle school in Newark, Del.


2 more weeks the Sixers are going to have to survive without center Spencer Hawes.


0 moves made by the Flyers at the NHL trade deadline.


81 percent hike in ratings for Sixers telecasts on Comcast this year.


*


Call me a Phanatic: A look at the ups and downs of being a Philadelphia sports fan.So how do you think the Eagles will manage to mess up this No. 15 pick in the draft? Any real athletic, smallish defensive ends with a great vertical leap available?


 


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I Don’t Get It: It’s happened again. A troubled teen with a gun enters a high school with deadly results. I don’t get it.


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Today’s Upper: Kudos to those putting together the fundraiser Wednesday night for the children of fallen soldiers. Former D.A. Mike Green and current D.A. Jack Whelan will be part of the event.


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Quote Box: “If you haven’t hugged or kissed your kid in the last couple of days, take that time.”


- Police official in Ohio after fatal rampage in a local high school.

Help us celebrate at Bonner-Prendie


It’s time to celebrate at Monsignor Bonner and Archbishop Prendergast.

And we’re going to do our part to help with the party.

The student bodies of both schools huddled in the Bonner auditorium last Friday for the 3 o’clock press conference at which Archbishop Charles Chaput announced his decision on their appeal of the Blue Ribbon Commission’s recommendation that both schools be closed.

What happened next can only be described as an eruption of pure joy.

The words had barely escaped the archbishop’s lips – that all four targeted high schools would survive – than shrieks of joy filled the Bonner building. There were hugs and tears.

It was the culmination of seven weeks of frayed nerves, waiting and wondering – along with a ton of hard work.

It all culminated in what can only be described as “the miracle of Drexel Hill.” Raising $5 million in just three weeks doesn’t hurt either.

Now it’s time to explain how this happened, as well as celebrate the fact that the Bonner-Prendie tradition will live on. We are taking our ‘Live From the Newsroom’ Internet broadcast back on the road for a visit to Monsignor Bonner on Wednesday night.

It will be a very special night at the school. They will hold “A Taste of Bonner and Prendie,” when they invite eighth graders considering their high school to visit the Drexel Hill campus.

The event runs from 6-8 p.m. At 8 we will kick off our special show. We will be joined by Principal William Brannick, school President the Rev. James Olson, and I hope some students and boosters as well.

Remember that special time, 8 p.m.

Join us at DelcoTimes.com as we celebrate the “Miracle of Drexel Hill.”

Just keepin’ the faith.

What the Eagles owe their fans

The Flyers are standing pat. GM Paul Holmgren decided against breaking up his nucleus to acquire another big-time player. They’ll likely win a series before bowing out again come playoff time.

The Sixers are heading into the second half having lost five consecutive games going into the All-Star break. And they got word yesterday that big man Spencer Hawes will miss another two weeks. They were 12-2 with him in the lineup at the start of the season, but have struggled without him.

The Phillies are just now starting to crank up spring training down in Clearwater. They face two big questions: Will they sign left-handed ace Cole Hamels to a long-term deal before opening day, and how long will they be without slugger Ryan Howard.

So, that means it must be time to talk Eagles. Is there ever a time in Philly not to talk Eagles?

Here’s an unsolicited tip for the “gold standard.” Dear Messers. Lurie, Banner, Roseman and Reid: Do not – I repeat do not – consider once again trading down in the draft from your current No. 15 slot. We do not need another smallish defensive end who “wows” you at the NFL Combine.

Use that No. 15 pick to take the biggest, baddest linebacker on the board.

This one is simple. That No. 15 pick needs to be a starter, preferably on defense, and even more so at your biggest weakness. No one wants to hear about another project.

Fans are looking for a difference-maker, a starter who can step in and anchor the defense from Day One.

Anything else – including the notion of moving up and taking a quarterback – while novel, will not help the team this year. And that is what you owe the fans. Not help down the line. Not someone who can play in the nickel. Not someone who you project to be a special teams standout.

A stud. Preferably on defense.

Thank you for your consideration.

Monday, February 27, 2012

The Daily Numbers - Feb. 27

The Daily Numbers: 9 mm Tec-9, fully loaded, found in possession of man who struggled with Upper Darby police inside the police station yesterday.


2 Upper Darby officers who had to subdue 22 year-old Kenneth Stewart after a physical confrontation erupted when he arrived looking to spring his girlfriend, who was jailed on public drunkenness charges.


75 parents who registered their children for classes at Monsignor Bonner-Archbishop Prendergast.


50 dollar registration fee for new students; 75 dollars for returning students.


1 body pulled from Cobbs Creek in Upper Darby yesterday. Authorities are now trying to ID the body.


800,000 dollar budget gap being faced by Marcus Hook Borough. Sunoco has indicated they will help out with the shortfall, but they oppose a proposed zoning change that would limit activity at their refinery.


4.5 million dollar nonprofit grocery store that will be run in Chester by Philabundance.


13,000 square foot facility will provide 30 new jobs. It’s the first supermarket in the city in more than a decade.


7.5 cent jump in gas cost at the pump in the last week.


3.73, average price for gas in Philly region. $3.33 what we were paying last year.


3.69, the national average price per gallon.


84th annual Academy Awards handed out last night.


83 years since a silent film captured Best Picture. ‘The Artist’ took the top award last night.


3 Oscars for Meryl Streep, who won for her portrayal of British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher in ‘The Iron Lady.’


22 houses destroyed, 34 people homeless after fire roared through block of row homes in Morrisville, Bucks County, yesterday.


500,000 dollars, how much the theft of copper wire from rail tracks is costing SEPTA every year.


1 dead, 1 wounded in shooting in North Philly early this morning.


*


Call me a Phanatic: A look at the ups and downs of being a Philadelphia sports fan.Cliff Lee is nursing an abdominal strain. Ryan Howard is headed to Baltimore for a check-up on his Achilles tendon. Yep, must be Phillies season.


 


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I Don’t Get It: Not exactly a good idea to pick a fight with the police – inside the police station.


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Today’s Upper: Lots of people attended a registration event Sunday for students at Monsignor Bonner and Archbishop Prendergast. Yes, the tradition lives on.


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Quote Box: “This was a big struggle for life. It was a real drama.”


- Upper Darby Police Superintendent Mike Chitwood, on confrontation between officers and armed man inside the police station Sunday.

Somebody say 'Amen'


The wait was worth it.

The rollercoaster of emotions surrounding “The Miracle in Drexel Hill” took several twists on Friday morning before Archbishop Charles Chaput finally uttered the words everyone had been praying for.

Monsignor Bonner and Archbishop Prendergast will stay open. As will three other high schools that had been targeted for closure by an archdiocese Blue Ribbon Commission.

The announcement touched off a raucous scene at Monsignor Bonner, where students from both schools had gathered after school to watch the 3 p.m. press conference.

It was the final act of a day-long drama. When word filtered out that a planned meeting between archdiocese officials and local legislators early Friday morning had been canceled, it appeared to be an ominous sign.

Then the archdiocese confirmed that no decision would be made Friday morning, and said only that there might be a possible ruling on Friday afternoon.

The sigh was audible in the Twitter-verse as the faithful wondered if they could ‘Keep the Faith’ for another weekend.

Finally, word was received that Chaput would announce his final ruling at 3 p.m. Still, there was no indication how he would rule.

As we all know now, Bonner-Prendie will survive. Yes, they will be merged into one building, and not all of the classes will be single sex, but the proud tradition of the schools in Drexel Hill will continue.

It will do so because of a miraculous fundraising campaign that saw the faithful put their money where their faith – and mouths – was, to the tune of $5 million.

I hope to be able to visit the school Wednesday night for another ‘Live From the Newsroom’ live-stream Internet broadcast. I hope to have details on that later today or tomorrow.

Miracles do happen. They aren’t easy, and they aren’t cheap. But they do happen.

After more than month of turmoil from the time that the Blue Ribbon Commission made its recommendation, to 3 p.m. Friday when Archbishop Chaput made his final ruling, it was a faith-testing, bumpy ride.

That’s why I could think of only one word to sum up the story. It appeared on Saturday’s front page:

Amen!

Marcus Hook between a rock & hard place

Marcus Hook Borough is between a rock and a hard place.


Or, more succinctly, as our front page indicated on Sunday: Over a barrel.


The borough is concerned about the future of the Sunoco refinery that for a century has been the town’s icon. The company has made it clear they plan to get out of the refining business. It does not appear as if a buyer is going to step forward to operate the site as a refinery, which would keep a lot of union jobs.


The borough is considering a zoning change that would limit what the company can do at the site, in particular restricting the storage of petroleum products at the site to those actually manufactured there.


There is a belief among many in the borough, as well as union folks, who suspect that the company is not all that interested in selling the facility to another refinery, that they would much rather keep the pieces they want and sell off the rest.


This zoning change obviously would put a major kink in those plans.


As you might expect, Sunoco is not especially enamored with this plan.


Ironically, the new CEO of Sunoco paid a visit to the borough Wednesday afternoon to talk about the plant, and let the borough know the company did not think the zoning change was a good idea.


Oh, and one other thing. Sunoco would be willing to help out the borough with their budget crunch that would coinincide with the refinery’s shutdown.


Yep, it’s a dilemma alright.


You can read the entire story by reporter Kathleen Carey here.

Silence is golden at Oscars

And the Oscar goes to ….

… Another movie I haven’t seen.

That’s actually not all that unusual. My days of going out to the movies are becoming something of a rare event. The last movie I saw in the theater was Clint Eastwood's 'Gran Torino.' Very good flick, but then what else would you expect from Clint.

Actually, I fared better this year than in years past. Through the wonders of Netflix, I had actually seen two of the movies nominated for Best Picture. I liked ‘Moneyball,’ the story of how Billy Beane used a small budget and a new wave of stats to evaluate players to transform the Oakland A’s. But to be honest I wouldn’t exactly call it Best Picture material.

I also checked out Woody Allen’s ‘Midnight in Paris,’ despite my aversion to anything Owen Wilson is in. It was a nice movie. But Best Picture? You’re kidding, right?

I have to admit that I fell asleep after about 20 minutes of ‘The Tree of Life.’ If someone can tell me what that movie was about, feel free.

I can, however, guarantee you of one thing. I have no intention of watching Best Picture winner ‘The Artist.’

It’s a silent film done in black and white. I’ll pass.

I will, however, see ‘The Descendants,’ with my man George Clooney, who did not win for Best Actor either.

My idea of movies is to be entertained. That’s why I lean toward drama and action flicks.

Spare me any subtitles, animation, science fiction, etc. Don’t hold my grudge against the ‘The Artist’ as a bias against black-and-white movies. Not so. I happen to think that one of the best movies ever made, on my Top 5 list, is “On the Waterfront.”

But black and white and silent? I don’t think so.

Hooray for Hollywood? Shhhhh, Oscar at work.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Waiting and Wondering at Bonner-Prendie

Jan. 6 seems like a lifetime ago. Especially for the extended family of Monsignor Bonner and Archbishop Prendergast.


But they're going to have to wait a little longer.


It is now past 7 a.m. on Friday morning. Families are well into their morning routines. And students are heading into the twin high schools on the hill in Drexel Hill.


They just don't know if the schools will exist next year.


Last week the Archdiocese of Philadelphia ruled on appeals filed by elementary schools who were disputing the recommendation of a Blue Ribbon Commission that they be shut down. Amazingly, 18 of the 24 appeals were upheld.


But at the same time, a decision on four high schools - including Bonner & Prendie - were delayed by a week.


A ruling is expected today, but yesterday a spokesman for the archdiocese would say only that a ruling today was 'likely.' He would not confirm when or even if a ruling would be made.


And so we wait.


Which, of course, puts the rumor mill in high gear.


I have heard from a lot of people this week, including many whom I believe are in position to know. And still opinions appear to be split on how the ruling will go.


I still find it hard to believe that the archdiocese can possibly turn the Bonner-Prendie appeal down, after their boosters raised an amazing $5 million in just a couple of weeks. But it would not be the first time I've been floored by the actions of the archdiocese.


Now all they can do is wait and wonder.


Today is the traditional ring ceremony at Prendie, when junior girls receive their class rings. The Mass has been pushed back from 9 a.m. to noon. Whether or not they will know at that time is still not known.


If you want to vent, chat or just sound off on the issue, you can take part in the live chat we're hosting on DelcoTimes.com all day. CLICK HERE to view the chat. And use Twitter and the hashtag #delcocatholic to post your comments.


The ball's in the archdiocese court.


And two schools remain on pins and needles waiting for word on their fate.


Keepin the Faith? Absolutely. But it's not easy.


Stay tuned.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

The Daily Numbers - Feb. 23

The Daily Numbers: 6 armed men who pulled off a daring smash-and-grab heist at the jewelry store located in the Radnor Hotel on Lancaster Avenue.


5,000 dollar reward for information in the case being put up by the business.


1 dead, 1 injured in what police are describing as a possible murder-suicide in Upper Darby.


1 more day until we learn the fate of the appeal hoping to save 4 Catholic high schools, including Monsignor Bonner-Archbishop Prendergast.


2 unions that represent workers at Fair Acres that now have new deals with the county.


2 murders now charged against Jamir Williams of Chester.


2 suspects in holdup of a Radnor Wawa now in custody.


20, age of man from Titusville, Pa., who pleaded guilty in the murder of an Aston man in Chester County.


3 vehicles torched in Aston that police now believe was the work of a Philly man.


24 of April, date for the Pennsylvania Primary. The date will not be moved, despite the flap over redistricting of legislative boundaries.


5 to 8 cents, how much price of gas is expected to jump this wekeend in the region.


33, age of woman charged yesterday with abandoning a newborn baby found in a box on a Philly street.


20 debates held by GOP presidential candidates. Last night was the last one before the Super Tuesday Sweepstakes.


2 journalists killed in the strife in Syria.


80-79 win in OT for Temple over La Salle in a thriller.


490-194 lifetime record for legendary Delco hoops coach Alonzo Lewis, who was killed when he was struck by a car in Philly.


5 straight losses for the Sixers as they go into the All-Star break.


93-87 loss for the Sixers at Houston last night.


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Call me a Phanatic: A look at the ups and downs of being a Philadelphia sports fan.This was not the way the Sixers wanted to go into the break. They have now lost five straight. It’s pretty simple, without Spencer Hawes and Elton Brand in the lineup, they’re a donut team – nothing in the middle.


 


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I Don’t Get It: When are teens going to realize that the idea of getting sloppy drunk, then making a video and posting it online is going to be around forever. At least we had the good sense to do those kind of things in private.


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Today’s Upper: Dynamite new video put out today by Bonner-Prendie booster group. Well done.


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Quote Box: “The proposal is an unwise experiment with the education of 1.8 million public school students.”


- Pennsylvania State Education Association President Michael Crossey, on the Corbett budget.

More gas pains in Delco

Denis Stephano says we can’t say we weren’t warned.


Stephano is the laid-off union boss representing workers at the ConocoPhillips refinery in Trainer.


We took our “Live From the Newsroom” Internet live-stream webcast on the road again last night, making another trek to the union hall in Linwood to talk to refinery workers union leaders. You can check out the replay here.


“Have you bought gas lately,” Stephano greeted me as I walked into the hall.


Count Stephano among those who see a link between the shutdowns of the ConocoPhillips and Sunoco refineries in Trainer and Marcus Hook and a spike in gas prices.


He said as much during a rally last week in Washington, D.C. Stephano warns that we’ll be paying more than $4 a gallon come summer, and that next winter heating oil will be through the roof, and jet fuel also is going to be more expensive. Bottom line? Almost everything is going to cost more because of the cost of gas.


Stephano put it a bit more bluntly. “It’s called price-fixing,” he said.


There was news on two fronts on the crucial refinery issue yesterday.


Workers at the Sunoco Marcus Hook refinery and the company have agreed on a tentative deal for their severance packages. You can read about that here.


Then there was this little item from Jim Savage. He’s the president of United Steelworkers Local 10-1, which represents workers at the company’s South Philly refinery. That one is still operating – for now. Both the Trainer and Marcus Hook plants have been shut down. The workforce in Trainer has been laid off, and a similar process is getting underway in the Hook.


Much has been made of both companies’ statements that they are interested in finding a buyer for the three refineries. But Sunoco officials have been pretty clear in pointing out that despite overtures from as many as 150 companies, they have not received one legitimate offer to buy the plant and operate it as a refinery. In the meantime, the process grinds on toward shutting down the facilities.


Savage, for one, has his doubts about the company line. He said last night he knows there was at least one legitimate bid, and in pretty blunt language alleges the company is not exactly being forthright in their efforts.


Maybe that's why Sen. Robert Casey and others are planning a series of hearings on the issue. There is one being held today in Philadelphia by Democratic state reps.


Stephano paints a gloomy picture of what is going to happen in the lower end of the county. That’s particularly true of the Conoco facility, which the company has indicated will be demolished if no buyer comes forward.


“Once that promise starts, there’s no coming back,” Stephano warns.


In the meantime, brace yourself for higher prices. For just about everything.

Sturla takes on Corbett

Mike Sturla was in town yesterday.


He wants you to do him a favor. He wants you to go to the window, open it up and start yelling, “I’m as mad as hell and I’m not going to take it anymore.”


Sturla, a state rep from Lancaster County, is the chairman of the state Democratic Policy Committee. He was in town for a public hearing on Gov. Tom Corbett’s budget he hosted along with state Rep. Margo Davidson, D-164, of Upper Darby. You can read about that here.


After the hearing, he stopped by for a visit with our editorial board.


Sturla is in a tough spot. He doesn’t like Corbett’s budget even a little bit. He believes it is going to have disastrous effects across the state in terms of education, child care and public welfare.


And he knows there’s not a lot he can do about it. Republicans control both the state House and Senate. And Sturla believes the bare-bones spending plan is going to sail through the Legislature after some minor adjustments.


That’s why he’s depending on the public to raise their voices in protest.


He has an interesting take on Corbett’s no-tax mantra and recurring theme that “the money just isn’t there.”


Sturla believes this is largely because of Corbett’s own actions and the way the budget has been crafted, condensing several items into a single line-item in the fiscal plan.


He claims Corbett simply refuses to take advantage of opportunities to bring in new revenue. Of course Exhibit A in this case would be the new “fee” the governor recently signed on the extraction of natural gas in the state’s Marcellus shale regions.


Simply put, Sturla believes it was a giveaway. He points out even Grover Norquist, the guy who crafted the no-tax promise, has labeled Corbett’s “fee” a tax.


More importantly, Sturla points out what the state lost under the Corbett-endorsed plan. He expects the fee to raise about $180 million, while a tax, similar to one used in every other state that deals with natural gas extraction, could produce a multi-billion dollar gusher of new revenue in the state.


Corbett has put out his austere spending plan and touted it as a “no-gimmicks” plan. He’ll have a hard time convincing Sturla of that.


“This budget had more gimmicks than any budget I’ve seen in 22 years,” Sturla pointed out.


He laments that Corbett is viewing his role as governor as an administrator, and not a leader.


He’s warning of the bloodlettting to come – education, public welfare, social progrmas.


Sturla warns that people should not believe it’s only troubled districts such as Chester Upland here in Delaware County that are in danger. He believes as many as 50 districts are lined up behind Chester Upland on the critical list.


And Sturla knows there’s not a thing he can do about it. That’s why he wants the public to raise their voices.


Or live with the consequences.

Bring on the Phillies!

The Phillies season can’t start soon enough. Or least kick off the Grapefruit League season.


That’s because what appeared to be such a promising Sixers season has hit a speed bump. Last night they lost their fifth straight game heading into the All-Star break. Doug Collins needs to use all his coaching skills to right this suddenly foundering ship.


Then there’s the Flyers and Ilya Bryzgalov. There must be a curse on this franchise when it comes to goaltenders. The Flyers gave Bryzgalov a nine-year, $51 million deal. Everyone thought he was the best goalie on the market. And of course as soon as he donned that orange and black sweater, he turned into a basket base.


It’s not too late for Bryzgalov to prove his critics wrong, to rally and carry this team through the playoffs. By the way, without Chris Pronger, whose career is now in jeopardy as he battles concussion symptoms, this team will go as far as Bryzgalov carries them.


Right now that’s not very far.


Let’s go, Phillies.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

The Daily Numbers - Feb. 22

The Daily Numbers: 34, age of Upper Chichester woman charged with having sex with a 15-year-old.


3 year deal approved by Garnet Valley School District with their teachers.


6.72 percent pay hike over the course of the deal for teachers.


2, 4 and 6 percent health care co-pay for teachers, the first time they have contributed to their health care plan.


50 Boeing union workers who protested outside the plant yesterday morning. They claim the company is sending union work to firm in Del.


200 dollar bribe authorities allege was taken by a TSA airport workers from Sharon Hill.


2 Delco fire companies, Lenni Heights and Lenni, that are planning to merge operations.


21,000 dollars, how much authorities believe a former member of the Penn-Delco School Board pilfered from a sports club account. John Green is on trial this week.


28 of April. Circle the date. That’s when Media plans a huge parade to honor returning vets.


26, age of Chester County man who police say fatally shot his father during an argument.


13,000 plateau shattered by the Down Jones yesterday, even though it retreated a bit and closed under it.


40 days of Lent starts today with the traditional Ash Wednesday observances. What are you giving up for Lent?


10 minority channels being developed by Comcast.


9.7 seconds left when Wayne Simmonds lit the lamp to pull Flyers into tie with Winnipeg.


5-4 win for orange and black in overtime.


4 straight losses for Sixers as they fall to Memphis, 89-76.


*


Call me a Phanatic: A look at the ups and downs of being a Philadelphia sports fan.Turns out Roy Halladay did not wrestle an Anaconda snake while saving the life of a man during his Amazon fishing expedition. It’s still a great story.


 


*


I Don’t Get It: Pat Meehan thinks maybe there is more to this spike in gas prices than meets the eye. Can you say closed refineries?


*


Today’s Upper: There were a lot of sighs of relief last week as 18 of 24 archdiocesan schools that appealed learned their pleas were upheld.


*


Quote Box: “It’s often said that a good deal is one no one likes.”


- Garnet Valley School Board member Ed Plasha, on the new 3-year deal with district teachers, including pay hikes and an increase in health care co-pay.

More on Catholic school closings

Catholic school closures


While we continue to wait for the ruling on Monsignor Bonner and Archbishop Prendergast high school, as well as the others on the Blue Ribbon Commission hit list, there continues to be lots of talk about school closings.


Don't miss Chris Freind's fascinating look at the surprising number of parochial elementary schools that were successfu in their appeals; 18 of 24 schools that filed appeals had them upheld by the archdiocese. CLICK HERE to read it.


I can admit that I was stunned at many of the rulings. I did not think the grade schools had much of a chance. Shows what I know.


I'll write more on the topic tomorrow. In the meantime, were you surprised at how many grade schools won their appeals?


Post a comment and get in on the conversation.




We'll be live with refinery workers tonight

We’ll be taking our show on the road tonight for our live-stream Internet ‘Live From the Newsroom’ show.

We’ll be at the union hall in Linwood talking to refinery workers about what looks to be an increasingly pessimistic future for both Sunoco’s Marcus Hook plant, and ConocoPhillips’ Trainer operation.

Both have now been idled. Workers are starting to be laid off, and the companies indicate no one is coming forward with an offer to buy them and operate them as refineries.

We’ll be joined by union leaders Denis Stephano, president of United Steelworkers Local 10-234, which represents workers at ConocoPhillips, and Jim Savage, president of USW Local 10-1, which represents workers at the Sunoco plant in South Philly. Many of those workers actually live here in Delco. We’re also hoping to be joined by Jim Miller, boss of the union representing workers at Sunoco’s Marcus Hook refinery.

A lot has been said about the refinery closings. Some have likened it to “losing a way of life.”

Tonight we’ll find out just how dire the situation is.

Join us at 7 at DelcoTimes.com. If you have a question you’d like to ask the panel, email it to me at editor@delcotimes.com and I’ll put it to the panel. You also can join our live chat tonight online.

See you at 7!

Boeing workers ticked at company

Turns out refinery workers are not the only ones unhappy in Delco.

Boeing workers were picketing yesterday along Stewart Avenue and Route 291 near their Ridley plant. They’re upset about what they claim is a betrayal by Boeing. They say the company is going back on its word that it would not off-source work.

They claim Boeing is doing just that, sending some Chinook repair work to a firm in Delaware.

Kathleen Carey has the story.

Gas pains and refinery closings: A connection?

So how do you feel about $4.25 a gallon gasoline.

You’re thrilled, I know.

And if you are wondering, as I am and as many union refinery workers down in the lower end are, that it’s a little more than a coincidence that the recent price spike at the pump comes at a time when production is being shut down at local refineries, you’re not alone.

U.S. Rep. Pat Meehan, R-7, of Drexel Hill indicated yesterday he was firing off a letter to the federal Energy Information Administration, urging that agency to assess how the closure of refineries in this region is contributing to price hikes at the pump.

“With gas prices rising and no relief in sight, here in southeastern Pennsylvania we are all elft oto wonder if this is related ot the closures of our refineries,” said Meehan. “If these closures result in $5 per gallon gas this summer, nor just for laid –off workers but everyone I represent in Congress, then they all deserve facts and answers.”

Back in September, company officials at Sunoco and ConocoPhilllips indicated they were idling their refineries in Marcus Hook, South Philadelphia and Trainer. They said they would put them on the market, but if no one came forward to buy them, they would shutter the facilities.

Production has now been halted in both the Hook and Trainer. Workers are starting to be laid off.

It’s adding insult to injury. A lot of people are being thrown out of work, and now they’re staring at $4 a gallon gas.

We’ll follow up today to find out more.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

The Daily Numbers - Feb. 21

The Daily Numbers: 3 break-ins in Norwood, Folcroft, Glenolden area believed to be the work of a Folcroft man.


30 similar break-ins the suspect could wind up being linked to by police.


21, age of man now charged in fatal weekend shooting in Chester.


3 shooting incidents in past couple of months near the intersection of Ninth and Kerlin streets in Chester.


59 times, how many times police say they’ve been called to the area.


9 building destroyed by fire at the Chester Heights Camp Meeting.


2 suspicious fires at the site in the past couple of months.


663,000 dollars, how much it will cost for artificial turf field at Strath Haven High School.


3.63 a gallon, price for gallon of gas at local Wawas.


4.25 a gallon, what some experts predict we’ll be paying this summer.


40 days of Lent on tap after today’s blowout Fat Tuesday celebrations.


23, age of suspect arrested in fatal hit-run in Bucks County.


2 people arrested after police found more than a dozen dismembered dogs inside a home in Coatesville.


73-70 loss for Villanova after leading at one point 26-8.


1.1 million dollar deal for Raul Ibanez, who joins the Yankees.


15 million dollar 1 year deal for Cole Hamels. He wants a long-term deal, but also makes it clear he wants to stay in Philly.


*


Call me a Phanatic: A look at the ups and downs of being a Philadelphia sports fan.Ryan Howard was moving awful well yesterday in Clearwater for a guy rehabbing from a ruptured Achilles tendon that was supposed to keep him out of the lineup for the first month of the season.


 


*


I Don’t Get It: $4.25 for a gallon of gas? That’s what some experts say we’ll be paying this summer. I don’t get it.


*


Today’s Upper: Is there anything better than the sight of the Phillies back in Clearwater. Yes, I guess it would be better to actually be there.


*


Quote Box: “All I ultimately want to do is play for a winning team.”


- Cole Hamels, who hopes to get a long-term deal from the Phillies.

The most dangerous place in Delco


This weekend marked the third shooting in the area, two of which have resulted in loss of life.


Here’s the update on last weekend’s fatal encounter.


This time police say it was a domestic incident that escalated into gunfire. It ended up with one person dead and three others wounded. The gunman is believed to have turned his weapon on himself. He now faces murder charges.


A week ago it was a random shooting at the Sunoco A-Plus gas station that left the new city controller with a bullet wound to her back. Luckily, it was not serious.


Police now theorize that shooting was sparked when a person at the gas station was recognized from a previous tiff at a Lower Chichester bar. Gunfire ensued.


This started back in December when the popular owner of the Sunoco, Mohammed Fareed, was gunned down outside his convenience store.


No arrest has been made in his killing.


Police indicate they have been called to the area no less than 59 times for incidents.


They have one thing in common, late-night hours and usually just after the bars close.


It’s not a new problem to Chester. But it’s one the Linder Aministration and new Chief Joe Bail need to address.

Ready for Lent

I’ve never been a big Fat Tuesday guy.
So spare me the Fasnachts, donuts or anything else. I’m not much for the whole over-indulgence before donning out sack cloth for Lent thing.
In fact, over the past couple of years, I have changed my views on Lent a bit.
Now, instead of giving something up, I try to do something that I wouldn't normally do.
Still, old habits are hard to break. It’s either that or guilt from years of having the Baltimore Catechism drilled into me. (You remember. Who made me? God made me! Yeah, that’s the one).
So once again this year in addition to doing various and sundry good deeds, I will once again attempt to go 40 days without a beer. Go ahead, call me crazy. My wife usually does.
This year I’m uppping the ante. Starting tomorrow I will swear off something else.
Swearing.
Honest.
No comments from the peanut gallery out in the newsroom if you please.
You see, it has come to my attention that I have quite the reputation around the building here in beautiful downtown Primos for my – uh, how should I describe it, “colorful” vocabulary.
Hey, I work with computers about 15 hours a day. And I’m expected not to curse?
At least not for the next 40 days.
I keep reminding myself that Easter Sunday this year coincides with the final day of the Masters, my favorite golf tournament. An oasis in the desert. Maybe I’ll celebrate with a cold beer and a rant if my man Tiger is not in the lead.
In the interim …. #@#$$%^&&*%$#$#$^%^^!@#$%^!!!!!!!!
OK, bring on Lent!

The magic of Clearwater

On my bucket list (which seems to be getting longer every day), Clearwater, Fla., is on the list.


If you’re not acquainted as to why Clearwater is near and dear to local sports fans’ hearts, it is the spring training home of the Phillies.


Looks like I’m not going to make it again this year. A daughter in law school and a son in college will do that to you.


Still, it does a heart good to see Ryan Howard working out yesterday. He looked remarkably well for a guy recovering from a ruptured Achilles tendon that some thought might force him to miss a couple of months of the season. You can watch the video here.


Now, if someone can only explain to me one of the other mysteries of the universe. How is it that Kyle Kendrick is worth $7.5 million? That’s what he got in a two-year deal this week.


In the meantime, Cole Hamels will have to settle for the one-year, $15 million contract he inked while he and the team try to hammer out a long-term deal. He talked about his desire to stay in Philly yesterday. You can see that video here.


Anyone think these guys are worrying about gas being $3.63 a gallon?


Didn’t think so.


It’s still good to see them back in Florida.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Another long week for Bonner-Prendie boosters

Ir promises to be another long week for the families and backers of Monsignor Bonner and Archbishop Prendergast.


That's because instead of learning their fate as expected on Friday, they instead found out that Archbishop Charles Chaput would instead take another week to review some new financial information concerning the four high school - including Bonner-Prendit - that the Blue Ribbon Commission targeted for closure.


There are various reports that even more money is now coming in to boost the schools and keep them open. Three of the schools appealed their fate; West Catholic was the only school that did not. But it appears as if there may be a plan to help all four high schools.


You can read my print column on Catholic schools here; our editorial on the school closings is here.


Obviously there were a lot of happy people around the county when the appeals were announced on Friday.


But not everyone.


The families of Nativity BVM in Media were stunned to find out that instead of being home to a new regional school in a merger with St. John Chrysostom, the local of the new school will instead be in Wallingford. St. John appealed the ruling; Nativity did not.


Now the families of  Nativity are crying foul.


Technically, both schools were going to close, and a new school would be created at one of the locations. But Nativity folks are now saying they did not have a chance to air their side of the issue, and now face the prospect of getting their kids to Wallingford.


In the meantime, the boosters and families of Bonner-Prendie will spend one more week on "pins and needles" as they await another fateful Friday.

Friday, February 17, 2012

The archdiocese checks in

We've now heard from the archdiocese. Here is their official advisory on this morning's press conference:

ARCHDIOCESE OF PHILADELPHIA TO ANNOUNCE FINAL DECISIONS OF THE BLUE RIBBON COMMISSION APPEALS PROCESS

FOR ELEMENTARY SCHOOLS

Decisions will be announced regarding elementary schools that appealed the Blue Ribbon Commission recommendations.

10:30 a.m.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Archdiocesan Pastoral Center

Auditorium

222 North 17th Street

Philadelphia, PA 19103

The Blue Ribbon Commission recommendations were originally announced on January 6, 2012. Following those announcements, the Archdiocese of Philadelphia established an appeals process to allow schools the opportunity to present fact-based evidence in support of their position to remain open or not merge.

The final decisions regarding the four high schools, Conwell-Egan Catholic High School; Saint Hubert Catholic High School for Girls; Monsignor Bonner and Archbishop Prendergast Catholic High School; and West Philadelphia Catholic High School are not ready to be announced at this time as information is still being clarified.

Review committees were established consisting of members of the Blue Ribbon Commission as well as Archdiocesan administrators to facilitate requests for review from parish elementary schools and high schools.

For review meetings involving elementary schools, participants included the pastors, principals, business managers from both partnering or all regionalizing schools in addition to the members of the Elementary School Review Committee.

Review meetings involving high schools consisted of members of the Blue Ribbon Commission and the Board of Education as well as Archdiocesan administrators in addition to the President, Principal, and Advisory Board Chair.

At the meetings, the review committees presented the facts considered by the Blue Ribbon Commission in reaching its recommendation. Those requesting a review were given the opportunity to present the reasoning for their request along with supporting facts and documentation.

At 10:30 a.m. the Faith In the Future website (www.faithinthefuture.com) will be updated to reflect the results of the appeals process regarding the elementary schools.

Also, at 12:00 p.m. there will be a conference call for media unable to attend at 10:30 a.m. The contact information will be communicated on Friday.

$5 million doesn't get you what it used to

Apparently $5 million doesn't go as far as it once did.

That's how much the Monsignor Bonner and Archbishop Prendergast boosters raised to save their school.

And they still don't know. The decision to the archdiocese has been pushed back a week.

School President the Rev. James Olson indicated he thinks it's a sign that Archbishop Charles Chaput is taking seriously the fundraising effort that was launched to save the school.

Reaction from Bonner-Prendie: It's torture

Here's a sampling of the kind of reaction we're hearing from Bonner and Prendie backers:

'It's unbelievable - I got two hours of sleep! They need to stop the agony. I hope this is all for the best but it's torture!'

Yep, it's going to be another long week.

Bonner-Prendie folks not happy with delay

Judging by the first few comments posted to the earlier news that the archdiocese was delaying their decision on high schools, the Bonner-Prendie community is not happy.


To put it bluntly, many of them are beginning to feel likey they are getting jerked around.


If you want to talk about it, I'm hosting a live chat later this morning after the archdiocese makes its official announcement. Use the hashtag #delcocatholic to log on, or click here.

Another week on pins & needles for Bonner-Prendie

The boosters trying desperately to keep Monsignor Bonner and Archbishop Prendergast High School alive will have to keep the faith for at least one more week.


Hard as it is to believe, the archdiocese is delaying this morning’s expected ruling on their appeal of the Blue Ribbon Commission’s recommendation that they be shut down.


Raising $5 million apparently is not enough to sway Archbishop Charles Chaput’s mind. At least not yet. He wants another week to mull over the fate of four high schools – including Bonner-Prendie on the list. One of the reasons given is that he wants to go over some new financial data.


The rest of the elementary schools are still expected to get word on their fate this morning.


There was juibilation yesterday at St. Francis de Sales in Aston. They learned their appeal had been granted. They will remain open at their current Aston site. That means St. Thomas the Apostle also will remain open in Glen Mills.


In the meantime, the appeal filed by St. John Chrysostom in Wallingford also was granted. It was originally supposed to merge with Nativity BVM at the Media location. Instead the two schools will still merge, but at the Wallingford site.


Still up in the air is the fate of the other Delco grade schools, including St. Cyril’s in East Lansdowne, which also had appealed its fate.


I will be hosting a live chat on the rulings on the Delco Catholic schools after the archdiocese holds its press update at 10:30. You can follow along here, and take part in the chat on Twitter by using the hashtag #delcocatholic.


Talk to you then.


 

Thursday, February 16, 2012

The Daily Numbers - Feb. 16

The Daily Numbers: 150 refinery workers from Delco who made the trip to Washington, D.C., to opposed shutdown of local plants.


15,000 that could be eliminated across the region by the shutdown of local refineries.


18 non-refinery jobs lost for every job lost in the shutdowns.


1,100 union members who are looking at the unemployment line.


5 million dollar grant being sought by Delaware County to aid local workers.


1 more day to wait for ruling from Archbishop Charles Chaput on appeals filed by Catholic schools targeted for closure, including Monsignor Bonner and Archbishop Prendergast.


4-3 vote by Folcroft Borough Council to can their code enforcement officer, stirring still more controversy in the town.


3 Wawa robberies admitted to by a Philadelphia man who was arrested by Upper Darby police.


30 years in law enforcement that came to an end this week with retirement of CID boss Capt. John McKenna.


24, age of pregnant woman found dead in the basement of her South Philly home.


3 killed in Upper Merion family and now the Montco D.A. is seeking the death penalty against the suspect.


3 million tickets already sold for the Phillies 2012 season.


680,000 single-game tix that went on sale at 8:30 this morning.


3 days until pitchers and catchers report to Clearwater for Phillies training camp.


65-51 loss for Villanova last night to South Florida. Not a good season for the Wildcats.


*


Call me a Phanatic: A look at the ups and downs of being a Philadelphia sports fan.Yeah, nothing says February like single-game Phillies tickets. Absolutely worth spending the night outside Citizens Bank Park.


 


*


I Don’t Get It: Refineries are being shut down, and prices at the pump are spiking. I don’t get it. Actually, I think I do.


*


Today’s Upper: Hang in there, Bonner-Prendie backers. The wait is almost over. One more day.


*


Quote Box: “It’s hard. It was a great place to work for a lot of years for a lot of people. Most of us feel that we were orchestrated into failure.”


- Union member Vince Scibello, who was in D.C. yesterday with refinery workers trying to save their jobs.


 

One more agonizing day for Bonner-Prendie

Start the countdown clock. We’re less than 24 hours from a ruling that will forever alter the long tradition of Monsignor Bonner and Archbishop Prendergast high schools.

On Friday Archbishop Charles Chaput will rule on the appeals filed by many schools – including Bonner-Prendie – to the recommendation from the Blue Ribbon Commission that they be shut down.

The panel targeted 49 schools across the region, including the two traditional single-sex high schools in Drexel Hill and seven grade schools across the county.

Now there is only one problem. So far the archdiocese has not uttered a single word on how or what time this decision is going to be announced. So we have to sit and wait.

Judging by what I’ve been hearing from the Bonner-Prendie boosters, it’s been an agonizing week.

We could not confirm reports that a group of influential boosters met with Chaput one final time this week. Maybe they wanted to remind him that there were 5 million reasons why Bonner-Prendie should be kept open.

That’s how much money they’ve raised – in a very short time – in reponse to the recommendation that the schools close their doors forever.

An anonymous donor put up a matching $2.5 million, after other donors lifted the $1.4 raised by boosters to $2.5 million.

Now all they can is wait. And pray.

Will their prayers be answered. We’ll find out Friday. And we’ll let you know as soon as we get word.

If the archdiocese holds a press conference downtown, we’ll be there and we’ll be live-tweeting from the event.

Keep checking @philheron on Twitter, and DelcoTimes.com for any updates all day today and into tomorrow.

Oh, and one other thing. Keep the faith!

It's not oil over at the pumps

You have to give it to the union workers at Sunoco and ConocoPhillips. They’re not going down without a fight.


Yesterday they made still another trek to Washington, D.C., to pressure elected officials to put more heat on the companies, which are in the process of shutting down refineries in Marcus Hook, Trainer, and South Philly.


You can read the story here. Our editorial on the situation is here.


Sunoco has said that despite talking to 150 potential suitors, no one has come forward with a legitimate offer. They are now in the process of shutting the plant down. This week they told workers there was nothing for them to do, so they should not bother showing up. Friday is their last day.


Meanwhile, anyone else notice what is happening at gas pumps these days? The price is going through the roof.


AAA reports the prices are at their highest point in more than four months.


In Philly, the average price per gallon is $3.62, up from $3.56 the week before and $3.20 a year ago.


Nationally, the average price per gallon is $3.51.


AAA reports the refineries have responded to very weak demand by cutting back on production. A report on NBC Nightly News this week linked refinery shutdowns in the Northeast with price spikes at the pump.


Yesterday in D.C., union leader Denis Stephano warned that all of us have a stake in this fight. That’s because refinery shutdowns will result in higher prices for gas, heating oil and jet fuel, he said.


Oil over? Not by a long shot.


Now both Sen. Bob Casey, D-Pa., and U.S. Rep. Pat Meehan, R-7, are planning congressional hearings on the refinery closures.


There’s still a lot about this story we don’t know. But one thing is becoming increasingly certain.


It’s going to cost all of us in ways that we haven’t even yet realized.

Phillies Phever arrives!

If it’s the middle of February, that can mean only one thing.


Phillies Phever.


That’s because Phillies single-game tickets go on sale at 8:30 this morning. And there is a long line already in place at Citizens Bank Park for the chance to cop some ducats.


As usual, a gang of guys from Ridley upheld the tradition of being first in line. They showed up yesterday afternoon to stake out their turf.


You can read the full story here. We’ll have photos later this morning.


The Phils’ pitchers and catchers report to Clearwater for their first spring training workout on Sunday.


Spring can’t be far behind.

Octomom does Delco


I have just one word for today.


Octomom.


Yes, the woman who rocketed to fame by having octuplets is in Delco. And we’ve got her – and the video.


Columnist Jack McCaffery caught up with Nadya Suleman and talked to her about her latest endeavor – pillow fighting.


CLICK HERE for Jack’s column.


Is this a great country or what?


 

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

The Daily Numbers - Feb. 15

The Daily Numbers: 5 million dollars now raised in the effort to save Monsignor Bonner/Archbishop Prendergast High School.


1.4 million dollars raised by boosters.


1 million dollars and change put up by a couple of well-to-do local folks.


2.5 million dollar match by an anonymous donor to put them at $5 million. Unreal.


2 days until the archdiocese rules filed by Bonner-Prendie and other schools among the 49 targeted for closure by a Blue Ribbon Commission.


110 workers at the Sunoco refinery in Marcus Hook laid off.


19, age of cadet at Valley Forge Military Academy charged with sexual assault against a female cadet.


78 months in prison for the Chester Heights man and former Chester County elementary school teacher charged with child porn.


500,000 dollars ripped off from a local Wachovia Bank in Brookhaven by a former financial specialist. He pleaded guilty to ripping off his own bank.


9, age of girl struck by hit-run driver in Parkside section of Philly last night.


15 Phillies spring training games to be aired by Comcast SportsNet. First game up is Saturday, March 3 vs. the Yankees.


27 points last night for Knicks sensation Jeremy Lin.


3 pointer at the buzzer to win it. The guy is amazing. Or as the New York Post described him, ‘Amasian!’


4 days until pitchers and catchers report to Clearwater for Phillies training camp.


*


Call me a Phanatic: A look at the ups and downs of being a Philadelphia sports fan.Jeremy Lin is one of the best sports stories to come around in years. One question: How could he go unnoticed for so long?


 


*


I Don’t Get It: Police in Philadelphia say a man was shot to death in a neighborhood dispute over dog droppings. I don’t get it.


*


Today’s Upper: Kudos to everyone connected to Bonner and Prendie. You did it. $5 million reasons to keep the school open.


*


Quote Box: “It’s disheartening to say the least. It’s being done like you’re a bunch of sheep doing to the slaughter.”


- Union boss Dave Miller, on layoffs announced at Sunoco plant yesterday.

Just call it the 'Miracle in Drexel Hill'


 


Just call it the “Miracle in Drexel Hill.”


Or, as we did on today’s Page One, the “$5 million miracle.”


When they made their appeal to Archbishop Charles Chaput to reverse the recommendation of the Blue Ribbon Commission that their school be closed, boosters of Monsignor Bonner and Archbishop Prendergast high school promised that they would raise $5 million toward the effort.


Mission accomplished.


That’s right. An anonymous donor is vowing to match the $2.5 million raised. Actually the group only raised $1.5 million, but some other donors are “topping off the tank,” bringing the total raised to $2.5 million. With the matching funds, they have now hit their mark.


Amazing.


Now all that is left is to wait for the archbishop’s ruling on Friday.


Actually, first we will once again revisit the “Miracle of Drexel Hill” tonight on our Live From the Newsroom live-stream Internet broadcast.


If you’re connected with Bonner-Prendie, in particular the fundraising effort that has brought them to the brink of seeing their death order rescinded, we’d like to have you on to talk about the effort.


Email me at editor@delcotimes.com, or call me at 610-622-8818. Or contact Patti Groshon. She’s helping round up some people to appear on the show.


Just keepin’ the faith!

End of the line at Sunoco

Got a call yesterday from a Sunoco worker. He was not a happy camper.


The result was the story we broke on DelcoTimes.com yesterday afternoon and the folo we ran today. You can read it here.


Sunoco is dropping the ax, laying off more than 100 workers at their Marcus Hook refinery.


Their last day is Friday.


While the worker I talked to was angry at Sunoco, he was even more peeved at both the company and his own union because, he claims, workers are being kept in the dark about what kind of package they might receive.


As he told me, his last day is Friday, and he has no idea if he’s getting a thing from the company.


All of this because the union and company are tied up in talks to determine what kind of severance package might be coming to them.


But as of right now, they don’t know a thing.


That’s what he gets after giving his life to the company.


Today, refinery workers will be back in Washington, D.C., to push elected officials to try to get answers from Sunoco.


We’ll keep you updated.


Union leader Dave Miller, president of USW 10-901, which represents workers at the Hook plant, said something I’ve been saying since Sunoco and ConocoPhillips announced their plans to get out of the refining business back in September.


“We’re losing a way of life,” Miller said.


And as Bruce Springsteen said, “it ain’t coming back.”

Octomom does Delco for pillow fight



Brace yourself, Delaware County.

“Octomom” is coming. And she’s looking for a fight.

Actually a pillow fight.

That’s right, Nadya Suleman will be squaring off in a celebrity pillow match Thursday night vs. Lisa Marie.

They’re doing a press conference tonight. Jack McCaffery, our resident boxing expert, will be there to cover all the action.

Suleman rocketed to fame when she had octuplets a couple of years ago.

The press conference is tonight at The Warehouse 24 on MacDade Boulevard in Ridley, at 7:30. The fight will be at the same place tomorrow night.

It will be part of a 7-match card featuring three one-minute rounds in which women battle it out with pillows. There’s no hitting, kicking or wrestling allowed.

A Valentine for Eagles fans

The Eagles offered a Valentine’s Day gift yesterday to the best, most passionate fans in football.

The team announced it would not hike ticket prices this year.

Can you feel the love?

The “Gold Standard” obviously realizes that an 8-8 “dream” season turned nightmare does not warrant asking your loyal fans to dig a little deeper for ducats.

A better move would have been to wave off forcing fans to buy those wretched exhibition games.

Then again, this year the scrutiny on Andy Reid and Juan Castillo is going to be so white-hot, even the preseason games will likely draw an intense reaction.

In a statement, Eagles President Joe Banner said the team was looking forward to “another exciting season.”

Did I miss the last one?

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

The Daily Numbers - Feb. 14

The Daily Numbers: 52, age of Bhavnaben Ingle, who now faces murder charges in the death of her husband.


25, age of her son Parth, who also is charged in his father’s killing.


42 years after they first met at Upper Darby High, two classmates will celebrate their 2nd year together. Happy Valentine’s Day!


70, age of former Magisterial District Judge Gerald Liberace, who is appealing his conviction on corruption of minors charges.


1.5 million dollars raised by the boosters trying to save Monsignor Bonner and Archbishop Prendergast high schools.


3 days until the archdiocese rules filed by Bonner-Prendie and other schools among the 49 targeted for closure by a Blue Ribbon Commission.


30 deer, how many Rose Valley officials are hoping to reduce the herd by during a planned hunt Feb. 16-March 31.


31 million dollars in fed budget for dredging project to make Delaware River 5 feet deeper.


1,600 employees at Philadelphia Gas Works, which the city is now considering selling off. The city says it could raise $146 to $496 million.


14, age of eighth-grader in Philly charged with assaulting a 60-year-old male teacher.


39, age of Chester County man charged in fatal hit-run after the Super Bowl.


327 people who took part in a Soul Train line yesterday on the steps of the Art Museum in Philly, thus breaking a record.


133 thefts from vehicles believed to be the work of 1 man in Dover, Del.


500 dollars a share for Apple stock yesterday.


15 straight losses for the Charlotte Bobcats, who fell to the Sixers last night..


23 points off the bench for Lou Williams to lead Sixers.


2 game suspension for Flyers Zac Rinaldo for hit on Red Wings player.


5 days until pitchers and catchers report to Clearwater for Phillies training camp.


*


Call me a Phanatic: A look at the ups and downs of being a Philadelphia sports fan.Listen carefully and you can almost hear the sound of baseballs slapping into leather mitts.


 


*


I Don’t Get It: A student has been charged with attacking his teacher in Leeds Middle School in Mount Airy. He is a 14-year-old eighth grader. I don’t get it.


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Today’s Upper: Kudos to everyone out there looking for love today. We have two examples in the paper today of why you should never give up looking.


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Quote Box: “My car finally purrs since Joe came into my life. He finally purrs after nine years.”


- Charlotte Miller, talking about finding her life mate, Joe Kern.


 

Long week for Bonner-Prendie, Catholic schools

It promises to be a very long week for the boosters of Monsignor Bonner and Archbishop Prendergast high schools.

While no one will confirm it for us, it is beginning to sound more and more as if the much-anticipated ruling on their appeal to stay open will be made on Friday.

Originally Archbishop Charles Chaput had indicated he would make his decision tomorrow. That apparently got pushed back because of the details surrounding the funeral for Cardinal Anthony Bevilacqua.

Now it looks like Friday is the day. If that changes we’ll let you know.

We’ll obviously have full coverage as soon as it breaks.

It will also be a big day for several archdiocesan grade schools in Delco that likewise filed formal appeals to the Blue Ribbon Commission’s recommendation that they be closed.

Stay tuned. And by all means, if you hear anything, feel free to email me at editor@delcotimes.com, or tweet me at @philheron. Or just pick up the phone and call me at 610-622-8818.

And most of all, keep the faith!

The day reserved for romance

Today is the day reserved for matters of the heart.


Otherwise known as the stimulus package for florists, card companies and candy makers.


Happy Valentine’s Day.


I know, I’m such a romantic.


Today we feature stories on a couple who met on a SEPTA trolley, and another who found love the second time around when they got reacquainted at their 40th high school reunion.


On Sunday, we featured a story that we had been promoting on Twitter and Facebook, looking for people who decided to profess their love through tattoos. You can read that one here.


I’m not a tattoo guy, not that there’s anything wrong with that. It’s just not me.


All I know is that later this year I will celebrate 30 years here in beautiful downtown Primos. My wife will tell you that this newspaper has been the real love of my life. I think she is only partially kidding.


But I can also tell you that if I have been here three decades, then I have been married to her for exactly 29 years. It’s true, I got here in June 1982, and we got married one year later in June 1983.


For some reason, she has not kicked my sorry behind to the curb yet.


She has spent entirely too much of those 29 years alone, knowing the man sleeping next to her as the guy who showed up on weekends.


She was pretty much on her own while I was working nights for all those early years. Our kids are the young adults they are in large part because of her. And today she spends too much time in an empty house because I am preoccupied with being “wired-in” 24 hours a day.


I owe her more than I’ll ever be able to repay.


Here’s a down payment.


Happy Valentine’s Day!

All Whitney all the time

Of the many things I did not need to know today, I suppose right up there near the top would be photos of the tub where Whitney Houston’s body was found.

But that is what one website is delivering today. Look, I’m in this business, too. I know what drives a lot of it. And I know that for the next week we are going to hear more about Whitney Houston than I ever wanted to know.

As I indicated yesterday, I don’t need to know all the tawdry details surrounding Whitney Houston’s death. All I need to know is that she is gone.

And that incredible voice has fallen silent.

Actually, it appears as if the voice has been gone for awhile now.

If that’s the case, I don’t need to know that either.

I don’t look at Whitney Houston as anything other than a fabulous entertainer. I didn't look at her as a role model, much the same as I try not to do that with athletes or other high-profile celebrities.

If you are intrigued about her descent from the top of the entertainment world, to the clutches of drug abuse and finally her death in a Lost Angeles hotel room bath tub, be my guest.

You’ll be fed a steady diet of if all week.

This newspaper will continue to cover Whitney updates, along with plans for her funeral.

Me? I’ll just remember her voice.

Monday, February 13, 2012

The Daily Numbers - Feb. 13

The Daily Numbers: 2 people shot at a gas station in Chester Friday afternoon, including the new city controller.


25, age of Brennon Johnson, who was the apparent target of the attack. He’s now been charged in an incident a couple of weeks ago at Duffer’s in Lower Chi.


610-447-7908, the number for residents who have information on the shooter to call and talk to police.


7 elementary schools and 1 high school (Bonner-Prendie) that are waiting on word from the archdiocese on their appeals of recommendation they be closed. A ruling is expected this week.


30 percent hike in taxes in Colwyn that continues to spark controversy.


20 to 45 minute delays expected during construction project on the Platt Bridge in South Philly, starting Feb. 20.


1 ticket sold in Rhode Island with all 6 winning numbers in Saturday night’s Powerball game.


336 million dollars, how much that ticket is now worth.


1 ticket worth $1 million sold in Pa.


3.62, average price per gallon for gas in the Philly region.


3.56, what we were paying last week.


3.20, what we were paying last year.


177 month low for demand for gasoline, yet prices continue to go up.


6 Grammy Awards for British sensation Adele.


48, age of pop icon Whitney Houston, who died over the weekend.


4-3 loss for the Flyers in Detroit last night.


20 straight wins at home for the Red Wings.


6 days until pitchers and catchers report to Spring Training in Clearwater.


*


Call me a Phanatic: A look at the ups and downs of being a Philadelphia sports fan.Only the red shirt is the same. Tiger Woods failed to seal the deal again yesterday at Pebble Beach. Tiger now is just another good golfer.


 


*


I Don’t Get It: Some things don’t change in Chester. Administrations change. Street violence does not.


*


Today’s Upper: Kudos all those heartfelt memorials offered up to the memory of Whitney Houston at last night’s Grammy Awards.


*


Quote Box: “It’s not because it was a city official. It’s because or what tragedy could have occurred on any given day at 3 in the afternoon at Ninth and Kerlin. It’s a couple of blocks from our high school.”


- Chester Mayor John Linder, at press conference on latest shooting in city, in which his city controller was injured.

New administration, old problem in Chester

Some things don’t change.


The new administration in Chester is battling an old problem.


Street violence.


And this time it affected a member of the new administration.


New city Controller Edith Blackwell was struck by a bullet when gunshots rang out at a city gas station at Ninth and Kerlin streets Friday afternoon.


Luckily, she was not seriously injured.


Now both the new mayor and his new police chief, longtime Chester officer Joe Bail, are facing one more familiar problem.


They want the community to come forward to tell them what they know.


You can read the latest on the investigation into the shooting here.


No one Democrat – or Republican – is going to change what is ailing Chester.


City residents are going to have to do that themselves.


They can start now.

The way I will remember Whitney Houston

Spare me all the tawdry details of the fall of Whitney Houston.


You can read them elsewhere.


Yes, she had everything. And yes, she threw it all away.


For me, Whitney Houston will only mean one thing.


That Voice.


And one song. This one. It’s been done by a million people. No one has come close to this.


A lot of people have been asked to sing it. Most butcher it. It is not the easiest song to sing. Many stars simply insist on twisting it into something that is almost unrecognizable.


Not Whitney. Her version of the National Anthem, delivered at the 1991 Super Bowl, is simply majestic.


And why shouldn’t it be.


After all, once you tear everything else away, there remains one thing:


The voice.


Life's not a beach for Tiger

Forgive me if I’m a bit cranky this morning.

I’m adjusting to the fact that it is, after all, winter. Guess I got spoiled by all those 50-degree days. Walking out into that frigid wind yesterday afternoon, and again this morning, reminded me that it is February, after all.

Something else yesterday reminded me that it’s dead in the middle of February.

No, not the fact that tomorrow is Valentine’s Day. Yesterday was the ATT National Pro-Am at Pebble Beach. It's one of my favorite golf tournaments of the year. It's worth it just for the scenery. But I was looking forward to yesterday for another reason, My man Tiger was back on the prowl.

Pebble Beach is on my bucket list. Sure I’d love to play it. But I’d settle for just seeing it. Walking the fairways. Strolling down and traipsing along the beach.

The weather wasn’t even all that nice this year, but the place still looks spectacular.

I’ve always wanted to rent a little two-seater convertible and drive the coastline out there.

But something else was bothering me yesterday.

My guy let me down again. I had gone on record with some golfing buddies on Thursday that Tiger Woods was going to win Pebble Beach. And for three days, it looked like he might do just that.

But a funny thing happened on Sunday.

Again.

The guy in the red shirt, the guy who used to own Sunday, the guy who used to beat most guys just by walking onto the first tee, went into reverse again.

Woods was in good position going into Sunday's final round, in second place just a few shots off the lead.

But he – and everyone else – got smoked by Phil Mickelson, who shot six under to win the tournament.

Tiger couldn’t make anything, wound up shooting 2 over and wound up 15th on the leaderboard.

I still think Tiger Woods, who now has not won on the PGA Tour for more than two years, will win this year. It might even be at the Masters.

But I don’t think he will ever again approach being the dominant golfer who the closest thing to a sure bet that the sports world has ever known.

Now he’s just a good golfer. In a tour jam-packed with good golfers.

At least for me, the game’s not nearly as much fun this way.

Friday, February 10, 2012

The Daily Numbers - Feb. 10

The Daily Numbers: 2010 murder in Chester of Rahum Hicks that was solved yesterday with arrest of suspect.


2011 murder of Saleen Allen, who was gunned down on June 19, that remains unsolved.


28 citations for speeding on I-95 issued by state police in an operation dubbed ‘Operation Yellow Jacket.’ Undercover police manned vehicles dressed like PennDOT workers.


1.4 million, how much has been raised so far by boosters of Monsignor Bonner and Archbishop Prendergast in effort to save the school.


2.5 million, how much an anonymous benefactor apparently is willing to pony up in a matching offer if the group can reach that level themselves. That means they need to raise another $1.1 million.


13 million dollars, how much the Chester Upland School District says it needs to keep operating the schools this year.


9.8 million, how much Chester Community Charter School says it is owed by the school district and the state.


8.3 million dollars, how much Chester Upland is vowing to cut if they get the state funding.


8.7 million dollar loan the district wants the state to forgive.


2 robbers being sought by police after they held up a Main Line Wawa last night.


27, age of woman from Chester County charged with having sex with a 17-year-old student at a Christian school in Rockville, Md.


1.9 million dollars for a library to be named for Sen. Arlen Specter that has now been approved by Gov. Corbett. He ridiculed the move while he was running for office.


10 million dollar goal for social services announced yesterday for the annual Catholic Charities Appeal.


4-3 win for Flyers over Maple Leafs last night.


6 game goal-scoring drought snapped by Scott Hartnell and Max Talbot.


9 days until pitchers and catchers report to Spring Training in Clearwater.


*


Call me a Phanatic: A look at the ups and downs of being a Philadelphia sports fan.How hot are the Sixers? Tonight’s game at the Wells Fargo Center against the L.A. Clippers is sold out. Already.


 


*


I Don’t Get It: The amount of time spent on the weather around here. Yes, we’re getting a little more snow Saturday. No reason to panic … or invade the local supermarket.


*


Today’s Upper: Good to see Chester police knock down one of the city’s unsolved homicides with an arrest in the 2010 killing of Rahim Hicks.


*


Quote Box: “I am very pleased this individual has been brought into the light. I am faithful in the justice system, especially the Delaware County justice system.”


- Tyrone Fitzgerald, uncle of murder victim Rahim Hicks.

Casey ups ante in refinery fight

U.S. Sen. Bob Casey is about to up the ante on Sunoco and ConocoPhillips.

The Democrat will be back in Marcus Hook for a noon press conference at which he is expected to discuss the impact the possible closure of the local refineries will have on the local workforce as well as energy prices on the East Coast.

Sunoco announced back in September that they were getting out of the refinery business. They indicated they would put their iconic Marcus Hook refinery up for sale, and that if no buyer came forward, they would shutter the facility. The same would hold true for their refinery in South Philly.

Two weeks later ConocoPhillips said they would do the same with their refinery in Trainer. Only they were speeding up the process, idling the plant and preparing to lay off workers.

Workers at the Sunoco plant were dismayed to hear from the company last week that there is no buyer interested in the Marcus Hook plant, despite discussions with as many as 150 suitors.

It’s also expected that Casey could call for Senate hearings into the potential plant closings.

We’ll have all the details from the press conference, which is set for the United Steelworkers Union Hall in Linwood, at 12:15.

And we’ll be back in the Hook tomorrow for another huge rally being held from 1-6 p.m. Stay with us as we stay on top of one of the biggest economic stories to hit the county in years.

More drama on the Catholic school front

The closure of a slew of schools across the archdiocese has claimed another victim.


Brother Tim Ahern, the president of West Catholic High School, has resigned his post effective immediately, the archdiocese announced yesterday.


Ahern had found himself in the center of a firestorm because of his decision not to appeal the ruling of the archdiocese Blue Ribbon Commission that West be closed. It was the only one of the four high schools not to do so.


Ahern did so because the numbers told him there was no future for West Catholic. It wasn’t necessarily that he would not like to see the school continue, but the financial situation – due mostly to declining enrollment - simply was not one that he foresaw being reversed.


More than that, Ahern did not want to get anyone’s hopes up unnecessarily, only to have them dashed once again.


That obviously also has been much on the mind of the Rev. James Olson, the president of Monsignor Bonner and Archbishop Prendergast High School in Drexel Hill.


We got word yesterday that if the boosters looking to save the school – or at least a merged version of it – could get their fundraising efforts to $2.5 million (they're at about $1.5 million now), an anonymous benefactor would fork over a matching $2.5 million. That would get them to the $5 million threshold that Olson says is needed to make the school viable into the future.


No one yesterday would confirm the benefactor, but as with almost everything else about this story, it was blazing across the Internet via Facebooka and Twitter.


We also heard that there could be a delay in the ruling on the appeals from Archbishop Charles Chaput, due in part to him being preoccupied with the funeral of Cardinal Anthony Bevilacqua. A ruling was expected on Wednesday, Feb. 15. Now all the archdiocese is saying is that they expect a ruling to come down sometime in mid-February. That could be the 15th, or it could be later.


In the meantime, the wait is proving tough for all involved.


Staff writer Jeff Wolfe has more here. And we’ll have another preview on Monday to what should be a huge week for Catholic education, both here in Delaware County and across the region.