Thursday, May 31, 2012

The Daily Numbers - May 31

The Daily Numbers: 40 percent of the entire state budget that is devoted to education, as pointed out by Gov. Tom Corbett.

1.1 billion dollars devoted to pension payments by the state this year.

1.6 billion, the amount owed next year.

4.3 billion dollars owed in 2016-17.

2003, when James Amabile of Ridley vanished. He has not been seen or heard from since.

2 heists at a bank in Marcus Hook days apart now believed to be the work of a borough man.

16, age of alleged victim in rape case against 29-year-old Ridley man. He says the sex was consensual.

19 new members inducted into the Springfield Hall of Fame.

2 court rulings that went against Chester Community Charter School in their fight with the state and Chester Upland.

87, age of man whose death is being attributed to the recent heat wave. He was working in his yard in Roslyn at the time.

161 point decline for the Dow yesterday.

10 dollars below its initial IPO share price for Facebook offering.

52, age of man who apologized in court yesterday for incident in which he threw a cup of hot coffee at a clerk. He will face trial for assault.

5 students felled for some reason at a school in Lehigh County. Investigators found no reason why the kids passed out.

3 victims who have now described attacker who sexually assaulted them in Pennypack Park in Philly.

17 people arrested in a cocaine ring that was running drugs from New York City to Philly.

10-6 win for the Phils over the Mets last night, thanks to home runs from pinch hitter Carlos Ruiz to tie it in the 8th and the game winner from Jimmy Rollins in the 9th.

0 wins in 8 starts this year for Cliff Lee.

2 HRs and 8 RBIs for Ty Wigginton in series vs. Mets.

2 scoreless innings from relievers Antonio Bastardo and Jose Contreras.

3 hits for both Rollins and Juan Pierre at the top of the lineup.

5-4 win for Radnor over Central League rival Garnet Valley in boys lacrosse.

2 wins for 49-year-old Jamie Moyer, who was designated for release by the Rockies.

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Call me a Phanatic: A look at the ups and downs of being a Philadelphia sports fan.Anyone care to explain to me how Cliff Lee can possibly have two less wins than Jamie Moyer? In fact, Lee has yet to win a game in his eight starts.

 

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I Don’t Get It: A dispute between mother and son got a bit out of hand in Upper Darby. Police say mom hit her offspring with a baseball bat. I don’t get it.

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Today’s Upper: Kudos to all those who took part in the Red, White and Blue Mass at Annunciation BVM school to honor emergency personnel. The school is due to merge with St. Denis next fall.

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Quote Box: “So if I’m going to propose increasing money for education, who do we take it from?

- Gov. Tom Corbett, yesterday talking about the state budget.

Going face-to-face with Gov. Corbett

I had a chance to join a group of editors for a sit-down with Gov. Tom Corbett yesterday.

I had solicited questions from readers – in particular those in the Upper Darby School District – who are irate about some drastic cuts in the district.

In Upper Darby they are proposing raising taxes, slashing teachers, and axing special classes in art and music for elementary children.

A lot of people are blaming Gov. Corbett and his austere budget for all these problems.

Here’s the good news for Upper Darby parents who are steamed at these developments.

Corbett has heard you. He understands your concern. He really does not want school district to make these kinds of cuts.

Now the bad news. Corbett is not changing his mind when it comes to the budget.

Basically he said, as our front page declares today, that the “Buck Stops Here.”

He admitted that his budget put local administrators in a tight spot, but said they needed to make the tough calls at the local level. In Upper Darby, that means about 50 fewer teachers, no special classes in art and music at the elementary level, and no language and tech classes in the middle schools.

You can read the stories here, and here.

We’ve also editorialized on the predicament Corbett finds himself in, a Republican governor whose party controls both the state House and Senate, yet seems to be making no one happy, including some in his own party. You can read that one here.

I specifically asked the governor something that many of the parents in Upper Darby have asked for – a meeting with Corbett. I even went so far as to point out that he doesn’t have to come to Upper Darby. The parents are going to him. They’re taking a caravan of buses to Harrisburg next Wednesday to protest the budget cuts. Corbett checked his calendar, then said he would be “in and out” on Wednesday.

I get the feeling the parents will make their presence known.

The rally in Harrisburg comes one day after another public hearing Tuesday night on the Upper Darby budget, which is sure to draw another packed house.

Then on Thursday we will be presenting another panel of parents on a special Thursday night edition of ‘Live From the Newsroom.’ Should be interesting as the parents have made clear they did not particularly care for Gil Spencer’s latest column belittling their fate. You can read that one – and their comments – here.

Stay tuned!

Funny, he doesn't look Italian

The face that accompanies my column and blog is all about being Irish. The nose is a dead giveaway.

But last night I turned Italian – at least for one night. I hope to do the same on Sunday. And it is not for the traditional Sunday 1 p.m. dinner with my in-laws.

Last night we used our ‘Live From the Newsroom’ live-stream broadcast to preview one of the best events of the summer in Delaware County. I’m talking about the third annual Italian American Heritage Festival.

It takes place noon-6 p.m. Sunday at Rose Tree Park. And here’s the best part – it’s free!

You don’t have to be Italian to take part in the fun, you just have to enjoy great food, music, culture, authors, actors and entertainers.

My special thanks to Barbara Zippi, the force behind the festival, for joining us last night, along with Sandee Bengel, who will be performing and doing interviews at the park, Donna Viso, of Viso’s Bakery in Aston, who brought along a bunch of scrumptious Italian desserts (which were last seen being devoured in the newsroom) and Barry Wahrhaftig, of Hot Club of Philly, who gave us a taste of the musical offerings he’ll be serving up Sunday.

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

Make sure you head to Rose Tree Park on Sunday. The Daily Times and DelcoTimes.com will be there. We'll be doing another live-stream from the park. Stop by out tent to chat – and to watch the Irish editor try to pull off being Italian for a day.

Editor finds himself in a pickle(ball)

That image that appeared in Wednesday’s Daily Times was not photoshopped. There is a new dress code for this year’s Delco Senior Games. Button down shirt, tie, slacks and loafers are required.
Not really. But that’s what I was decked out in as I joined columnist Gil Spencer for a demonstration of pickleball, the newest edition to the Senior Games lineup. Here’s the bad news. I proved a fairly inept pickleball player. Here’s the good news. The game is a blast. Think of a combination of ping pong and tennis played with something like a wiffle ball. While it chagrins me to know that I actually have qualified for the Senior Games for a few years now, with games like pickleball in the mix, they can count me in. My thanks to all the folks out in Concord Township, who hosted us in their spectacular new Brandywine Youth Club O’Donoghue Field House. And in particular for Maris Grove residents Betty Allcorn and Betsey Cheeseum, who I think took it easy on me and Gil in defeating us in our little expedition. The Senior Games kick off on Tuesday. You can get all the details and the full schedule at www.delcoseniorgames.org.

Phils going over a Cliff? Hardly

Can someone explain to me how Cliff Lee can still have zero wins after starting eight games?

That’s two less wins than the ageless Jamie Moyer, the 49-year-old wunderkind who was released by the Rockies this week.

Lee pitched well again last night, giving up three runs on seen hits, but he still has a big goose egg in the win column to show for it. His ERA is a solid 3.00.

The good news is that the Phils rallied late, getting a homer from this year’s hero, Carlos Ruiz, who came off the bench and homered to tie the game in the eighth. Jimmy Rollins’ homer in the ninth won it.

CLICK HERE to read Ryan Lawrence's game story.

Lee was long gone by then.

Even better news? The Marlins beat the Nationals again, sweeping their series and further tightening the bunched NL East. The Phils are just three games back, though still residing in last place, looking up at the Braves, Mets, Miami and Nats.

But 3 games out with the injuries they’ve incurred? I’ll take it.

 

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

The Daily Numbers - May 30

The Daily Numbers: 2 suspects in custody and 3rd being sought in shooting that wounded 12-year-odl girl in Darby Borough.

23, age of suspected shooter in Darby.

8.85 million dollar shortfall in the Chester Upland School District budget.

53 million dollar budget in Interboro that holds line on taxes after residents feared a big tax hike.

1,000 County Courthouse employees forced out into 90-degree weather after a bomb threat yesterday morning. Special dogs were brought in to sweep the buildings but nothing was found.

1 p.m., when people were allowed to return to the courthouse.

200 dollar a month check for disabled adults that could be cut under Pa. budget plan.

4 alleged victims in the case against Jerry Sandusky who want to remain anonymous. There is a hearing on the case today amid rumors of a plea deal.

2 months of testimony that ended yesterday in the Philly priest abuse trial. Closing arguments are set for Thursday.

5 hours, how long the Schuylkill Expressway was closed yesterday after a crash involving a tractor-trailer. There were no injuries.

90, age of woman injured in purse-snatch incident in a supermarket in Gladwyne.

92, high temperature yesterday, which we reached at 3:59 p.m. Today's high will only hit 86, with less humidity.

6-8 weeks, how long Phillies ace Roy Halladay is supposed to be on the shelf with a sore shoulder.

15-day disabled list, where he landed yesterday.

60 million dollars, how much the Phillies have tied up in players on disabled list, with Halladay, Chase Utley and Ryan Howard.

3 more days of OTAs for the Eagles starting Wednesday at the Nova Care Center.

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

Why do I get the feeling that this problem with Roy Halladay's shoulder has been lingering since spring training. I don't necessarily think either him or the team has been all that forthcoming with the details. I wouldn't hold my breath waiting for that info now.

I Don’t Get It: An innocent little girl in Darby Borough had a pretty honest question after she got caught in the crossfire of a gunfight in the borough. That kind of thing should not happen to kids.

Today’s Upper: Kudos to Mother Nature for providing some relief from that late spring heat wave, without necessarily knocking out power with those storms.

Quote Box: “What did I do to deserve this?"

- 12-year-old victim of shooting in Darby Borough.

Feelings for Corbett come through loud & clear in Upper Darby

No wonder Gov.Tom Corbett doesn't necessarily want to sit down with parents and educators in Upper Darby.

I got a feel for what he could expect yesterday when I asked readers what they would like to ask the governor. I am going to get that chance this afternoon when Corbett sits down with a group of editors from our newspaper group in Norristown.

Corbett and his budget has been in the crosshairs ever since the Upper Darby School District announced a realignment plant that included a tax hike and some drastic cuts, including lots of teacher jobs.  But the thing that has really touched a nerve in the community is the plan to eliminate special classes in arts and music for elementary school kids.

A lot of fingers have been pointing at Harrisburg, in particular the governor's mansion.

The responses I got yesterday made it pretty clear to me that a lot of people are holding Corbett and his 'hold the line' budgets responsible.

This response kind of summed up their feelings: 'Ask him what he's going to do after his one term as governor."

I'll tell you who else should be concerned about  Corbett's rampant unpopularity. That would be state Rep. Nick Micozzie, R-163. He's represented Upper Darby for as long as anyone can remember, but with Corbett at the top of the ticket in two years, Micozzie, already facing the challenge of a rapidly changing demographic in the district, will have his hands full.

It's kind of a shame. No one has worked harder or longer in Harrisburg toward rectifying the problems with education funding. Now his district has become ground zero in the battle.

All eyes in the state will be on what happens in Upper Darby.

I'll let you know what happens this afternoon in Norristown.

By the way, don't bother looking for that live-stream of the governor's session. He's nixed that idea. Judging by the feelings of some folks in Upper Darby, I'm not sure I blame him.


We'll be talking Italian tonight on 'Live From the Newsroom'

Everything I know about Italian comes from my wife. That won't stop me from putting on my best Italian act tonight when our live-stream Internet broadcast, 'Live From the Newsroom,' showcases one of the biggest events in the county. I'm talking about the Delaware County Italian Festival, which is set for Rose Tree Park this Sunday. This event draws thousands every year and we'll be giving you a sneak peek on the show. Join us at 7 as Barbara Zippi gives us a glimpse of what is on tap this Sunday. Here's a hint. It will involve food. Lots of food. What would an Italian festival be without it? Join our live chat during the show. See you at 7!

Dagger in the heart for Phils' hopes

The Phillies uphill slog in the National League East just got steeper.

A lot steeper.

The whispers that had surrounded ace right-hander Roy Halladay since his spring efforts in Clearwater turned into headlines.

He's going on the shelf. And not just for the 15 days that he's been placed on the disabled list. The team now estimates Halladay will be out six to eight weeks. In the heart of the summer. That's a dagger to the heart of the Phillies' chances of continuing their reign atop the National League East.

Halladay joins Chase Utley and Ryan Howard on the MIA list for this suddenly very mediocre looking team.

How far have the Phils fallen? Well, I'll let columnist Jack McCaffery take it from here.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

The Daily Numbers - May 29

The Daily Numbers: 1 suspect caught on video in fatal shooting in Chester Monday.

610-447-8431, the number to call if you recognize the guy whose photo is on P. 1 today.

12, age of girl who was caught in crossfire in Darby Borough yesterday. A neighborhood argument escalated into gunshots.

2 suspects now in custody in the shooting. A 3rd is still being sought.

89, yesterday's high temperature. An excessive heat warning remains in place through tonight, when thunderstorms are expected to bring us some relief!

1.5 percent tax hike on tap in Chichester School District.

63 million dollar renovation project at Haverford Middle School showed off for officials redently.

3.8 cent decline in average price of gas at the pumps in the Philly region last week.

3.67 a gallon, what we're paying at the pumps on average.

6 RBIs for Ty Wigginton as the Phils topped the Mets, 8-4.

8 wins for Cole Hamels.

1-3 mark in his last 5 starts for Roy Halladay.

2 innings, all Halladay lasted on Sunday. He will see doctor in Philly today because of recurring soreness in his shoulder.

3 more days of OTAs for the Eagles starting Wednesday at the Nova Care Center.

Call me a Phanatic: A look at the ups and downs of being a Philadelphia sports fan. Most Phillies fans are holding their breath as we await word on examination of the right shoulder of Roy Halladay today.

I Don’t Get It: Darby top cop Bob Smythe was not amused at the gunplay that ended with a 12-year-old girl being wounded Monday. He referred to the suspects as 'morons.' Sounds about right.

Today’s Upper: Kudos to all those who remembered the real meaning of the holiday yesterday and took time to salute our troops.

Quote Box: “She is an innocent person and these morons come out with a gun."

- Chief Bob Smythe, on shooting in Darby Borough that left little girl wounded when she was caught in crossfire.

What would you like to ask Gov. Corbett?

Ever since the Upper Darby School District announced its controversial - and extremely unpopular - 'realignment' program, including cuts of the special classes in music and art at the elementary level, there is one thing I have heard again and again from parents and others concerned about the effect. A lot of those people - both school district officials and parents - have been pointing an accusing finger at Harrisburg, in particular Gov. Tom Corbett, for the current fiscal crisis.
They believe his budgets have been underfunding education, and they have not been shy about saying it. What they have really wanted is for Corbett to come here to Upper Darby and sit down with them and talk about education funding. He's not doing that, but I might have an alternative. Gov. Corbett is going to sit down with a group of newspaper editors from our Journal Register Company group of newspapers across the Philly region Wednesday in Norristown. I will be there, face-to-face with the governor. I have some questions for him, but what I'm really interested in is what readers - particularly those in Upper Darby - would like to ask the governor. Email me your questions for the governor at editor@delcotimes.com and I'll try to get him to answer them. Then make sure you check out DelcoTimes.com at 1:30 Wednesday afternoon for a special live-stream of our editorial board meeting with the governor. He's not coming to Upper Darby, at least not yet. But you can still have your voice heard. Let me know what you want asked.

Ahhhhhh! Hazy, hot & humid

Around these parts, they are the siren call of summer. Even if it is only late May. The three H's - hazy, hot and humid - have made a late-spring arrival in the region. When it comes to weather, I'm a bit of an oddball. I actually like these conditions. The hotter the better. Humidity? Air thick enough to cut with a knife? Bring it on. There is nothing I like more than being able to wear as little as possible - don't panic, I still don a T-shirt and shorts - and be set for the day. Unfortunately, that kind of attire won't work for the office. But to say that I enjoyed this weekend's early dose of summer is a bit of an understatement. Actually, I loved it. I spent just about every minute outside. My wife and kids actually held out until about noon on Sunday. Then I saw them start the process of closing the windows, a sure sign they were firing up the central air. They didn't have to do it for me. I hate air-conditioning. Just like I hate winter. I didn't freeze all winter to turn on the 'air' at the first sign of summer. The rest of the family doesn't exactly see it that way. I took in the morning Memorial Day parade in town, then manned the barbecue, all the time sweating with a smile on my face. I could not help but smile when, as we got ready to sit down for dinner, my wife commented that she thought there was something wrong with the air-conditioning. It was not shutting off and the thermostat was rising. Sure enough, a call to the sparked a visit by our AC tech. He replaced one part, and said we should keep the air off for a couple of hours, then give it another shot. I tried to feign being upset. I couldn't fool the wife and kids. Not having the air didn't bother me in the least. Last night when my wife flipped the air back on, it became obvious it was still not up to snuff. The techs will be back today. But not before I spent a lovely night, with the windows wide open, no covers, listening to the sounds of summer outside. Now that's what I call the unofficial start of summer.

Phils' fans hold breath as 'Doc' pays visit to doctor

We interrupt the general euphoria that surrounded Ty Wigginton's career day yesterday - 6 RBIs to power the Phils and Cole Hamels over the Mets - to bring you this dose of reality.

The doc is in need of a doctor. Ace righthander Roy Halladay, affectionately known as 'Doc,' will be back in Philadelphia today to have his ailing right shoulder looked at.

Forget what happens on the field. What happens in that doctor's office likely will be the most important thing that has happened to the Phils so far this season, one that has seen them struggle mightily again at the plate because of the absences of injured Chase Utley and Ryan Howard.

But the loss of Halladay for any lengthy period of time might be a death blow to this shaky Phils' season.

We'll bring you the update as soon as we get it.

In the meantime, if you instead want to look at the bright side, here's the details on Wigginton's monster day yesterday.

Monday, May 28, 2012

'American Homecomings' salutes Memorial Day

Every year we say the same thing.

Today is not really about the "unofficial start of the summer season." Or a sale at the mall or your local car dealer. Or a barbecue or opening the pool for the summer.

It's easy to forget the true meaning of Memorial Day. That's why I am especially proud to be able to take part in a very special year-long effort focusing on veterans issues.

The newspapers and websites that make up the company I work for, Journal Register Company, as well as our new partners at Media News Group and our new umbrella group Digital First Media, are taking a very special year-long look at veterans and in particular the issues some of them are facing as they return from service in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Today we remember those who gave their lives in service to their country. For those who came back, some of their struggles are just beginning.

'American Homecomings' is chronicling the stories of some of those vets. We will follow them for a full year, as well as listing support groups that offer crucial services.  There's also a place for readers to post their thoughts.

Today, in honor of Memorial Day, we are presenting nine vignettes, talking to Iraq and Afghanistan vets about what the holiday means to them.

You can read it here.

To check out our entire 'American Homecomings' package, CLICK HERE.

To share your thoughts on the holiday and issues important to our veterans,  you can visit www.Facebook.com/AmericanHomecomings

Happy Memorial Day!

Remember the fallen at 3 p.m.

Longtime Brookhaven resident Carmella LaSpada will once again today mark the holiday with her very own special salute. It's one we can all emulate. LaSpada simply wants the entire country to take a moment at exactly 3 p.m. to mark a moment of silence to honor those who have fallen in service to their country. LaSpada, who now lives in Washington, D.C., heads an organization called No Greater Love, which works to honor our soldiers. She has been pushing the issue of a national moment of silence on Memorial Day for several years now. Doesn't seem like a lot to ask. Remember, today is not about sales at the mall, or barbecues, or the unofficial start of summer. Take a moment at 3 p.m. to remind yourself and those you hold dear of the high price so many have paid so we can enjoy this holiday. Thanks for reminding us again, Carmella.

No holiday for Halladay, worried Phils' fans

That Big Gulp you heard yesterday afternoon was not an early Memorial Day celebration at 7-Eleven.

It was the collective Phillies Nation reacting to the news that their worst fear was coming true. Roy Halladay is ailing. He left yesterday's game after the second inning with a sore shoulder.

So much for a holiday for the Phils, their fans and Roy Halladay.

This is about the last thing this struggling team needs. They already have Vance Worley on the DL. Now the questions that have surrounded Halladay all year since his velocity seemed off in Clearwater are coming true.

You can read our beat writer Ryan Lawrence's take on it here, as well as a video with Halladay talking about his shoulder.

Everyone on the Phillies keeps referring to the early hook for Halladay as a 'precaution.'

Yeah, sure. We've heard that before.

If Halladay has to be shut down, it could be a death blow for a team that has been banking on its vaunted pitching staff while Chase Utley and Ryan Howard are out of the lineup.

Today marks the unofficial start of summer. And the start of some serious soul-searching for Phillies Nation.

Friday, May 18, 2012

The Daily Numbers - May 18

The Daily Numbers: 25,000 bail for Colwyn officer who authorities say used a Taser on a teen who was handcuffed to a bench in borough holding cell.

1,400 students who picked up degrees last night from Delaware County Community College.

2 juveniles, 1 adult facing charges after gunplay in a Collingdale home led to a standoff with police.

3 months, age of tot police say was injured in a shaken baby incident. The baby’s father now faces charges.

3 DUI raps for a King of Prussia woman busted in Glenolden. She was supposed to be the designated driver. Oops!

42 years as president of Malvern Prep for Jim Stewart, who lives in Haverford.

350 residents who packed a budget meeting in Interboro School District, where they are facing a $1 million shortfall.

8 weeks of testimony by the prosecution in the Philly priest abuse trial. They rested yesterday.

42, age of former Horsham detective who now faces charges of stealing guns and drugs.

30,000 jobs likely being cut at Hewlett Packard.

38 dollars a share, likely opening price of Facebook stock when their IPO opens this morning.

16 billion, how much the sale is expected to net the owners.

11 losses in the last 12 days for the stock market. It was down over 100 points again yesterday.

63, age of the queen of disco, Donna Summer, who died of cancer yesterday.

5 year deal for star Eagles running back LeSean McCoy.

45 million dollar deal for “Shady.”

4 hits last night for Carlos Ruiz.

.363 batting average for the Phillies MVP.

7 hits scattered over 8 innings in another strong outing for Roy Halladay, who raised his record to 4-3.

5 straight wins for the Phils, who scratched their way to 1 game over .500.

4 runs surrendered in the 9th inning by Jake Diekman in another bullpen diploma.

4 as in Game 4 between Sixers and Celtics, with Boston holding 2-1 advantage.

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Call me a Phanatic: A look at the ups and downs of being a Philadelphia sports fan.All hail the Phillies MVP, Carlos Ruiz. Also the biggest bargain in baseball.

 

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I Don’t Get It: Still not quite sure why you would have to use a Taser on a teen suspect who already was handcuffed to a bench in a a holding cell. Guess the D.A. also had problems with it.

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Today’s Upper: Kudos to Pat Meehan and Bob Brady, who beat back another attempt to kill off the V-22 Osprey program in D.C.

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Quote Box: “He used a Taser … and sent 50,000 volts of electricity in to that youth in order for him to comply.”

- Delco D.A. Jack Whelan, in announcing charges against a Colwyn officer.

Boeing's V-22 Osprey cheats death again in D.C.

The V-22 Osprey has more lives than a cat. The unconventional helicopter that takes off like a copter, then flies like a plane, has been in the crosshairs more than once in its controversial career. Of course its success is crucial here in Delaware County because it is created in part at Boeing’s Ridley Township plant. That means jobs. Lots of jobs.
This week the V-22 was once again under fire in Washington. An amendment being offered to the National Defense Authorization Act would have stripped funding for the craft, which is fast becoming a workhorse when it comes to transporting troops in and out of combat zones for the Marines. The amendment was put up by Rep. Mike Quigley, D-Illinois, and Rep. Luis Gutierrez, D-Ill. The House voted it down after hearing arguments from two Delco pols, Rep. Pat Meehan, R-7, and Rep. Bob Brady, D-1. We’ll have the full story later today.

War of the graphics in Upper Darby school fight

The war between parents and Upper Darby schools continues unabated.

Yesterday the school district posted a graphic on their website to demonstrate their intentions when it comes to the controversial changes in the arts in district schools.

You can see it here.

They have a long list of what is being preserved, and just two items that on the list to be changed. Those are the so-called specials, elementary school general music and elementary school general art.

That graphic did not go unnoticed.

The grassroots group Save Upper Darby Arts quickly created a graphic of their own.

It tells a slightly different story.

I've included a copy of it with this blog item. It tells you how big the gulf is between the two sides.

All of this is merely prelude to next week’s big public hearing on the school budget plan on Wednesday night.

Both sides look like they’re girding for battle.

Meet the Phils' MVP, Carlos Ruiz

Where would the Phillies be without Carlos Ruiz?

He’s not only their MVP, he just might be the MVP of the National League.

All Ruiz did last night was rap our four more hits, driving in three runs in the process.

And even that almost was not enough.

The Phils’ nightly bullpen escapade returned, this time with rookie Jake Diekman almost coughing up an 8-3 lead. Diekman imploded for four runs, before Jonathan Papelbon secured the final out, and the save.

You can read Ryan Lawrence’s take on the game here.

But it is Ruiz who has been the one rock Charlie Manuel has been able to lean on all year.

With Chase Utley still talking about when he might be able to head to Florida for some rehab games, and Ryan Howard’s return still merely a blip on the radar sometime around the All-Star game, this team has struggled.

You can’t lay that at the feet of Ruiz. All he’s done is hit .363 while doing his normal stalwart job behind the plate.

And he does in a very quiet way. That likely won’t win him many All-Star bids or MVP votes, but it will cement his status with Phillies fans.

This team would be dead in the water without him.

Now they’ve won five in a row and are still in the hunt.

They have Carlos Ruiz to thank for that.

 

Thursday, May 17, 2012

The Daily Numbers - May 17

The Daily Numbers: 2.2 million dollars, how much tax revenue the feds allege the owners of the Nifty Fifty’s failed to pay over the years.

15.6 million in cash receipts for which the owners neglected to pay taxes.

5 people now facing charges in the scam, including the principle owners. They released a statement saying they regretted their actions and that they have repaid all the taxes owed.

60 percent, how much of its revenue Harrah’s already turns over in taxes. Now they’re facing a possible new tax from the city of Chester.

1 billion dollars, how much Harrah’s has contributed to the state.

60 million to Delaware County since opening its doors back in 2006.

1 person hospitalized after fire roared through several apartments in Sharon Hill.

30 people who showed up at Upper Darby Council last night to urge them to attend May 23 public hearing on school budget and reversal of planned curriculum cuts.

26, age of woman who entered a guilty plea in West Chester in the murder of a landscaper from Aston. Her cohort, 20, already pleaded guilty in the death of Andre Dupuis, 32.

3.5 percent tax hike also in the works for Upper Darby schools.

47, age of swim coach at Bayard Rustin High School in West Chester who is charged with having sex with a female member of his team.

70 mph, speed limit being considered for Pa. Turnpike under a lawmaker’s plan.

1,000 dollars, how much a woman paid for a buttocks injection from a woman known as the ‘Black Madam.’ She now has debilitating injuries and the ‘Madam’ faces charges.

9 percent dip in revenue from table games at Pa. casinos, one month after they set a record high.

56.5 million taken in at Pa. casinos on table games in April. That’s down from $61 million in March.

5 DUI charges in 5 weeks for a man in New Jersey.

1 emergency responder who was fatally stricken after he showed up to direct traffic at scene of chemical fire in Bucks County.

107-91 thumping as the Sixers got blown out by the Celtics last night.

2-1 series lead for Boston.

27 points for Kevin Garnett to lead the Celtics.

4 straight wins for the Phils, who exploded late to bury the Cubs, 9-2.

15 day disabled list for starter Vance Worley.

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Call me a Phanatic: A look at the ups and downs of being a Philadelphia sports fan.I thought the Celtics were supposed to be the “old” team in this series. Sure didn’t look that way last night. That’s what happens when a playoff-tested team puts its game face on vs. an inexperienced foe.

 

* Did the swim coach at Rustin High out in West Chester really think no one was going to find out he was allegedly having sex with a young female on his team?

I Don’t Get It:

*

Today’s Upper: Kudos to the Upper Darby parents who went to the township council last night to enlist their help in getting curriculum cuts in the school district reversed.

*

Quote Box: “It was an outrageous abuse of trust.”

- Chester County D.A. Tom Hogan, on charges filed against swim coach at local high school of having sex with a female athlete on his team.

More voices heard in Upper Darby school controversy

The controversy surrounding proposed curriculum cuts in the Upper Darby School District paid a visit to the township council last night.

A group of concerned parents urged the pols to get involved, assuring them that what happens in the schools will spill over to the township.

You can read about it here.

In the meantime, we devoted another ‘Live From the Newsroom’ live-stream Internet broadcast to this crucial issue.

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

We were joined by state Sen. Ted Erickson, R-26, who represents Upper Darby; former Upper Darby Superintendent Joe Batory; and Larry Feinberg, Haverford School Board member and representative of the Keystone State Education Coalition.

Erickson provided an update on the Senate’s effort to restore some of the cuts enacted in Gov. Tom Corbett’s budget. The version passed by the Senate now goes to the House. Erickson indicated the plan likely will be tweaked some more before final passage, and is largely dependent on revenue projections, which have actually been improving.

Erickson said the goal is to have a budget in place by June 15, two weeks earlier than the deadline of June 30. He said it with a twinkle in his eye. I’ll believe that happens in Harrisburg, where adopting a budget is something of an art form that almost always runs right up against the deadline, when I see it.

If anyone knows the Upper Darby district, it is Joe Batory. He served as superintendent from 1984-1999. He repeated his opposition to the proposed cuts – which would eliminate the so-called “special” classes in music and art at the elementary level, and language and technology in the middle schools. Batory insisted this is exactly what districts should not be doing, that almost every study done boosts the importance of introducing students at an early age to music and the arts.

Feinberg, who deals with his own issues in Haverford, went so far as to declare what is going on in Pennsylvania as a move to “privatize public education.” Feinberg complained about the growing presence – and influence – of big money factors that are pushing cyber and charter schools.

It’s clear this issue is not going away, in Upper Darby or anywhere else.

Now all eyes will be on the public hearing on the budget plan set for May 23.

Will the district make changes to their proposal in an attempt to save the “special” classes? Will more money or some kind of fundraising effort similar to what was launched for area archdiocesan schools save the day?

Stay tuned.

Showdown on the river in Chester

There’s a very interesting power play going on down on the Chester riverfront.
It’s along the water – powered by the arrival in recent years of some powerhouse attractions such as Harrah’s casino and PPL Park – where the city’s much-ballyhooed economic turnaround is rooted.
And that is exactly where the city is looking for a bigger share of the pie.
Chester is considering some new taxes on entertainment events and parking. Both would seem to have Harrah’s and PPL Park directly in their sights.
Harrah’s is launching a big-time effort to brand itself as a regional entertainment hub. Last week they kicked off things with a concert out on their track by southern rock icons Lynyrd Skynyrd.
PPL Park, of course, is home to the Philadelphia Union of Major League Soccer.
The city is toying with the idea of slapping a 10 percent amusement tax on tickets and 20 percent tax on parking.
As you might guess, the leaders of the Union are not thrilled at the prospect of losing a good chunk of their revenue. They have said they already are shelving a plan to build offices and a practice center next to the stadium.
Interestingly enough, Union boss Nick Sakiewicz and Chester Mayor John Linder shared a stage yesterday in Philadelphia, announcing a big-time rugby event for PPL Park in June.
Not everybody believes this plan will ever come to fruition. For now, Linder indicates he plans to sit down with Union officials next week.
You can get all the details here.
This one will be fascinating to watch.
One thing to keep in mind. Both these venues sit in Keystone Opportunity Zones, which makes them free from property taxes. But that designation expires in 2013.
The KOZ is used to lure business into areas looking to reverse their economic fortune. That obviously worked here.
What happens after the tax break expires is anyone’s guess.

A bad 'experience' for young Sixers

So much for the home-court advantage.

And so much for young legs.

The Celtics turned back the clock last night, and in the process may have shattered any hope the Sixers had that they might be able to take advantage of an “old” Boston squad.

The Celtics approached last night’s game with a grim determination that was all over their faces even before the game. Once the ball was thrown up, they simply exerted their ill on the young Sixers.

You can read Dennis Deitch’s account of this mauling here.

And don’t miss Jack McCaffery’s belief that the Sixers are suffering from a severe lack of star power here.

The Sixers actually got off to a hot start and built a 33-28 lead after one quarter. That was the end of their highlights for the night. The Celtics outscored them, 32-16, doubling the Sixers’ meager output, in the second quarter.

They never looked back, and never took their foot off the Sixers’ necks in cruising to a 107-91 win.

The good news is that the Sixers have been here before. They were down 1-0 after the first game of the series. Now they’re down 2-1. They have a chance to even it up again Friday night.

They will need to do a lot more than they did last night. It was the Sixers who looked old, tired, not the ancient Celtics.

Yes, experience counts in the NBA.

For the Sixers, it’s an experience they learned the hard way last night.

 

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

The Daily Numbers - May 16

The Daily Numbers: 212 pot plants seized from a home in Darby Borough after police responded to call of a home invasion.

220,000 dollars, street value of pot that was growing in the row home on Avon Road.

1 student injured in a fight involving a couple of students at Archbishop Prendergast High School.

5 and 2, ages of children police say were left home alone by a mom who went to work in Paoli.

12 people left homeless after fire roared through several apartments in the Spring Village complex in Sharon Hill last night.

12,000 dollars raised for the Foundation for Wallingford-Swarthmore Schools by recent ‘Arts4Smarts’ event.

26 employees who are retiring from the Upper Darby School District.

46 tons of recycling material in the first quarter in Prospect Park borough.

1 of 2 people shot to death in North Philly as they sat on the porch of their home who testified last week in a murder trial. Police are probing retaliation as a possible motive in the killings.

40,000 dollar reward for information posted in the case.

45 arrests for a man in Philadelphia who had avoided jail – until yesterday. He got 37 years on a pair of armed robberies.

4 DUI arrests in the last 5 weeks for a man in New Jersey.

1.8 billion dollars, how much Sunoco could likely get if it continues to spinoff operations and lets go of its 4,900 gas stations.

200 dollars a month stipend for tens of thousands of disabled adults on the chopping block in Pa.

1 error for Phils right fielder Hunter Pence that allowed the Astros to tie the game with the Phils in the 9th inning yesterday.

2 home runs – including the walk-off winner – for Pence, who sealed the deal in the 10th inning.

8 strong innings from starter Cliff Lee that went up in smoke when Chad Qualls coughed up a 3-1 lead in the 9th.

3 straight wins for the Phils.

5 games back of the Nationals for the Phils as they head for Chicago for 2 games with Cubs.

3 as in Game 3 between the Sixers and Celtics tonight at the Wells Fargo Center.

*

Call me a Phanatic: A look at the ups and downs of being a Philadelphia sports fan.Don’t look now but the Phils have now won 4 in a row and are gaining on the Nats. And all this despite that bullpen disaster.

 

*

I Don’t Get It: Another woman has been charged with leaving her kids home alone. But in this one, the woman apparently did it as she went to work in Paoli. Tough situation.

*

Today’s Upper: Kudos to those who offered a shot at a new life for Sgt. Sneezy, the dog that was rescued from Afghanistan and brought back to the USA. Sadly, things have not worked out for Sneezy and health issues will force his new owners to put him down. Sad.

*

Quote Box: “This guy is a major league grower of marijuana.”

- Darby Borough Police Chief Bob Smythe, after discovery of pot-growing opeation in borough home.

A message for Upper Darby from Jen Schoener

There is one person I have been waiting to hear from since the funding crisis broke out in Upper Darby and the decision was made to cut the so-called 'special' classes in music and art in elementary schools.

Her name is Jen Schoener. She is the widow of the late Brad Schoener, otherwise known as Upper Darby's Music Man. Brad was the beloved director of music at Upper Darby High, whose legacy built the powerhouse reputation of the Upper Darby music program. He had an effect on countless number of young children in the district.

I wrote in this space that I believed Brad would be rolling over in his grave at the moves now being contemplated by the district.

And I reached out to Jen Schoener for her thoughts. She responded that 'in some ways ways this is like watching him fight cancer a second time - except not in the physical sense.'

Jen no longer lives in the Upper Darby area, but she remains very close to those here, and she remains committed to the kids here.

'I will fight for these outstanding teachers and incredible arts programs with everything I have,' she said 'This was Brad's fear - that the children of Upper Darby would not have the benefits of the neighboring school districts because of funding - how quickly things have evolved in the four years since his passing.

 

I wondered in my blog what Brad Schoener would say, and reached out to her for her thoughts. I asked her if she would like to offer her take on the situation and said I would offer her the space in my blog to deliver them.

This is what she wrote:

What Brad Schoener Would Say….

Brad Schoener, my late husband, award-winning 25-year music teacher of the Upper Darby School District, came home to me one day after teaching a full week of school and then going to chemotherapy and said, “I have another interview… Some days I wonder if I would get all this attention if I didn’t have the cancer.” He was quiet for a very long time and then he said, “Well, I guess that is the reason God gave me this disease …. If it’s going to get my students the attention they need – then I guess that is why I have to go through this.”

After all the support, kindness, and recognition that Brad and his music program received from the Upper Darby School District - especially in his last five years… Brad would be IN DISBELIEF that this school board and this administration would even be considering the proposal of removing the specials from the curriculum.

Brad understood children better than anyone I’ve ever met. He knew that the children of Upper Darby needed the outlet of the arts to find out who they were as people. He knew how to bring out the ‘kid’ in the adults that he worked with – how to make fellow teachers and administrators want to learn to play an instrument for the first time – how to use music to bring tears to the eyes of an insurance company board who was telling him that he couldn’t have the medical procedure that he desperately needed – he knew that music and the arts are what makes us human.

That’s the reason why the creation of the Schoener Memorial Music Fund was his last wish – it’s why so many people have kept his vision alive in this district - including this board and this administration.

If Brad were here – the “Pied Piper of Upper Darby” would be readying his troops to lead the children of Upper Darby to a better place – a place filled with laughter, creativity, color, music, movement, imagination, and yes – FUN – why? Because research has shown again and again that children (and even adults) will learn better IF THEY ENJOY LEARNING AND IF THEY HAVE THE DESIRE TO WANT TO LEARN.

I will never forget how Brad used to leave for school some mornings and he would be wearing the loudest possible shirt he could find (which was not exactly the professional attire encouraged by the school district). He would get this big grin on his face and say “Well, if you were a 4th grader, would you rather have lessons with the guy in the suit or the guy in the tiger shirt?” Brad was a kid magnet.

I used to tease Brad when he would wear his MENSA pin to school and say “Do you really have to wear that? Isn’t that like bragging – saying that you are in the high IQ Society?” He’d look at me and say – “I’m just reminding certain people that there is more to my job than just handing out noisemakers – music is fuel for the brain – and that doesn’t always show up on paper or on the surface.”

Although Brad was famous for ‘being out front’ and the ‘center of attention’ – when it came to his students – he ALWAYS put them first. He loved the faculty, administration, and school board of the Upper Darby School District as much as he loved his own family. Today he would be questioning WHY his Upper Darby family is not fighting TOGETHER for funding and taking a stand TOGETHER to say – WE ARE UPPER DARBY AND WE DESERVE BETTER. Upper Darby has always “done more with less” - BUT WHEN IT AFFECTS THE CHILDREN – IT IS TIME FOR THE ADULTS TO SAY – ENOUGH IS ENOUGH. Brad would be leading the pack to Harrisburg with the sound of trumpets and the thunder of drums – he would tell them: “Have FAITH in what you know to be true in your heart, your FRIENDS and your FAMILY are the same – WORK TOGETHER.”

But Brad would also add this…

“Remember – just as the story goes – if the adults refuse to do what is right… don’t be surprised if one day, the children of Upper Darby disappear…. And I won’t be the one leading them away – they will choose to go on their own.”

 

Jen Schoener, Widow of Brad Schoener

Chairperson, Brad Schoener Music Fund

Fundraising Chair, Upper Darby Arts & Education Foundation

All eyes no Upper Darby: Corbett talks again; 'Live From Newsroom' zeroes in on $$

Gov. Tom Corbett got a bit of a rude welcome in Philly last night when he spoke to a Chamber of Commerce group. Protesters clogged the streets and took up positions on the red carpet leading into the hotel.

They’re angry that the governor is proposing funding to build new prisons while continuing to hold the lid on education spending.

Of course, Corbett has been the target of wrath from parents in Upper Darby, who are seeking a meeting with him to talk about the fire financial straits in their district, where officials are laying off teachers, hiking taxes, and changing curriculum, cutting “special” classes in art, music, language and technology in the elementary and middle schools.

This morning Corbett will be addressing the situation in Upper Darby again when he sits down with Dom Giordano on The Big Talker WPHT 1210AM. Dom will have the governor on for a full hour from 10-11 a.m.

And we’ll also be focusing once again on Upper Darby tonight on our live-stream Internet broadcast, “Live From the Newsroom.”

We'll be joined by state Sen. Ted Erickson, R-26, of Newtown, whose district covers Upper Darby, Larry Feinberg of the Keystone State Education Coalition and a member of the Haverford School board; and Joe Batory, a former Superintendent of Upper Darby who has been critical of the current cuts.

Once again, if you have a question you'd like answered, feel free to email it to me at editor@delcotimes.com. You also can log on to DelcoTimes.com Wednesday night and take part in our live chat.

We go live at 7. 

Fate is the Hunter for Phillies

I don’t know if Hunter Pence has ever read “A Tale of Two Cities.”

The man who coined the popular “Let’s Go Eat” campaign last year might want to give the Dickens’ classic a shot.

He kind of lived it yesterday. You know, that whole idea of the best of times and the worst of times.

Pence committed a crucial error in the bottom of the 9th inning to allow the Astros to tie the game. It added to the latest bullpen implosion – this time by Chad Qualls. And it also insured that Cliff Lee would collect another no-decision, despite throwing eight innings of very good baseball, surrendering just 1 run while scattering 5 hits.

But Pence managed to redeem himself in the bottom of the 10th, lining a pitch from old Phillies pal Brett Myers over the left-field wall for a walk-off homer.

Check out Chris Vito’s take on Pence’s day, and his outlook on being the focus of the Philly fans by CLICKING HERE.

Pence is a breath of fresh air on a team that direly needs it. He knows all eyes are on him. And he doesn’t shy away from his role.

Maybe his teammates can take a clue from him.

 

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

The Daily Numbers - May 15

The Daily Numbers: 100 mothers, fathers, teachers and alumni who gathered yesterday in Upper Darby to plan strategy in their fight against budget and curriculum cuts.

1 million dollar shortfall facing the Interboro School District.

3 percent tax hike that would be needed to cover it. The board is limited by Act 1 to a tax hike of 2.3 percent without putting it on the ballot for approval by voters.

27, age of man held for trial in the murder of an Upper Darby barbership owner.

25, age of Yeadon man who suffers from intellectual disabilities and who is missing.

25,000 dollar grant being used by the county to acquire and preserve open space in the Mineral Park tract in Middletown.

10,000 dollars being donated to help the effort by Aqua Pennsylvania.

2 people shot to death in North Philly as they sat on the porch of their home.

52, age of suspect who turned himself in yesterday to face charges that he tossed a cup of hot coffee on a worker at a Philly donut shop 25,000 dollars bail for David Timbers, who faces assault charges.

2 people struck and killed as they pushed their disabled car trying to get it out of the way on Route 309 in Montco yesterday.

316,560 dollars being paid by SEPTA to a company to help it buy electricity and natural gas, and hopefully save some money along the way.

2 million dollars, how much the city of Chester is hoping to add to their coffers by slapping new taxes on events at Harrah’s and PPL Park.

80 million dollars in public investment in the stadium project.

503.8 million dollars in taxable property in the city, down from $505 million in 2008.

1-1 deadlock between Sixers and Celtics after 76ers won Game 2 last night in Boston.

2 straight games decided by 1 point as Sixers prevail, 82-81.

18 points for Jrue Holiday to lead the Sixers.

6 for 6 from free throw line for Sixers over the last 12 seconds.

19 turnovers for the Sixers, who also got outrebounded by the Celtics to the tune of 47-36.

9-0 led for the Celtics to start the game before the Sixers could get on the board.

2,000 career hits for Placido Polanco, who homered last night in powering Phils to 5-1 win over Astros in a steady rain.

4-2 mark for Phils starter Joe Blanton, who went 7 innings and gave up 6 hits and 1 run.

*

Call me a Phanatic: A look at the ups and downs of being a Philadelphia sports fan.Why is it that the Sixers always seem like an after-thought in Philly sports. Time to get on board the bandwagon.

 

*

I Don’t Get It: What exactly snaps inside of you that would make you throw a full cup of steaming hot coffee at a store clerk who just handed it to you. Seriously, people. Take a deep breath.

*

Today’s Upper: Kudos to the Sixers, who scratched and clawed their way to a win and a 1-1 deadlock in their semifinal series with the Celtics.

*

Quote Box: “Avery was more than just a brotherly figure. Avery was a friend to all who worked with him.”

- Chester Officer John Ross, at funeral for his friend and fellow Officer Avery Freeman.

'Live From the Newsroom' has another panel talking about Upper Darby schools

The controversy surrounding budget cuts in the Upper Darby School District is not going away.
Neither are we.
Parents held a strategy session last night to plot out their next moves in the battle to halt curriculum changes that would eliminate special classes at the elementary level in music and art, and language and technology in the middle schools. You can read that full story here.
They plan to make their presence known Wednesday night at the Upper Darby Township council meeting.
The public hearing on the school budget is set for May 23. They're also planning a bus trip to Harrisburg on June 6.
We'll be devoting our 'Live From the Newsroom' live-stream Internet broadcast to the issue again this week.
Last week's Live from the Newsroom brought together the Upper Darby school officials tasked with figuring out the budget crisis. More than 250 people tuned in to the show, one of the biggest audiences we've had since we tackled the situation involving Monsignor Bonner and Archbishop Prendergast.
We'll be  joined by state Sen. Ted Erickson, R-26, of Newtown, whose district covers Upper Darby, Larry Feinberg of the Keystone State Education Coalition and a member of the Haverford School board; and Joe Batory, a former Superintendent of Upper Darby who has been critical of the current cuts.
Once again, if you have a question you'd like answered, feel free to email it to me at editor@delcotimes.com. You also can log on to DelcoTimes.com Wednesday night and take part in our live chat.
We go live at 7. See you on the Internet.

A lesson in engagement on same-sex marriage


I don't routinely turn over this space to the back-and-forth I have with readers every day. Then again, I rarely have as good a conversation as I did yesterday in exchanging emails with a longtime reader.

He was incensed at our editorial Monday on same-sex marrage and indicated we left him with little choice but to cancel his subscription. He wasn't alone. It sparked a torrent of conversation online, with more than 80 comments posted on it.

Now more than ever, this is a two-way conversation. We have an opinion, and a forum to deliver it. But readers have one as well. And I urge them to use it.

I asked the man not only if he would reconsider his decision, but also if he would allow me to run his response on our op-ed pages. He declined. But his response was so good, I will offer it here anonymously. He is a longtime reader and local lawyer.

Here's my plea:

Many thanks for taking the time to share your thoughts on the Daily Times and your objection to today’s editorial.

That is in fact the whole purpose of the newspaper, to foster community debate and engage with our readers. Ours is one opinion. It certainly is not the only one, nor necessarily the correct one. It is the side that we endorsed today.

But instead of merely nixing your subscription, I would urge you instead to join the conversation. If you’d like I would include your email as a letter to the editor. Or if you’d rather, please feel free to write another one.



We’re not always going to agree, but simply ending the conversation is not the answer either.

Thanks again for taking the time to resister your complaint. I assure I take them very seriously.

Keep reading!

Best,



Phil Heron

And here is his response. I assure you I rarely get emails this reasoned and well thought out. That's why I am repeating it here, albeit without his name attached:

Mr. Heron:

Thank you for your thoughtful comments. You are certainly much more prompt than a politician in responding. I must respectfully decline to recast my note as a “letter to the editor." I believe that the gay marriage issue – and many of the controversies facing Delaware County and the nation – are by far too complicated to be fully and properly expounded on the editorial page of any newspaper. Further, I have nothing novel or unique to lend to the dialogue that would warrant the waste of valuable newsprint.



That particular issue is being fully briefed in at least one Federal Court by advocates much more scholarly than I. The discussions are, of necessity, based on the respective parties’ predicates and assumptions. Arguing from different stating points leads good hearted people to vastly disparate results. It appears to me that the various discussions in the Times, as well as the media generally, are becoming more and more shrill and polarized, without any real effort to arrive at compromise solutions. I believe that this polarization bodes evil for our Republic. While I certainly encourage on-going dialogue, I am frankly not interested in expressions of opinion unsupported by facts or authority.

I tell my children that in a capitalist society one must sometimes vote with one’s wallet. I respect your editorial board’s freedom to espouse its various positions but when those positions become too vexatious to me, it makes little sense for me to continue to subsidize (even modestly) their publication. Years ago I cancelled my subscription to The Philadelphia Inquirer for the same reason. Regrettably the Wall Street Journal doesn’t publish pictures of my Boy Scouts. You folks do do a very nice job with your community coverage.

As a fellow product of the Sisters, Servants of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, I wish you and your staff well.

Now that's what I call engagement.


All hail the Sixers

The Sixers have now come played two games against the vaunted Boston Celtics. Won one and lost one. Both by a single point. In Boston.



Now they come home to what should be a raucous Wells Fargo Center for Games 3 and 4 on Wednesday and Friday.


For some reason the Sixers always feel like the stepchild of Philly sports. We live and die with the Eagles and Phillies. There is a fanatical core of die-hard hockey fans for whom the sport is religion. Then there are the Sixers.


I think that’s about to change.


Anyone else remember the feeling you got when Allen Iverson stepped over that fallen L.A. Laker as the Sixers took Game 1 of the NBA Finals. Yes, it was 2001, more than a decade ago.


But it felt damn good.


I think it’s about to feel that way again.


Give the credit to Doug Collins. He’s the manic, driven coach who has willed this group – that plays as a team without a superstar – to this point.


You can read all our coverage from last night’s game in Boston here.

Monday, May 14, 2012

The Daily Numbers - May 14

The Daily Numbers: 10 percent tax on tickets sold to PPL Park, home of the Philadelphia Union, and entertainment shows at Harrah’s being considered by city of Chester.



20 percent tax on parking fees at PPL Park under the plan.


2 million dollars, how much Union officials believe the plan would cost the team. As you might expect, they’re not happy.


10 million dollar, 25,000 square foot office building and practice facility next to PPL Park the team says is now on hold because of the new tax proposal.

18,192 people who attended Sunday’s Union game vs. the New York Red Bull at PPL Park.



33 bucks, average price for a ticket for a Union game.



309 students picked up their diplomas at Haverford College Sunday.



5 schools that held commencement exercises on Saturday: Widener; Neumann, West Chester; Cheyney and Eastern.



3 members of one family who snagged diplomas at Widner. Kudos to Tonya Burns, as well as her son and daughter.



0.3 square mile borough of Colwyn, which now finds itself in its 2nd state of emergency in a couple of weeks because of borough infighting and lack of police presence.



5,200 petitions that have been signed so far in Upper Darby to push restoring funding cuts.



2.7 percent tax hike OK’d in Springfield. That means about $110 more a year for the average taxpayer.



22, age of missing Philly mother whose body was found in wooded area of Juniata Park.



700,000 dollar settlement in lawsuit brought by family of man who hung himself in a Lancaster County prison.



7 cent dip nationally in price of gasoline last week.



3.80, average price of gas in the Philly region. That’s down 6 cents, but still 7 cents higher than Pa. average.



3-2 win for Phillies over the Padres, meaning they take the weekend series 2-1.



5 hits and 5 strikeouts for Hamels, who threw 108 pitches before leaving after the 7th.



10 saves for Jonathan Papelbon.



45,442 in attendance at Citizens Bank Park on Mother’s Day.



220 consecutive sellouts for the Phils.



1-0 led for the Celtics as the Sixers look to claw even in Game 2 tonight.



*



Call me a Phanatic: A look at the ups and downs of being a Philadelphia sports fan.Take a deep breath, Phillies fans. It’s a long season. We’re not even at Memorial Day yet. This team is not out of it by a long shot.







*



I Don’t Get It: Looks like the national news mags are competing with each other for attention. Last week it was Newsweek and breast-feeding moms. This week it’s Time and Obama as ‘the first gay president.’ Actually, I get it, it’s all about selling magazines.



*



Today’s Upper: Kudos to Tonya Burns, the single mom from Chester who collected her diploma from Widener on Monday. She was joined in cap and gown by daughter Chardae Burtonall, and son Tyrone Studivant. Impressive.



*



Quote Box: “These taxes would effectively put us out of business over time.”



- Philadelphia Union CEO Nick Sakiewicz, on proposal by city to slap new taxes on tickets and parking.


Chester eyes new tax revenue - at Harrah's and PPL Park


Two of the heavy hitters along Chester’s waterfront are encountering some turbulence.




It’s not exactly a secret that the city is always pointing to Harrah’s Chester (oops, Philadelphia, more on that in a second) and PPL Park, home of the Philadelphia Union, whenever they point to the economic turnaround in the city.



Now it turns out the city is going to ask for something else – more money.



The city is considering ordinances that will slap some pretty significant fees on their two big-time waterfront attractions. You can read the full story here.



The ordinances would put a 10 percent tax on tickets sold for events at PPL Park and another 20 percent on parking.



Harrah’s also would take a hit, since the amusement tax would apply to many shows held at the casino, including concerts such as the Lynyrd Skynyrd concert this weekend that kicked off the casino’s efforts to rebrand itself as an entertainment destination.



It also comes as more than a few city residents are still nursing some sore feelings over the fact that the casino has dropped the city from its official name. What was always referred to as Harrah’s Chester Casino & Racetrack is now officially Harrah’s Philadelphia.



And the Philadelphia Union, the Major League Soccer team that plays its games at PPL Park, ticked off a few city residents who blamed them for pressuring the city to move the annual Mother’s Day Parade from Sunday to Saturday so as not to conflict with yesterday’s game with the New York Red Bull.



As you might imagine, Union officials are not exactly thrilled at the prospect of losing this kind of revenue.



“These taxes would effectively put us out of business over time,” said Union CEO Nick Sakiewicz.



Stay tuned. This one could get ugly.


The other side of the story in Upper Darby


One thing I’ve learned in more than 30 years in this business is that’s there’s always another side to the story.



That doesn’t mean anyone wants to hear it, especially when it doesn’t align with their beliefs.


Lou DeVlieger is not a particularly popular guy in Upper Darby these days. He’s the superintendent of Upper Darby schools and lording over a plan to fire a bunch of teachers, hike taxes and change the curriculum to move what was always “special” instruction and classes in music and the arts into regular elementary classrooms.


It’s caused seismic controversy in the community, among parents and educators, since the plan was rolled out a couple of weeks ago.


Certainly this newspaper has been paying very close attention to the issue. We had a panel of parents on our ‘Live From the Newsroom’ show in which they laid out their opposition and urged administrators – including DeVlieger to change their minds. Nearly 80 people spoke at a school board meeting.


I wanted to offer DeVlieger and his team an equal opportunity to offer their side.



Not many people are interested in hearing it.



I have now been accused of taking a “kickback” from the school board after writing a couple of blog items. I can only imagine what kind of reaction my print column will spark today.



During the show, DeVlieger made a couple of things pretty clear. There were alternatives considered to this plan, and he’s still open to hearing other ideas.



Parents aren’t convinced. Very simply, they don’t believe DeVlieger and think this plan is being rammed down their throats.



In the meantime, we’ll be back with another panel to talk about the issue Wednesday night. I'll have more on that and some special comments from a person close to this issue in the blog tomorrow.



I’m certain of only one thing. This isn’t going away, and it is going to continue to cause an uproar in Upper Darby. We intend to cover every bit of it.


Now's not time to panic & trade Cole Hamels

The Phillies are in a quandary, and it was on full view yesterday.

They got a leadoff home run from Jimmy Rollins, scratched out a couple more runs, and Cole Hamels and the bullpen made it stand up in posting a 3-2 win over the lowly Padres.

It gave them a series win, despite wasting a big-time effort from Roy Halladay Saturday night, when they did almost nothing on offense and lost, 2-1.

This is a team in serious need of some kind of shakeup, but the key cog in any possible deal was probably standing on the mound yesterday.

The Phils were unable to get a long-term deal in place for Hamels in Clearwater, meaning they would have to go into the season under the cloud of Hamels possibly playing out the last year on his contract and then hitting the free agent market.

The Phils have two basic choices here. They either have to sign Hamels to a new pact, or trade him. They can’t allow him to just walk away.



Right now Hamels would bring a king’s ransom. He just might be the best pitcher in a pitching-rich starting rotation.



But regardless of what they get in return, I’m not sure if the Phils can get value for Hamels. Pitchers like him do not come along every day.



The truth is that Lee and Halladay are not what you would consider young pitchers anymore. Lee is susceptible to injury, and questions have arisen about Halladay’s workload and his velocity. The Phils have not won one of their starts in weeks, which probably says more about their lineup than anything they did on the mound.



Hamels is in his prime. He’s a left-handed ace.



I hope Ruben Amaro Jr. doesn’t sacrifice him in a short-sighted shot at saving this season.



I don’t know when Chase Utley and Ryan Howard are going to return to the lineup, or what they will be able to contribute once they do.



I do know this. Hamels might be the best left-handed pitcher in the National League.



You don’t just give that away.



This might just be a time for Phillies fans to batten down the hatches. We’ve enjoyed an unvelievable five-year run with this team. Saying this year so far has been a disappointment is an understatement.



Maybe it’s time to rally around the troops.



One thing I know about baseball. It’s a very long season. Being six and a half games out two weeks before Memorial Day is no reason to panic.



Nor to trade a franchise pitcher.




Friday, May 11, 2012

The Daily Numbers - May 11

The Daily Numbers: 2.2 seconds left when Andre Iguodala sinks 2 free throws to lift the Sixers to a 79-78 win over the Bulls.

4-2 series win for the Sixers, who advance and face the Celtics in the Eastern semis starting Saturday night.

9 years, how long since the Sixers have won a playoffs series.

1st playoff series for new Sixers owners, including Joshua Harris, who was in the house last night.

2 vehicles damaged in fire in Chester Township 30,000 dollar monthly fee Delco has been paying to Chester County SPCA to take in strays since Jan. 1. That deal ends June 30.

296,000 dollars the feds say a Darby woman pocketed in a food stamp program out of her store.

0.62 percent tax hike given OK by Marple Newtown School Board.

2.7 percent tax hike looming for Haverford schools.

5, age of girl serious injured when she was shot in face by her brother, 7, wielding a BB gun.

40, age of passenger charged after he allegedly attempted to enter cockpit on a flight from Portland, Maine, to Phily.

5.59 ERA for the Phillies bullpen.

47 earned runs surrendered.

3 percent hike in casino revenue nationwide.

*

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

Serious kudos to Andre Iguodala this morning. He had the game in his hands, and he delivered. Well done. Bring on the Celtics.

*: Why is it that colleges all decide to have commencements on the same day. There are five of them in the region on Saturday. Which ones do you think we should cover? Yeah, I know, all of them.

I Don’t Get It

*

Today’s Upper: Looks like Mother Nature is going to deliver a Mother’s Day gift of her own, lots of sun and warm temps this weekend. We’re expected to get into the 80s.

*

Quote Box: “Not in my lifetime did I think I would use what I learned so soon.”

- Boy Scout Jonathan Thornton, who used his new CPR skills to help save his grandmother’s life.

New name for Harrah's Chester? Bet on it

It should be an interesting day today down at Harrah’s. Notice I did not say it’s formal name Harrah’s Chester Casino and Racetrack.
That’s because after today the Casino and Racetrack will still be there. But will not.
Starting tomorrow, the gambling mecca credited with kickstarting the economic growth along the Chester’s waterfront will no longer list the city in its name.
Instead it will rebrand itself as Harrah’s Philadelphia. It’s understandable from an economic point of view. That is not making it sit any better with a lot of folks in Chester, who see it as a slight after the city opened its arms to welcome Harrah’s and usher in a new era of legalized gaming in Pennsylvania.
Ron Baumann is the new boss down at Harrah’s, and he offers a perfectly rational explanation for the name change. They want to expand and take advantage of the entire region. Very often people coming into the city will search for a casino and not come up with Harrah’s because it is listed as being in Chester. Which it is.
Chester Mayor John Linder is on record as not necessarily being thrilled by the change, but he understands the business sense it makes. He also understands that Harrah’s is not moving out of the city, and it will continue to pour money into the city coffers. The more money Harrah’s makes, the more revenue for Chester.
The casino is holding a bit of a celebration to mark the change, including a new Tony Luke’s cheesesteak joint and an appearance by world champion eater and current Wing Bowl kingpin Takeru Kobayashi attempting to break his own world eating record. Tomorrow the festivities continue with an appearance by southern rock icons Lynyrd Skynyrd on the field of the race track.
None of that will ease the sting some are feeling at what they perceive to be just one more slap in the face for a city struggling to reverse its fortunes.
What’s in a name? Obviously, today at Harrah’s that depends on whom you ask.

Pa.'s growth industry? Casinos

It turns out there is a growth industry in Pennsylvania, after all. Casino gambling. An industry survey released on Wednesday indicated that revenue from gambling in Pennsylvania was up 21 percent in 2011. Casinos raked in a total of $3 billion and generated $1.5 billion in tax revenue for the state. The news was not quite as chipper over in Atlantic City. Their revenue was down 7 percent. The fortunes of the shore gambling resort continue to struggle in the wake of the new colossus of the East Coast gambling. That would be Pennsylvania’s 10 existing casinos, including Harrah’s down there on the Chester waterfront. Nationally, gaming was showing signs of shaking off the effects of the recession, posting a 3 percent gain. Talk about hitting the jackpot. Total casino revenue in the nation topped $35 billion last year. Here’s a question. Is there a way to use some of this money for education? Think the people in Upper Darby would like to get their mitts on some of this gambling booty? Don’t hold your breath waiting for that to happen.

Iggy Pops, seals the deal for Sixers

Thanks, Sixers, we needed that.
And raise your hand if you thought Andre Iguodala was going to sink those two foul shots to seal the deal with 2 seconds left on the clock? Thought so.
The Flyers are making tee times. The Phillies are in full implosion mode.
The city was in dire need of a lift. Enter the Sixers, and the unlikeliest of heroes.
Andre Iguodala has been something of a whipping boy for this team. It stems from the decision by then-GM Billy King to fork over superstar money to a guy who was a good player, but not by most people’s estimation a superstar.
He was sold to us as the next A.I.
Uh, not exactly.
He couldn’t even offer us a “practice” rant.
Part of the problem is that Iguodala seemed to embrace the mantle of superstar and designated leader of this team. Every offseason the fans would wait to see if he was moved, and every year there was Andre back in a Sixers uniform on opening night.
And, of course, there was Andre with the ball in his hands at crunch time, as most franchise players would.
Too often the result was a pronounced “clang.” Another missed shot, another missed opportunity.
This year “Iggy” added a new sprinkle to his arsenal, an inability to make foul shots.
That did not bode well for Sixers fans as Iguodala strode to the foul line with the Sixers trailing by one last night with 2.2 seconds left on the clock. One to tie, two to win.
Iguodala sank both, and plunged a dagger into the wounded Bulls’ hearts, finally finishing them off.
Bring on the Celtics!
CLICK HERE for beat writer Dennis Deitch’s take on the change Iguodala credits for sinking those two crucial foul shots.
 

Thursday, May 10, 2012

The Daily Numbers - May 10

The Daily Numbers: 7 shell casings found in an Upper Darby driveway where police say a man was ambushed as he arrived home.

1,200 people who packed the Upper Darby School Board meeting Tuesday night to oppose cuts in staff and curriculum.

2 a.m., when the board finally got around to voting on the proposals.

5-3 vote by the board to give initial OK to the budget plan. A public hearing will be held May 23, and a final vote is scheduled for June 12.

100,000 dollar study awarded by County Council yesterday to HIS Global Inc. to study Sunoco’s Marcus Hook refinery site for possible future uses.

36, age of man who entered guilty plea yesterday in Delco Common Pleas Court to a manslaughter charge in connection with strangulation death of Clifton Heights man.

11 million dollar gap in preliminary 2012-13 budget seen by the Chester Upland School District.

27.65 billion dollar spending plan OK’d yesterday by state Senate. It restores some of the money cut by Gov. Corbett.

39-8 vote in the Senate to OK the plan and send it to the House.

5 to 10 years in prison for a Lansdowne man convicted in several robberies.

17 million dollar settlement in the tragic case of the collision of the barge and duck boat in Philly that claimed 2 young lives.

21 percent hike in casino revenue in Pa. in 2011 over 2010. They pulled in a cool $3 billion.

3 percent hike in casino revenue nationwide.

3 explosive devices found in a home in Warrington, Bucks County. They were safely detonated.

6 strong innings from Cliff Lee in his return to the mound for the Phils last night.

4-2 lead when Lee left the game.

10-6 loss for the Phillies to the Mets, who swept the locals at Citizens Bank Park.

5 blown save opportunities for Phils’ bullpen in last 10 days.

5 runs on 4 hits surrendered by Kyle Kendrick in another bullpen implosion.

6 as in Game 6 between the Sixers and Bulls tonight at 7 at the Wells Fargo Center.

3-2 lead in series for Sixers. Get the feeling the Sixers really do not want to have to go back to Chicago.

*

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

Forget the offense. The Phils’ biggest problem might be their bullpen. They need to find a way to get from their starters to closer Jonathan Papelbon. And no one should suggest Kyle Kendrick is part of the solution.

*

I Don’t Get It: Aren’t there really more important issues for us to discuss than gay marriage?

*

Today’s Upper: Kudos to those involved with erecting a memorial plaque yesterday outside Delaware County Memorial Hospital to the memory of Nicole Gallo, who was struck and killed while she walked on the sidewalk by an out-of-control car.

*

Quote Box: “This plan does not create a single new program. It does not raise a single tax.”

- Sen. Dominic Pileggi, R-9, of Chester, on spending plan approved by the Senate as an alternative to Gov. Corbett’s plan.

Facing the music in Upper Darby

I knew that the Upper Darby community was up in arms about the curriculum changes being considered in their schools.

But yesterday, just in case I needed it, I got a couple of reminders of just how deep this issue is being felt.

For those not aware, the Upper Darby School District is considering a budget that will ax about 60 teachers and some administration staff, while at the same time hiking taxes 3.5 percent.

But that’s not what has parents and the community up in arms. They are irate over a proposal that would change core curriculums, ending the practice of “special” classes in art and music in elementary schools, and language and technology in the middle schools. Instead those subjects would be covered by teachers in their regular classrooms.

To put it bluntly, parents are not happy.

Last night we had the men responsible for the plan on our ‘Live From the Newsroom’ live-stream Internet broadcast.

If you missed the show, you can still watch it here.

More than 250 people tuned in. It was one of the largest audiences we’ve ever had in the year-plus that we’ve been doing the show, rivaling another education story, the plan to close Monsignor Bonner and Archbishop Prendergast high school.

Ironically, the schools are neighbors in Drexel Hill.

Upper Darby Schools Superintendent Lou DeVlieger, Assistant Superintendent Dan McGarry, Business Manager Ed Smith and Personnel Director Dan Nerelli talked about the proposal for more than our allotted half-hour last night.

Earlier in the day, I solicited questions for the panel from our readers. They did not disappoint, offering a deluge of things they’d like to see covered.

I learned several things last night. None of these guys wants to make these cuts. They also don’t have a lot of choices.

DeVlieger went so far as to warn of something he’s been saying now for a couple of years, that Harrisburg and the powers that be in the state are lording over the “dismantling” of public education.

Two things I got answered that readers wanted to know. DeVlieger indicated this plan has been in the works for months, and that, yes, there were lots of alternatives being considered before this “realignment” plan was put in place.

I also think this is not necessarily the plan that will be adopted by the Upper Darby School Board when they vote on a final budget June 12.

DeVlieger admitted as much, saying that “just about everything” was on the table.

He also hinted at something I’ve been wondering about since the plan was first announced.

If there was one thing we learned from the Bonner-Prendie story it’s this: Money talks. The parochial school backers raised more than $5 million in about three weeks. Public schools are a different animal, but I got the distinct feeling that behind the scenes a similar fundraising drive might be in the works for Upper Darby.

In the meantime, the school board and administration will brace themselves for a public hearing on the budget plan on May 23. Tuesday night more than 70 people signed up to speak their piece for three minutes. The board did not get around to taking their preliminary vote on the plan until almost 2 o’clock in the morning.

My thanks to DeVlieger and his team for coming on the show and meeting this story head on.

I know that Lou DeVlieger does not want to do this. It has not exactly made him a popular guy in Upper Darby.

I also know that he does not have a lot of options.

And one other thing to consider, just in case you think it’s only Upper Darby. It’s not.

The school board in York, out in central Pennsylvania, is staring at an $18 million deficit. They are going Upper Darby one better, proposing slashing jobs, art, gym and their half-day kindergarten.

Oh, and one other thing. They are considering axing all sports.

I asked DeVlieger if sports was considered in Upper Darby. He admitted it was.

“Everything is on the table,” he said.

School of hard knocks? Yeah, I think so.

Manuel might be Sixers' biggest fan these days

Luckily, the Phillies do not play tonight.

But I know what Charlie Manuel will be doing. He’ll be cheering for the Sixers. In fact, right now, Manuel and maybe Ruben Amaro Jr. may be the Sixers’ biggest fans.

They better hope the Sixers beat the Bulls and advance in the NBA Playoffs. If they do not the Phillies suddenly become the only game in town.

And these days that would not be a good thing.

The Phils welcomed back Cliff Lee last night. And they got exactly what you would expect. Lee threw six solid innings and left with the Phils holding a 4-2 lead.

Enter Kyle Kendrick.

Kaboom!

Kendrick becomes the latest member of the Phillies' bullpen to implode, they have now blown 5 saves in the last 10 days.

For weeks all anyone talked about was the Phils' woeful offense. That's not the problem these days.

The Phils, still not exactly an offensive juggernaut, seem to be scratching out enough to win. At least enough with this starting pitching staff.

But offense is not the Phils’ only problem. They have shown an alarming tendency to be sloppy in the field, and now their bullpen, aside from closer Jonathan Papelbon, looks like a minefield.

After still another come-from-ahead loss that handed the Mets a a sweep of the series last night, Manuel had seen enough.

He closed the doors to the locker room to talk to his team, which is now four games under .500 and mired in last place in the NL East, five games behind the Nats.

You can read Ryan Lawrence’s take on the game here. He was there to see it in person, along with 43,840 paying customers who made up the team’s 233rd consecutive sellout.

The only thing missing was a ‘Let’s Go, Sixers’ chant.