Thursday, June 28, 2012

The Daily Numbers - June 28

The Daily Numbers: 7 potential uses for the Sunoco refinery site ID’d yesterday in study paid for by the county.

100,000 dollar price tag for the study done by HIS Global.

300 million to $6 billion in improvements likely needed at the site.

50 to 400 jobs that would be created at the site by the 7 options.

175,000 barrels of oil a day that was refined at the Sunoco refinery in the Hook.

46, age of Darby woman indicted by the feds for using kids’ IDs in a tax swindle.

50 feet, how far away you will have to stay from any parks in Chester if you want to light up. The parks are going smoke-free.

1.9 percent tax hike to be voted on tonight by school board members in William Penn.

58 dollars more a year, what it will cost the average homeowner.

9.7 million dollars in additional funding from the state coming for Chester Upland.

2 million dollars more for Upper Darby.

0 dollars more more for struggling William Penn.

100 protesters who gathered yesterday outside the offices of Sen. Dominic Pileggi in Chester to protest cuts in the General Assistance cash benefit program.

251 new daily high temperature records set across the nation on Tuesday.

2 Philadelphia prison guard stabbed in an altercation with an inmate.

29 pounds, how much a 6-year-old boy who was found in a Montgomery County home weighed. His parents now face charges.

1 person killed in an accident involving an ATV in Chester County.

3 hits, including a home run, for Chase Utley in his season debut last night.

76 games missed by the second baseman because of ailing knees.

11-7 loss for the Phils at the hands of the Pirates as a series of bullpen pitchers got knocked around.

6 Phillies pitchers who gave up 14 hits.

20 days of rehab for Ryan Howard, starting tonight in Lakewood.

15, where the Sixers pick in tonight’s NBA Draft.

.364 batting average for Carlos Ruiz, best in the majors.

*

Call me a Phanatic: A look at the ups and downs of being a Philadelphia sports fan.You couldn’t script what Chase Utley did last night. Unfortunately, almost every Phillies fan could script what their bullpen did.

 

*

I Don’t Get It: Republican Mike Turzai basically admitted what a lot of Democrats had been hinting. The state’s new Voter ID Law was put in place to help Mitt Romney and the Republicans win Pennsylvania, a key swing state.

*

Today’s Upper: Kudos to the efforts to find a new life for the shuttered and once-proud Sunoco refinery in Marcus Hook.

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Quote Box: “This is the modern-day equivalent of driving the golden spike at Promontory Point, which linked East to West economically and in infrastructure and in every other way.”

- Department of Environmental Protection Secretary Michael Krancer at press conference to release study for uses for Sunoco refinery in Marcus Hook.

 

More ruffled feathers in Upper Darby

The joy did not last long in Upper Darby.

After word filtered out over the weekend that more state funding would likely allow the school district to restore some of the cuts that had drawn so much fire from parents, the school board convened Monday night and passed a budget with the hated realignment plan intact.

Parents are upset. Maybe more now than before.

They are using some pretty strong language to explain what they think happened.

“Duped” is one of them.

Last night we had two parents join us on our live-stream Internet broadcast, ‘Live From the Newsroom.’ If you missed it you can catch the replay here.

My thanks for parents Rachel Ruitberg and Carolyn Caron, who once again offered a passionate opposition to the district's plans. We also were joined via a phone hookup by state Rep. Nick Micozzie, R-163.

It was Micozzie, with the help from Rep. Margo Davidson, D-164, and Sen. Ted Erickson, R-26, who put aside party differences and put on a full-court press to get more money for Upper Darby.

The result was $726,000 in Accountability Block Grant money, and a whopping $2 million for Upper Darby from the state’s Distressed School Fund.

What seems to be at issue now is exactly how that money is going to be used.

Micozzie made it pretty clear to me yesterday afternoon that he wants that money used to restore the programs that were cut.

Parents say that doesn’t appear to be what is going to happen. Instead they believe some of the money will be used to rehired 19 teachers who will go into the regular classrooms and help teachers with the special instruction in arts, music, technology and languages. But they also made it clear they still think the district plans to lay these teachers off next year. And they’re irked that the district is moving ahead with the realignment plans.

For their part, no one at the district seems to be talking. No one from either the administration or the school board would agree to come on with us.

My hope is that the board merely is being cautious and wants to wait until after the state budget is signed, sealed and delivered before they announce their intention. They indicated they would hold another public meeting on July 10 to discuss uses for the newfound money.

That one should be a dandy.

Stay tuned.

'Shale-alleluia' in Marcus Hook

On Monday it was the “miracle in Trainer.”
Yesterday they were proclaiming “Shale-alleluia” in Marcus Hook.
No, they aren’t going to “save” the iconic Sunoco refinery in Marcus Hook. The vision of Howard Pew, founded more than a century ago, likely will not have a future in refining.

That does not mean it’s dead.
Yesterday County Council rolled out a study that offered the seven best potential uses for the site. You can read the full story here.
Think two words: Marcellus Shale.
The state’s booming natural gas biz seems to be a good fit for the Sunoco refinery, utilizing the site and its vast pipeline network.
Still to be determined is just how many jobs any of these potential options can create.
The best news to come out of the Conoco-Delta deal was that almost all of those good-paying union jobs have been saved. Workers started heading back into the plant this week.
That does not look like it is going to be the case in Marcus Hook.
Undaunted, officials are ready to look ahead.
They don’t have much choice.
Marcus Hook Mayor Jay Schiliro pretty much summed up the task facing the borough.
“We are proud of our past but excited about our future.”

Bullpen mars Utley's masterpiece

Too bad Chase Utley can’t pitch.

The second baseman did his best Roy Hobbs imitation last night as he stepped into the batter’s box for his first at-bat of the 2012 season, the second straight one that’s been delayed while he tried to caress his cranky knees back into playing shape.

Utley promptly provided one of the most dramatic moments in this mostly lifeless Phillies season by crushing a 2-2 pitch into the seats in right-center field.

Electricity surged through Citizens Bank Park. Suddenly, it was 2008 again.

There was good news on Ryan Howard’s exam. He’ll start a rehab stint Thursday at Lakewood.

Roy Halladay threw again and reported no ill effects in his ailing right shoulder.

All was right in Phillies-ville.

Unfortunately, no one bothered to tell the Phillies bullpen that this was supposed to be the perfect Hollywood story.

They failed to stick to the script, turning the South Philly version of “The Natural” into “Nightmare on South Broad.”

You can read Ryan Lawrence’s account of the carnage here.

Pressed into action because of Sunday’s double-header, Charlie Manuel was forced to try to salvage this game with a concoction of relievers.

It didn’t work out so well.

Raul Valdes set the trend early, when he surrendered the 2-0 lead provided by Utley and Carlos Ruiz homers in the first by giving up 3 in the top of the 2nd. It was mostly downhilll from there.

The Phils rallied and at one point got to within 1 at 8-7, but Chad Qualls quickly doused the rally by giving up three runs before leaving to a shower of boos.

But not even a bitter 11-7 loss could mar the moment provided by Utley.

It’s one of those instances that go beyond sports. And I didn’t even see it, at least not live.

At the time I was doing our weekly live-stream Internet broadcast, “Live From the Newsroom.”

When the show was over, online editor Vince Carey informed us that Utley had homererd in his first at-bat. I thought he was kidding. I asked him if he was serious.

You can’t write a script like that.

Unfortunately, you also can’t envision the kind of nightmare the Phillies bullpen has morphed into this season.

We’ll cherish the Utley moment, which can now take its place beside his famous World Series celebration comment in the pantheon of great Philly sports moments.

But unless he can throw middle relief, I’m not sure the addition of Utley, nor the return of Howard and Halladay is going to be able to salvage this ugly season.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

The Daily Numbers - June 27

The Daily Numbers: 30 officials who gathered in Chester yesterday to announce a new boost for law enforcement in the city.

60,000 dollars raised for the move by local businesses.

625,000 dollars coming to the city from the feds for a special program to hire 5 police officers who must be vets.

8 homicides so far this year in the city.

135 reports of shots fired in Chester.

101 officers in the Chester Police Department, who this year will once again get a boost from the state police.

7-2 vote by which the Upper Darby School Board approved their controversial budget last night.

300 parents in attendance at last night’s meeting, many of whom were upset with the budget as passed.

726,000 dollars in Accountability Block Grants from the state being used to rehired 19 laid off teachers for special classes in music and art.

22, age of man wanted in connection with shooting of an Upper Darby man outside a popular eatery at the Piazza at Schmidt’s in Northern Liberties. He was taken into custody in Texas.

40 deaf or deaf-blind clients at Valley View at Elwyn who will need to find new homes because of an $800,000 budget gap.

5, as in July 5, when next court hearing is schedule in attempts to get Monsignor William Lynn out of jail. Until then he will remain behind bars.

71, age of essayist, author and filmmaker Nora Ephron, who died of leukemia.

30 people homeless after fire roars through apartment complex in Rhawnhurst section of Philly.

471 million dollars in increase spending in this year’s $27.7 billion state budget deal.

0.5 percent hike in spending for Welfare.

8.7 percent funding cut for Department of Environment Protection.

319 million in savings from elimination of cash payments for 70,000 people in General Assistance program.

5-4 win for the Phils, their 2nd straight over the Pirates.

2 hits, including home run, for Chase Utley playing rehab game with Lehigh Valley IronPigs.

3 hits for Carlos Ruiz, including his 10th homer.

.361 batting average for Ruiz, best in the majors.

*

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

Utley’s back tonight, Howard is hopefully headed for rehab in Lakewood. Here come the Phils.

*

I Don’t Get It: Is this just a matter of all the money being accounted for in Upper Darby, or is something else going on?

*

Today’s Upper: Kudos to the law enforcement officials who gathered yesterday in Chester to announce a new program to keep city streets safe this summer.

*

Quote Box: “Every resident in the city should be able to walk around their home, relax on their porches, their children should be able to play in the city parks, senior citizens should be able to walk to corner stores.”

- Delco D.A. Jack Whelan, announcing new summer anti-crime program in Chester yesterday.

More budget woes in Upper Darby

I’m confused.

For a couple of months parents in Upper Darby have been up in arms over a proposed budget and realignment plan in the school district that called for drastic cuts.

The board, looking at a $13 million deficit, but an acute $3 million in red ink, was looking to cut more than 50 teaching positions, and raising taxes at the same time.

But what was really stuck in the craw of parents and education activists was a “realignment plan” that called for elminiation of special classes in arts and music in elementary schools, and tech and language in the middle schools. Phys ed and library also were on the chopping block.

But over the weekend school administrators announced that those special classes were being restored after money – much of it from Harrisburg - was put back into the budget.

I thought there would be a lot of happy faces at the school board meeting last night where the board signed off on their final budget. Read that story here.

Uh, not exactly.

The board is still playing it pretty close to the best, because while they have reason to believe the money is coming, the budget has not yet been finalized in Harrisburg.

I got an inkling of what might be going on in an email yesterday from state Rep. Nick Micozzie, R-163, who has been working on this crisis now for weeks.

Micozzie was among the Delco legislators who was key in getting more money for the district, including $725,000 in accountability block grant funds, and $2.5 million from the Distressed School funds.

But as Micozzie pointed out, while he can get the money for the district, he has no say over just how the board spends it.

I am hoping that this is just a matter of all the budgets being formally passed, and everyone wanting to cross all their t’s and dot all their I’s.

Unless I’m missing something. Unless parents believe that the district is not going to move ahead with their stated plan.

Last night they made it clear to the board that although it appears the special classes are being saved, they still don’t like the fact that the realignment plan will remain in place, and library classes remain on the hit list.

We will once again delve into this hot issue tonight on our ‘Live From the Newsroom’ live-stream Internet broadcast.

I’ll be joined by two parents, Rachel Ruitberg and Carolyn Caron, who have been very vocal in their opposition to the district’s plans. We’ll also be joined by Rep. Micozzie, who we will chat with by phone from Harrisburg, where he continues to work on the state budget.

If you have a question you’d like asked of either the parents or Rep. Micozzie, email it to me at editor@delcotimes.com and we’ll put it to the panel tonight.

Regrettably, no one from the district administration or school board would agree to come on with us tonight.

We’ll be ‘Live’ tonight at 7 on DelcoTimes.com. Log in and join our chat.

It’s all about Upper Darby.

Hopefully after tonight I won’t be as confused as I am right now.

For some reason, though, I kind of doubt it.

 

Miracle in Trainer

This post is actually a couple of days overdue.

It’s hard to put into words how good it felt to see those workers walking back into what was once the Conoco refinery in Trainer.

This came just a few months after they walked out of that same plant when Conoco shut it down. Most thought they’d never be going back.

So it was amazing to see so many of them doing just that.

This can only be described as the perfect marriage of a community, unions and public officials coming together to rally around a common theme – jobs.

A lot of people had a hand in the deal that saw Delta Air Lines buy the site from Conoco and set up a subsidiary, Monroe Energy, to run it. And yes, a lot of government entities came up big, including state government and county council.

Our front page quoting a worker probably said it best.

“It’s awesome,” he said.

You can say that again.

Now if only the same could be said of the iconic Sunoco refinery next door in Marcus Hook.

This morning County Council is expected to announce the results of a special study they had done to recommend potential uses for the site.

It likely will not include refining.

That means that whatever goes in there will likely include a lot fewer jobs.

Which makes what happened next door in Trainer even more of a miracle.

We’ve said a lot of times that what was at stake in these refinery fights was no less than a way of life in the county’s lower end.

One look at the faces of those workers heading back into the Monroe plant in Trainer could tell you that.

My guess is that a look at the face of Sunoco workers later today will tell you the same thing.

Things starting to look up for Phils

In a matter of a couple of hours yesterday afternoon and stretching into last night, things took a decidedly turn for the better for the Phillies.

First, even while Chase Utley was pulling on his Lehigh Valley IronPigs uni, Phillies G.M. Ruben Amaro was offering a fairly positive update on slugger Ryan Howard.

The left-handed bopper who has been out of the Phils’ lineup all season after his Achilles tendon blew up on the final play of the playoffs last year, will be examined this week and if he gets the green light, he will head to Class A Lakewood for a 20-day rehab stint.

Lakewood is where Howard’s career started. And it is there where he will try to launch it once again after a devastating injury.

Utley did his part to add to the enthusiasm by looking very much like the player Phillies fans love in his one-night stand in Allentown. He had two hits for the IronPigs, including a solo homer, in leading them to a big win. Utley is now expected to make his way back down the Northeast Extension and be in the lineup vs. the Pirates tonight.

It will mark the first time the second baseman will be in the Phillies’ lineup this year.

And the Phils also got in on the act last night, taking their second straight from the Pirates, and in the process getting something they have been sorely lacking this year – relief from their bullpen.

After starter Vance Worley got in trouble in the seventh, Michael Schwimer managed to wriggle out of a second and third jam with no one out, preserving the Phils’ slim 5-4 lead.

Hey, it’s not even the All-Star break.

All those eyebrows being raised just might belong to those teams above the Phils in the standings, looking over their shoulders.

Has the beast (of the NL East) been awakened? Stay tuned.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

The Daily Numbers - June 26

The Daily Numbers: 180 million dollar price tag for the Conoco refinery in Trainer. It was purchased by Delta Airlines. Yesterday union workers started heading back into the plant.

30 million coming from the state in the deal.

1 million dollars being redirected by the county from gaming funds.

700 direct and contractor jobs to be filled as the refinery comes back to life.

210 pints of blood donated by Springfield resident Jimmy Heron.

20 to 40 years in prison for a Chester man in the stabbing death of his wife’s ex-boyfriend.

3.5 percent tax hike included in the budget that will be voted on tonight by the Upper Darby School Board.

112 dollars more on the tax tab for the average Upper Darby homeowner.

2 percent tax increase OK’d in Wallingford-Swarthmore.

2.45 percent tax hike getting the green light in Garnet Valley.

625,000 dollars for the city of Chester to hire more police announced yesterday by Attorney General Eric Holder. It’s part of a program to boost hiring of military veterans.

4.5 million dollars in funding for wireless coming to Delco emergency services from the state.

70 jobs being cut by Campbell Soup at their Camden offices.

4 days in jail, how long Monsignor William Lynn has been held since his conviction on child endangerment charges. He will seek to be released on house arrest today.

40, age of Pa. state trooper facing charges in an off-duty DUI crash that took the life of a 21-year-old woman.

138 point decline for Wall Street yesterday.

1.2 billion dollars being paid by Microsoft for something called Yammer, an Internet startup that is similar to Facebook.

.156, what Chase Utley hit during his 9-game rehab stint in Clearwater. He’ll play in Lehigh Valley tonight before joining Phils for tomorrow night’s game.

3 runs on 7 hits over 7 innings surrendered by Phillies starter Joe Blanton last night in win over the Pirates.

8 games back of the Nats for the Phils, after their 8-3 win over the Bucs.

2 errors on 1 play in 1st inning by the Pirates as the Phils raced out to a 4-0 lead.

4 homers in 5 games for Jimmy Rollins, who had 2 hits in the game and raised his batting average to .268.

15-day DL for catcher Brian Schneider, who sprained an ankle after a collision at the plate Sunday night.

258 straight sellouts for the Phillies at Citizens Bank Park.

*

Call me a Phanatic: A look at the ups and downs of being a Philadelphia sports fan.Maybe it was coincidence, but the Phillies certainly seemed to respond to the presence of Chase Utley in the dugout last night.

 

*

I Don’t Get It: In Philadelphia, a $500 reward has now been posted for info on who doused a pit bull with gasoline and then lit it on fire. The dog has died of its injuries. I don’t get it.

*

Today’s Upper: Kudos to all those who took in the Traveling Vietnam Veterans Memorial, which spent the weekend in Marcus Hook.

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Quote Box: “It means everything to me. It’s part of your life. I didn’t think we were coming back.”

- Jim Dantonio, of Aston, who spent 30 years at the Conoco refinery and was among the group going back into the plant yesterday.

 

Showtime tonight in Upper Darby


Who says the newsroom does not contribute to revenue?




Did you happen to notice the full page ad in the newspaper on Sunday.



It was placed by the Save Upper Darby Arts group urging citizens to attend tonight’s school board meeting.



Of course when they placed the ad, the cuts announced by the board, along with a tax hike and elimination of lots of teaching positions were still on the table.



That changed over the weekend.



As we reported first on Sunday, the powers that be in Harrisburg, in particular state Rep. Nick Micozzie, R-163, have been looking for ways to restore the funding that will allow the district to rescind elimination of specialized classes in arts and music at the elementary level, tech and language for middle schoolers.




Even though all the i’s will not be dotted, nor all the t’s crossed, that is likely what is going to happen at tonight’s meeting.



Here is the latest update.



You have to give the group credit. They mobilized the day after the cuts were announced and never stopped until they got what they wanted.



There are still some questions, but it appears they have been successful.



Stay tuned to DelcoTimes.com for the latest updates on this story tonight, and then come back Wednesday night at 7. We’re planning another special ‘Live From the Newsroom’ show with some of the parents who have been so successful in pushing for these actions.



Join us Wednesday night at 7. Take part in the conversation. Get engaged in your community. You never know what you can accomplish. Just ask these Upper Darby parents.


That name sounds familiar


Full disclosure today.




There is a story on P. 4 of the print edition, as well as here on DelcoTimes.com that has a bit of a familiar name.



It’s about a Springfield man who donated his 210th pint of blood yesterday.




His name is Jimmy.



His last name is Heron.



Yes, that Heron.



He’s my older brother.



I had no idea we were doing this story until I was informed of it at our 5 p.m. news budget meeting. I knew earlier that we were doing a story on a guy giving blood, but I didn’t hear that it was my brother until later in the day.



Go ahead, call it nepotism. I plead guilty. I just hope the people pointing this out are not the same ones who constantly berate the newspaper for never delivering any “good” news.



Nice to know that someone in the family is making a positive contribution to society.



Way to go, Jimmy.


Chase Utley gives it one more shot

Tonight’s Triple A game featuring the Lehigh Valley IronPigs at Coca-Cola Park in Allentown is sold out.

No, they aren’t giving away anything.

Except hope.

That’s what Phillies fans will be buying when a certain second baseman trots out to take his position tonight.

Maybe you’ve heard of him. His name is Chase Utley.

You know, as in Chase “World Bleeping Champions” Utley.

Utley has missed all of spring training and the Phillies first 75 games (76 if you count tonight) with a chronic knee condition.

It’s chronic now. I didn’t realize it was chronic over the winter. And I would be willing to guess a lot of Phillies fans – if not some front office folks – were a little taken aback when Utley showed up in Clearwater and announced he was unable to go.

Unless I missed it, it was the first I had heard all winter he was again having trouble. I expected Utley to show up at spring training and be ready to play. I did not hear anything otherwise from the Phillies.

I am left with the following possibilities. Either Utley didn’t tell the team he was having problems, or he did and the team decided the public didn’t necessarily need to know that bit of information.

Of course, it also meant that the Phillies would start the season without their two biggest offensive weapons, with Ryan Howard already being on the shelf after blowing up an Achilles tendon in the final play of that disappointing playoff loss to the Cardinals last fall.

So Utley faced the press yesterday at Citizens Bank Park before taking the drive up the Northeast Extension to play for the IronPigs tonight.

Utley wanted to make it clear that he doesn’t think he’s done. More than that, he wanted the fans to know that this Phillies team is not done, either, despite their 35-40 mark and last place position in the NL East. Actually, they're now tied with the Marlins, eight games behind the Nationals.

Perhaps buoyed by one of their leaders’ comments, the Phillies went out and blasted the Pirates last night. It didn’t hurt that the Bucs handled the ball like a hand grenade all night, throwing it all over the yard. They committed four errors, two on one comic play in the first inning as the Phils raced out to a 4-0 lead and never looked back.

If Utley can provide this team with anything, it is likely leadership.

How much he can give them on the field remains to be seen. He hit .156 over nine games in a rehab stint in Clearwater, getting out of there just before Hurricane Debby left Bright House Field under water.

Utley remains undaunted, saying his time in Florida was ‘encouraging.’

He is expected to be in the Phillies lineup tomorrow night, after tonight’s tune-up in Allentown.

Yesterday Utley lamented that there were a lot of people who have given up on him.

I might be one of them. I would love to believe otherwise, but I don’t know how much Utley has left in the tank. Nor how long those creaky knees will hold up.

But I will tell you this. With Freddy Galvis now also in sick bay (as well as serving a 50-game suspension for testing positive for a banned substance), Utley is a better option than anything else Charlie Manuel can trot out there.

And just his presence in the dugout seemed to get a response from the team last night.

We’ll see how long that lasts.

It’s a long season. It’s too early to say the Phils are out of it. I’m just hoping it’s also too early to say Utley’s time is over.

Monday, June 25, 2012

The Daily Numbers for June 25


The Daily Numbers: 19 teachers being rehired as ‘special’ classes in arts, music, tech and language are restored for Upper Darby elementary and middle schools.




45 teachers furloughed at the last board meeting. The 19 will coming back will come from their ranks.



725,000 in state Accountability Block Grants that will go toward the restoration of special classes.



2.5 million dollars from Distressed Schools Fund that also will be used.



5 months ago when workers walked out of the Conoco refinery in Trainer for the last time. Today they will walk back in and head back to work as a subsidiary of Delta Airlines takes over.



400 workers expected to be employed once again at the site, which will be run by Monroe Energy.



12 billion dollars, how much Delta spent on jet fuel last year.



80 percent of their domestic fuel they expect to come from the Trainer facility.



4 months, how long the bridge on MacDade Boulevard that spans Ridley Creek at the Chester line in Ridley Township has been closed.



35 percent, how much the owner of the Brewer’s Outlet in nearby Woodlyn Shopping Center says his business has been off.



18 to 36 years in jail for a Clifton Heights man who police say attempted ‘suicide by cop’ last October.



40 years since Hurricane Agnes wreaked havoc across much of Pa.



4 dead in several hours as street violence continues to take a heavy toll in Philly.



4 people shot when gunfire erupted during a basketball game in Logan Sunday night.



27 percent decline in gas prices from their 2012 high.



3.43, average price per gallon in the Philly region, down 6 cents from the week before.



3.73, what we were paying last year at this time.



0 win for Cliff Lee, who got tagged with the loss in the nightcap of yesterday’s day/night doubleheader. He’s now 0-4 with a 3.72 ERA for the season.



5.10, Lee’s ERA in his last 5 starts.



7 shutout innings for Cole Hamels in Game 1, unfortunately Antonio Bastardo melted down in the 8th and the Phils lost.



*



Call me a Phanatic: A look at the ups and downs of being a Philadelphia sports fan.Slowly but surely watching a Phillies season go right down the drain. Anyone disagree?







*



I Don’t Get It: Why were all those people cheering like some kind of pep rally in the bizarre scene outside court in Bellefonte, Pa., Friday night after guilty verdicts against Jerry Sandusky.




Today’s Upper: Kudos to all those workers heading back to work at the former Conoco plant in Trainer today.




Quote Box: “It’s an enormous burden lifted off the shoulders of the workers and those families and it’s a tremendous boost to our region to have such a core industry return.”



- U.S. Rep. Pat Meehan, R-7, on Monroe Energy setting up shop at former Conoco refinery in Trainer today.


The heat was on Sunday at St. Joseph’s Parish in Downingtown.

Not because of the fallout from the conviction of former pastor Monsignor William Lynn on an child endangerment charge.

The air-conditioning was out.

As I walked into the noon Mass under a blazing sun, I wondered just how hot it was going to be inside.

For more than a year the parish had been going about its business under the cloud of the archdiocese priest child-sex abuse case.

Monsignor Lynn was our pastor. He had been placed on leave after being charged with two counts of endangerment as well as conspiracy.

The jury returned its verdict Friday afternoon. They acquitted Lynn of one endangerment charge and the conspiracy rap. But they convicted him on one count of endangerment. In the process he became the first high-ranking church official in the U.S. to be convicted on charges connected to the abuse of children by priests.

St. Joe’s was at the epicenter of all this.

On Sunday, even before Mass started, Bishop John McIntyre delivered a message to parishioners. He wanted them to know that the archdiocese, in particular new Archbishop Charles Chaput, had not forgotten them. He stressed that he and others downtown knew just how grueling these past months have been on the parish.

They’ve likely been especially grueling for Monsignor Joseph McLoone. He was the longtime pastor at Mother Katharine Drexel in Chester who was tapped by the archdiocese to take over at St. Joe’s.

We shared a Delco connection, as well as a newspaper tie. His brother Pat is managing editor of the Philadelphia Daily News. In an odd way, I kind of connected with monsignor. Both of our places of employment seem to be under siege these days.

In his homily, Monsignor McLoone deftly pointed out several passages from this weekend’s readings, tied to the celebration of the birthday of John the Baptist.

He stressed that much like John the Baptist, we can’t be focused on ourselves, but on each other, and most important Jesus.

It’s as simple as that.

And it’s equally as simple to see how far the archdiocese strayed from that thought in the way they handled this scandal.

They certainly weren’t thinking of the kids. And it would be hard to think they were thinking of Jesus in implementing some of the policies they did. They were thinking of the church, and protecting its reputation.

I wrote about my feelings on the verdict both in my blog over the weekend and in my featured weekly print column. You can read it here.

It’s ironic that the verdicts against Monsignor Lynn and former Penn State coach Jerry Sandusky would come down on the same day. I always viewed the actions of many officials in the Penn State case as a carbon copy of what the archdiocese did for so many years.

But unlike those who turned the atmosphere outside that courtroom in Bellefonte, Pa., into something akin to a football pep rally Friday night, I felt nothing but an overwhelming sadness.

And I can admit that Lynn was on my mind all weekend. This morning his attorneys will be in court seeking to get him released from jail on home monitoring. I hope they are successful.

I know that many will disagree, who believe he should remain in prison. It sounds as if the prosecutor would be in that camp, given his statement immediately after the verdict was rendered.

I see absolutely no good that can come from keeping a 61-year-old priest behind bars.

I don’t like what Monsignor Lynn did in his role as secretary of the clergy. I wish to god he had stood up and told his boss, Cardinal Bevilacqua, that “I can’t do this.”

He didn’t. And he’s paid a horrendous price for it.

In the process he’s become something of a scapegoat for all the ills that afflict the Archdiocese of Philadelphia.

Slowly but surely life in the archdiocese will go on. St. Joseph’s will fade from the news.

I hope the lessons have been learned.

Our editorial today notes that the verdict should be a harbinger for the archdiocese and others who might ignore a clear problem in their midst. In particular when it comes to the sexual abuse of innocent children.

They will no doubt fix the air-conditioning at St. Joe’s this week. Fixing what ails the archdiocese, and the horror inflicted on so many kids for so long will likely take a little longer.

Another miracle in Upper Darby


Call it “Miracle II” in Upper Darby.




First it was Monsignor Bonner-Archbishop Prendergast.



Now it’s the special classes in Upper Darby schools.



Who says you can’t fight city hall?




We learned on Saturday that state funding has been allocated that will allow Upper Darby officials to restore the special classes that had been on the chopping block - arts and music in the elementary schools, as well as tech and language for middle schoolers. Phys Ed classes also will return. Not as lucky is library, which still appears as if it’s going to get slashed.



You can read all the details here.



It was back in early April that district officials, facing the prospect of a $4 million budget shortfall, decided to swing the ax. They cut 57 teaching positions, raised taxes, and most important eliminated the longtime tradition of the so-called “special” classes dedicated to art and music, among other things.



It was not well-received. Parents went ballistic. Then they mobilized. They set up a Facebook page and website called SaveUDArts.



They packed school board meetings. They lobbied their legislators.



Their voices were heard. And they got results.



You hear all the time that you can’t fight city hall. But this is the second time in little more than a few months that citizens have done exactly that.



First it was the massive fundraising effort pulled off by the Bonner-Prendie boosters.



With the public schools, it was turning up the heat on public officials.



One man in particular felt the residents’ pain and worked behind the scenes to restore the money to Upper Darby.



That would be state state Rep. Nick Micozzie, R-163. The longtime Upper Darby rep is no stranger to the education funding wars. He’s been battling for years against a system that creates an unfair, unlevel playing field in which the districts where his constituents live, in Upper Darby and William Penn, have the deck stacked against them.



We’ll get more details of the deal that allowed the special classes to be returned Tuesday night when the school board is scheduled to take its final budget vote.



That vote will now likely will overturn the much-hated district realignment plant.



It’s another miracle.



They seem to be contagious in Upper Darby.


More Cole in the Phils' stockings

My wife is a big-time Phillies fan.

As she usually does, she has hitched her wagon to one particular player.

This is the woman who to this day remains the captain of the Eric Lindros fan club.

She goes for guys who are ... ahem ... "in touch with their feelings," who seem like genuinely nice guys. The sensitive types. What the hell she’s doing with me I have no idea.

Her man on the Phillies is Cole Hamels. Believe it or not, I don’t think it has that much to do with his looks. No, I’m not jealous, Cole. But if you’d like me to negotiate that new contract for you, just give me a call. Or better yet the Mrs. It would make her day.

Every time Hamels takes the mound, my wife is on pins and needles.

She actually doesn’t watch the games when he’s pitching; she gets too nervous.

Yesterday, Hamels was in the zone. He was mowing down the Rays, allowing only three hits over seven innings.

The problem was he didn’t pitch the eighth; Antonio Bastardo did. Hamels got the hook after throwing 111 pitches with the Phils hanging onto a 1-0 lead by their fingernails.

You know what happened next. You can read Ryan Lawrence's take on it here.

Bastardo walked the leadoff hitter. We were at a party for our extended family’s newest member, a baby that can only be described as a “miracle” after surviving some serious health issues after birth.

There have been very few miracles this year for the Phils, unless you count Jim Thome’s walkoff homer Saturday that allowed them to avoid being swept by the Rays.

That’s right. Bastardo walked two of the first three batters he faced, then gave up a homer to Carlos Pena. 3-1 Rays. They held on for the 3-2 win.

No 11th win for Hamels. No momentum for the Phillies. Cliff Lee was ordinary in Game 2 of the day-night doubleheader as the Phils lost, 7-3.

They remain nine games back of the Nationals and appear to be going nowhere.

Forget all that. I've got more important issues. My wife is not a happy camper. She went off on the bullpen. She has lots of company there. The seventh and eighth and innings have been a mine field all season for the Philies. They have the best, highest-paid closer in baseball, but too often have no bridge that can safely get them from their outstanding starting pitching to Jonathan Papelbon in the ninth.

My wife’s suggestion? Have Papelbon throw two innings. Not sure how long he would hold up that way.

But I do know one thing. It is not yet July 4 but this Phillies team appears ready to put the “dog” in dog days. Too many guys look to be going through the motions.

It’s a long season. This team has been decimated by injuries, including losing the heart of their lineup with Chase Utley and Ryan Howard on the shelf.

Utley will play at Triple A Lehigh Valley Tuesday night and could be in the Phillies lineup later this week.

I don’t think he’s going to be enough to turn around this team’s misfortune. Unless he brings a middle reliever with him.

Howard would certainly help, and hopefully all those who have been dissing him the past few years as he scuffled in the post-season now have a new appreciation for what he means to this lineup. Amazing how much better Shane Victorino and Hunter Pence become with Howard looming behind them in the batting order.

I don’t want to give up on this team.

I know my wife doesn’t. Although I can tell you right now, Ruben. If you don’t re-sign Hamels, she will never forgive you.

We’re past the summer solstice. The days will start to get shorter. As will the Phillies’ chances for turning this thing around.

 

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Sandusky, Lynn & an overwhelming sadness

One was the smiling, grandfatherly architect of Penn State's legendary defense, the man who put together 'Linebacker U.'




The other was a former high-ranking official of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, now a parish priest. Not just any parish priest - my parish priest.



This morning both are in jail.



And maybe the rest of us can start to see our way out of this prison of grim daily reports on the horrific things adults can do to children.



To be honest, I'm a little numb. And just overwhelmingly sad.



Jerry Sandusky was convicted of 45 of 48 counts of sexual abuse of children. Monsignor William Lynn was convicted of a single count of endangering the welfare of children. In a mixed verdict, he was acquitted of a second endangerment charge, as well as a conspiracy charge.



This morning both are behind bars. That's about the only thing they have in common, that and the fact that their trials came to an explosive conclusion in one of the most historic days in the annals of Pennsylvania justice.



Sandusky was the self-described 'tickle monster.' Lynn was a priest, for God's sake. His crime was following the orders and policies laid out by the late Cardinal Anthony Bevilacqua and Cardinal John Krol before him. It became clear during Lynn's trial that what was paramount was the reputation of the church, not the scarred souls of all those kids who had been abused by men who used a collar to shield them from justice, who believed they were above the law, and who were aided in their perversion by their superiors in the church.



It was a day many had been waiting on for decades, still unsure if the notion of 'justice' would ever come.



The verdicts in the Lynn case arrived in early afternoon, a decidedly mixed decision, a single guilty verdict against the monsignor, not guilty verdicts on two other charges, and a hung jury on the charges against his co-defendant, the Rev. James Brennan. A mistrial was declared in the Brennan case. D.A. Seth Williams will have to decide whether to retry him.



Then, as is always the case in these big cases, came the rush to the microphones, with both sides finally getting the opportunity to speak about the case once the gag order was lifted.



Advocates for victims' rights hailed the single guilty verdict as a landmark moment in the long, sordid history of the church's dealing with child sexual abuse by priests. Monsignor Lynn's defense lawyers depicted a man who was 'upset, crushed' both by the verdict and the nasty things the district attorney's office had been saying about him



The D.A. held the case out as a signal to the church and others that institutions will no longer be protected in the way they deal with those suspected of child sexual abuse.



I'm not so sure.



Than again, I was the one telling people back in 2003 not to be surprised if they see this guy beding hauled off in handcuffs one day.



That was my initial reaction after reading the gut-wrenching first grand jury report on child sexual abuse by priests in the Philadelphia archdiocese, and the systematic - and systemic - way the church protected its own. It made clear that problem priests were moved from parish to parish, where they were allowed to prey on innocent kids.



It was not a popular opinion at the time. Many stood by Monsignor Lynn, blasting the grand jury report as an anti-Catholic witch hunt. I asked those who confronted me if they had read it. Most had not. No charges were filed after that report, in large part because the statute of limitations had expired.



What would not expire was the ugly truth of what the church was doing, and Monsignor Lynn's role in it as secretary of the clergy.



In February 2011, another grand jury issued another scathing report, only this one resulted in criminal charges. Against Lynn. Against Brennan. And while not specifically named, in truth against Bevilacqua and the church.



When I first wrote about the charges filed against Monsignor Lynn, those columns were not particularly well received at my parish, St. Joseph's in Downingtown. The monsignor was our parish priest, and he was very well-liked. To this day - or at least last week - his name still appeared in the parish bulletin.



It remained inconceivable to many that this good man could be the same person facing criminal charges, whose actions came under such withering criticism by two grand juries.



I imagine some people out in Happy Valley felt the same way about Sandusky.



I was always fascinated by the symmetry of the two cases. They both involve horrific actions against children, and supervisors who looked the other way, more concerned about the reputations of their institutions than the battered psyches of abused kids.



Two hallowed, respected organizations, the Catholic church in Philadelphia, and the church of Penn State football, were laid bare in these two cases. It has cost the church untold turmoil; for the school, the shredding of its sterling reputation. And the downfall of its legendary coach, Joe Paterno, who was jettisoned in the tumultous fallout from the Sandusky affair.



This morning there is justice. And two men in jail. Sandusky likely will spend the rest of life there. It is my sincere hope that Monsignor Lynn does not. Call me soft-hearted if you like, but I can see no redeeming value in putting a 61-year-old priest in jail. Call it the angst of an old altar boy. I'll leave that for the lawyers to figure out.



More than that, there is no joy this morning, despite the cheering that accompanied the scene outside court last night in the aftermath of the of the Sandusky verdict. This wasn't a football game. It's a tragedy.



This morning two men sit in jail. Justice has been served, but an overwhelming sense of sadness of the cost remains.



And maybe, just maybe, all those kids victimized first by these predators, then by institutions that were supposed to protect them, can start to unlock the jail cells that have been their personal hell for so long.

Friday, June 22, 2012

The Daily Numbers - June 22


The Daily Numbers: 45 jobs being eliminated by the archdiocese.


17 million dollar deficit for the church.

11.6 million in legal bills tied to priest-abuse scandal, that is not part of the deficit.

19 offices and ministries being merged.

117 years of the Catholic Standard and Times coming to an end. The archdiocese is shutting the newspaper down, as well as the Phaith magazine.

3-0 vote in Tinicum to allow Philadelphia International Airport to extend current taxiway and add new high-speed exit.

40 graduates getting diplomas last night at Glen Mills School. That’s the last high school commencement in the county. Let summer begin.

10,000 dollars, how much a Havertown woman is alleged to try to redeem a fur coat for that was only worth $1,000. She now faces charges.

900,000 budget gap still looming in William Penn School District. They’re looking at a tax hike.

40 juveniles at a post-prom beer bash in Marple. The hosts now face charges.

275,000 dollars raised for school bus monitor who was bullied unmercifully by a group of kids. The whole thing was caught on video and posted to YouTube.

250 million dollar project at the former Conoco refinery in Trainer that is being taken over by Delta Airlines that got the OK from the PUC.

2 Genuardi’s supermarkets in Delco that are being converted to Giant Supermarkets.

4-1 loss for the Phillies last night as they failed to sweep all 3 games vs. the Rockies.

7 solid innings from Vane Worley, who still got tagged with the loss.

238 consecutive sellouts as 43,805 went through the turnstiles as the temperatures hovered in the low 90s.

0 win for Cliff Lee, who takes the hill tonight as Phils open 3-game series with the Rays.

*

Call me a Phanatic: A look at the ups and downs of being a Philadelphia sports fan.Shane Victorino thinks the media is always asking about the negative. Hard to figure.



*

I Don’t Get It: Why are we hearing from the son of Jerry Sandusky alleging he also was abused by his dad after the jury goes out in his trial?

*

Today’s Upper: Kudos to Glen Mills School and their 40 graduates, bringing the curtain down on graduation season here in Delaware County.

*

Quote Box: “The more troubling fact is that the archdiocese has, for many years, covered the expense of its many good ministries with growing deficits.”

- Archbishop Charles Chaput, on reasons for cutbacks announced yesterday.




The curious case of Paul Summers

I still have questions about the curious case of Paul Summers.

He’s the longtime Upper Darby GOP loyalist who got caught forging signatures on petitions for then candidate Pat Meehan in the 2010 7th District Congressional race.

He ended up falling on his sword, pleaded guilty and was placed on probation.

That didn’t stop him from landing on his feet. He managed to score a new job with a non-profit in Media called the Center for Resolutions. It used to be called the Community Dispute Settlement Program of Delaware County Inc. It gets the bulk of its funding from the county.

You can read all the details here.

Summers was a product of the old Upper Darby regime. To say he was loyal to the legendary, late Upper Darby GOP boss John McNichol would be an understatement. He once famously quipped that he would run through a wall for McNichol.

Meehan probably wishes he was not quite so zealous. The petition flap caused an uproar in a tight race vs. state Rep. Bryan Lentz that Meehan eventually won.

John McNichol lived and died with a sense of loyalty that is rarely found anymore. We didn’t always see eye to eye on things, but I still admired the guy. And respected him.

McNichol stuck with Summers, even through the ugliness of the forgery charges.

But McNichol tragically died last winter.

I’m told that Summers does not exactly have a lot of benefactors left in the Delco GOP. So how did he wind up with this gig?

It is not a county job, even though the agency does get some county money.

I find it hard to believe that either Council Chairman Tom McGarrigle or party boss Andy Reilly knew that Summers had picked up this new position.

Regardless, it makes the party look bad, and it only reinforces an image a lot of people in this county have of the party that has ruled the courthouse for decades.

They take care of their own.

I was expecting a lot of backlash when the story hit yesterday. There were lots of comments posted on the story on DelcoTimes.com, but I did not field one call from an official to complain that we were again showing our bias, that we had it in for the local GOP, which is honestly what I expected.

In fact, the few people I did come in contact with during the day were happy to see the story hit print.

You can read our editorial on the situation here.

Wonder if I’ll get any calls today?

What would Cardinal Foley say?


The hits just keep coming for the Archdiocese of Philadelphia.




They’re closing or merging schools.



One of their business office bosses recently was charged with bilking them out of a ton of money.




And of course a jury in Philadelphia continues to mull charges of endangering children filed against a monsignor for his role as secretary of the clergy in the archdiocese, as well as attempted rape charge against another priest.



Could it get any worse.



Uh, yes. And it did yesterday.



Facing a $17 million deficit, Archbishop Charles Chaput lowered the boom. He’s eliminating 45 jobs and merging several offices, including the one that handles youth activities.



You can read Patti Mengers’ full report here.



Of course, I was struck by one of the actions Chaput took. He’s shutting down the Catholic Standard and Times. As a longtime newspaperman, I hate to see another paper close its doors.



The archdiocese also will halt production of its slick new magazine, Phaith.



Instead news will now will be posted on a website. I know how you feel folks.



The move also is likely a jolt here in Delaware County, not only because the Standard and Times was a constant in so many parishes and homes, but because its longtime editor, Cardinal John Foley, was the pride of Sharon Hill.



Foley once delivered this newspaper’s predecessor. He went on to become the editor of the Standard and Times and eventually land in media relations at the Vatican.



He must be rolling over in his grave.


It's just a Shane!

Shane Victorino is not happy.

He made that pretty clear after last night’s disappointing loss that prevented the Phillies from sweeping the lowly Colorado Rockies and continuing to build momentum in this home stand.

Instead, they’re now looking up at the Nationals from nine games back.

Victorino last night sounded irked at the questioning after the game, chiding the media for always looking for the negative.

Here’s a clue, Shane. That’s because you’re 33-38 and in last place in the NL East.

The team got a solid outing last night from Vance Worley, who made one bad pitch and it cost him the lead in the 7th inning. But their bats went dead after Jimmy Rollins led off the game with a homer.

They lost, 4-1.

Tell us all the positives were supposed to pursue, Shane.

You can read Ryan Lawrence’s coverage here.

 

Thursday, June 21, 2012

The Daily Numbers - June 21


The Daily Numbers: 99, expected high today. Don’t rull out hitting triple digits at 100. By the way, 99 would break the record for the date.




1 more day of this heat, with storms expected to break up the sizzle on Friday. Hang in there for today.



19, age of man charged with rape in an attack on his girlfriend in Upper Darby. Police also believe he tried to strangle her with an extension cord.



4 year deal OK’d between County Council and Teamsters Local 312.



38, age of woman from Berks County who faces charges here for stealing her ex’s computer and then setting up accounts in his name, then using them to harass him.



53 million dollar budget that was approved by Interboro School Board last night.



0 tax hike included in the spending plan.



4 support positions that will be eliminated.



415,000 dollars in curriculum cuts.



16 to 40 years in the slammer for a Folcroft man who was found guilty in a series of burglaries targeting homes in Folcroft, Collingdale and Norwood.



1 count, all that they jury in the Philly priest abuse trial could agree on. They’re hung on the other and won’t say what count and who it was against. They go back to work on Friday.



27.7 billion spending plan agreed to in principle last night by Gov. Tom Corbett and members of the Legislature.



100 million dollars more set for the accountability block grants for schools.



50 million dollar pot for distressed schools.



2 weeks of daily talks behind closed doors that led to the budget deal.



7-6 win for the Phillies over the Rockies last night as they won their 2nd straight.



1 come-from-behind walkoff win for the Phils last year. Maybe last night was the start of the turnaround. Or maybe the Rockies are just that bad.



7 earned runs in 10 and a third innings for Jonathan Papelbon in non-save situations.



17 for 17 with a 0.00 ERA in save opportunities.



253 consecutive sellouts at Lincoln Financial Field.



*: A look at the ups and downs of being a Philadelphia sports fan.The Eagles put single-game tickets on sale today. They also signed a safety, O.J. Atogwa. If the Phils’ slide had continued, we might be talking football this morning. Instead the Phils are alive and kicking.



Call me a Phanatic







*



I Don’t Get It: There’s more news today of men being busted for child porn. I don’t get it.



*



Today’s Upper: Kudos to Interboro School Board, which made some very tough decisions but avoided a tax cut in passing their budget last night.



*



Quote Box: “There is a fair amount of work that needs to be done in dotting I’s and crossing T’s.”



- Pa. Gov., Tom Corbett, on deal on state budget.


Will state budget deal bring relief for Upper Darby schools?


It’s a deal in Harrisburg.




But what about Upper Darby?



Gov. Tom Corbett and the Legislature reached a deal on a $27.65 billion spending plan, but the waiting game goes on in Upper Darby to see if the school can avert some serious cost-cutting that has raised the ire of parents and education activists.



There may be good news on that front as well.



I talked to someone who I think has a pretty good feel for what is going on in Harrisburg, and he told me it appears Upper Darby should get enough money restored to avoid cutting the beloved “special” classes in art and music at the elementary level, and tech and library for middle schoolers.



Here’s how the deal could work.



Negotiators have already replaced $50 million cut from the state education block grant program. This week a matching $50 million was supposed to be replaced.



Upper Darby’s share of that pot would come to about $726,000.



Then you have to look at the special fund that is set up for distressed school districts. There’s a big push to secure $2.5 million of that funding for Upper Darby. That would get them to about $3.2 million, which just happens to be in the neighborhood of what the district is looking to save by cutting the special classes.



No one is ready yet to talk on the record, but there is a big-time effort being done at the state level, which is “committed” to getting the money for local schools.



What isn’t known is if this can all be put in place before the school board takes its final vote on the controversial budget and realignment plan on Tuesday night.



But I know discussions have been held, and there may be a promise that the money is coming, even if it is not there yet.



The school board would then have to show a little faith of its own, rejecting the cuts as they await formal announcement of the funding.



None of this will solve Upper Darby’s ongoing fiscal dilemma. Then again, the rest of the state could say the same thing. And the district is once again going to be behind the 8-ball next year.



But at least for now, there may be a way out of the woods.



We’ll let you know as soon as we hear something official.



If I was a betting man, I’d put the house on these hated cuts somehow going away.


'Live From the Newsroom' rings in summer in Morton!


We had a blast last night as we took ‘Live From the Newsroom’ out on the road to officially ring in the first day of summer.




If you missed the show, make sure you check it out here.



We had the temperatures to match, but we were cool as cucumbers tucked inside a great place in Morton. I can highly recommend Mammoni’s Cucina Rustica. The place was jumping. And chef Mike Wheaton knocked our socks off with a dynamite “summer table.”



With Mother Nature turning on the heat, we were looking for some summer refreshment.



That’s where Michele Aquino comes in. She’s co-owner of The Bottle Shop of Passyunk Avenue in Philly. She laid out a spell-binding array of specialty beers for us to ring in summer.



When I find one I don’t like, I’ll let you know.



Our thanks also to the gang from Cucina Chatter, headed by Lorraine Ranalli, and her best buds Chef Jacquie Peccina-Kelly from Taste4Travel, and Chef and DelcoTimes.com blogger Dom Condo, who writes out Cucina Domenico blog.



Everyone related their favorite summer barbecue dishes and the best brews to accompany them.



A great night in downtown Morton!


Did Phils start turnaround last night?

Finally.

It only took 70 games, but the Phillies finally managed a comeback, walk-off win last night.

It might just be the thing to kickstart their long slog back into contention.

On a sweltering night in South Philly, the Phils saw a 5-5 tie disintegrate in the top of the 9th with Jonathan Papelbon on the moud, only to pull it out in the bottom of the 9th to send their sweating faithful home delirious.

It’s something that has been conspicuously absent from the Phils’ attack this year. Basically, when this team went into the late innings behind, they were sunk. Everything about them screamed “defeated.”

Maybe the Colorado Rockies are just what this team needed. After all, they handed the Phils the game in the bottom of the 9th.

Don’t look for the Phils to give it back.

After they tied the game on a Hunter Pence double, the Phils had the bases loaded with Placido Polanco at the plate.

He bounced a ball up the middle toward center-field. It was cut-off by shortstop Marco Scutaro and it appeared as if this one was headed for some steamy extra innings. But instead of flipping to second for a force, Scutaro double-clutched, then fired high to first. Todd Helton couldn’t hold the bag as Polanco beat him in a “foot” race to find the base.

Phils win, Phils win, Phils win.

It won’t mean much if the Phils revert to their old ways. But it just might be a start.

And if it is, we have the Colorado Rockies to thank.

On a steamy night in South Philly, it was a Rocky Mountain High.

CLICK HERE for Ryan Lawrence’s full coverage.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012


The Daily Numbers: 6 women charged in a prostitution ring police say was operating out of hotels near Philadelphia International Airport.




95, expected high today, and we could hit 100 tomorrow.



105, the “real-feel” temperature, whatever the hell that is.



15 degrees above the normal for this time of year.



1, as in Day 1 of Summer arrives today.



7-2 win for Cole Hamels and the Phillies over the Rockies last night.



10 wins vs. 3 losses for Cole Hamels this year.



2 runs on 6 hits given up over 8 innings by the lefty.



50 game suspension for injured second baseman Freddy Galvis for testing positive for a banned substance.



3, as in 3rd place in the All-Star voting for catch Carlos Ruiz. Just a shame.



252 consecutive sellouts for the Phils at Citizens Bank Park.



3-1 lead in the NBA Finals for the Miami Heat, who beat the Thunder again last night.



*



Call me a Phanatic: A look at the ups and downs of being a Philadelphia sports fan.Don’t start throwing dirt on the Phils just yet. Last night was exactly what they needed. They need to get on a roll, and Cole Hamels, Carlos Ruiz and a rejuvenated Jimmy Rollins put them on their shoulders last night.







*



I Don’t Get It: El Wingador may have finally bitten off more than he can chew. Bill Simmons, who dominated Wing Bowl for years, was busted on cocaine charges. I don’t get it.



*



Today’s Upper: Kudos to the Chester groups who are coming together to offering mentoring to city youths. Bravo!



*



Quote Box: “I was blessed to have people come into my life as a teenager. I always tell people I’m one of those kids.”



- Pastor Keith Collins, of the Church of the Overcome in Trainer, on the mentoring effort planned for Chester.

Stick a cork in the celebration

Put down those glasses.

Stick a cork in the celebration.

There is no joy in Mudville, otherwise known as Pennsylvania. Mighty Mike Turzai has struck out.

If you were hoping for change in the archaic way this state handles the sale of alcohol, you’re out of luck. It’s enough to drive you to drink.

Rep. Turzai, R-Allegheny, emerged from a budget meeting yesterday and waved the white flag (as opposed to a bottle of White Label, I suppose). His proposal to sell off the state stores and sell the licenses to private operators is on hold. You can read about it here. He doesn’t have the votes. He says he’ll give it another “shot” (pardon another pun) in the fall. For now the focus of the Legislature is going to be on the budget.

I won’t hold my breath.

And here’s why.

I talked to one member of the local Delco delegation who was less than thrilled at the way Gov. Tom Corbett did not exactly get behind this effort.

Corbett made it clear when he was campaigning for governor that he was a supporter of privatizing the state store system as a way to raise much-needed revenue.

You wouldn’t know it by his silence on this issue once Turzai went out on a limb with his bill, only to have it sawed right out from under him by the staggering silence from the governor’s mansion.

I was told the measure was a measly three votes short in the House, and that no one stepped up to twist a few arms or dangle some inducement in order to collect the necessary votes.

The rep told me it was just the latest puzzling move by Corbett, amid a growing befuddlement among GOP factions as to what it is exactly that the governor stands for and will push.

If Tom Corbett really wanted to privatize the sale of wine and liquor in this state, it could have been done.

Instead, the governor says we need to focus on the budget battle, while maintaining he “wholeheartedly” favors privatization.

The fact that instead we saw Turzai fall on his sword yesterday tells you pretty much everything you need to know.

See you in the fall.

Or in the state store. Butr only if you're buying wine or liquor.

Or in the beer distributorship, but only if you’re buying a case.

Or in the local deli or tavern, but only if you’re buying a six-pack.

What a state.

Go ahead & blame me: I like this weather!

Here's today's over/under, in honor of the first day of summer.

How many times do you think we'll be reminded today that it is hot out? I'll put the line at 50, and I'm taking the over.


Don't wait for me to complain. I happen to like this weather.



I was bummed last night when I got home to learn that my better half had already flipped the air-conditioning on. Not for me. I set up shop on the deck. Tonight I hope to back out there, despite the sauna-like conditions.



There is an excessive heat warning issued for the region for today and lasting into Friday. It could last until Labor Day for me.



Today marks the first day of summer, so why would anyone be surprised that it is hot out? I'd be more taken aback if it was in the 50s.



So bring on summer. Bring on the heat. Yes, and the humidity. I like it thick.



See you on the deck. Just me, the Phils on the radio, and a cool beverage in hand.



No sweat!



Hamels proves his worth

Ruben Amaro Jr., meet Cole Hamels.

Now sign him.

If Amaro needed any more proof just how important the left-hander is to this struggling team, it was delivered last night.

Just hours after the Phillies were dealt another dose of bad news with word that injured second baseman Freddy Galvis was being handed a 50-game suspension for use of a banned substance, the team took the field to kick off a make-or-break home stand.

They stood nine games behind the Nationals, and at the edge of the abyss. They could topple into the unknown, or make a stand.

Backed by the arm of Hamels, the bat of Carlos Ruiz, and the legs of a rejuvenated Jimmy Rollins, the Phils made a statement of their own with a huge 7-2 win.

Hamels went eight solid innings, scattering two runs on six hits.

His name is being bandied about as trade bait as the experts try to figure out of the Phils will be buyers or sellers as the trade deadline approaches.

Don’t rule this team out yet. Especially if Hamels continues to pitch the way he did last night.

Read Dennis Deitch’s take on the game here.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

The Daily Numbers - June 18


The Daily Numbers: 7, age of youth who drowned at pool at Camelot Court apartment complex pool on Sunday.




620 state stores that would stay in place but get new competition under a new Senate proposal on liquor sales in Pa.



22,000 stores that can now sell alcohol by the glass that would be able to sell by the bottle.



10,000 dollars, cost of the proposed new license for increased sales.



94, age of Rosa Amsel, the oldest competitor in the Delco Senior Games. Rosa is a bowler. She picked up a gold medal.



35,000 square foot new rec center now open in Haverford as part of the Haverford Reserve development.



48.7 million dollars going to Chester Upland School District for special education expenses. That’s $21,375 for each student, according to a witness in their lawsuit vs. the state.



1 count of corruption of minors, what a former Chester Community Charter worker pleaded guilty to in court yesterday.



2 women charged with prostitution after a raid on their business in the Aronimink section of Upper Darby.



1.3 million dollars won by Delco native and disgraced former NBA ref Tim Donaghy in lawsuit vs. his publisher.



6 witnesses who took the stand yesterday and testified for the defense at the Jerry Sandusky trial. They were all character witnesses.



10 days without a verdict in the Philly priest abuse trial. Jurors will start Day 11 of deliberations this morning.



1 woman found dead in a motel in Dewey Beach yesterday.



18, age of missing student from Drexel University. His body was believed recovered from Schuylkill River.



7.4 percent increase in revenue from table games at Pa. casinos in May.



12 percent decline in table games play at Harrah’s.



6.1 million in revenue at Harrah’s in May, as opposed to $6.9 million same month last year.



757 billion dollar shortfall in state pension systems now being forecast.



3.49 a gallon, average price we’re now paying at the pump for gas in the Philly region.



5 months, how long it’s been since prices dipped below $3.50 a gallon.



1, as in No. 1 draft pick Fletcher Cox signed yesterday by the Eagles.



31-37 mark for the Phillies, 6 game under .500.



10 games at Citizens Bank Park starting tonight vs. the Colorado Rockies.



3 weeks from today, when the All-Star break arrives.



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



The Phillies better start winning soon or else they will lose the region to the arrival of Eagles Fever and talk about training camp and the NFL season.



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I Don’t Get It: All this talk about adults showering with children. I played a ton of sports in school. Coaches never showered with the rest of the guys. I don’t get it.



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Today’s Upper: Kudos to Rosa Amsel. She’s the 94-year-old Drexel Hill woman who medaled in bowling yesterday at the Delco Senior Games. You go, girl!



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Quote Box: “There was nobody in my age group so they gave me the gold medal.”



- Rosa Amsel, on her Senior Games achievement.


Name game vs. revenue at Harrah's

Apparently it’s easier to change your name than your luck.


Just ask the folks down at Harrah’s. Make that Harrah’s Philadelphia. You know, the gambling mecca that is located in Chester.


The folks at Harrah’s decided they needed to widen their scope, change their brand to better identify with the region in an attempt to lure gamblers in the extremely competitive gambling biz.

So they changed their name. And in the process dropped Chester.

They had always been known as Harrah’s Chester Casino & Racetrack.

Not anymore.

Now they’re going by Harrah’s Philadelphia.

Only they haven’t moved to Philly. They’re still located on Route 291 in Chester. Yes, right next to the prison.



The name change rubbed a lot of people the wrong way in Chester.

For the last couple of years, Harrah’s has been battling declining revenue from slots. Oh, they’re not exactly going begging, in May they took in more than $22 million from their slots operations. But that was down 1.2 percent from May 2011, a trend that has been pretty constant for more than a year.

One thought was that more people were trying their luck at table games. And Harrah’s table games had been going great guns.

Until May.

New numbers released by the state Gaming Control Board indicate that while table games revenue was up across the state, in part because of the addition of another casino in Valley Forge and more tables in play, revenue was off at Harrah’s. That was one of the first times table games revenue has dipped at the Chester casino.

Harrah’s took in $6.1 million in May, as opposed to $6.9 million in May 2011. That’s a decline of 12 percent.

Clearly one of the things at play here is the increased competition for gambling bucks in the region. Harrah’s now faces competition every direction it looks, with Sugar House in Philly, the Sands in Bethlehem, a new facility in Valley Forge, Parx in Bucks County, and of course Delaware Park just over the border to the south.

But are there other factors in play?

Why do you think the numbers are down at Harrah’s? Is it bad karma for the name change? Or are the declining numbers part of the reason for the name change in the first place.

Post a comment and let me know what you think.



'Live From the Newsroom' greets summer with a road show at Mammoni's in Morton

Brace yourself, here comes summer!

And 'Live From the Newsroom' will be bringing the heat. Actually, Mother Nature will. The temperature is expected to soar into the mid-90s Wednesday. I guess that's Mother Nature's way of ringing in summer.

We have some ideas of our own. In particular, we're thinking summer foods, drinks and barbecue.

So we're assembling our pals from Cucina Chatter and will be making a road trip to an exciting new eatery in Morton for Wednesday's live-stream broadcast of our weekly 'Live From the Newsroom' show.

The queen of Cucina Chatter, Lorraine Ranalli, will join us along with Chef Jacquie Peccina-Kelly and Chef Dominic Condo.

We'll be talking summer foods, in particular barbecue, and what you need to know to make your summer table and parties sparkle.

Of course, what's a barbecue without something to drink? That's why we're going to have a special guest.ned by our special guest. Michele Aquino from The Bottle Shop in Philly will be there as well to offer some ideas on some specialty brews to make your barbecue a winner.

Michele and Gena Montebello run their shop on East Passyunk Avenue in Philly They feature over 700 American and imported craft beers and often host local brewers for tastings and cheese pairings.

And here's the best part. We're again taking the show on the road. We'll be setting up shop at Mammoni Cucina Rustica, a new spot in Morton. They'll be offering some samples of their delicious fare as well as suggesting some items for your summer table. I'm also hoping to get a chance to interview their chef.

If you get a chance, why not stop by and join us as we celebrate the start of summer at Mammoni's in Morton.

Dom, Jacquie, and Lorraine will spice up the conversation with everything you need to know about summer foods - and the right beer to go with them.

Join us Wednesday night at 7, or log on to DelcoTimes.com and take part in our live chat.

See you on the Internet!

Phils have to start digging tonight


Buckle your seat belts, Phillies fans. The season starts tonight.




Or at least their attempt to salvage it.




Look, the first 68 games haven’t exactly gone as planned. The Phils, minus the heart of their lineup in Chase Utley and Ryan Howard, and with Cliff Lee and Roy Halladay both spending time on the shelf, have limped to a 31-37 mark, mired in last place in the NL East, nine games behind the Nats. And that would likely be even worse if the Nationals had not been swept over the weekend by the Yankees.



If the Phillies have any thought of delaying Eagles season among the faithful, they need to start tonight. They kick off a 10-game home stand vs. the Colorado Rockies, who at 25-40 are in even more dire straits than the Phils.



Cole Hamels takes the hill tonight, and if a team ever needed a pitcher to step up, it is tonight. The Phils need Hamels to seize control of the game and not let go. This team has watched too many games slip away after their starter exited in the 7th and 8th innings.



Hamels and the Phillies still have not resolved their contract issues. The left-hander could put an exclamation point on his pitch with a solid effort tonight.



And those guys behind him? They need to show up as well. That means no more sloppy play in the field. No more base-running gaffes.



The season starts tonight. The Phillies have dug themselves a huge hole.




Hand the Phanatic a shovel.



The digging starts tonight.



CLICK HERE for Phillies beat writer Ryan Lawrence's take on whether the Phils should be buyers or sellers as the trade deadline looms off in the distance.

Monday, June 18, 2012

The Daily Numbers - June 18

The Daily Numbers: 8, age of boy who drowned in a pool at the Camelot Court apartments in Brookhaven.

1 motorcyclist seriously injured when he slammed into a Yeadon police cruiser while fleeing officers who had tried to stop him in Prospect Park.

5 days, how long the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Moving Wall will be on display in Marcus Hook. You can see it starting Thursday.

12, age of rape victim in Yeadon. Two men were convicted in the attack and sentenced to jail terms.

2.73 percent tax hike OK’d by Haverford School Board.

2 people found slain in an apartment in Norristown.

13 counts of attempted homicide filed against a New Jersey police officer who held cops at bay during a 10-hour standoff at his estranged wife’s home in Doylestown.

2, age of little girl who was caught in crossfire during shooting at block party over weekend in Logan section of Philadelphia.

36 percent approval rating for Gov. Tom Corbett, according to new poll.

27.4 billion dollar budget being crafted by Corbett and leaders of the Legislature.

900 part-time employees being hired as part of Giant Food Stores’ acquisition of 15 Genuardi stores in the region.

1,700 Genuardi employees who will keep their jobs if they want them.

47, age of Rodney King, victim of police beating in Los Angeles whose case sparked a national debate on race. He died over the weekend.

1 person killed when a massive stage collapsed prior to a Radiohead concert planned in Toronto.

1.3 million dollar award to Delco native and NBA ref Tim Donaghy in a lawsuit over a tell-all book. Donaghy went to jail for gambling on NBA games.

3-6 mark for the Phils during their 9-game road trip featuring interleague play.

.333 batting average in those 9 games for Jim Thome, including 4 home runs and 14 RBIs.

6 runs on 8 hits over six innings and change for Phils starter Kyle Kendrick.

0 wins still for Cliff Lee, who gave up another lead in a come-from-ahead loss on Saturday to the Blue Jays.

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Call me a Phanatic: A look at the ups and downs of being a Philadelphia sports fan.Not even Jim Thome can salvage this miserable Phillies season.

 

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I Don’t Get It: Jerry Sandusky will begin his defense today, including the possibility of him taking the stand. I can hardly wait.

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Today’s Upper: Kudos to Marcus Hook, which will once again be home to the Traveling Vietnam Veterans Memorial, starting on Thursday.

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Quote Box: “Believe it or nor, I had no feelings about the war when I went over there. I treated it as a job and I was determined to make the best of it.

- Vietnam War vet Ron McCaul.