Saturday, September 29, 2012

The dreaded Saturday Eagles pick

Andy Reid, meet LeSean McCoy. Remember him? No. 25. Very well may be the best back in the NFL. Last seen trying to block an invading horde of Cardinals' blitzers as the Eagles' offense imploded in the desert.

If the Eagles are going to win this Sunday night NFC East slugfest, they will do it on the shoulders of McCoy. The Giants will come at the Eagles in waves, just as the Cardinals did. Having Michael Vick drop back time after time will play right into their hands. But will Reid and Marty Mornhinweg be able to resist their affection for the forward pass? They better if they want to win.

The Eagles offensive line is still a work in progress after injuries knocked out several starters. The key to this game will be to control the situations with a big dose of McCoy. The Birds need to avoid obvious passing situations.

Oh, and one other small item. Vick must stop being the most generous guy in the league. Turnovers are killing this team, and doing that against the Giants will be fatal.

 So what do you think the odds are that Reid dials up three straight pass plays to open the game again?

The Pick: Make it Eagles 19, Giants 17. Just another knock-down, drag 'em out typical NFC East dustup. I think the Birds come out on top at home.

 Last Week: I certainly didn't see this one coming. I expected the Eagles to play much better and handle the Cardinals. I will say the Cards are better than I thought, especially on defense, but Reid played right into their hands. There is no way the Eagles should have been undressed that way. If Reid doesn't change his stripes, every team in the league now has a blueprint for how to come at them.

Season Record: Eagles - 2-1; Heron - 2-1. The Eagles are I both sit with identical 2-1marks. The Birds remain tied for the NFC East lead as they play both their first NFC East foe and conference game. Playing at home before a national TV audience and the Lincoln Financial Field zealots, this is one the Birds need to take to the bank.

Friday, September 28, 2012

The Daily Numbers - Sept 28

The Daily Numbers: 6 teen girls who brutally beat a 48-year-old mentally challenged woman in Chester.

4 of the girls are now in custody; 2 more are being sought. Authorities indicate they will be charged as adults.

72, age of man who could learn his fate today in the fatal shooting of a neighbor in Ridley Township.

20, age of man shot on Kerlin Street in Chester.

2001, when Chester last had a full-service grocery store. Philabundance yesterday broke ground for their Fare and Square store, which is set to open in the spring.

2 firefighters briefly trapped on roof of a house in Chester during early-morning fire.

5 year agreement reached between Delco and Chester County SPCA for animal control services.

135,000 dollar penalty for the county if they decide to cancel the deal early.

30,000 dollar minimum payment each month.

700 jobs being shed by Campbell’s Soup as they close 2 plans in California and North Jersey.

38,000 dollars worth of iPhones stolen from distributor in Lebanon County.

150,000 dollars in jewelry snatched after a case was smashed at a jewelry store in Evesham, N.J.

40-41 mark for the Phillies at Citizens Bank Park, first time in history of their little park they’ve gone under .500

21-8 mark for Nats hurler Gio Gonzales, who got the win last night.

6 runs on 6 hits over 5-plus innings for Tyler Cloyd.

6 Nationals players who have hit at least 15 home runs this year.

2-1 Eagles vs. 2-1 Giants Sunday night at the Linc. Something has to give.

*

Call me a Phanatic: A look at the ups and downs of being a Philadelphia sports fan.It’s been a long time since the Phils were reduced to spoilers in the final week of the season. They’ve had a good run, and now need to retool for next year and another big push with this starting rotation. Top needs? Third base, outfield, bullpen.

 

*

I Don’t Get It: What else can you say about the video of the woman being beaten in Chester by a group of teen girls. Just unbelievable.

*

Today’s Upper: Kudos to Philabundance for breaking ground yesterday on a new food facility in Chester.

*

Quote Box: “There is absolutely no reason for behavior like this.”

- Chester Detective James Nolan, on videotaped beating.

That video: How could this happen?

Do this job long enough, and you think you’ve just about seen it all.

Of course, you were wrong.

When a reporter indicated there was a disturbing story developing from Chester yesterday morning, you jot it down on your daily list of stories and move on. When you learn it involves a gang of young girls attacking a mentally challenged woman, you start mapping out your actions to make it your lead story of the day. Then the reporter says the magic words. “And they videotaped the whole thing and posted it on Facebook."

When the photographer gets back with the video, you know you have a dilemma on your hands when he warns you about what you are about to see.

He’s probably seen everything I’ve seen and more.

Even that warning did not prepare me for what was on the video.

I’m not sure there are any words that do.

In the video, a gang of young girls at first appear to be doing no more than offering a profanity-laced rap. Then they start moving down the street toward a woman sitting on a doorstep.

What you see next you’re not really sure you actually saw. So you watch it again. There is the young woman calmly walking up to the older lady and - out of nowhere - throwing a wild punch to the side of her head.

That’s when the others get involved.

For the next few seconds, there is a flurry - or perhaps better stated fury - of fists, kicks, even a chair used on this woman.

Of course, the video makes its way to Facebook. Because that is what we do today.

And I sit here and shake my head, wondering what we are doing wrong, and trying to figure out how one group of human beings can do that to another.

I have just one question for anyone connected to this story:

How could this happen?

Until we answer that question, until we know what could possibly instill in young people such mindless rage, I’m afraid I will simply continue to sit here and wait for the next ugly story to arrive.

Maybe there isn’t an answer. Maybe we should just ignore such actions altogether, not give these young toughs the satisfaction of seeing their exploits splashed all over the front page.

We’re the least of their worries today. This story has now gone national.

But it doesn’t change my question.

It doesn’t matter that it happened in Chester. It doesn’t matter what color the girls are, or the victim for that matter.

What matters is that it happened.

And I’d like to know why.

The other story in Chester yesterday

We undoubtedly are going to take some heat today for once again offering a less than flattering picture of Chester splashed all across the front page of the print edition, as well as our website.

That’s what happens when you have a story as heinous as the one involving the pack of girls who brutally beat a defenseless, mentally challenged woman, laughing the whole time, and then posting a video of their handiwork on Facebook. It’s getting national attention.

But there was another story from the city yesterday that likely will not get nearly the notice.

But it just might be every bit as important.

If you happen to have a print edition handy, look to the left of that lead story no Page 1. There is another element on Page 1 about the city, heralding the news that Philabundance yesterday broke ground on something city residents have been waiting on forever.

You can read about it here.

Chester has not had a supermarket since 2001. That will end next spring, when Philabundance opens its Fare and Square store.

No, it’s not a Giant or an Acme.

But it will offer city residents a real opportunity to do their grocery shopping without leaving the city.

It won’t get the attention of the other story in the paper today, but it should be noticed.

And we did.

Phils come up losers at Citizens Bank Park

The Phillies made a little history last night.

Hold the champagne and party hats. Actually they did something they have not done since they moved into their lovely little bandbox of a stadium.

The 7-3 loss to the Nationals left the Phils with a 40-41 home mark in this most disappointing season.

It is the first time they have ever sunk under .500 in the history of Citizens Bank Park.

Their “magic number” is one. Either a Phillies loss or a Cardinals win and - poof! - their slim playoff hopes disappear.

Now they slink off for three games in Miami, followed by three in D.C., and then the longest winter this team has suffered through in a long time.

Read about last night’s loss here - and Charlie Manuel’s surprising criticism of his team as ‘complacent’ - here.

Finally, columnist Jack McCaffery says the Phillies real failure this year was not snagging that gift of a second Wild Card spot.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

The Daily Numbers - Sept. 27

The Daily Numbers: 450 new construction jobs to be created as they turn the Sunoco Marcus Hook refinery into a storage and transfer site for material from Marcellus Shale products.

590 jobs that used to exist at the refinery. Sunoco Logistics is not giving an estimate of how many jobs will be created at the new facility.

70,000 barrels a day of natural gas products such as propane and ethane to be brought into the site via a new pipeline.

600 million dollars being invested by Sunoco in new Marcellus Shale-related ventures.

3-1 vote by Chester City Council to change the rules when it comes to personnel appointments. The line no vote was cast by Mayor John Linder, who is at odds with council.

4 stops planned in communities by the county’s health guru, Dr. George Avetian, in what is being dubbed Wellness on Wheels.

1 person shot in Clifton Heights.

2 new full-time police officers being hired in Darby Borough.

7 years since the body of Gary Drais was found in his Aston home. He was beaten to death. No arrest has been made in the case.

3 feet, how much higher the new Sellers Avenue Bridge is slated to be, and that’s the cause of a minor uproar in the borough.

3rd Street Bridge in Media, which continues to cause an uproar in that town as well. Now it looks like council is leaning toward a 1-way, 1-lane roadway.

12,000 ID cards issued by PennDOT in trying to get residents ready for new Voter ID law. A judge could rule on the law today.

2 Penn State officials who will face trial on perjury charges stemming from the Jerry Sandusky investigation.

40, age of woman in South Jersey who is charged with using a ruse of suffering from cancer to collect money from family and friends.

1 man killed, 1 wounded in Cobbs Creek section of Philly.

4 teens who committed suicide in a week in towns surrounding Wilkes-Barre.

20 home runs for Nats Bryce Harper, who hit 1 last night in leading D.C. to 8-4 win over Phils.

2, any combination of Phils losses and Cardinals wins will eliminate Phillies from playoffs.

3 home runs surrendered by Kyle Kendrick in a rough outing.

5 runs on 5 hits in 2-plus innings for Kendrick.

23 home runs for Jimmy Rollins, tops on the team.

9-9, Michael Vick’s record since that epic come-from-behind win over the Giants back in 2010.

242 yards passing and 130 more rushing for Vick in that game.

*

Call me a Phanatic: A look at the ups and downs of being a Philadelphia sports fan.How long until the first questionable call by the regular refs and cries of, “Bring back the replacements.”

 

*

I Don’t Get It: Another woman, this time in South Jersey, is facing theft charges after she used a ruse of suffering from cancer to rip off friends and family. I don’t get it.

*

Today’s Upper: Kudos to those who kept pressing for a future for the Sunoco refinery in Marcus Hook. It won’t be a refinery, but it will be processing Marcellus Shale materials.

*

Quote Box: “I have long held that the Marcellus Shale is an important resource that over time would benefit the entire commonwealth.”

- Gov. Tom Corbett, on the announcement of the new facility in Marcus Hook.

In Marcus Hook, We Shale Overcome

Here’s the new motto in Marcus Hook:

We Shale Overcome.

The borough’s shuttered industrial icon, the sprawling Sunoco refinery, will have a future after all, albeit not as a refinery.

Sunoco Logistics yesterday announced plans to go ahead with a plan to convert the refinery to a processing center for Marcellus Shale products, including propane and ethane.

The good news? The refinery will be reborn, and in the process will create 450 construction jobs to convert the facility.

The bad news? All those refinery jobs, nearly 600 people, are not coming back, and the new facility likely will not employ near that many.

You can read all the details here.

Going from bad to worse on the PSSA front

There is bad news and worse news when it comes to standardized education testing in Pennsylvania.

Scores are down, and they’re going to get worse.

That’s what I took out of last night’s ‘Live From the Newsroom,’ our weekly live-stream community affairs broadcast. My thanks to Dan McGarry, assistant superintendent in Upper Darby, and Larry Feinberg, a member of the Haverford School Board and leader of the Keystone Education Coalition, for joining us and offering their views on the four most-feared letters in education.

Those would be PSSA.

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

Not many people know the numbers involving the controversial PSSA better than Feinberg. He remains convinced - and he presents a compelling argument - that we are going in the wrong direction, spending entirely too much time and money on testing that should be put toward early childhood education efforts.

McGarry carries some of the scars of a bruising battle in Upper Darby as the point man for a realignment plan that moved more resources toward dealing with the increased expectations of PSSA testing.

McGarry also noted how the testing works against big, diverse districts such as Upper Darby, where some schools can have as many as 40 subgroups.

Here’s why things are going to get worse: The thresholds to meet AYP go up each year. Next year the expectations are to have 89 percent of students tested proficient in math and 91 percent in reading.

Feinberg went so far as to say that in 2014 when all students are supposed to be proficient, instead he believes 100 percent of districts will instead fail.

The latest PSSA scores that were released last Friday showed eight of 15 school districts failed at least in some schools to hit their marks.

On Sunday we will take a closer look at schools where scores didn’t just go down, they went off a cliff.

Meet the 2 men unhappy abour real refs coming back to NFL

There may only be two people unhappy to hear that the NFL has reached an agreement with its regular refs and will have them back on the field starting with tonight’s Thursday night game between the Ravens and Browns.

That just might be Andy Reid and Michael Vick.

Usually around these parts, disgruntled fans would have spent the entire week grumbling about the dismal performance of Vick and the Eagles offense. They would have spent hours trying to determine if it was the quarterback’s fault, or Reid’s for another pass-happy game plan.

Instead, the Eagles dynamic duo got a bit of a pass.

All anybody has been talking about since Monday night was the blown call that decided the Packers-Seahawks game.

That’s now over.

Vick and Reid will be back in the spotlight - and the crosshairs - starting Sunday night.

The duo will be the featured production in the nationally televised game as they face their first big NFC East test with the Giants at Lincoln Financial Field.

And you can bet on Monday, tongues will be wagging about how they fared.

The real refs are back. The Phillies are playing out the string. The Flyers are locked out. The Sixers are headed to training camp. The stage belongs to Vick and the Eagles. A national audience awaits.

Is this version of the Eagles, headed by Vick and Reid, ready for prime time.

We’re about to find out.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

The Daily Numbers - Sept. 26

The Daily Numbers: 72, age of Ridley resident James Dellavecchia, who is on trial this week in the murder of his 42-year-old neighbor.

2 games that will be played by the Philadelphia Passion of the Lingerie Football League at PPL Park in Chester next summer. That’s there entire home schedule. There’s no truth to the rumor that PPL Park is being renamed ‘The Passion Pit.’

50 people who gathered last night amid the 57 plots at the Living Memorial Gardens in Upper Chichester to mark the 6th annual National Day of Remembrance for Murder Victims.

34 goats that are being used to control weeds on a plot in Millbourne Borough.

1 million dollars worth of free vision care brought to his hometown yesterday by Chester native and NBA star Tyreke Evans.

50,000 dollars secured bail for the former Radnor Boy Scout leader who now faces child porn charges.

5, age of girl who witnessed her mother gunned down on the streets of southwest Philly yesterday. The girl also was wounded but is expected to survive.

3 million dollar bust of Benjamin Franklin recovered after it was stolen from a home on the Main Line. A former housecleaner has been charged.

570 people being laid off as Sikorsky Aircraft Corp. announces it is shutting down a helicopter plant in New York.

500,000 dollars ripped off from his ailing elderly parents by their son, a former West Chester Councilman.

10, age of home invader who apologized to the Vietnamese immigrant woman he attacked and beat in her Philadelphia home.

11, age of chocolate lab police in Chester County say was tossed from a moving car on West Chester Pike.

1 home run for Darrin Ruf. The Phillies rookie went yard in his 1st at-bat of his 1st start for the Phils last night.

15 wins for Cole Hamels, who only went 5 innings while giving up 3 runs on 7 hits.

5.5 games back of the Cardinals in the Wild Card race for the Phillies. Hope is fading fast with just 8 games left.

1 punted booted and 1 signed yesterday as the Eagles released Chas Henry and resigned Mat McBriar, who was released in training camp.

*

Call me a Phanatic: A look at the ups and downs of being a Philadelphia sports fan.Whatever else you want to say about this year’s Phils, you can’t call them quitters. They’re still playing hard, even though their playoff hopes remain alive by the slenderest of slivers.

 

*

I Don’t Get It: What is going on with animal abuse in Chester County. In the last week a dog was found burned to death in a cage, now another family pooch is believed to have been tossed from a moving vehicle on West Chester Pike.

*

Today’s Upper: Kudos to all those who took part in last night’s observance for the national Day of Remembrance for Murder Victims held at the Living Memorial Gardens in Chichester.

*

Quote Box: “I wear a big smile every day, but I feel so much pain.”

- Rose Bolton, offering her thanks last night to the Delaware County Chapter of Murdered Children for allowing her son to be remembered at the Living Memorial Gardens.

Lessons learned at the Living Memorial Gardens

I learned an important lesson last night. Actually, several of them.

First, I discovered a very special place in Delaware County. If you haven’t visited the Living Memorial Gardens in Upper Chichester, I highly recommend it. But be warned, the place packs an emotional wallop.

The Gardens were created by the Delco chapter of the Parents of Murdered Children to honor the memory of murder victims.

For me, the place holds a special place.

I was there last night for the annual National Day of Observance for Murder Victims. Before the ceremony, I got a tour of the gardens from one of the women most responsible for it, Barb DiMario. She is one of the co-founders of the group and was the driving force behind the Gardens. As we walked through and looked at each lovingly tended plot, I remembered name after name, and the stories that went along with them. Agonizing stories.

I had been asked to speak to the group by two of its current leaders, Sharon Conroy and Jane McPhee. Like every other member, they know all too well the unnatural act of burying a child.

But first I was moved to tears by Rose Bolton. Her son was killed in Philadelphia, and through tears she came last night to thank the group for allowing her son to be remembered in this very special place.

When it came to my turn to speak, I confronted the other lesson that I learned last night. It’s one thing to write about these tragedies. It’s another to live them.

Here’s what I said:

Good evening. My name is Phil Heron. I’m the editor of the Delaware County Daily Times and DelcoTimes.com.

In other words, I’m the man who supervised all those stories of incredible heartbreak that have brought us here together tonight.

My heartfelt thanks to Sharon Conroy and Jane McPhee for reaching out to me to speak here this evening.

It is truly my honor.

But I have a confession to make. I would rather be almost anywhere else. I am sure many of you feel the same way. It has often been written that Parents of Murdered Children is the one organization that no one wants to join. It is my fervent hope that they would not need to enlist a single new member. But I also know that is not going to happen.

There is not a day that goes by that I am not asked the following question: Why is there so much bad news in the Daily Times? The truth, as most of you are only all too aware, is pretty simple. That’s what people read.

It is my sincere wish that those stories did not add to the heartbreak. Likewise, I’m fairly certain that also is not the case.

But that job – as difficult and sometimes distasteful as it may appear, carries with it certain obligations.

First and foremost is to honor the victims. Not just in the days following these tragic acts, but in the future as well.

Very simply: Never forget.

That is one of the reasons I’m here tonight. And it’s also why I hosted Jane McPhee, Marilyn Dougherty and Steve Conroy last Wednesday night our the taping of our live-stream Internet broadcoast. We call that show “Live From the Newsroom.”

Ironically, that afternoon we had been reporting on a shooting on SEPTA’s Broad Street Subway. I told Steve that there is not one instance of an incident involving SEPTA that I don’t immediately think of his son Sean, and the ordeal that befell him on a SEPTA platform.

It would have been easy to simply relegate that story to another crime incident in Philadelphia. It was up to us to dig a little further, to find out that Sean was a product of Delaware County, where he grew up, and that his loss was resounding here.

Never forget.

Steve also related to me a couple of other sentiments I have heard untold numbers of times.

Like most of the people here, he doesn’t want his son Sean to be forgotten. And he also bristles when subsequent stories deal with the suspects charged in the attack. Their stories continue. He wants to make sure Sean’s plight is not lost in the shuffle.

We were joined last Wednesday night by D.A. Jack Whelan. The group told him that one of the things that bothers them most is the feeling of frustration that can overwhelm them in the belief that at times their wishes are not being represented in the process.

And so we gather here tonight, on the sixth annual National Day of Remembrance for Murder Victims, in a most special place.

It was back in 2001 that the Living Memorial Gardens were first unveiled.

I was struck by something we wrote back then. I think you have to be a member of this organization to truly understand it.

For that story, we talked to one of the founders of the Delaware County Chapter of Parents of Murdered Children.

Barb DiMario wanted to stress the real purpose of the Gardens. Certainly it’s a way to honor the dead. But in a very special way. Barb noted that it was important for families to be able to do that outside the confines of a cemetery.

Cemeteries are about death, the end of a life. The Living Memorial Gardens are about life, and continuing to remember the lives and legacy of those lost.

There are 57 separate plots here in this beautiful place.

Representing 57 lives. There are not gravestones here. Only the beautiful testimony to lives taken far too soon.

Never forget.

I tried to get here a little early tonight so I could walk through the garden. It truly is a beautiful site.

But I must tell you I winced a bit as a looked intently at each name.

For me, most of those names are very familiar. For those gathered here tonight, they are much more than that.

That’s part of the reason we use our craft – words, pictures and video – to try to paint a little fuller picture of those remembered here.

Our initial stories tell the infamous five W’s of the journalism craft: Who, what, when, where and why? We get those from the police reports and interviews with investigators.

But those reports don’t tell you that Sean Conroy was incredibly proud to be a product of Delaware County and his job as a manager at a Center City Starbucks.

They don’t tell you that Jamie Hamler won a state championship while a member of the Chester Clippers high school basketball team in 1994.

That Madison Bierling was called “Our little lady bug” by loving family members or that she died just after her first birthday.

Those memories are recorded here, in this very special place.

And, I would like to hope, in the pages of the Delaware County Daily Times.

I wish I could tell you this group will never need to induct a new member. I wish I could tell you we will never have to knock on another door and inform griving family members that we are doing a story on their loved one’s death and would they be willing to talk to us about that person.

But I can assure you of this.

We will keep this very special place in our heart. We will keep the Living Memorial Gardens in our minds. We will keep alive the precious memories that those in attendance here tonight hold so dear.

We will never forget.


'Live From the Newsroom' tackles the PSSA test

They very well may be the four most-feared letters in education.

No, we’re not talking ABC’s. We’re talking PSSA.

In case you missed it, the results are out from the most recent round of state standardized testing. And the news is not good.

Here in Delaware County, eight of 15 school districts failed to meet their Adequate Yearly Progress Targets. You can read about them here. The news was equally as glum across the state, as the numbers of students meeting state standards declined for the first time since 2002.

So what does it all mean? A lot of people talk about PSSAs, some believe entirely too much emphasis is placed on them and that districts now are literally “teaching to the test,” and failing to offer a more well-rounded education.

The districts themselves don’t have much choice. They are mandated to meet certain AYP levels or face the consequences, which could include funding cuts.

We’ll be talking about the PSSAs tonight on our live-stream Internet broadcast, ‘Live From the Newsroom.’ We’ll be joined by Larry Feinberg, a school board member in Haverford and leader of the Keystone State Education Coalition. We’ll also be joined by Dan McGarry, an assistant superintendent in Upper Darby School District who ruffled a lot of feathers this year when he authored a district-wide realignment plan that emphasized curriculum changes to meet those AYP standards.

And I want you to get involved.

Have a question about the PSSAs? Do you think entirely too much is being made of them? How would you suggest districts be held accountable? Email me your question or comment to editor@delcotimes.com and I will put it to our panel tonight. Upper Darby parents, are you happy with the new realignment plan? If not what would you like to see the district do instead?

You can also join us live tonight at 7 at DelcoTimes.com when we tackle the issue of PSSA test scores. Get involved. Join the conversation!

Reid, Vick both feeling pressure

Eagles head coach Andy Reid beat a quick path to this radio show Monday to clear up what he said earlier in the day at his day-after press conference.

In response to a question at the end of the session concerning quarterback Michael Vick, Reid seem to crack open the door to a possible change.

Big Red set off a minor media frenzy with his comments that the position would be “evaluated” and “we’ll go from there.”

A few hours later, he was spouting a different tune, saying “Michael Vick is our quarterback. Period.”

I think maybe he protests too much.

I don’t think Reid is ready to pull the trigger on Vick just yet. But I’m not necessarily sure he’s going to stick with No. 7 forever, especially if he continues to be the turnover machine he’s been so far this year.

There’s another factor at play here as well.

Remember the “8-8” factor. That was Jeff Lurie’s pronouncement before the season that a repeat of last year’s disappointing record would be “unacceptable.”

If the Eagles fall Sunday against the Giants, that would put them at 2-2 over the first quarter of the season, exactly on a pace to meet the “unacceptable” stamp from Reid’s boss, as well as a likely ticket out of town.

Want further proof that Reid isn’t married to his QB? Just ask Kevin Kolb.

Two years ago a clearly peeved Reid denigrated the media when they asked him about his starter on Monday. Reid said Kolb was his guy. The next day he named Michael Vick as his starter.

What goes around, comes around.

Get ready, Mr. Foles. You’re on the block, Mr. Vick.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

The Daily Numbers - Sept. 25

The Daily Numbers: 6 to 12 months in prison, sentence for a former Delaware County district judge on a charge of corrupting the morals of a minor. He’s looking to be released early.

6 weeks, how long Gerald Liberace has served behind bars.

2 7-Eleven holdups believed to be the work of a Montgomery County man.

21, age of Chester man charged in fatal shooting early Friday outside a city bar.

18 homicides in Delaware County so far this year.

1 soldier given a big welcome home by Norwood Borough Council last night.

3 or 4 men who invaded the home of bankruptcy attorney in Chadds Ford and shot the man.

8 of 15 Delaware County school districts that failed to make AYP in the annual PSSA testing.

2 life prison terms for the woman who opened fire on her co-workers at a Philly bakery.

5 million new iPhone 5’s reported sold by Apple in the first 3 days of sales.

100 unemployed women who got makeovers at a Philly salon as part of a job retraining effort.

47, age of former Boy Scout leader in Radnor who has been arrested for distribution of child porn.

4 first-half carries for LeSean McCoy in 1st half Sunday vs. the Cardinals. He had 13 overall.

*

Call me a Phanatic: A look at the ups and downs of being a Philadelphia sports fan.You know it was bound to happen. It looks like those replacement refs finally cost a team a game in the wild, final play of the game last night that saw the refs rule a touchdown, not an interception, in a desperation heave into the end zone by the Seahawks. Tough luck for Packers.

 

*

I Don’t Get It: Andy Reid already is backtracking on the statement he made at yesterday’s day-after presser about “evaluating” Michael Vick. Kevin Kolb had no comment.

*

Today’s Upper: Kudos to Parents of Murdered Children, who have organized another observance for the national Day of Remembrance to be held at the Living Memorial Gardens in Chichester. Join us tonight at 7.

*

Quote Box: “I don’t like the way this game ended. I have a bad taste in my mouth.”

- ESPN analyst Jon Gruden on controversial ending of Monday Night Football game giving Seahawks a win over Packers.

Honor victims - and survivors - of murder tonight

Here is one more reminder - actually a plea - to come out tonight to take part in a very special event.

I will be at the Living Memorial Gardens in Upper Chichester for the annual local observance of the National Day of Remembrance for Murder Victims.

It will take place at the Gardens, which are located on Furey Road off Chichester Avenue. The event starts at 7 p.m.

Even if you don’t make tonight’s event, a visit to the Gardens can still reinforce that it is a very special place.

There are 57 individual plots there to commemorate murder victims in Delaware County.

It is a ‘place of honor.’ You can honor the victims - as well as the survivors - at tonight’s event that is sponsored by the Delaware County chapter of Parents of Murdered Children.

You can learn more about the Gardens here.

See you tonight!

Lingerie Football League coming to Delco!

Brace yourself, Delaware County.
The Lingerie Football League is coming.

The Philadelphia Passion - no, I’m not making that name up - will hold a press conference this morning to announce a move to their new home. That would be PPL Park in Chester, home of the Philadelphia Union of Major League Soccer.
The Passion played last season in Trenton.
If you have somehow managed to miss it, Lingerie Football consists of two women’s teams playing something resembling football in their unmentionables.
I’m not sure if it’s sports or entertainment.
But we’ll be there to cover the press conference, and bring you all the pictures and video.
Far be it from me to criticize Lingerie Football.
It can’t be much worse than that X-rated demonstration the Eagles put on in Arizona on Sunday.

Upon further review...

Upon further review, Michael Vick is still the Eagles quarterback, and the NFL lockout of its regular referees is getting uglier by the minute.

At his day-after post mortem - and has that description ever been more apt? - Andy Reid yesterday appeared at first blush to be leaving open the possibility of a change in quarterback for the Birds. Make sure you check out Jack McCaffery’s column here. By the time he went on his radio show last night, the coach must have realized he was putting a match to kindling in the wake of the Debacle in the Desert, and he offered an endorsement for his struggling starter.

As far as those replacement NFL officials are concerned, they may have hit the breaking point last night.

Unfortunately for the Green Bay Packers, it may have cost them a game.

You can read about the bizarre ending of last night’s nationally televised Monday Night Football game, and what is already being mocked as the ‘Fail Mary that ended the game.

Read the story here.

The Seahawks trailed, 12-7, with time for one more play. You know what was coming next. Quarterback Russell Wilson scrambled around, dropped even farther back, then heaved the ball into the end zone.

It looked like a jump ball that was corralled by Packers cornerback M.D. Jennings. Never mind that it appeared that the Seahawks receiver shoved another Packer defender out of the way. Seahawks receiver Golden Tate did manage to get his hand on the throw. When there’s this kind of struggle for possession, the call goes to the offense.

But this wasn’t really close. This sure looked like an interception.

Today it just might look like the disaster so many people warned was looming over the NFL in this labor impasse.

Everyone now will wait to hear from NFL czar Roger Goodell.

Something else struck me as well. We continue to mourn the passing of NFL Films visionary Steve Sabol. It was his firm’s video that lifted the NFL to a work of art.

Now the replacement refs are paining a moustache on the Mona Lisa.

Monday, September 24, 2012

The Daily Numbers - Sept. 24

The Daily Numbers: 27-6 loss for the Eagles in a true debacle in the desert.

2-1 record for the Birds, with a Sunday matchup with the Giants on tap.

17 of 24 passing for former Eagles QB Kevin Kolb, who got a little revenge on the team that traded him away.

17 of 37 passing for Michael Vick.

13 carries for LeSean McCoy.

3 more turnovers for the Eagles ham-handed offense. That makes 12 on the season.

93 yards, how far Cardinals James Sanders scooted for TD on last play of first half when Vick fumbled as Eagles threatened to score.

9 catches for 114 yards for Cardinals star wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald.

3-0 start for the Cardinals.

11 times Michael Vick has been sacked 5 or more times in a game.

*

Call me a Phanatic: A look at the ups and downs of being a Philadelphia sports fan.Another Andy Reid classic of a game plan that resulted in a debacle in the desert. Time’s yours, Andy.

 

*

I Don’t Get It: Once again the Eagles, trailing badly, decided that was the time to start running the ball in the second half, burning off much of the clock for the Cardinals.

*

Today’s Upper: Kudos to former Eagles QB Kevin Kolb, who was very serviceable in getting the win.

*

Quote Box: “I think we are going to have to make a lot of adjustments.”

- Eagles QB Michael Vick, after getting pounded in the loss at Arizona.

Debacle in the desert

Everything you needed to know about Sunday’s debacle in the desert involving the Eagles trip to Arizona was evident after the first three plays of the game.

Michael Vick and the Eagles offense trotted onto the field. Three plays, three passes, time to punt.

Some things never change. Andy Reid being chief among them.

On a week when Vick had lost his starting center, the backup left tackle who was already subbing for the injured All-Pro was out, and a starting wide receiver was on the shelf.

So, of course, Reid decides to put Vick’s life in danger by banking on throwing the ball all afternoon.

The results were about what you would expect.

Vick was running for his life, getting hit on seemingly every play, and of course coughing the ball up.

Part of the blame for hits certainly lies with Vick. I am becoming more and more convinced that - just like his coach - he’s not going to change. He will continue to handle the ball like a stick of dynamite. He will continue to hold onto the ball too long. He will continue to make bad decisions, leading to more turnovers. And he will continue to struggle when it comes to recognizing the blitz and shifting gears.

Sifting gears is not something Reid has to worry about. He only knows one - the forward pass.

This despite having the best running back in the game in LeSean McCoy, who instead was having struggles of his own picking up a non-stop barrage of blitzing Arizona Cardinals.

All the telltale signs of another classic Reid loss were there early: an over-reliance on the forward pass, penalties, a wasted timeout.

Having played a horrid first half, the Eagles looked like they were still going to climb back into the game when DeSean Jackson corraled a pass from Vick at the Arizona 1 yard line. Then another odd thing happened. Instead of diving into the end zone, Jackson seemed instead to back off, and was tackled at the 1.

That’s when I saw another classic Andy Reid end of the first half coming. I said to myself, ‘How are they going to botch this so they don’t score.”

It didn’t take long. Having already wasted a timeout at the start of the quarter, Reid was now out of timeouts with about 16 seconds in the half. That pretty much ruled out the run. If you don’t make it the clock runs out.

Instead Vick again dropped back, got blindslided by another blitz and promptly coughed the ball up again. A Cardinal promptly caught it and paraded down the sideline for a TD. Instead of it being a 17-7 game, it was now 24-0. Game over.

One other thing I noticed during that return. All an Eagle had to do was knock the guy out of bounds. There was no time left, it was either a touchdown or halftime. No Eagle managed to lay a glove on the guy.

That tooks us to the second half, and another classic bit of Reid strategy. Hearkening memories of the Super Bowl, Reid started running the ball, reeling off a couple of long drives that resulted in two field goals - and most of the third-period clock.

After the game, Reid was his usual self.

Yes, he trotted out the now classic, “I have to do a better job” and “I have to put players in position to make plays.”

Reid is never going to do that. Because Reid does what he does.

And it doesn’t work. It didn’t then, and it doesn’t now.

Don’t look for this to change.

Vick will never be able to hold up under this kind of pounding.

If he does, I’m not sure he still has the skills he showed off so amazingly two years ago.

The time may not be his anymore.

Nor Andy Reid’s.

The time for this duo - and this team - might be over.

Strike up the bands

Yes, we are in fact ready to strike up the band

I was serious about giving the kids who take part in marching band their due.

In fact, I devoted my print column to it today.

You can check it out here.

But I want you to do more than that. I want you to get involved. Take photos and videos. Do write-ups about your band. Record the results of your competitions.

Then get that information to Marcy Malinowski for use in our new Marching Band 411 blog.

Here’s her email: mband411@gmail.com  

It’s all music to my ears.

One more realization that it's an online world

I had a troubling moment yesterday afternoon, and it had nothing to do with the Eagles debacle in the desert out in Arizona.

At this time of year, I have a tendency to follow the sun during my Sunday reading routine. I try to start on the deck with the morning paper and a steaming mug of coffee. As the sunshifts, I move to the porch on the front of the house. But as the sun keeps moving, so do I. At one point yesterday afternoon, I had propped up a chair at the end of the driveway, soaking up the rays and continuing to devour the Sunday paper.

A Sunday newspaper is one of life’s little luxuries. I have a tendency to inhale it. My wife always asks is she can have the rest of the paper while I am still inspecting the front page. She’s a skimmer. She’s usually done with the paper while I am still on the jumps of the lead story.

So I was happy as a clam at the end of the driveway - right up until the moment that a neighbor approached. He’s a couple years older than me, and he and his wife are empty nesters as well, with their kids long since grown and having flown the coop.

As he approached I wondered what was up?

“Is your laptop broken?” he inquired.

Wow, I responded. You really know how to hurt a guy.

It’s true. The site of a person with a print edition of the newspaper used to be part of society’s routine. Now it’s becoming less so.

Instead people increasingly get their news online. We are on laptops, tablets, even our phones.

I had a great little conversation with my neighbor about the way society has changed. He’s kind of like me, still likes holding a print edition in his hands, but finds himself chained to his laptop all the time as well, so much so that he’s now battling carpal tunnel syndrome.

Ironically, during our morning walk my wife pointed out something that I’d just as soon not think about as well. We were on our normal route when we came across a driveway with a newspaper sitting on it.

“Remember when every driveway used to have a paper?” she asked. Yes, I do.

I also know that those days are gone, and likely not coming back.

I will always be a print guy, but I realize that the industry is changing.

That’s why I am “all-in” when it comes to being digital first.

It doesn’t mean I don’t wonder about the effects of our need to be “plugged-in” 24 hours a day. About an hour later, I was engaging in one of my other great joys, screaming at the TV and Andy Reid during an Eagles game.

Of course, now I have another outlet for those feelings. I log onto Twitter and join the social media community discussing the game. You can catch me at my @philheron handle. Yesterday you could have joined the coversation just by using the #Eagles hashtag. It's fun. It's also exhausting trying to keep up.

It’s a new world.

Old Eagles, but a new world. Especially in my business.

See you on the Internet.

Friday, September 21, 2012

The Daily Numbers - Sept. 21

The Daily Numbers: 8 people busted in a drug sweep and crackdown in Trainer borough yesterday.

2 Upper Darby officers honored for heroism last night. Well done.

1 person dead after a bar fight ended in gunfire in Chester last night.

50, age of man in Upper Darby charged in the brutal beating of his nephew’s wife in a dispute over going out.

1 million dollars in free eye care coming to Chester youths courtesy of VSP Vision Care and NBA star Tyreke Evans, a Chester native.

15, age of teen charged in shooting on the Broad Street subway that left 2 other teens injured.

8.1 percent jobless rate in Pa. in August, pulling even with the national rate. That’s up from 7.9 percent in July.

8 runs in the 1st inning last night as the Phillies battered the Mets, 16-1.

6 straight hits in the inning.

1912, the last time the Phillies scored 8 runs in 1st inning of game.

9 consecutive losses at home for the Mets. Their record at CitiField this year stands at 4-25.

4 games back, where Phils remain in Wild-Card race because the Cardinals finished off a sweep of the Astros.

12 games left in the season. Phils in serious need of a miracle.

*

Call me a Phanatic: A look at the ups and downs of being a Philadelphia sports fan.They almost played a game in New York last night and have nobody show up. It looked like there were a couple of hundred people in the stands when the makeup game started.

*

I Don’t Get It: A suspect has been arrested in the shooting on the Broad Street Subway that injured 2 teens. He’s 15.

*

Today’s Upper: Kudos to the Upper Darby officers honored for heroism last night. Bravo!

*

Quote Box: “Quality of life is definitely behind it.”

- Trainer Police Chief Fran Priscopo on yesterday’s drug sweep and arrests in the borough.

A conversation with Mayor Linder

Not doing anything Sunday morning? Why not join us for our monthly radio show, “Eye on Delco With the Daily Times.”

Here’s a preview.

I had the chance to sit down with Chester Mayor John Linder for an hour, along with one of his economic constultants, Ricardo Soto. We were joined by my lead columnist Gil Spencer.

For those who have not been paying attention, the mayor has been engaging in something of a war of words with the folks at the Philadelphia Union over fees and a city proposal for some new taxes that would affect the MLS team’s operations at PPL Park on the city’s riverfront.

The mayor’s in kind of a tough spot here. The construction of PPL Park and the arrival of the Union are two of the cornerstones of the city’s rebirth, especially when it comes to the waterfront.

The team has been taken aback at the hard line Linder has been taking toward them.

I have bad news for them. Here’s a preview of Sunday morning’s show: He’s not backing down. He says the team owes the city $1 million and the city wants its money. Of course, the team has a different view of all this and is less than thrilled that the mayor has decided to make this a public spat.

You can find out just how public Sunday morning.

“Eye on Delco With the Daily Times” airs 7-8 a.m. on WPWA-1590AM in Chester.

CLICK HERE to listen to the live-stream broadcast online.


Who says we don't cover marching bands?

We spend a lot of time and effort to chronicale the efforts of high school athletes.

We don’t always offer equal coverage for the kids in marching bands.

Well, that’s starting to change.

Last weekend we covered the cavalcade of bands at Chichester High.

In my contacts with band boosters who were interested in getting coverage, I made a pitch on Facebook and Twitter for someone to write a high school band blog for me.

Done.

High school band members? You now have your very own blog on DelcoTimes.com.

We’re calling it the Marching Band 411.

It’s the work of Chi band parent Marcy Malinowski. I hope you get involved. I want all band kids and parents to get involved in this effort. Give Marcy your events, results and even more important your best pictures and video. She’ll post them all to the blog.

If you have an idea to make the blog better, you can email me at editor@delcotimes.com

I’m looking forward to following the blog and the achievements of these kids who work so hard at their craft.

It should be sweet music for everybody involved.


Phils put ghostly beating on Mets

There’s no truth to the rumor that the Phillies score a run for every 100 hundred people in the stadium last night as they pummeled the New York Mets, 16-1.

But it was close.

The boxscore lists attendance at CitiField last night as 20,010. That might be tickets sold for the makeup game that got washed out Tuesday night, but there was nowhere near that many people actually in the seats. It looked like 2,000 tops. There were entire sections of the stadium that looked empty.

The Phillies went into the game knowing they had already lost ground to the Cardinals, who finished off a sweep of the Astros earlier in the afternoon.

The Phils seemed to go into the game with a chip on their shoulder - and promptly took it out on the Mets with an offensive explosion.

You can read Dennis Deitch’s gamer here.

This one was over early. The Phils scored eight runs in the first inning, at one point slapping six consecutive hits. The last time they got six straight hits to start a game was back in 1980.

And the last time they scored eight runs in the first inning? Well, for that you have to go back to 1912.

Too bad almost no one saw it, at least in person.

Then again, if you were a Mets fan, you might have been hiding your eyes anyhow.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

The Daily Numbers for Sept. 20

The Daily Numbers: 850 jobs saved with yesterday’s final deal between Sunoco and the Carlyle Group to create Philadelphia Energy Solutions to operate the former Sunoco refinery.

330,000 barrels of oil a day that goes through the facility.

2 of 3 endangered refineries in the region now operating under new ownership. Still in limbo is Sunoco’s iconic Marcus Hook facility.

30 volunteers, including Chester Mayor John Linder, who were bagging groceries yesterday at the Shop-Rite in Eddystone to raise money for National Hunger Month.

2 men being sought in the robbery of the Swiss Farms store in Springfield.

4 girls who were the victims of abuse at the hands of a former Chester firefighter. He was convicted in Lancaster County yesterday.

2 hours, all it took the jury to come back with its verdict against Michael Archacki.

18.5 percent, the local tax burden on residents in Darby Borough. The state and local tax combined adds up to 21.6 percent. Both are tops in the county.

9 percent in Chester, lowest in the county.

3,000 dollars lost by a man in Brookhaven. The money was in an envelope. The man lost it somewhere between two local banks.

5 to 10 years in state prison for a grandfather convicted of rape and sexual assault.

14 people busted in a tax-refund scheme in New Jersey.

8,000 dollars and a diamond ring taken from a couple as they were confronted after arriving at their Philadelphia home after a successful night at SugarHouse Casino. Police believe they likely were followed home. It’s one of several incidents.

8 months pregnant, that would be the woman who was accosted Sunday night.

35,000 dollars total taken in the recent series of heists.

70 foot fall from the Burlington-Bristol Bridge, survived by a tough beagle named ‘Brandi.’

500,000 in costs for city of Philadelphia tied to the Make in America Labor Day music fest that will be covered by the promoters.

1 home run for Ryan Howard in September. But it was a bit win. His 2-run shot lifted the Phils to a win over the Mets last night.

4 games back, where they still sit in the Wild Card race, behind the Cardinals. But they did move ahead of the Pirates.

13 games left in the season. Phils in serious need of a miracle.

*

Call me a Phanatic: A look at the ups and downs of being a Philadelphia sports fan.Huge win for the Phils last night to keep their flickering playoff hopes alive.

 

*

I Don’t Get It: How easy kids dismiss life. Yesterday gunfire erupted amid two groups of teens fighting on a crowded Broad Street Subway. It sparked a new slogan in the city: Stop Shooting People. Makes sense to me.

*

Today’s Upper: Kudos to Parents of Murdered Children, as they continue to work for the rights of victims and their families.

*

Quote Box: “We were dead men walking for 10 months, and now, we have a brighter future had we not been through this at all.”

- Union leader Jim Savage, at announcement of final deal between Sunoco and Carlyle Group to create Philadelphia Energy Solutions, which will continue to operate the South Philly refinery.

Mission (Impossible) accomplished

They said it couldn’t be done. They said hundreds of good union jobs at Sunoco’s South Philly refinery were doomed. They were wrong.

Yesterday they unveiled a new name, a new company and a new future for the sprawling South Philly facility. Most of the site’s workers live here in Delaware County.

They held a ceremony to unveil the newly created Philadelphia Energy Solutions, the product of a joint operating agreement between Sunoco and the Carlyle Group. In the process they saved 850 jobs.

You can read the full story here.

On the front page of today’s print edition, there’s a photo that we might have captioned “The Odd Couple.” It shows Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett and United Steel Workers Local 10-1 President Jim Savage. They have not always seen eye to eye on the refinery issue. When Sunoco, under old boss Elynn Elsenhans announced they were getting out of the refinery business and selling the refineries in South Philly and Marcus Hook - and shutting them down if no owner came forward - the unions were vocal in their belief that Corbett was involved enough in seeking a buyer.

Yesterday there was no trace of that.

What there was lots of is what is possible when all sides come together to seek a common solution.

“We were dead men walking for 10 months,“ Savage said. “And now, we have a brighter future had we not been through this at all.”

As he often says, nothing is impossible.

Don’t believe it? Ask the 850 men and women who are still walking through those gates in South Philly.

Now, about that refinery in Marcus Hook....


Parents of Murdered Children: Never forget the victims

Steve Conroy doesn’t want his son Sean to be forgotten. And he wants respect for his family and others in similar dire straits.

It was those kinds of concerns that led him to the Delaware County Chapter of Parents of Murdered Children.

It was my honor to host him, along with chapter President Jane McPhee and member Marilyn Dougherty and Delaware County District Attorney Jack Whelan last night for a very special ‘Live From the Newsroom,’ our weekly live-stream Internet broadcast. If you missed it you can catch the replay here.

McPhee and Dougherty can feel Conroy’s pain. And his concern. They’ve both lost children to random violence.

I have to admit I was thinking of the Conroy family yesterday when the news started moving about a shooting on SEPTA’s broad street line. Every time there is an incident involving SEPTA I think about Sean Conroy. He grew up here in Delco, but was living in the city and working as the manager of a Starbucks. He was on a SEPTA subway underground platform when he crossed paths with evil. A group of teens attacked him for no apparent reason. In one flash of senseless action, a promising young life was lost.

Every member of Parents of Murdered Children can tell a similar story.

Next Tuesday night they will gather at a very special place to mark the National Day of Observance held across the country by Parents of Murdered Children. The event will take place at 7 p.m. at the Memorial LIving Gardens off Chichester Avenue in Upper Chichester. It was created by the local chapter so families could have a place to honor and remember their loved ones outside the concept of a cemetery. This special place marks their life, not their death.

Whelan also joined us last night and told us how important the group is. He’ll join me Tuesday night at the Gardens.

The public is invited. I hope you will join us.

Because Steve Conroy doesn’t want any of us to forget his son Sean. I don’t either.

Ryan provides Phillies with hope

The Phils were down to their last out in the top of the 9th last night in New York. They trailed the Mets 2-1 and faced the prospect of seeing their faint Wild-Card hopes expire.

That’s when an amazing thing happened. First Chase Utley worked a walk. Then a familiar figure came to the plate. Remember Ryan Howard? Yeah, that guy who so many fans remember as being the last out of too many Phillies games, including that agonzing final game in the playoff loss to the Cardinals last year.

But the Phillies still have a heartbeat this morning, thanks in no small part to their ‘Big Piece.’

Howard provided the dramatic fireworks with a towering home run to right to give the Phillies a 3-2 win.

So much for the good news. Unfortunately, the Cardinals won again, so the Phils remain four games back in the Wild-Card race.

But the did manage to climb over the fast-fading Pirates.

You can read Dennis Deitch’s coverage here.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

The Daily Numbers - Sept. 19

The Daily Numbers: 8 more lawsuits alleging sexual abuse by parish priests filed against Archdiocese of Philadelphia.

4-2 ruling by which state Supreme Court sent Voter ID challenge back to Commonwealth Court for further review.

300 students who showed up at Villanova for a Rock the Vote presentation.

18,000 dollars in silver coins ripped off from a vendor at Booth’s Corner Farmers Market. A Maryland man now faces charges.

1 Trainer police cruiser and 1 SEPTA bus that collided yesterday. No serious injuries were reported.

82, age of woman in Radnor who fended off a rabid skunk that attacked her in her garden.

1 firefighter in Chester injured by a falling tree during a call yesterday at the height of wind and rain storm that rocked the region.

45,000 people who lost power across the region at the peak of the wind storm.

45 percent of workforce at Alloy Surfaces in Chester Township whose jobs are in jeopardy because of the fight over defense spending and contracts.

50 law enforcement agencies that joined hundreds who braved the wind and rain to pay respects to slain Plymouth Officer Brad Fox.

11 percent hike in table games play at Pa. casinos, but revenue was down at Harrah’s in Chester.

701.91, price of Apple stock yesterday, 1st time it’s gone over $700 mark.

43, age of Coatesville man who faces charges that he secretly videotaped his co-workers while they changed at a dental surgery office in West Chester.

0 more games this year that Eagles center Jason Kelce will play. He’s now out for year with knee ligament damage.

200,000 dollar donation by Michael Vick for youth football field in Hunting Park yesterday.

4 games back for the Phillies, even though they didn’t play because of the weather. The Cardinals won and picked up a half-game.

14 games left in the season. Phils in serious need of a miracle.

*

Call me a Phanatic: A look at the ups and downs of being a Philadelphia sports fan.Michael Vick continues to do and say all the right things. Yesterday he donated $200,000 for a youth football field at a community center in Hunting Park.

 

*

I Don’t Get It: That won’t stop a lot of people from continuing to rip him. He’s paid his dues.

*

Today’s Upper: Kudos to those who continue to press the fight against the new Voter ID law in Pennsylvania. Now it’s back to Commonwealth Court.

*

Quote Box: “Bringing these cases is important because until there is accountability it is difficult to begin a journey of healing.”

- Attorney Jeff Anderson, after filing new round of lawsuits against Archdiocese of Philadelphia claiming sexual abuse by parish priests.

Join us tonight as 'Live From the Newsroom' meets Parents of Murdered Children

It is almost certainly the one organization no one wants to join. And yet every year its ranks grow. Which makes what they do all the more important. On Wednesday night, for our ‘Live From the Newsroom’ show, we will be honored to be joined by members of the Parents of Murdered Children chapter of Delaware County. Next week they will hold their annual vigil as part of their advocacy work for those who have lost loved ones to violence. I will be joined by Sharon Conroy, one of the current leaders of the group, and Barb DiMario, the group’s founder. Both know all too well the horror of buring a child. Sharon’s son was beaten to death by a group of teens on a Center City SEPTA platform. Barb’s daughter was slain years ago. We also will be joined by Delaware County District Attorney Jack Whelan, who will talk about his close interaction with the group. If I had one wish, it would be to never have to do another story of a parent burying one of their children. I know that won’t happen. What will happen is the crucial work Parents of Murdered Children do in these horrific cases. Please join us Wednesday night at 7 on DelcoTimes.com for a very special look at a special group.

Voter ID: See how they spin

Interesting to see both sides spinning furiously as soon as the Pennsylvania Supreme Court made its ruling yesterday on Pennsylvania’s red-hot Voter ID Law.
Those in favor were ebullient that the high court did not knock it down. Those against pointed out that in sending it back to Commonwealth Court the justices asked the judge to insure no Pennsylvanian will be disenfranchised.

Basically, the high court punted. Even two of their own thought so. Both Justice Seamus McCaffery and Debra Todd said the court should make a definitive ruling on an issue clearly of major importance in the state. Both wanted the high court to move to block the law from being in effect for the Nov. 6 election.
Instead, they tossed it back in the lap of Commonwealth Court Judge Robert Simpson Jr., whose ruling upholding the law they were reviewing. The justices want Simpson to make sure the state is doing enough to make the required photo IDs available to all Pennsylvania voters. If he finds they are not, they urged him to issue an injunction blocking implementation of the law.
It doesn’t change our opinion.
This odious law remains a solution in search of a problem.
You can read our editorial stance here.

The redemption of Michael Vick

The redemption of Michael Vick continues.

I know this is not going to be popular. I know there are people who are never going to forgive the Eagles quarterback for what he did. It has nothing to do with football. And it has nothing to do with the Eagles, or how well Vick is - or isn’t - playing at any particular time.

It’s about animals, and what Vick is believed to have done to them as he financed a dog-fighting ring. For those crimes he spent two years in a federal prison.

I know there are a lot of people who don’t believe that was nearly enough, and the thought of Vick again assuming the mantra of an NFL superstar turns their stomach. The fact that he is doing it in the familiar green and white of the Eagles turns a lot of fans’ stomachs. I know people who were lifelong fans, but now will have nothing to do with the team because of the affiliation with Vick. They vow they will not get on board until Vick is gone. I hope they're waiting for a long time.

I know all of the issues people have with Vick. And they are legitimate ones.

And still I have to admit I am impressed by Vick.

And this from someone who was not a fan of his when he first came into the league as a Falcon.

Since a clearly humbled Vick arrived in Philadelphia, he strikes me as a changed man. He has done and said everything he should. He sounds nothing like the guy who played in Atlanta. Maybe two years in a federal prison will do that to you.

Yesterday Vick was giving back to the community. You can read it here.

He contributed $200,000 toward a $1 milion community renovation project that will provide recreation facilities in the Hunting Park section of the city. A football field at the facility will be called “Team Vick Field.” It’s the latest venture in Vick’s foundation to push youth projects in communities.

I know that a lot of people will sniff and say it doesn’t matter, that it doesn’t make up for what Vick once did.

I’m not among them.

I admire the guy. And I would regardless of whether he was the Eagles quarterback, although I would be lying if I said that doesen’t factor into it.

I’m an Eagles fan. I want them to do well. So I cheer for Vick.

But I’m an even bigger fan of people, especially those who turn themselves around after facing hardship.

A lot of people keep waiting for Vick to fail.

I hope they’re wrong.

Count me as a Vick fan.

On and off the field.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

The Daily Numbers - Sept. 18

The Daily Numbers: 1 million dollars, how much the city of Chester says it is owed by the group that runs the Philadelphia Union and PPL Park.

500,000 dollar payments in 2013 and 2014 the city is owed.

150,000 dollars a year owed to the city from 2015 through 2040.

20 percent tax on parking at the stadium that the city is considering.

10 percent of all parking revenue and $1 surcharge for tickets to events other than soccer games, what the group currently is paying the city.

4.5 million dollar price tag paid by a couple from Newtown Square for the Archdiocese of Philadelphia’s shore villa on the beach in Ventnor.

3 children, 4 grandchildren and 2 more on the way that Steve and Ilene Berger hope to play in the compound, which they intend to keep as is, with some renovations.

2 people, a mother and her son, killed in early-morning fire in Coatesville.

9 of October, sentencing day for Jerry Sandusky on child sex convictions.

1 more priest suspended by the Archdiocese of Philadelphia amid new allegations of child sex abuse.

8 more lawsuits to be filed against the archdiocese by victims claiming they were abused by priests.

2 million orders for the new iPhone5 in 24 hours, Apple reports.

100 people arrested in protests to mark the 1-year anniversary of Occupy Wall Street.

4-6 weeks, how long Eagles center Jason Kelce is expected to be out with knee ligament damage. Another procedure today could mean surgery and the end of his season.

3 INTs thrown by Peyton Manning last night as his Broncos fell to the Falcons on Monday Night Football.

3.5 games out of the Wild Card for the Phillies after they beat 18-game winner R.A. Dickey in New York last night.

2 homers, for Jimmy Rollins and Domonic Brown, to power the Phils attack.

10 strikeouts over 8 strong innings for Cliff Lee, who raised his record to 6-7.

*

Call me a Phanatic: A look at the ups and downs of being a Philadelphia sports fan.Don’t throw dirt on the Phillies just yet. They’re still alive.

 

*

I Don’t Get It: Wouldn’t you think that one of the world’s most photographed women, Princess Kate, would figure out that taking off her top anywhere is going to wind up splashed all over some magazine. What was she thinking?

*

Today’s Upper: Kudos to Kevin Neary. The Upper Chi man who continues to recover from a bullet that severed his spine, proves to us what a true hero is.

*

Quote Box: “We’ll wait until we see what their response is to paying us our pilot money. We’re back to first base.”

- Chester Mayor John Linder, on standoff with group that runs PPL Park and the Philadelphia Union over $1 million in fees owed the city.

Chronicling the story of Kevin Neary

For the past several days I have been searching for the right words to describe Kevin Neary.

I remain pretty much at a loss.

We have chronicled Kevin’s saga extensively in the past few months. You can read our latest story here.

We revisited the story last week as Kevin went into court to fact the man responsible for his current condition.

Kevin did not walk into court. He is confined to a wheelchair, breathing with the help of a ventilator.

Kevin was there, along with family and friends, to offer a Victim Impact Statement for the sentencing of the man who confronted him in the early morning hours of Nov. 15, 2011, as he walked home in the Northern Liberties section of Philadelphia.

The 29-year-old Neary was running his own business in health-care recruiting and also working at a couple of Philly restaurants.

All of that changed when he crossed paths with Christopher Easton. It was a robbery. Neary was shot once in the neck just 30 yards from his apartment. The bullet pierced his spinal cord, putting him in a wheelchair and changing his life forever.

But Neary did not come to court for revenge. Yes, his life has been irrevocably altered, but his plan now is to be an advocate for those in similar situations.

Every time we report a story like Neary’s, I find myself wondering what I would do if I were in that situation.

I would like to think I would find it in myself to react the way he did. The reality is I doubt I could, that I would instead become bitter and filled with feelings of hopelessness and rage.

I don’t know where Neary and his family find the strength to deal with their predicament. But I wish a lot more of us could do just that.

If you are looking for an example, of a mentor, of someone to point out to kids as a person on whom to model their lives, forget the athletes, movie stars or business tycoons.

Tell them instead the story of Kevin Neary.

He is what I would call a hero.

An evening with Parents of Murdered Children

 

It is almost certainly the one organization no one wants to join. And yet every year its ranks grow. Which makes what they do all the more important.
On Wednesday night, for our ‘Live From the Newsroom’ show, we will be honored to be joined by members of the Parents of Murdered Children chapter of Delaware County. Next week they will hold their annual vigil as part of their advocacy work for those who have lost loved ones to violence.
I will be joined by Sharon Conroy, one of the current leaders of the group, and Barb DiMario, the group’s founder. Both know all too well the horror of buring a child. Sharon’s son was beaten to death by a group of teens on a Center City SEPTA platform. Barb’s daughter was slain years ago.
We also will be joined by Delaware County District Attorney Jack Whelan, who will talk about his close interaction with the group.
If I had one wish, it would be to never have to do another story of a parent burying one of their children. I know that won’t happen.
What will happen is the crucial work Parents of Murdered Children do in these horrific cases.
Please join us Wednesday night at 7 on DelcoTimes.com for a very special look at a special group.

Phillies not dead yet

Forget the Chase Utley at third base experiment.

And don’t expect to see young slugger Darin Ruf get a lot of at-bats in the next two weeks.

The Phillies are not dead yet.

Despite an almost unexplainable swoon over the weekend in Houston that saw them drop three of four to the Dis-Astros, the Phils again righted the ship last night in New York.

They got eight strong innings from Cliff Lee and home runs from Jimmy Rollins and Domonic Brown as they outdueled 18-game winner R.A. Dickey.

The win puts the Phillies three and a half games back in the chase for that elusive new second Wild Card spot, with 15 games left to play.

The Phils have almost no room for error. It would behoove them to win out, as unlikely as that seems.

But they are alive.

CLICK HERE for Dennis Deitch’s take on last night’s game.

Monday, September 17, 2012

The Daily Numbers - Sept. 17

The Daily Numbers: 2 straight 1-point wins for the Eagles to start the season.

0 times that has happened in the history of the NFL.

9 turnovers for the Eagles in 2 games this season.

23 of 32 for 371 yards passing for Michael Vick.

2 more interceptions for Vick, including a killer in the red zone that blunted a great 1st drive of the game.

486 total net yards for the Birds’ offense.

8 catches for 157 yards for tight end Brent Celek.

7 catches for 114 yards for DeSean Jackson

1:55 left when the Eagles took a 24-23 lead on a Vick plunge. The defense kept the Ravens off the board.

56, 51 and 48 yard field goals for Ravens kicker Justin Tucker.

3 key injuries for Eagles, who likely lost center Jason Kelce, and also saw injuries to King Dunlap and Jeremy Maclin.

1-1 record for all the other teams in the NFC East.

4:05 game time next Sunday for the Eagles in the Arizona desert.

3 losses in 4 games in Houston for Phillies over weekend.

1 game under .500 again for the Phils.

4 games back in the Wild Card race for the fast-sinking Phillies.

*: A look at the ups and downs of being a Philadelphia sports fan.Forget the Phillies. Everyone on board the Eagles bandwagon. Super Bowl, here we come.

Call me a Phanatic

 

*

I Don’t Get It: The NFL is looking foolish with its decision to use replacement refs. The call at the end of the game that a Vick forward pass was a fumble almost cost the Birds the game.

*

Today’s Upper: Kudos to Juan Castillo. Not much is being made of it but the Eagles defense has been very solid.

*

Quote Box: “In the moment, you have to be at your best. It’s got to be an any-means-necessary mentality.”

- Michael Vick, on last-minute drive to win for the Eagles.

 

Vick, defense making difference this year

Michael Vick continued to turn the ball over.

LeSean McCoy fumbled again.

Andy Reid continued to dial up tons of passes.

Nnamdi Asomugha got beat for a crucial touchdown.

So, of course the Eagles are 2-0.

Read all about it here.

Yesterday the Birds did something no team in the history of the NFL has ever done.

No, not make Andy Reid look good.

They have now won their first two games of the season each by one point.

The Eagles have played two games and have an astounding nine turnovers. And they won both of them.

Vick continued to make crucial mistakes, including another killer interception in the red zone, throwing back across his body into the end zone.

But Vick has now also done something that is a rarity in Philadelphia. For two consecutive weeks he has gotten the ball late in the game with a chance to win - and he’s delivered.

Unlike Donovan McNabb and so many before him, Vick delivers the goods when the money is on the table.

Now, no one believes Vick can continue to turn the ball over the way he is now. He also continues to take a horrific physical pounding. He gets hit on almost every play.

And yet he endures.

Coupled with a rejuvenated defense (notice no one is complaining about Juan Castillo this year), Vick makes the Eagles a legitimate threat to go deep into the playoffs.

Next up is the Cardinals, and of course another delicious story line. The Eagles go to the desert to face the QB they traded away. That would be Kevin Kolb. The Cardinals also happen to be 3-0.

At some point Vick will stop turning the ball over. And when he does this team could be scary good.

Superheroes prove a good story in Chester

 

Who says there are no superheroes around anymore?
And who says there are no good stories in Chester?
I proved both of those theories wrong last Wednesday night.

And you can get the details in my print column today.
Meet Madeline Bialecki and Susan Keller.
My only question: Where are your capes?

24-23, a perfect pick

For the past few years, I’ve been having fun here in the blog on Saturday morning’s by making a prediction in the Eagles game. I’ve even taken a jab at myself with a self-deprecating headline: The dreaded Saturday Eagles pick.

But something happened this week that has never happened before.

On Saturday I proclaimed the Eagles would win, 24-23.

On Sunday, the Eagles did exactly that, scoring a late TD to rally from a 23-17 deficit to pull out a thrilling 23-23 win.

I have to admit that as the Eagles started that final drive, it dawned on me that a touchdown would make my prediction be on the money.

So of course the first thing I thought after they scored was that they left way too much time on the clock, especially given the way the Baltimore kicker was pounding the ball through the uprights.

Never fear. Joe Flacco never got a sniff of a comeback.

24-23, Eagles.

I should take this act to Vegas.

Houston, we have a problem

Let’s get the ugly part of this out of the way first.

The cynic in me tells me the Phillies are done, cooked. Stick a fork in them. The only problem with that is that I have made similar proclamations about four different times this summer.

Still, how could they tease us, then go to Houston and implode?

Uh, Houston, we have a problem.

Actually, it’s the Phils who have a problem with the Astros. The team with the worst record in baseball took three of four from the Phils, and may very well have stuck a pin in the balloon otherwise known as the Phils’ Wild Card chances.

Maybe this is all Houston’s revenge for 1980, when the Phillies prevailed in one of the all-time great National League playoff series, with the Phils prevailing on the way to a World Series win.

In particular, the Astros have been a thorn in the side of these present-day Phils.

Since 2004, Houston is the only National League team that has compiled a winning record against the Phillies juggernaut, going 35-23.

Maybe it’s the revenge of Ed Wade, who was banished to the Astros before returning this season.

The Phillies now sit four games back in the Wild Card race with 15 to play.

It was a long shot to begin with. But after another nightmare weekend in Houston, it’s a lot longer.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

The dreaded Saturday Eagles pick

Someone a lot wiser than me once said a win is a win is a win.

The Eagles stuck an ugly win in their pocket and quickly got out of Cleveland after a certifiably atroicous opening day 17-16 win over the Browns.

All we'll remember a few weeks from now is that it was a win. And of course, the fact that Andy Reid decided to dial up 56 pass plays for a rusty quarterback who had only played 12 snaps in the preseason.

Look at it this way. Last Sunday was Michael Vick's preseason. Will he throw four more interceptions this week? Not if the Eagles have any chance of beating a very good Ravens team that dismantled the Bengals on Monday night.

Everything about this game just begs you to get on the Ravens' bandwagon. Which is why I'm going the other way.

Michael Vick will not be that bad again. Oh, neither he nor Reid is going to change their stripes. Reid will continue to call pass after pass; Vick will pick up where he left off making bad decisions and throwing picks.

But I think Vick wants to show people that last week was more aberration than the norm. He will use his feet as much as his arm this week to defuse Ray Lewis and that ferocious Ravens' defense. He'll have to, since both the Eagles top receivers, DeSean Jackson and Jeremy Maclin, are banged up and questionable for the game.

That, a healthy dose of LeSean McCoy and a revved-up home crowd will carry the Eagles to a surprise win at the Linc.

The Pick: Make it Eagles 24, Browns 23. The Eagles manage to steal the Back Page back from the Phillies for at least one day.

Last Week: The less said about this debacle the better. Why don't we leave it at this. We're both 1-0, but I don't think either of is going to be bragging about it.

Season Record: The pundit and the Birds are both sitting at 1-0 after a less than scintillating effort vs. the Browns. Obviously, they will face a much sterner test Sunday when the Ravens come up I-95.