Monday, December 31, 2012

The Daily Numbers - Dec. 31

The Daily Numbers: 1 more day left in 2012. At midnight we ring in 2013.

0 days left in the reign of Eagles head coach Andy Reid. Owner Jeff Lurie will announce this morning he has been dismissed.

130-93-1 regular season record for Andy Reid, winningest coach in Eagles history.

.583 winning percentage.

10 playoff wins.

1 Super Bowl appearance; unfortunately 0 Super Bowl trophies.

8-8 record last year, followed up by disastrous 4-12 skid this year that paves the way for Reid’s exit.

42-7 loss that could not be more ugly yesterday as the Birds quit on their embattled coach against the Giants.

3-13, Eagles record in 1998 under Ray Rhodes, who was fired. Lurie then hired Green Bay assistant Andy Reid.

14 years as the head coach that will come to end today.

4, as in the No. 4 pick in the draft, what the Eagles get as a reward for their 4-12 season.

3 consecutive losses in NFC title game before Eagles finally broke through, beating Michael Vick and the Falcons, 27-10 on Jan. 23, 2005.

66-61-1, Reid’s record since losing that Super Bowl.

15.5 million dollars, what the Eagles owe Vick if he plays for them next year. He’ll either be released, traded or asked to renegotiate his deal.

3 million dollars, how much Vick is guaranteed if he’s on the Eagles roster on Feb. 6.

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

Here’s one vote for Penn State coach Bill O’Brien to be the next head coach of the Eagles. I know it will upset fans in Happy Valley if O’Brien leaves after one year, but I think he would be perfect for Birds’ boss.

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I Don’t Get It: The Eagles players talked all year about how much they loved Andy Reid and respected him. They didn’t yesterday, when most of them, especially on defense, mailed it in, failing to show up for final game vs. Giants.

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Today’s Upper: Kudos to Michael Vick. The man is a warrior and was again yesterday. One of the few Eagles along with LeSean McCoy who could walk off that field with his head held high.

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Quote Box: “There will be better days ahead.”

- Andy Reid, to his team after yesterday’s season-ending loss to Giants.

Times' yours, Mr. Lurie

At some point this morning, Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie will approach the microphones and make official what everyone has known for some time. Andy Reid is no longer his head coach.
It comes at least a year too late.

After a disappointing 8-8 season last year, Lurie approached the microphones last winter and spent 20 minutes laying out the case against Reid. Then, for some reason, he reversed course and inexplicably announced he was giving Reid one more year to right the ship.
Instead, it foundered. Now, in the rubble of a thoroughly miserable 4-12 season, Lurie finally will pull the trigger and put Reid out of his misery.
Andy Reid will exit as the Eagles all-time winningest coach, with a record of 130-93-1 record. He won 10 playoff games and took a team to the Super Bowl. But he did not give the rabid Iggles Nation the one thing they crave - a Super Bowl title.
Instead, every week he would intone the words that fans came to hate - and mock. First he would review the injuries, then he would turn it over to the media with his signature, “Times’ yours.”
Inevitably, Reid would shoulder the blame for the Eagles’ woes himself, saying he takes “full responsibility” and that he had “to do a better job of putting players in position to make plays.”
Unfortunately, he never did a better job. The team would make the same mistakes again and again, the same penalties, the same time management problems, the same penchant for ignoring the run in favor of the pass.
But there is one thing Reid never did, and for that he deserves respect.
That would be quit. Too bad his players can’t say the same today.
Their effort in a 42-7 loss yesterday at MetLife Stadium in North Jersey to the Giants was an embarrassment. For a group of guys who to a man talked about how much they loved Reid and wanted to play for him, they had a funny way of showing it.
Now many of them will follow their coach out the door.
A new era starts this morning for the Eagles. At this point there are more questions than answers.
The only thing that is certain is this:
Time’s no longer yours, Andy.
Step up to the microphone, Mr. Lurie.
Time’s yours.

Revisiting the 'Miracle of Drexel Hill'

With just hours left in 2012, today we complete our look at the top stories of the year here in Delaware County. You can read Part II of our package here.

A couple weeks ago, I saluted the refinery workers who played such a large part in our coverage this year.

Today, I use my Letter from the Editor column to detail our other biggest story. This one was close to my heart. I am a product of a Catholic elementary school, and often credit my tutelage at the firm right hand of the good Sisters, Servants of the Immaculate Heart of Mary for instilling in me a deep love of writing that manifests itself every day in this blog.

We spent a lot of time detailing the travails of Monsignor Bonner-Archbishop Prendergast, as well as the tumult and shakeup that resulted in the closing or mergers of a host of archdiocesan elementary schools.

We started calling the Bonner-Prendie story the “Miracle of Drexel Hill.”

Months later, it’s hard to argue with that sentiment.

CLICK HERE for my print column today.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

The Dreaded Saturday Eagles Pick

Call this one Andy Reid & Michael Vick: The Final Countdown.

It was just two years ago that Reid and Vick walked off the field in North Jersey ebullient after one of the most thrilling comeback wins in Eagles history. Vick guided the team to 21 unanswered 4th quarter points – capped off with a DeSean Jackson punt return for an exhilarating victory. Things would never be the same. The Eagles lost to the Vikings in that snow-delayed game, and the rest of the league noticed something. Vikings defensive coordinator (and former Eagles defensive backs coach Leslie Frazier) seemed to have figured Vick out. Everyone copied Frazier’s blueprint. The Eagles have not been the same since. They lost to the Packers in the playoffs, and last year they struggled to an 8-8 mark. The increasingly brittle Vick started this year by turning the ball over in bunches. Then he lost his job rookie Nick Foles after suffering a concussion. Ironically, it was a similar malady to then-starter Kevin Kolb that opened the door for Vick to take over the starting role.

Even with all that, the Eagles almost always find a way to beat the Giants. Hell, they beat them last year with Vince Young at quarterback.

On defense, the Giants remain shaky, in particular against the run. So do you think Reid and Marty Mornhinweg will simply pound away at them with the twin towers of LeSean McCoy and Bryce Brown? Of course not. In what likely will be his last game as Eagles coach, Reid will stick with what has been his enigma for years: I’m smarter than all the rest of you. Expect a rusty Vick to be throwing the ball all over the yard, and the Giants to take advantage with a boatload of turnovers.

Reid’s moves have been debatable for years, but nothing stands out quite as much as his insistence on ignoring the run and featuring the pass. That will once again be his downfall on Sunday.

Andy Reid has had a great, 14-year run. He’s won more games than any other Eagles coach. He’s won playoff games and taken a team to a Super Bowl. But he’s never won one. Now it’s time for the Andy Reid Era to end.

Time’s no longer yours, Andy.

The Pick: Make it Giants 29, Eagles 26. Vick will be rusty as he steps back into the starting role for the injured Nick Foles. He’ll fumble once and throw one pick. Eli Manning will do enough to keep the Giants’ faint playoff hope alive. They’re still the longest of long shots.

Last Week: The Eagles got another look at what they missed – and what will torture them for years to come – as Robert Griffin III beat them on one leg. Griffin is the real deal. Nick Foles probably is not. The Eagles have a huge decision to make this offseason, and it’s not just who will be their head coach. They also will need to decide who their starting QB is and if Vick has any future with the team. That and what time Jeff Lurie wants to call the press conference for on Monday to formally announce the end of the Andy Reid Era.

Season Record: The Birds sit at 4-11. Andy Reid and the Eagles did not even come close to Jeff Lurie’s mandate of avoiding another 8-8 season. Instead they imploded. I don’t see them winning Sunday either. I continue to win by picking against the Eagles. Hard to believe that at one point this team was 3-1. Last week’s win by the Redskins raised my mark to a gaudy 10-5.

Game by Game: Eagles 17, Browns 16 (My Pick: Eagles 27, Browns 13)

Eagles 24, Ravens 23 (My Pick: Eagles 24, Ravens 23 - On the Money!)

Cardinals 27, Eagles 6 (My Pick: Eagles 29, Cardinals 13)

Eagles 19, Giants 17 (My Pick: Eagles 19, Giants 17 - On the Money!)

Steelers 16, Eagles 14 (My Pick: Steelers 24, Eagles 16.)

Lions 26, Eagles 23 (My pick: Eagles 19, Lions 17)

Falcons 30, Eagles 17 (My pick: Eagles 29, Falcons 17)

Saints 28, Eagles 13 (My pick: Saints 37, Eagles 19)

Cowboys 38, Eagles 23 (My pick: Cowboys 23, Eagles 17)

Redskins 31 Eagles 6 (My pick: Eagles 29, Redskins 24)

Panthers 30, Eagles 22 (My pick: Eagles 23, Panthers 13)

Cowboys 38, Eagles 33 (My pick: Cowboys 33, Eagles 23)

Eagles 23, Buccaneers 21 (My pick: Eagles 26, Buccaneers 17)

Bengals 34, Eagles 13 (My pick, Bengals 23, Eagles 17)

Redskins 27, Eagles 20 (My Pick, Redskins 26, Eagles 13)

Friday, December 28, 2012

The Daily Numbers - Dec. 28

The Daily Numbers: 3 teens charged in horrific carjacking and sexual assault of 22-year-old Newtown woman on Christmas night.

5 hours, how long they allegedly rode around Philadelphia, taking turns sexually assaulting her.

40 to 55 bucks more, what Darby Borough residents will be paying in taxes.

2 shooting incidents in Chester under investigation.

35, age of woman who was struck by a stray bullet while washing dishes in her East 11th Street home.

4 other people shot during the 2 incidents in the city.

23 homicides in Chester so far in 2012; there have been 31 in the county. No other town has more than 1.

4 starving dogs rescued from the yard of a home in Yeadon.

6.7 percent tax hike approved in Nether Providence.

78, age of Desert Storm commander Gen. Norman Schwarzkopf, who died Thursday.

150,000 Nap Nanny baby recliners being recalled by retailers.

3 police officers shot during altercation early this morning at police station in Gloucester County, N.J.

1 more start for Michael Vick as quarterback of the Philadelphia Eagles, on Sunday vs. the Giants in North Jersey.

4-11 mark for the Eagles in what likely will be the final game of the Andy Reid era.

74-38 win for the Chester Clippers over Abington.

6-2 record for the Clips.

200 wins for Frank Ridpath as coach of the Sun Valley girls hoops team.

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

It will be the end of an era Sunday as Michael Vick and Andy Reid go out together.

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I Don’t Get It: It’s really hard to explain the horror that befell a 22-year-old Newtown woman who was carjacked and sexually assaulted for hours on Christmas night. Three Delco teens now face charges. I don’t get it.

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Today’s Upper: Kudos to Upper Darby top cop Mike Chitwood, who correctly described the crime as ‘sadistic.’

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Quote Box: “This was a sadistic crime, the kind of crime that shakes up the human consciousness.”

- Chitwood on brutal Christmas night attack on 22-year-old woman.

A sadistic crime in Upper Darby

Upper Darby top cop Mike Chitwood takes some heat from some quarters for the ‘colorful’ descriptions he sometimes uses to detail the miscreants his officers have a tendency to corral in the township.

This morning he has some strong words for the three teens charged in an absolutely horrific carjacking and sexual assualt of a 22-year-old Newtown woman on Christmas night.

This trio jumped in the woman’s car while she was waiting for her boyfriend inside a local watering hole, and for the next five hours drove around Philadelphia, allegedly taking turns sexually assaulting the woma

“This was a sadistic crime, the kind of crime that shakes up the consciousness,” Chitwood said. You can read all the rest of the disgusting details here.

Anyone want to argue with him?

 

Waitin' on a winter wonderland

OK, everybody take a deep breath.

There’s a four-little word in the forecast. It’s going to snow tomorrow. You can read the full forecast here.

This is not - I repeat NOT - going to be a big storm. We’re likely going to get 1-3 inches. But it will be our first measurable snowfall of the winter, and it might actually require us to man the shovels for time.

But it will not require a run on your local supermarket.

Despite what we no doubt will be told all today by hyperventilating TV types.

Hey, it’s a Saturday in the middle of the holiday season. Consider it a winter wonderland. Go outside and make snow angels.

Be a kid again.

OK, maybe I got carried away a bit there.

Maybe sit by the fireplace with a nice hot toddy instead.

 

End of Era for Reid & Vick

Maybe this the way it was supposed to be.

Andy Reid and the Eagles stunned the NFL a few years back when they signed prodigal quarterback Michael Vick, fresh out of the federal pen after doing time for running a brutal dog-fighting operation.

On Sunday, at the scene of arguably their highest moment, they will make their last stand together.

Vick will be the starting quarterback, with Nick Foles sidelines with a broken bone in his hand. Reid will patrol the sidelines, very likely for the last time as Eagles head coach.

It’s hard to believe it was just two years ago that Vick led the Eagles to one of the most dramatic comeback wins in the team’s history, scoring 21 unanswered points punctuated by a DeSean Jackson punt return for a TD to stun the Giants.

Last year the team stumbled to an 8-8 mark. This year, with an edict from owner Jeff Lurie that a repeat would not be nearly good enough, the Birds instead imploded. Vick suffered a concussion and lost his grip on the starting job. Ironically, it was a concussion to starter Kevin Kolb that opened the door to him to take over the Birds’ offense two years ago.

They limp up the Jersey Turnpike with a lamentable 4-11 record, dead last in the NFC East. The Giants are clinging to a slim playoff hope, but the odds are they also will be outside looking in when the NFL kicks off the post-season as well.

Two years ago, for about six weeks, Vick may have been the best quarterback in the NFL. Then the Birds stumbled in that snow-delayed game against the Vikings. They lost to the Packers in the playoffs, and things have not been the same since.

On Sunday, it will be Michael and Andy making a last stand in the swamps of Jersey.

No one saw that miraculous comeback against the Giants coming two years ago.

And no one likely saw what happened in the two years since.

This chapter in Eagles history will likely end on Sunday. It has something in common with ever other Eagles era, something that will define Andy Reid’s time as coach.

Fans are still waiting for a Super Bowl trophy to make its way down Broad Street.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

The Daily Numbers - Dec. 27

The Daily Numbers: 3 people wounded in street shooting late yesterday afternoon on 500 block of East 11th Street in Chester.

20 minutes later, 2 more people were wounded in a separate shooting, this one at Third and Concord streets.

0 tax increase for city of Chester.

90,000 dollar surplus in the city’s budget.

0.61 mills tax hike included in the budget for Rutledge.

24 years as top cop ending with retirement of Chief Tom Byrne in Ridley Park.

1 person killed when fire roared through a home in Sharon Hill on Christmas Eve.

3 straight down days for the stock market, mostly on news of weak holiday sales and the looming fiscal cliff crisis.

60 billion dollars in aid for victims of Hurricane Sandy due for action in Washington this week.

200 flights canceled at Philadelphia International Airport during yesterday’s snow-rain event.

1 person killed by a hit-run driver in Kensington section of Philadelphia.

1 more start for Michael Vick as quarterback of the Philadelphia Eagles, on Sunday vs. the Giants in North Jersey.

4-11 mark for the Eagles in what likely will be the final game of the Andy Reid era.

2 Eagles, Fletcher Cox and Mychal Kendricks, suffering concussions.

0 Eagles named to the NFC Pro Bowl team

99-89 win for the Sixers on the road vs. the Grizzlies.

28 points for Dorell Wright in the win.

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

Jason Babin never really “got” Philadelphia. Still doesn’t.

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I Don’t Get It: How could someone possibly set a house on fire, then sit in hiding to ambush volunteer firefighters as they responded to the call.

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Today’s Upper: Kudos to all those “Mom and Pop” businesses we’re profiling this week. They are the true backbone of the local economy.

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Quote Box: “The smoking of marijuana should not be handled as a criminal justice issue.”

- State Sen. Daylin Leach, D-17, on push to legalize marijuana use for medical purposes.

The gun violence here at home

The nation continues to mourn the loss of 20 “angels” in that horrific school shooting in Newtown, Conn. Six adults also died.

Just a couple weeks later, a man set his house on fire in upstate New York, then waited for volunteer firefighters to arrive. He opened fire on them when they did; two firefighters were killed, two others were wounded.
So far this year there have been 31 homicides in Delaware County. Of those, 23 have occurred in the city of Chester. No other town has had more than one.
Three more people were wounded in a shooting incident Wednesday in the 500 block of East 11th Street in the city. Twenty minutes later, gunfire erupted again, this time at Third and Concord. Two more people were wounded.
Where is the outrage for Chester?
Why are city and county officials not demanding change?
No one want to diminish the loss of a single life.
But we shouldn’t overlook the persistent problem of gun violence, and the havoc it wreaks, right here at home either.

Andy Reid's biggest mistake

Jason Babin has made more news since he left the Eagles than he did in this miserable season when he was lining up at defensive end in the now departed ‘Wide Nine’ alignment.

Babin, now playing in Jacksonville after being shown the door, followed a week later by defensive line coach Jim Washburn, the architect of the gimmicky Wide NIne, apparently just couldn’t resist taking another shot at Philly.

Only this time he was not aiming at the fans, with whom the one-time Pro Bowler had something of a love-hate relationship.

No, this time he was harpooning the front office, partly in defense of the guy whose defensive scheme rocketed him to All-Star status, and made him a boatload of money along the way.

“They don’t have amicable splits with people,” Babin said during a conference call. “You saw how dirty they did (Washburn) with leaking out the false stories and the way they talked about him on the way out. It’s kind of a big socialistic system that they have. I didn’t really care.”

Well, apparently he cared enough about it to address one more time.

Babin was pretty much a non-descript pass-rushing defensive end in his first go-round with the Birds. But after being released he found a little slice of heaven in Tennessee with Washburn. The hell-bent, get to the QB at all costs system personified by the Wide Nine rocketed Babin to superstar status. He signed a five-year, $28 million deal to come back to the Eagles. Washburn also came to Philly.

It may be one of the biggest mistakes Andy Reid made during his tenure here. The decision to bring in Washburn, with Babin in tow, was made before the Eagles had hired a defensive coordinator to replace Sean McDermott, who lasted just one season trying to fill the legendary shoes of the late Jim Johnson.

Suddenly, no one wanted to take the Birds’ defensive coordinator job. Several “name” candidates backed away. Reid, in maybe the signature move of the end of his reign in Philly, instead turned to longtime pal and offensive line coach Juan Castillo.

We all know how that worked out. It didn’t help that Washburn apparenly openly mocked Castillo to his players - including Babin - along the way.

Babin is now gone. So is Washburn. Reid likely will follow, presumably sometime soon after the Eagles walk off the field against the Giants in North Jersey Sunday afternoon.

If you’re looking for the biggest mistakes of the Reid era, you can put Babin/Washburn right up there at the top of the list.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

The Dreaded Saturday Eagles Pick

For 14 years, Andy Reid has offered the following droll response to fans and media: Time’s yours.

Not anymore, Coach.

It’s very likely Reid will walk out onto the turf of Lincoln Financial Field for the last time as the Eagles head coach on Sunday when the Birds meet the Redskins.

The Eagles are playing out the string of a second straight season absent from the playoffs. Meanwhile, they can still play the role of spoiler, with dates against the Redskins this week and the Giants in the season finale, the Eagles could decide who wins the NFC East. One thing is certain – it won’t be them.

Reid’s troops were officially eliminated a couple of weeks ago.

Now the big question is whether LeSean McCoy should actually play in these last two games. Or whether Nick Foles has shown enough to be go into next season as the starter. And who the candidates are to follow Reid.

Anyone remember when December used to mean a playoff drive. At one time, that was routine for Reid. Not anymore. Reid’s era has been sabotaged by his own series of bad decisions. The only thing left is just how the fans will treat the winningest coach in team history in his home finale. The guess here is that it depends on how the game is going. And that is not good news for Reid. The Redskins are driving toward their first playoff appearance in years. The only place the Eagles are driving is to the airport to get out of town after another miserable season.

The Pick: Make it Redskins 26, Eagles 13. I doubt we’ll know much more about Nick Foles after this game. But we should know if the past few weeks under Tommy Brasher has been a mirage for the Birds’ defense. If they can corral Robert Griffin III (who looks like he is going to play), it will only reinforce my belief that this could have been a playoff team without Jim Washburn and that God-awful Wide 9 defensive alignment.

Last Week: The Eagles got embarrassed one more time on national TV. They actually had the lead going into the second half when they imploded under a series of turnovers. That’s been one of the big stories of this year. This team just insists on giving the ball away. Look for them to rectify that situation, but I don’t think it will be enough.

Season Record: 4-10. Yep, you read it right. The Eagles are 4-10. And yes, I can admit that before the season started I believed this team had a shot at going to the Super Bowl. Ouch. On the other hand, I’m enjoying one of my better seasons of prognostications, that Super Bowl pick not withstanding. Going with the Bengals raised my mark to 9-5.

Game by Game: Eagles 17, Browns 16 (My Pick: Eagles 27, Browns 13)

Eagles 24, Ravens 23 (My Pick: Eagles 24, Ravens 23 - On the Money!)

Cardinals 27, Eagles 6 (My Pick: Eagles 29, Cardinals 13)

Eagles 19, Giants 17 (My Pick: Eagles 19, Giants 17 - On the Money!)

Steelers 16, Eagles 14 (My Pick: Steelers 24, Eagles 16.)

Lions 26, Eagles 23 (My pick: Eagles 19, Lions 17)

Falcons 30, Eagles 17 (My pick: Eagles 29, Falcons 17)

Saints 28, Eagles 13 (My pick: Saints 37, Eagles 19)

Cowboys 38, Eagles 23 (My pick: Cowboys 23, Eagles 17)

Redskins 31 Eagles 6 (My pick: Eagles 29, Redskins 24)

Panthers 30, Eagles 22 (My pick: Eagles 23, Panthers 13)

Cowboys 38, Eagles 33 (My pick: Cowboys 33, Eagles 23)

Eagles 23, Buccaneers 21 (My pick: Eagles 26, Buccaneers 17)

Bengals 34, Eagles 13 (My pick, Bengals 23, Eagles 17)

 

Thursday, December 20, 2012

A discussion on guns and violence

We had a great discussion last night on ‘Live From the Newsroom’ as we focused on gun violence and school security in the wake of the massacre in Connecticut.

My thanks for Lawrence O’Shay, the executive director of the Delaware County Intermediate Unit, and Shira Goodman, the new boss of CeaseFirePa.

I’d also like to thank readers for their outpouring of questions for the panel all day yesterday. I put many of them to our panel.

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

Several readers indicated their belief that the panel was stacked with anti-gun proponents. I’d like to think that I’m pretty middle of the road on this important issue. And I had my lead columnist, Gil Spencer, an avowed Second Amendment and gun rights activist, on hand.

One question submitted by a reader struck me as being especially pertinent. He wondered why his place of employment, a steel mill, had an armed guard, but his child’s school did not.

O’Shay went over last weekend’s meeting with county officials in the wake of the Connecticut tragedy, and ensuring that all Delaware County schools were reviewing their security policies.

At the end of the show, when I asked him during our usual Rapid Fire segment to identify one aspect of school security that readers do not know, he pointed out one that they do not and will not know. That would be the actual plans in place for what would happen should the unthinkable ever happen herein Delco.

And Goodman consistently indicated her group did not want to take away everyone’s guns, only illegal guns.

Me? I still want to know why any private citizen needs a weapon such as that semiautomatic AR-15 rifle used in the Connecticut rampage.

Yesterday President Obama said he would put together a panel headed by Vice President Joe Biden to address gun issues in the nation.

If it has done nothing else, the tragedy in Connecticut has caused everyone, from Delaware County to Washington, D.C.., to talk about this issue.

If there is anything good to come out of this, maybe that’s it.

 

Time's no longer yours, Andy

We are now left with this in this winter of our discontent as Eagles fans. How should fans react on Sunday in what will almost surely be Andy Reid’s final game in front of the Lincoln Financial Field faithful.

Reid is in the twilight of a 14-year reign as the Eagles boss. His achievements, including a long streak of double-digit wins, playoff appearances and one trip to the Super Bowl, cannot be denied.

But Reid ends his time in Philly on a decidedly down note, with crises both on and off the field, professional and personal.

More importantlly, his decisions, from hiring Jim Washburn and making Juan Castillo his defensive coordinator, to yesterday’s announcement that LeSean McCoy will start on Sunday as he recovers from a concussion, have increasingly come under scrutiny.

Sure, the rule has always been in the NFL that if you are healthy you play. But it’s alarming that the Eagles would put the health of the best player on the team - and perhaps the best running back in the league - in jeopardy in what amounts to a meaningless game. Even more alarming is that Eagles owner Jeff Lurie would allow this decision to be made by Reid, who likely will be making those decisions only for one more week.

Remember, it was Reid who had McCoy on the field in the final minutes of a blowout loss to the Redskins when he suffered the brutal hit that led to the concussion. Reid was severely second-guessed for that decision, not just for putting McCoy at risk, but for running the ball that late in a meaningless game when he has so often stubbornly refused to do so during his reign in Philly.

So the question will remain for Eagles fans how they will treat Reid in what may be his Philly farewell.

Cheer or jeer?

Part of me wants to cheer, if not for all the wins Reid has piled up, perhaps just thankful that it’s over and we can now move forward.

Time's yours? Not any more, Andy.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

The Daily Numbers for Dec. 19

The Daily Numbers: 2 funerals held yesterday in Newtown, Conn.

5 more funerals set today after last Friday’s mass shooting that killed 20 young students and 6 adults.

2 people gunned down on the streets of Chester.

31 homicides in Delaware County so far this year.

23 of those have been in the city of Chester.

1 man under arrest after a fight between 2 12-year-old girls in Upper Darby sparked a daylong feud that ended in gunfire.

6 teen girls from Chester charged in the beating of woman that they videotaped who were in court yesterday. A judge denied a request for lower bail for several of them.

11 months, age of Collingdale tot who died of acute heroin intoxication. His mother was ordered held for trial after a preliminary hearing yesterday.

1,710 dollars that rolled into the Merry Christmas Fund yesterday. We now stand at $22,181 toward our goal of hitting $50,000.

4 dollar hike in taxes for most people under the budget plan in Prospect Park.

0 tax hike in Trainer under their proposed spending plan.

3 branches of Citibank closing in Delco.

5 million dollars, how much a judge ruled a beauty pageant contestant owed the Miss USA organization on a defamation rap after she claimed the show was rigged.

100 billion dollar value for Comcast. They hit that mark yesterday.

107-100 loss for the Sixers last night in Dallas.

4 straight losses for the Sixers

1 year deal for John Lannan, who joins Phillies starting rotation.

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

Maybe this new ‘under the radar’ approach by Ruben Amaro Jr. will pay off for the Phils. Let’s hope so.

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I Don’t Get It: The homicide rate here in Delaware County is now at 31 for the year, 23 in Chester alone. I don’t get it.

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Today’s Upper: Kudos to those who turned out in Haverford last night for a vigil to honor those killed in the Connecticut school shooting.

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Quote Box: “Having everyone together and praying is what I needed. I can’t imagine what those people are going through.”

- Tom Minnino, a service in Haverford.

We'll be tackling guns & school security on 'Live From the Newsroom'

In Newtown, Conn., today there will be five more funerals.

We have not yet even come close to realizing the full toll taken on the nation when a madman  entered Sandy Hook Elementary School and opened fire with a semiautomatic weapon.

We’ll be talking about both those things tonight on a very special edition of ‘Live From the Newsroom’ as we tackle the twin issues of school security and gun violence.

We’ll be joined by Lawrence O’Shea, the head of the Delaware County Intermediate Unit. One aspect of what the IU does is oversee school security. It’s something every parent has been thinking about since last Friday. And it’s on our minds as we clutch our children just a little tighter before they climb onto those school buses in the morning.

We’ll also be joined by Shira Goodman, the new executive director of CeaseFire Pa, an organization seeking to increase limits on guns in the state.

I have some questions I will be asking them, but what I really would like to do is ask them YOUR questions. Do you have a specific school security question you’d like to see addressed? Do you have a thought (pro or con) on the gun control debate you’d like to see CeaseFire Pa address?

Email me your questions at editor@delcotimes.com and I will put them to our panel.

Then join us tonight at 7 on DelcoTimes.com. Make sure you log on and join our live chat.

It’s time for this country to talk about guns and school security. That’s what we’ll be doing tonight. Why not join us?

 

Remember when sports used to matter in this town?

The Phillies yesterday rolled out their big off-season additions.

Their names are John Lannan and Michael Young. Yeah, not exactly Cliff Lee or Roy Halladay. Coupled with Ben Revere, this trio are the major changes bruoght in by Ruben Amaro Jr. Young will be the everyday third baseman. Revere will patrol center field. Lannan will be a No. 5 pitcher in the rotation.

Surely Amaro has another big move to make, maybe a corner outfielder. Right, Rube? Ruben?

Columnist Jack McCaffery is not exactly enthused. Check out Jack's thoughts here.

The Eagles very well could decide who wins the NFC East. Only problem is they are not in the running. They are dead last, while the Giants, Redskins and Cowboys are all tied at the top with 8-6 marks. The Birds play the Redskins Sunday in what very well could be Andy Reid’s final appearance at the Linc, then finish up the season up the Turnpike against the Giants. Some fun, eh?

And the Sixers? Well, they’ve lost four straight, falling last night on the road to the Mavs in Dallas. Andrew Bynum still has not taken part in a single practice. And now Jrue Holiday is nursing a foot sprain.

Dear Santa, please bring us a contending team! Hey, maybe the NHL (remember them?) will decide to play a shortened season.

Altogether now, “Let’s Go, Flyers!”

You can almost hear the echoes of Gene Hart.

Or maybe those are just the ghostly voices of fans trying to remember when sports mattered in this town.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

The Daily Numbers for Dec. 18

The Daily Numbers: 6, age of Benjamin Wheeler, one of 20 students killed. He was the grandchild of Carmen and Antoinette Lobis, of Concord.

2 funerals held yesterday in Newtown, Conn., the first of what will be a very long week of funerals.

2 emails received by Upper Darby School Superintendent Lou DeVlieger with concerns about school security.

7 p.m. tonight, vigil set in Haverford to honor the victims from Connecticut.

20, age of woman who took stand yesterday in trial of 2 Darby men on trial for holding her against her will and in the basement of a Darby home and sexually assaulting her.

3 shootings on Monday under investigation in Delco, 2 of them in Chester.

3 more sex offenders who failed to comply with Megan’s Law reporting guidelines who are now in custody in Delco.

2 women from Broomall, Marple Township, charged with operating an illegal dentistry operation in Montgomery County.

20,741 dolalrs raised so far for the Chester Salvation Army by the Daily Times Merry Christmas Fund. More than $2,300 came in over the weekend. Our goal is $50,000.

20 electors from Pennsylvania who cast their ballots for President Barack Obama yesterday.

3.4 percent uptick in revenue from table games in Pa. casinos in November, compared to same month last year.

19 vials of liquid found in the Lehigh dorm room of Garrett Reid now identified as anabolic steroids.

32, age of Michael Vick, who now is confined to backup QB status with Eagles.

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

Seems like there remains a lot of unanswered questions about what Garrett Reid was doing with all those vials of anabolic steroids in his Lehigh dorm room.

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I Don’t Get It: The funerals for those little kids in Connecticut is almost too much to bear.

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Today’s Upper: Kudos to those who are saying it is long past time to have a serious conversation about guns in America.

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Quote Box: “There was no dimmer switch or governor plate on this kid. He didn’t walk anywhere. He ran.”

- Carmen Lobis, of Concord, whose grandson Benjamin Wheeler died in the Connecticut school shooting.

 

One more horrific story, one more local connection

I have something that I remind my staff every time a very big story erupts somewhere around the globe.

“Don’t worry,” I tell them. “Somehow, some way it will work its way back here to Delco.”

That is why whenever there is a tragic story like a place crash or earthquake, we scour the list of victims for a Delco connection.

That’s what I was doing on Sept. 12, 2001, looking over the list of passengers on United Flight 175 released by the airline in the wake of the 9/11 attacks.

One name leaped off the page at me.

Michael Horrocks, one of the co-pilots. Home town? Glen Mills, Pa., right here in our back yard.

Incredibly, and with no less heartache, it has happened again.

Today, our lead story, splashed all across Page One, tells the story of Carmen and Antoinette Lobis. The Concord Township couple are holding a picture of their 6-year-old grandson, Benjamin Wheeler.

He was one of the 20 children gunned down when a 200-year-old madman invaded the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., last Friday.

You can read the story here.

There are no words to describe what the Lobis’ extended family has been going through the past few days.

It is my sincere hope that we did not add to their anguish by interviewing them and telling their story. I think they speak eloquently of what we lost with Benjamin’s absence.

It is the kind of haunting void that 19 other families also are trying desperately to fill.

My fear is that they will not be able to do it.

Just as I, a person whose job is to work with words, struggles to find any that can explain this.

The truth is there are no words. Only heartache.

Some days I hate this job.

One more sad saga for Eagles, Andy Reid

No one wants to kick dirt on anyone’s grave.

And I certainly can empathize with the agony of Andy Reid and his family in the heartache of losing a son.

But am I the only one who believes there are now some serious issues created by yesterday’s news from the Northampton County D.A.’s office that they found steroids in Garrett Reid’s room after his death?

Andy Reid brought his oldest son under the umbrella of the team as a volunteer strength and conditioning coach. In doing so, Reid most likely was acting as a father, not a head coach in the NFL. I don’t blame him for trying to keep his son close, where he might be able to keep tabs on a son who had already had several scrapes with the law involving both steroids and other drugs.

But it’s pretty clear now that Andy Reid did not have that tight a rein on his son. That also is understandable. Reid was trying to run an NFL training camp, an all-consuming activity as any coach in the NFL can attest.

Yesterday, Reid issued a statement saying he did not believe his son’s activities had any effect on the team. Eagles owner Jeff Lurie called the findings “disappointing” and that they run “counter to the values and principles mandated to everyone associated with our organization.”

The league has been silent.

Lurie stressed that neither the organization or any players were aware of the younger Reid’s activities.

In a year when just about everything has gone wrong for the Eagles, it is perhaps the saddest epitaph on this season.

The rest of us look at this and can separate the Reids’ personal dilemma from the team. But the Eagles as an organization and the NFL as a league cannot.

And it’s just hard to believe this was allowed to happen.

Monday, December 17, 2012

The Daily Numbers for Dec. 17

The Daily Numbers: 20 first-graders killed in mass shooting in Newtown, Conn., on Friday.

6 adtuls also killed by 20-year-old Adam Lanza, including his mother.

14 children and 2 teachers killed in 1 classroom. Everyone in that classroom died.

670 students enrolled at Sandy Hook School.

27,000 people who live in Newtown, Conn.

3 guns taken to the school by Adam Lanza, who had hundreds of rounds of ammo with him, much of it unused.

.223-caliber Bushmaster semiautomatic carbine, weapon used to kill most of the victims.

10 mm Glock, 9mm Sig Sauer, the 2 handguns Lanza also had in his possession.

10 minutes, how long the rampage took before Lanza took his own life when he realized police were responding.

2nd deadliest school rampage in U.S. history, behind 32 killed at Virginia Tech in 2007.

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

Sports doesn’t really seem so important on weekends like the one we just went through.

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I Don’t Get It: What exactly is the purpose of that Bushmaster semiautomatic rifle, and why does anyone need to possess oneJ?

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Today’s Upper: Kudos to the professionals who are working to put together so many shattered lives in Newtown, Conn.

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Quote Box: “Surely we can do better than this …. These tragedies must end.”

- President Obama, speaking last night in Newtown at vigil for shooting victims.

Mass shootings and the media

I struggled most of the day Friday with two questions.
One of them appeared on the front page of Saturday’s paper. It was a single word.
Why?
My guess is we’ll never really know what kind of sickness drove a troubled 20-year-old to go on a murderous rampage and for some reason take out his wrath on innocent children.

In my business, when you get the first inkling that a really big story is about to break, you sort of ramp yourself up for what is to come. I spent most of the next few days hip deep in coverage of the Connecticut school shooting. As you can imagine, it’s depressing, heart-breaking stuff.
But there is another question I often wind up asking myself in these instances as well. I often wonder about the non-stop, blanket coverage the media offers such incidents, and if it in any way fuels such incidents or adds to the grief.
I will admit it’s a purely personal, selfish decision. But I think it’s one a lot of people talk about it. I just happen to live it. I make the decisions every day about what this newspaper will cover, and how we will display it, both in print and online.
So I decided to hold something of a conversation with readers. I posted a question on Facebook and asked readers to weigh in. As usual, they were not shy about doing so. I will share their sentiments here. Some are friends, old and new. Some are readers. All made cogent points in light of this tragedy. Please feel free to post a comment on this blog if you’d like to offer your opinion.
One thing I don’t think we can do enough in the wake of this tragedy is talk about it, and what we can do to prevent it from happening again.
Here’s the question I posted: “Now, a purely personal, maybe even selfish question. Does anyone think that the intense coverage of these kinds of mass shootings in any way glorifies them, or worse, may encourage someone else to do the same for their small sliver of fame. In other words, welcome to my world. Want to sit in my seat? Let me know how you would have handled it?”

Pat Biswanger: I worry about that, and also about how people sometimes appear to love wallowing in someone else’s grief. Still, I think you have to cover it, because it is NEWS. It might be best to downplay the name and photo of the killer, so no potential copycat thinks, I’d like that kind of glory too. A trivial example, but it worked with the streakers at the ballgames; once the media stopped showing them, it stopped.

Patti Brogan Groshon: I do not like it that the media grabs hold of a tragedy like this and then doesn’t continue to follow through with legislators about changes in policy that can prevent a tragedy like this. It is nonstop coverage for a week or so and then everything gets forgotten about until the next tragedy.

Joe DiCioccio: If someone is seriously ill enough to consider and follow through on an act of this tragic magnitude their infamy will come regardless, whether you cover it or not. It is your responsibility to report and inform, the manner in which you do it is always difficult and I for one commend you on your record. You have my trust on this.

Elaine D’Arienzo
: I made a similar comment this morning. I think gun control is a greater issue.

John McBlain: I do not believe that the press coverage glorifies these people. The press needs to cover these stories. We need to know what happened. It helps us. Previous press coverage didn’t cause this monster to do this. Neither did the Second Amendment. Neither did video games. Neither did the fact that God isn’t allowed in schools. When unimaginable tragedies like this happen it is a natural reaction to want to blame something. Society didn’t kill these kids; one sick bastard did. Let’s have a debate after the fact. But can we stop pointing fingers at each other until at least these kids’ and teachers’ souls reach heaven.

Ann Marie Cassidy: Yesterday was a horrifying National Tragedy. The situation certainly required coverage, however alot of what was reported yesterday was not accurate information. Even today, the coverage of how these innocent victims were shot is made public. Do reporters really need to report grim details without regard to the families? Do reporters really feel its appropriate to have microphones in the face of a child who survived this horrific attack? In a rush to be the first to identify is it appropriate to name the wrong person? Personally i do feel the intense coverage places ideas in the next unstable person to leave this world with a more horrific travesty than the one before. Information reported upon on the day of..should be the accurate information coming from the law enforcement official selected as the spokesperson. Yesterday was pure evil, not mentally off, loner, whatever...it was evil. He deserves no coverage whatsoever.

Rob Farber: We live in a society where a man will snap a picture of someone caught on the tracks in hopes of selling it to a newspaper ( which he did instead of lending his outstretched hand to help)..... Do you really need to ask this question? I think you know what the answer is

Chauncey W. Boyd: I will have to comment Phil, I do believe the intense,repetitious, coverage shown over,and over, again enables the sick, evil minded, in this crazy, complex world we live. It allows some to glorify these horrific,barbarian,attacks on our fellow man. There is no other species in life’s cycle including all animals, that attack and kill its own in mass numbers except mankind. Think about this fact, and ask yourself whats wrong here? Yet we have those who insist continuously to remove GOD from our lives and especially at this time of year. The repetitious news coverage also enables those who scream for gun control and alteration to the 2nd amendment to advance their foolish plight. Gun control is NOT the answer, its more like human control. TV and the print allow the copycat type to review and educate themselves as to what did and did not work, or how it may help any other sick minded individual to copy such a horrific, despicable act. GOD help us and GOD be with the families is my prayer! Therefore the correct answer is YES!

Nancy Cawley Lane: I think the coverage is necessary. I want to know as much as possible and then figure out how to prevent in the future. I also want to know about the victims - the school principal and the brave teachers/staff. And of course the kids. We can honor their lives with our news coverage.

Gail Pontuto: The simple answer is, “NO,”

Mike Minnick: I think the problem with the non stop coverage is when the wrong info gets out. The “unnamed source” at the police dept gave the wrong name, causing this poor man who just lost his mother and brother to defend himself to people who took to his page to call him names, rather then mourn his loss. But I also understand the need for you to get the information out as soon as you get it. In todays world everything is now now now! As a society we should be able to handle a delay of a little while so information can be correct. And the interviewing of children is disgusting. These poor children just went through the worst trauma they will probably ever experience in their lives, most probably dont even comprehend that their friends are gone, but reporters are pushing microphones in their face. And the parents that let this happen are equally disgusting to me. Take your child home, talk to them, hug them, love them. Keep them away as much as you can, because reality is about to hit them like a freight train

Mike Minnick: All that being said, I do not envy your job. You will spend the next several days deciding what to print and what not to print. Will you have the interviews with the children? Will you show the funerals? These are not decisions I would want to make.

Cyndi Charney: Phil - I just had this “conversation” with my sister and niece. I do believe that publicity of these tragic events influences other mentally ill individuals to perform similar acts. These people know, before they die, that their name and their tragedy will be highly publicized and discussed in print, TV, social media, etc. It becomes a “last hurrah”. Do I think that the Daily Times not printing anything about Sandy Hook would make a difference? No. I do think the media has a responsibility to publish news like this, but the hours upon hours of tv coverage, front page news stories, etc. absolutely encourages these senseless acts. IMO this is a tri-fold problem - too much media coverage, access to assault weapons (although it wouldn’t have made a difference in this case), and inadequate attention and care of the mentally ill.

Pamela Vines Golden: It certainly doesn’t help. My husband is watching CNN and it’s constant coverage. I honestly don’t think that level of communication is good for anyone, but less those folks who are inclined to commit such a horrible act. There has to be a happy medium.
21 hours ago • Like

Patty Franchi: It’s news, and has to be reported. That being said, I think the newspapers, through a careful choice of words and by sticking to the facts, can report these things in a more dignified and less sensationalized manner than TV. For instance, yesterday our local news channel reporter was breathlessly touting “almost 30 people dead!”. Why say almost 30 - if not to make it sound even worse? Just tell the news and don’t encourage the crazy people.

William D Pugh: I wish there were equal or greater coverage of the parents and loved ones of the victims, so people can see and feel the pain and horror. Might make a prospective killer think twice about what he/she is about to do.

Doreen McGettiga
n: I’m not sure if it encourages copy cats or not. I think it is a fine line between enough coverage and too much. We want to know but a lot of times the facts are muddled at first. I think facts should be checked before reporting. News organizations should worry more about being right instead of being first. I really dislike talk of gun control immediately after every tragedy in this country. I wish the conversation would revolve around controlling crazy people. Our mental Health system in this country is in desperate need of immediate overhaul.

Michael Kellar: It’s news, should be reported. Just don’t ask 6-8 year old survivors for comment, and make sure you let other MSM know such a practice is slimy.

Steve Buttry: Phil, I blogged about this topic, suggesting that we cover the crime but not name mass murderers, who clearly are seeking attention: http://wp.me/poqp6-2Jv
News orgs should deny mass killers the attention they crave
stevebuttry.wordpress.com
What if we denied mass killers the attention they crave? I’ve covered too many m...See More

Matt Silva: I heard David Brooks say that on NPR yesterday that the media should never mention the name of the shooter, but that would only work if every media outlet did it. Fat chance of that happening, but it doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be tried.

Katherine Miller: The facts but not the incessant repetition of details. And no interviewing kids,

Denise Wusinich: Anyone in their right mind would not want this kind of fame. We need to stop being a
Society that is more worried about being politically correct and more worried about addressing issues such as mental illness and easy access to guns. Anyone can buy a gun more easily than an antihistamine .. We need to read all we can to understand why and try to come up with a solution. Maybe someone reading about it or seeing a report will acknowledge someone they know who potentially could do harm to others


Joan Scanlon: I am so horrified by this. I think it’s important to cover this story. I know I have watched it unfold and read the Daily Times. I think it’s more important to focus on the victims which includes first responders and others in the community and not give the perpetrator any more than a basic listing of his name.

 

Newspapers don't matter? Refinery workers might disagree

Everywhere I go these days, people tell me newspapers don’t really matter anymore.

I recently met a group that would beg to differ.

I will forever be thankful to them.

I share those thoughts in my print column.

 

Diehard Eagles fan gets malled

If ever there was a day when I needed the outlet of sports, in particular an Eagles game, yesterday was it.

After spending the better part of two days slogging through the incomprehensible horror of the Connecticut school shootings, I was ready for a break.

Unfortunately for me, the NFL schedule makers weren’t on the same page. The Eagles played on Thursday night this week, an ugly 34-13 blowout loss to the Bengals.

That left me looking for an outlet on Sunday. I decided it was perhaps time to start the Christmas shopping, so I took a trip to the mall.

Not a good idea.

Now, first a confession. I am not a shopper, as opposed to my better half, who really should make a living doing this. They could make a reality TV show out of the way this woman shops.

Me? I want to get in and out as quick as I can, with minimal damage to the credit cards.

That wasn’t going to happen yesterday. First, there was the line of cars just to get into the parking lot. Then there was the jockeying for position to find a parking place. And this was before I had even gotten out of the car.

Once inside, things did not improve much.

Every man I looked at seemed to have the same expression on their face. We never realized how much we missed those God-awful Eagles. Watching them fumble away another game from the comfy confines of our living room was a piece of cake compared to the agony of the mall.

I staggered around for about 45 minutes, then raised the white flag. I called my wife (we had split up so Santa could go about his work) and asked if she was ready to leave. She was in the line at JC Penney’s after finding another bargain, a snappy little skirt she picked up for 10 bucks. Nobody sniffs out a bargain like this girl.

She peppered me with questions about why I had not been able to find anything, and offered lots of helpful suggestions.

My head pounded.

When I got home, the NFL decided to add a little insult to the injury. The Giants got blown out, while the Redskins and Cowboys both won. That means the three of them are tied atop the NFC East at 8-6.

The Eagles? They remain dead men walking, a miserable 4-10, barely visible in the rear-view mirror of their NFC East rivals.

It’s enough to make me consider heading back to the mall.

Actually, I’m not sure anything could do that, except maybe Andy Reid coming back again next year.

Friday, December 14, 2012

The Daily Numbers - Dec. 14

The Daily Numbers: 5 turnovers for the Eagles in a truly horrific 34-12 loss to the Bengals.

4 fumbles, including another one for Bryce Brown on a botched handoff with Nick Foles. How can this happen?

13-10 lead for the Eagles at halftime.

24 unanswered points for the Bengals in the 2nd half.

6 sacks for the rejuvenated Eagles defensive line.

6 suspects busted in a sweep of Megan’s Law violators in Delaware County.

4 suspects still at large. Police say they failed to report as required under Megan’s Law.

451 of the county’s 462 registered sex offenders who are in compliance with the law.

72 Tinicum homes and 80 businesses that could be saved under new plans for expansion of the Philadelphia International Airport.

6 billion dollar pricetag for the airport expansion.

2 children found in car of man suspected of shooting another man in Upper Darby and then leading police on wild chase that ended in crash in Lansdowne.

1,335 dollars in donations for the Daily Times Merry Christmas Fund yesterday.

17,421 dollars total in the fund on our way to our goal of $50,000.

5 percent tax hike for Chester County, the day after Delco set a 2.8 percent increase.

37 public schools to be closed under reorganization plan being considered by Philadelphia public schools.

140 mph, how fast a man was driving in Bucks County fatal crash that killed a 9-year-old girl. He now faces murder charges.

2 men shot when an argument over the Sixers-Bulls game ended in gunfire on the Market Frankford El.

84 million people expected to be out on the roads traveling this holiday season.

93.3 million people will be traveling overall.

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

Andy Reid takes full responsibility. Sure he does.

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I Don’t Get It: Firing into a crowded Market Frankford El to settle an argument over the Sixers-Bulls game? I don’t get it.

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Today’s Upper: Kudos to Joe Watkins. He’s now the court-appointed receiver of the Chester Upland School District.

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Quote Box: “I look forward to working to make this an excellent school district. Now we will start to execute the recovery plan. Our first order of business is to find a great superintendent who will commit to a long-term contract.”

- Joe Watkins, on being named receiver for Chester Upland schools.

Watkins takes over in Chester Upland

There’s a new sheriff in town in Chester Upland. His name is Joe Watkins.

To the surprise of no one, Delaware County Judge Chad Kenney yesterday approved the petition filed by the state Department of Education to place the troubled school district back under state control and appoint Watkins as receiver.

The story is here.

That means Watkins now will have free reign to put in place the recovery plan he developed to try to pull the district out of its freefall.

That plan includes closing several schools, including a couple as soon as the Christmas break, slashing about 70 jobs and likely hiking taxes.

Watkins is banking on the ability to lure students back to the public schools who have fled to the burgeoning charter schools that now educate more than half the district’s students.

Watkins’ plan has nothing on the blueprint put forth by new Philadelphia Schools Superintendent William Hite yesterday. He plans to close 37 schools, in the process outraging parents and educators who said they were left out of the decision-making project.

We wish Watkins luck. He’s going to need it.

 

New hope for Tinicum residents in fight for home

There is hope for long-suffering residents in Tinicum who have been living under the shroud of losing their homes to more expansion at Philadelphia International Airport.

Kathleen Carey reports that Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter is proposing a new plan, which would give the city and airport the expansion it wants, but not need to take more than 70 homes in its next-door neighbor in Tinicum.

The new plan would include a new location for the UPS plant, which under the original plan was to move to the site where 72 homes and 80 businesses now sit.

The good news is that the homes might be saved. The bad news is that they likely will have an airport runway for their new back yard neighbor.

Stay tuned as we get more reaction to the plan today.

 

Don't believe a word Andy Reid says

We have this just in: Andy Reid takes full responsibility. He wants you to know he takes full blame. This in the wake of one more disgraceful loss, last night to the Bengals.

Don’t believe a word of it.

After last night’s debacle on national TV, in which his Eagles manged to turn the ball over five times - including four fumbles - if Reid really meant those words he mumbles after every defeat he would resign. Today.

Of course he’s not going to, nor will absentee owner Jeff Lurie step in and put the inglorious end of the 14-year Andy Reid Era out of its misery.

Instead, I feel comfortable in saying Reid will appear before the media at noon and tell us all that “he has to do a better job.”

Apparently that does not include schooling rookie running back Bryce Brown on how to hold onto the ball. Better job? Brown has shown an alarming tendency to cough the ball up, and it does not appear anything has been done to rectify it.

Then there were more hijinks on special teams. Once again in the first half the Eagles failed to have the correct personnel on the field for a punt. Tight end Clay Harbor came sprinting onto the field at the last second. Then a blocker got pushed back into the punter, who proceeded to kick the ball directly into the back side of his own player. And yet special teams coach Bobby April continues to be employed. April was lauded as one of the league’s best special teams coaches when Reid brought him here. Not sure where that guy is, then again maybe it’s Reid’s system that has left April’s troops so alarmingly unprepared.

Have you ever seen a team simply unable to return a kick to the 20-yard line on such a consistent basis. That is when they’re not fumbling it. They did that last night again, too.

The defense, with Jim Washburn and Jason Babin exiled, again played well last night, a bright spot in a decidedly dark, dank and half-empty Lincoln Financial Field. So why did it take Reid so long to recognize the flaws in this defensive design? Because he was vowing that he had to do a better job, but not mentioning that it might take two years for him to do it.

The Eagles last night turned a 13-10 halftime lead into a 34-13 blowout loss to the Bengals. Once again Reid’s team came out of the locker room for the second half and was plowed under by their own mistakes and the adjustments made by the Bengals. Do a better job? Apparently not at halftime either.

There are two more week to go in this sadsack season.

Plenty of time for Andy Reid to do a better job.

Funny, I didn’t see anyone doing chest bumps or high-fives last night as was so evident after that lonely victory last Sunday in Tampa.

Do a better job? I guess last Sunday’s effort will have to suffice.

Andy Reid will not do a better job. He won’t take full responsibility. Or the blame.

If he did he would no longer be the head coach of the Eagles.

 

Thursday, December 13, 2012

The Dreaded Saturday Eagles Pick (Thursday Edition)

Things are about to get serious for the Nick Foles Era.

Foles looked solid last week in leading the Eagles to a win in Tampa and snapping the Birds’ eight-game losing streak with a dramatic drive down the field with no timeouts left. His winning throw came as the final two seconds ticked off the clock, setting off a rather odd celebration on the Eagles’ sideline.

We’ll have a better feel for what the Eagles have in Foles tonight. He’ll face what is likely the best defensive unit that’s lined up against him so far this year. The Bengals are solid, both against the run and the pass. The Bucs, while featuring the No. 1 defense against the run, were a sieve against the pass. But that doesn’t mean Foles did not do some good things. He handled the pressure well. moving around in the pocket to give himself time, and constantly keeping his eyes down the field to find open receivers.

The Eagles will need a much bigger effort from rookie running back Bryce Brown tonight. He got stuffed by the Bucs. And something Brown needs to learn. In the NFL, you can’t always try to go around the corner and outrun defenders. The Bucs excelled in making Brown run sideways. Sometimes you have to plow straight ahead. Marty Mornhinweg’s game plan didn’t help Brown much.

On defense, the Eagles need to keep up the kind of play the exhibited in the first half agains the Bucs. Free of the bizarre Wide 9, the Eagles played maybe their best defensive half of the year.

I still don’t think it will be enough. The Begals are the bettter team.

The Pick: Make it Bengals 23, Eagles 17. Foles is OK, not great, which is I think what you have with him. Maybe I’m wrong. We’ll see

Last Week: Foles had a very good week in getting his first win, completing 32 of 51 for 381 yards. If he has to throw that much tonight, the Birds will be in trouble.

Season Record: The celebration that broke out on the Eagles’ sideline with their last-second win masked the fact that they also were officially elimintated from the playoff hunt. And with three weeks left in the regular season. That’s not something to celebrate, especially for fans who are hungry for change. The win boosted the Birds mark to 4-9. I made it two in a row by picking the Birds to upset Tampa, something of a payback for that unforgettable playoff game, the last contest every played at Veterans Stadium Joe Jurevicius can stop running now. I’m sitting pretty with a 8-5 record.

Game by Game: Eagles 17, Browns 16 (My Pick: Eagles 27, Browns 13)

Eagles 24, Ravens 23 (My Pick: Eagles 24, Ravens 23 - On the Money!)

Cardinals 27, Eagles 6 (My Pick: Eagles 29, Cardinals 13)

Eagles 19, Giants 17 (My Pick: Eagles 19, Giants 17 - On the Money!)

Steelers 16, Eagles 14 (My Pick: Steelers 24, Eagles 16.)

Lions 26, Eagles 23 (My pick: Eagles 19, Lions 17)

Falcons 30, Eagles 17 (My pick: Eagles 29, Falcons 17)

Saints 28, Eagles 13 (My pick: Saints 37, Eagles 19)

Cowboys 38, Eagles 23 (My pick: Cowboys 23, Eagles 17)

Redskins 31 Eagles 6 (My pick: Eagles 29, Redskins 24)

Panthers 30, Eagles 22 (My pick: Eagles 23, Panthers 13)

Cowboys 38, Eagles 33 (My pick: Cowboys 33, Eagles 23)

Eagles 23, Buccaneers 21 (My pick: Eagles 26, Buccaneers 17)

'Read It' & Rejoice: Showing kids in a good light at the Lansdowne Library

We run a lot of stories most days that don’t paint young people in Delaware County in an especially good light.

That’s why when I get a chance to play up kids doing something positive, I usually snag it.

Meet the kids from the Lansdowne Library.

They, along with some officials from the library, joined us last night for our live-stream Internet broadcast. We call the show ‘Live From the Newsroom.’ If you missed it you can see the replay here.

The kids made national headlines recently with their ‘Read It’ video, a parody of the famous Michael Jackson ‘Beat It’ video. The kids put the video together to promote literacy. Hey, I edit a newspaper and website. Literacy is pretty close to my heart.

So when I got an email from Abbe Klebanoff, head of public services for the Lansdowne Library, detailing a problem that had popped up with the video, I decided to tell their story.

After our story ran, the national media, outlets like 'Good Morning America,' and the local TV stations, beat a path to the Lansdowne Library.

The kids' video had run afoul of the folks at Sony Music and the Michael Jackson estate over copyright issues tied to the use of the Jackson music for the video. Initially, the powers that be were insisting that the video be taken down from YouTube. The young members of the library's teen advisory panel, who had worked so hard on something they were using to promote reading and literacy among young people, were crestfallen.

Klebanoff proved pretty adamant in taking up the kids’ case. With the help of the newspaper, she initially got them to at least allow the video to be posted on the library website.

But the teens were not satisfied. YouTube, as most young people will tell you these days, is where it's at in terms of social media and video. They really wanted the video to go back up on YouTube. And guess what? They won.

My thanks to Armani Brown, a sophomore at Penn Wood High School, as well as Mariama Mansaray, a sophomore, who both joined us last night and who both appear in the video.

They made it clear not only how important it was to them that the video go back up on YouTube, after all they had put into it, writing the words and choreographig the dance moves, but also that they wanted to let people know how important the library is in their lives, how it can be a refuge for young people in what very often can be some very tough circumstances. Brown said he heads to the library almost every day after school.

They, along with Madison Ruffin, a seventh grader at St. Andrew’s School, are part of the youth advisory group at the library.

They work with Sandra Gianella, library director, and Rachee Fagg, head of children’s services.

It’s a success story, and one that should be emulated in lots of Delco towns.

Oh, and that video? It’s now been viewed more than 13,700 times.

Here it is.

Thanks to all for showing a great side of young people in this county!

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

The Daily Numbers - Dec. 12

The Daily Numbers: 12-12-12, the next time we’ll come across a day of triple-witching like this will be Jan. 1, 2101.

1 person shot and killed during a confrontation with a Chester police officer early this morning.

3 people wounded during shootings in the city late Monday into Tuesday morning.

50,000 dollars in damages being sought by former Chester Police Chief Darren Alston in a lawsuit against the city, its top cop and Mayor John Linder.

500 dollar kicked into the Daily Times Merry Christmas Fund by the St. James Catholic High School Alumni Association.

2,175 donated to the fund, which benefits the Chester Salvation Army, on Tuesday.

15,536 donated to date, on our way to our goal of $50,000.

2 men being sought for stealing lottery tickets from a 7-Eleven in Clifton Heights. What? Are they going back there to redeem any winners?

3 dead, including the gunman, after a man dressed in camouflage opened fire in a crowded mall in Oregon.

1 followers already for Pope Benedict XVI as he makes his debut on Twitter with his @Pontifex handle.

5, age of girl who shot herself in foot after finding gun in her home in Philly.

30 dogs found in a home in Benton, Pa.

43 rounds of ammo fired from assault rifle during confrontation in Nicetown section of Philly.

65-61 win for Villanova over Saint Joe’s.

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

Nice gesture from the Saint Joe’s player to ‘Nova Nation last night. So much for it being a ‘Holy War.’

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I Don’t Get It: Another gunman. Another rampage. More carnage. I don’t get it.

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Today’s Upper: Kudos to Karah Carney of Ridley Park, who is celebrating her 12th birthday today on 12-12-12.

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Quote Box: “Alston was devastated by receiving this defamatory information.”

- Attorney for former Chester Police Chief Darren Alston on filing suit against the city, current chief and mayor.

'Read It' comes to 'Live From the Newsroom'

‘Live From the Newsroom’ will get a very special visit tonight from the kids at the Lansdowne Library responsible for the ‘Read It’ video. Under the direction of librarian Abbe Kleabanoff and Director Sandara Gianella, the kids put together a dynamite parody to promote reading set to the classic Michael Jackson video, “Beat It.”

Only they named their version, ‘Read It.’

Unfortunately, they ran afoul of some folks at Sony Music and the Michael Jackson estate. They had to take the video down from YouTube, and that’s when they turned to us for help.

After a couple of stories, the powers that be relented. The video is back on YouTube. You can view it here.

Tune in tonight at 7 to hear the story behind the ‘Read It’ video.

Another day, another gunman

Here we go again. Last time it was a packed movie theatre. This time it was a suburban mall jammed with Christmas shoppers.

And in both instances, one man with a gun.

Police in Oregon now say a man dressed in camouflage and a mask and possibly wearing body armor strode into the Clackamas Town Center and opened fire. It’s several miles from downtown Portland.

The reverberations are being felt in every part of this country today. That’s because we once again will be trying to get our hands around what could possibly drive someone to that kind of action.

And, probably more importantly, it again shatters a routine activity that all of us do every day.

We are approaching the peak of the holiday shopping season. The malls are packed. You don’t expect that routine activity to be interrupted by gunfire.

Now you’re not so sure.

The gunman killed two people and wounded another, before taking his own life.

Witnesses say he calmly entered the mall, announced “I am the shooter,” and opened fire.

I don’t know what you can do to stop a deranged gunman intent on shooting up a public place.

In the next few days we likely will learn much about the gunman, the weapon he used, how he got it, if it was legal. And of course we will have the requisite arguments about the need for more stringent gun control. I doubt that would have stopped this guy.

We will use all that information as a salve for our shattered psyches.

We keep telling ourselves it couldn’t happen here.

Of course, here in Delaware County, we know that isn’t the case. We already lived through a similar  rampage at Springfield Mall in 1985.

Then, it was a rarity.

Today it’s becoming all too routine.

And maybe that’s the really scary part.

 

The pope is on Twitter

The pope is on Twitter.

And he debuted on 12-12-12.

For some reason I don’t think he included LOL in his tweet.

So what did he say? Click here to find out.

 

An unholy act in the Holy War

I guess that’s what they call it a holy war.

Villanova and Saint Joe’s hooked up on the Main Line again last night, and as usual what unfolded was another classic.

Most people expected Saint Joe’s to handle a Villanova team that has struggled mightily this year under embattled Jay Wright. Didn’t happen.

We have full coverage from Terry Toohey, and Dennis Deitch.

But I am guessing that the final score isn’t what a lot of people are talking about this morning.

What will have tongues wagging is a decidedly unholy gesture made by Saint Joe’s forward Halil Kanacevic toward ‘Nova Nation. After sinking a three-pointer he offered a middle finger salute to the Villanova faithful.

After the game Martelli indicated his team acted “immaturely.”

Well, it is the Holy War. And this will be one more chapter in this series storied history.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

The Daily Numbers for Dec. 11

The Daily Numbers: 20, age of Virginia man who now faces felony sex charges in connection with a 13-year-old Radnor girl police say he solicited online.

100 years in prison, how much time Ashley Hareford is looking at if convicted on the charges.

10 months, how long the bridge on MacDade Boulevard connecting Ridley and Chester has been closed. It will reopen on Saturday.

3rd degree murder, charge Gurinder Singh of Upper Darby pleaded guilty to in connection with a suicide pact with his wife.

49, age of man reported killed by an Amtrak train in Marcus Hook.

32 years, how long it’s been since teachers in the Marple Newtown School District have reached agreement on a new deal before the old one expired.

8-1 vote by the Marple Newtown School District to approve an early-bird contract settlement with the teachers union.

0 tax hike coming in the $4 million budget OK’d by Folcroft Borough Council.

1,000 dollars donated to the Daily Times Merry Christmas Fund by United Steelworkers Union Local 10-1.

13,261 dollars give to the fund so far this year. Our goal once again is $50,000.

2 people charged with lying to police in Montco about who was driving in a fatal crash involving a pedestrian.

4 alarm blaze in garage and warehouse in South Philly that damaged props and outfits used by Fralinger String Band for the Mummers Parade.

28, age of Navy Seal from Pennsylvania who was killed during raid to free American being held hostage in Afghanistan.

7.7 million dollars in free tolls handed out to employees and vendors of the Pennsylvania Turnpike.

465,000 jobs added last month by retailers bracing for holiday shoppers.

3 days until the Eagles take the field again, courtesy of their Thursday night game vs. the Bengals at the Linc.

104-97 win for the Sixers over the Pistons last night at Wells Fargo Center.

18 points and 11 rebounds for Evan Turner.

12 of his 25 points points in the 4th quarter for Jrue Holiday.

6-1 mark for Sixers when they score 100 points.

1-10 mark for Pistons whey they give up 100.

15,225 fans in attendance at the game.

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

Why did we have to wait 14 years for Andy Reid to show the kind of emotion he did after that last-second win on Sunday. That’s how you connect with the fans, Andy.

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I Don’t Get It: Said it before: A 20-year-old man luring a 13-year-old girl online. I don’t get it.

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Today’s Upper: Kudos to United Steelworkers Union Local 10-1 for chipping in $1,000 to the Merry Christmas Fund.

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Quote Box: “This is every parent’s worst nightmare.”

- Delco D.A. Jack Whelan, announcing criminal charges against 20-year-old Ashley Hareford in luring case involving 13-year-old girl in Radnor.

Working class hero

U.S. Rep. Bob Brady never struck me as a black tie kind of guy.

So I was not the least surprised Saturday night when Brady was at a banquet hall in South Philly at the same time most of the movers and shakers in Pennysylvania politics were gathered in the Big Apple.

Brady was on hand, ironically, to collect an award named for him, The Bob Brady Working Class Hero Award.

That’s as opposed to all those pols who trucked 100 miles up the turnpike for that annual celebration of power and money, the Pennsylvania Society.

Brady was in his element in South Philly. The occasion was the first annual United Steelworkers Local 10-1 Jim McHugh Memorial Awards Night and Celebration dinner.

I had the chance to chat with the congressman for a few minutes, and I joked with him about not being in New York. He made it pretty clear that wasn’t his thing.

On the other hand, sitting in a room full of steelworkers was clearly Brady’s element.

And for good reason. If you were going to point to one man who made the difference in the battle to save all those jobs when Sunoco decided it was getting out of the refinery business, you can probably start with Brady.

In fact, I’ll go you one better. Can you name a significant deal reached or labor impasse that’s been averted in the Philadelphia region that does not have Bob Brady’s fingerprints all over it?

It’s Brady who is widely credited with putting the refinery crisis in the ear of President Obama. It took 10 long months, and Brady had to keep the lid on a lot of simmering union feelings and bitterness being directed at Sunoco, at the same time Brady was trying to swing the deal that wound up with the refinery being saved with the creation of Philadelphia Energy Solutions.

As usual, Brady delivered.

Saturday night he collected the first annual Bob Brady Working Class Hero Award.

They just might have to retire it.

 

The media and pushing the envelope

I have to admit I winced when I heard that a British nurse who had been the target of a prank phone call by some DJs on an Australian radio show had died, apparently after taking her own life.

The radio yakkers had called the hospital and pretended to be Queen Elizabeth and Prince Charles seeking info on the pregnant Kate Middleton, wife of Prince William, who had been hospitalized for a serious form of morning sickness.

Incredibly, the nurse put the call through and another nurse offered some information to the would-be royals.

A few days later the body of Jacintha Saldanha, the nurse who took the initial prank call, was found. British police are now investigating the circumstances of her death and if she took her own life out of shame tied to the incident.

The radio hosts are now remorseful, and their show has been pulled from the air.

Obviously they never intended any harm to anyone. What they were looking for is the same thing that drives so much of today’s popular media. They wanted eyes and ears. In other words, ratings.

This is not the pot calling the kettle black. I am fully aware that the same accusation can and often is pointed at me and this newspaper. I can’t tell you how many conversations I’ve had that include the following sentence: “You only put that story on your front page to sensationalize the story and sell newspapers.”

I won’t try to argue that there is some merit to that.

But there’s also a big difference.

We are always reporting news; we don’t create it.

That wasn’t the case with the prank call.

The incident tells you a lot about today’s media and what some people are willing to do to get ratings. Let’s face it, these celebrity tidbits get a lot more attention than the zoning hearing board of your local municipality.

In some ways, the media is only feeding the public what it demands.

Every day I and a lot of other people in the media wonder where the line is that separates the acceptable from the tawdry.

Maybe they should ask those two radio DJs. They just stepped across it.