Thursday, January 31, 2013

The Daily Numbers - Jan. 31


The Daily Numbers: 1 billion dollars, how much Gov. Tom Corbett says he can raise for education by getting the state out of booze business.


620 state stores that would be closed under the plan.


400 million dollars raised by increases in fees and fines.


500 million dollar markup on booze in the state stores that Pa. would lose.


1,200 licenses to be sold to private wholesalers to sell booze.


5 million dollar boost for alcohol enforcement by state police.


1.5 million dollar increae for alcohol treatment and prevention.


10,000 dollar maximum fine for serving a minor.


3,500 state store employees who would be out of jobs, although some likely would be hired by the new private outlets.


141,000 people who work at Philadelphia International Airport. Officials yesterday said the proposed expansion plan would create thousands more.


22 years working for the Delaware County Office of Services for the Aging for Louis Colbert, who announce dhe is taking a similar job in Philadelphia.


2,500 dollar reward offered for information on copper heist in Upper Darby.


3 dogs shot by police during a recent incident in Chester. The mayor said the officers followed protocol.


600,000 dollar scam pleaded guilty to by a 2nd person. Robert Morgan joins Lauren Rogers-Fisher in admitting they were rippin off the company they worked for.


9 apprentice firefighters who took the oath for their new jobs in Cheser.


1 priest and 1 teacher convicted in latest priest-abuse trial in Philadelphia.


1 body found in D&R Canal near Lambertville, N.J. It's believed to be that of missing New Hope bartender.


92-84 win for the Sixers over the Wizards.


18 points for Nick Young.


65-60 loss for Notre Dame.



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


So who are you rooting for on Sunday, former Eagles assistant John Harbaugh and Glen Mills Running back Bernard Pierce of the Falcons, or former Eagles kicker David Akers?

I Don’t Get It: Scammers targeting senior citizens. I don't get it.

Today’s Upper: Kudos to Erica Parham. She'll be heading a new unit for the county District Attorney's Office targeting Senior Exploitation. Go for it, Erica!



Quote Box: “We support the Governor's Office reviewing methods to increase flexibility for retailers ... We will continue to follow this closely."

- Wawa spokesman Lori Bruce, on Gov. Corbett's call for privatization of alcohol sales, including convenience stores.

Corbett 'educates' us on booze battle

Tom Corbett is trying to kill two birds with one stone.

He’s got my vote, but not for the reasons he put forth yesterday.

Corbett, backed by a small army of state reps and other officials from just about every part of the state, took the wraps off his long-awaited plan to get the state out of the booze business.

And just in case he needed it, he added a new wrinkle to the long-playing saga.

Corbett, has long stated his belief that he does not believe Pennsylvania should be in the business of selling alcohol. He believes it would be better done by the private sector. Polls show a majority of Pennsylvanians agree with him.

The governor, who just happens to be staring at what could be a fairly rocky re-election campaign, including a possible challenge from within his own party, has taken a huge amount of heat for his austere budgets in his first two years. Right there at the top of the list has been the effect of those budgets on public education.

So yesterday the governor all but raised a glass and toasted the demise of the hated Liquor Control Board and state stores, and at the same time said he hoped the move would raise $1 billion in new revenue -  for education. Well played, governor.

Of course, he didn’t exactly have to sell me on the idea. I'm the guy who's been screaming for this for years.

I know there are serious revenue questions surrounding this issue. First there is the money Corbett says he will raise by killing off the 600 state stores and then selling somewhere around 1,200 licenses. Then there is the annual revenue those state stores offer to the state. All those numbers have to add up, and not everyone is sure they will.

That’s all well and good.

But it’s not why I want the state out of alcohol sales. I simply want a little more convenience, and hopefully cheaper prices. I want to go to one place - preferably the same place I’m getting my groceries - to grab a a case of beer or bottle of wine for dinner. If I need to grab a six-pack on the way home one night, I’d like to be able to duck into my local Wawa to do it.

What I no longer want to do is make one stop at a beer distributor for a case of beer, a bar or deli for a six-pack (OK, I also stop at Wegmans for this, even though I can’t just toss them in my cart and pay for them along with the rest of the groceries), a state store for a bottle of wine, and maybe one more place for ice and soda.

This was not lost on the governor, either.

In fact, he stressed consumer convenience, along with his education initiative.

Now all he has to do is sell it in Harrisburg. As you might expect, it’s going to be something of a rocky road. Several Republican pols already are offering their doubts.

Surprisingly, among those turning thumb’s down on the situation is the Pennsylvania State Education Association. The teachers union lambasted Corbett’s plan as “just another way of holding students hostage to the governor’s political agenda.

“It’s nice that the governor has acknowledged that he created a school funding crisis, but our students shouldn’t have to count on liquor being available on every corner in order to have properly funded schools.”

As I said, this isn’t going to be easy.

Also as you might guess, Wendell Young IV and his United Food and Commercial Workers Union aren’t big fans of the proposal either. But then they have a bit more vested interest in all this than the teachers. Young’s union represents all those clerks in the state stores who stand to lose their jobs should the privatization push come to fruition. Corbett said he would offer tax credits to private firms as a lure to hire state store workers.

“Fresh off a midnight raid of our state lottery, the governor is targeting 5,000 family-sustaining jobs and more than $500 million a year in taxes and profits that valuable, publicly held asset provides,” Young said.

Sounds like the governor could use a friend.

Count me in, Tom.

You’re right.  Pennsylvania has no business being in the business of selling booze.

Then again, you don’t have to sell me. You have to sell Harrisburg. While you’re running for re-election. While your’re trying to tame the state’s pension crisis. And while you’re trying to find money for education and the state’s crumbling infrastructure and transportation systems.

It’s enough to drive a man to drink.

But at least under your plan you won’t have to go four different places to do it.


A warning for senior citizens

Senior Citizens, you’ve been warned!

Scammers are out there, and they are targeting you.

My thanks to our great panel that joined us last night on ‘Live From the Newsroom’ to follow on reporter Rose Quinn’s strong Monday story on senior scams. We put together a blockbuster panel headed by Delaware County District Attorney Jack Whelan and CID boss Joe Ryan. Both law enforcement bosses said the problem is widespread and getting worse, aided by the huge boom in technology and the Internet.

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

Whelan announced his office was launching a special Senior Exploitation Unit that will be headed by Assistant District Attorney Erica Parham, who also was on hand for the show. Parham stressed that help is available for seniors. If you think you’re being targeted by scammers, you can contact Parham’s special unit at 610-891-4181

We also were joined by a woman who works first-hand with seniors who unwittingly become victims. Lori Holcombe is a certified victim advocate with the county office of Seniro Victime Services.

Finally, Ridley Township Detective Sgt. Chuck Palo reviewed a couple of recent scams pulled off in Ridley.

Here’s the bad news: Business is booming for scammers.

I found our first hand when my mother-in-law was targeted. It was old ruse of someone identifying himself as my son, saying he was in jail and needed money for bail. He wanted “mom-mom” to wire the money - oh, and please don’t tell anyone because he was so embarrassed at being arrested.

Of course, it wasn’t my son, but it sure fooled “mom-mom.” What was stunning to me was the amount of information they these shysters had about my family that they fed to my mother-in-law.

Seniors, don’t be easy prey. Learn the pitfalls of the information superhighway. In short, it can be a pretty bumpy ride.

If you have questions, Holcombe urges you to contact Senior Victim Services at 610-627-2292.

Be careful out there!

Not the best way to start the day: Roads are a mess

Here's a suggestion for your morning commute: Reconsider.

If you can do it, today just might be one of those days to pull the covers up over your head and stay there.

Here's how my day got started: Late. There's almost nothing I hate more than being late. When you do what I do for a living, you start to value your time. When I'm late, even as little as a half-hour, that's time you never get back.

We apparently lost power at some point last night, so all our clocks were out of whack. Please don't yell at me about the fact that I still use an alarm clock, even though my iPhone sits on the dresser next to my head.

Oddly enough, I almost never hear the alarm go off. I'm almost always up before it goes off. Not this morning. I was in one of those rare, coma-like states. So I knew the day was off to a lousy start.

That was just the beginning. If you did not realize it, we got a huge dose of wind and rain overnight. In other words, the roads are a mess.  There's standing water and debris everywhere.  Lots of branches are all over the joint.

The local TV stations are treating it like armageddon. It's not that bad, but it's not great.

Here's a news bulletin for you. The Brandywine out in Chester County went over its banks. What a surprise. All you have to do is spit into it to have that happen, let alone last night's deluge.

There's some good news in Darby. Darby Creek has not gone over its banks.

The day has to get better from here.

Doesn't it?

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

The Daily Numbers for Jan. 30


The Daily Numbers: 12, age of Ridley Middle School student now facing criminal charges after posting threats against fellow students on Facebook.


12,000 views of the video created by kids at St. Bernadette's School in Drexel Hill. Click here to view it.


1 of 6 teen girls from Chester who pleaded guilty yesterday in the videotaped beating of a mentally challenged woman.


11-23 months in prison on child porn charges for a Boothwyn man.


0.766-mill tax hike being considered in Penn-Delco School District.


8 cyber school applications rejected by Pa. Department of Education, including 1 in Springfield.


51 percent of respondents in recent poll who believe Gov. Tom Corbett does not deserve re-election to 2nd term; 31 percent said he did.


54-24 percent gap among women for the governor.


600 state stores to be shut down; 1,200 licenses auctioned to sell wind and liquor.


3,000 unionized state store clerks who oppose the move.


2-1 loss for the Flyers last night to the Rangers.


5 losses in 7 games for the Flyers. Not the start they wanted in this shortened season.


2 for 27, what Flyers are in their 5 losses.


3 for 10 in their 2 wins.


13,954.42 points for the Dow yesterday, nearing an all-time high. The market was up 73 points.


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


Somehow I don't think this is the start the Flyers had in mind.


I Don’t Get It: The idea of making threats against fellow students is long past being a hoax. I don't get it.

Today’s Upper: Kudos to D.A. Jack Whelan, who filed criminal charges in the case of a Ridley Middle School student who made threats against students and staff on Facebook.



Quote Box: “We take anything that is put on Facebook that threatens a child in a school or otherwise very seriously and we act accordingly."


- Whelan, in announcing charges against the student.



Tom Corbett & the Pa. booze battle

Tom Corbett, my man!

Today is Tom Corbett’s day, at least so far as one lone editor’s voice in the wilderness goes. For years - and at least four governors - I have been advocating the idea of blowing up the state store system and turning the archaic methods Pennsylvania uses to sell beer, wine and spirits over to private enterprise.

These thoughts were forged during a misguided youth growing up in Oxford, Pa., just five minutes from Rising Sun, Md., and the legendary Johnson’s liquors and Buck’s Place saloon. Back then, the legal drinking age in Maryland was 18.

But it wasn’t just kids making that trip across the Mason-Dixon Line. Most days you’d need a calculator to count the Pa. plates in the parking lot at Buck’s. Why? Easy. The selection was great, the prices were a lot cheaper, and most importantly, you could buy everything you wanted - beer, wine or spirits - in one place. Remember, this was the era when you had to walk up to a counter in Pennsylvania’s dungeon-like state stores and inform the clerk precisely what you wanted. Any questions about a certain wine would most times bring a response something akin to, “What do I look like, the phone book?”

Then I went to school in Colorado, and really had my eyes opened.

I’ll never forget the first time I stopped in a 7-Eleven store and was jarred at the site of a cold case with 6-packs of beer right beside the checkout counter. My first trip to the grocery store was even more of a revelation. There I saw entire aisles filled with every beer, wine or bottle of booze you cold imagine.

But not back here in the land of giants.

Gov. Corbett wants to change that. Then again maybe he took a look at the latest poll and his tanking favorability ratings and it drove him to drink.

Today the governor will unveil his plan to privatize the way the state sells alcohol. He wants to blow up the state stores, sell off the licenses and open beer sales to grocery and convenience stores.

Right now in Pennsylvania, consumers are forced to make one stop for a case of beer, another if they want to buy a six pack, and still one more, to a state store, for wine and spirits.

Corbett isn’t the first governor to go down this road. It’s not even his first dalliance with privatizing liquor sales. But the last session he let state Rep. Mike Turzi, R-Alllegheny, do the heavy lifting. This time he’s planning to be out front on the issue, starting this afternoon with a press conference in Pittsburgh.

It’s just the latest in a series of high-profile moves by the governor, starting with his decision to file a lawsuit against the NCAA in connection with sanctions slapped on Penn State in the wake of the Sandusky affair; a transportation plan that seems to fly in the face of his no-tax-hike pledge; a move to privatize management of the state lottery; and some very stern warnings on the state’s flagging public pension plans.

Yesterday’s poll numbers probably didn’t have any effect on Corbett’s moves, but they certainly didn’t help. They show a very unpopular governor who faces a massive gender gap with women, and surprisingly isn’t even all that popular among Republicans. Maybe that’s one reason Montgomery Commissioner and maverick GOPer Bruce Castor has been hinting about a possible primary challenge to Corbett.

Yesterday even some Republicans were sounding a note of caution to the governor on both the pension and alcohol plans.

Not me.

I say, “Go for it,” governor.

Your ratings are in the toilet. You’ve been widely spanked as being aloof and not someone who delivers his message as well as he should, let alone navigate the political mine field in Harrisburg. So I’ll be very interested to hear what the governor has to say this afternoon.

And if he needs a volunteer to be there with his hands on the plunger when we finally blow up the LCB, I would remind him that I’ve been volunteering for the job for years now.


Threats against students, schools no longer kid stuff

Attention, kids. Be careful what you post on social media.

Our lead story today should offer fair warning. In these days with the horror of Newtown, Conn., still so fresh in our minds, authorities are not offering any second chances when it comes to making threats involving schools.

District Attorney Jack Whelan made that much clear yesterday when he filed criminal charges against a 12-year-old Ridley middle school student who had posted threatening messages on Facebook. The post named several students and staff, and indicated he was bringing a weapon to school and planned to gun them down.

Big mistake.

This is no longer considered kid stuff.

Even though it was considered a hoax, Whelan made it clear it’s not going to be tolerated.

“We take anything that threatens a child in a school of otherwise very seriously and we act accordingly,” Whelan said.

You’ve been warned.


'Live From the Newsroom' protects seniors from scammers tonight

Tonight ‘Live From the Newsroom’ is going to bat for senior citizens.

On Monday staff writer Rose Quinn detailed the growing ways in which con men are targeting what they believe are easy marks, gullible senior citizens. You can read that story here.

Tonight we will follow up with a special panel discussion on our live-stream Internet broadcast.

We’ll be joined by District Attorney Jack Whelan, Assistant D.A. Erica Parham, who is specializing in senior crime; CID Chief Joe Ryan, Ridley Township Detective Sgt. Charles Palo and Lori Holcombe, a certified victim advocate with the county office of Senior Victim Services.

Who’s where you come in. If you have a question about what you might think is a shaky deal, this is your chance to ask the experts. Email your question to me at and I will put it to our panel.

Then tune in tonight at 7 on and take part in our live chat during the show.

Crimes against seniors are becoming a bigger problem each day, and the technology that we swim in every day is actually creating new ways for shysters to rip off their victims.

This is your chance to fight back.

Take part in the conversation. Join us tonight! See you on the Internet!

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

The Daily Numbers for Jan. 29

The Daily Numbers: 2 homicides in Delaware County after fatal shooting of Upper Chi man ruled a homicide.

25, age of Brian West, gunned down outside his home on Williams Street late Saturday night.

2 sisters who urged residents at a meeting held in the township Monday night to come forward with info on the shooter.

75 residents who gathered at the meeting to share concerns about safety in their section of the township.

16, age of Jonathan Thornton, who received an honor last night for coming to the aid of his stricken grandmother.

19 to 38 years in prison for a Chester man for the attempted murder of his girlfriend's new lover.

33, age of Upper Darby man who pleaded guilty to hit-run in which he left an injured 8-year-old girl laying in the street.

7 people evacuated from their home in Chester by a carbon monoxide leak.

80,000 dollars now being offered for info in the abduction of 5-year-old girl taken from her Philadelphia elementary school.

3 people now being sought in the case for questioning, including a teen girl named China.

1 million dollar surplus believed to be on the books in Chester Upland School District.

1 man from Newtown Square killed in Cheltenham strip mall fire. He owned a beauty supply store there.

8 cats removed from home in Eddystone following resident complaints.

3 vehicles broken into while parked in Ridley Creek State Park.

2 Delco men ordered to repay a Chester County firm thousands of dollars tied to stolen carbide items and selling them for scrap.

39, age of New Hope bartender who is missing after leaving the bar late Saturday night.

20 stores a year that will be closed by the Barnes & Noble chain.

17 point lead coughed up by Sixers on way to 103-100 loss to Grizzlies at Wells Fargo Center last night.

27 points for Marc Gasol in leading Memphis to the win.

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

If you go by the off-season, the Phillie have already lost to the Nationals and Braves. Good thing they actually still have to play the games.

I Don’t Get It: There's been another threat leveled against a Delco school. This time it's Ridley Middle School, and the alleged threat was made on Facebook. It has been ruled to be unsubstantiated, but there will be an increased police presence at the school today.

Today’s Upper: Kudos to 16-year-old Jonathan Thornton of Upper Darby. The Boy Scout is being honored for his actions in helping save the life of his stricken grandmother. "Be Prepared," right Jon?

Quote Box: “Pretty much everyone knows what is going on and isn't saying anything ... it's going to get worse." - Nicole Whitaker, Upper Chichester commissioner, at meeting held in wake of fatal shooting.

Happy Catholic Schools Week!

Did you know that it is Catholic Schools Week?

As a product of Catholic schools, I can attest to the good and the bad.

Most of what you’ve heard about the nuns is true. Hey, it was another time. Kids - and parents - didn’t question what happened in school. The nuns’ authority was absolute, exceeded only by the parish priest.

They ran their schools with an iron fist - and in many instances a gold ruler.

I still wouldn’t trade those eight years for anything.

So I will join those who this week salute Catholic Schools. I don’t think I’d be doing what I do without them.

These are tough times for Catholic schools, especially here in the eastern part of Delaware County. The problems have been well-documented. Families are smaller; enrollment is down. Many families have joined the migration of those heading west, both here and in Chester and Montgomery counties, where it’s boom times for many Catholic schools.

But here in eastern Delco, it’s a struggle. A lot of archdiocesan elementary schools have closed or merged. We cam perilously close last year to seeing the end of the line for Monsignor Bonner-Archbishop Prendergast High School.

The kids at St. Bernadette’s in Drexel Hill created a video to honor their school and what it means to them.

Happy Catholic Schools Week:

Football and concussions

I can still remember the hit. I just can’t remember much of what happened afterward.

I guess that gives me something in common with some NFL players. Probably the only thing I have in common with them.

They are the elite, the very best at what they do. And what they do is deliver violence, basically controlled mayhem. And the audience eats it up.

This week we will celebrate the zenith of the mega-money machine that is the NFL. We call it Super Bowl week. It is an economic juggernaut, fueling huge business for bars, delis and chicken wing joints. And that does not even begin to count the real lifeblood of the sport. That, of course, would be gambling. I can’t even fathom how much money chantes hands on Sunday’s game, from office block pools, to the endless proposition bets that form the backdrop to the party, to the actual money wagered on the game itself.

The NFL is big business. And this is its biggest week. It rakes in $10 billion a year, and no doubt Sunday’s Super Bowl will likely once again shatter ratings records.

But there is an increasingly troubling story bubbling just below the surface of the NFL, and football in general.

That would be the effect it is having on those who play the sport, who put their bodies on the line, the modern-day gladiators.

A group of former NFL players is suing the NFL, making the claim that the league failed to adequately warn them of the dangers of concussions. More than that, they also allege in the suit that the NFL concealed those risks once the evidence started to point to a link between the violent game and concussion problems.

I think I once suffered a concussion on the football field. Don’t laugh. I actually played. What the hell a 100-pound kid was doing out there you’ll have to ask my mother. For the most part I played safety, but I also dabbled as a back/wide receiver. My senior year I actually wound up at quarterback. No, we weren’t very good.

On this particular Saturday morning, we were playing Chichester High, getting thumped as we invariably did. Our coach was looking for a play to provide any kind of spark. I happened to be standing next to him at the time. “How about a 12 pass?” I offered. Of course, I knew that rarely called play would result in our then-quarterback, Chally Hassard, throwing the ball to me streaking (or actually just running as fast as I could) straight down the middle of the field.

There was just one problem. I guess the Chi defensive back didn’t much feel like chasing me that far. I never saw the forearm coming. I burst off the line and directly into his forearm as it collided with my facemask.

From that point, everything went yellow. Today we know that is one of the classic signs of a concussion. In 1972, we just called it “getting your bell rung.” I somehow managed to wobble to the sideline, where I felt sick to my stomach. I never saw a doctor, and returned to the game on defense in the next series.

Yesterday, President Obama weighed in on the concussion discussion, saying he would have to think about it if he had a son and he wanted to play football.

My son, easily as big a sports fan as his father, did not play, so I did not have to make that choice.

I am glad, because the truth is I would be torn.

I’ve never had any after-effects from playing football, other than the fact that I still have a huge lump where I broke my collarbone in my senior year, and I can no longer throw any kind of ball overhand after ripping up my shoulder in my junior year.

But I don’t believe I’ve ever had any lingering health issues tied to concussions. I can tell you the contact was brutal. Not just in the games, but in practice as well. When you weigh 100 pounds dripping wet, tackling drills lose their appeal real quick.

What I would miss is not necessarily what happened on the field, but what happened off of it. I think I learned more about life from being part of that team - and that group of guys - than anything I learned in any classroom.

I remain a huge believer that high school sports are a great thing. And it has little if anything to do with the scoreboard.

This Sunday I will watch the Super Bowl. I will eat a lot of junk food. I will raise a glass. And I will always remember the guys I played football with so long ago. I haven’t seen or talked to most of them since we graduated. But we retain a bond that is unbreakable.

Part of that bond is surviving what we did on the field.

And that includes concussions, even if we didn’t know it then.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Daily Numbers for Jan. 28

The Daily Numbers: 37, age of man gunned down in Upper Chichester late Saturday night. 2, number of homicides in county this year if this case is in fact confirmed as a murder. 0 murders in Upper Chi last years; 32 in the county. 8,000 dollars lost by a Ridley Township woman in what police are referring to as a 'granny scam.' 400 dollars scammed from a Ridley Township woman in another con targeting PECO customers. 2 recent cases of cell phones being stolen in Upper Darby High School. 85 percent of robberies in the township that involve swiped phones, according to top cop Mike Chitwood. 90, age of local TV celebrity Sally Starr, who died on Sunday. 230 killed when fire roared through crowded nighclub in Brazil.

3.48 a gallon, what we're payin on average for gas in the Philly region.

3.46, what we were paying last week.

$3.49, what we were paying last year.

5-1 loss for the Flyers last night vs. Tampa in 2nd of back-to-back weekend games. It also was the debut for goalie Michael Leighton.

2 Top 10 teams beaten last week by Villanova. First they beat No. 5 Lousville, then on Saturday they topped that by upsettting No. 3 Syracuse.

62-35 win for the NFC over the AFC in last night's Pro Bowl.

Call me a Phanatic: A look at the ups and downs of being a Philadelphia sports fan. Prepare to hear a lot about LeSean's McCoy's Twitter account after he engaged in a weekend war of Tweets with the woman who is the mother of his son. Why do I care about this?

I Don’t Get It: There's never a shortage of con men out there trying to take advantage of senior citiznes. Disgusting.

Today’s Upper: Kudos local Catholic Schools as they celebrate Catholic Schools Week.

Quote Box: “We're just devastated ritght now trying to figure it all out." - Neighbor of man who was gunned down outside his Upper Chichester home Saturday night.

A sad farewell to 'Our Gal Sal'

My kids loved Sesame Place. My daughter was a serious Mr. Rogers addict. My son could watch Thomas the Tank Engine for hours.

I always loved sitting with them in front of the tube. For one, it was one of the few times I could actually get them to sit still during the mornings when I watched them as their mother worked.

But I liked it for another reason as well.

I liked the message they got from those shows.

And it reminded me of my youth, and a woman I watched religiously for years.

To me, and I guess to thousands of kids across the region, she was the epitome of a star. But I don’t think she ever liked the star label. To her, she was just “Our Gal Sal.”

I’m not sure Sally Starr’s act would play today. And that’s a shame. Not for her, but for us.

Kids today are so much more aware, so much more ‘hip,’ that I don’t think they would have much time for Sally Starr and her cast of characters on ‘Popeye Theater.’

She wore a cowgirl hat and fringe wardrobe, and always signed off with a couple of her trademark sayings, things such as “You must be looking good, because you sure look good to your gal Sal.”

And, of course, her daily farewell: “Love, luck and lollipops.”

Would kids today, who rarely look up from their cell phones, stomach such a sugar-coated message?

I have my doubts. And that’s part of the problem. I used to dismiss those who believe that the violence-saturated media - including video games - that preoccupy so much of our kids’ time played any role in the serious problems with violence that our society is battling.

Now I’m not so sure.

Than again, I could not get enough Three Stooges, and yet I didn’t go around poking people in the eye, unless of course you consider some of our editorials the written version of such an attack.

Staples of my youth, such as Sally Starr, Gene London, Pixanne, Captain Kangaroo and Chief Halftown, probably would not play today. And that’s a shame.

There was an innocence back then that does not seem to exist today. I can’t really put my finger on it, but I think it’s there.

Or maybe I’m just feeling old. It’s a feeling I get more and more all the time.

‘Our Gal Sal’ was not a star. She was much more than that. She was Sally Starr.

She died on Sunday at the age of 90.

But even the news of her passing was enough to once again make me feel whistful, yearning for a time that no longer exists.

I had forgotten that her ‘Popeye Theater’ show actually appeared in black and white.

Sally Starr was very likely the precursor to PBS standards such as Mr. Rogers. I learned a lot of lessons in front of that TV while my other mother made dinner. Sally Starr was part of the family.

Despite her huge popularity during her heyday on Philadelphia TV, Sally Starr had more than her share of heartache. There were several failed marriages, more than her share of financial setbacks and finally a precipitous fall from local celebrity.

Ironically, even as her ratings tumbled, Sally Starr’s star never dimmed among her fans. She continued to draw crowds at appearances into her 80s. She moved away from the area a couple of different time in her later years, but always came back.

There was something about her that connected with kids. Maybe it was that nearly white blonde hair. Or her trademark outfit, white cowgirl hat, fringed vets and white boots.

It seems more than a bit ironic that one of the heroines of my youth would appear on TV every day with a six-shooter on her side.

Like I said, I don’t think Sally Starr would play today.

And that’s a shame. Not for her. For us.

Some more thoughts on the gun issue

My print column is up today. I based it on some more thoughts I had after last week’s special ‘Live From the Newsroom’ with local gun dealer Dusty Rhoads, Lansdowne Mayor Jayne Young, and lifetime NRA member Dan McMonigle.

Obviously, we are not going to agree on everything on this controversial issue.

But the thing I think is most important is that we continue to have the conversation.

I’m willing to do my part. I hope the readers will continue to chime in as well.

CLICK HERE to read some more thoughts. Here’s a preview: I’m not a gun guy. I haven’t held a gun - let alone fired one - since I put down my Daisy BB-gun when I was a kid.


Expect snow going for your morning commute

It’s 6 a.m. Do you know where your ice scraper is?

Yes, it is still January. And that means lousy weather. If for some reason you have not been near a TV or radio yet this morning, or if, even better, you haven’t crawled out from under the covers this morning, let me deliver the bad news.

We are going to have another weather ‘event’ this morning. I’ll try to break it down for you without scaring you to death. I’ll leave that to our good friends in the TV end of the biz.

This is supposed to start this morning as some snow flurries. Don’t panic. This is not a big storm. We likely will not even get what we saw on Friday. The big problem with this one is the potential for it changing over to a light rain later this morning. That could mean ice, and that would likely turn the roads into skating rinks.

Eventually as temperatures rise during the day, this is going to change over to mostly rain.

But before we get to that point this afternoon, this could be an adventure on the roads.

PennDOT has their full armada of trucks ready to roll for salting procedures.

Right now it’s not really doing much of anything here in beautiful downtown Primos. That likely will change later this morning.

There are not a lot of things I am usually grateful for working this insane shift. But this one always stands out. There is almost no one out on the roads when I drive in. That comes in handy during bad weather. I had the misfortune of trying to get to a doctor’s appointment late Friday afternoon, at the height of the little storm that left us with a coating of snow. You would have thought it was Armageddon. People just panic at the first sight of snow. Everybody and their mother must have poured out of their offices at the same time. It took forever to reach my destination, which I made just minutes before the office closed.

All of which is to say that if you have a normal schedule, you can expect something of an adventure getting to work or school this morning.

Good luck.


Friday, January 25, 2013

The Daily Numbers - Jan. 25



The Daily Numbers: 18 degrees when I walked out the door this morning. God. I hate January.



1-3 inches of snow starting this afternoon. I really hate January.


4 days last winter when we actually went under 32 degrees.


13, age of Main Line teen who got involved with 20-year-old Virginia man online. He now faces charges. Yesterday he waived his preliminary hearing.


1 week postponement for the big MLK/Black History Parade in Chester. It will now be held on Feb. 2.


15 year deal for European chemical maker to ship ethane to the Sunoco Logistics terminal in Marcus Hook.


36, age of exterminator from Levittown charged in the brutal murder of a young CHOP doctor in her Philly home.


30,000 dollar reward now posted for information in the abduction of a 5-year-old taken from her elementary school in Philly.


7.1 million dollar community center being envisioned in Ridley.


1,000 fine for trash haulers improperly disposing of electronics under new state  law.


4,250 dollars a year, how much more a smoker may wind up paying for life insurance under the new Affordable Care Act


12 percent dip in value of Apple stock yesterday. It was off $63.51, to $450.50.


226.70, amount of bar tab that preceded an attack on a fan wearing a Rangers jersey after last year's Winter Classic. The victim is now suing both the bar and his attacker.


2.11 a pound, what chicken is selling for these days, leading to a shortage of chicken wings.


12.3 million fewer wings likely to be eaten on Super Bowl Sunday because of the shortage.


494 to 982 years in prison for a tattoo artist from Bucks County who was swapping sex for tattos with underage customers.


4 to 8 weeks on the shelf for Flyer Scott Hartnell with a broken foot.


1 win on the year for the Flyers after they gutted out a 2-1 win over the Rangers last night.


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


Kudos to Sixers point guard Jrue Holiday. He was named to the NBA All-Star roster.

I Don’t Get It: Beating up another fan because he happened to be wearing the jersey of the opposing team. I don't get it.

Today’s Upper: Kudos to police in Philly, who quickly identified and charged a suspect in the brutal murder of a young doctor at CHOP in her Philly home.


Quote Box: “It's very trafic. You have a young physician who dedicated her life to helping people and to die in this tragic manner, it's very, very sad."

- Philly Police Capt. James Clark, on murder of CHOP Dr. Melissa Ketunuti.