Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Crunch time in Upper Darby

As it turns out, drumline is not the only champion coming out of the Upper Darby School District music program.

Two weeks ago the Upper Darby High School Indoor Drumline team captured a national championship. This past weekend the high school's acclaimed Concert Choir and Encore Singers got into the act, snagging another trinket to add to the school's burgeoning trophy case.

They captured a gold medal in a competition in a Music Festival at Williamsburg, Va. You can read that story here.

All of which will make what happens tonight in the financially struggling school district even mkore interesting. The Upper Darby School Board tonight is poised to roll out the latest cuts as they battle a huge deficit. The board already has indicated taxes are going up, now residents are holding their breath as they wait to hear what else will be slashed.

Once again it appears as if the district's vaunted music program is in the crosshairs.

We'll be there to tell you what happens. We can pretty much guarantee it won't be music to anyone's ears.

The pride in the music program was evident last year when the district unveiled a curriculum change rooted in the district's financial crisis. The idea was to eliminate the special music classes in the elementary schools, as well as some language and library cuts. A lot of teaching positions also were axed. A huge public outcry ensued; more money was found in Harrisburg to avert the cuts.

Tonight most people are expecting the news to be similar.

Music is deep-rooted in the diverse district. Listen to choir director Barbara Benglian talk about their kids' performance in Virginia and you get an idea why.

"The sound that came out of these kids was incredible," Benglian said. "The judges loved them so much. Judges would come up and critique them and the judges kept saying, ‘Oh, my God.’ They were so good.

"One of the judges commented that the Upper Darby students were not only good musicians, but good citizens. I was so proud."

The Concert Choir is 120 members strong.

Lauryn Thomas, a soprano soloist, received the maestro award for excellence at the 2013 Williamsburg Music Festival.

Tonight a different kind of sound likely will be emanating from Upper Darby. It won't be music to anyone'e ears.

Monday, April 29, 2013

Not music to their ears in Upper Darby

It's crunch time in Upper Darby. Again.

The Upper Darby School District is up against it again. Just like last year, the district is swimming in red ink. The district already has indicated it is raising taxes. Now it looks like more cuts will be coming as well.

Last year, proposed cuts to the district's beloved music program cause a huge outcry among the public.

It looks like the district could be headed down the same road.

Ironically, it comes at the same time the high school drumline won a national championship last weekend and this weekend the chorus also won a competition.

I write about it in this week's print column. You can check it out here.

A tough weekend in Chester

It was not a good weekend in the city of Chester.

It was the same, old story.

The scourge of the city, random street violence in the form of gunshots, a sound that can be heard all too often, returned with a vengeance.

The mayhem started early Saturday morning when a man was shot and killed on the 900 block of Clover Lane. Police believe Robert Tyrone Morris, a contractor, was shot during a robbery attempt. He was just steps away from the rear of the home on the 900 block of Keystone Road where Shipley said he lived with his grandfather and his uncle.

Things got even worse Saturday afternoon when a car rolled up to a group of young people standing on a corner.

Gunfire broke out, Police believe shots were fired from a burgundy-colored SUV. When the gunfire stopped, a 17-year-old was dead and other teens were wounded. A 40-year-old man who had the misfortune of walking through the area, was the victim of a random bullet.

This comes just two weeks after another street shooting left a man dead and an 82-year-old woman who was just sitting on her sofa inside her home in critical condition after a stray bullet hit her in the neck.

You can read a full account of the carnage here.

Residents are fearful - and fed up. They want something done.

It's hard to blame them.

While we tracked all this gun mayhem in the city over the weekend, I was struck by something else. Do you think expanded background checks would have changed anything that happened in the city over the weekend? Me neither.

Illegal guns are the problem in the city. I don't think any kind of background check are going to stop that.

I'm not sure what will. But I know that residents there don't deserve to live in the state of fear that so many of them are now describing.

It's now up to Mayor John Linder and Police Chief Joe Bail to stop the violence. They won't be able to do it alone. They will need help in the community.

But as another long summer looms, the city of Chester needs to draw a line in the sand against violence.

They need to declare war on the guns and the thugs wielding them who are making life there miserable for the many law-abiding residents.

And they need to do it soon.

Friday, April 26, 2013

The Daily Numbers for Friday April 26

The Daily Numbers: 4:15 this morning when fire roared through a home in Concord Township. No injuries were reported.

2 women who have filed complaints that Swarthmore College failed to file required reports on sexual assaults on campus.

19 of April, last Friday, when a Collingdale mother disappeared.

3-0 vote by the Chester Zoning Hearing Board for a variance that will allow Bottom Dollar to build a supermarket in the city.

10 years, how long it's been since an actual supermarket was located inside the city limits.

2,000 dollars scammed from a 72-year-old man in Upper Chichester by shaky contractors offering a driveway sealing deal.

9 percent dip in applications to Penn State this year.

18, age of teen girl now charged with assault after punching the daughter of Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter in an altercation.

5 living presidents on the stage yesterday as they rolled out the George W. Bush Library in Texas.

6 feet, 6 inches, 303 pounds, that's your Eagles No. 1 draft pick, Lane Johnson, a tackle from Oklahoma, at the No. 4 slot.

4.69 time in the 40-yard dash. I think that makes him faster than Nick Foles.

6-4 loss for the Phils as they drop a home series to the Pirates yesterday.

0 wins for the Phils in consecutive games in which they sent Cole Hamels, Roy Halladay and Cliff Lee to the mound.

33,443 on hand for the 1st Businessperson's Special of the year on a sun-splashed day in South Philly.

10 minutes, 58.4 seconds, winning time for Villanova women in the 4x1,500-meter relay at the Penn Relays yesterday.

119th running of the quintessential Philly track and field event. Call me a Phanatic: A look at the ups and downs of being a Philadelphia sports fan. Stick Lane Johnson at right tackle, move Todd Herremans inside and you have a very good offensive line in front of Michael Vick and LeSean McCoy. Now do the Eagles roll the dice on Geno Smith in the 2nd round?

I Don’t Get It: Turns out that "gun" the 10-year-old was threatening people with on a Philly street was a toy. I still don't get it.

Today’s Upper: Kudos to Beth Mingey of Holcomb Behavioral Health, Linda Moore-Singleton, from the county Office of Behavioral Health, and parent Tricia Stouch, for offering their insight into a new report on drug and alcohol use by Delco kids. They apeared on our 'Live From the Newsroom' show last night. It's a big problem. It's going to need a big response.

Quote Box: “We are taking multiple steps to keep our students safe." - Rebecca Chopp, Swarthmore president, in response to federal complaints by students that school is not propertly reporting sexual assaults on campus.

'Live From Newsroom' offers some sobeing news for Delco kids & parents

Both kids and parents in Delaware County are about to get a swift, cold slap in the face.

You might call it "sobering" news. Next week the county will hold a town hall meeting at the Delaware County Unit to release the results of a new study on the use of drugs and alcohol by Delco children.

Brace yourself, parents. The news is not good.

• 30 percent of Delco high school seniors - almost 1 in 3 - have engaged in binge drinking in the past month.

• More  Delco teens drive under the influence of marijuana than alcohol.

The survey, part of a statewide project, talked to about 9,000 students from schools across the county.

We tackled the issue head-on and got a sneak peek at what's in the report last night on our live-stream Internet show, "Live From the Newsroom." If you misssed the show you can catch the replay here.

My thanks to our panel: Beth Mingey, from Holcomb Behavioral Health Systems, which did the study;  Linda Moore-Singleton, from the county Office of Behavioral Health; and our very special guest, Tricia Stouch, a mother from Aston who lost her 19-year-old daughter Pamela to a heroin overdose.

Here are the details on the town hall meeting next week. I urge every concerned parent in Delco to attend.

It's set for Thursday, May 2 at the Delaware County Intermediate Unit, on Yale Avenue in Morton. There are two sessions, 2-4 p.m. and again at 6-8 p.m.

On hand will be county District Attorney Jack Whelan, Upper Darby top cop Mike Chitwood; and county Executive Director Marianne Grace.


This Phillies team might be for the Birds

Here's a little something to mull over while we continue to dissect the Eagles pick at No. 4, Lane Johnson, a huge tackle out of Oklahoma.

I have no problem with the pick. You stick him at right tackle, move Todd Herremans inside to right guard, get Jason Peters back at left tackle and add in the return of Jason Kelce from injury at center and Kevin Mathis at left guard and you have the makings of a very good offensive line in front of Michael Vick and LeSean McCoy.

What I do have a problem with is the Phillies. I don't want to hear that it is early. This team is in trouble.

Consider this: The Phillies just completed a four-game series with the Pirates. On Monday they started rookie Jonathan Pettibone and scratched out a win. So far, so good. Then they started Cole Hamels, Roy Halladay and Cliff Lee in succession.

And they got how many wins out of that once-formidable troika? That would be zero. Zilch. Nada.

The Phils continue to run the bases in ways that make you wonder if their heads are really in the game. Their bullpen continues to be spotty, and their offense is truly offensive.

The truth is the firm of Hamels, Halladay & Lee all piched well enough to win, but this team was unable to do it. In the cases of Halladay and Lee, they coughed up leads along the way.

That bench under Charlie Manuel is likely getting warmer, despite the uncharacteristically cool spring.

I like Charlie. I don't like this team right now.

That's not a good mix.

Sorry, Charlie.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

The Daily Numbers for Thursday April 25

The Daily Numbers: 17 consecutive years that Parents of Murdered Children mark the horrific loss of life here in the county. Last night they gathered again in the county courthouse.

75 survivors and others who took the time to remember those lost to violence.

6 homicides recorded so far in Delaware County this year.

6:45 a.m., when juniors and seniors reported to school at Penn Wood High yesterday after arson fires scorched their facility. They're now attending classes in a split day at the district's Cypress Street facililty in Yeadon.

2 people, a man and woman, charged in armed robbery of Lukoil on Baltimore Pike in Media.

20, age of Upper Darby man sentenced to life in prison for the shooting death of his 18-year-old friend in an attempt to 'scare' him because he thought he had stolen money from him.

37 days, how long Sunil Tripathi, the Radnor High grad, has been missing in Providence, R.I. Police there are now trying to determine if a body found in a local river is that of the missing Delco college student.

12,480 dollars believed misappropriated from the Chichester Baseball League by a former police officer and treasurer of the organization. Yesterday he waived his arraignment on theft charges.

1.1 million in cash, what U.S. Rep. Pat Meehan has on hand. He's raised $207,367 this quarter.

528,202 in cash for U.S. Rep. Bob Brady. He's raised $1,500 this quarter.

16, age of teen who got stuck on a roof in Upper Darby during a pursuit by police.

307 million dollars, what the Pa. Legislature spent in the year ending last June. That's $8 million more then the previous fiscal year.

140 million dollars in the state surplus, that's down $43 million.

0 witnesses called by defense in murder trial of Philly abortion Dr. Kermit Gosnell. He also declined to take the stand. Closing arguments are set Monday.

500 police officers who gathered yesterday for funeral of MIT police officer Sean Collier, slain in the hunt for the 2 suspects in the Boston Marathon bombings.

3 stories, how far a student fell after a mishap at Chestnut Hill College.

36, age of man arrested for punching a woman in the face during a road rage incident in Exton, out in Chester County.

1 run on 1 hit given up by Roy Halladay in another quality start last night. Doesn't matter, Phils still lost 5-3.

4 runs surrendered by Phils bullpen, including 2 by Mike Adams.

2 home runs, by Chase Utley and Ryan Howard.

2nd straight night a base-running gaffe led to a Phils player being thrown out at home. Last night it was Jimmy Rollins' turn.

Call me a Phanatic: A look at the ups and downs of being a Philadelphia sports fan. It's one of the quintessential events that simply screams Philly. Yes, it's time for the Penn Relays again.

I Don’t Get It: It's the group that no one wants to join. Yet it is crucial. Parents of Murdered Children gathered again last night to honor those we have lost. We can't forget.

Today’s Upper: Kudos to all those who fathered last night to remember those lost to violence on Delco streets at the annual Parents of Murdered Children vigil.

Quote Box: “Things happen to us but that doesn't mean it has to victimize us." - State Sen. Anthony Williams, guest speaker at last night's Parents of Murdered Children event.

'Live From the Newsroom' tackles drug, alcohol addiction in Delco

No, you didn't miss 'Live From the Newsroom' last night. We've shifted this week to Thursday night, and tonight we have a very special show looking at a very big problem here in Delaware County.

The truth is it's not just here, but that will be our focus as we take a look at drug and alcohol issues in the county, especially when it comes to young people.

Here's some of the 'sobering' findings of a new study that will be released next week:

* 30 percent of Delco high school seniors have been involved in binge drinking of alcohol in the last month.

* More Delco teens drive under the influence of marijuana than alcohol.

* 31 percent of Delco youth said they feel sad most days.

Tonight we'll be joined by some people who are intimately involved in this battle every day in Delco.

Joining us will be Beth Mingey, from Holcomb Behavioral Health Systems, which conducted the study for the county, along with Vanessa Walker and Linda Moore-Singleton from the County Office of Behavioral Health. And we'll be joined by a very special guest, Trisha Stouch, a mother who lost her 19-year-old daughter to heroin abuse and who is now a leader in the fight against the growing scourge of heroin use in the county.

The study will be revealed at a special community meeting next  Thursday May 2 at the Delaware County Intermediate Unit. Among those scheduled to be on hand will be county District Attorney Jack Whelan, county Executive Director Marianne Grace and Upper Darby Police Superintendent Mike Chitwood.

But you don't have to wait for next week. We will give you a sneak peek at the study's results tonight. Join us at 7 on DelcoTimes.com.

And get involved. Have a question for our panel? Email it to me at editor@delcotimes.com and I will put it to our special guests.

It's 'Live from the Newsroom,' and tonight it's all about the war on addictions here in the county among young people.

See you at 7!

A glimpse at the future of communications at Penn State Brandywine

I was confronted once again last night with an ugly truth.

I'm old.

I was delighted to attend a special 'Communications in the Future' symposium at Penn State Brandywine in Middletown. My thanks for Helene Bludman for a great night.

If the focus was on the future, I was certainly feeling like a part of its past. When I met the other members of the media panel, I was struck not only by how talented they were, but also how young.

The business is in good hands with people like Elizabeth Fiedler, from WHYY, Lauren Yapalater, an associate editor at Buzzfeed.com, and Blair Cardinal, who toils on 'the dark side' as a public relations official.

The purpose of the evening was two-fold, as explained by emcee and longtime Penn State presence Joe Biscontini. It also was honoring some of the best works by high school journalists. They were right about that. The kids' stuff was first-rate. I'm glad I didn't have to serve as a judge.

All I had to do was try to impart some wisdom on these young minds. I started by referencing something Biscontini had mentioned in introducing me. I asked how many people in the room were not alive when I started here at the Daily Times in 1982. Almost every hand shot up.

Yeah, I'm old.

It was a fascinating night talking about the media, where we've been, where we are now, and most important where we're headed.

It's clear from the questions posed by both the students and many of their parents, that the media is on a lot of people's minds.

I tried to once again relay the struggle I feel most days as I toil in two worlds, still developing a print edition every day, while also taking full advantage of our online presence and the ability to deliver information 24 hours a day.

This blog is one of those great joys, one of the things I like most about the Internet: It gives me the opportunity to write every day.

That is what I stressed with the students. After you strip away all the bells and whistles, the Tweets and Facebook posts, it still comes down to that core ingredient.

There's nothing more powerful than the written word.

I can testify to the fact that there is no shortage of powerful young voices out there. I'll be looking for them to do great things.


It's no bull(pen); Phils lose again

Roy Halladay appears to be back on track. Too bad the Phillies' bullpen bullpen picked last night to run off the tracks.

That's the way it seems to go with this team.

Charlie Manuel shook up his lineup again, breaking up Chase Utley and Ryan Howard. It paid immediate dividends with the two left-handers both hitting homers against a left-handed pitcher.

Halladay gave the Phillies six strong innings, giving up just one run on one hit.

But the Phillies still managed to lose a game they easily could have win. This time it was the bullpen whose fingerprints were all over the knife. Three relievers, Antonio Bastardo, Mike Adams and Jeremy Horst all gave up runs as the Phils fell to the Pirates, 5-3.

You can read Dennis Deitch's column here.

The Phils will be right back at it this afternoon, with the first  Business Person's Special of the Season, clearing the decks for Chip Kelly and his first NFL Draft as boss of the Eagles tonight.

Click here to find out what Bob Grotz think Kelly and the Eagles will do with that No. 4 pick.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

The Daily Numbers for Wednesday April 24

The Daily Numbers: 69, age of former Delco congressman Bob Edgar, who died yesterday at his Virginia home.

6 terms in D.C. for Edgar, who lost an election for the U.S. Senate to Arlen Specter.

2,000 dollar reward posted for info on gunman who carjacked a couple and their 8-year-old child in parking lot of Radnor business on Lancaster Avenue.

15, age of Upper Darby teen wanted for stabbing his brother in an argument.

1st degree murder charge facing Naim Williams, who was taken into custody in Claymont, Del., for fatal Chester shooting last week.

82, age of woman who was sitting on her sofa when she was struck by stray bullet in the incident. She remains in critical condition.

1 dead, 1 hospitalized after a car plunged into the Schuylkill River in Philly last night.

3 of 8 murder raps filed against abortion Dr. Kermit Gosnell tossed by a Philly judge yesterday as the defense opened its portion of the trial.

2 men chargedin a plot to blow up a key train that runs between Canada and the U.S.

143 point dip for the Dow after a fake tweet from the Associated Press reported bomb blast at the White House and President Obama being injured. The AP said their account had been hacked and shut it down. The market quickly recovered.

0 runs for the Phillies last night. They only had 2 hits.

0-3 record for Phillies starter Cole Hamels.

31,002 fans at Citizens Bank Park last night.

5-2 win for the Flyers over the Bruins.

2 goals in 7 seconds for the Flyers. They're still not making the playoffs.

Call me a Phanatic: A look at the ups and downs of being a Philadelphia sports fan. The Phillies offense is proving truly offensive. And did you happen to notice the attendance from last night. Sure, it was cold. But there was a time when you couldn't get Phillies tickets. Last night only 31,000 went through the turnstiles.

I Don’t Get It: It looks like more heartbreak for the Tripathi family of Radnor today. You have to feel for them.

Today’s Upper: Kudos to new members of the Psi Phil Chapter of Lambda Pie Eta, the National Communication Honor Society, inducated last night at Neumann University.

Quote Box: “We only disagreed once a year and that was in November." - Former Delco Republican Party Chairman Tom Judge Sr., on the passing of former Democratic Congressman Bob Edgar.

The future of communications in good hands at Neumann University

I get asked all the time if I am concerned about my industry and where it is going.

As soon as I figure that out I will let you know. By the way, if you happen to know where the media as we know it is headed, please feel free to let me know.

But I was reassured that the industry will be in very good hands after I attended a very special ceremony last night at Neumann University.

The occasion was the induction ceremony for the Psi Phil Chapter of Lambda Pi Eta, the National Communication Honor Society.

Actually, it was a payback on my part. Karen Thomas, an instructor at Neumann who probably is better known for her work as weather anchor on Fox-29 and NBC10, was nice enough to invite me.


I was supposed to attend and speak to the group last year, but for one of the very few times in my life I was really sick and didn't make it.

I was bound and determined to get there last night, and I was glad I did.

I got to meet a lot of young people with a very bright future in communications. This year's Lambda Pi Eta Inductees are: Suzanne Berstler; Marguerite DeGrassa (daughter of our weekly editor Peg DeGrassa!); Nancy Dinh; Katharine Fryling; Kiriakoula Gregor; Kya Johnson; Deandra Patterson; Kathleen Poliski; JayDa Rawls; Lauren Sherman; and Katherine Sullivan.

Special guest Pat Ciarrocchi, longtime anchor and reporter at CBS-3, gave a great speech that tied in today's news and latest headlines to the challenge these kids face as they head out into the world. I think they're more than up to the challenge.

I also got a chance to chat with one of my favorite people in Delaware County. Neumann President Dr. Rosalie Mirenda reminds me every time we speak of the important function of institutions like Neumann, places that are melding our future citizens.

And, of course, our future journalists.

The business will be in good hands. Just as long as Neumann keeps cranking out kids like these.

Up and at 'em at Penn Wood

As someone who has a little experience in what it is like to rouse high schoolers in the morning, my heart goes out this morning to moms and dads in William Penn.

Juniors and seniors at Penn Wood High School are headed back to school after getting a six-day mini-vacation because of intentionally set fires that did serious damage to their Green Avenue building.

They're going back to school today. Actually I should say, as I write this at 6:55, that they went back to school today.

That's right. They're already in schools. Juniors and seniors went back this morning at 6:45 a.m. Wonder what attendance was like?

You can read the full story here.



Phillies continue to prove to be offensive

For the past several years, I've wondered if the Phillies incredible success at their tony little bandbox of a stadium in South Philly was due to the fact that the team was a World Series contender every year, or if people simply were going because the place had become party central during the summer.

I guess we're getting our answer.

The most important number to come out of last night's latest Phillies disheartening loss at Citizens Bank Park was not the 2-0 score, wasting a very good outing from Cole Hamels. Nor was it the 0-3 mark Hamels is now lugging around, along with that new big bucks contract he signed.

The Phillies managed just four hits. It was the third time in the last eight games they've been shut out.

John Mayberry tripled to lead off the fourth. I kind of joked to myself if they would be able to get him home. It was no joke.  It looked pretty good when Domonic Brown was plunked with a pitch, putting runners at the corners with no one out. It looked a little less likely when Mayberry broke for home on a grounder to third, and was dead meat. Of course Eric Katz then hit into an inning-ending double play.

Yes, the Phillies continue to be impotent when it comes to hitting with runners in scoring position.

But none of this is the number that most interested me from last night. Did you notice the attendance? Sure, it was another very cool night. But only 31,002 people went through the turnstiles.

I guess I have my answer.

Tickets, get your Phillies tickets. Haven't heard that in awhile.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

The Daily Numbers for Tuesday April 23

The Daily Numbers: 6:45 a.m., what time juniors and senior will report to school at the Cypress Street location when classes resume for Penn Wood High Wednesday. Their school was damaged by arson fires last week. 10:50, when they will get out.

11:10 a.m. to 3:55 p.m., when freshmen and sophomores will attend classes.The Daily Numbers: 6:45 a.m., what time juniors and senior will report to school at the Cypress Street location when classes resume for Penn Wood High Wednesday. Their school was damaged by arson fires last week.

10:50, when they will get out.

11:10 a.m. to 3:55 p.m., when freshment and sophomores will attend classes.

460,000 dollars raised by former Congressman Joe Sestak, but he is not saying if he's running for something. 10 suspected heroin dealers busted in Chester County.

2 Chester men busted for breaking into and stealing cars from the Brandywine River Museum and Brandywine Battlefield.

12 Swarthmore College students who have filed a federal complaint alleging the school is nor reporting sex attacks on campus. They say it's a violation of the Clery Act.

1 p.m., when a threatening note was found in the bathroom at Strath Haven High School yesterday, forcing a search of the school and cancellation of all after-school activities.

72, age of Richie Havens, the iconic folk music star who opened the show at Woodstock back in 1969.

10 percent cut in air traffic controllers sparks delay in 20-30 percent of flights across the nation.

22, age of rookie pitcher who took the mound last night for the Phillies.

1990, year when Pettibone was born. He becomes the 1st player born in the '90s to play for the Phillies. 2 runs on 6 hits over 5 and a third innings for Pettibone.

0 walks give up by the rookie right-hander.

3-2 win for the Phils, the 2nd time this year they have managed to put back-to-back wins together.

69, age of Phillies Manager Charlie Manuel, who once coached Pettibone's father in Double-A ball back in 1984.

16 strikeouts for Jesse Biddle, the Phillies top minor league prospect, in blowing away the Harrisburg Senators in Reading last night. He gave up just 1 hit in 7 innings.

14 of the first 19 batters he faced were struck out by Biddle, 4 times Biddle struck out the side.

Call me a Phanatic: A look at the ups and downs of being a Philadelphia sports fan. Last night's Phillies starter, Jonathon Pettibone, was born in 1990. Yeah, I'm old.

I Don’t Get It: Wouldn't you think that just a few days removed from the horror in Boston, we wouldn't be posting threatening messages? Apparently not, because that's what happened in Strath Haven High yesterday.

Today’s Upper: Kudos to officials in William Penn School District. They are routinely under intense economic pressure, now they had to shuffle class schedules and split the class day at the Cypress Street location following the arson fire that damaged Penn Wood High.

Quote Box: “We're trying to keep things as normal as possible." - William Penn School District spokesperson Pamela Bookman, on the split schedule the district has been forced to put into place in light of arson fires that seriously damaged Penn Wood High.

Ordeal continues for Tripathi family

The news vans are gone.

The Internet has continued to spit our streams of information, some accurate, some not.

But for the Tripathi family, there remains one constant.

Their loved one, Sunil Tripathi, a 2008 Radnor High graduate from Bryn Mawr who was a student at Brown University, remains missing.

The Tripathi family's heartache multiplied late Thursday and into early Friday when Internet speculation put them in the middle of the hunt for the suspected Boston Marathon bombers.

The Internet sharing site Reddit has now apologized for the role they played in fueling the incorrect notion that Sunil was somehow connected to the case.

The Internet is a wonderful thing. But it has its down side. Just ask the Tripathi family.

They are now talking about what happened. And they still desperately want to know what happened to their loved one.

I hope for the best. After all they've been through, they deserve it.

A family member talked to NBC10 about their ordeal, and also what it was like to be at the center of that online fury early Friday morning.


An early wake-up call for Penn Wood kids

Seniors at Penn Wood High School now have another reason to be ticked off at the knuckleheads who set several fires inside the school last week.

First they learned the intentionally set blazes caused considerable damage inside their school, cancelling classes until Wednesday.

Students will finally return to school on Wednesday at the Cypress Street building. Juniors and seniors routinely attended class at Green Avenue, while freshmen and sophomores went to Cypress Street. Now all four classes will share the Cypress Street site.

If having your senior year disrupted wasn't enough of a hassle, there is this this little bit of eye-opening news for juniors and seniors. The split day of classes at Cypress Street will mean an early wake-up call. Juniors and seniors are slated to attend class from 6:45 a.m. to 10:50 a.m. Freshmen and sophs will then arrive at 11:10 a.m. and be in school until 4 p.m.

You read it right kids. School will start at 6:45 a.m.

They say the early bird gets the worm. The worms should be squirming in Lansdowne starting on Wednesday.

Read the full story here.



Confessions of an old Phillies Phan

Want to feel old? I seem to specialize in that these days.

Sports used to be a respite from the aging process. Not anymore. I now realize I am actually older than all these athletes I used to idolize. In fact, I could probably be their father. For some reason, when you're the youngest in a family of five kids, it's tough to get your hands around the fact that you are advancing in years.

Take last night for example. Standing out on that chilly Citizens Bank Park mound for the Phils was one Jonathan Pettibone. He is all of 22 years old.

Last night he became the first player to appear for the Phillies who was born in the '90s. That gets your attention when you were born in the '50s.

It could be worse. Consider the plight of Phils' manager Charlie Manuel. When he finally hung up his cleats, ending a pretty solid playing career, and decided to try his hand at managing, one of Manuel's first stops was in Orlando as manager of the Twins' Double-A affiliate.

On his pitching staff was one Jay Pettibone. That would be Jonathon Pettibone's father.

Sorry, Charlie.

Jonathan had a very good outing last night for the Phils, even though he didn't figure in the decision. Pettibone went five and a third innings, giving up two runs on six hits. One of those runs came on a first-inning homer. Most impressively, he did not walk a single batter.

You can check out Dennis Deitch's account of the game, which the Phils went on to win 3-2, here.

In the meantime, I'll be trying to grasp the concept of someone born after 1990 playing in the major leagues.

Yeah, I'm old.

Monday, April 22, 2013

The Daily Numbers for Monday April 22

The Daily Numbers: 2:50 p.m., when the nation will mark 1 week since the Boston Marathon bombings.

19, age of surviving suspect in Boston bombing. Dzokhar Tsarnaev is being held under heavy guard in stable condition in a Boston hospital. He is believed to be communicating with police by writing because he is still unable to speak.

26, age of his older brother Tamerlan, who was killed in a confrontation with police.

42 degrees, low temperature this morning. So much for spring.

146 workers at the Braskem facility that is undergoing a rebirth at the former Sunoco refinery in Marcus Hook.

771 million pounds of polypropylene made at the Braskem plan last year.

1, as in No. 1, a national championship for the drumline team at Upper Darby High School. Bravo for them.

3,167 Delaware County employees who will be eligible for a new health program called 'Step Up Delco.'

2.8 percent tax hike in the county budget, including a 2 percent raise for most workers.

14 dead and 200 injured in blast at fertilizer plant in West, Texas.

7-3 win for the Phils over the Cards last night.

3-run homer for Eric Kratz, part of 4-run 8th inning that put the game away.

8 hits and 6 strikeouts over 2 innings for Phils starter Kyle Kendrick.

3-2 win for the Union on the road at D.C. United.

2 goals for rising star Jack McInerney in the win.

Call me a Phanatic: A look at the ups and downs of being a Philadelphia sports fan. Glad I wasn't sitting out there at Citizens Bank Park for that national TV game last night. That looked more like a mid-October game than late April.

I Don’t Get It:
Very funny, Mother Nature. Any time you want to deliver a little warm weather would be fine by me. This morning was more like winter.

Today’s Upper
: Kudos tothe Upper Darby High School drumline team, which won a national competition over the weekend.

Quote Box: “We're reallty trying to make ourselves stand out not just because this is a business and everybody's got to come to work. We look at this facility as our home." - Braskem manager Jeremy Glisson on the spirit among workers at the Marcus Hook plant.

A salute to the kids from Upper Darby High

A lot of people believe kids at Upper Darby High School get a bad rap. They're often splashed across the pages of the newspaper, and not necessarily being depicted in the best light.

That's why I'm always looking for positive stories about young people in general, and in particular those from Upper Darby.

So I was pretty delighted when I received an email from a woman in Upper Darby Saturday afternoon telling me that the Upper Darby High School drumline team had just captured a national championship. Not Delco. Not District 1. Not Pennsylvania. This was a nationwide competition.

And the kids from Upper Darby turned out to be No. 1.

Were we interested? You bet we were.

We teased it off Page 1 on Sunday, and we were there last night when the team returned triumphantly to the high school on Lansdowne Avenue in Drexel Hill.

They also found a spot on Page 1 again today.

You can read all about it here.

Well done, kids! Music to my ears.!


What was once routine is now anything but

Suffice it to say it was a very long week. And a very short weekend.

It started Monday with the horror of terror once again visiting America. And it ended Friday night with a wild shootout and capture of the second suspect.

In between I was struck once again at how the seemingly normal, the routine, can be perverted when in the wrong hands.

The truth is there really is no normal anymore. There can only be vigilance.

I talk about it in my print column today.


Spring remains little more than a rumor

I don't care what Mother Nature says, I refuse to put a coat back on again until at least October.

Although I have to admit I actually thought about it this morning.

It wasn't chilly out today. It was cold. But I still decided to brave it with just a suit jacket. Look, it's now late April. Haven't we been tortured enough by this never-ended tease of spring?

The weekend didn't do a lot for me. Sure, there was lots of sun. But I wasn't what I would call warm, not once.

Saturday I spent most of the day putternig around the yard and bracing against what seemed like a 50 mph wind blowing in my face all day. I actually tried to sit on the deck once, only to hustle back inside when the sun ducked behind a cloud. It was cool when the sun was out, it was downright cold when the sun was gone.

Then Sunday proved sunny, but still chilly.

I had to feel for all those folks shivering through that Phillies game last night at Citizens Bank Park. That was more like late October weather.

It didn't get much better overnight. Temperatures dipped into the 30s across most of the region, and I just heard one report of the high 20s in some parts of Chester County.

Looks like there isn't going to be a lot of improvement this week. Highs will try to sneak into the 60s, but I see nothing that hints of 70s or even better 80s.

Spring remains a rumor, summer pure fiction.

Global warming? Yeah, right. Any day now.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Trolling the online world

We all live in the online world.

I work in it.

Twitter, Facebook. You name it; I'm on it.

We now have the ability to deliver information, photos and video instaneously 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

That doesn't mean we should. I just lived through just such an occurrence.

A ton of online speculation has swirled around the identity of the two suspects in the Boston Marathon bombings since photos of the two suspects were released by the FBI around 6 last night.

That was compounded around 1 a.m. when a wild shootout took place in a Boston suburb. One of the suspects was killed. So was a police officer. The second suspect - known to most as the guy in the white hat - fled the scene. There is a manhunt ongoing for him. Much of the Boston area is locked down.

Thanks to the Internet, the world's focus for hours was on the young man in the white hat. Twitter and Facebook were full of possible IDs, including one that was important in this region because speculation focused on the possibility that the teen was from this area.

As I was driving into the office this morning, my stomach was churning, thinking about how we would cover what was an international story with a local angle.

I listened as the host on the local sports talk radio station clearly identified the young man. Once in the office I saw the online explosion, all of which focused on "our" guy as Suspect No. 2 in the Boston Marathon Bombing.

Only one problem with that.

It wasn't him. The young man in the white hat has now been identified as one of two Chechen brothers. He's Dzhokhar A. Tsarnaev, 19, of Cambridge, Mass.

It's been sent as a text alert. Tweeted. Posted on Facebook. It resides on our web page. All news, all the time. 24 hours a day. 365 days a year. It can wear on your after awhile.

The world moves on.

But it makes me wonder where we're going.

Good news vs. bad news: From Boston to the Drexelbrook

I spent last night standing in front of a crowd of almost 600 people, all of whom were saying nice things about the newspaper and the Daily Times.

Yeah, it was a pretty rare occurrence.

When I left the office to go to the Drexelbrook in Drexel Hill for the Partners in Learning Celebration, which honors our All-Delco Hi-Q team and this years recipients of the Excellence in Teaching Awards, I had planned to talk about something that I am always dealing with.

It is this issue of good news and bad news. But Dr. Ray McFall, from the Delaware County Intermediate Unit, beat me to the punch. He talked a bit about how gratifying it was to pick up the newspaper and reading good stories about students, teachers and education.

He's right.

But the other kind of news just won't go away. Even before I was able to go into the Drexelbook, I learned that the FBI had released photos of the two suspects in the Boston Marathon bombings. One day's planning for Page 1 just went out the window.

That's the way this business goes these days. We make decisions by the minute.

I actually told those gathered last night of the page we had originally planned for last Sunday's paper to honor the All-Delco Hi-Q team. That of course changed when a massive fire erupted in Darby Borough. We still managed to give them a good display in a P. 1 skybox.

Suffice it to say that it's been a long week.

It got a bit longer this morning when I awoke to more breaking news from Boston. A shootout and manhunt meant our lead story had changed again even before we had a chance to get the print edition on the street.

I'm now updating the story on the web. Adding to all this is a possible local angle.

All those nice words from last night disappear pretty fast when it comes to news these days.

But I want everyone there to know I meant every word of it. It's extremely important not to give a skewed vision of kids, or of education. I think our coverage accompished some of that.

Now back to breaking news. It's looking like a very long day.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

The Daily Numbers for Thursday April 18

The Daily Numbers: 82, age of grandmother victim of random shooting in Chester.

1 other young man also wounded in the shooting.

2 fires that broke out inside Penn Wood High School early this morning. The school will be closed today and tomorrow.

11 people homeless after fire roared through a Clifton Heights duplex overnight.

15 people believed killed in massive blast that leveled fertilizer plant in Texas. More than 170 are injured when the explosion leveled an entire neighborhood.

2 suspects captured on video that are now being sought in connection with the bombings in Boston.

54-46 vote in the U.S. Senate by which a move to expand background checks on gun sales went down. The move, pushed by Sen. Pat Toomey, needed 60 votes to pass.

41 Republicans and 5 Democrats who voted against.

4 hopefuls seeking seats on the Delaware County bench in this election cycle.

2 losses for the Phils in the same night. They concluded that rain-suspended game from Tuesday night. The Phils dropped that one 1-0. Then they got rocked in the regular game, 11-2.

2 Phils now fighting injuries, outfielder Dom Brown and pitcher John Lannan.

1996, the last time the Phils were swept by the Reds.

4 runs and 13 hits, all the Phils managed in the Cincy series.

0-for-14 skid for leadoff hitter Ben Revere.

.194 batting average for the centerfielder, who also had a key errort.

105-95 win for Sixers in what likely was Doug Collins last game as coach.

109-120 mark for Collins as Sixers coach.

Call me a Phanatic: A look at the ups and downs of being a Philadelphia sports fan. Don't look now but the Phillies are in trouble. They don't hurt. Several members of their staff don't pitch, and now they're getting hurt. Ben Revere in the leadoff spot hasn't worked, and Ryan Howard continues to wait for warm weather before he heats up. This team needs a shakeup before it's too late.

I Don’t Get It: Nice work by news outlets tripping all over themselves to be first in reporting a suspect in the Boston bombings. Claims were flying fast and furious yesterday afternoon. Still no arrests this morning. Nice.

Today’s Upper: Kudos to the All-Delco Hi-Q kidsd and the winners of Excellence in Teaching awards who will be honored tonight at the Drexelbrook.

Quote Box: “How can these older people ever feel safe .... this happened in her own home." - Ron Lewis, minister and anti-violence leader in the Sun Village section of Chester, on random gunfire that struck a woman as she sat on her sofa.

'Live From the Newsroom' & the gun control debate

Shira Goodman was smiling when she arrived at our office last night for our weekly live-stream Internet show, "Live From the Newsroom."

I give her a lot of credit. The new boss of CeaseFirePA was trying to put the best face on what can only be described as a devastating defeat for those seeking new gun control measures.

Talk about good timing. The show was set just hours after the Senate rejected a proposal pushed by Pa. Republican U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey to expand background checks for gun sales at gun shows and online.

Goodman was joined by Media Mayor Bob McMahon, a member of Mayors Against Illegal Guns, and Clifton Heights resident and NRA member Brian Page. If you missed the show, you can see the replay here.

Toomey, elected in Pennsylvania in no small part on his strong Second Amendment stance and conservative fiscal views, had surprised a lot of people two weeks ago when he rolled out the bipartisan plan with Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia.

He must have thought he had the votes for at least this small move, part of President Obama's larger gun control package.

He didn't. The measure passed 54-46. But it needed 60 votes in the Senate to pass.  After a steady defection of supporters, Toomey just didn't have the votes. Even some Democrats from strong gun regions went against him.

The count was 41 Republicans and five Democrats against the measure, more than enough to keep Toomey and the gun control movement from the 60 votes they needed.

After the vote, Toomey sounded like a man who wasn't real anxious to try the water again.

"I did what I thought was right thing for the country," said the freshman senator who beat Joe Sestak to fill Arlen Specter's seat in the Senate. "My only regret is that our amendment did not pass. It's not the outcome I hoped for, but the Senate has spoken on the subject and it's time to move on. We have a lot of other very important issues to deal with such as getting the economy back on track, dealing with the debt ceiling and creating more jobs for Pennsylvanians."

In other words, don't look for Toomey to carry the ball on gun control. He got shot down. Once burned and all that.

Goodman, of course, believes the fight goes on. She believes the measure likely will be tweaked and possibly voted on again.

McMahon actually believes a version of expanded background checks will be passed.

I'm not that sure.

If they could not get this measure passed, probably the least controversial part of the gun control push, I don't see much help for any more extensive efforts? An assault weapons ban? Limits on gun magazine clips? Forget about it.

Toomey now faces the possibility of having to run for re-election having offended a lot of people in his base, all those Pennsylvanians who belive his move was a betrayal of their Second Amendment rights.

Goodman no doubt will keep fighting the "good" fight.

I apreciate her coming on the show last night, along with McMahon and Page for picking up the mantle of the NRA.

Make no mistake, this was a gunfight. And the NRA won.

Bang! Expanded background checks are dead.


All news, all the time

When we say we now have the ability to deliver news 24 hours a day, we mean it.

Here's what awaited me this morning as I headed toward the office.

A massive explosion rocked a fertilizer plant in Texas. The death toll is now between 5-15 and hundreds were injured.

A fire overnight routed people from their home in Clifton Heights. Thankfully, it does not appear that any of the injuries was serious.

A fire just after 4 a.m. has damaged Penn Wood High School in Lansdowne. The school will be closed today and Friday. Investigators are looking into reports that separate fires were intentionally set inside the building.

And of course there are updates from Boston, where the story and whether or not there was a suspect or possibly someone in custody seemed to changed every five minutes yesterday afternoon.

And just for good measure, we did our 'Live From the Newsroom' show last night on the very hop topic of gun control. Pretty good timing. The show came just a couple of hours after the U.S. Senate rejected a proposal put forth by Pa. Republican Sen. Pat Toomey to expand background checks.

The local radio station (yes, KYW is still the soundtrack to my life!) boasts that it is all news, all the time.

I know the feeling.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

The Daily Numbers for Wedneday April 17

The Daily Numbers: 8 and 29, ages of victims in the Boston Marathon bombings. The 3rd victim has been indentified as a graduate student.

176 people now believed injured in the attacks. At least 2 young children are in critical condition.

1.6 gallon pressure cookers, believed packed with shards of metal, ball bearings and nails, what authorities think were used in the attacks.

5 members of the Gottlieb family from Bethel who had been in the area of the blast just 5 minutes before. Neil Gottlieb was taking part in his 2nd Boston Marathon.

50 yards from the finish line, where Nadeem Bezar of Lower Merion was when he heard the blast.

15-30 years in jail for Virginia man who pleaded guilty to coercing a 13-year-old Main Line girl into a sexual encounter and then fleeing the area with him.

2.5 billion dollar transportation plan eyed in the Pa. Senate that could wind up hiking costs at the pump by 25 cents.

100 dollar surcharge to be slapped on speeding and red light tickets.

50.50 fee for a driver's license over 6 years, as opposed to today's $29.50 fee for 4 years.

104 dollars for motor vehicle registration for 2 years, up from 36 bucks annually now.

4 dollar hike for admission to the Barnes Foundation at its new Philly home. Tickets go from $18 to $22.

4 members of a Bucks County home found dead with a car running in the garage. Police say the husband committed suicide and took his wife and 2 children with him.

20 years, how long Karnamaya Mongar survived in a refugee camp, only to die while receiving an abortion at the clinic run by Dr. Kermit Gosnell.

0 runs scored by either the Phillies or Reds last night when their game was suspended by rain in the 9th inning.

2 hits for both teams.

7 innings of solid work for Kyle Kendrick.

4-2 win for Flyers over Rangers as they cling to very slim playoff hopes.

38 saves for goalie Steve Mason.

1 more game for Doug Collins as coach of the Sixers. He's expected to step down tomorrow after tonight's finale against the Pacers.

Call me a Phanatic: A look at the ups and downs of being a Philadelphia sports fan. Don't look now, but Roy Halladay might not be the Phillies' biggest problem. This lineup is reverting into a very familiar look, unable to hit in key situations. It's the same malady that has hung over the lineup now for several years.

I Don’t Get It: I still just don't understand what kind of person packs shards of metal, ball bearings and nails into pressure cookers and then places them in spots to do maximum damage, as is now believed to have been done in Boston. That kind of pure evil defies description.

Today’s Upper: Kudos to Pat Toomey as he pushes his bipartisan plan to expand gun background checks today in D.C.

Quote Box: “The range of suspects and motives remains wide open." - Richard DesLauriers, FBI agent in charge of Boston probe.

'Live From the Newsroom tackles the Toomey gun plan

Sen. Pat Toomey - and the bipartisan deal he brokered to expand background checks on gun sales - is in the crosshairs today in Washington, D.C.

The Senate is set to vote on the issue, and the early reading of the tea leaves indicates the deal, which would expand background checks to all gun sales, including those at gun shows and online, is in trouble.

We'll be tackling the Toomey proposal tonight on our weekly live-stream Internet broadcast, "Live From the Newsroom."

For pretty obvious reasons, the senator will not be able to join us. But he's promised us a rain check.

On hand will be Shira Goodman, the new head of CeaseFirePa, and Media Mayor Bob McMahon, a member of Mayors Against Illegal Guns. Both support the Toomey plan.

We're also hoping to be joined by a local NRA member who opposes the move.

More importantly, I want to know how you feel. Email me your questions for our panel, or other gun issues you'd like to see us address. Send them to editor@delcotimes.com. Then tune in tonight at 7 and take part in our live chat.

We'll review the results of today's Senate votes and where the proposal goes from here.

There is no bigger issue in the United States today than the war over gun violence and what to do about it.

We'll wade into the battlefield tonight. Why not join the coversation?

See you at 7!


More pain at the gas pump on tap

Here's a couple of state stories that could have flown under the radar as all eyes have been fixed on Boston in the last few days.

Back here in Pennsylvania, a Republican state senator rolled out a transportation funding plan that is sure to be unpopular with state drivers. And why is that? It could wind up costing you as much as a quarter more at the gas pump. Just what we need right now. You can read about it here.

It also will whack you if you happen to drive fast or recklessly, with $100 surcharge on ticket issued for speeding or running a red light. The fees to renwe your license or motor vehicle registation also would go up.

If that is enough to drive you to drink, some other Senate Republicans want you to know that they feel your pain.

Remember that grandiose plan by Gov. Tom Corbett to privatize the state's sale of alcohol and use the money to beef up education funding? They want to siphon off some of that money and use it for transportation.

You can read that one here.


Remembering Pat Summerall

A little piece of the NFL died yesterday.

Actually, you might say the league lost its voice.

Pat Summerall died.

For many of us, it was the calm, soothing voice of Summerall that meant NFL football. That smooth delivery was the vehicle that piped NFL football into our homes every Sunday afternoon.

Teamed first with local hero Tom Brookshier, then linking up with the more bombastic former Raiders coach John Madden, it was always Summerall who set the table.

In the process, that voice helped turned the NFL into a juggernaut.

You knew it was a big game, especially for the Eagles, when Summerall was in town.

In a business full of self-promoters who believe they are bigger than the game, Summerall was proof that less is more.

That kind of professionalism will be missed. And that voice simply will never be replaced.

You can read more about Summerall - he did a lot more than football, being the longtime voice of both The Masters and U.S. Open in tennis, here, as well as a long list of quotes from those saluting him.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

The Daily Numbers for Tuesday April 16

The Daily Numbers: 2 bombs that went off near the finish line of the Boston Marathon just before 3 o'clock Monday afternoon.

3 dead, including an 8-year-old boy, and more than 140 wounded.

12 seconds between the explosions, which occured about 100 yards apart.

2 unexploded devices also reportedly found along the 26.2-mile marathon course.

23,000 runners who took part in yesterday's Boston Marathon.

17,000 runners had already finished the race when the blasts went off.

1897, the year they first ran the Boston Marathon.

4 hours, 9 minutes, 43 seconds, time on the race block when the blasts went off.

5 of May, date when the next big running event, the Broad Street Run, takes place in Philadelphia.

40,000 runners expected to compete.

1-800-225-5324, hotline set up by FBI for the public to call with information on the explosions.

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

Sports, including another disheartening loss for the Phils, a very likely meaningless win for the Flyers, and one more game to play out the string for the Sixers and Doug Collins, don't really seem all that important this morning.

I Don’t Get It: Terrorism is never going away. It just hides for awhile before raising its ugly head once again.

Today’s Upper: Kudos to the many people who immediately put their own safety at risk in rushing to aid the victims of yesterday's bombings in Boston.

Quote Box: “It was crazy. It sounded like a shotgun." - Delco resident Kevin Kane Jr., a student at Boston College who ran the Boston Marathon yesterday and finished before the blasts but was still in the area of the finish line.

A new way of looking at backpacks

How do you protect against backpacks?

When I was a kid, I did not have a backpack. I had a bookbag.

My kids, who grew up with those familiar canvas totes slung over their shoulder seemingly as another appendage, still question what exactly a "bookbag" is.

I'm not quite sure when the bookbag went the way of the dinosaurs, but I know that as usual I was behind the curve. I seem to remember when I got to the University of Colorado in the mid-'70s coming to the realization that every guy seemed to have a skateboard under one arm, and a backpack slung over the other. I had neither. Nothing new about that.

Today the backpage is part of our American dress code. Schoolkids realize this is now an essential. Even business now conforms, with many execs toting those laptops and tablets in a backpack, eschewing what was once a sign of their status - the brief case.

I carry a backpack, a laptop bag and a brief case with me most days when I go to work. I'm not sure what kind of status that gives me, if any. Maybe the status who spend entirely too much time dealing with work.

I have been thinking of backpacks since 3 o'clock yesterday afternoon. A fairly harried afternoon was about to get a lot more frenetic. I was on my way back to the office after a meeting in West Chester. That's what I heard the familiar staccato "beep-beep-beep" coming from the soundtrack to my life - KYW Newsradio 1060 - that informed me that terror once again had visited America.

As the coverage unfolded, I was struck by the idea of backpacks, in part because much of the early speculation centered on the possibility that backpacks had exploded.

How many backpacks do you think were in the area of the finish line of the Boston Marathon yesterday? And how do you protect people from something that everyone has slung over their shoulder.

I don't think we're going back to bookbags anytime soon.

I don't think we're going back to a world in which we didn't think about terror attacks anytime soon either.

This was not a drill

What happened in Drexel Hill yesterday afternoon was just a drill.

What happened in Boston was not.

It's more than a little ironic that while the Delaware County District Attorney was presenting the annual Safe Schools Summit to more than 400 people at the Drexelbook, including a demonstration of a reaction by law enforcement to a live shooter, an all-too-real horror was playing out on the streets of Boston.

It seems odd that the Safe Schools Summit already seems to have become routine - at least right up until around 2:50 yesterday afternoon.

I admit that one of the reasons I was more interested this year was because D.A. Jack Whelan was including an exercise to demonstrate how law enforcement would react to a live shooter inside a school. After all, it's only been a few months since our national psyche was mortally wounded by the twisted mind of a madman who invaded an elementary school in Sandy Hook, Conn. You can read the story on the Safe School Summit here.

Not long after the "exercise" concluded, reality set in again.

Two bomb blasts rocked the finish line of the fabled Boston Marathon. The toll now stands at 3 dead and more than 130 wounded.

We again were reminded that terror can strike anywhere, anytime.

And as usual it targets the innocent, regardless of whether they are kids supposedly tucked safely inside a New England school, or runners and fans celebrating one of the truly great days in American sport.

Yes, it was Patriots Day in Boston.

In the days, weeks and months to come, patriotism will be everywhere. That's a good thing. A big part of patriotism these days is the realization that terror can and will strike us at any time. Events like the Safe Schools Summit keep us safe, prepared - or at least as prepared as you can be - for what once was unthinkable.

That's one of the ugly backdrops to these grisly stories. The unthinkable is now becoming routine.

What was once only a drill is now all too real.

Sometimes in the same day.

Monday, April 15, 2013

The Daily Numbers for Monday April 15

The Daily Numbers: 100 years of faith celebrated Sunday at Blessed Virgin Mary parish in Darby by Archbishiop Charles Chaput and a packed church.

19 Delco teachers awarded the Excellence in Teaching Awards for 2013.

21 standout kids named to this year's All-Delco Hi-Q team.

200,000 dollars damage when fire destroyed a Ridley home early Sunday.

100 years of the trolley celebrated in Media on Sunday.

1 newborn found abandoned on a Philly street. The woman who reported the baby is now believed to be the mother.

3 people fatally shot on streets of Philly.

15 of April. That's right, it's Tax Day.

3.56 a gallon, average national price for gasoline.

7 cents down from week before, 15 cents down from last month and 35 cents less than last year.

3.54 a gallon, average price per gallon here in the Philly region.

33-47 mark for the Sixers amid word that Doug Collins will not be back for the final year of his deal. It's his choice.

4.5 million dollars, how much Collins is due on the final year of his contract.

200 career wins for Roy Halladay after he beat the Marlins Sunday.

1 run on 5 hits over 8 strong innings for Halladay.

Call me a Phanatic: A look at the ups and downs of being a Philadelphia sports fan. So is Roy Halladay back, or is this just a case of the Marlins being one of the worst teams in baseball.

I Don’t Get It: I love Tiger Woods. But I wish he had withdrawn from the Masters after that flap over his incorrect ball drop. He could have proved himself bigger than the game. Turns out he's just another golfer. Now it's on to Merion.

Today’s Upper: Kudos to Adam Scott, who becomes the first Aussie to don the green jacket after beating Angel Cabrera in a playoff to win the Masters.

Quote Box: “You owe them something, and nor just gratitude for this beautiful building but, more importantly, the faith that the building synbolizes." - Archbishop Charles Chaput, speaking at centennial Mass Sunday at BVM Church in Darby.

Delco's Best & Brightest

Who says there's never any good news about young people in the Daily Times?

Probably the same people who believe we are anti-teacher and anti-education.

We took care of both groups this weekend with our annual salute to the Best & Brightest.

On Sunday, it was our annual All-Delco Hi-Q team, made up of one member from each team that takes part in the country's oldest academic quiz competition.

If you missed it, you can see it here.

Then today we came right back with the winners of this year's Excellence in Teaching Awards. Check it out here.

Both groups will be honored Thursday night at the annual Partners in Learning Celebration dinner at the Drexelbrook.

My only regret was that our original plan to lead the paper Sunday with the 'Q-Whiz Kids' had to be altered for coverage of the huge fire in Darby Borough.


On Tiger Woods and golf

Roy Halladay may be back, and Doug Collins is gone, but today I want to talk about Tiger Woods.

Hey, I'm a golf nut, what can I tell you?

Yes, Roy Halladay won his 200th game, going eight strong innings, giving up just one run on five hits against the Marlins. Of course the key that sentence is the reference "to the Marlins." Suffice it to say that this was not the '27 Yankees. Some people are referring to Halladay as being "back" after his struggles that date back to last season and two horrendous starts this year. I'll reserve judgment on that. Dennis Deitch has the details on Halladay's big outing yesterday.

It appears Doug Collins is out as Sixers coach. Our Chis Vito is reporting that Collins told the team's ownership group that he will not be returning next season. You can read that one here.

But I'm still thinking about Tiger. This weekend he had the chance to do something great. Instead he played golf.

If you missed it, Woods took an illegal drop during his round on Saturday. Every wonder why golf drives so many people nuts, including me? It's not just the idea of it being "a gentleman's game," where contestants police themselves.

It's the vagaries of the conspire that consistently conspire against you. Woods' problem stemmed from the fact that he hit a shot too well. His approach to the Par 5 15th was actually too good; it clanked off the flag stick and caromed back into the water.

Woods had to take a drop. That was just the start of his problems. In such instances you're supposed to drop "as near as possible" to the original spot. Tiger did not do that. In fact, he admitted as such after his round, saying he moved back a couple of yards to add some distance to the shot.

No one noticed - except one person watching the telecast. The viewer called in to report it, but no action was taken by the Masters staff - until they heard about Woods' comment. The problem is by that time Woods had already signed his scorecard.

Masters officials went over the situation with Woods Saturday morning and informed him he was being penalized two strokes. He was not, however, being disqualified for signing an incorrect scorecard.

There was a time when that would have been automatic. But the rules was modified a couple of years ago because of exactly what happened this weekend, people watching on TV blowing the whistle on what they think is an infraction.

Masters officials went by the letter of the law, penalizing Woods but not DQing him. In fact, they said it was never on the table. Woods said he would continue to play because that's what the rules state and he was "abiding by the rules."

That's true.

But what a magnificent gesture it would have been if Woods - the No. 1 player in the game - had taken the decision out of the hands of those guys wearing the green coats.

Woods, whose image has taken a beating in the past couple of years, could have gone a long way to restoring some of that luster if he had simply withdrawn.

My guess is that the folks at CBS would not have been thrilled at such a decision. Woods takes the game of golf and puts it at another level. They'll always have die-hards like me, but when Woods is on the leader board, he turns the telecast into an event. That's even more so at one of the game's cathedrals, the fabled Augusta National.

Instead he played golf.

Look, when I play I'm not exactly a stickler for the rules. But I'm not Tiger Woods. I still like the guy. He's my favorite golfer. But I wish he had done something else this weekend. Anything but play golf. In the process, he would have looked magnificent.

Instead, he just looked like another guy saying he was abiding by the rules.

There was a time when I thought Tiger Woods was better than that. I always root for him. I always want him to win. But not this weekend. In fact, I didn't even want him to play.

If he had done so, I think he'd have been a bigger winner than ever.

A correction and an apology

I have written many times about my favorite thing about the Internet. I am reminded of it again this morning.

In my print column today, I wrote about the readers who post comments on our website. They are often quick to take umbrage with something we've written.

I am guessing someone else might want to do that today as well. That person would be longtime former Daily News columnist Chuck Stone. In my column, I referenced a device Stone used to do often in his column space - running letters from readers - with the intro, "And the Angels sing." It was always one of my favorites.

But in referencing Stone, instead of simpy referring to him as the the former longtime, esteemed columnist, I instead absent-mindedly referred to him as something else, something that connotes that Chuck Stone is no longer with us.

He may not be in terms of his Daily News column, but Stone is in fact still very much alive.

My apologies to Chuck Stone.

Sometimes the editors sing, too.

So what is that favorite thing about the Internet I referred to? Of course that with a couple of keystrokes, the error was corrected.

As I am always telling reporters, that's not the case with print. It's forever.

As a very much alive Chuck Stone can no doubt attest.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Heron's Nest: The Daily Numbers for Friday April 12

The Daily Numbers: 61-63 mph, how fast car was going before it struck two teens, killing them last year in Glenolden.

3 million dollars, how much Widener will pay Chester Upland School District for the Stetser Elementary School and administration building. The district will then lease the school from the university.

2 incidents out on the Main Line being probed by police involving suspicious men hanging around a local school and taking pictures of children.

100 dollars given to 2 robbers by a pizza delivery man in Upper Darby, who was still shot by them.

3,000 dollar donation to Elwyn from 3 brothers who are appreciative of their care their sister has received at the Middletown site.

120,000 dollar donation to the Chester Education Foundation by Harrah's Casino.

3 year contract approved by Upper Darby teachers.

0 pay increase in the 1st year, 1.25 hike in the 2nd and 2.75 in the 3rd year.

62.90 gain for the Dow yesterday.

3.43 percent rate for 30 year mortgage.

346,000 unemployment applications last week.

68-31 vote in the Senate to rebuff a move to block discussion on gun debate.

29.1 million dollars, what Comcast boss Brian Roberts' total compensation was last year.

3-1 loss for Flyers to Senators last night.

7 points out of the playoffs with 9 games left.

3 straight losses for the Flyers.

Call me a Phanatic: A look at the ups and downs of being a Philadelphia sports fan. Doesn't appear as if the Flyers are making the playoffs. It's left to the Phillies to prevent Philly from taking an 0-fer on teams making the playoffs this year.

I Don’t Get It: More gunfire outside a Philly school yesterday. This time on a playground across from Overbrook High. One dead, two wounded. I don't get it.

Today’s Upper: Kudos to the three brothers who gave $3,000 to Elwyn because they were so impressed by the care their sister gets at the facility. Bravo!

Quote Box: “The most important thing of all is that Lucretia is hapy and cared for." - Clarence Scott, whose sister is a resident at Elwyn.

Coming Sunday: Delco's Best & Brightest

This newspaper takes a lot of heat for the way it often represents young people in this county.

If you're one of those who believe we never miss an opportunity to paint kids in a negative light, here's a little tip for you.

Make sure you grab a copy of Sunday's newspaper.

We're doing our annual salute to the All-Delco Hi-Q team. They are Delaware County's best and brightest.

And we'll follow that up on Monday with a salute to the best teachers in the county.

Don't miss them!

About those 'Silver Linings'

I have to admit I wasn't especially thrilled when County Council boss Tom McCarrigle kicked off his "State of the County" address by making reference to "Silver Linings." That of course was a reference to the Academy Award-winning movie filmed largely right here in Delco.

I think I'm one of the only people in this region who didn't particularly care for the movie.

But I did like what McCarrigle had to say, especially how the county salvaged a few 'Silver Linings' out of what looked like a very bleak landscape when both Sunoco and Conoco-Phillips announced they were getting out of the refining business.

There are other success stories going on here in Delco as well.

You can read about them in Thursday's editorial.

This kid is not par for the course

I did not start playing golf until I was in my mid-20s. My wife has never forgiven her father. He's the one who got me involved. I've been hooked ever since. Today, 30 years later, I can knock it around the course pretty well.

But I'm still looking for the "secret." I know I'm going to discover it on my next visit to the range.

Guan Tianlang is 14 years old. Yesterday all he did was shoot a 73 at the Masters.

That's 1 over par on one of the sternest tests of golf in the world. You can read about it here.

I don't remember what I was doing when I was 14, probably playing baseball. When I was a kid, some friends of my mom were visiting from Florida. Their kids played golf. They dragged me over to the school fields, put a club in my hands, and asked me to give it a try. After several whacks in which I hit either air or nothing but turf, I handed the club back and picked up my baseball bat.

But they were persistent. They also were pretty good, hitting towering iron shots while I slapped the ball along the ground. I was envious. I was just about to give up again when I decided to take one more whack. That's when something weird happened. The ball rocketed off the club in a majestic path directly toward the tree we had been using as our target.

I will always remember that feeling of watching that little white ball fly.

Unfortunately, I didn't feel it again for about 15 years. That's how long it was before I finally took up the game seriously.

I can assure you that on the rare instance when it happens, there is still nothing quite like the feeling of hitting a perfect golf shot. At least not with your clothes on.

When I was 14, I don't think I would have been up for Augusta, or for the hordes of media who were following young Guan around yesterday.

My cap is off to him. I wish I had stayed with the game when I was his age. I'd like nothing more than to see him make the cut and compete on the weekend. But what he did yesterday - at least to me - is one of the truly great sports stories of the year.

By the way, Sergio Garcia is tied for the lead, while my guy, Tiger, is lurking four shots back at 2 under.

For some reason, I don't think Guan is going to be playing in the last group on Sunday. I can just hear Bill Murray whispering now, "It's the Cinderella story..."

Go Tiger! And go Guan! And wouldn't that make a great pairing on Sunday?

And remember you can follow the latest buzz from Augusta all day with our

live chat and blog.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

The Daily Numbers for Thursday April 11

The Daily Numbers: 22, age of Chester man who was wrongly jailed for 10 months for a murder he did not commit. He is now filing suit against Chester and the county.

88 degrees, yesterday's record-setting high temperature.

87, the previous high mark, set back in 1992.

66, expected high today. Back to spring.

2 luring attempts being investigated in Lower Chichester.

3 men being sought in Brookhaven for an incident in which they tried to get a group of children into a car.

29 of May game vs. the Boston Red Sox, date when Phillies will honor Bailey O'Neill, the Darby Township youth who died after a playground altercation.

1 female president of Valley Forge Military Academy. Stacey Sauchuk was named yesterday to lead the Main Line institution.

2 men being sought in connection with credit card thefts in Upper Chichester.

2 members of the Pa. National Guard killed in action in Afghanistan.

8 stories, how far a teen fell from an apartment building in King of Prussia. Police say she was trying to lower a rope to a garage roof because she had been grounded.

128.78 spike for the Dow yesterday, to close at a new record of 14,802.24.

7-3 win for the Phils over the Mets last night, their 1st series win of the year and 1st time they've put together 2 wins in a row.

4-5 mark for the Phils, as they head south to play the Miami Marlins.

1 win, what the Marlins have managed so far this year, against 8 losses.

3 home runs for the Phils last night, by Chase Utley, Laynce Nix and Dom Brown.

124-101 loss for the Sixers to the Hawks.

7 points out of last playoffs spot, where Flyers sit because the Rangers won last night.

Call me a Phanatic: A look at the ups and downs of being a Philadelphia sports fan. So maybe we panicked too soon with the Phils. The offense is starting to come around, and now they are heading to Miami for a series with the awful Marlins.

I Don’t Get It: It didn't take long for gun control foes to turn their fire on Sen. Pat Toomey, for what they believe is a betrayal on his gun control stance, announcing yesterday a bipartisan deal to expand background checks.

Today’s Upper: Kudos to Sen. Pat Toomey, for his common sense approach to seeking some common ground on background checks.

Quote Box: “Criminal background checks are just common sense."

- Sen. Pat Toomey.

100 years of faith at BVM in Darby

I have to admit I have a soft spot in my heart for BVM Parish in Darby.

My mom grew up in Darby, and she used to regale us with tales of swimming in Darby Creek behind her house on Chestnut Street.

She was a member of Blessed Virgin Mary parish in the borough. My brother got married there, to a girl whose family grew up on the very same Chestnut Street.

So I was obviously intrigued when I heard from my friend the Rev. Joe Corley a few weeks ago to alert us that the parish would be celebrating its 100th anniversary. He wanted to know if we would be interested in covering the story.

The result was last Sunday's cover package on '100 Years of Faith.' You can read it here.

Last night I had Father Joe, along with Sister Virginia Paschall, IHM, the principal of BVM School, in for our live-stream Internet show, 'Live From the Newsroom.' If you missed it you can catch the replay here.

They brought with them a very special guest. Karolyn Allen has been a parishioner of Blessed Virgin Mary church in the borough for more than 60 years. She told us why BVM is so special.

Father Joe restated how the parish, which originally formed to serve the immigrant families who came to Darby to work in the mills, is once again fulfilling that role, welcoming immigrants from different parts of the globe, many of them from Africa.

There is another reason I wanted to have Father Joe and the good folks from BVM on the show last night. This one is purely personal.

The past few years have not been good ones for the Archdiocese of Philadelphia. The church has been dogged with scandal. To his credit, Father Joe has never blinked when addresssing the issue, and he did not waver again last night, noting the 'dishonor' that has accompanied many of the headlines, and in fact the way the church has reacted to much of the news.

But he also welcomed the opportunity to talk about the events of past couple of weeks, the election of a new pontiff, Pope Francis, and the belief of many that he is already reinvigorating the church.

There are a lof of the faithful here in Delaware County who believe the Daily Times is anti-Catholic, that we delight in every opportunity to tear the church down. The recent headlines concerning sexual abuse by priests would of course be at the top of that list.

I told the good people from BVM last night that it is incumbent for us to address those stories, but it is equally important for us to balance that view with the good things that are going on in the church.

I would put what is happening at BVM in Darby at the top of that list.

On Sunday they will welcome Archbishop Charles Chaput to celebrate a special Mass at noon. It will be a glorious day in Darby.

And we'll be there to cover it.


Four days of perfection: Bring on the Masters

Forget the Phillies.

Yes, I'm glad the Phils won their first series of the young season by routing the Mets again last night, 7-3. I'm happy that the boys have now won two games in a row for the first time this year.

But I have other things on my mind.

No, not temperatures in the upper 80s, although I have to admit I thought about any reason to get out of the office yesterday afternoon.

No, for the next four days, there is only one sport, only one event.

It is my favorite sporting event of the year.

It's time to drive down Magnolia Lane (at least in my head) and drinkin the glory of spring at Augusta.

It's time for the Masters.

Maybe it's because I'm a frustrated golf nut. Maybe it's the time of year, with spring just beginning to break out across the region after another long, frigid winter. Or maybe it's just the familiarity, the fact that it is the only golf major (in fact one of the very few major sports events) held in the same venue every year.

I have never been to Augusta, or its most favorite shrine, the Augusta National Golf Club. I don't expect to get there any time soon.

I can only get as close to it as a 50-inch hi-def flat-screen will take me. But there are few things as pretty as the place Bobby Jones built, on fire with dogwood and azaleas in full bloom.

Oddly enough, the people I have talked to have who have been there say you would never know what lurks inside from driving through that main drag in Augusta, a collection of strip malls like so much of America. But take that turn down Magnolia Lane and you are transported into one of the truly pristine playing surfaces in sports.

Just looking at the place would be enough, but the every year the Masters seems to produce some of the best drama in sports. The championship is held over four days, but everyone knows the tournament does not being until the back nine on Sunday.

That's where you'll find me on Sunday. Not amid the towering Georgia pines. But instead in front of my TV.

It's one of the few times that I think a TV promotion gets it exactly right.

"A tradition like no other."

By the way, it says here Tiger wins. I know I say that every year. This year I'm sure. Put the house on it. Preferably yours, not mine.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

The Daily Numbers for Wednesday April 10

The Daily Numbers: 2 alarm fire that raged through 5 homes in Chester yesterday afternoon.

3 minor injuries reported in the blaze; 1 cat also was killed.

450 vehicles that can park at a lot near PPL Park in Chester. But the owner of the lot is now suing the city because they claim the city has shut them down during games.

21, age of girlfriend of suspect in fatal hit-run accident that took the lives of 2 teens. The woman changed her story on the stand at her boyfriend's trial yesterday.

87, expected high temperature today. So long, Spring, hello Summer.

84, yesterday's high temperature.

200 people who packed a Marple Newtown School Board meeting last night to voice concern over proposed changes to music and other programs in the district.

10 months, how long Tahmir Craig spent in Delco Prison for a murder he did not commit. He will announce today that he is suing the county.

3 former Penn State execs who will still face trial on charges connected to the Jerry Sandusky suit, a judge ruled yesterday.

4,200 former NFL players who have joined a class-action suit against the league over concussion issues. It's being argued in Philly.

14 teens arrested after brawls broke out among a group of 200 teens yesterday in Center City Philadelphia.

1 killed, 3 hurt on same corner in Kensington overnight.

14 students stabbed on the campus of a Texas community college. A students has been charged.

14,673.46 close for the Dow yesterday, another record high, after a gain of 59.98 points.

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

Thank God for Cliff Lee.

I Don’t Get It: No surprise that the man wrongly accused of a murder in Chester is suing the county. Today’s Upper: Kudos to87 degrees. Who needs spring. Welcome summer!

Quote Box: “He said he was about to be pulled over, so he panicked and tried to get away." - Witness in fatal hit-run case against Maurquis Thompson in Media.

Toomey in the spotlight on gun control

You might say Pat Toomey is going to be in the crosshairs today.

The freshman Republican senator from Pennsylvania is at the center of a breakthrough deal on gun control to wide background checks. A deal is expected to be announced later this morning.

It's not the first time Toomey has made news on the national stage. He first gained notice for his budget and economic views. President Obama picked him to serve on that super committee that failed to reach a deal on budget cuts last fall. The failure was despite the clear willingness on the part of Toomey to reach across the aisle.

But that spotlight pales next to the heat that will be generated today by Toomey's bipartisan effort to reach an agreement on background checks as part of the national debate on gun control.

Toomey has bene working with Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin of Michigan on a deal. It is expected to be announced later this morning.

Toomey no doubt will be branded as a traitor for this change in his position by those who loathe any increase in gun control. He's already being villified on social media. He will be lauded as a moderate and a voice of common sense by those who have been seeking increases in gun control since a madman took 26 lives - including 20 children - in a shooting rampage in a school in Newtown, Conn., last December.

You can read the latest on the gun control debate and Toomey's role in the breakghrough here.