Thursday, October 31, 2013

The Daily Numbers for Thursday, Oct. 31

The Daily Numbers: 19-0 lead at the start of last night’s Sixers game. No, they weren’t trailing! They bolted out to a huge lead over the defending two-time NBA champion Heat, gave up the lead, then battled back in the 4th quarter for the win.

114-110 win for the 76ers.

16 wins, how many some Las Vegas experts are picking them to win.

3 men busted in a holdup on the campus of Williamson Free School of Mechanical Trades out in Middletown.

3.5 to 7 years in jail for a former Philly cop who broke his parole in Delco when he got threatened an 8-year-old girl in Philly.

42, age of suspect who will now face trial in a series of church burglaries in Darby Borough.

138 pounds of prescription medicine put in the county’s new medical drop boxes that are located in several spots across the county.

14 years in jail for a former pastor with ties to the region who was convicted in a $6 million mortgage scam.

61 million dollars, how much Philadelphia is looking to raise for schools by selling off empty school buildings.

8,000 dolllar price tag for a Norristown site that once was being touted as a possible movie studio.

100,000 dollars in jewelry swiped in a heist at a jewelry store in Mercer County, N.J.

5,000 seasonal workers being hired by Wal-Mart in the Northeast.

87 Wal-Mart locations in the Philly region, with 35,000 to 40,000 employees.

14 Philadelphia firefighters demoted in what has become the latest battle between the Nutter Administration and City Council.

1 in 4 Pa. voters who believe state is headed in right direction.

1 in 5 who believe Gov. Tom Corbett is doing a good job.

37 percent of Republicans who believe Corbett should get another term.

7 percent of Democrats who believe so.

44 percent of Republicans who believe Corbett should step aside for another GOP candidate.

6 people shot and killed in a spree fueled by a domestic incident in South Carolina.

61 point dip for the stock market yesterday.

22 points, 12 assists, 9 steals for rookie Michael Carter-Williams in his debut with Sixers. Not too shabby. 24 points for Spencer Hawes.

4 RBI for Shane Victorino to lead the Red Sox to a World Series crown with a 6-1 win over the Cardinals.

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

If Michael Carter-Williams can come close to matching last night’s effort for the Sixers, this once-thought to be lost season could get very interesting.

I Don’t Get It: A former Philly cop already on parole here in Delco was charged with threatening an 8-year-old girl. That put him in violation of his parole, and back in the slammer.

Today’s Upper: Kudos to the Sixers. Just when we needed a sports lift, it came from a most unexpected source.

Quote Box: “It was a great ride.”

-Allen Iverson, retiring from the NBA.

'Live From the Newsroom' tackles political debate

Voters in Delaware County have some very good reasons to get out to the polls on Tuesday and exercise their most basic constitutional right.

Actually, there are 664 of them. We explain it in today's editorial.

In the meantime, we were proud to hold a panel discussion featuring several of the countywide candidates last night on our live-stream Internet show, 'Live From the Newsroom.'

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

Our thanks to Republicans Dave White, the incumbent seeking re-election to County Council; and Jennifer Holsten Maddaloni, who is seeking the register of wills post.

From the Democratic side of the ledgeer, we were joined by Upper Providence Councilman Bill Clinton, running for council, and Frank Daly, who has his eyes on the register of wills prize.

All four candidates offered a spirited discussion, focusing on the county economy and jobs.

The truth is that one of the things that is making this off-year election stand out is not just the shift in voter registration numbers, but rather the quality of the candidates.

Both the Republicans and Democrats are fielding solid slates for all the county posts.

Now it's up to the voters to do their part.

By voting!

More bad news for Corbett

As we count down the days to next week's off-year municipal election, some people are already looking forward to 2014.

Topping that ballot will be troubled Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett. The news didn't get any better for the embattled Republican yesterday.

A new Franklin & Marshall poll reports just one in five Pennsylvania voters believe Corbett is doing an "excellent" or even "good" job. That's 19 percent.

Even worse for a guy staring at a re-election bid, only one in five voters believe he has performed well enough to get another term. And that includes less than half of the Republicans polled, a hard-to-believe 37 percent. Among Democrats and Independents, those numbers sink to just 7 and 19 percent, respectively.

The numbers just keep getting worse for Corbett. According to the poll, there are as many Republicans (44 percent) who believe the governor should step aside for another candidate as believe he should run again (42 percent).

Luckily for Corbett, the election is still a year off.

Aside from some talk from Montco's Bruce Castor - who is always talking - no one in the GOP seems to be ready to step up and challenge the governor.

Corbett is putting together a new team and is starting to go public with his message, focusing on job creation. He's been in southeast Pennsylvania several times in the past couple of weeks.

He's also got the muddled Democratic race on his side. As many as eight Dems look ready to slug it out in the primary for the right to challenge the governor.

In the meantime, you would think that Corbett's numbers can only go up from here.

Shane Victorino, World Series champion

Shane Victorino is a World Series champion. Again.

Only he didn't do it with the Phillies.

Victorino was at the center of the Red Sox big win last night, knocking in four runs as the BoSox took Game 6 over the St. Louis Cardinals to set off a wild celebration in Beantown.

Good for him. Victorino was a good guy. And he was always clutch in the playoffs.

Accuse me of being greedy, but I still think that Phillies 2008 team that featured him, along with J-Roll, Chase Utley and Ryan Howard should have won more than one championship.

I just didn't think it would be with the Red Sox.

The Sixers' version of Trick-or-Treat

The Sixers yesterday said goodbye to one legend.

And may have created another.

Raise your hand if you saw this one coming? Didn't think so.

If I had told you that the game would start with a 19-0 run, you probably would have nodded your head, confirmation that the Sixers indeed were going to be every bit as bad as advertised.

No one could have expected the reverse, that it was the home boys who bolted out to that lead over the two-time defending NBA champion Miami Heat, featuring the best player on the planet, LeBron James.

Sure, the Heat were coming off a game the night before, and were playing without Dwayne Wade. But 19-0? Seriously.

Of course, the Heat eventually caught up. And when they built a small lead in the third quarter, you of course expected the no-name Sixers to melt away.

They didn't.

And remember this name. Michael Carter-Williams. The rookie guard looked dominant in leading the Sixers through the paces of new coach Brett Brown's offense.

Now I suppose we should all take a deep breath.

It's only one game.

But what a game it was.

On mischief night, the Sixers gave a town that desperately needs some good sports news the perfect treat by playing maybe the ultimate trick on all those pundits who were predicting the team would struggle to break double digits in wins this year.

All the talk was about tanking the season, positioning themselves to line up the ping pong balls for the No. 1 pick in the draft next spring.

This morning they're not talking about Andre Wiggins.

Yesterday the Sixers said goodbye to Allen Iverson. And hello to Michael Carter-Williams.

This season just got a whole lot more interesting.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

The Daily Numbers for Wednesday, Oct. 30

The Daily Numbers: 380,000 Oxycodone pills at center of drug ring busted up by the feds. A woman from Folcroft is at the center of the ring.

3 million dollars, how much the feds say the ring brought in.

59 people charged in the ring; 27 of them are under arrest.

137,000 dollars ripped off from an 86-year-old Marple woman by a person she considered a friend. 65, age of former teacher at Episcopal Academy charged with child abuse who now faces charges of child porn here in Delco as well.

4 children he is alleged to have assaulted at a summer camp in Camp Cod 30 years ago.

5.6 million dollar lawsuit against Pulte homes in connection with townhouses out in Newtown Square that has been settled.

3.7 billion dollar operation of the Pennsylvania Lottery that Gov. Tom Corbett still would like to see farmed out to a private entity. It’s now been delayed another 2 months.

79 mph, how fast a driver was going in Philly when he slammed into a mother and her children, killing 4. He was held for trial yesterday.

73, age of Leonoard Fitts, hired yesterday as the new interim superintendent of the troubled Coatesville School District.

111.42 spike yesterday for the stock market.

15,680.35 all-time high close for the Dow Jones.

4,600 square feet of space at new Wawa that opened on Conchester Highway in Upper Chi.

0-0 record for the Sixers as they open the season against the defending champs and LeBron James tonight.

18 wins, what Las Vegas is predicting the Sixers will muster this year.

107-95 win for the Heat last night in kicking of the NBA season, and defending their title.

3-2 come-from-ahead loss for the Flyers last night in falling to the Ducks.

3-8 record now for the Flyers.

14-5 margin by which they’ve been outscored in the third period. They coughed up a 2-1 lead last night, as the Ducks netted 2 in the third for the win.

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

Somebody please tell me Sam Hinkie has a plan for the Sixers, other than tanking the season for a high draft pick.

I Don’t Get It: Hard to believe it’s been a year since we watched in trepidation as Superstorm Sandy roared into the New Jersey shoreline.

Today’s Upper: Kudos to those who have spent the last year struggling to recover from a storm no one will ever soon forget.

Quote Box: “With a corrupt employee in the doctor’s office, the Little organization held the key to the oxycodone kingdom.”

- First Assistant U.S. Attorney Louis Lappen, on Folcroft woman and receptionist who is being called key to a drug ring busted up yesterday.

'Live From the Newsroom' tackles the county political races

We are inside one week until Election Day, when Delaware County voters will select two members of County Council, fill two seats on the Court of Common Pleas bench, and elect row officers for sheriff, controller and register of wills.

We'll tackle the elections tonight on our live-stream Internet Broadcast, 'Live From the Newsroom.' I'll be joined by incumbent Republican County Councilman Dave White, and Republican candidate for Register of Wills Jennifer Holsten Maddaloni. And I might as well get this out of the way here now. I owe Maddaloni an apology.

Not because we did not endorse her run (although we think she'd make a fine register of wills). But rather because in our editorial last Thursday, we somehow managed to transpose her maiden and married names. Not good, especially when she has been spending money on ads!

From the Democrats, we'll have on Upper Providence Councilman Bill Clinton (no, not the governor of Arkansas), and register of wills candidate Frank Daly.

Do you have a question you'd like the candidates to answer? Email it to me at Then tune in tonight at 7 at for our live chat during the show.

Make sure that you are making an informed choice when you go to the polls.

We'll be talking politics tonight.

The World Wide Web creates a small, small world

Nobody refers to the Internet as the World Wide Web anymore, despite that ubiquitous www prefix that leads us to a universe of online adventures.

I do, but not for the reason you might think.

What I am discovering is that the World Wide Web is making for an increasingly small, small world.

I was reminded of that fact by a couple of things that happened to me this morning.

The first was a voicemail from a reader who wanted to alert me to an obituary that was going to appear in Wednesday's Daily Times. My heart sank, not necessarily out of grief - at least the mourning kind - but rather by the fact that when you're the editor of a community newspaper and you get a call about an obit, you know it's usually about a complaint. I can assure you there is nothing I can do in this job to tick off loyal readers than to make a mistake in a loved one's obit. As I have stated many times, it is the most important information we publish, day in and day out.

But this call was not made to lodge a complaint. Instead it was to jolt my memory. The woman wanted to let me know that Tom Russell had died.

The name seemed vaguely familiar, but I couldn't quite place it.

Tom Russell was an attorney in Media, a man who took great pride in his work - and his grandchildren.

I still wasn't making the connection, then the woman said the magic words. "You once wrote about him," she said. "You used to swim in the pool at his house when you were a kid."


I in fact devoted an entire print column to Tom Russell. That's because print - in the form of the newspaper - was something Tom Russell took pretty seriously. He was calling to complain that our new, earlier deadlines were preventing us from always getting the latest Phillies stories and baseball boxscores into the paper.

We had a great conversation. As I usually do, I chatted with him amiably, asking him where he lived and where he got the newspaper. He said he was a longtime Delco resident, but that he had moved his wife and kids out to Chester County. Of course, my ears immediately perked up.

I told him of my own Chester County roots and asked where he was living now? It turns out he had bought a house just outside the small town where I grew up. And that's not all. This house had a pool with a tall sliding board. The very same pool and sliding board that I had spent some of my summer youths whiling away the hours. It turns out Tom Russell had bought the house of a childhood friend.

As I said, it's a small world.

Since I can't seem to find a link to that old column, I'll include the text to that old column at the end of this post.

Rest well, Tom.

I've been spending a lot of time thinking about that little old town where I grew up. As was once said about Oxford, Pa.: Live there for awhile and you get to know the place pretty well.

A Facebook page has popped up about the town, and I've been having a blast thinking about that tiny town and all the time I conspired to get out of it, only four decades later to find myself pining for a return to that simple life.

I'm amazed every day at the people I've been able to reconnect with, some of whom I have not seen or talked to since we walked off that stage at Oxford High.

One of the people I met on the site is Tom Newnam. We have something in common, Tom's a writer. He's a few years older than I am, but it turns out he was best friends with some of my cousins.

Tom has written a memoir about life, really about the lessons learned growing up in a small town. A town like Oxford, Pa. If you ever spent any time in a little town, or maybe you'd like to experience it, I highly recommend Tom's book. 'Memo From Your Soul' is sitting on top of my nightstand right now. I can't wait to dig into it, and revisit a place that I remember well. You can find out more about it here.

It turns out little towns aren't just dots on the map. They are indelibly seared into your brain and heart as well.

Here's that old column on Tom Russell:

Caller sparks summertime memories

By Phil Heron

It's the kind of phone call I hate to get. And one I have been fielding all too often recently. My guess is Tom Russell is pretty representative of your basic Daily Times reader.

He's a little older than I am, old enough to inform me, as so many readers have over the years, that "I have been reading your newspaper since it was the Chester Times."

Of course, "newspaper" is the key word in that sentence.

Tom Russell likes the quaint idea of ink on paper. He revels in the way the newspaper feels when he holds it in his hand. I know how he feels.

But that's not the way our conversation started, and I picked up the phone to return his phone call with some trepidation.

Tom Russell is an attorney. Here's a hint, barristers. Never leave a voice mail for a newspaper editor with your business number. Unless, of course, you have a legal issue with the newspaper. I get plenty of those.

So I was a little anxious when I dialed Russell's number. It turns out he was not representing someone who had a beef with the newspaper.

Which, I quickly learned, is not the same thing as not having an issue with the paper.

Russell was not a happy reader. He told me of his great love for the print edition of the newspaper, in particular the sports section and our daily coverage of the Phillies.

I kind of expected what was coming next.

Russell had noticed, as have many readers, that with our new, early deadlines, we were not always getting the Phillies game story into the print edition the next day.

And, of course, the same goes for his beloved box scores.

Unless you're a real fan, you have no idea how important those pages we refer to as sports agate are. Tom Russell does. He exults in going over every day's statistics, checking out the batting average following how many players got into the game, who pinch hit for whom, how many pitchers were used, and how long they lasted.

I explained to Tom the vagaries of newspapering, and the enemy of every newspaperman – deadlines. Ours have recently been bumped up. He's noticed the difference, and he's not alone.

Now sometimes the first edition of the paper does not have the night game in it. Those papers are supposed to be delivered to our outlying areas. So I asked him if this was a paper that was delivered to his home or bought in a store.

And while I expected much of what we talked about, I did not expect this. Our conversation was about to take, for me, a delightful twist.

He told me that while he still practiced here in Delaware County, he had moved his family out to southern Chester County some time ago, but he still bought the paper most days at a store near his home. It was how he started his day.

I smiled for a lot of reasons. It is exactly how I would start my day if I did not get in here at an ungodly hour. But I was intrigued by his reference to Chester County, so I asked him where he lived. Oh, you probably wouldn't know it, he responded, it's out in Lower Oxford.

My smile got a little wider. I then informed him he was talking to a native of Oxford, Pa. And so I decided to push my luck and ask him where his house was.

When he told me, I started drifting, as I often do, to summers gone by, as a kid in Oxford. What happened next even I didn't expect. As he described where his house was, on a county road leading out of town, my mind started to wander. Then I started to ask him questions.

Finally, when he mentioned a mushroom house, I couldn't resist.

"This place didn't by any chance have a pool, did it?" I inquired. There was silence on the other end of the phone. "Is the sliding board still there?" I asked.

I could almost hear him smiling.

It turns out Tom Russell had bought the house that belonged to a family that lived down the street from us in town.

Their dad had a mushroom house outside town. Eventually, he built a house out there. And a pool. I spent several summers riding my bike out there every day and whiling away the summer going down that big sliding board.

It turns out Russell had three daughters, and it sounds like they loved that pool every bit as much as me and some of my friends did as kids.

It was another time, when things seemed simpler. When a parent thought nothing of seeing their child pedal away from the house, knowing they were headed out of town, and confident they would return safely at night.

A time when newspaper editors no doubt were not consumed by the Internet, when holding a print edition of the newspaper was supreme, and when deadlines were manageable.

For just a second there, I was a kid again.

I'd give anything to go down that slide again. Or to have later deadlines.

Thanks for the memories, Tom.

Philip E. Heron is editor of the Daily Times. Call him at (610) 622-8818. E-mail him at Make sure you check out his blog, The Heron's Nest, every day at

Mischief Night & the Sixers: Perfect together

For some reason, it seems quite appropriate that the Sixers will kick off their 2013-14 season on Mischief Night.

Trick-or-Treat would probably be even better.

The Sixers seem intent on pulling a lame trick on the loyal Philly basketball fans. They are going to be terrible. That doesn't seem to be in question. About the only thing still in question is just how terrible they will be.

No, not that terrible. I still think that Roy Rubin's squad, which set the all-time record for futility by going 9-73 back in 1972-73, is safe. But not by much.

The Sixers, put together by new GM Sam Hinkie and coached by new boss Brett Brown, seem content to tank the season and then take their chances with the ping pong balls in the NBA Draft.

Yesterday, while endorsing Hinkie's methods, Brown sounded an awful lot like a guy on death row, knowing all too well what lies ahead.

What lies ahead tonight is the defending champion Miami Heat and LeBron James. Coupled with the announcement of Sixer great Allen Iverson's retirement, it might give the franchise their high point of the season, both in terms of attendance and excitement.

Has anyone stopped to think about what that building is going to be like for Sixers home games in January and February? It could get ugly.

I am setting the over/under on Sixers victories at 20, and I'm taking the under.

I don't think they'll sink to the levels of the '72-'73 team, but it's not going to be pretty.

The Sixers biggest challenge this year might be trying to hide all those empty seats.

I don't envy them.

But this is the path they've chosen, a promise that while the immediate future is bleak, there is hope down the road.

Buckle your seatbelts, Sixers fans. It's going to be a bumpy ride.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

The Daily Numbers for Tuesday, Oct. 29

The Daily Numbers: 2 people wounded in mid-day shooting Monday in Chester.

7 to 8 percent of Crozer-Chester Medical Center’s 2,100 trauma cases involve gunshot victims.

24 of the 28 homicides in Delaware County this year that have involved a gun.

17 of 19 homicides so far this year in Chester that have been the result of gun violence.

50 years of public service coming to an end in Lower Chichester with the retirement of longtime secretary/treasurer Rose Archbald.

2 years probation for the Chester County man who admitted shooting his neighbor’s 2 pet dogs.

800 dollars in restitution also to be paid by Gabriel Pilotti.

1 person killed when the dirt bike he was riding in Chester collided with a car in Chester Monday afternoon.

2 candidates seeking the mayor’s position in Marcus Hook.

1 year ago that Superstorm Sandy slammed into the Jersey coast.

13 dead in huge storm that is battering Europe.

59.7 million dollars being paid out by Penn State to victims of Jerry Sandusky.

40 pounds of drug-laced candy seized from an apartment near the campus of West Chester University.

25 percent dip in market value for Apple, despite high sales of iPhones.

4,000 mortgage division jobs being axed by Bank of America.

48, age of woman school bus driver who pleaded guilty to a DUI charge while she was driving 25 kids on her bus.

3 teens in Newark, Del., who face charges connected to vandalism at a local mosque.

2 straight games that Matt Barkley has had to step up for an injured starter for the Eagles. He might get a start of his own Sunday in Oakland.

425 yards, what the Eagles racked up in each of their 1st 6 games.

27.7 points, what they were scoring.

379 yards and 3 points in their last 2 games combined.

5 turnovers for Barkley in the 2 games he’s appeared.

47 games, number of starts for Barkley at USC.

0 starts he’s made in the NFL.

3-2 lead for the Red Sox after they outdueled the Cardinals in the World Series last night.

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

Chip Kelly’s decisions in close games look like a coach who did not face a lot of similar situations - in particular close games - in the college ranks.

I Don’t Get It: Ironic that on the day that the Pennsylvania Medical Society urged gun violence to be treated as a public health menace, two more people were shot on the streets of Chester.

Today’s Upper: Kudos to Marine Sgt. Jason Simms. The Haverford native has been awarded the American Hero of the Year award for his valor in Iraq.

Quote Box: “This is really helping the community and the country to realize that gun violence is not just a social problem, but a medical problem.” - Dr. Mancin Jankowski, on decision by Pa. Medical Society to focus on gun violence.

Saluting an American hero

The pages of this newspaper and website are filled every day with ugly stories.

Not this one.

Make sure you read about the retired Marine sergeant from Haverford who tonight will be honored as the American Hero of the Year.

Sgt. Jason Simms served in Delta Company, Third Platoon, 2nd Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion. During a battle in Iraq in 2004, he suffered burns on his face and hands, and was shot three times during an attack on his unit.

We'll gladly add our salute. So should you.

Get your full-color centerspread Sixers schedule

OK, so the excitement is not exactly over the edge for the Sixers.

You remember them, right? The NBA team that plays in this town?

Just in case you forgot, they open their regular season at the Wells Fargo Center in South Philly Wednesday night against some guy named LeBron James.

And to get you in the mood, we have a special offer in the print edition of today's Daily Times. Make sure you pick up a copy for our full-color, centerspread sixers 2013-14 schedule.

You know, just in case you were wondering when they play Utah.

Did Chip Kelly pick the wrong guy?

Michael Vick is hurt. Again. I'm shocked.

Nick Foles is still trying to shake off the cobwebs from a concussion. Before he left the field, he was suffering maybe his worst effort as a pro in his biggest moment. With a chance to cement himself as the Eagles' starter against the Cowboys, Foles instead came up small, flopping in front of the Linc faithful.

Matt Barkley is a rookie, meaning he is going to do rookie things, like hold onto the ball entirely too long on a crucial play at the goal line, and get caught from behind and fumble, instead of just throwing the ball away.

Of course, you could make the argument that this rookie did not exactly get helped by his rookie coach, who had one of the league's best running backs standing behind Barkley. With a first down at the 2-yard line, you think maybe Chip Kelly would have fed the ball to LeSean McCoy a few times? Nah!

All of the questions now surrounding Kelly and the Eagles got me to thinking.

I'm not sure Kelly did not make his biggest mistake before this season ever started.

No one should be surprised that Vick is on the shelf again. I set the over/under on the number of games Vick would play at nine, and made it clear I was taking the under.

In a word, he's brittle. And the older he gets (he's now 33), the more that is going to be an issue.

We have seen that regardless who is behind center, Kelly wants to run the run-option offense. That means he needs at least the semblance of a threat to run from his QB. That would seem to rule out Foles.

On Sunday, Barkley had several occasions where the Giants were daring him to pull that ball out of the running back's gut and run himself. They knew he wasn't going to do it, and so they ignored that possibility, instead focusing on shutting down LeSean McCoy.

So my question is this: Does anyone else think Dennis Dixon should be the quarterback of this team? He played for Kelly at Oregon. He's intimately familiar with the run-option.

But he was released by the team during training camp.

Dixon was one of 12 players axed as Kelly trimmed his roster to 62 players at the end of August.

The Eagles had signed Dixon from the Ravens practice squad, but he never really got much of a shot with the Birds. He played in just one preseason game, and threw all of three passes.

His fate seemed to be sealed once the Eagles used their fourth-round draft pick on USC quarterback Matt Barkley.

The last I saw, Dixon was signed by the Bills to their practice squad.

But I wonder what he could do running the offense he's so familiar with, and with which both he and Kelly had so much success at Oregon.

5 years ago today...

Philly sports fans could certainly use a little good news.

The Eagles don't have a quarterback, the Flyers don't have a power play and the Sixers, well the Sixers don't have much of anything.

So how about a trip down memory lane.

This magnificent scene took place exactly five years ago tonight.

Seems like yesterday.

Monday, October 28, 2013

The Daily Numbers (Eagles-Giants Edition)

The Daily Numbers: 10 straight games the Eagles have lost at Lincoln Financial Field.

0 touchdowns scored by the Giants, who still banked a 15-7 win.

5 field goals for kicker Josh Brown.

0 TDs score by Eagles offense in last 2 games.

14 years, how long it’s been since that happened.

3.4 yards per carry average in last 4 games for LeSean McCoy, whose game has followed the Eagles’ offense into the toilet.

8 catches for just 63 yards for DeSean Jackson, including a brutal mistake on a key 3rd down when instead of sticking his head in there and getting a first down, he cut back and wound up losing ground - and the chance to keep a drive alive.

6 turnovers for Eagles quarterbacks in the last 5 quarters.

1 game out of first place, where the anemic Birds continue to set since the Cowboys choked up another game to the Lions.

39 of 80 passing for Michael Vick in his last 4 starts.

27 yards for the Eagles offense in the 4 series with Vick at QB.

17 of 26 for 158 yards passing on the day for Barkley.

6 of 7 passing for Matt Barkley in his 1st series after coming in to relieve the ailing Vick. All that went out the window when he held the ball too long, was chased out of the pocket, and fumbled by the sideline, recovered by the Giants.

201 yards offense for the Birds.

21 points or less, what Eagles defense have held their foes to in the last 4 weeks.

48 yards on 15 carries for McCoy.

2 games behind the Cowboys, that would be where the Giants sit at 2-6, 1 game worse than the Eagles 3-5. 8 game road losing streak snapped by the Giants. The last Eagles win at home was against the Giants on Sept. 30 of last year.

0 interceptions thrown by Eli Manning for the 2nd straight week. He threw 15 in the first 6 games. 40, 44, 33, 46 and 27 yard field goals for Giants kicker Josh Brown.

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

This one’s on Kelly. The decision to hope for Vick to be healthy instead of committing to Barkley in the week blew up in his face. Instead he had 2 QBs who weren’t ready. Nearly as bad was that call on 1st and goal at the 2, not giving LeSean McCoy a couple of cracks, instead having Barkley throw.

I Don’t Get It: Raise your hand if you thought Vick was going to be fine going into this game? If we all saw it, what was Chip Kelly watching.

Today’s Upper: Kudos to the Eagles defense, which continues to get better every week.

Quote Box: “I really can’t say if I should have or shouldn’t have played.”

- Michael Vick after the game.

Monday Morning Quarterback: This one is on Chip Kelly

Don't blame this one on Michael Vick.

Or Matt Barkley.

Nick Foles is out - because he was literally out - not even dressed as he deals with concussion problems. This one is on Chip Kelly. And it didn't start yesterday, although he didn't help his case much.

Kelly somehow managed to convince himself - or maybe he was talked into - thinking that Michael Vick was ready to go yesterday.

In doing so he did not give his team a chance to win.

I'm not a "told you so" kind of scribe. But I had been saying all week I did not think Vick was going to be effective. Practice is one thing; games are another animal altogether. That goes even more so for a guy like Vick, whose entire game is predicated on his instincts.

From the first snap of the game, it was clear Vick had absolutely no mobility. He was a sitting duck in the pocket.

On the first series, he tried to dump the ball near an Eagles receiver (tight end Brent Celek) and instead got it picked off.

I knew then what was coming. What I had been saying all week, what I expected would happen the first time Vick reacted naturally and fled the pocket under a rush.

That's when Vick says he felt another pop in that balky hamstring.

And a pop when into the balloon that is the Eagles season.

Exit Vick, enter Barkley.

The problem with that is that Vick was getting most of the reps with the starting unit all week. For the second week in a row, Barkley was thrown to the wolves. And it showed.

Kelly's problems did not end when Vick left. To his credit, Barkley marched the Eagles down the field and had them in position for a huge touchdown before the half was over.

With a first down at the 2-yard line and the best running back in the NFL standing behind Barkley, Kelly went all Andy Reid on us, dialing up another pass instead of feeding McCoy.

Barkley could not find a receiver open, but instead of throwing the ball away and lining up again, he tried to improvise. He drifted toward the sideline, when of course he was hit from behind and coughed up the ball. The Giants pounced on it.

That made Barkley four for four. He had been the Eagles quarterback for four drives and turned the ball over on all four.

There were other problems yesterday - DeSean Jackson failing to get a first down when it was clearly in his reach, instead cutting back and losing ground instead of sticking his head in there and moving the sticks. He also looked less than interested in catching a punt that went off his hands and out of bounds at the 3-yard line, putting Barkley in another huge hole.

The Eagles have now lost 10 straight games at their antiseptic new home, Lincoln Financial Field. I know it sounds weird, but there is something about that place. It's too nice. Football is not supposed to be comfortable. There was nothing cushy about Veterans Stadium. The place was a dump. But it was our dump, and more importantly, NFL teams hated to come in and play there. Many of them were beaten long before they ever stepped out on that concrete surface that was jokingly referred to as 'artificial.' For opponents, it was all too real.

For Eagles fans today, the only thing that is all too real is another nightmare season, a rookie coach and a rookie quarterback. That's never a good combination.

Michael Vick now will be back on the shelf for the foreseeable future. I'm not surprised. Before the season I set the over/under on games played by Vick at nine. And I took the under. Looks like a pretty good bet. Chip Kelly made the wrong bet this week. He bet on Vick's hamstring, and he lost big time.

Now he has Nick Foles nursing concussion symptoms, and Matt Barkley.

But don't blame the QBs for this mess.

Blame the coach.

He went into a game banking on Vick's hamstring.

That 'pop' you just heard was Kelly's grace period disappearing.

Saying goodbye to the 'eyes' of the Daily Times

We gathered again on Saturday to do something we've been doing all too often these days - bidding farewell to a member of our Daily Times family.

Like most big, rambunctious families, we only seem to get the gang back together for weddings and funerals. Ironically, we had just been together a few weeks before to recall another former staffer who died all too young.

I devote my print column today to remembering longtime photographer Bert Hodge.

They don't make them like Bert anymore.

And we're all the worse for it.

A walk on the wild side: Thanks, Lou

No much usually breaks my train of consciousness on Sunday afternoons in the fall.

I'm all Eagles, all the time.

Now, instead of just screaming at the TV (no, I no longer attend games. Gave up the season tickets a long time ago. In fact, I've never once set foot inside Lincoln Financial Field), I usually tweet the entire game as well.

But yesterday afternoon, I was struck by something even more depressing than the Eagles' performance vs. the Giants.

Lou Reed died.

As usual, I found out about it on Twitter. Isn't that where we first learn everything these days? If you came of age in the '60s, as I did, and discovered music as a way to rebel against everything that bothered you, then I don't have to tell you who Lou Reed was.

Trust me, kids. Everything you consider 'edgy' in music today can be traced back to Reed and his work with the Velvet Underground.

Most people are familiar with Reed's iconic song, "Walk on the Wild Side."

But it's not my favorite.

Instead, yesterday afternoon I went on YouTube and found my favorite Reed song. It's a live version of "Sweet Jane," with what I consider to be one of the best intros ever done. The buildup to this classic song is just perfect.

When I was a kid, I like to consider myself a rebel. So of course I considered myself a Lou Reed fan. This didn't have much to do with sex, in particular the focus of his biggest hit.

But as always with me, it came down to the music.

And this is about as good as it gets:

Saturday, October 26, 2013

The Dreaded Saturday Eagles Pick

Last week I said Nick Foles was going to be fine. That he wasn’t the Eagles problem as they braced for the Cowboys.

Never mind.

Foles was a huge problem.

He won’t be this week. He’s out after suffering a concussion in last week’s horrendous performance by the Birds in falling to the Cowboys, who by the way weren’t a lot better.

This game now rests not on the shoulders of Michael Vick, but rather his hamstring. I expect Vick will be the starter on Sunday. I’m just not sure how long his hamstring will hold out. At any rate, he will not be 100 percent. Don’t be surprised, should he be the starter, to see him grab at that hamstring when his instincts take over and he’s forced out of the pocket.

To beat the lowly Giants, the Eagles likely will have to ride LeSean McCoy, regardless if it’s Vick or backup Matt Barkley behind center. Barkley got a taste of what a regular season NFL game is like when he came on for Foles in the 4th quarter against the Cowboys. All he did was throw three picks and have a fourth nullified by a penalty.

While their offense, led by the deer in the headlights Foles, went to sleep against the Cowboys, the good news is that the Birds’ much-maligned defense continued its weekly improvement.

They pretty much held down the Tony Romo and the Cowboy’s vaunted offense. If you had said before the game that the Cowboys would score 17 points, almost everyone would be picking the Eagles to win that game. Not when all you can muster is a field goal.

A loss here by the Eagles would be devastating to Chip Kelly’s plan for this season and bring up the idea of throwing Barkley to the wolves in an effort to find out if he has a chance of being this team’s quarterback of the future.

It all depends on Vick’s hamstring.

The Pick: Make it Giants 26, Eagles 23. That’s because I don’t expect Vick’s hamstring to hold up. If he goes out, the Giants should prevail. Should he not be affected by that balky hammy, that score could easily be reversed. In any case, it will be one of those grind-it-out, close NFC East games. You know, like the ones that actually used to mean something.

Last Week: Foles was horrific, bringing into question if he can ever be starter in the NFL. The Cowboys used press coverage to blanket the Eagles receivers. When they did get open, Foles couldn’t find them. When he threw, it was usually high, or wide, or in the dirt. He was just awful. You don’t win a lot of games in the NFL when you don’t get into the end zone. Foles didn’t get much help from his top offensive weapon. LeSean McCoy admitted this week he had a lousy game. I won’t argue with him. The Eagles certainly could use a few more turnovers, which they managed the last time they faced Eli Manning, who is having a season he’d probably like to forget.

Season Record: Now I’m starting to turn it on. Last week’s pick of the Cowboys (yes, it hurt me to do so) brings me up to 4-3, while the Eagles slipped back under .500 with the loss, sitting at 3-4. Amazingly, a win Sunday and a loss by the Cowboys vs. the Lions puts them right back tied atop the NFC Least.

Game by Game: Eagles 33, Redskins 27 (My Pick: Redskins 31, Eagles 23)

Chargers 33, Eagles 30 (My Pick: Eagles 33, Chargers 17)

Chiefs 26, Eagles 16 (My Pick: Eagles 31, Chiefs 23)

Broncos 52, Eagles 20 (My Pick: Broncos 41, Eagles 27)

Eagles 36, Giants 21 (My Pick: Eagles 29, Giants 26)

Eagles 31, Buccaneers 20 (My Pick: Eagles 26, Buccaneers 17)

Cowboys 17, Eagles 3 (My Pick: Cowboys 33, Eagles 23)

Friday, October 25, 2013

The Daily Numbers for Friday, Oct. 25

The Daily Numbers: 3 people wounded in drive-by shooting Thursday night on Nyack Avenue in Lansdowne.

1 person hospitalized in critical condition.

20 years ago, when Jennifer Tong was abducted from the driveway of her Marple home and murdered. Police in Radnor, where her body was discovered, are now reopening the case.

2 Republican incumbents for County Council who picked up endorsements from firefighter groups yesterday.

4,500 dollar reward posted in the fatal shooting of a Chester man in August.

42, age of Parkside woman who now faces murder charge in fatal shooting of her husband. She had allegedly been getting a lesson from her husband on handling a gun when the fatal shot was fired.

57, age of Chester man who pleaded guilty in the molestation of a girl.

14, age of the victim.

14, age of suspect in brutal slaying of popular 24-year-old teacher in Danvers, Mass.

80 years in jail for woman convicted of killing two Canadian tourists in stabbing in Atlantic City.

2 people shot at a U.S. Navy Base in Tennessee. The gunman, a National Guard member, is in custody.

2 wins for the Flyers after they prevailed over the Rangers last night, 2-1.

4-2 win for the St. Louis Cardinals to even the World Series at 1-1 with the Boston Red Sox.

Call me a Phanatic: A look at the ups and downs of being a Philadelphia sports fan. Good thing the Rangers are just as bad as the Flyers. The orange and black finally get another win. That makes 2.

I Don’t Get It: File this one under things you don’t see every day. A driver decided to drive a car down the Art Museum steps last night. Seemed like a good idea at the time, I guess.

Today’s Upper: Kudos to Radnor police for reopening the cold case murder of Jennifer Tong from 1993.

Quote Box: “We realize that because of technological advancements ... there were a lot of things we could no now.”

- Radnor Police Chief Bill Colarulo, on decision to reopen old murder case.

Our choices for Delaware County Council

I continue to be intrigued at what is happening in Delco politics.

There are now more registered Democrats than Republicans in Delco. I know, the McClure clan must be rolling over in their graves.

Back when they ran the county through the old GOP War Board, they enjoyed a voter registration edge that approached 3-1.

Times have changed.

So have voting patterns. Delaware County now routinely goes Democratic in presidential elections. In fact, they haven't backed the GOP standard-bearer since lining up behind George Bush the elder in his landslide win over Michael Dukakis in 1988.

But while Democrats have had some success in some municipalities - and even wrested the 7th District seat in Congress from Curt Weldon - only to see it go right back when Joe Sestak decided to challenge Arlen Specter - there is one almight fortress they have not been able to penetrate.

That, of course, would be the Delaware County Courthouse.

No Democrat has sat on the Delaware County Council since the Home Rule Charter was changed in the mid-'70s. I don't expect that to change.

Sure, Democrats now enjoy a 664-vote margin. That doesn't necessarily equate to victory.

These off-year elections depend on turnout. Since voters usually stay away from the polls in droves in these municipal elections, the races largely come down to who can motivate their base and get their voters to the polls.

That's where the Delco GOP has the clear edge.

I'll be stunned if a Democrat is able to win any of the county-wide seats up for grabs on Nov. 5. Of course, they could always prove me wrong. I'm not going to hold my breath.

Just in case you're interested, we have made our endorsements in the County Council race. You can see who we like here.

A 'rocky' road down the 'Rocky' steps

It has become the single "must" see - and do - event for tourists visiting Philadelphia.

They all want to make like "Rocky" and run up the steps to the Art Museum, just as Sylvester Stallone did.

Last night a guy apparently decided to put a different "spin" on this ritual.

By spin I mean doing it in his car.

You can read about it here.

After managing to traverse the iconic steps - at one point actually going backward - I'm surprised the driver did not exit the car and proclaim, "Yo Adrian, I did it."

Then again, the driver probably was right in not sticking around. Once down the steps, he can be seen gunning the car and getting out of dodge.

I hope Matt Barkley is ready

Michael Vick says his balky hamstring needs to pass one more test today before he gives himself the green light to start Sunday's key NFC Least game against the Giants.

He wants to make a full-speed, 100-yard sprint. If is hammy holds up, he'll be behind center on Sunday. And if it doesn't? That's not as clear.

I get the feeling Vick will be Sunday's starter even if he is not at 100 percent. Nick Foles is likely out. He hasn't practiced all week after suffering a concussion against the Cowboys.

As much as anyone, I want Vick to play - and play well. But I feat that's not going to be the case.

These kind of hamstring injuries don't clear up over night.

Vick is likely to be limited on Sunday, regardless how he does in today's wind sprint.

And that's the problem. At his best, Vick acts on his instincts, and his over-the-edge athletic ability.

That's the reason he still can't bring himself to slide feet first to avoid taking any unnecessary hits.

I'm thinking that his instincts are going to take over again on Sunday, and that we very well could once again see him bolt out of the pocket, only to grab at that hamstring when it pops on him again.

Keep your helmet close by, Matt Barkley. You might be needed again.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

The Daily Numbers for Thursday Oct. 24

The Daily Numbers: 2 children taken from bug-infested home in Upper Chi.

2 parents who face charges in the case.

43 chilly degrees out there this morning for our low. Brrrr!

6 to 23 months in jail for a man from Colwyn who got into a brawl with people in a limo while going to an Eagles game.

2 men who now face charges in connection with a series of work van thefts across the region. 500,000 dollars in tools that went missing along with the vans.

1 man being sought in connection with a series of church thefts in Darby Borough and the surrounding area. 2.5 billion dollars in transportation funding that is being delayed again in Harrisburg.

80 million dollars in repair projects SEPTA needs the state money for to do needed bridge work on the Media-Elwyn line.

14,000 dollars ripped off from senior citizens by a Philly man. He pleaded guilty yesterday.

225,000 dollars ripped off from Eagles’ offensive lineman Todd Herreman’s bank account by a guy who was hired to watch cars in the team hotel’s parking lot.

500,000 dollars secured by County Council for a new trail for Kent Park in Upper Darby.

39-11 Senate vote in Pa. to allow small games of chance in local bars and taverns.

1 Philly cop and a former officer who now face new lewdness charges in connection with making a woman strip naked.

40 percent increase in production on its new 787 jet seen by Boeing.

344 billion backlog in orders for the aerospace giant.

54 point dip for the stock market yesterday.

3 million dollar profit posted by the Delta refinery in Trainer.

81 million dollar decline in jet fuel costs for the airline in the quarter, thanks to the work being done in Trainer.

2nd unit, as in a demotion on the power play, for Flyers stalwart Kimo Timonen.

125-102 loss for the Sixers in their exhibition finale.

2 for 15 shooting for Andre Turner.

2-6 mark in the preseason for the Sixers.

8-1 win for the Red Sox over the Cardinals in Game 1 of the World Series.

Call me a Phanatic: A look at the ups and downs of being a Philadelphia sports fan. Raise your hand if you find it difficult to watch Shane Victorino in the World Series with the Red Sox. Thought so.

I Don’t Get It: Hard to believe the conditions two kids were living in down in Upper Chi. Their parents now face charges.

Today’s Upper: Kudos to John Pavlock, a Ridley native who has been inducted into the Delaware Aviation Hall of Fame.

Quote Box: “It’s a horrible situation, child neglect, child abuse. It’s probably more widespread than people realize.”

- Upper Chichester Det. John Montgomery, after arrests were made in child abuse case.

'Live From the Newsroom' talks government shutdown at Widener

It was my pleasure to take our live-stream Internet show, 'Live From the Newsroom,' on the road last night to Widener University in Chester.

First things first: If you have never visited Widener, you really owe it to yourself to check it out. It truly is one of the county's hidden gems.

We were able to put on the show at the school's spectacular new Freedom Hall, home of its communications studies, computer science and informatics programs.

My thanks to an old friend, Dan Hanson, the PR wiz of Widener, for setting up the show on short notice. And special thanks to Wes Leckrone, associate professor of Government and Politcs, as well as the students from his graduate class Public Administration 503. They could not have been more gracious hosts.

We were joined by my Wednesday columnist, Chris Freind, and we talked about the 16-day government shutdown, and what the political fallout might be.

But I was struck by something that happened at the end of the show. I always like to wrap things up with something I call "The Lightning Round," in which I ask the panel to answer a single question. Last night I decided to include the students who were sitting in on our session.

I asked the panel to make a single prediction - something they believed would happen as a direct result of the government shutdown.

Not one of the students expects things to change at all. They expect us to be right back in the same position in February, wrangling over the debt crisis.

And they all seemed to possess a deep disappointment at the way things are done these days in Washington, D.C.

I would urge all of our leaders to watch the video of these young men and women, who are quickly becoming so disillusioned at what has now become the standard pattern of political stalemate in Washington. It was an eye-opener.

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

The best candidate on the Delco ballot

There is some really good news for Delco voters in the upcoming election.

At the county level, there is a very good crop of candidates - from both parties - seeking the county offices up for grabs.

We interviewed every candidate for two seats on the county Court of Common Pleas; two positions on County Council; sheriff; controller; and register of wills.

One of them stood out.

If Delco voters don't do anything else this election season, they should put the Radnor resident and Villanova law prof on the county bench.

It's in the first of our endorsement editorials today.

Yeah, things are still tough out there

Ever wonder about how tough things really are out there on the job front? Consider this.

Wegmans, the upscale supermarket, is opening another store next week in Montgomeryville. They're filling 500 positions at the new store.

Guess how many people applied for the jobs? The company says it got 10,000 applications. You read it right, that's three zeroes after that 10.

That means you had about a 5 percent chance of getting hired.

Wegmans now has 8,500 employees in 16 Pennsylvania stores. They are hoping to build a new store in Concord next year. Right now the closest stores are in Downingtown and Malvern, Chester County, and Cherry Hill, N.J.

The worst of times for Philly sports fans

The Flyers return to the ice tonight looking to reverse a start that has them looking up at the rest of the NFL. The Orange and Black are a sickly 1-7.

The Sixers got smoked again last night in the exhibition opener. This debacle has all the makings of a 20-win season. If they get some breaks.

Michael Vick continues to nurse a balky hamstring. His status for Sunday's key NFC Least game against the Giants is still to be decided. He'd better be ready to go, in light of the fact that last week's starter, Nick Foles, has not yet practiced this week after suffering a concussion in his brutal outing.

No, these are not the glory days for Philly sports fans.

Where have you gone, Shane Victorino?

Uh, to the World Series, actually. Yes, that was Victorino and the Red Sox rolling to a big win over the Cardinals in the opener of the Fall Classic last night.

It just so happened that last night's Game One took place on the same date as another game Philly sports fans likely have tried unsuccessfully to erase from their memories.

Yes, it was the very night that Joe Carter hit that rocket into the bullpen in Toronto, lifting the Blue Jays over the Phillies in the deciding Game 6 of the 1993 World Series.

Things will get better, Philly fans.

Just don't ask me when.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

The Daily Numbers for Wednesday, Oct. 23

The Daily Numbers: 2 million dollars, amount of missing money involved in probe targeting former Collingdale Council VP James Bryan.

10 years, how far back investigators are looking at Bryan’s time with his former employer, Wescott Electric of Aston.

18, age of Upper Darby High student held for trial in a wild brawl at the school that left a teacher unconscious. 5 other teens charged in the incident await their court dates.

3 suspects who face charges in the fatal shooting of a Rite Aid store manager in Chester face preliminary hearings on Nov. 1 after the proceedings were continued 3 different times.

8,000 dollars in cash taken in a daylight heist at a store in Chester.

28, age of man accused of strangling his mother inside the Wallingford Estates Apartments. He was arraigned Tuesday.

120 officers who took part in special SWAT training at the county Emergency Services Training Center in Darby Township.

58, age of Delaware man who pleaded guilty to firing a shot into the home of a woman from a previous relationship.

3 million in profits posted last quarter by the new Delta refinery operating at the old Conoco site in Trainer.

1.2 billion in profits for Delta Air Lines, which is using the refinery to refine its own jet fuel.

1st time the new refinery has been in the black.

25 million dollar hit the airline says it took because of the government shutdown and curtailed government travel.

1, as in the No. 1 Halloween candy. And the winner is - Reese’s, according to poll done by 24/7 Wall Street. No 2. is M&Ms.

3.15 a gallon, what some experts believe we might be paying for gas at the pump by Christmas.

600 pets now dead and 3,600 sickened across the nation in a mysterious ailment believed tied to jerky treats made in China.

2 Philadelphia police officers injured when they tried to arrest a suspect in a series of burglaries in the Kensington section early Wednesday.

800 feet, how far one of the cops was dragged as he held onto the suspect’s car. He slammed into a police car and several other vehicles before finally stopping.

75 point spike in the stock market yesterday.

110 billion in improper tax credits granted by the IRS in the last 10 years.

27, age of woman struck and killed by school bus in Philly yesterday.

1, as in the No. 1 most dislike player in the NFL. That dubious distinction goes to Eagles QB Michael Vick.

685 rushing yards for LeSean McCoy, good for No. 1 spot in NFL.

610 receiving yards for DeSean Jackson, also No. 1 in the league.

Call me a Phanatic: A look at the ups and downs of being a Philadelphia sports fan. Michael Vick once again has been labeled the No. 1 most disliked player in the NFL, according to a Forbes poll. I get it, but I still don’t get it.

I Don’t Get It: Whoever made the decision for the Delco Democrats to not take part in a candidate forum held by the League of Women Voters unless there entire slated was included made the wrong call. That’s just what they have complained about forever with the local GOP.

Today’s Upper: Kudos to the scores of local law enforcement guys who took part in SWAT team training yesterday at the county Emergency Services Training Center. We hope those services are never needed.

Quote Box: “It’s a significant sum.”

D.A. Jack Whelan, on missing money at center of investigation involving former Collingdale Council V.P. James Bryan.

'Live From the Newsroom' talks government shutdown, politics

Things are pretty much back to normal in Washington, D.C.

In other words, lots of finger pointing and heated rhetoric, but not a lot getting done.

The government is now back up and running shutting down for two weeks, closing national parks and furloughing hundreds of thousands of workers.

D.C. might be back to normal, but the public is still doing a slow boil.

We'll be taking our weekly live-stream Internet broadcast, 'Live From the Newsroom,' on the road tonight to speak to a political science class of Widener professor Wes Leckrone to see how young people are reacting to the debacle and the fallout from it.

I'll be joined by columnist Chris Freind, who made no secret in his column today his belief that the government shutdown was a monumental political blunder for the Republican Party.

We'll talk about the shutdown, what caused it, and what political price might be paid by a moderate like U.S. Rep. Pat Meehan, R-7, who initially voted in favor of the move to defund Obamacare, while keeping the government open, which led to the shutdown. After the government closed up shop, Meehan furiously to get the government running again. We wanted Meehan to join us for the show to talk about his stance, but it looks like he's going to be tied up in Washington. I guess that's what happens when you go back to work.

We'll also talk about the tightrope that U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey continues to walk. Months after infuriating the right by his push for broader background checks for gun sales, the Republican is now again being vilified, this time by Democrats, after he was one of just 18 votes in the Senate against the measure that would allow the government to reopen.

What do you think of all this? Email your questions or comments to me at Or simply post a comment on this blog.

Then tune in tonight for out livestream show at 7 and take part in a live chat. We're talking politics tonight. Join the conversation.

Dems the breaks, folks

Delaware County Democrats are feeling pretty full of themselves these days.

Amazing what a 600-vote edge in voter registration will do for you.

It's true. Delaware County is now Democratic, by the slim margin of 664 voter registrations.

But don't tell anyone in the county courthouse that, they still live in a world dominated by the Republican Party that has ruled this county forever.

GOP leader Andy Reilly notes that while the numbers may shift toward the Dems, he's confident that Republicans will continue to hold sway because of their superior ability to get their voters out to the polls and actually exercise their rights, in particular in the off-year municipal elections coming up in two weeks.

Democrats have been on the attack in recent weeks, bringing in some "names" to help in their battle to make a dent in the county courthouse. Last week it was Ed Rendell talking about transit funding, which by the way is now not going to happen, at least until later in November.

Yesterday the state Auditor General Eugene DePasquale was on the steps of the courthouse to push the Dem ticket. You can read that story here.

Dems are feeling so good about themselves, they apparently are falling into some of the same habits they once complained bitterly about to their Republican foes.

Democrats backed out of a planned debate for candidates seeking two seats on County Council after they insisted that all candidates - including those seeking county row offices and two seats on the county Court of Common Pleas - be included.

It's not a particularly wise choice. It smacks of exactly the same thing they always used to accuse Republicans of doing. We make that clear in our editorial today.

Tomorrow we will weigh in officially in election season, making our endorsements.

We will feature the races for Court of Common Pleas, and the row offices of controller, sheriff, and register of wills.

On Friday we'll make our recommendations for the two seats up for grabs on County Council. Don't miss them.

Michael Vick can't get a break

I know this is not a popular opinion: I am a Michael Vick fan.

I know there are some people who will never forgive him for what he did, the brutal dog-fighting ring police say he led and for which he spent two years in a federal prison.

That's not something people forget easily.

That became apparent again yesterday when a new Forbes magazine poll indicated Vick was the most unpopular player in the NFL.

Strangling and electrocuting dogs will do that to your reputation.

Vick seemed to take it in stride yesterday. He likely has other things on his mind. Like that balky hamstring that kept him out of the Eagles lineup on Sunday, setting the stage for one of the all-time implosions by Nick Foles.

Foles went from NFC Player of the Week to being questioned about whether he can really be a starting QB in the NFL in the blink of an eye - and a seemingly never-ending series of errant passes on Sunday.

Foles eventually left the game with a concussion. That left coach Chip Kelly with no option than to throw rookie Matt Barkley to the wolves, with the expected results. He threw three picks and had another nullified by a penalty.

Now all eyes again are on Vick. Last week he certainly sounded like a guy who was not all that certain he would be available this week.

That was before Foles went down. Now Vick likely will be forced back into the lineup, regardless of whether his hammy is 100 percent.

I would like nothing better than to Vick return, put this Eagles team on his shoulders, and drive them to the playoffs.

I don't think it's going to happen.

I think Vick plays almost entirely by instinct. And it's those instincts that are going to cause trouble for a hamstring that has not fully healed.

The bet here is that Vick winds up limping off the field again on Sunday.

And none of that will change my opinion of the "most disliked" player in the league.

Like I said, I'm a fan.

Since arriving back in Philadelphia, Vick has consistently said and done the right thing. It's amazing what losing two years of your prime - and spending them behind bars in a federal prison - will do for you.

Vick today resembles almost nothing of the brash, arrogant - and supremely talented - quarterback that led the Atlanta Falcons.

He seems to me to be a changed man, even if he can't change the fans' perception of him. Or course, most of that will be forgotten should he set the world on fire on Sunday. That's the nature of fans. I don't think it's going to happen.

But it won't lessen my opinion of him one bit.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

The Daily Numbers for Tuesday, Oct. 22

The Daily Numbers: 36,000 bucks, how much police say a woman from Lansdowne was swindled out of by a man she met on an online dating site.

38 percent of Americans who now say they have used an online dating site, according to a new Pew poll.

59 percent who say it’s a good way to meet people. That’s up from 44 percent in 2005.

25-34, most popular age group for online dating.

16, age of teen shot on Chester street Monday night.

4 DUIs racked up by a Delaware woman who was busted again after a crash on Route 202 that left another woman critically injured.

9, age of boy police say was slugged by his father’s girlfriend during a domestic incident in Upper Darby.

4 council seat in what are always hotly contested races for Darby Borough Council.

14 states that now allow same-sex marriage, after New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie yesterday dropped a potential legal appeal to a court ruling clearing the way for gays to marry.

4 Pa. state universities, including Penn State, who say they should be exempted from the state’s right-to-know law.

1 teacher killed and 2 students wounded by teen gunman in Nevada middle school. The young gunman then took his own life.

12 mass shooting recorded so far across the nation in 2013.

3 times the number of incidents now as there were between 2000 and 2008.

1.9 percent dip in existing home sales in September.

7 point dip in stock market yesterday.

99.92 price for barrel of crude oil yesterday. Good news for home heating oil customers.

1 win for Giants, who broke their skid last night with win over Vikings. They’ll be at the Linc on Sunday to battle the Eagles.

2 injured QBs now for Eagles: Nick Foles has concussion; Michael Vick still nursing balky hamstring. 3 picks thrown in less than a quarter by backup Matt Barkley Sunday.

6 catches for 88 yards for Riley Cooper on Sunday.

104-93 loss for Sixers in preseason play against Cleveland last night.

0 games, how many new Sixers coach expects top draft pick Nerlins Noel to play in this year.

Call me a Phanatic: A look at the ups and downs of being a Philadelphia sports fan. Raise your hand if you think Michael Vick will be under center on Sunday regardless of how much is hamstring is bothering him. Me, too.

I Don’t Get It: The protests continue outside the Springfield home of a man who hung a skeleton from a tree wearing an Obama/Biden T-shirt. The man insists he meant nothing racial by his actions. He certainly is entitled to that belief. It’s the noose - and all the images it conjures up - that is the real problem here. But if he says he is merely exercising his First Amendment rights, I’m not sure he’s in the wrong. I wouldn’t do it, and I don’t think it’s in good taste, but he certainly has that right.

Today’s Upper: Kudos to Delco Republican County Council candidates, who are calling their Democratic foes for declining an invitation from the League of Women Voters to debate unless the entire ticket is included.

Quote Box: “We think that’s silly.”

- Delco Dem spokesman Jed Grobstein, in reply to a charge from Republicans that they backed out of a planned League of Women debate because they are not prepared.

Eyes of Pa. on Delco council race

The eyes of Pennsylvania are on Delaware County. At least those that keep tabs on Keystone State politics.

The political website PoliticsPa has labeled the race for Delaware County Council the third most interesting race on the November ballot, trailing only the Superior Court race that pits Democrat Jack McVay Jr. vs. Republican Vic Stabile, and a battle for Lehigh County executive.

So why is Delco being anointed such lofty status in what otherwise appears to be a pretty routine municipal election, without the sizzle - and the turnout - that is guaranteed during a presidential election?

We've been hinting at it for months now. Democrats have made inroads in many towns and school boards in the county.

At the same time, the GOP's once insurmountable edge in voter registration has disappeared. Their nearly 3-1 edge in the glory years has vanished. Democrats now actually have a 600-voter edge in registration. But while the county has now consistently gone Democratic in presidential votes in the past decade and more, there remains one impenetrable fortress. That would be the Media Courthouse, where a Democrat has not sat on the County Council since the Home Rule Charter was adopted in the mid-'70s.

That's the task Bill Clinton and Pat Worrell are facing as they challenge Republican incumbents Mario Civera and Dave White for two seats on council.

While Democrats may have a slight edge in registration, whether or not they can get those voters to the polls remains very much in question. County GOP leader Andy Reilly points out that among "active" voters - those likely to actually vote in a municipal election - the Delco Republicans still have a healthy lead. Like most off-year races, this will come down to turnout, which party can get their voters out of the house to exercise their vote.

But it's clear that people are talking about the shifting political tides here in Delaware County. Which makes a decision by the Dems yesterday a little odd. For years Democrats bemoaned the fact that incumbent Republicans routinely ignored their calls to debate. Now it seems like the Dems are doing the same thing. Clinton and Worrell yesterday said they would not debate their Republican foes unless their entire slate - including candidates for the Court of Common Pleas and county row offices, was included.

As a result, the forum being sponsored by the League of Women Voters was cancelled.

You would think the Democrats would be taking advantage of every opportunity to take on their Republican Council foes.

They say that's in fact the case, but only if their entire slate is included.

Sounds to me like an opportunity missed.

Delco through the eyes of Bert Hodge

Bert Hodge depicted presidents and homeless people.

He was the lead photographer at the Daily Times for more than three decades.

We lost Bert last weekend.

But his tremendous body of work lives on. Click here for a slideshow encompassing his career chronicling the majestic and mundane here in Delaware County.

Bert may be gone, but his images will live forever.

A few Chips in Eagles' grand plan

Nick Foles has joined the legions of NFL players dealing with concussion issues.

Michael Vick is still nursing a balky hamstring.

Matt Barkley is, well, Matt Barkley.

That is the bleak situation facing Eagles coach Chip Kelly as he begins to prepare his team for a date with the Giants next Sunday at the Linc. The Giants managed to finally break into the win column last night with a Monday night win over the Minnesota Vikings.

Somehow, I don't think the fact that the Giants will be working on a short work week is going to be much comfort to the Eagles boss.

His high-octane offense is out of gas. On Sunday his receivers could not break free of the press coverage the Cowboys used to smother DeSean Jackson and pals.

The 'Boys loaded up in the box and shut down LeSean McCoy and the Eagles ground game.

That Left Nick Foles to stand in the pocket .... and stand .... and stand.

Foles looked like a statue as he held the ball and waited for someone to get open. It didn't happen. His game went downhill from there.

Yesterday Kelly was not giving any hints what his plan is for the quarterback situation. He's going to need one soon. All indicators is that Vick will be behind center on Sunday, even if he is not at 100 percent. That plan is laden with pitfalls. Vick acts on his instincts as much as anything. We've seen that in his inability to master the idea of sliding to avoid contact. He continues to leave himself open by going head-first.

So I'm guessing his initial instinct when under fire from the Giants on Sunday will be do do what he always does in those situations - run.

And if his hamstring pops again, that popping sound you hear may just be a pin going into the Eagles season. If Vick is healthy, he's the guy. That's the problem. Once the season starts, Vick is too often not healthy. Even if he plays on Sunday, he's likely not going to be 100 percent.

But at this point, that remains a better option than a still shaken Foles and the untested Barkley.

Kelly somehow has to construct an offense that can protect Vick while still putting up enough points to beat the Giants.

Actually, his real task likely will be to protect Vick from himself.

If he manages to do that, he'll be the first coach to manage that feat.

If he doesn't, we could be entering the Matt Barkley Era much sooner than anyone thought.

Where have you gone, Dennis Dixon?

Monday, October 21, 2013

The Daily Numbers for Monday Oct. 21 (Eagles-Cowboys edition)

The Daily Numbers: 3 points, all the Eagles offense could muster vs. the Cowboys yesterday.

0 touchdowns scored by the 2 teams in the first half.

11 of 29 for Eagles QB Nick Foles, who struggled mightily on the day.

80 yards passing for Foles before exiting with concussion symptoms.

55 yards rushing on 18 carries for LeSean McCoy. Not his best day.

3 catches for 21 yards for DeSean Jackson.

9 straight losses at home at Lincoln Financial Field.

11 for 20 for 129 yards for rookie backup Matt Barkley, who came on for the injured Foles in the 4th quarter.

3 interceptions thrown by Barkley.

317 yards passing for Cowboys QB Tony Romo, although it was not his best day either. Both offenses struggled in this dud.

3-4 record now for the Eagles.

0-6 mark for their next opponent, the Giants, who play tonight.

2 times that Chip Kelly teams failed to score a TD in his entire time at Oregon.

3 QBs the Eagles now have used. If you know who is going to start on Sunday, give Chip Kelly a call.

13 points below their season average, what improving Eagles defense did to Dallas yesterday.

4 runs knocked in on grand slam by former Phil Shane Victorino to send the Red Sox back to the World Series - 1 more than scored all day by Eagles.

60 yard field goal missed at end of 1st half in odd call by Kelly, instead of going for 1st down.

Call me a Phanatic: A look at the ups and downs of being a Philadelphia sports fan. The quarterback of the future is not on this Eagles’ roster. Back to the draft board, folks.

I Don’t Get It: Still hard to believe Nick Foles could look as bad as he did one week after a very good showing against the Bucs. Something doesn’t add up here.

Today’s Upper: Kudos to Billy Davis. The Eagles defensive coordinator continues to make progress with this bunch after they struggled mightily at beginning of year.

Quote Box: “You hopefully like to chalk it up as just a bad day.” - Eagles Coach Chip Kelly, on his team’s struggles.

Remembering Bert Hodge

When I arrived at the Daily Times on Monday morning, June 14, 1982, one of the first people I met was Bert Hodge.

I was the new assistant city editor. And scared to death.

Bert was the dayside photographer. He immediately marched up to my desk and introduced himself. It was part of my job to set up photo assignments for the day.

But those technicalities could wait. It was clear Bert wanted to know a little more about me, and I was more than happy to talk to anyone to ward off the queasy feeling emanating from my stomach on my first day of work.

We soon found out we shared something other than journalism.

Bert served in the U.S. Air Force when he got out of high school in Shenandoah, Schuylkill County, where he grew up. He wound up at one of the best photography schools in the world - the United States For Force Photo School at Lowrey Air Force Base in Denver, Colo.

I had spent two years living in Denver and those finished my final two years of school at the University of Colorado in Boulder. A friend from the same town where I grew up was stationed at Lowrey, and I spent some time there.

Bert and I shared stories about life in Colorado.

For the next couple of decades, we would share a lot more than that.

Bert was not a photographer, he was a photojournalist. His images dominated the front page of the Daily Times more times than I can count.

A lot of those days I was the lead designer for that front page. Every time we were chasing a big story that was going to be the lead the next day, we would go through the same routine. Bert would get back into the office, and I would immediately inform him I needed something for Page One.

He never let me down.

Bert was old school. He knew a little bit about the rough and tumble of putting together a newspaper every day. On more than one occasion, Bert got bumped around while trying to get a photo. It was part of the job. Back in those days, photographers developed their film and actually made prints that they then turned into the photo desk. You could always tell a Bert Hodge photo. It had life. It told a story. It often stood on its down.

Bert Hodge died over the weekend. He was 82. He worked at the Daily Times for 33 years.

Over the years, Bert and his wife, Lois, were almost like another set of parents to those of us who grew up here at the newspaper. They watched us get married, have kids, and watched as those kids grew up. They had parties at their house, where they met our spouses. They always wanted to know what our kids were doing. They were just as proud of their own kids, and with good reason.

He and Lois always made it a point to kid me when they would see me at staff gatherings and parties since. They both had a passion for the Daily Times and cared deeply about what happened to it, and what appeared in those pages every day.

That's because Bert Hodge cared about his craft, and the people who create it ever day.

I've missed Bert Hodge just about every day since he retired a few years ago.

I miss him even more today.

Monday Morning Quarterback: An absolute debacle for Birds

I was not surprised that the Eagles lost to the Cowboys at the Linc on Sunday. It hurt me to do so, but I had picked the hated guys from Dallas in my Dreaded Saturday Eagles Pick.

I was surprised that the game turned into a defensive struggle in which neither offense managed to do much. And I was stunned at how ineffective Nick Foles was at quarterback for the Eagles.

No one saw this one coming - either for Chip Kelly's vaunted offense or the struggles of Nick Foles.

The two teams came into the game featuring two of the most prolific offenses in the NFL. With all that firepower, they managed a grand total of three points - a Cowboys field goal - in the first half.

Suffice it to say that the great debate over who should be the Eagles quarterback is now over. If Vick is healthy, he's the QB. And therein lies the problem. Vick is too often not healthy.

He was not even dressed for Sunday's mess in South Philly.

When Foles went out with concussion symptoms in the second half, it forced the debut of rookie Matt Barkley. It wasn't pretty. He threw three interceptions, while looking every bit the part of a first-year guy confused by a decent NFL defense.

That was to be expected. The way Foles played was not.

Very simply, Foles was atrocious. He wound up 11 for 29 and spent most of the day missing open receivers. Foles threw for a total of 80 yards. In his mopup role, Barkley threw for 129.

I'm flabbergasted at just how bad Foles played, and whether this was just an off day, he was hurt, or whether he was a victim of a pressing defense that took his receivers, including DeSean Jackson, pretty much out of the game. A confused Foles held onto the ball forever, and when he did manage to get someone open, he spent the afternoon throwing balls into the Linc turf.

If nothing else, Foles likely cemented the idea that he is not the future of the Philadelphia Eagles. For that matter, neither is the 33-year-old Vick.

For right now, Kelly needs to figure out who who will be his starter next week against the New York Giants. Vick may not be completely healthy. If he's even close, he has to go. Foles' status will be determined after concussion testing. But his performance yesterday calls into question whether he'll ever be considered a legitimate starting quarterback in the league.

The truth is, the future of the Eagles at quarterback is not on this roster. Kelly will have to go back to the draft for that answer.

In the meantime, there is now a blueprint for NFL defenses to follow when playing the Eagles, especially if Foles is the QB. Use man-to-man press coverage on the Eagles receivers, who spent most of yesterday not getting open and giving Foles little in the way of options, and using the extra defender in the box to shut down LeSean McCoy and the Eagles running game.

And finally, there is this.

Philadelphia used to be a place that struck fear in NFL teams. That's when the Eagles played in Veterans Stadium. On many Sundays, teams were defeated long before they walked onto the concrete-like Astroturf surface at the Vet.

Veterans Stadium mimicked the city and its fans. It had snarl.

Lincoln Financial Field has none of that. In a word, it's cushy. Soft. So is the team that plays there. The one that now has lost nine straight home games. That has not one a game at Lincoln Financial Field in more than a year, dating back to September a year ago.

The Eagles have questions on offense, at quarterback, and with home-field advantage.

They likely will not be answered any time soon.

One thing was answered yesterday. Nick Foles is not the answer.

My weekend as the Voice of God

I got to spend the weekend as the "Voice of God."

What else is new, right?

Actually this time I really was the Voice of God, at least in terms of the Media Theatre and their current production of Monte Python's "Spamalot."

I got to sit in the production booth Friday and Saturday and take part in one scene, in which God comically gives King Arthur his quest - to find the Holy Grail.

My wife pretty much summed it up when she said it's a role I've been preparing for all my life.

I got to the theatre about a half-hour before showtime Friday night to go over the script, meet Arthur, talented actor Scott Langdon, and get into my spot on the booth.

I also arrived early Saturday night, but for a different reason.

Media Theatre PR guru Roger Ricker had tipped me off to the fact that they had a packed house for the Saturday night show, in part because of a special night with a very special group of people.

If you don't know it, Media takes their "Everybody's Hometown" designation pretty seriously.

Nowhere is that more evident than in their reverence and respect for veterans.

Media is the home of the Pennsylvania Veterans Museum; every Nov. 11 the borough puts one one of the biggest Veterans Day parades in the region.

Media Theatre also has a close association with veterans groups. Saturday night they held their annual night dedicated to respecting those who served.

Special guest was Tom Werner, a World War II vet from Marple, who was saluted by family and friends. They held a reception in his honor in the upstairs balcony before the show. I wandered up there to take in some of the festivities. Media Mayor Bob McMahon, one of the stalwarts behind the success of the museum, served as emcee. He introduced Werner's daughter, who lovingly talked of her dad and other family members who had gathered for a very special night.

Before the show, a special color guard from the United State Marine Corps League assembled on the stage for a rendition of "God Bless America."

It was a very special night.

My thanks to Media Theatre for the invitation. I had a blast.

And my own personal thanks to Werner and all the men and women like him, who put their lives on the line to defend a way of life that is epitomized in "Hometowns" like Media all across this nation.

Here are the remarks presented to honor Werner Saturday night, courtesy of Ed Buffman of the Veterans Museum: