Saturday, November 30, 2013

The Dreaded Saturday Eagles Pick

Now we get to find out what this Eagles team is made of, if Nick Foles is the real deal, and if Chip Kelly has what it takes to take a 4-win team last year to the playoffs.

The Birds come off their bye week winners of three straight, and united behind Foles, newly anointed by Kelly to be his starter the rest of the way.

It’s hard to argue with the choice. Foles was just named the NFC Offensive Player of the Month. He’s been lights out since returning to the lineup from the low point of his career, suffering a concussion after a thoroughly ugly effort against the Cowboys.

Now the Eagles have a five-week span against some very good teams, starting Sunday against an equally hot Arizona Cardinals. Now the Eagles have a five-week span against some very good teams, starting Sunday against an equally hot Arizona Cardinals.

The Eagles were virtually tied with the Cowboys, who held the tiebreaker edge with a win over the Birds. But the Cowboys added a little cushion with their Thanksgiving Day win. Now the Eagles must win to keep pace.

The key to Foles’ success has been his ability to avoid turnovers - he still has not thrown an interception this season, while quickly reading the defense and distributing the ball to Riley Cooper, DeSean Jackson and his tight ends, something Michael Vick struggled to do.

With Carson Palmer and Larry Fitzgerald, the rapidly improving Eagles defense will be challenged more than they have since early in the season.

The Cardinals have a history of now playing well when they have to fly to the East Coast, and the teams they have beaten on this recent streak haven’t been great to begin with. I think the Birds get it done, and keep pushing toward a date with the Cowboys on the final Sunday of the season.

The Pick: Make it Eagles 24, Cardinals 19. There will be a lot of field goals in this one, which means it is not the week for erratic kicker Alex Henery to struggle. He could wind up being the difference in the game.

Last Week: The Birds had the bye, but before that they kept their hot streak intact by once again rolling up a huge first half lead over the Redskins, then coasting to the win. Robert Griffin III brought the Redskins back to within a single possession by scoring twice and converting two 2-point conversions, only to inexplicably toss an easy interception into the end zone with the game on the line. There’s a guy who looks like he’d like to be just about anywhere else.

Season Record: I loved the Birds vs. the Redskins, and it paid off. They snapped a 10-game losing streak at home, and my record improved to 7-5 with the win. The Eagles went back over .500 as well. They now sit at 6-5, but they fell a little father behind the Cowboys in the NFC East after The ‘Boys won their traditional Thanksgiving Day game. Any way you look at it, a pretty impressive rookie season for Chip Kelly. If he gets this team into the playoffs, he should be coach of the year.

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)

Giants 15, Eagles 7 (My Pick: Giants 26, Eagles-23)

Eagles 49, Raiders 20 (My Pick: Raiders 23, Eagles 13)

Eagles 27, Packers 13 (My Pick: Eagles 29. Packers 16)

Eagles 24, Redskins 16 (My Pick: Eagles 33, Redskins 27)

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

The Daily Numbers for Wednesday, Nov. 27

The Daily Numbers: 90,000 people expected to go through Philadelphia International Airport today.

340,000 who will travel through it this week.

2 hours, how long it’s suggested you get to the airport before your flight to get through security.

2 hour delays on some incoming flights reported this morning as weather across the country wreaks havoc on holiday travel.

1 person killed, 7 injured in bad crash this morning that shut down the Schuylkill Expressway.

7-14 years in prison for Chester man in fatal shooting in altercation in which a stray bullet went into a home and struck a city woman in the neck.

75 foster children for Edith Hardy, the victim of that stray bullet.

2 holidays that collide on the same day Thursday. That would be Thanksgiving and Hanukkah.

1988, the last time the two holidays coincided.

10 million dollar bond issue set for construction of new municipal services center out in Haverford. Not everyone is happy with the plan.

61,637 square feet of space for the library in the new building, as opposed to their current 37,445 square feet of space.

17-34 years in prison for an Upper Darby man for sex assault on 3 young girls in his care.

42 dollar annual Local Services Tax now on the books in Middletown.

350,000 to 450,000 dollars to be raised each year by the new levy.

0 tax hike included in the preliminary budget for Lower Chichester.

2 Delco woman going to jail for running a bogus dental clinic after hours at the dentist’s office where they worked.

66, age of Robert Kerns, former head of the Montco GOP, who now faces charges that he drugged and raped a female employee of the law firm where he worked.

1, as in the No. 1 QB designation slapped on Nick Foles by Chip Kelly for the rest of the Eagles season.

1998, when Vinny Lecavalier was drafted by Tampa Bay. He will return to 1st time with Flyers tonight.

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

Michael Vick, once again a class act for the way he handled the announcement that Nick Foles will be Eagles starting QB the rest of the season.

I Don’t Get It: It’s hard to read the charges filed against Robert Kerns, the former head of the Montco GOP. He’s charged with drugging and then raping a female employee.

Today’s Upper: Kudos to Edith Hardy, who voiced the hope of many yesterday when she said she held no ill will against the young man involved in a gun altercation in which a stray shot went through her window and struck her in the neck. She only wants the killing to stop on Chester streets. Very well said.

Quote Box: “Above all I don’t want to see no more killing.”

- Shooting victim Edith Hardy, at yesterday’s sentencing for Naim Williams. -

Good news about Cardinal O'Hara

Hey, there's two kids from O'Hara on today's back page.

Kevin James and Grace Mancini have been named our All-Delco Cross Country Runners of the Year.

Yeah, that Daily Times never has anything good to say about Cardinal O'Hara High School.

The Hunger Games, Delco style: 21,000 kids living in poverty

How ironic is it that just a few days before we sit down to a feast in which he recount the things we are grateful for, we learn that is not exactly the case for lots of needy children in Delaware County.

Call it Delco's own version of the 'The Hunger Games.'

A report from the child advocacy group Public Citizens for Children and Youth issued their second troubling report about Delaware County in two weeks.

Their findings indicate that the number of children living in poverty here is skyrocketing. You can read all the details here.

PCCY estimates there are now more than 21,000 children living in poverty in Delco, that's up 30 percent from 2008. An astounding 16.7 percent of children under the age of 17 fall into the poverty category. It's the highest rate among the four suburban Philadelphia counties. Of those 21,000, nearly half of them are living in what PCCY deems 'deep poverty,' households where the annual income is less than $11,755 for a family of four.

Think about that before you sit down to that Thanksgiving feast on Thursday.

It's the shame of Delaware County.

In praise of Michael Vick

No doubt the Michael Vick haters are rejoicing this morning.

Don't count me among them.

I have no qualms with Chip Kelly's decision yesterday to name Nick Foles the Eagles starting quarterback for the rest of the season. Clearly, it's the right choice, and I'm the first to admit it.

Foles is playing out of his mind. He sees the field better than Vick, in part because he's simply taller, thus he does not get nearly as many balls batted down, a constant Vick downfall.

But he also makes quick reads, including a crucial scan of the defense before the ball is even snapped, thus helping him know where he wants to go. It is not by accident that Foles has not thrown an interception yet this year. Sure, he's been lucky on some throws. There's no law in the NFL against being lucky.

Still, I feel for Vick.

I am not one of those who will never forgive him for what he did. I know any number of longtime, die-hard Eagles fans who abandoned the team when they brought in the troubled QB as part of his return to the NFL after doing time in a federal prison for running a dog-fighting operation.

No doubt, what Vick is accused of doing is horrific. And he paid a steep price, two years out of the prime of his career.

I hate a lot of things about today's NFL, in particular the constant preening, celebrations and gyrations players engage in on making even the most routine of plays.

I hated just about everything about Michael Vick when he was with the Atlanta Falcons, where he once offered fans a middle finger as he exited the field.

But I've admired everything Vick has done since his return. This is clearly not the same guy. Maybe two years in the federal joint does that to you. If so, maybe more of us should be so upbraided. That includes often arrogant newspaper editors who consider their opinions to be exalted, instead of just one more fan's feelings.

Yesterday, Vick, once heralded as the most dangerous weapon in the NFL, surely must have been crushed on learning that he would be relegated to the backup's role.

He could have gone on a rant, saying he had been treated unfairly, how the NFL code of not losing your job because you got hurt somehow does not apply to him.

He did nothing of the sort.

Instead, he vowed to be ready if needed, and to do everything he can to make the Eagles and Nick Foles successful in these final five games as they pursue a possible NFC East title and berth in the playoffs. Vick is not under contract next year. His future is unsure. He is 33. Sitting on the sidelines certainly will not help his chances of securing another big money contract.

And yet he has done nothing than being an exemplary teammate.

A few years ago, I never thought I'd say this, but Michael Vick is a changed man.

In fact, he's a class act.

I won't argue with you about what he's done in the past. If you don't want to forgive him, you are certainly free to do so. I won't try to change your mind.

But I've change my own.

I'm a Michael Vick fan.

Now more than ever.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

The Daily Numbers for Tuesday, Nov. 26

The Daily Numbers: 3 alarm fire that roared through row homes in Darby Township Monday morning.

11 people who lost their homes just days before Thanksgiving.

2 pit bull puppies, one of them blind, who have found a new home with a Springfield couple.

4.89 percent tax hike in Haverford’s preliminary budget.

5 percent spike in taxes on tap in Springfield.

0 tax hike in both Upland and Aston.

3rd degree murder conviction for a New Jersey woman charged in shooting death of her husband in Chester 2 years ago.

3 Delco pols singled out for praise by Gov. Tom Corbett as he put his signature on $2.3 billion transportation funding package near Norristown yesterday.

5 to 9 cent increase in price of gallon of gas due to uncapping the Oil Franchise Tax under the law.

2 lanes to 4 for Route 322 Conchester Highway, 1 of the projects to be funded under the plan.

30 percent increase in childhood poverty in Delco since 2008, according to new study from Public Citizens for Children and Youth.

21,000 children here living in poverty.

16.7 percent of all kids in the county.

50 percent of those living in deep poverty - $11,755 for a family of 4.

15,000 dollars being considered by the Ridley commissioner to check out traffic for a proposed Wawa at MacDade Boulevard and Route 420.

50 counts of possession of child porn filed against a Ridley Township man.

6 people killed and another 13 wounded in building collapse last summer in Philadelphia. The contractor who was doing the demolition now faces murder charges.

0.3 percent increase in salary for state elected officials.

84,012 dollars a year, the starting salary for new state reps.

206,032 dollars a year for the chief justice of the Supreme Court; $200205 for the other justices.

187,818 dollars a year salary for the governor.

4 people, including superintendent of schools, now charged in Steubenville, Ohio, rape case that involved high school football players.

3-1 loss for the Flyers to the Florida Panthers last night.

500 million dollars, what the Flyers are worth, according to Forbes magazine. That puts them in 7th position.

13,555 average attendance so far for the Sixers. That means they’re dead last in the NBA in attendance.

21,906 for the Chicago Bulls, sitting atop the heap.

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

This week Jeff Lurie gets a look at a coach he passed on - Arizona head man Bruce Arians. He’s no stranger to the Linc - he coached the Temple Owls.

I Don’t Get It: A judge dismissed the bid for a new trial by a woman who was suing Lehigh University because she got a C on an exam. Good.

Today’s Upper: Kudos to the funding included in that $2.3 billion transportation bill that will go to fixing the Killer Conchester - Route 322.

Quote Box: “Voting for this bill was not an easy decision.”

- Gov. Tom Corbett, on vote to OK transportation funding.

The resurrection of Tom Corbett

Don't bury Gov. Tom Corbett just yet.

A lot of people - even some in his own party - have declared the good shop Corbett dead in the water. There have been whispers inside the Republican Party that maybe the governor should step aside and let someone else carry the banner in next year's gubernatorial race.

Don't count me among them.

Let me be the first to predict, right here in the Heron's Nest, that Tom Corbett will be re-elected to a second term.

Corbett badly needed something to stop the bleeding from his foundering first term and reverse some of those poll numbers. He got it last week with passage of that $2.4 billion transportation funding package. It will be used to fix the state's crumbling roads and bridges, and will go a long way to prop up mass transit, including SEPTA here in the Philadelphia region.

Transit officials had been making noises that without a huge boost in funding, they might be forced to shut down one of the main arteries of the region's business - the regional rail lines. Now nobody really expected them to ever put their "Doomsday Plan" into effect, but it made good theater.

And it did not hurt Corbett one bit to be riding to the rescue.

The governor put all his eggs into one basket - transportation funding. His push to privatize the sale of liquor and spirits in the Commonwealth stalled, and his demand that the Legislature take up the "ticking time bomb" that is the state's two woefully underfunded public employee pension plans was going nowhere.

Yesterday Corbett criss-crossed the state to showcase the legislative victory he needed so badly. In a stop near Norristown, he heralded the help he got on his project from state Rep. Nick Micozzie, R-163, of Upper Darby, head of the Transportation Committee; and Rep. Bill Adolph, R-165, of Springfield, the House Appropriations Chairman; along with state Sen. Dominic Pileggi, R-9, of Chester.

Expect to see a lot of Corbett over the next year. The Philadelphia suburbs likely will hold the key to the governor's mansion in next year's election.

The good news for Corbett is he got his victory in the transportation funding war.

The bad news is that he now has to run on it.

Not everyone - including a lot of Republicans - are happy about it. They believe it amounted to a $2 billion tax hike from a governor who had pledged not to raise taxes.

Motorists likely are not going to be thrilled at the prospect of forking over more dough to fill up their tanks.

But Corbett also will now be able to trumpet that he made the tough call to get the increased funding for transportation, as well as improving jobs numbers, in particular in Delco and the southeast region. He also can say he's been good to his word when it comes to the state budget, delivering it on time and without any major tax hikes for three consecutive years.

Democrats, as they've already done at a weekend debate in Philadelphia, are itching to portray him as the guy who slashed education funding and other programs for those in need, as well as tarring him for his resistance to set up health care exchanges under the Affordable Care Act.

Much of this likely will hinge on how Corbett comes off on the campaign trail. It's not something that comes naturally to him.

But he wouldn't have had any chance if the Legislature had rebuffed him on transportation funding. He's already hit bottom. Now he's on the comeback trail.

I think it will lead him right back to the governor's mansion.

Somehow I think we'll survive this 'storm'

As I write this I am refraining from throwing my shoe at the TV in my office.

I just heard a local TV news reporter who is standing outside somewhere near Allentown breathlessly inform me that there are a few flakes starting to come down.

In Allentown.

And the Poconos could see some actual snow.

Really! It might snow in the Poconos!

This has been going on now for days. Since last week, the local TV stations have been beating the drum about the Nor'easter that is slowly rumbling across the country. Yes, it has caused a mess in places like Colorado and Texas, where there were several fatal accidents.

As far as I can tell, all it is going to do here is rain. It might rain hard tonight, leading to some local flooding in the usual places, or around any drains that are stuffed with leaves.

There is a chance that some travel may be disrupted, depending on where you are going.

But for the most part, the roads are going to be wet.

That's about it.

Unless of course you are in the local TV news racket.

Then, if you don't have snow to report here, you go where the snow is. Hence the guy standing in the PenDOT yard in Allentown telling me that their trucks are fully prepared for the impending storm.

I know I'm beating a dead horse here. I've been complaining about the way local TV handles the weather for years. It's one of my pet peeves.

I guess I can cross that off my list of things to be thankful for this year.

A reunion for the Eagles

Eagles fans should stop thinking about the Cowboys. That matchup is more than a month - and two holidays - away.

On the immediate horizon is a homecoming Jeff Lurie may learn to rue.

Winging east with the Arizona Cardinals is their head coach, Bruce Arians. Yes, the same Bruce Arians who was the head man at Temple for Years. The same Bruce Arians who filled in admirably for a Colts coach Chuck Pagano as he battled leukemia last year, well enough to be named AP's NFL Coach of the Year.

And the same Bruce Arians who did not get much of a look when Lurie went shopping for a new coach after sending Andy Reid packing.

Instead, Lurie had his heart set on Oregon hot shot Chip Kelly. So far no one is complaining about how that move has worked out.

They're not whining about winding up with Arians in Arizona. The Cardinals are 7-4 and coming off a thumping of the Colts in the desert.

And just for good measure, the man in charge of a fairly nasty Cardinals defense also is familiar to Eagles - and Temple fans. That would be Todd Bowles, the same guy who took over for the deposed Juan Castillo in last year's disastrous final season under Reid.

This is no gimme. The Cardinals under Arians are for real. Lurie will get an up close and personal look at what he passed up on Sunday at the Linc.

Monday, November 25, 2013

The Daily Numbers for Monday, Nov. 25

The Daily Numbers: 6 ‘out-of-towners’ busted for selling drugs in Upper Darby Township over the weekend.

5 month investigation dubbed ‘Operation Not In My Town.’

60,000 dollar goal for this year’s Merry Christmas Fund, our annual holiday fundraiser to help the work of the Salvation Army in Chester.

200 dollar contribution from the Salvation Army Advisory Board to kick off the fund drive.

53,000 dollars, how much we raised in last year’s Merry Christmas Fund.

43 years, how long we’ve been doing this holiday push.

0 tax hike included in the preliminary budget in Yeadon.

0 tax hike also in the numbers for Media Borough.

20 million dollar project for the latest expansion plans at Philadelphia International Airport.

15,000 gallons of oily discharge from the former Sunoco refinery in Marcus Hook that gummed up the works at Delcora.

2 local students, including one from Chester County, named Rhodes Scholars.

6 a.m. on Thanksgiving Day, when K Marts stores will open.

6 p.m. opening for Wal-Mart.

8 p.m. for Springfield Mall.

6 a.m. Friday for Granite Run Mall.

2 straight losses for Andy Reid and the Chiefs after they blew a late lead vs. the Chargers. 6-5 record for both the Eagles and Cowboys after Dallas outlasted the New York Giants.

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

Didn’t miss the Eagles at all yesterday. However, I did note that the Cardinals, who are next on the Birds’ schedule Sunday at the Linc, blew away the Colts. They will pose a stern test to the rising Birds.

I Don’t Get It: Are we going to go through this every time it looks like a storm is forming. Relax, folks. It’s going to rain here. The roads will be wet. Some other parts of the country will get a winter storm.

Today’s Upper: Kudos to the Salvation Army as we kick off our 43rd year of raising money in our Merry Christmas Fund.

Quote Box: “As you can see, all the guys we arrested are from other towns. They were coming into our town to sell crack cocaine and heroin.”

- Upper Darby Police Commissioner Mike Chitwood, on arrests from sting he dubbed ‘Operation Not in My Town.’

A legislative win in the 'Nick' of time for Corbett

Gov. Tom Corbett will criss-cross the state today to officially ink the bill that will provide $2.4 billion in funding to fix the state's crumbling roads and bridges, and prop up mass transit, including SEPTA.

In this region, the governor will make a stop in Norristown at 12:30 p.m., near the intersetion of Route 363 (Trooper Road) and Route 422.

There was a lot of talk last week that the governor might come here to Delaware County to sign the bill.

That's because this bill does not happen without the efforts of state Rep. Nick Micozzie, R-163, of Upper Darby. Micozzie is the new chairman of the House Transportation Committee. And it was up to him to get this measure through the treacherous waters of Harrisburg.

Mizozzie was crestfallen last week when his amendment was rejected twice by the House. He was left dumbfounded at some of the resistance, including from some in his own party.

But on Tuesday, he got one more shot, and it passed.

I hope Micozzie is standing next to Corbett when the governor puts his signature on the bill.

Corbett, facing a rough re-election campaign himself next year, desperately needed a legislative victory to prop up his sagging ratings. His push for privatization of the state liquor sales stalled, and his push for touch action to get the state's two massive public pension funds back on even footing went nowhere.

The governor put all his marbles in the transportation funding fight.

And he has Nick Micozzie to thank for getting it done.

Now all he has to do is explain how those increased prices at the pump do not betray his no-tax-hike pledge. I'm not sure Nick even can help the governor with that one.

How did you 'weather' the bye week?

Here's a confession of an Eagles die-hard and NFL fanatic:

I survived yesterday just fine.

If you can discount the bone-chilling cold that set into the region.

But I managed to get by without my weekly dose of Eagles football just fine.

Too often in the fall and winter, Sundays are pretty much dedicated to three hours in front of the tube watching the Birds. I gave up my season tickets long ago. I was one of those insane denizens of the 700 level at The Vet. The things I saw up there still make me shudder.

These days I don't wander too far off the couch.

It's not unusual for me not to wander out of the house at all on an Eagles game day.

Yesterday was actually a pleasant surprise. I still got up early and puttered around the Internet and set up our DelcoTimes.com website as I usually do.

My wife and I are habitual walkers. But she got one inkling of the chill that had set in overnight and opted for her treadmill.

I bundled up and headed out. Yes, it was cold, but there also was some brilliant sunshine and I found it oddly invigorating to be out walking without my usual companion, lost in the morning and the tunes blaring out of the iPod.

The rest of the day I ferried her and my daughter around on some errands.

I got home in plenty of time to watch the Cowboy persevere over the Giants, which only confimed my suspicions that the Eagles have every opportunity to steal this division. There isn't a really good, dominant team in it.

But there was something else that really enjoyed about the afternoon.

I no longer just watch Eagles games. Now I am consumed with littering Twitter with my own personal analysis of the game. Apparently a lot of people are like me, frustrated color analysts. Don't believe me? Join us this Sunday and use the Twitter hashtag #Eagles to take part in our weekly chat.

Yesterday I didn't tweet. I didn't update the website. I didn't post on Facebook.

I simply sat and watched the game from the warmth of my leather chair in the family room.

It was a treat.

Unfortunately, at halftime, I made the mistake of flipping over to the local news.

Now I know that not having an Eagles game was the least of the region's worries. Instead, it was all-weather all the time. Breaking News! It's cold out. Yes, here in the last week of November.

Now sure, yesterday's temperatures and wind were a cold slap in the face.

But it's not exactly news.

Neither is what is coming later this week.

Don't listen to the gloom and doom and predictions of travel nightmares. At least not in these environs. It's going to rain. The roads will be wet. Somehow, I think we'll survive.

Of course, if you're traveling to other areas of the country, you could in fact have some winter weather issues.

And I'm sure the nice folks on the local TV news will remind you of that incessantly between now and Thursday.

Another reason for thanks!

Something I didn't know about Nov. 22

I took advantage of the timing to run today's print column in advance on Friday to coincide with the 50th anniversary of the JFK assassination.

If you missed it, you can read it here.

But I was somewhat taken aback Friday morning to learn something about the day that I'm amazed had not occurred to me before.

Nov. 22 was always a very special day in our family because it was our father's birthday.

My dad was the original "Quiet Man" (my kids say it is in the genes). He did not spend a lot of time doting on himself, nor celebrating anything as trivial as his birthday.

But you might have thought he - or we - would have had something special planned for that day.

I was reminded of all this in an email from my sister Kate Friday morning. She is the official keeper of the family records. And while I was very much aware that Nov. 22 was dad's birthday, I had no idea that he would have been 100 on Friday. Which of course means that JFK was assassinated on his 50th birthday.

I saw my dad cry exactly one time in my life. That night, when he got home after closing his store in North East, Md., he went into the closet, took off his coat, and broke down. Not much of a 50th birthday. And I imagine he was reminded of that sad fact every year thereafter.

To be honest, I'm kind of glad the while thing is over. I had a very weird - almost eerie feeling - all day on Friday. As if there was something that any of us could do that would have changed what happened on that day 50 years ago.

Compare that Washington, D.C., with the government we have today.

Camelot, indeed, is over.

Friday, November 22, 2013

The Heron’s Nest: The Daily Numbers for Friday, Nov. 22 (The JFK Edition)

The Daily Numbers: 50 years ago today that John F. Kennedy was gunned down in Dallas, Texas.

3 shots fired at the president’s motorcade.

2 of them struck the president, if you believe the Warren Report and do not think there was another shooter. I have never completely bought the notion that Lee Harvey Oswald did this acting alone.

12:30 p.m. Central Standard Time, when the first shot rang out in Dallas.

1 p.m. CST, President Kennedy decleared dead in Parkland Hospital Trauma Room 1.

1:33 CST, official announcement that President Kennedy was dead.

1:22 CST, Manlicher Carcano military rifle found hidden amid some boxes in the Texas School Book Depository 6th floor window of the Texas School Book Depository, where Oswald set up his sniper’s lair in a corner window.

1:15 CST, Dallas Police Officer J.D. Tippit shot dead after stopping Oswald on the street.

1:50 CST, Oswalk taken into custody in a Dallas movie theater.

2 days later, Oswald is gunned down in Dallas Police Station by Jack Ruby.

1,000 to 5,000, estimated number of books written about the Kennedy Assassination.

889, number of pages of the original Warren Report.

3561, as in Presidential Proclamation 3561, issued by new President Lyndon B. Johnson, issued declaring Monday to be a national day of mourning for the funeral of JFK.

24 hours, how long Kennedy’s casket remained in repose in the East Room of the White House.

300,000 people lined streets of D.C. as horse-drawn caisson carried casket of president from the White House to the Capitol.

250,000 people who paid their respects to JFK as he lay in state in the Capitol over 18 hours.

10 hours, how long some waited in line in freezing temperatures.

40 blocks, nearly 10 miles, how long the line stretched.

1,200 guests who crammed inside St. Matthew’s Cathedral for JFK’s the funeral Mass.

41,553,000 TVs in the U.S. believed to be in use during Monday’s funeral for JFK.

3:34 p.m. EST, casket containing the president’s remains is lowered into the grave in Arlington National Cemetery.

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

I am one of those who - 50 years later - am still aghast that the NFL decided to play their regular schedule of games that Sunday.

I Don’t Get It: I would like to know what really happened and why that day in Dallas. I’m not sure I ever will.

Today’s Upper: It’s good to remember, to learn, and vow that it will never happen again.

Quote Box: “At that moment most of us didn’t understand the weight of it until we got home and saw our parents.”

- Donna Mann, then a high school junior, talking about hearing about the assassination in class.

11 / 22 / 63

Half a century later, it’s still the tears I remember.

There have been two women I have encountered in my life who scared me.

One was my mother. She ruled our house with an iron fist. The other was Mother Marie Charles. She ruled Assumption Blessed Virgin Mary School in West Grove, Pa., with an iron (actually it was brass) ruler, a starched white bib and headpiece, and blue habit. The woman was 5 feet of jagged nails. Every guy in the school was scared to death of her, and with good reason. She did not tolerate tomfoolery. She was all business, and she let those who ran afoul of her rules know it, usually with the business end of that heavy brass ruler. She also was not above grabbing your ear and giving it a healthy twist to emphasize her point.

She was the last person on the face of the Earth I ever expected to see shed a tear.

It was not, however, the most stunning thing I would encounter that fateful day.

Nov. 22, 1963.

My classmates and I had just returned to our desks from lunch recess. As usual, we were rambunctious, jostling, pushing and shoving each other as we returned to our seats.

When Mother Superior appeared at the door to the classroom the third and fourth grades called home (yes, two classes in one room. Remember, it was 50 years ago), we all thought we were about to be upbraided once again for breaking the rules about horseplay inside the building.

This time was different. There were tears in her eyes.

She informed us the president had been shot in Dallas, and that we needed to pray for him. It was at that moment, with tears streaming down onto her starched habit, that I first noticed how small she really was. She appeared to be broken.

You’ve never seen a rammy group of rambunctious kids go dead silent so fast.

It was the same on the bus ride home, just an empty, eerie vacuum.

And I knew the worst was still to come. I knew when I got home I would have to face my mother.

My mother loved JFK. Not in the way she loved my father, at least during the times when they weren’t fighting like cats and dogs, but love is still the correct word.

When he uttered the words, “let the word go out that the torch has been passed to a new generation of Americans, born in this century,” he was talking to my mother.

She was a strident Democrat, who had lived through the Great Depression, and saw first-hand what it did to families. She used to regale us with her stories of getting an orange on Christmas morning, and being damn glad to get it.

Of course, she blamed Republicans, and spent the rest of her life voting religiously against them. In her world, there were R’s and D’s. R’s were bad; D’s were good.

Politics was her religion, and in JFK she found her champion. To her, he represented the promise she clung to during those tough times.

He was a Democrat; we were Democrats. He was young, brash and ebullient. No one ever accused my mother of being shy. He was Irish; were were Irish. Very Irish. He was Roman Catholic; we were Roman Catholic. And then there was his looks.

Just a week before that fateful day in Dallas, the president came to Elkton, Md., on Nov. 14 to open another section of I-95. It forms the heart of my mother’s favorite JFK story. She told it a million time, always exactly the same way, and the look in her eyes told you how much it meant to her.

Elkton was about a half-hour from Oxford, where we grew up, and where my mother ran a soda shop/luncheonette down the street from the high school.

On this Friday, her brother stopped in the store as he did most days. He sold insurance and later would become the town’s postmaster. The insurance company rented the other side of our store, which in better times was used as a gathering spots for young people, who would sit in the booths, play 45s on the record machine, and sip cherry Cokes.

The men who worked in the insurance office would often slip in the back way and appear near the grill to place their orders with my mom. Inevitably, they would start talking politics. Needless to say, most of them were not big fans of the president. The sparks would fly almost immediately as mom defended her hero. On this day my uncle informed her that he was going down to Elkton to see the president. He asked her if she wanted to go. She was out the door before her apron hit the floor.

For years after that day, she would tell her story exactly the same way. She always marveled at how close she got to the president. “He was right there, as far away as that wall,” she would tell anyone who would listen as she sat at her kitchen table. She would proceed to talk about how much younger he appeared in person, younger than she was. She was surprised by how red his hair appeared to be in person.

Just a week later, she was back behind the counter when one of her antagonists again popped in to put in his order.

“Hey, did you hear your boy got shot?”

That’s how my mother heard that her hero had been mortally wounded in Dallas. An hour later he was dead.

The rest of the weekend was a blur.

It’s often been said that’s the day America lost its innocence. Something died that day in Dallas. I know a little piece of my mom did.

Fifty years later, it feels just as awful.

Philip E. Heron is editor of the Daily Times and DelcoTimes.com. Call him at 610-622-8818. Email him at editor@delcotimes.com. Make sure you check out his blog, The Heron’s Nest, every day at delcoheronsnest.blogspot.com. Follow him on Twitter, @philheron.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

The Daily Numbers for Thursday, Nov. 21

The Daily Numbers: 5 cents more per gallon per year over 5 years, what we likely will wind up paying at the gas pump.

28.5 cents per gallon over the 5 years of the deal.

1 dollar more for renewal of your driver’s license in 2015, and then another buck in 2017.

25 bucks to $150, increase in fine for failure to obey traffic control devices.

2.3 billion dollars raised by the move for roads, bridges, and transit.

7.6 billion dollars over 5-year period.

476 million dollars for mass transit.

1 of 3 men previously acquitted in murder of Peace Corps volunteer from Upper Chichester now convicted on his retrial.

130,000 dollars raised by the 7th annual Nicholas Colleluori Classic lacrosse tournament at Ridley High. 18, age of man from East Lansdowne acquitted of attempted homicide charges.

14 absentee ballots from Marple nursing home that were approved by Delaware County judge. They had been challenged by the Marple GOP.

4 to 5 percent tax hike looming in Ridley Park.

15 cadets who completed the Upper Darby Citizens Police Academy.

38 percent of schools in Pa. that are now charging feeds to students to play sports.

80 dollar average fee.

11 percent of districts have cut sports.

70,000 square feet of space in Philadelphia International Airport’s new Terminal F, which held grand opening yesterday after expansion project.

5.3 million passengers that went through it in 2012, 18 percent of airport traffic.

66 point dip in the stock market yesterday.

200,000 dollar fine slapped on Valley Forge Casino Resort for skirting the law on a promotion.

4 straight losses for the Sixers.

8 losses in their last 10 games.

1 goal for Flyers Sean Couturier so far this year.

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

John and Robert Kennedy owning the Eagles? Apparently that was at least considered at one point.

I Don’t Get It: Still can’t believe that Jackie Kennedy was only 33 that day 50 years ago in Dallas.

Today’s Upper: Kudos to the Chester Police Department for reaching out to city youths and letting them know they are not the enemy.

Quote Box: “Delaware County made this happen.”

- U.S. Sen. Bob Casey Jr., on the Delco delegation’s support for transportation funding package.

Coming Friday: Special look at JFK 50 years later, through the eyes of Delco

On Friday the nation will mark the 50th anniversary of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. We will have special coverage, including the memories of citizens and notables across Delaware County.

I will offer a special blog with my own memories of that fateful day.

Make sure you pick up a copy of the print edition for a memento of that fateful day.

One of the things I am constantly amazed by is how certain segments of the news can go completely over my head.

It happened again this week as I was watching the evening news. Yes, I still try to catch the network news as one of my last acts here in the office. I like to know what the nation is talking about.

Of course, I have been voraciously devouring all the specials, documentaries and news reports tied to the assassination. I'm not sure why. I can't help myself. I guess I think that if I watch enough, I will learn what actually happened that day, and more importantly what we lost.

I was actually hooked into this broadcast by a teaser for someone I had not heard from before. Retired NBC anchor Tom Brokaw had secured an interview with the widow of Officer J.D. Tippit, the Dallas policeman gunned down by Lee Harvey Oswald in the minutes after the assassination.

She spoke eloquently at her loss, the devastation she was feeling, and her connection with First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy. Their slain husbands were buried on the same day.

Then Brokaw broke new ground. He had received permission from the Kennedy family to reveal the hand-written note written to Mrs. Tippit by the first lady in the days after the funeral to express her sorrow, and commiserate in their suffering.

What a magnanimous gesture.

But then Brokaw said something that made my jaw drop, something I was sort of aware of, but apparently had never quite sunken into my knowledge about what happened.

Brokaw referred to the great gesture by the 33-year-old widow of the president.

I actually bolted up in my chair, for a second I actually wondered if I had heard him correctly. Maybe he was actually referring to the officer's widow, I thought.

But a quick trip to Google confirmed it.

Jackie Kennedy was 33 years old when she accompanied her husband to Dallas. That means she was 30 when he was elected.

I knew she was younger than the president, but I never realized how much.

It only confirms what I often think, that when you think you know everything about a topic, something happens that shatters that image.

I remember vaguely being 30. I remember being a young father stumbling through the trials and tribulations of parenthood.

And then I remember being placed on a national stage for the worst possible reason, and realize just how great Jacqueline Kennedy really was.

In a moment of intense personal grief, she had to stand tall for the good of the country. The fact that the nation got through that weekend intact is a testament to her strength.

At the same time, she personally reached out to a woman who was going though the exact same horror, her husband gunned down by the same man who killed the president.

And she did it when she was 33 years old.

Mum's still the word at O'Hara

Sharp-eyed viewers of our live-stream Internet broadcast probably were disappointed that the show I wanted to do last night on the removal of the principal at Cardinal O'Hara High School did not happen.

I assure you it wasn't my decision.

But there is some good news that came out of the silence.

It's not coming from the archdiocese.

Spokesman Ken Gavin sent an email in which he stated the archdiocese would "politely decline" to come on the show.

As for ousted Principal Marie Rogai, while she could not make it last night, her attorney Dan McElhatton said that was because they both had previous engagements. I will try to get them for another night. I still would love to hear her version of what happened, and why she decided to send an email to the entire O'Hara community blasting the archdiocese for their decision and maintaining she had not been given a reason for her dismissal.

At least one reader, a teacher at O'Hara who has obviously been following the case closely and just as obviously prefers to remain anonymous, was not surprised at the archdiocese's decision. He's not a big fan of either the school administration or the archdiocese for the way this entire incident has been handled.

He stresses something that many tied to the school have openly mocked - the allegation that Rogai's personality, that she was not smiling enough for instance - played a role in her firing.

The O'Hara teacher has several questions he'd like to see answered, such as why has the Advisory Board seen such a secret for eight years? Is there any record of their agendas/minutes? Will there ever be an accounting for the vote that decided the fate of the principal? And why did people know Rogai's fate before she did? I realize everyone has an agenda in this thing. At this point I'm not sure we'll ever be getting the answers, unless all of this somehow winds up in a court room.

It doesn't mean I won't keep asking the questions.

By the way, if you want to catch our great discussion of the Eagles going into the bye week, with beat writer Bob Grotz and columnist Jack McCaffery, you can catch the replay here.

I didn't ask them their opinion of what happened at O'Hara. They're about the only two people I have not asked.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

'Live From the Newsroom' tackles the Eagles

Oh, sure, just as the Eagles get red hot, the NFL schedule makers tell them to take the week off.

So what's a frustrated Eagles fan to do? Rake leaves? Not a chance.

Never fear, 'Live From the Newsroom' is here to fill your Eagles angst.

Tonight I'll be joined by beat writer Bob Grotz and columnist Jack McCaffery as we dissect the Eagles' unexpected 6-5 start, good enough to lead the NFC East.

But what happens in the final five games, a tough stretch that sees them host the Arizona Cardinals, Detroit Lions and Chicago Bears, while traveling to the Minnesota Vikings and winding up the season at the Dallas Cowboys on the Sunday after Christmas, very possibly with a playoff berth at stake.

What do you think has been the key to the Eagles' success?

What grad would you give the Birds and rookie coach Chip Kelly?

Where do you think the Birds will wind up?

Is Nick Foles the read deal as a franchise quarterback?

We'll talk about all these and get the answers.

Email me your Eagles questions to editor@delcotimes.com and then log on tonight at 7 and take part in our live chat at 7.

In honor of Thanksgiving we'll be dissecting the Birds on 'Live From the Newsroom.' Why not join the conversation!

The Daily Numbers for Wednesday, Nov. 20

The Daily Numbers: 137,000 dollars, how much authorities now say a Marple woman ripped off from her mother’s best friend.

5 to 10 years in prison for Madeline Guglielmo.

2.3 billion dollar transportation funding bill passed by the Pa. House Tuesday night. It’s sponsored by Rep. Nick Micozzie, R-163, of Upper Darby.

2 different times the same measure was rejected by the House just 24 hours before.

104-95 vote in favor of the plan.

1 local legislator who voted against. That would be state Rep. Steve Barrar, R-160, of Upper Chichester. 476 million dollars in the bill for transportation.

22, age of Newtown man who has been missing since Nov. 13.

19 percent of adults in Delaware County who still smoke cigarettes.

23 percent of adults still lighting up in Philadelphia. All the other suburban counties are lower.

36 months in prison for the 2nd of the Nifty Fifty

67 ballots cast at a care home in Marple that continue to be under scrutiny. A Delco judge will rule this week if they’re admissible. They won’t affect any results.

21, age of man found shot to death in a home in Malvern, Chester County. A friend now faces charges of 1st-degree murder.

8.99 dip for the stock market yesterday.

13 billion dollars being paid to the feds by JP Morgan for misleading investors on worthless mortgages.

5-2 win for the Flyers over the Senators last night at the Wells Fargo Center.

4-0-1 for Flyers in their last 5 games.

4-10-1 start for the orange and black.

32 saves for Steve Mason to give the Flyers a chance.

21 starts for Mason since joining the Flyers. He has not yet given up 3 goals in a game.

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

The buzz in Philly sports talk this morning is that the Kennedy brothers, JFK and Robert, once considered buying the Philadelphia Eagles. Wild!

I Don’t Get It: Still don’t like the idea of paying more at the pump, but that’s the price we’ll all pay for this new transportation funding bill.

Today’s Upper: Kudos to the state House for coming around, reversing course and approving the measure last night after rejecting it twice 24 hours before.

Quote Box: “I feel very embarrassed and very sick over everything that I did.” - Marie Guglielmo of Marple, at her sentencing for stealing $137,000 from a friend of her mother’s.

Silence is deafening on O'Hara

It's now been a week since the principal at Cardinal O'Hara High School was dismissed. The silence is deafening.

Marie Rogai now has a lawyer, but not before firing off a broadside questioning just about everything about her firing, from the Cardinal O'Hara Advisory Board to the archdiocese, to Superintendent of Secondary Schools Carol Cary.

Just for good measure, in the letter sent to the entire O'Hara community she identified a prominent member of the advisory board who she claimed had made repeated unwanted 'physical advances' toward her, and that she had informed O'Hara President William McCusker of that situation to no avail.

It turns out those advances weren't sexual, but apparently the man placing his hand on her shoulder, which she didn't care for.

The man, who we did not identify, got a lawyer of his own and fired off his own letter to the archdiocese, categorically denying her claims.

Rogai still wants to know why she was fired, and claims she has been given no documentation for the move, despite reports that some parents had complained about her to the advisory board.

I continue to hear from readers on both sides of the issue. I'll say this, there does not seem to be much in the way of a middle ground here, people either are staunch supporters of Rogai, or they couldn't be happier that she is gone.

I decided maybe the best way to air both these sides is to have them both sit down with me for a session of 'Live From the Newsroom.' That's our live-stream webcast on DelcoTimes.com that we do each Wednesday night from 7-7:30.

I have requests in to both sides. I'd love to have someone from the archdiocese on to give their side, whether it be Superintendent Cary, O'Hara President Bill McCusker, or maybe some members of the O'Hara Advisory Board. They have remained strangely silent on all this.

So far I have not heard back from the archdiocese.

I also have a request in to Daniel McElhatton, the attorney who represents Marie Rogai. He said he would consult with his client.

I'll let you know as soon as I hear.

Do you have questions you'd like to see aired on this issue, either for the archdiocese or Rogai? Email them to me at editor@delcotimes.com and I'll present them during tonight's show.

If there is a show. Keep your fingers crossed.

Good news and bad news on transportation funding

You can forget SEPTA's Doomsday Plan.

They're not going to shut down the regional rail lines. Not that they ever were. But I have to give credit to Delco guy Joe Casey, the general manager at SEPTA, for doing something that certainly got people's attention.

It now appears as if our fearless leaders in Harrisburg have thought better of taking a pass on a measure to pour $2.3 billion into the state's transportation system, including roads, bridges and mass transit.

This despite two different votes in the House Monday night to reject the plan. The third time was the charm, with the House passing the plan with a 104-95 vote, much to the chagrin of state Rep. Daryl Metcalfe, R-Butler, from western Pennsylvania, who flat out calls the plan a $2 billion tax hike. Metcalfe might not be especially welcome in the governor's mansion this holiday season, after ranting on the House floor yesterday about "Corbett's tax hike." The governor - from his own party - probably does not appreciate that sentiment seeing as how he is looking at a decidedly uphill re-election fight next year.

One of the biggest proponents of the plan was our own state Rep. Nick Micozzie, R-163, the chairman of the House Transportation Committee.

The plan will now be considered again by the Senate. They are likely to pass it and send it along to Gov. Tom Corbett.

That's the good news. Our roads and bridges are crumbling. They need to be fixed.

Here's the bad news. It's not going to be cheap.

For starters, we're all going to be paying more at the pump. One of the key funding mechanisms in the bill is lifting the decades-old oil franchise tax.

I'm told that it likely will push prices at the pump higher by a nickel as soon as it's implemented, and that before it's over gas will be 28 cents a gallon higher.

You also will have to dig deeper when you go to register your car and renew your license. Those fees are going up.

And you might want to back off the gas pedal, and not just to save gas. If you have a lead foot, you're going to pay more for speeding and other traffic violations. Those fees are going up too.

The key for this region was the big boost in funding for mass transit, in other words, SEPTA. It means another $475 million for mass transit, which Casey said we would be used to immediately start working on crumbling bridges and other infrastructure.

Good thing. With the price of gas, we might all be using mass transit.

A few gripes before we pause to give thanks

Next week we will pause to offer thanks.

For now, I have a few gripes I'd like to offer.

It is not even Thanksgiving yet, and I'm already being bombarded by my personal vote for the most aggravating ad ever produced.

Show of hands? How many of you know anyone who has ever received a Lexus with a big red bow on it for Christmas?

Thought so.

Every time I see that ad, I am filled with self-doubt and question my worth. Maybe that's the point. I guess that's why it's a good ad.

Now if they really wanted to send me into a fit of Nirvana, they'd find an old '66 Chevy Super Sport, lime green with mag wheels. It was my first car. I bought it for $500.

It didn't come with a red bow on top.

It came with 90,000 miles and a fading generator.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

The Daily Numbers for Tuesday, Nov. 19

The Daily Numbers: 150 years ago that President Abraham Lincoln delivered the Gettysburg Address.

3 counts of animal abuse filed against a 19-year-old Havertown woman who admitted cutting off the ears of a pit bull puppy.

6 car break-ins in Ridley now believed to have been solved with the arrest of a 34-year-old man Holmes man. 45.3 million underfunding for Delaware County schools, according to a new study by Public Citizens for Children and Youth.

1,400 dollars missing from a youth football league in Chester. A warrant has now been issued for a woman who works as a prison guard in connection with the missing funds.

15 months in prison for one of the owners of the Nifty Fifty’s burger joints on a beef involving tax evasion.

61 ballots cast at a Marple care facility that were tossed and are now the subject of a probe by the county D.A.

35 dollars per household tax hike looming in Darby Township.

1 harness driver seriously injured when he was run over during a mishap on the track at Harrah’s Philadelphia in Chester.

34-15 vote in the Senate to give green light to small games of chance in local bars and taverns.

260 million dollars expected to be raised from the measure each year. Of that 60 percent, $150 million, would go to the state, 5 percent to the municipality, and the rest of the bar owner.

10 percent increase in table games revenue in October at Pa. casinos.

1 percent decline in revenue from slot machines.

215 billion dollar transportation funding package that was shot down last night in the Pa. House. They’ll try to salvage the bill today.

16,000 barrier smashed by the stock market yesterday, but it didn’t stay there, closing at 15,976.02. 3.20 national average price for a gallon of gas.

3.33 price in the Philly region.

97-94 loss for the Sixers on the road in Dallas last night.

4 straight games missed by rookie Michael Carter-Williams.

26 points for Evan Turner in the loss.

12 days until the Eagles play again.

26 million dollar, 3-year new deal for Phillies catcher Carlos Ruiz.

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

Get ready for the latest version of the Wheeze Kids. Ruben Amaro is putting together the old guys for one more run. Or maybe we should call that a brisk walk. Except that this team never walks.

I Don’t Get It: I’m sure there is a very good reason why President Barack Obama is not attending today’s event commemorating the 150th anniversary of President Abraham Lincoln delivering the Gettysburg Address. I’d like to know what it is.

Today’s Upper: Kudos to Public Citizens for Children and Youth for pointing out the inherent inequity of the education funding formula in this state. That process leaves schools here in Delco staring at a $45 million shortfall.

Quote Box: “Sufficient funding alone will not fox all the challenges in public education, but without adequate funds, schools cannot provide the resources necessary top help their students succeed.” - Donna Cooper, on the education funding study released by PCCY.

The 272 best words in the English language: A big day in Gettysburg and a notable absence

I have been accused from time to time of being a tad wordy when it comes to my writing.

For instance, my Monday print column sometimes threatens to spill off the page. In this business, we call that a "jump." We frown on that around here. We like stories to start - and end - on the same page.

That's one of the reason I have always marvled at one of the great pieces of literature in the English language.

I was actually a speech, and it was delivered 150 years ago today.

Maybe you've heard of it, and the orator.

It was called the Gettysburg Address, delivered by President Abraham Lincoln on Nov. 19, 1863. Amidst the passion and overwhelming loss and grief embodied by the Gettysburg Battlefield at the height of the Civil War, Lincoln sought to reassure the nation of its noble calling.

It contains all of 272 words.

One hundred fifty years later, you might say the nation is again gripped in something of a civil war. Or, perhaps better stated, a most uncivil war.

It's called partisan politics. Instead of being contested by the blue and gray, this one is being waged by the blue and the red. Right vs. left. Democrats vs. Republicans. Political gridlock is the rule of the day in the nation's capital.

That's why I find it hard to believe that one person will be missing amid all the events commemorating the Gettysburg Address today. You can follow our live coverage of the events here.

The current commander-in-chief will not be there.

President Obama has rejected pleas to attend. Instead he will send a representative.

Shame on him. I don't know why Obama is not going to make it to those rolling hills in central Pennsylvania. Frankly, I don't care. I have heard a lot of reasons, including the fact that the congressman from that region voted with the Tea Party bloc in oppposing Obamacare and shutting down the government.

I don't care. That's not what this day is about.

It's about who we are as a nation, why this grand experiment was conceived, and the challenges ahead. It's a message that resonates just as easily now - although certainly for different reasons - as it did 150 years ago.

Of all people, you would think our president would be there.

I for one, am speechless when it comes to determining why he would turn his back on such a day.

Maybe these 272 words can provide some hint:

The Gettysburg Address

Fourscore and seven years ago our fathers brought forth, on this continent, a new nation, conceived in liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal. Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived, and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battle-field of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting-place for those who here gave their lives, that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.

But, in a larger sense, we cannot dedicate, we cannot consecrate — we cannot hallow — this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us — that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they here gave the last full measure of devotion — that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain — that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom, and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.

Read all about it, the real champions of adult literacy

As I mentioned last week, it was my honor to be named one of three "Champions of Adult Literacy" by the Delaware County Literacy Council.

They're one of my favorite organizations.

And why not, if people aren't reading, I'm not working. My wife takes a decidedly dim view of that. But I wanted to post a photo today of the real heroes of the night.

That would be the three adult literacy students who introduced myself, Dr. Tim Witmer and Chester Mayor John Linder.

They are in fact the real stories of the champions of adult literacy, along with the good folks like Kate Hyzer and Susan Keller and all the volunteers from the Literacy Council.

I was introduced by Henrietta Dua, who spoke eloquently of her struggle to learn English after arriving in Delaware County from her native Africa.

We take so much for granted. Reading this blog, for one. Or a street sign, a phone book, or a menu. Not everyone has that luxury. Henrietta Dua didn't, but it hasn't stopped her from seeking her dream, with the help of the Literacy Council.

Kevin Morgan introduced Mayor Linder. He told of his troubled youth, running afoul of the law on the streets of Philadelphia and Chester, and finally landing on his feet - with what he termed his last chance - via the Literacy Council. Today he is college student with a 4.0 GPA. He landed on his feet, and brought the crowd to their feet with his inspiring story.

Dr. Witmer was introduced by a member of his congregation. Mimi Zhang grew up in China, and told of her struggles with English when she arrived here, and the integral part that Crossroads Community Church is playing in the community.

I will never take the act of writing - or reading - something that is so close to my heart, for granted again.

It was an inspiring evening, one people need to know about. People need to know the kind of work organizations like the Delaware County Literacy Council are doing.

Let me be the first to say, "Read all about it."

Schedule makers only thing that can cool off Kelly, Eagles

Just when the Eagles are getting red hot, the NFL schedule makers have decided to throw a little cold water on our celebration.

The Eagles now head into their bye week. In fact, they're done for the month of November. They next play again on Sunday, Dec. 1, against the Arizona Cardinals, at the Linc. There is word that the game might be 'flexed' to the Sunday night game.

So I guess the Eagles have arrived. A lot of people are interested in what Chip Kelly is doing. Kelly got the cold shoulder from a lot of the so-called experts who said his whiz-bang style of offense wouldn't fly in the NFL.

Well, the Birds have now won three in a row, are sitting at 6-5 in first place in the NFC East, and control their own destiny.

They have the hottest quarterback in the league, and their defense, after a nightmarish first month of the season, is probably playing as well as anyone this side of Carolina.

No one is saying that about Kelly now. His play-calling on Sunday against the Redskins was on the money. Sure he has some issues with the challenge rule, and he still doesn't look entirely comfortable with a big lead and trying to milk the clock, but he's pushing all the right buttons.

Now he and his red-hot team have to push the 'hold' button.

So what do we do for the next 12 days? Well, I guess we could rip Ruben Amaro Jr. and the Phillies, who seem intent on bringing back the same old, tired lineup.

Yesterday they dumped $26 million in the lap of catcher Carlos Ruiz. You can read about the three-year deal from Dennis Deitch here.

Ruiz is 35. That gives him something in common with Jimmy Rollins, Chase Utley and Ryan Howard. They're all in their mid-30s. Last week the Phils added outfielder Marlon Byrd. He's 36.

Maybe they're trying for a curtain call for the Wheeze Kids.

Monday, November 18, 2013

The Daily Numbers for Monday, Nov. 18 (Eagles-Redskins Edition)

The Daily Numbers: 10 game home losing streak snapped by Eagles yesterday with win over Redskins.

24-0 lead going into the 4th quarter, a laugher right? Uh, not exactly.

2 straight TDs and 2 successful 2-point conversations left the Redskins just 1 score from tying the game.

291 games since the last time the Eagles defense pitched a shutout. Didn’t happen yesterday either.

3 times in his career LeSean McCoy has gone over 1,000 yards rushing in a season.

77 yards on 20 carries for McCoy.

5 runs for losses for McCoy.

1,109 yards rushing for McCoy so far this year.

47 yards rushing for Nick Foles

93 yards on 22 carries for Washington’s stud running back Keith Morris.

17 of 26 passing for Nick Foles for 298 yards.

6-5 record for the Birds, in sole possession of 1st place in NFC East.

6 100-plus passer ratings this year for Foles.

0 interceptions thrown by Foles.

427 yards surrendered by Birds’ defense. It’s not about yards, it’s about points.

3 more yards rushing for Foles as opposed to RGIII.

11 yards passing for the Redskins through the 1st 40 minutes of the game.

51 of 72 for 932 yards, 10 TDs and 0 interceptions for Nick Foles in last 3 games.

15 turnovers through 11 games for the Eagles.

6 batted passes on the season for linebacker Connor Barwin.

70 yard punt by Donnie Jones in the 4th quarter to pin the Redskins deep in their own territory.

1 loss for Andy Reid and the Chiefs, who fell to the Broncos last night.

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

Don’t look now, but is starting to look like a legitimate playoff team.

I Don’t Get It: Still trying to figure out what RGIII was doing most of the game yesterday. He looked lost.

Today’s Upper: Kudos to Nick Foles, who continues to make “fools” of his critics.

Quote Box: “I thought our crowd was fantastic today.”

- Eagles Coach Chip Kelly, on Linc faithful after Birds snapped 10-game home losing streak.

Monday Morning Quarterback: Just how good can this Eagles team be?

For three quarters yesterday, the Eagles did their best imitation of a playoff contender.

Not just the token representative from the NFC Least, but a team that might actually do some damage once they got there.

Chip Kelly was calling a masterful game.

Nick Foles was erasing the last few remaining doubts by doing things everyone continues to say he can't do. The defense continued its weekly march toward greatness, throwing a shutout at the Redskins and making Robert Griffin III look confused and disinterested in the process.

Then they played the fourth quarter.

Up 24-0, the Eagles for some reason went into a shell, repeating the near disaster from opening night when they bolted to a big lead over the Redskins, only to see them claw back and almost win it.

The Redskins managed to put up two consecutive TDs, coupled with two successful two-point conversions, to put them just one score and another two-pointer from tying the game.

I kept looking for the Eagles offense to go on the same kind of long, crushing drive that they used to choke the life out of the Packers last week, when they got the ball back with 9:32 leftin the fourth quarter and never gave it back.

Not this week.

Instead, it was pins and needles time, right up until RGIII for some reason decided to throw a ball up for grabs in the end zone, where it was picked off by Brandon Boykin.

The Eagles prevailed. They now stand alone in first place in the NFC East, since the Cowboys were sitting the week out on their bye week.

I would repeat the three things I offered at the start of this blog.

This was Chip Kelly's finest day as a coach. His play-calling was consistently three steps ahead of the Redskins, in particular his excellent use of screens.

Nick Foles continues to open eyes - both with his arm and his feet. When you have a back like LeSean McCoy, who draws all the attention of the defense, it's clear Foles is becoming more and more adept about pulling the ball back on those read-option calls and picking up yards with his legs. Time after time, the Redskins' ends completely ignored Foles to crash down on McCoy. Foles nicely made them pay.

But it was his arms that was the real eye-opener for me yesterday. I've always had my concerns about Foles' arm strength. But he threw several of the deep 'out' patterns that are the hallmark of a big-time NFL quarterback.

And he continues to quickly read the field and get the ball to the right guy, distributing it between DeSean Jackson, Riley Cooper, Jason Avant, Brent Celek and Zach Ertz, all of whom caught balls yesterday.

The defense is starting to border on being dominant, in particular the defensive line, which is getting outstanding play from Fletcher Cox and Bennie Logan.

The Birds now have a week off for their bye, before a date at the Linc with the Arizona Cardinals. And that's another thing. The Eagles did something yesterday they had not done in more than a year. They won a game in South Philly at Lincoln Financial Field. The place was jumping yesterday, and the Eagles jumped all over the 'Skins at the outset, pushing the fans over the edge, even if they did cause a bit of angst with that fourth quarter.

How good is this team? And how good can they be?

That's a question for Chip Kelly. And so far he's had just about all the right answers.

If you care about education in Delco, this will be a very important day

There will be a very important development concerning education in Delaware County today.

Specifically when it comes to the essential question of funding for education, something that has been much on people's minds of late.

His opponents continue to hammer away at Gov. Tom Corbett for the cuts he put in place when it comes to education funding in his first two years in office. He counters that they are blaming the wrong person, that most of the cuts resulted from federal stimulus funds expiring, and local school districts using them for projects they should not have, despite warnings that the money was not going to be permanent. Corbett makes the case that he has actually increased the basic state education funding.

This afternoon one of the leading education watchdog groups in the state will weigh in on this issue, specifically how the numbers relate to Delaware County.

Public Citizens for Children and Youth (PCCY) will release the findings of a new report, “The Bottom Line is Children: Public Education in Delaware County.”

The report promises to detail the state of public education in Delaware County, and the role of education funding in that equation.

Donna Cooper, executive director of PCCY, along with Upper Darby education activist Colleen Kennedy, the founder and executive director of the group Stand Up Demand Action, will have the numbers.

Check back this afternoon and we'll let you know what they say about the state of education in Delco.

Two things I can count on

There are two things I can count on in this job.

One, it's never a good idea for me to work with numbers.

Two, I know I am going to get complaints when it comes to our election coverage.

Once again this November, I've been proven right on both counts.

I talk about it in today's print column, my weekly Letter from the Editor.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

The Dreaded Saturday Eagles Pick

Call it a most imperfect 10.

The Eagles have not won a game on the less-than-frozen tundra of Lincoln Financial Field in 10 games, all the way back to their victory over the Giants in September of 2012!

What they did do, however, was go to the tundra of Lambeau Field and grind out an impressive win over the Packers to claw their way back to the .500 mark at 5-5. It’s still hard to believe this team is 5-1 at home, but 0-4 at home.

Nick Foles will be behind center again, looking to make it three wins in a row, as well as three eye-popping performances. He’s now thrown 10 touchdowns in the past two weeks, and has yet to throw an interception this year.

And yet, no one seems in an awful hurry to anoint him the team’s future at QB. All he has to do is keep winning to cement his position. Getting another big game out of LeSean McCoy, who bulldozed the Pack for 155 yards, would help.

In the season opener in D.C., the Eagles and Chip Kelly caught the ‘Skins off guard with their up-tempo offensive tempo and blitzed out to a big halftime lead, then held on for the win. They won’t have that luxury this time.

What they will have is a rapidly improving defense, which is jelling around linebacker DeMeco Ryans as he returns to the kind of form that landed him on the All-Pro team before he tore an ACL. Robert Griffin III is likely going to be better than he was in the opener, but he still does not look like the same quarterback who knocked the socks off the NFL in his dazzling rookie campaign. I like the Birds to break the curse this week. In the process, they vault into first place alone in the NFC East, with the Cowboys having the bye this week.

The Pick: Make it Eagles 33, Redskins 27. With good weather on tap, this one should turn into a track meet. I like Nick Foles to keep his streak going, and the defense do just enough to keep tabs on RGIII and the Redskins.

Last Week: Nick Foles continued to impress, throwing three more touchdown passes against the Packers. But easily the most important thing the Eagles did came with 9:32 left in the fourth quarter. Getting the ball back after the Packers scored, the Birds climbed on LeSean McCoy’s back and simply ran the ball down the Pack’s throat. They ground out first downs, forced the Packers to use their timeouts, and then took kneel-downs to let the clock - and the Packers - expire. Chip Kelly looked uncormfortable taking the air our of his up-tempo offense, but it was an impressive display. Another win this week and the Birds find themselves miraculously alone in first place.

Season Record: I got back on the plus side with the Birds’ victory. I’m now sitting at 6-4, while the Eagles are hoping to go over the .500 mark with a win on Sunday. Right now they are .500. Raise your hand if you didn’t think this team would win 5 games all year. Thought so.

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)

Giants 15, Eagles 7 (My Pick: Giants 26, Eagles-23)

Eagles 49, Raiders 20 (My Pick: Raiders 23, Eagles 13)

Eagles 27, Packers 13 (My Pick: Eagles 29. Packers 16)

Friday, November 15, 2013

The Daily Numbers for Friday, Nov. 15

The Daily Numbers: 125 million dollar entertainment complex envisioned for the Sun Studios location in Chester Township.

500,000 to 1 million tourists that would be attracted to the Disney-style facility.

82 million dollars raised for Pennsylvania by ‘After Earth,’ the M. Night Shyamalan flick that was filmed in part at the Delco facility.

500 people employed for the shoot.

20,000 hotel rooms filled.

164th state Legislature seat held by Democrat Margo Davidson. She may be facing a primary challenge from fellow Democrat Billy Smith.

37 page final report on the Chester Housing Authority delivered to the court.

6 drug charges filed against employee of Chester Water Authority.

80, age of longtime Lansdowne doctor, Lenwood Wert. He pleaded guilty to charges of running a pill mill out of his office.

2 years probation, the sentence given to Wert by Delaware County Judge Mary Alice Brennan.

1,000 criminal counts that had been charged against Wert, who practiced medicine in Lansdowne for 54 years.

6 variances given the green light in Ridley to move toward the demolition of the Kinder Park public housing development.

35-70 years in prison for a Chester man who admitted to strangulation death of his mother.

400,000 dollars in fines proposed against 2 firms connected to last summers deadly collapse of a building being demolished in Philadelphia.

2 boys believed to have been abused by a youth football coach in Philly.

84, age of infamous Boston mobster Whitey Bulger, who was sentenced to life in prison.

54 point hike in the stock market yesterday.

15,876.22, another record high close for the Dow.

5 big playoff high school football games on tap this weekend.

75-69 loss for Temple at Towson last night.

10 straight losses for the Eagles at the Linc. That needs to change, hopefully starting Sunday vs. the Redskins.

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

The Linc is a gorgeous facility, but it’s not proving to be a winner for the Eagles, who have now lost 10 straight games on their home turf. Bring back the Vet.

I Don’t Get It: Not sure if the circumstances were different, if someone facing the charges Dr. Lenwood Wert was, that another person would get off with two years probation.

Today’s Upper: Kudos to Chester Mayor John Linder and Dr. Tim Witmer, pastor of Crossroads Community Church, who were honored last night as “Champions of Adult Literacy” by the Delaware County Literacy Council.

Quote Box: “We are looking at a world-class destination here in Delaware County.”

Jeff Rotwitt, on his plan to bring a Disney-style entertainment complex to the Sun Studio site in Chester Township.

The public and parents have their say on the O'Hara saga

The emotions continue to swirl around the removal of Marie Rogai as principal of Cardinal O'Hara High School.

And I have to say those who have reached out to me continue to be fairly evenly split among those backing the embattled principal, and those who are not exactly shedding a tear that she is gone.

One thing almost every one of them agrees on is that they are not particularly happy either with the school or the archdiocese with the way this thing was handled.

Many believe Rogai is being held to a different standard simply because she is a woman. They mock the notion pointed out by one of her critics that she "didn't smile enough," and openly question whether a man would be held to the same standard.

One reader, who admitted being a teacher at O'Hara, said teachers at the school believe Rogai is competent and "getting screwed."

"At the very least, the way this was handled is wrong, inappropriate, but mother church will get away with it because she can and the great silence will continue."

After an initial volley from lawyers on all sides and the archdiocese, no one is talking now. At least on the record. But lots of people are willing to weigh in with their opinions.

One of the most interesting calls I got was from an O'Hara alum who questioned the entire notion of the so-called Cardinal O'Hara Advisory Board, which voted for Rogai's ouster after the allegedly getting complaints about her from several parents.

He maintained that most O'Hara parents did not even know such a board existed, let alone the power they wielded over school personnel.

At a meeting Tuesday night of the Cardinal O’Hara Home and School Association, school President William McCusker said he would make the names of those serving on the Advisory Board available on the school’s website. He was good to his word.

If found the list on the website this morning:

Here it is:

Cardinal O’Hara Advisory Board: Mr. Tom Goldsmith, Board Chair; Paul Boston; Joe Kelly; Marty Meenan (1990); Jeanne Cordes (1974); Steve Giacobetti (1973); Regina Walker Fazio (1993); Stephen Thomas Dever ; Marty Farrell (1984); Bob Woods (1973); Jim Tulskie (1983); Dennis Cirucci (1968); Mike Bradley; John Caramanico (1974); William J. McCusker, School President; Jim Arnold - DIA (1972); Kim Toldero, School President’s Board Secretary. Cardinal O’Hara Advisory Board Members are appointed by the president of O’Hara.

He sounded like he has no intention of letting this story go quietly.

I'm starting to think he's right. And I wonder when the next wall will crumble, when and if Rogai and the man she accused of making unwanted physical contact will go to court to get the answers that so far have probed elusive.

3 inspiring stories from the Delaware County Literacy Council

Delaware County has no shortage of crucial social agencies that are doing incredible work in the community. Their stories don't often make the front page of the paper, yet they are the fiber that binds our diverse communities together.

Last night I had the opportunity to see first-hand the value - and results - of one of the best.

It was my distinct honor to represent the Daily Times and DelcoTimes.com in accepting one of three "Champions of Adult Literacy" awards from the Delaware County Literacy Council.

I have to admit when my friends Kate Hyzer, Susan Keller and Shonette Harrison-Crew first informed me of the honor, I was a bit taken aback.

After all, I'm a newspaper editor. What the hell do I know about literacy?

It's an old joke, I know.

The truth is I'm a pretty selfish guy. Yes, reading is pretty important to me. If people don't read, I don't eat, or pay my bills. And while it is true people aren't reading our print product in the numbers they once did, they are finding us in new platforms, on their phone, tablets and other mobile devices. It's some I take for granted.

Last night I met some people who don't, three in particular.

They are the real stories of last night, and the true heroes of the battle being waged to help those adults who still struggle with literacy.

Then there were my co-honorees, Chester Mayor John Linder and Dr. Tim Witmer, pastor at Crossroads Community Church.

Linder knows better than most elected officials the value of education, literacy in particular. Before running for office, he spent a couple of decades teaching at Delaware County Community College. He sees every day on the streets of his city the results of young people and adults who lack literacy skills. It's a dead-end road. The Delaware County Literacy Council is the way out.

Witmer and his Crossroads Community Church are doing vital work in Upper Darby. If there is indeed a "melting pot" when it comes to this region, it just might be Upper Darby. I was stunned on a visit to Upper Darby High a few years back when I was informed of how many languages are spoken in the district? Ten or 15 maybe? Try more than 75. Yeah, that's what you would call a melting pot.

The true "champions" of last night are the three Delaware County Literacy Council students who introduced us.

I was introduced by Henrietta Dua, who spoke eloquently of her struggle to learn English after arriving in Delaware County from her native Africa.

We take so much for granted. Reading this blog, for one. Or a street sign, a phone book, or a menu. Not everyone has that luxury. Henrietta Dua didn't, but it hasn't stopped her from seeking her dream, with the help of the Literacy Council.

Kevin Morgan introduced Mayor Linder. He told of his troubled youth, running afoul of the law on the streets of Philadelphia and Chester, and finally landing on his feet - with what he termed his last chance - via the Literacy Council. Today he is college student with a 4.0 GPA. He landed on his feet, and brought the crowd to their feet with his inspiring story.

Dr. Witmer was introduced by a member of his congregation. Mimi Zhang grew up in China, and told of her struggles with English when she arrived here, and the integral part that Crossroads Community Church is playing in the community.

I will never take the act of writing - or reading - something that is so close to my heart, for granted again.

It was an inspiring evening, one people need to know about. People need to know the kind of work organizations like the Delaware County Literacy Council are doing.

Let me be the first to say, "Read all about it."

Thursday, November 14, 2013

The Daily Numbers for Thursday, Nov. 14

The Daily Numbers: 21, age of man who took the stand and testified against Marcus Hook Mayor Jay Schiliro. He was 20 at the time he claims the mayor solicited him for sex.

60 parents who packed a meeting of the O’Hara Home and School Association to have their say about the dismissal of school Principal Marge Rogai.

5 defendants who have now been held for trial in the slaying of Chester Rite Aid store manager Jason Scott McClay.

2 alarm fire that damaged a home in Darby Borough Wednesday.

102 votes needed in the Pa. House to pass a package of transportation funding. Right now it’s still up in the air.

61 absentee ballots from residents at Broomall Rehabilitation and Nursing Center that are being tossed by the county Board of Elections.

5-1 vote by the Haverford School Board to oppose the new state Keystone Exams as a requirement for high school graduation.

22, age of man facing charges in connection with calling in a bogus ‘Swat’ incident in Marple.

4,500 bars and taverns in Pa. that would get the green light for small games of chance under a bill that passed the Pa. House Wednesday.

17, age of teen in Philly who now faces charges that he set up a website that identified witnesses in criminal cases in the city. It was titled ‘rats215.’

11, age at which a man claims he was first molested by a Philadelphia priest. His family is now filing suit vs. the archdiocese. The man took his own life before the priest could be brought to trial. The charges in the case were dropped.

3 people shot outside Pittsburgh school.

27,000 people who were able to sign up for the new Affordable Care Act in the 1st month. That’s far below estimates.

2,200 in Pa. who have been able to pick their plan.

70 point climb for the stock market Wednesday.

18 points, 10 rebounds and 11 assists for rookie Tony Wroten for his 1st triple-double in his 1st NBA start. He was filling in for Michael Carter-Williams.

34 points for Jeremy Lin of Houston, including 9 3-pointers.

3 straight wins for the Flyers, including wins on back-to-back nights on the road.

30 shots stopped by Ray Emery as the Flyers topped the Pens, 2-1.

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

The winter sports scene is starting to look a lot more interesting. How ‘bout those Sixers and Flyers!

I Don’t Get It: Calling in an incident in hopes of sparking a “SWAT” team response at a bogus location. It’s called ‘swatting.’ Now a Marple man faces charges in a similar ruse.

Today’s Upper: Kudos to those working to honor the memory of Aimee Willard with a holiday toy-coat drive Saturday at Riddle Memorial Hospital. She is not forgotten.

Quote Box: “When we look back, we will think of this year as the time we had the debacle with the principal.”

- Angry parent at last night’s meeting of the Cardinal O’Hara Home and School Association, on the firing of the school principal.