Monday, June 30, 2014

Daddy's little girl

Someone please tell me that my little girl is not getting married.

For someone who arrived in this world more than two weeks late (have I ever told you what a great two weeks that was?), she sure seemed to be a in a big hurry to grow up.

Friday night I picked her up at the airport. She flew in from Bangor, Maine, where she was handling her first big case with the Natural Resources Defense Council. I couldn't believe how 'grown-up' my little 'Bean' looked as she stood there with her roller bag.

Actually, I couldn't believe how old it made me feel.

This Saturday, I'll take her on a short walk to the rest of her life.

For now, I am using my weekly print column to take a look back.

Friday, June 27, 2014

The Daily Numbers for Friday, June 27

The Daily Numbers: 1 person killed, 2 others wounded in shooting late last night in Chester.

24 homicides in Delaware County so far this year.

15 of them have occurred in Chester.

2 fire companies that will be getting out of the EMS business in Haverford Township, as they contract with UPenn Health Services for EMS service.

440,000 dollars in savings, what the township predicts they will save in the first year of the deal.

1945, when Manoa Fire Co. started its ambulance service.

13-26 years in prison for a Colwyn man convicted in burglary, robbery.

2,100 workers who could be out of jobs as Showboat Casino in Atlantic City may close its doors in August.

2 former employees of abortion doctor Kermit Gosnell who received jail time yesterday for their role in his operation.

21 point decline for stock market yesterday.

4.14 percent, average rate this week for 30-year fixed-rate mortgage.

1-0 loss for the USA vs. Germany in World Cup action, but they still advance to the knockout round.

3 and 10, spots in 1st round where Sixers picked last night.

0 players they got who are expected to play next season.

7-foot Joel Embiid from Kansas, who Sixers took with No. 3 pick.

5-3 win for Phillies over Marlins in 14th inning on walkoff homer by Chase Utley.

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

Let’s all sing it together, the ballad of the Sixers: Tanks for the Memories!

I Don’t Get It: The Sixers had the No. 3 and No. 10 picks in the NBA Draft, and somehow did not get a player who will play next year. I hope Sam Hinkie knows what he’s doing. I don’t get it.

Today’s Upper: Kudos to Delco Sheriff Mary McFall Hopper, for quickly getting out word yesterday about a scam involving people pretending to be sheriff’s deputies and making phone solicitations to people.

Quote Box: “We are going to see higher natural gas prices. We’re going to see reduced investment and reduced employment.”

Lou D’Amico, president of the Pennsylvania Independent Oil and Gas Association, on word that Legislature is considering enacting severance tax on gas drilling in the state.

No end to gun violence in Chester

Last week a group placed 144 T-shirts on an empty lot on Ninth Street in Chester. They commemorate those lost to gun violence in the city since 2009.

Tomorrow another group will march from the city to the Providence Friends Meeting House in Media in support of stricter gun control laws.

Apparently not everyone is getting the message.

Gun violence continues to plague the city.

Last night one man was killed and two others wounded when gunfire rang out at West Seventh and Lloyd Streets. I don't know what the answer is.

The mayor and county officials kicked off what they called Operation City Surge a couple of weeks ago. They vowed to beef up the police presence in the city.

It hasn't stopped the gun violence.

I'm not sure what will.

Agony of de-feet for Sixers with Embiid pick

Somewhere, Jeff Ruland and Andrew Toney are smiling.

The Sixers once traded Moses Malone for Ruland, confident that the mobile big man was the answer to turning around an aging franchise. But bad feet haunted Ruland - and the Sixers. He ended up playing just a handful of games.

The same saga shortened the career of the 'Boston Strangler,' shooting guard Toney.

Last night the Sixers rolled the dice, hoping that the third time is the charm.

They selected 7-foot Kansas center Joel Embiid. Now only is he currently on the shelf with a broken navicular bone in his foot, he also is coming up a back injury.

The Sixers had the No. 3 and No. 10 pick in the draft, and wound up with two players that may not play a game next year. That's right. With the No. 10 pick, they selected point guard Elfrid Payton, but promptly traded him for the rights to 6-10 forward Dario Saric of Croatia. Unfortunately, he's under contract to play the next two seasons in Turkey.

It is possible that Embiid will not get on the floor at all this season.

Welcome to Year Two of the 'Together We Build' campaign.

Terry Toohey was in New York for the draft.

Here's what columnist Bob Grotz thinks of Sam Hinkie's efforts.

I have a suggested theme song for this team:

Tanks for the Memories!

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Daily Numbers for Thursday, June 26

The Daily Numbers: 19 closed parishes in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia that will be visited during a ‘pilgrimage’ by parishioners unhappy with those decisions on Saturday.

5 of those parishes that will be vistited are here in Delaware County.

31 parishes in total closed by the archdiocese since 2012.

0 tax hike included in the $72.9 million dollar budget adopted by Marple Newtown School Board.

500,000 dollars being used from their fund balance.

39, age of Folcroft woman charged in series of burglaries in Ridley Township.

1 person struck and killed by an Amtrak Acela Express train near the Sharon Hill Train Station yesterday afternoon.

48, age of Norwood man who pleaded guilty to the rape of 3 young girls.

30 people who are delinquent in their sewer/trash fee in Aldan, and the borough is planning to turn up the heat on them to pay up.

1, as in No.1, for Delaware beaches when it comes to cleanliness, according to new poll.

29.1 billion dollar budget plan OK’d by the state House last night. It now goes to the Senate.

2.6 percent increase in spending under the plan. That’s about $727 million.

100 million dollars more for public schools, including $20 million for special education, #70 million for instruction and operations, and $10 million for construction projects.

340 million dollar education block grant sought by Gov. Tom Corbett cut from the budget.

300,000 people who have visited the 9/11 Museum in NYC in its 1st month of operations.

49.38 uptick for stock market yesterday.

1 crucial misplay from Dom Brown that opened gates to 3 runs for the Marlins. They won the game, 3-2.

3 runs on 5 hits, while striking out 8 in 7 innings for A.J. Burnett, who deserved better.

17-23 mark at home now for the Phillies.

1-4 since they went on that 5-game winning streak.

12 noon, time of the crucial USA vs. Germany World Cup game.

Call me a Phanatic: A look at the ups and downs of being a Philadelphia sports fan. Anybody seen that player Dom Brown hinted at during that torrid six-week stretch he had last year. No sign of him around here lately.

I Don’t Get It: The House passed their version of a state budget last night. Don’t expect it to much resemble the plan that is eventually put in place. It will be redone in the Senate.

Today’s Upper: Kudos to the faithful who are planning a ‘pilgrimage’ on Saturday to parishes - including 5 in Delco - that have been closed since 2012 by the Archdiocese of Philadelphia.

Quote Box: “To say the process is a sham and a way for the archdiocese to get money it needs is patently false.”

Ken Gavin, spokesman for the archdiocese, on the criticism of parish closures.

'Live' with Audra McLaughlin

In this racket, you get used to people forgetting where they came from once they get a little taste of success.

Phone calls don't get returned. Requests for interviews are ignored. They no longer "need" you now that they've made the big time.

That's why I was wondering exactly what was waiting for me as I walked into the Let There Be Rock School in Ridley last night.

We were there to do our "Live From the Newsroom" show with none other than one of their star pupils, Audra McLaughlin.

You've probably heard of her. She's a Delco native who grew up in Glenolden, and this spring rocketed to national fame with a knockout performance on the NBC reality show 'The Voice.'

What I discovered is a totally enchanting young lady who clearly has not been affected in the least despite getting a big gulp of fame.

Audra McLaughlin could not have been nicer. She's been on national TV, as well as all the local TV stations. She certainly didn't have to do our makeshift live-stream weekly Internet show, but she seemed genuinely happy to do it. Some of that may have something to do with her surroundings. Audra is a proud product of the Let There Be Rock School, and isn't shy about telling you about it.

Melissa Daley, who owns the business along with her husband, Joe, gave us a tour of the facilities before the show and then sat in with us to talk about her star pupil. Melissa is Audra's voice coach, and talked about the dedication this Delco kid showed in persevering through the grueling auditions and then weeks of sessions needed for 'The Voice.'

Audra will be performing this weekend at the YachtStock River Jam festival in Tinicum, which this year will benefit little Noah Lamey of Norwood, who recently received a heart transplant, as well as Shriners Hospital in Philly.

Then on Sunday she and some other Let There Be Rock School students will be performing at the special 11th anniversary celebration at Barnaby's on MacDade Boulevard.

Audra was joined by Brian Hannon, front man for the band Philbilly, which often plays with Audra, to give us a little glimpse of Audra's talent.

My thanks to Audra, Melissa, Joe, Brian and everyone at the Let There Be Rock School for a great night. If you missed the live-stream, you can catch the replay here.

One man's prediction: Audra McLaughlin is going to be a star. And one that Delco can be proud of, and maybe more importantly, one who remembers where she came from.

Red, white & blue flu hits today

I'm feeling a serious case of red, white and blue flu coming on.

I know, I know, you're still trying to clean up the mess that Dom Brown created in left field last night, butchering a fly ball that opened the door for the Marlins to bolt to a 3-0 lead from which the Phils never recovered. A.J. Burnett deserved better.

And your fever is building toward tonight's NBA Draft, where the Sixers are sitting pretty with the No. 3 and 10 picks in the 1st round.

But right now all those people around the office sniffling and complaining of other aches and pains are likely looking for an easy out so they can catch the USA vs. Germany World Cup game.

I think this could be the day when soccer "arrives" as a major sport here in the States.

The numbers from Sunday night's key game vs. Portugal were off the charts, setting all kinds of records for viewership. At last count some 24.7 million people around the globe tuned into that 2-2 tie, 18.2 million on ESPN alone.

But that was a night game, and on a weekend to boot.

Today's game, in which a tie or win will send the U.S. into the next round, will be played in the middle of a work day. Which is one of the reasons I think the Internet will be exploding with people streaming the game at their cubicles.

Here's a look at how much buzz the game is creating.

We'll be hosting a live blog. You can take part in the conversation.

So do you have soccer fever? Let us know what you are doing to check out the game.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

The Daily Numbers for Wednesday, June 25

The Daily Numbers: 18 million dollar deficit staring at Chester Upland School District as they struggle to put together a budget.

3.5 percent tax increase in the works for district residents.

2,817 tax bill for the average property assessed at $50,000.

5 million dollars already cut from budget, with officials indicating they are hoping to cut at least $5 million more.

5 percent extraction tax on Marcellus Shale drilling being proposed by state Rep. Margo Davidson, D-164.

29.1 billion dollar Pa. budget given the OK by House Appropriations Committee.

0 tax hike in that package, backed by Springfield Republican Bill Adolph, chair of the Appropriations Committee.

1 count of child porn and 1 count of criminal use of communication facility, charges pleaded guilty to by former Sunday school teacher from Parkside.

2 cases of West Nile Virus detected in mosquitoes in Delaware County.

7,000 square foot Patient First facility opening today on Baltimore Pike in Springfield, at the site of the old Springfield Inn.

6,880 square foot Walgreens store that has gotten the OK for 2400 Darby Road in Haverford.

3 more restaurants being opened by Aston eatery magnate Dave Magrogan, who owns the Kildare’s Pub chain.

2 people stabbed in debris-filled Philly home. A woman was stabbed at least 15 times. Both are in critical condition.

50 million dollar distribution center being built in Philly by Dietz & Watson. Fire consumed their South Jersey warehouse. Those 158 workers will relocated from N.J.

28, age of man, who is in the country illegally, charged with rape of woman in Rittenhouse Square neighborhood of Philly.

35, age of Philly female police officer facing charges in connection with fights involving her teen kids. The mom was charged with encouraging her kids to fight.

66,000 dollars in fines slapped on Harrah’s and the Golden Nugget in Atlantic City for underage drinking and gambling.

119 point dip for the stock market yesterday.

6 year high for consumer confidence.

3 game losing skid snapped by Phils with 7-4 win over the Marlins.

10 hits for the Phils.

31, age of Grady Sizemore, the former Red Sox outfield signed to minor league deal by Phils yesterday.

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

Class move by Phillies fans and Marlins catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia in allowing Tony Gwynn Jr. a moment to soak in standing ovation in his 1st appearance since the death of his Hall of Fame dad Tony Gwynn Sr.

I Don’t Get It: Biting? There’s not biting in soccer is there?

Today’s Upper: Kudos to the ruling by the United Methodist Church to overturn defrocking order for a minister who presided over the same-sex marriage of his son.

Quote Box: “Our fiscal challenge continues.”

- Chester Upland Chief Financial Officer George Crawford.

The Main Event: Kane vs. Corbett

Want to solve Pennsylvania's $1.5 billion budget deficit?

Forget spending cuts.

It's time to get creative.

I'm suggesting a pay-per-view WWE match pitting Gov. Tom Corbett vs. Attorney General Kathleen Kane.

Yeah, I'm thinking you might not want to invite these two to your summer barbecue.

These two are quickly building a grudge match to match Ali vs. Frazier.

Which brings to mind one of the great quotes ever uttered. When Muhammad Ali was invited to light the torch to open the Summer Olympics in Atlanta in 1996, some enterprising reporter sought out his nemesis Frazier for a reaction. As usual, Joe came out 'Smokin.'

"I'd like to push him in," was Smokin' Joe's quick retort.

They eventually settled their differences.

Don't look for Kane and Corbett to do the same anytime soon.

This all started when Kane was running for attorney general, bidding to become the first Democrat - and first woman - ever to hold that office. She was successful, in no small part because she kept trumpeting her belief that Corbett dragged his feet when he was attorney general in the probe into child sex abuse allegations swirling around former Penn State football coach Jerry Sandusky.

Kane vowed one of her first acts as the state's top law enforcement officer would be to conduct an investigation of how Corbett handled the probe.

This week she delivered the goods - with decidedly mixed results.

While the report found no indication that politics played any role in the investigation, Kane could not resist zinging her predecessor - who just happens to be facing an uphill re-election fight - for 'inexplicable delays' in the probe. She criticized Corbett's decision to put the case in front of a grand jury, and even intimated there were other victims who may have been spared their ordeal if the investigation had moved quicker and Sandusky had been charged earlier.

Of course, none of this is sitting especially well with Corbett, and in particular those who handled the Sandusky case in the attorney general's office.

It's a continuation of the sniping that heated up when Kane deep-sixed a sting operation that seemed to snare several Democratic politicians in Philly accepting cash and other gifts from an undercover operative.

Kane is a new power player in the state Democratic Party, and it seems pretty clear she has big ambitions.

Kane vs. Corbett isn't going away any time soon.

In fact, Democrats may have to jog their memory to recall that Corbett isn't running against Kane. He's running against York businessman Tom Wolf.

But it's pretty clear he's going to be trading jabs with Kane right through the fall.

We're 'Live' tonight with 'Voice' star & Delco native Audra McLaughlin

Attention Audra McLaughlin fans! Don't forget our very special 'Live From the Newsroom' show tonight, we'll be sitting down with the star of 'The Voice' and Delco native.

I'm sure her legions of Delco fans remember Audra. She's the Glenolden talent who wowed the nation on 'The Voice' competition. Audra will be our special guest Wednesday night as we take our live-stream Internet broadcast out on the road to the Let There Be Rock School in Ridley.

We'll find out what Audra has been up to since her star burst onto the music scene so brightly on the reality TV show, what her plans are for the future, and of course her deep roots right here in Delco.

Audra is in town to lend a hand to the good folks at YachtStock, the charity river jam now in its 16th year on the waterfront in Tinicum. The day-long concert, which benefits a local child and the Shriners Hospital of Philadelphia, is set for this Saturday, and Audra will be performing, along with her friend Sara Spicer.

This year YachtStock is benefiting Noah Lamey, a Norwood youth who is battling a condition known as dilated Cardiomyopathy, where the heart becomes weakened and cannot pump blood efficiently.

If you have a question you'd like us to put to Audra, email it to me at and I'll ask her during the show.

Then tune in to at 7 p.m. for a great 'Live From the Newsroom' with Delco rising star Audra McLaughlin and the gang from the Let There Be Rock School.

A class moment for Philly fans, & Marlins' catcher

There was a great moment in last night's Phillies-Marlins game, which tells you a lot about Philly fans and blows holes in all those stories about how classless and crass we are.

In the bottom of the eighth inning, manager Ryne Sandberg sent Tony Gwynn Jr. to the plate as a pinch-hitter. It was his first appearance since taking a leave to mourn the death of his father and namesake, Hall of Famer Tony Gwynn.

Philly fans - yes those same folks who are constantly reminded that they once booed Santa Claus - rose to their feet and offered a warm welcome back to Gwynn, a utility player on this struggling Phils' team.

Almost as good was something that Marlins' catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia did.

As the Philly faithful rose to their feet to salute Gwynn, he took a stroll to the mound to Gwynn his full due.

"I don't know what is must be like to lose a father," Saltalamacchia said. "Especially a guy who brought so much to this game."

Class guy.

Class fans.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

The Daily Numbers for Tuesday, June 24

The Daily Numbers: 2 separate rallies set for this coming Saturday on gun issues. Both gun control advocates as well as gun rights groups will converge on the Providence Friends Meeting House in Media.

7 miles from Chester to Media, how far the gun control advocates will hoof it on their march and rally.

2 months, how long the new director of the Chester County SPCA lasted. He was let go last week.

11, age of little Sarah Murnaghan of Newtown Square, whose push last summer has led to a permanent change in the way organ donations are allocated.

36, age of banker from Radnor who was sentenced to 23 months of intermediate punishment for posing as a teen girl online to solicit photos of young girls online.

166 page report issued by Attorney General Kathleen Kane on the investigation into Jerry Sandusky saga.

2 new victims alleged by Kane, but not included in the report.

2 West Nile Virus instances detected in Delco.

1.15 billion dollar shortfall looming over the Pa. budget process, which is starting to heat up in Harrisburg.

30 June at midnight, deadline for having a budget in place. It’s not expected that the Legislature will hit the mark.

28, age of man Philly police are charging in brutal rape of a woman in her Rittenhouse Square apartment.

503,000 dollars ripped off by a Philly lawyer from the estates and trusts of former clients. He got 2 years in prison.

9.82 decline for the stock market yesterday.

4.9 percent increase in sales of existing homes in May.

59.93 average temperature across the globe in May. That sets an all-time record, topping the old mark set 4 years ago.

600 jobs being slashed by Avon Products.

24.7 million people around the world who tuned into that 2-2 tie between USA and Portugal in World Cup play Sunday.

18.2 million on ESPN alone.

18 goals and 16 assists in 74 games last year for R.J. Umberger, who comes back to the Flyers in a deal for Scott Hartnell.

157 goals in 517 games for the popular Hartnell for the Flyers.

4-0 loss for the Phillies to the Marlins last night.

7 hits, all the Phils could muster.

3 of the hits for Cody Asche.

3 straight losses for Phils after winning 5 straight on road.

2 runs on 3 hits surrendered by Phillies starter Roberto Hernandez.

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

Why can’t the Phillies win at Citizens Bank Park. It used to be their secret weapon. It is becoming instead their Waterloo.

I Don’t Get It: When do you think most criminal suspects are going to figure out just how much of our lives is being captured on videotape.

Today’s Upper: Kudos to little Sarah Murnaghan, the Newtown Square girl whose push to change organ donation allocations was made permanent yesterday.

Quote Box: “We believed making lungs from donors 12 and older available to children under 12 who are good candidates to receive them was the right thing to do. We very much appreciate that the medical community now agrees with that.

- The Murnaghan family of Newtown Square.

'Live From the Newsroom' makes music with Audra McLaughlin Wednesday night

'Live From the Newsroom' will take on a decidedly musical tone Wednesday night, with a very special show featuring none other than Delco's own Audra McLaughlin.

I'm sure her legions of Delco fans remember Audra. She's the Glenolden talent who wowed the nation on 'The Voice' competition. Audra will be our special guest Wednesday night as we take our live-stream Internet broadcast out on the road to the Let There Be Rock School..

We'll find out what Audra has been up to since her star burst onto the music scene so brightly on the reality TV show, what her plans are for the future, and of course her deep roots right here in Delco.

Audra is in town to lend a hand to the good folks at YachtStock, the charity river jam now in its 16th year on the waterfront in Tinicum. The day-long concert, which benefits a local child and the Shriners Hospital of Philadelphia, is set for this Saturday, and Audra will be performing, along with her friend Sara Spicer.

This year YachtStock is benefiting Noah Lamey, a Norwood youth who is battling a condition known as dilated Cardiomyopathy, where the heart becomes weakened and cannot pump blood efficiently.

If you have a question you'd like us to put to Audra, email it to me at and I'll ask her during the show.

Then tune in to at 7 p.m. Wednesday for a great 'Live From the Newsroom' with Delco rising star Audra McLaughlin and the gang from the Let There Be Rock School.

Trouble at home for Phillies, Hartnell

A few things to consider while we wait for the USA vs. Germany matchup Thursday in the World Cup (yes, I have a touch of soccer fever!).

Suddenly the Phillies are allergic to Citizens Bank Park. The little bandbox used to be their secret weapon, as they would gorge on pitchers intimidated by their lineup and the minute dimensions of their hitter-friendly park. But after a solid 5-2 showing on the road in Atlanta and St. Louis, the Phils returned home and promptly slid into a coma last night. They went meekly vs. the Marlins, losing 4-0.

The highlight of the evening for Phils' fans came before the first pitch, when the team honored Jimmy Rollins for his new status as the team's all-time hits leader.

It was all downhill from there. The Phils managed all of seven hits, three of them by Cody Asche. The Marlins put two on the board in the 1st inning vs. Roberto Hernandez and never looked back. Hernandez actually settled down and pitched well, but got no support from the Phils' sleepy bats.

Don't look now but that makes three straight losses for the Phils, as this confounding team continues to treat water.

Speaking of home, the Wells Fargo Center is no longer home to popular Flyer Scott Hartnell. The team traded him to the Columbus Blue Jackets yesterday. Coming back to the Flyers is old friend R.J. Umberger and a draft pick.

What's interesting in this first big deal for Ron Hextall is that Hartnell clearly was taken aback when he was informed he was being moved. The team actually approached him last week to let him know they were "moving in a different direction." Hartnell was not happy about the move, but eventually waived his no-trade clause.

Mark down Nov. 14, Flyers fans. That's when Hartnell will bring Columbus back to Philly.

Based on the Flyers recent trades (can you say Mike Richards, Jeff Carter and Justin Williams?) the Blue Jackets can start planning their Stanley Cup parade any day now.

Monday, June 23, 2014

The Daily Numbers for Monday, June 23

The Daily Numbers: 14, age of teen charged in Upper Darby for stealing a car at gunpoint and then slamming into a township police cruiser.

1,500 dollars worth of damage done by the youth while in the juvenile detention area.

140 T-shirts erected in Chester to note gun violence victims in a rally.

500,000 dollars in jewelry ripped off during a home invasion in Haverford.

10 years since 3 Marines from Folson unit in Ridley were killed in Iraq.

4 women in Upper Darby who have been awakened by a stranger in their bedrooms.

2 bankruptcy filings now for the Revel Casino in Atlantic City.

2.4 billion dollars, what it cost to build the newest boardwalk casino.

16 foot great white shark that was spotted right next to fishing boat off shore of New Jersey.

2-2 tie for the USA in World Cup competition vs. Portugal.

10 seconds, how much time was left in ‘stoppage’ time when Portugal tied it.

5-2 road trip for Phillies.

5-3 loss yesterday to the Cardinals.

3-0 lead that Kyle Kendrick could not make hold up.

15 game hitting streak for Jimmy Rollins snapped.

5 runs on 8 hits over 6 innings for Kendrick.

Call me a Phanatic: A look at the ups and downs of being a Philadelphia sports fan. Does anyone think for a moment that American football fans would allow the final seconds of a game to be contested not having any clue exactly how much time was left? Didn’t think so.

I Don’t Get It: Stoppage time. I don’t get it.

Today’s Upper: Kudos to team USA. Great effort vs. Portugal. They need a win or tie vs. Germany on Thursday to advance.

Quote Box: “We had one foot in the door.”

- U.S. soccer goalkeeper Tim Howard, on the team’s last-second tie.

An old head's view of the 'me generation'

I'm feeling incredibly old. Even more so after a weekend trip to the Borgata in Atlantic City. Maybe it was the fact that we were halfway there when I realized I did not have my wallet with me. Of course you need an ID to check in. Luckily, they took the info from my wife. But it's really more than that. Let me try to explain. I'm not much of a casino fan. For starters, I don't gamble. Sure, I'll buy a lottery ticket or take part in a Super Bowl block pool or some other type of sports bet, but I don't play poker. Nor blackjack.

At least I can understand the card games. I have no idea what is going on - nor what is the allure - with slot machines. So you might wonder what I was doing celebrating my wedding anniversary at the Borgata this weekend.I didn't go there to gamble. My wife and I went there to see one of our (OK, it's really mine) favorite bands, Hall and Oates. More on that in a minute.

First, let me talk about the casino. I didn't realize you were still allowed to smoke in casinos. The smell is overpowering, hitting you as soon as you walk into the place. The people who design these places - with the exception maybe of the people who did the troubled Revel - are not dummies. The idea is to get you into the casino - and keep you there.

You can't do anything without going through the casino. The sound alone of all those slot machines is enough to send me to the exits.

That, in effect, is part of the problem I had with the Borgata. Unless you gamble, there is not much else you can do. It's almost like you're a prisoner. At least when you're in town, you can hit the beach or stroll the boardwalk.

No such luck - literally! - at the Borgata. There really is no place to walk, unless you want to take a stroll in the street. So my wife would go round and round the perimeter of the casino.

There's something incredibly sad and depressing about looking at all these people sitting in front of those slot machines for hours on end. Many of them are senior citizens. I suppose they are looking for something to do. I couldn't help but wonder how many of them could not afford to lose the money they were pumping into those machines.

At least I had the concert to look forward to, or at least I thought I did.

I guess I should have expected to be disappointed. As much as I like their music, I don't particularly care for their "greatest hits." I don't need to hear 'Sara Smile,' 'Rich Girl,' or 'Kiss on Your List' again. I guess they feel compelled to play them, and they did.

I would much rather hear their lesser known songs, including my two favorites, "Throw the Roses Away" and "It's a Laugh," neither of which made the list.

Don't get me wrong, even though the sound was not great in the Events Center, they were excellent, with one drawback. Maybe I've been spoiled by The Boss, Bruce Springsteen, but for $80 I was expecting more than a little more than an hour of songs and then two encores, especially since they were essentially on their home turf.

But that was not my real problem with the concert, nor the thing that left me with an especialy bad taste in my mouth about the whole weekend.

That honor would be reserved for the three guys who sat directly behind us.

I guess I should have seen what was coming when the first thing one of these loudmouths bellowd to his buddies was, "I think we're the only ones under 60 in here." Uh, yeah, you went to a Hall and Oates show, what exactly were you expecting?

I was tempted to turn around and inform this guy that I first saw them before he was born, at the legendary Stone Balloon in Newark, Del., in 1978.

It only got worse. These guys insisted on singing along with the band - at the top of their lungs. I did not pay to hears this trio screaming in my ear. I kind of wanted to hear the band. Of course, between every song they needed to shout out what they wanted to hear from the H&O hit list.

I especially appreciated their liberal use of the F-bomb that littered their language. The capper was when one dolt, swaying to the music, spilled his beer on my wife's back. She was not amused.

I found myself thinking about something I had written last week, how we are becoming a much more coarse society. These guys would Exhibit A.

But I actually think it's more than that.

These guys were not there to see a concert. They were there to be seen. They were the show, at least in their world. Every time they would shuffle down the aisle to refill on beers, they insisted on stopping and dancing in front of the crowd. It was star time. It was all about them. Who cares who they inconvenienced, or who they offended. They were the show, and they took great joy in mocking anyone who did not join them, noting they did not realize they were in the "church section."

I'm not much for concerts any more. Now I know why.

I likely will not be going back to Borgata any time soon. With the exception of Springsteen, I can't see me taking in a lot more concerts either.

Maybe I'm just old.

The rules have changed. Everyone wants to be a star, to claim their 15 minutes of fame, to get their own reality TV show. I'm glad these guys enjoyed themselves.

That makes one of us.

Marking two milestones

Last week was a big one for the Heron's Nest. I marked a couple of milestones.

It's been 32 years since I walked in the door of the Delaware County Daily Times for my first day at work.

And that means that almost exactly one year later, I walked down the aisle to say my "I Do's" with my lovely bride.

I talk about it today in my Monday print column.

A most unsatisfying tie for U.S., and at least one novice soccer fan

I have no interest in joining the great World Cup debate.

That is, I don't want to join those who immediately dismiss it as a minor event. It is part of what paints us as uglay Americans, with out haughty attitude, so dismissive of what is the world's most popular game.

Having said that, I can probably be labeled a fair-weather soccer fan. Sure, I get interested in World Cup, especially when the U.S. of A. is involved. Major League Soccer? I don't think so, even if one of the teams plays its games right here in Delaware County.

Yes, that means the Union. No, I have not yet caught a game at PPL Park on the Chester waterfront.

All of this is to serve as an introduction to what happened to the U.S. team yesterday in their crucial World Cup clash with Portugal.

If you want to know why soccer will always struggle to be taken seriously by U.S. fans, I would submit yesterday's game as Exhibit A.

Aside from baseball, which has a timeless parameter all its own, dependent on gaining a certain amount of outs, our sports are controlled by a clock, one that is clearly displayed, both in stadiums and on TV broadcasts. It is the clock that creates much of the drama that surrounds our sporting events, in particular when it comes to dramatic finishes.

Without the clock, there is no nail-biting sense of building anxiety, which inevitably leads to the thrill of victory or the agony of defeat.

Instead, yesterday we were treated to the agony of something called 'stoppage time.'

Soccer games are played in two halves, over 90 minutes.

But the referee keeps track of time during the two halves when play is stopped, such as for injuries, and then adds that time at the end of the game.

That's what happened as the U.S. hung deserately to a 2-1 win that would have punched their ticket to the next round.

They came within seconds of winning, but that was just enough time for superstar Cristiano Ronaldo to serve up a perfect crossing pass, which was deposited in the U.S. goal on a great header by Silvestra Varela.

Can you imagine the drama had anyone been aware that there were literally seconds left in the game?

Instead, after the crushing goal, play resumed - and ended - seconds later.

Apparently no one knows but the ref exactly how much time is left. If I'm wrong about this, can someone please correct me?

Otherwise, I was left to grumble about how the soccer gods can possibly allow a game to end like this. I suppose it could have been worse. The game could have been tied and the U.S. delivered a crushing blow to lose the game.

As it is, the tie keeps them alive and they will face Germany Thursday. A win or tie will put them in the Knockout Round of 16. Here's how the U.S. can advance.

That's not going to make yesterday's unsatisfying tie any easier to stomach.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

The Daily Numbers for Thursday, June 19

The Daily Numbers: 3 fires believed caused by severe storms that rumbled across the region last night.

18, age of suspect charged in the Upper Darby ‘Knockout Game’ video attack on a homeless man.

3 other teens still being sought in the attack.

100,000 dollars bail for Trent Epps in the videotaped sucker punch.

97, age of Richard Bayley, who took part in the bowling competition at the Delco Senior Games at Sproul Lanes yesterday. Atta’ boy!

5-10 years in prison for a Chester man convicted of robbing a 7-Eleven store at gunpoint.

15 homicides in Chester so far this year. That is out of 24 in the county.

1.86 percent tax hike approved in Garnet Valley School District budget. That’s down from the initial 2.4 percent.

930 dollars in teeth whitening strips ripped off from a Target store in Exton. Police are looking for a suspect with really white teeth.

1/3 of teens who admitted in poll to taking part in ‘sexting’ racy pictures of themselves.

89, age of Philadelphia man who now may be deported for his alleged role as a guard at the infamous Nazi death camp Auschwitz.

12 cent hike in federal gas tax being proposed.

98 point spurt for the stock market yesterday.

3-game sweep of the Braves completed by the Phils yesterday.

18 hits pounded out by the Phils yesterday.

3 hits and a homer for Marlon Byrd

5 hits, 4 walks and 6 RBI for Ryan Howard in the series.

32-38 mark for the Phils, 5 games back of the Washington Nats in the NL East.

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

Now what do you do if you are Ruben Amaro Jr. The Phillies are not going to make this easy on their GM.

I Don’t Get It: One-third of teens who responded to a poll admitted that they have sent nude or partially nude pix of themselves on their phones via ‘sexting.’ I don’t get it.

Today’s Upper: Kudos to the Phillies. Just in time for summer, the Boys of Summer are back.

Quote Box: “Come in, because we’re going to get you sooner or later.”

- Upper Darby Police Superintendent Mike Chitwood, on the 3 suspects still being sought in videotaped attack.

Slouching toward the lowest common denominator

For someone who spends as much time cursing as I do, I'm not sure why I got so bent out of shape by the most recent vulgar public utterance of a public official.

I think it has something to do with the forum. We all have our moments and blurt out things we likely regret. Most of us try to limit those outbursts to private settings.

When they're done in public - in particular by public officials - they add to what is an increasingly coarse public dialog.

I talked about it in the blog yesterday.

Today I am adding the voice of our editorial page against this slow decline toward the lowest common denominator. It's simple. We're better than that.

'Live From the Newsroom' does 'Dining Under the Stars'

It was still sunny and sweltering as I made my way along Baltimore Pike headed for Media and one of the truly great rites of summer in Delco, "Dining Under the Stars" on State Street.

If you haven't been there, I highly recommend it. It's not too often that a town literally shuts down a main thoroughfare, including a SEPTA trolley line, and allows local eateries to move their tables out in the middle of the street for a little dining al fresco - and en masse.

But I was pretty sure that yesterday's stifling weather would keep the crowds at a minimum.

Shows how much I know.

The first inkling that I might be wrong came in my search for a parking spot in the bustling borough. They are doing a major rehab and renovation job on the main parking lot, with the second and third floors closed entirely. One quick trip through the ground floor showed no available spots, so I headed out to look for a spot on the street. I eventually found one, then started the march toward State Street.

The place was packed. Under a still-scorching sun at 6 p.m.

My thanks to Mayor Bob McMahon, who again kicked off our show. We also had great conversations with Addie Cianella, who is with one of the newest initiatives in Media, Thursday's Media Farmers' Market, which runs every Thursday 3-7 p.m. on State Street next to the Media Theatre.

One of the borough's newest entrepreneurs also stopped by. Jack Cunicelli owns 320 Market along with his brother, and is planning a big expansion in the borough in the former Media Town Hall.

Bryan Messick, from the Franklin Mint Federal Credit Union and president of the Media Business Authority was all smiles, and who wouldn't be gazing down State Street and the hundreds of people dining under the stars.

Finally, special thanks for Roger Ricket and the kids from Media Theatre, who gave us an impromptu preview of their summer production of 'Cinderella.' It is part of the theatre's Children's Series and runs Saturdays and Sundays through Aug. 17.

And of course I would be remiss if I did not mention the behind-the-scenes work of Susan Serbin, who 'produces' our annual visit to the county seat and lines up our guests.

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

Phillies proving there's life in those legs

The Phillies have no intention of making this easy on Ruben Amaro Jr.

Good for them.

The Phils spent much of the early part of this season asleep at the wheel, in particular at a place where they once excelled. That would be Citizens Bank Park. The were well south of the .500 mark.

Most people had them ticketed for "sellers" as the trade deadline loomed out there at the end of July.

They somehow managed to lose two of three at home to the lowly Cubs.

Then they went on the road for a trip that most people believed would merely seal their fate.

They started in Atlanta.

Three days - and three wins later - they are riding high after a sweep of the Braves and storming into St. Louis for a four-game set in "baseball heaven," as Scott Rolen would call it.

So what does Amaro do? Can this team squeeze a serious run out of Chase Utley, Jimmy Rollins, Ryan Howard, Cole Hamels and a bullpen that looks like it is starting to get its act together.

Utley has been cooling off after his torrid start, but he's still hitting .302, and Howard is beginning to show the power stroke that earned him that mega-contract.

Rookie Ken Giles is throwing serious heat - and strikes - out of the bullpen.

Dennis Deitch has the details on yesterday's big win, as the Phils bats hammered the Braves. And our beat writer has a conclusion about the Phil's chances. Don't write them off just yet.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

The Daily Numbers for Wednesday, June 18

The Daily Numbers: 95 degrees, today’s expected high temperature. One word for today: Hydrate!

10 million dollars, how much the former finance director in Yeadon Borough is suing for in a civil case.

9 age of victim in an Upper Darby molestation case.

54 to 108 months in prison for the man who pleaded guilty in the case.

215,000 dollar grant from DEP to Chester for recycling performance.

70, age of Frank Videon, an icon in the Delaware County auto business, who died on June 12.

5 Catholic churches that are appealing order that they be merged into other parishes by the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, including Notre Dame de Lourdes in Swarthmore.

2 people killed when an SUV collided with a riding lawn tractor in Delaware.

110 million dollars given to Jefferson Hospital by the Sidney Kimmel Foundation. They will rename the Medical School in his honor.

96 million dollars still needed to close budget gap for city of Philadelphia

5 percent increase in tolls on Pa. Turnpike that got the OK yesterday.

27.48 boost for the stock market yesterday.

0.4 percent boost in consumer prices in May.

72 years old today for Paul McMcartney. So much for still caring when we’re 64.

6 straight pitches thrown for strikes by Kyle Kendrick to start last night’s win over the Braves.

2 straight wins for Kendrick, 1st time he’s done that in 11 months.

2 straight wins and 6 of their last 8 for Phils.

13th homer for Ryan Howard.

20 homers and 69 RBIs in the 71 games Howard has played in his career at Turner Field.

16 saves in 18 chances for Jonathan Papelbon.

5 games back in the NL East.

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

The National League East is doing everything in its power to keep the Phillies in this thing. Don’t look for a fire sale so long as they’re still within striking distance. Right now they’re only 5 games back.

I Don’t Get It: Still not sure what to make of the notion of cold-cocking someone while videotaping it for seemingly no reason at all.

Today’s Upper: Kudos to the memory of longtime Delco auto biz icon Frank Video, who passed away at age 70.

Quote Box: “He was always thinking about the other guy.”

- Steve Videon, talking about his brother

'Live From the Newsroom' hits 'Dining Under the Stars' in Media

There are two big events tonight in Delaware County.

The Rose Tree Summer Festival kicks off with the Rose Tree Pops in Rose Tree Park.

And of course, if it's Wednesday night, that means it's 'Dining Under the Stars' in Media. If you haven't taken in this event, it's quickly becoming a summer "must" in Delco.

Every Wednesday night the restaurants in Media shut down State Street, put tables in the street, and hold a massive dinner al fresco.

Tonight we're taking our live-stream Internet broadcast, out on State Street for our summer tradition.

Of course we pick the night when it's supposed to be 95 degrees with a chance of strong thunderstorms.

Ably aided by our ace "producer," longtime Daily Times correspondent and person-about-Media Susan Serbin, we've got a great lineup of guests set to talk about what is going on in this booming county seat.

Plus we'll have a special surprise performance by a group of kids who are performing in the production of 'Cinderella' at Media Theatre.

We'll set up shop in our normal location at the corner of State and Veterans Square. Stop by and say hello. And bring me something cold to drink!

Memories of Lenape Park

Anyone else remember Lenape Park?

It's the subject of today's Delco Daily Top Ten, by my ace blogger Mary Ann Fiebert.

She certainly struck a chord with me.

Every year, my elementary school, Assumption BVM School in West Grove, would hold our end-of-year picnic at the park, out on Route 52 on the Brandywine River outside West Chester.

It was a classic, featuring an old, rickety wooden roller-coaster that always seemed like it was ready to fall apart. I think all the noise and bouncing back and forth only added to the thrill. I can still hear that sound of the huge chain slowly pulling the cars all the way to the top, inevitably followed by the shrieks of kids as the cars plummeted down the other side.

The Merry-Go-Round featured horses that you would 'ride' and try to grab a ring as you went around. Legend had it that there was supposed to be a gold ring in there somewhere, which you could redeem for free rides for life. We never saw hide nor hair of it.

There were huge canoe swing rides, on which you had to pull a long rope to propel the wooden canoes higher and higher. If that didn't satisfy you, there were real canoes you could take out on the Brandywine.

All of this was followed up by a dip in what is still the biggest pool I've ever seen.

The place is no longer an amusement park. The rides are all gone. I believe the famous Merry-Go-Round was sold off. The roller coaster is long gone. It's now called Brandywine Picnic Park.

But it will always be Lenape Park to me.

What are you memories? Post a comment if any of this strikes a chord.

Thanks for the trip down memory lane, Mary Ann.

The best day of my life

I just heard a TV ad for a local radio station. It featured the band American Authors doing their hit song, "Best Day of My Life."

I'm thinking maybe this is a little more than a coincidence. For me, that's easy.

Exactly 31 years ago today, June 18, 1982, was the best day of my life.

That's the day I married my wife.

She had been ready to tie the knot for years. Me? I was comfortable dating and didn't see any need to rush things. Of course, she did not see our extended dating period - OK, it was more like four years - as exactly a panic move.

I finally proposed at a wedding we attended at one of my cousins in Philly.

It's still not only the best day of my life, but the best decision I've ever made.

This is always a big week for anniversaries for me. I started at the Daily Times on June 14, 1982. Flag Day. I got married almost exactly one year later.

My memory of those two important events is not lost on my wife. She has always referred to the Daily Times as my mistress - and her competition.

She's right. She gave up a lot of things because of this place. Unless you work in this racket, you don't really know the kind of toll it can take on you - and relationships. I've seen the rubble of too many relationships left on the newsroom floor because chasing the news took precedence over chasing a spouse or girlfriend.

She's done a lot of things alone in those three decades, including the bulk of raising two great kids.

Best day of my life? That's easy. Thanks for 31 great years.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Daily Numbers for Tuesday, June 17

The Daily Numbers: 2-1 win for the USA over Ghana in their 1st World Cup contest.

4 teen boys being sought by Upper Darby police for an attack on a homeless man at a trolley stop.

3,500 members of Notre Dame de Lourdes parish in Ridley who continue to bristle at recommendation by archdiocese that they be merged with nearby Our Lady of Peace parish.

17 1/2 to 35 years in prison for a 62-year-old Chester man convicted of attempted murder in a botched holdup attempt of a dollar store.

33, age of Jawwad Rushdi, brother of murder suspect Ummad Rushdi. Jawwad Rushdi yesterday was in court to enter no contest plea to terroristic threats in connection with threats against a police officer investigating the case.

25 outstanding faculty, staff and support members of Chester Upland School District who were honored for their work by the district on Monday.

357,322 dollars that will be used for road improvements in Marple Township.

2 billion dollar shortfall that is causing severe problems in the always difficult state budget negotiations.

10 billion dollars savings over 10 years, what is expected to be gained by a new hybrid pension plan for new public and school employees.

1 billion dollars in one-time fees that are being eyed from a sale of 2,000 new wine and liquor sales licenses.

5.27 tick upward for stock market yesterday.

13 innings, how long it took the Phils to put away the Braves last night.

5-run outbust in the 13th that powered the win.

30-38 mark for the Phils.

8 games under .500

5.5 games behind the Braves in the mediocre NL East.

2 13-inning losses in 3 days for the Braves.

7 scoreless innings but no decision for Cole Hamels, who gave up just 5 hits.

23 2/3 consecutive scoreless innings tossed by Hamels.

Call me a Phanatic: A look at the ups and downs of being a Philadelphia sports fan. All together now: ‘USA! USA! USA!’

I Don’t Get It: The so-called ‘Knockout Game.’ I don’t get it.

Today’s Upper: Kudos to the employees of Chester Upland School District who were honored yesterday for their efforts to turn the struggling district around.

Quote Box: “Save our parish.’

- Saying on the back of T-shirts being worn by youths of Notre Dame de Lourdes parish in Ridley, which is targeted for closure and a merger with nearby Our Lady of Peace.

A coarse society gets just a bit coarser

Among the many things I am not proud of is the fact that I can curse with the best of them. And too often do.

It's not something I'm proud of. Actually, it's just plain lazy. Instead of finding just the right word as I strive to do when I'm banging on this keyboard, I am much more apt to simply blurt out everyone's favorite four-letter word. And I'm not referring to 'damn.'

Usually, I confine those outbursts to private moments, times when my verbal fusillade will not assault someone's unsuspecting - and no doubt much more tender - ears or sensitivities.

Most of the time, but not always.

Occasionally, after a particularly profane outburst, one of the women from the business office in the front of the building will meekly peek her head in the door to my office and remind me that I am not alone in this building, especially if there happens to be a customer at the front desk.

I kind of slouch under the desk and apologize.

I'm not alone in this particularly virulent form of free speech.

As a society, I fear we are becoming much more coarse. Look, I'm no prude, I work in a newsroom, for God's sake, but I know there is a time and place for one of my classic outbursts.

For instance, I would never consider for a second dropping the F-bomb while addressing the local Rotary. Apparently not everyone agrees.

A few years back, as the Phillies nation exulted in a World Series title, Chase Utley deemed it the appropriate moment to take to the mic at a packed Citizens Bank Park and declare the Phils the "World Bleeping Champions." Nice. I remember cringing at the time.

And it's not just athletes. Vice President Joe Biden was captured on an open mic telling President Obama, as he was set to sign into law the Affordable Care Act, "this is a big bleeping deal." Say it ain't so, Joe.

Maybe there's something about microphones. Or sports celebrations.

In Los Angeles yesterday, they were holding the official party after the L.A. Kings captured their second Stanley Cup in three years. L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti decided to spice up his remarks just a tad. After noting that there are "two rules in politics," those being never getting caught with a drink in your hand, and never swearing, he promptly went blue. "But this is big (bleeping) deal. Way to go, guys."

Another public F-bomb.

And one more sign that what was once considered taboo is now casually sprinkled in common conversations, and even in public appearances by public officials.

We do not print the F-bomb in the newspaper.

I do not expect that to change any time soon. I know that it increasingly is showing up in 'hip' blogs and other places on the Internet.

I'm not that hip.

I'm just an inveterate curser, usually cursing my own fate.

I think I know when and where to submit to such outbursts.

Apparently Eric Garcetti does not.

Shame on you, mayor.

Summer starts today

Forget the calendar, summer starts today.

We are expected to break the 90-degree mark today. It was 73 degrees at 6:30 this morning. To me, that signals summer, despite the fact that we won't officially hit summer until Saturday.

How do I define summer? When I can arrive home after driving home from work, toss on a pair of shorts and a T-shirt, and luxuriate in the last hour or so of sunlight while sitting on the deck, preferably with the Phillies game on the radio. In other words, the hotter the better. Humidity? Bring it on. I wear that thick cloak of heavy air as a gift, especially after the winter we just endured.

Air-conditioning? No thanks. I hate it.

My teeth are chattering here in the office as I bang out this blog item, because it's usually unbearably cold out. I'm that guy you see driving home at night with his car windows down. I don't use the air in the car, unless my wife is in the passenger seat. She's not exactly as fond of this weather as I am.

She is usually safely tucked inside our air-conditioned home - having finally told me she can no longer tolerate the heat - while I sit outside amidst the glorious, oppressive humidity.

There was a time when we used to have a screened-in porch, a throwback to the house I grew up in, and a feature I dearly loved. My wife and kids used to stand in the kitchen and stare out through the closed French door to be sure I was still alive as I sat out on that porch in the summer. Regardless how hot, they knew where they could find me.

Then my wife got the idea to convert the screened-in porch into a sunroom. I'm still mourning.

We added a deck, but it's not quite the same. The skeeters are hell. But they won't chase me inside.

Let's raise a glass to summer - and to the rising temperatures.

Hot stuff? Count me in.

USA! USA! Yep, I was watching World Cup

All me to step once more into the confessional.

I am a sports nut, but soccer does not exactly thrill me.

However, even I have to admit there is something different about the World Cup. When I got home last night - and of course after watching the nightly news - I flipped on the first game for the USA. They were playing an old nemesis, Ghana, the team that eliminated them in the last go-round.

The U.S. went ahead early, 1-0, then seemed ready to go into a defensive shell. As usually happens in those instances, just as in Americanized football, the 'prevent' defense appeared as if it would prevent a U.S. win when Ghana cashed in the game-tying goal late in regulation.

But then something amazing happened. John Brooks, a rookie who was a second-half sub, headed in a corner kick for the game winner for the U.S.

A little bit like the last minute of a one-goal Stanley Cup playoff game, the tension and anxiety was off the charts as the U.S. held on for the three points.

My guess is I'll never be a die-hard soccer fan. I've yet to take in a Union game, but I think this World Cup thing is going to be a blast.

Monday, June 16, 2014

The Daily Numbers for Monday, June 16

The Daily Numbers: 10,000 people who ride the Media-Elwayn line on SEPTA’s regional rail lines every day. The trains and up and running after 1-day strike.

60,000 people who use the entire regional rail system each day.

400 rail workers ordered back on the job by President Obama as the two sides were ordered to start federal mediation.

13 rail lines that were shut down from midnight Friday night to early Sunday morning.

30 days, how long the special Presidential Emergency Board has to meet with SEPTA and the 2 unions.

14.5 percent pay raise being sought by SEPTA engineers. That’s 3 percentage points more than offered by SEPTA.

2 luring incident involving a man in a car approaching young girls being investigated by Upper Darby police.

10th DUI earned an Upper Darby man 4 1/2 to 9 years in prison.

6 people killed in fire in a home in Newark, N.J., on Sunday.

18 live roosters seized in a cock-fighting ring raid in Philly.

82, age of Casey Kasem, radio host famous for his ‘American Top 40’ countdown who died this weekend.

2 of 3 games dropped by the Phillies to the Cubs.

6 innings the Phils went without a hit yesterday.

3 hits, all the Phils could muster.

9th time the Phils have been shut out this season.

100 mph on the radar gun hit by rookie Phillies reliever Ken Giles.

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

Now that Jimmy Rollins is the Phils’ all-time hit king, he sounds like a guy who is resigned to fact that he may be moved as the team looks to rebuild.

I Don’t Get It: 10 DUIs? I don’t get it.

Today’s Upper: Kudos to Claudine Andre of Upper Darby. The track star kicks off another season of All-Delco teams this week.

Quote Box: “I’m glad the strike did not go off. It’s a home run for the Upper Darby Police Department.”

- Upper Darby Police Superintendent Mike Chitwood.

Just another normal Monday commute

That huge sigh of relief you just heard was anyone who needs to get in or out of the city.

The regional rail lines are rolling.

The strike that idled SEPTA's 13 regional rail lines only lasted a few hours.

After a request from Gov. Tom Corbett, President Obama intervened and ordered the two sides to submit to federal mediation. It meant striking memebers of the electrical workers and engineers unions had to return to the job. The trains started rolling again Sunday morning.

More importantly, the system was up and running this morning for the start of another work week and what otherwise would have been a nightmarish rush hour.

Something like 10,000 passengers use the Media-Elwyn line through the heart of Delaware County every day. In total, about 60,000 ride regional rails every day.

How they would have gotten into the city would have been ugly to see. Most likely would have ended up driving in. The 69th Street Terminal, which is packed most weekdays, would have been overrun.

Now the two sides need to cut a deal. Ironically, both sides are saying there could be another strike when this cooling off period ends in February.

Here's our latest update, with reaction from some riders who were climbing aboard trains Sunday.

Memories of dad

My wife never had a chance to meet my dad. (That's him on the left, at one of his favorite haunts, sitting at the bar at the Oxford Hotel. He stopped there every night on his way home for a beer. The man on the right is my uncle, Pete Watterson, who tended bar.)

But she thinks she knows him. That's because she's lived with me for 32 years.

I lost my father 38 years ago.

I wish his grandkids would have had the chance to know him. Maybe then they would understand their father and his odd ways a bit better.

My father was the original "Quiet Man."

The apple didn't fall far from the tree.

It's in my Monday print column.

Now all eyes (non-World Cup Division) turn to Phillies

Now that we're exactly half-way through June, it's nice to know that the NBA and NHL seasons are finally over. Winter sports? Yeah, right.

The San Antonio Spurs completed their demolition of LeBron James and the Miami Heat last night, 104-87, to capture the NBA crown. The Spurs are the team where Sixers coach Brett Brown used to hang his hat.

And the L.A. Kings, fueled by a troika of ex-Flyers - Mike Richards, Jeff Carter and Justin Williams - outlasted the New York Rangers in double OT to take their 2nd Stanley Cup in the last three years. Williams won the Conn Smythe Trophy as the MVP.

Which leaves Philly fans with this: Jimmy Rollins is now the teams' all-time hits leaders. He surpassed Mike Schmidt with a sharp single to right. Schmidt led the charge out of the dugout to congratulate J-Roll.

At the post-game press conference, it didn't take long for the conversation to spin to whether Rollins would accept a trade to a contender as the trade deadline looms off in the distance. Is sure sounded as if, with that record now in tow, Rollins would be willing to consider it, something he has resisted before.

This weekend the Phillies managed to lose two of three at Citizens Bank Park to the Cubs, the worst team in the National League. Somehow, with a 299-38 record, the Phillies remain just six games - or one really good hot streak - behind the Braves in the thoroughly mediocre NL East.

But they are about to face their sternest test of the season. The Phils now head out on the road for their own personal death march, facing teams that all playing better than .500 ball. They go to Atlanta tonight, then do St. Louis. After a quick return to Philly to face Miami and the Braves, they hit the road again to Miami, Pittsburgh and Milwaukee. At the very tail end of this streak they face four games at the Bank against the Giants, owners of the best record in baseball.

Anyone else think that this team will still be in striking distance at the end of that stretch?

Can you say fire sale?

Hey, how 'bout that World Cup.

Friday, June 13, 2014

The Daily Numbers for Friday, June 13

The Daily Numbers: 60 years of Delco tavern life that went up in smoke as fire consumed the Toll House Tavern in Norwood.

2 murder charges against a Chester man who will no longer face the death penalty if convicted. The D.A. is citing mitigating circumstances.

7-1 vote by which the Springfield School Board approved a deal to outsource district busing services.

1.08 million dollars, how much the district expects to save over the 4 year deal.

12:01 a.m., when 2 unions who operate SEPTA’s regional rail lines are threatening to go on strike.

10,000 people who ride the Media-Elwyn rail line in Delco every work day.

60,000 riders every day on the entire system.

39, age of man charged with stabbing his stepfather during an altercation in the emergency room at Crozer-Chester Medical Center.

342 graduates of Penn Wood High who received their diplomas yesterday.

265 graduates from Marple Newtown High School.

202 grads at ceremonies for Chichester High.

56th graduations exercises for Penncrest High School.

173.4 million dollar budget - and a tax hike - OK’d by Upper Darby School Board.

77.80 hike for person with average home assessed at $100,000.

14th president of Swarthmore College, Rebecca Chopp announced yesterday she is leaving to take a position at the University of Denver.

29, age of Upper Chi man who is facing a murder charge in connection with a fatal crash that took the life of an unborn baby.

3 6-year-olds who police believe were abused by a music teacher at the Malvern Music School.

2 supermarkets in Chester now with the opening of Bottom Dollar yesterday.

18,000 square foot supermarket.

40 years of the Rose Tree Summer Festival that kicks off next week.

120,000 dollars in fines slapped on 2 Pa. casinos for underage gambling violations.

3 straight wins for the Phillies, who swept the Padres 7-3 yesterday.

.324 batting average for John Mayberry against left-handed pitching, with 5 doubles, 3 homers and 12 RBIs. He homered again yesterday.

1 more hit needed by Jimmy Rollins to tie Mike Schmidt for all-time Phils hit king at 2,234.

2 Springfield girls teams who have played for state titles in the last 2 weeks. Last week lacrosse, today it’s the softball team’s turn.

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

Got to give Jimmy Rollins his due. That’s a lot of hits.

I Don’t Get It: SEPTA rail workers are getting an 11 percent pay hike. And they’re still thinking of going on strike.

Today’s Upper: Kudos to the Springfield girls softball team as they play for the PIAA AAA title against Bethlehem Catholic this morning in State College.

Quote Box: “Every time you came in here, everyone knew who you were, you were always made to feel comfortable. It was just a great place. They were just like our family.

- Beth Ann Kane, longtime customer of Toll House Tavern, who was destroyed by fire.

32 years and counting ...

Tomorrow is a special day for me - for a couple of reasons.

First off, it's Flag Day.

And if you're from Delaware County, you know that we have a special connection to Flag Day. The day originated right here in Yeadon, the idea of William Kerr. This year marks the 65th anniversary of Flag Day, and the town has quite a celebration cooked up to note the occasion. You can get all the details here.

Speaking of anniversaries, it also marks a bit of a milestone for me as well.

I walked into the Delaware County Daily Times for my first day of work on June 14, 1982. Yes, I know, I'm old. That is 32 years ago. Still boggles the mind.

I can't even begin to tell you the ways this business has changed over those three decades, let alone the people who deliver the headlines. In some ways, it seems like yesterday. In others, it was a completely different world. No cell phones. No Internet. Yes, kids, there once was a world without cell phones.

I never have any trouble remembering the day. That's because the soundtrack of my life, KYW Newsradio 1060 plays the Bob Nelson gem, 'I Am Your Flag.' If by any chance you won't be tuning in tomorrow, here it is.

In the meantime, Happy Flag Day!

Threatening to go off the rails

If you're making your normal morning commute the regional rails this morning, take a look around. It might be awhile before you see these folks again.

That's because the unions that operate SEPTA's regional rail lines - including the heavily used Media-Elwyn and Marcus Hook lines in Delaware County, are threatening to hit the bricks tonight at midnight.

And the reason why is a kicker. Because they're getting a pay hike.

That's right, SEPTA wants to finally make good on a pay hike due the unions. It comes to about 8 and 11 percent. But the union is crying foul, saying they're still not getting the same deal as other SEPTA employees.

A federal mediator is expected to meet again with both sides in an attempt to head off a work stoppage. Here's our latest story.

If the unions strike, the real impact won't be felt until Monday morning and the start of another work week.

Here's what will run in the event of a strike:

* Buses.

* Trolleys.

* Market-Frankford El.

* Norristown High Speed Line.

* Broad Street Subway.

The 69th Street Terminal should be a treat if the unions walk. The El will then become one of the main arteries in and out of the city.

Of course, a lot of people will simply get in their cars and head into the city, which should make for a messy commute on already-clogged roads.

Stay with us for complete details as the two sides seek to avert a strike.

Follow live coverage of Springfield girls

It's been quite the couple of weeks for girls sports at Springfield High.

Last week their lacrosse team was in the PIAA title game, pitted against Central League rival Garnet Valley. They came up just a bit short.

Today it's the softball team's chance.

They will go up against Bethlehem Catholic in the PIAA AAA title tilt up at State College. Game time is 10 a.m. Here is Matt Smith's advance story on today's game.

And you can follow live coverage of the game on our live blog on our home for high school sports, GameTimePa. You can take part in the conversation by using the hashtag #PIAAsoftball on Twitter.

Kudos to a huge spring season to the girls of Springfield High.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

The Daily Numbers for Thursday, June 12

The Daily Numbers: 40 room hotel proposed by Swarthmore College, which will be allowed to sell alcohol while the rest of the borough remains ‘dry.’

12 million dollar land development plan in Chester that involves construction of a building to handle tons of trash that would come into the city on rails that was tabled by city planners.

15,000 square foot rail box building now in limbo.

100 texts a day, what a woman claims a part-time Colwyn cop sent to her phone. He now faces charges.

1,500 people who packed the Sun Center Studio grounds last night for the kickoff concert in the Starlight Summer Series featuring the Tedeschi Trucks Band.

5,000 dollars in delinquent taxes collected by Chester Township.

270 grads who picked up their diplomas from Interboro High School yesterday.

430 members of the electrical workers and engineers who are threatening to walk off SEPTA’s regional rail lines at midnight Friday night.

102 point decline for the stock market yesterday.

88 million dollar price that was finalized yesterday as philanthropist H. Gerry Lenfest bought the Philadelphia Inquirer, Daily News and

16 million dollar share owned by Drew Katz that he sold to Lenfest.

3 run walkoff homer in the 9th inning last night by Reid Brignac to give the Phils a big win over the Padres.

2 straight wins for the Phils.

8 strong innings for Cole Hamels, who gave up just 5 hits and 0 runs, but did not get the win.

2-1 win for the Rangers to keep the Stanley Cup finals going. They still trail the Kings, 3-1.

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

Don’t start throwing dirt on these Phillies just yet.

I Don’t Get It: Still waiting for some real summer-like heat and humidity. Bring it on.

Today’s Upper: Kudos to all those who brought about the Starlight Summer Series at the Sun Center Studios. Last night’s opener was sold out even with the dicey weather.

Quote Box: “If this case isn’t stalking, I don’t know what is.”

- Assistant District Attorney Heather Hines, prosecuting part-time Colwyn cop.

At Notre Dame, a question of faith

We had been talking about the controversy swirling around the decision to merge Notre Dame de Lourdes parish for about 20 minutes when I finally asked the question I had been wanting to ask.

My thanks to Notre Dame parishioners Kerrigan McKay, Monica Wiegand, Kerry Lawlor and Sue Houseman for joining me last night for out 'Live From the Newsroom' show.

Clearly the emotions and passion are raw at Notre Dame in light of the stunning decision by the archdiocese to shut them down and have them merge into Our Lady of Peace, about a mile and half away in the Milmont Park section of Ridley Township.

So I asked them this: Does this decision make you question your faith.

I often struggle with my faith and I honestly wanted to know their feelings.

Their responses were some of the best material I've heard since I started doing this show a couple of years ago.

Each one spoke honestly about their feelings, saying that for the most part, it did not make them question their faith or religion, but rather the human beings who make some of these decisions.

The parishioners at Notre Dame are not going away quietly. They have filed a formal appeal with the archdiocese. If, as expected, it is reject by Archbishop Charles Chaput, they have every intention of taking their case to the Vatican and Pope Francis.

I get the feeling in talking to them, as well as parish spokesman Tom Donahue, who could not be with us last night, that what they really want is for someone from the archdiocese to simply talk to them, and tell them honestly the reasons behind the decision to close Notre Dame, and not Our Lady of Peace, which was the recommendation from the parish "study" group.

Not surprisingly, the archdiocese spokesman respectfully declined our request to join us last night. They might find the good people from Notre Dame de Lourdes a little harder to avoid.

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

Cool night, but hot sounds to kick off concert series at Sun Center

Looks like the region has a hot new outdoor summer concert venue.

They took the wraps off what they are calling the Starlight Summer Series at the Sun Center Studios out in Chester Township last night.

Mother Nature didn't exactly cooperate. It was kind of a raw night, chilly with some mist and raindrops falling.

It didn't chill the hot sounds of the Tedeschi Trucks Band. A sold-out crowd of 1,500 packed the place for opening night.

Jeff Rotwitt might be on to something with this idea of making this little hideaway hard off I-95 in Chester Township a "destination locale."

Here's our story on opening night.

And check out the slideshow we picked up from our stringer Greg Hild.

Chester no longer a food desert

For years and years, Chester residents had little or no option when it comes to a full-service supermarket.

That led to the community being labeled a "food desert."

Times have changed.

As of today, Chester has two supermarkets.

First to open was the Philabundance, with their Fair and Square store at Ninth and Trainer streets.

Today marks the opening of a Bottom Dollar store at 1500 Edgemont Ave.

The doors open at 8 a.m.

Phils not dead yet

Maybe the Phillies aren't dead yet.

Or maybe the Padres are just dreadful.

At any rate, there's nothing better than a walkoff homer to lift a team's spirits.

Backup player Reid Brignac provided the highlight reel moment last night as his three-run blast in the 9th lifted the Phils to their second straight win.

Dennis Deitch has the details.

And columnist Jack McCaffery notes there are lots of reasons for optimism for Phillies fans.

The huge question hanging over this team will continue to be whether they should be buyers or sellers as the trade deadline looms out there in the distance.

Will they hold on to veteran players such as Jimmy Rollins, who sits just three hits away from tying Mike Schmidt as the team's all-time hit king, and Chase Utley?

The guess here is that they will look to move them, unless they can somehow climb back into the race.

A third straight win today, in a 1 p.m. businessperson's special, would help.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

The Daily Numbers for Wednesday, July 11

The Daily Numbers: 2 people dead after police say a 66-year-old man in Glenolden shot his wife and then turned the gun on himself.

483 grads who picked up their diplomas from Ridley High last night.

274 grads from Sun Valley High in Aston.

3 years probation of $94,000 in restitution sentence for a Tinicum man charged with stealing bronze and brass fixtures from local mausoleums.

12:01 a.m. Saturday, when regional rail line line workers could walk off the job in a contract dispute with SEPTA.

11 percent raises that are being imposed for electrical workers; 5 percent for engineers. The union says the raises need to be negotiated.

29.50 per hour, what the average electrical worker for SEPTA would then make.

32.50 an hour average salary for the engineers.

126,000 riders who use the regional rails every work day.

10,000 per day on the Media-Elwyn line here in Delco.

400 foot section of that troubled bridge on I-495 in Delaware that might have to be rebuilt. As it is, the span is not expected to open this summer.

16, age of Del. teen believed bitten by sand bar shark in Cape Henlopen State Park off Lewes, Del.

2 dozen stitches needed to close the teen’s wounds. He’s expected to be fine.

4 shark attacks recorded in Delaware since 1940.

30 1st grade students taken to hospital in Philly yesterday after a classmate brought some heroin into the school.

5 U.S. troops killed in friendly fire incident during air strike in Afghanistan.

1 student killed, 1 teacher wounded by student who then took his own life in a high school in Oregon.

2.82 hike for stocks yesterday.

4 day winning streak snapped for the S&P

7 and 1/3 sharp innings for Phils starter A.J. Burnett last night.

3-run homer for Marlon Byrd that powered a 5-2 win over the Padres.

300th save for Jonathan Papelbon.

2-1 lead in the NBA Finals for the Spurs after they dumped LeBron and the Heat last night.

23-20-20 record for John Hackworth, who was dismissed as coach of the Union yesterday.

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

Those two off-season acquisitions - A.J. Burnett and Marlon Byrd - who were blasted by fans were responsible for that win last night.

I Don’t Get It: A 1st-grader took heroin to school in Philly yesterday and the entire class had to be checked out at CHOP. His mother now faces charges.

Today’s Upper: Kudos to the Sun Center, where the Starlight Summer Concert Series kicks off tonight with the Tedeschi Trucks Band.

Quote Box: “After seven snow days ....”

- Quip from Ridley Superintendent Lee Ann Wetzel as rain forced the Ridley High graduation inside last night.

'Live From the Newsroom' talks about church closings, Notre Dame de Lourdes

The fight goes on for the parishioners of Notre Dame de Lourdes.

They have no intention of going quietly into the night after receiving the stunning word from the archdiocese that instead of taking in residents from another embattled parish, their doors would be closing and they would be forced to go elsewhere.

They have filed a formal petition and appeal with the archdiocese with more than 3,000 signatures. They are posting signs around the neighborhood.

And tonight they will be here in Primos to talk about their uphill fight on our live-stream Internet show, 'Live From the Newsroom.'

We'll talk about whey they think they have been unfairly targeted, and their chances of having the recommendation reversed.

If you have a question you'd like answered, email it to me at

Then tune in tonight at 7 on as we delve into Notre Dame's struggle to survive. Do they have a prayer? We'll find out.

It happened again; now what?

Hours after the report of the latest school shooting yesterday, I posted this map on my Facebook page.

It shows the location of every school shooting since the rampage at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut a couple of years ago.

I noted it's the saddest map you will ever see.

Of course, as soon as I posted it, someone noted that all of the shootings occurred in so-called 'gun-free zones.' I took a deep breath, and then replied.

I actually had some legitimate engagement with the man.

The truth is, I don't really care whether these schools are 'gun-free zones' or not. What I care about is that kids are dying, often at the hands of other kids.

I'm tired of putting these stories in the paper.

I don't own a gun, but I have no interest in taking away the rights of someone who wants a gun.

So what do we do?

I'm all ears.