Monday, March 31, 2014

The Daily Numbers for Monday, March 31

The Daily Numbers: 5-0 by Springfield zoners to deny request to erect huge billboards along Baltimore Pike.

2 men being sought for stealing a jar with donations for the SPCA from a pizza shop in Upper Chichester.

1 suspect being sought in the robbery of the AMC Marple movie theater Friday night.

4 gunshots fired during a chase in the parking lot.

6 million people who have signed up for health coverage under the Affordable Care Act. The last day to get started signing up is today.

5.1 magnitude earthquake that rattled California over the weekend, followed by a series of aftershocks. There were no reports of injuries, but lots of property damage.

1 dead, 1 hurt in shooting in Philly over the weekend.

2-5 year sentence for former Pa. House Speaker Rep. Bill DeWeese. He was freed from prison Sunday.

4-3 loss for the Flyers in shootout to the Bruins yesterday.

0-0 and tied for first place, the Phillies record today as they open the regular season in Texas vs. the Rangers.

0 runs in their final 3 exhibition games for the Phils.

31.6, average age of the starters the Phillies will trot out there today.

10 million dollars, how much the Eagles owed DeSean Jackson.

1 win in a row for the Sixers. they beat the Pistons Saturday night to snap a 26-game losing streak and avert the ignominy of breaking the NBA record for consecutive losses.

19, age of man charged in fatal stabbing of another 19-year-old in Bucks County.

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

I am placing the over/under on Phillies wins this year at 80. I’m taking the under.

I Don’t Get It: Still trying to figure out the Eagles reasoning for releasing wide receiver DeSean Jackson.

Today’s Upper: Kudos to Mary McGreevey. The Media woman will be headed to Boston to take part in the Boston Marathon, raising money in the name of one of the victims of last year’s terrorist bombing.

Quote Box: “Hire good people and let them do their jobs.”

- Pat Biswanger, the Haverford attorney who has been named the new head of the board of the Chester County SPCA.

The Eagles and DeSean Jackson

We now know where the Philadelphia Eagles draw the line.

You apparently can kill dogs or spew the worst kind of racial invective, and still be welcomed into the Birds' flock. But have questionable work habits or hang out with some possibly unsavory characters off the field and you're gone. Especially when the team owes you $10 million and change this year.

I have said many times that I admire Michael Vick. He did the crime (financing a brutal dog-fighting operation) and he did the time. It cost him two years out of his prime and untold millions of dollars. But from the time he returned to the Eagles, Vick was a model citizen. He said and did everything right.

Last summer Riley Cooper was captured blurting out the N-word in what appeared to be a drunken tirade at a country music concert earlier in the summer. He left the team for a couple of weeks, was fined and did some community service. But he returned and had a great year.

There was no such olive branch offered to DeSean Jackson. Instead he was shown the door.

There are a lot of aspects to this ugly summer, but it still comes down to this: The Eagles decided to part ways with DeSean Jackson while bringing two other renegades back into their camp.

I'd like to know why.

Don't hold your breath waiting for the Eagles to tell you. On Friday, about a half-hour after a story hit the Internet saying they were concerned about Jackson's alleged ties to L.A. gang members, they released a two-sentence statement saying they had decided to part ways with their star wide receiver.

Eventually, this will have a big effect on the Eagles on the field. Jackson is coming off a career year, with 82 catches, 1,332 yards and 9 touchdowns. But for now, it says more about them off the field. It says a lot about money, what they value, and how Chip Kelly wants to run his team.

They simply decided DeSean Jackson was not worth the aggravation, certainly not $12 million worth.

It will not go unnoticed that they offered a new contract to Riley Cooper in the off-season.

Maybe the Eagles know more about DeSean Jackson than they are willing to let on. Maybe they know something that the rest of us don't. At some point, I think they owe it to their fans to tell us what that is.

The news & Raymond Donovan & Robert Kerns

I use my print column today to once again talk a little about what I do, the decisions I make, and the reverberations those decisions often have.

In particular, the past couple of weeks I have been thinking about Raymond Donovan. Who is Raymond Donovan? And what does he have to do with today's headlines.

Here's a clue: He has something in common with Robert Kerns. Don't know him either? I tell you about both of them, and how they are intertwined with what I do every day, in my print column.

The pride of Chester

This picture tells you pretty much everything you need to know about how good and how deep the legend of Chester hoops goes.

It was shot by our Chester Blogger, Ms. B Donna Brown, who writes of good things that are happening in the City of Chester. You can see her blog item on it here.

You'd certainly have to include Rondae Hollis-Jefferson and Bo Ryan in that group.

This shot was taken at an event in the city in 2013.

They met again Saturday on a little bigger stage - the Elite Eight of the NCAA men's basketball tournament with a spot in the Final Four on the line.

Hollis-Jefferson, a former All-Delco and Player of the Year, was a Clippers' phenom and is now a freshman standout at the University of Arizona.

Ryan also played for Chester High, a few decades earlier. He's now the head coach of the University of Wisconsin.

Ryan prevailed in Saturday's clash of the Delco titans.

But it's clear Chester - and a legendary hoops history that very few towns can match - was the winner.

March-ing Orders: More lousy weather & the return of baseball

You can kiss March goodbye. Actually I'd like to tell it to kiss something else, but of course I have given up cursing for Lent.

March came in like a lion, and it's going out the same way. Miserable.

I drove into the office in a light rain - with some wet snow flakes mixed in, I suppose just to mock me. That follows a raw, wet, cold weekend.

Better days are coming. At least that is my hope.

The baseball season starts today. The Phillies, luckily, are in Texas to face the Rangers. Temperatures there are expected to be in the 80s at game time at 2 this afternoon. The Phils will play three in Texas and then head for Wrigley for three against the Cubs before heading home and Citizens Bank Park, where they open next Monday against the Brewers.

I have a distincly bad feeling about this Phillies team. They got shut out in their final two Grapefruit League Games, posting all of about three hits, and then got blanked in the On-Deck game in South Philly Friday night. Thankfully, Saturday's game against the Pirates got rained out.

I'll believe this team will hit, that these veterans will somehow discover the Fountain of Youth and play the way they did a few years ago, when I see it.

Until then, I will simply await better weather, and hope the Phillies are not out of it before those warmer temperatures arrive.

Friday, March 28, 2014

The Daily Numbers for Friday, March 28

The Daily Numbers: 41st, where Delco stands when it comes to health outcomes in a survey of Pa.’s 67 counties. 14th when it comes to health factors.

5-20 percent growth spurt in terms of population for Delaware County by the year 2040.

50 employees of the transportation department who attended Springfield School Board meeting last night to express their opposition to the board considering hiring a private company to handle busing services.

175,000 dollar price tag for the vacant Pulaski Middle School building and 5 acres in Chester being purchased by the city.

17, age of woman who took stand and offered emotional testimony to her ordeal during the trial of 3 men.

2.5 million dollars in prescription drugs allegedly sold by a Main Line doctor to people without prescriptions. He also is alleged to have skipped paying any taxes on the income.

750,000 dollars awarded to woman in suit against Ridley Park Swim Club after a treee from a neighboring property fell on her.

9,300 more people living in Pennsylvania, according to new census data.

12,773,801 residents in Pa. as of last July 1

1,553,165 people in Philadelphia County, that’s a gain of about 4,500.

2 firefighters killed in line of duty battling inferno in Boston.

6 million people now signed up for coverage under the Affordable Care Act.

4 point decline in stock market.

10,000 fewer people applying for jobless aid.

26 consecutive losses for the Sixers, who fell again last night in Houston.

2 straight shutout losses for the Phils to close out their Grapefruit League play.

2 teams with Chester ties in the NCAA’s Elite 8. Arizona has Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, and Wisconsin is coached by Bo Ryan. They will face off for a spot in the Final Four.

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

26 straight losses for the Sixers. 2 straight shutout losses for the Phils.

I Don’t Get It: We get a break in the temperature just in time for rain to move in for the weekend. Hey, it beats snow.

Today’s Upper: Kudos to Donna Farrell and the contingent from the region, including Gov. Tom Corbett and Philly Mayor Michael Nutter, in pushing for a visit by Pope Francis as part of the World Confrence of Families in Philadelphia in September 2015.

Quote Box: “Sometimes people do inexplicably stupid things.”

- N.J. Gov. Chris Christie, in interview with ABC’s Diane Sawyer, on Bridgegate.

A mother's anguish

In the chaos that stands for what we do every day in the news business, which now operates 24 hours a day, seven days a week, it's easy to lose sight of the enormous power of words.

It's a little different when you see the pain those words sometimes can cause sitting across the desk from you.

I had a visit in the office yesterday from the family members of Jonathan Green, including his mother.

They were not happy, either with me or with the newspaper.

Jonathan Green was the victim of a homicide last week in Chester Township. They did not like the way he was portrayed in the story that appeared in the paper. They believed it made him look like the bad guy, instead of the victim of a brutal crime.

His mother wanted to offer a different view of her son, and wanted this newspaper and the public to know it.

"My son was not a thug," Mrs. Dorothy Green said as she choked back tears. "He was an educated man."

She admitted her son had his struggles in life, but had put those behind him and was now turning his life around. She stressed that he was a graduate of Strath Haven High School and attended the Chubb Institute.

She objected to the way her son was portrayed, including his past record, and the inclusion of some family references.

"He was getting his life in order," she stressed.

She wanted an apology for the way he had been portrayed.

More importantly, she wanted to remind me of the power of what we do, the words we use, what is included and what is not.

"You stomp on hearts," she said. "Compassion is important, especially for the mother of a child."

She asked me if I had children. I said I did. She asked me how I would like it if they were treated as her son was.

It's something I think about all the time. The last thing we want to do is add to the grief of a family mourning the loss of a loved one. But I know we often do just that.

It's good to be reminded of the power of the words we use. Mrs. Dorothy Green did exactly that.

A farewell to an early-morning friend

Newspaper people are not supposed to like TV people. We have a natural rivalry, on a lot of levels.

That doesn't matter when it comes to Sheinelle Jones. It's almost impossible not to like the congenial co-host of Fox-29's 'Good Day Philadelphia' show.

Today is Sheinelle's last day on the show. She has made the decision to interrupt her career to be home with her kids, which include a 4-year-old son and 19-month-old twins.

I don't blame her a bit.

I know the regret of a lifetime spent at work, away from family and a lot of crucial family events.

I've been in this racket for more than three decades. In that time, I don't I've ever read one obituary that said, "You know, I really wish I had spent more time in the office."

I felt a kindred spirit with Sheinelle because we had similar schedules. We both got up at God-awful times in order to get to the office and start the barely organized chaos that is reporting the day's news.

I had the luxury of being my normal grumpy, irritable, curmudgeonly self. Sheinelle never had that luxury. She never needed it.

TV people have to be cheery and bright. It goes with the territory when you're on camera, never more so than on that early-morning show.

With a lot of the "beautiful" people on TV, it seems fake. Never with Sheinelle.

Her teaming with Mike Jerrick was pure genius.

Granted, a lot of what they did every morning wasn't really news. But it was always fun. And always done in good spirit. Whether poking fun of the Kardashians or Ryan Lochte, they were always guaranteed to bring a smile.

We could use a lot more smiles in this business these days.

Every morning I would depend on Sheinelle and Mike to lighten the load as I dredged through the ugliness that makes up so much of what we report every day.

I wish her well. And I want her to know she will be missed by at least one curmudgeonly editor.

The legend of Chester hoops grows with Rondae Hollis-Jefferson vs. Bo Ryan

Forget a perfect 10. The Sixers now are a decidely imperfect 26.

Yes, the local pro team lost their 26th consecutive game last night in Houston to the Rockets. In the process they tied the NBA's all-time mark for being on the skids. They can own it all their own Saturday night when they face the Pistons at the Wells Fargo Center.

To find real perfection on the hardwood, you have to travel a few miles south on I-95.

How good is Chester basketball? How sparkling are the deep roots of roundball excellence that flow from this city. I present Exhibit A, the West Regional Final of the NCAA men's basketball tournament.

On Saturday, they will present something of an All-Delco - and All-Chester - final.

That's because Arizona, powered in part by Chester High phenom and All-Delco Player of the Year Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, will face Wisconsin, coached by Chester native Bo Ryan.

Learn how they got to this final here with wins last night.

Chester is headed to the Elite Eight. And the city - either via Arizona or Wisconsin, will be represented in the Final Four

But then, hoops in Chester has been elite for a long time.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

The Daily Numbers for Thursday, March 27

The Daily Numbers: 22 degrees, low temperature this morning. Lovely.

21, record low set back in 1800s.

15 in Atlantic City

18 in Allentown. Don’t look now, but I am hoping it will not be this cold again in months. At least that is my hope.

14, age of girl in Edgmont who police say was given heroin by her 31-year-old brother.

100,000 dollars in scholarships handed out by the Bridge Foundation.

200 dollar headphones, what police believe Chris Massey, a popular athlete and Marple Newtown High grad, was killed for.

17,718,804 dollars in unpaid invoices at the heart of a civil suit centered on money stemming from Marcellus Shale.

190,000 dollar price tag on Newsome Pond Property purchased by Aston Township.

30 days in rehab for former sportscaster Don Tollefson, who finally is getting out of jail after he was charged with ripping off people who bought travel packages.

5 decades, how long Jack Cleaver has been behind the bar at O’Hagan’s in Collingdale.

98 point decline for the stock market yesterday.

6 jobs routinely held by young adults born in the 1980s between the ages of 18 and 26.

2 straight losses for Flyers after last night’s 3-1 setback in NYC vs. the Rangers.

5 consecutive wins for Flyers before that.

25 straight losses for the Sixers. They play tonight in Houston with NBA mark of 26 consecutive defeats on the line.

5 million dollars due Eagles offensive guard All-Pro Evan Mathis. He is looking for more money.

0 runs and 2 hits put up by the Phils against Justin Verlander and the Tigers yesterday.

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

So what do you think, is DeSean Jackson going to be with the Eagles next year or not. Chip Kelly didn’t exactly put the fire out yesterday with his comments.

I Don’t Get It: A 31-year-old man is charged with giving his 14-year-old sister heroin. I don’t get it.

Today’s Upper: Kudos to Phatso’s Bakery in Chester for a great showing on national TV last night as the Food Network put them on the national stage.

Quote Box: “It feels great to have the support of my hometown and city leaders.” - Richard Wilcox, owner of Phatso’s Bakery, at last night’s ceremony at meeting of Chester City Council.

'Live From the Newsroom:' Solid talk about the Affordable Care Act

I can't think of many issues that have caused the amount of consternation in my more than three decades in this business as the passionate debate over the Affordable Care Act.

You might know it by its more casual name - Obamacare.

There are not shortage of opinions when it comes to this issue - like it, hate it, but very few are indifferent.

I think there are many reasons for this bitter debate. Some people honestly do not like the idea of the federal government running what is a very personal, individual decision. I understand that.

But I fear that a lot of what passes for debate over the ACA is merely a thinly veiled, political attack by those who simply cannot stomach President Obama.

They will fight him at every turn, in the process demeaning not only him but the office as well.

I am not an expert on health care, nor have I ever professed to be.

It is a complicated issue, with legitimate arguments on both sides, not the least of which is the cost of this program, both who will pay for it, and the individual's cost.

The administration certainly did not help themselves with an initial rollout of the website that simply cannot be described other than a disaster.

Then they poured a little salt into the wound by backtracking on the oft-repeated sound bite, "If you like your current health care plan, you can keep it."

Uh, actually, in a lot of instances, you can't.

Despite all those pitfalls, more than 5 million people have now signed up, with a goal of 6 million.

That March 31 deadline to sign up? Well, that also is being delayed, although it's limited to people who are already working their way through the system. At least I think so.

That's why I was so happy last night to take our 'Live From the Newsroom' show back to the Widener campus. We are partnering with the school and use their sparkling new TV studio in Freedom Hall, the new home of their communications department.

I could not have had a better guest to discuss the Affordable Care Act. John Culhane is a Widener law professor and the director of Widener's Health Law Institute. He spoke with a knowledge that few have, or can easily dispense.

I came away from the session feeling better about the health care debate. I hope you do as well.

If you missed the show, we'll have the replay on the site later this morning so you can watch for yourself.

Chewing the Phat in Chester

It's not exactly a secret that I like good stories out of Chester.

They certainly get enough negative ink in our pages and website.

So you can imagine how much I love today's front page.

We followed yesterday's story on Phatso's Bakery being featured on a national TV show on the Food Network with the celebration they held at a Chester City Council session last night. Vince Sullivan was there for all the details.

I also wrote the headline that appears on today's front page. It's a take off on the eatery's name. At least for a few days, Chester is Phat City. We also note that aside from the positive pub the appearance on the TV show accorded the city, Phatso's is also proving something else about Chester. That's on our editorial page.

Kelly turns heat back up on Jackson story

Eagles fans had just barely stopped hyperventilating about the possibility of the team parting ways with star wide receiver DeSean Jackson when Chip Kelly went all Andy Reid on them.

Kelly appeared before reporters at a breakfast session at the NFL owners meetings in Orlando. In addition to bacon and eggs, the scrambled picture involving Jackson was on the menu.

When last heard from, Jackson was sounding sunny side up, relaying that he'd had a conversation with his coach and all was good in the Eagles' universe. DeSean went so far as to alert teammates that he would be back next season.

Kelly did not go that far.

In fact, it was what he did not say that spoke volumes.

Kelly did not specifically say Jackson would be lining up as a target for Nick Foles next year. In fact, Kelly went out of his way to note that his offense is not predicated on any one guy.

Kelly for some reason picked this key moment to seemingly go into Andy Reid mode, sounding more than a bit smug in noting that, "We're always going to do what's best for the organization."

Translation, I don't think this whole issue is over. Not by a long shot.

Our lead columnist Jack McCaffery runs down the long list of reasons the Eagles might be ready to part ways with Jackson.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

The Daily Numbers for Wednesday, March 26

The Daily Numbers: 6 inches of snow in some spots in southern Delaware and South Jersey. We only got a trace here.

21 degrees, the record low for both today and tomorrow. We got close this morning and we could break it tomorrow. Nice spring, eh?

5, age of some kids that police say a bus driver in William Penn School District forced off his bus blocks from the regular stop. He’s been charged with endangering the welfare of children.

3, age of little Brayden Chandler, the Springfield youth who lost his battle with cancer this week. So sad.

45 to 102 months in prison for an Upper Darby man charged in a series of thefts from work vans.

217,000 dollars in restitution he has been ordered to pay.

5 juveniles facing charges in connection with attacks near the Temple campus, including one in which a female student was hit in the face with a brick.

90 mph, how fast probers believe the Porsche that actor Paul Walker was riding in was going when it crashed and burst into flames, killing him.

91 point spike for the Dow Jones yesterday.

0.1 percent dip in home prices in January. 3rd straight month prices have gone down.

1 volunteer that police had to remove from the Chester County SPCA premises this week. It’s the 2nd time such action has needed to be taken in the past few months.

6-0 win for Phillies over Yankees last night.

10, 9, 9 hits by Phillies in their last 3 games. Maybe the bats are starting to come around.

2 more games in Florida before Phils head north for On-Deck series at Citizens Bank Park.

900,000 dollars turned down by Kevin Frandsen when he refused Phillies’ offer of an assignment to Triple A Allentown.

91-52 rout by UConn to end the season for the Saint Joe’s women.

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

Don’t look now, but the Phillies bats just might be coming around a bit after hibernating most of the winter. Ryan Howard homered again last night vs. Yankees.

I Don’t Get It: There just seems to be no end to the ugliness that is government in the little borough of Colwyn.

Today’s Upper: Kudos to Phatso’s Baker in Chester, which will be featured on national TV on a new Food Network show tonight.

Quote Box: “This is in the top five craziest things that has ever happened in this town.”

- Darby Borough Chief Bob Smythe, on charges filed against bus driver for dumping kids off blocks away from the normal stop.

'Live From the Newsroom' tackles Affordable Care Act

Attention critics of Obamacare and the Affordable Care Act. This is your chance.

We will be devoting our live-stream Internet broadcast, 'Live From the Newsroom' the controversial health care plan tonight.

This comes even as word arrives that the March 31 deadline will be extended.

We will head back to our new partners at Widener University and their sparkling TV show for a long, hard look at Obamacare. I will be joined by John Culhane, a Widner Law professor and director of the Widener Health Law Institute.

We'll discuss the problems with the rollout of the plan, how successful it has been, the potential political challenges and where the health care debate might go from here.

This is your chance to take part in the debate. If you have a question you'd like to see addressed during tonight's show, email it to me at editor@delcotimes.com.

I know that Obamacare has been a lightning rod for critics of the president. This is your chance to go on the record with your complaints and join the conversation.

Then tune in to DelcoTimes.com at 7 for our live show.

Phat City

Chester will be featured on national TV tonight.

That kind of statement often produces a wince, wondering what malady in the struggling city will be dragged out in front of a national television audience.

Not tonight.

Instead the nation will get a 'taste' of a Chester success story.

Welcome to 'Phat' City.

Phatso's Bakery, a city icon on Welsh Street and owner Richard Wilcox, will be featured on a new show on the Food Network called "Save My Bakery."

You can get all the details here.

And during tonight's special evening meeting of Chester City Council, they will salute Wilcox and then gather to watch the show.

Let us be the first to add out salute!

Did you manage to survive that storm?

So much for the final snow storm of the Winter of Our Discontent. Don't get me wrong. I'm not complaining. But what I sincerely hope is winter's last shot turned out to be pretty much a dud here in the Philadelphia suburbs.

Some grassy areas got a coating of white, but the roads remains for the most part just wet.

This morning, I had to brush some snow off and then scrape the windshield, but, despite the desperate pleas of the traffic reporters, I encountered no icy conditions on the ride in to the office.

In southern Delaware and South Jersey, they got more of a hit, with some areas getting as much as 6 inches of snow in this late March storm.

Then there's Cape Cod and New England, which are in full-on blizzard mode.

So I guess we can consider ourselves lucky.

Except for one thing: It's too damn cold. Now granted I hate cold weather. I like it hot and humid, in fact the thicker the air, the more I like it.

This morning the temperatures dipped into the 20s and tomorrow morning we will be flirting with an all-time low. We came close but did not break today's record low of 21 degrees, set back in 1960. Tomorrow's record low also is 21 degrees, set way back in 1894.

Plus we will be looking at howling winds gusting up to 40 mph.

The bright spot. We are expected to warm up in time for the weekend, with temperatures pushing toward 60 by Friday. The bad news? It's also expected to rain.

And here's a little contest to brighten up this miserable spring weather. Anyone remember the last time we hit 70 degrees in this area, and tell me your prediction for when you think we'll hit 70 this spring.

One can only hope it's soon.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

The Daily Numbers for Tuesday, March 25

The Daily Numbers: 1-3 inches of snow expected in storm that will arrive this afternoon and continue into early Wednesday.

24 degree temperature this morning on March 25. Today’s high will be 37.

4 percent of Crozer Keystone revenue from Cigna HealthSpring, which has indicated it is cutting ties with the network in a battle over rates.

21, age of woman who had been missing from Upper Darby since Jan. 2. Her body was found in the Delaware River. Foul play is not suspected.

163 year old mansion in Deshong Park in Chester that is being demolished after it partially collapsed.

17, age of Haverford High student who will face charges after posting threat against the school on Twitter.

1 tiny dog that was left tied to a bumper of a car in the parking lot of the Daily Times yesterday. Our Facebook fans suggested we call the puppy ‘Scoop.’

2 suspects now being sought in connection with thefts from cars in the parking lot of the Planet Fitness on Baltimore Pike in Upper Darby.

250 dollars, point at which Pa. pols must report gifts on financial disclosure forms.

3 state senators who are now pushing to ban pols accepting any cash or gifts.

17 days after it disappeared, Malaysian officials yesterday indicated Flight 370 ended in the southern Indian Ocean with no survivors.

239 passengers and crew on board.

14 people now dead in the wake of a massive mudslide in Washington state.

26 point dip in the Dow Jones yesterday.

3-2 loss for the Flyers to Jeff Carter, Mike Richards and the Kings last night.

25 straight losses for the Sixers, who fell 113-91 to the Spurs.

1 more loss will tie the NBA record of 26 consecutive losses.

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

Raise your hand if you think DeSean Jackson has played his last game with the Eagles. Agreed.

I Don’t Get It: 1-3 inches of snow on March 25. Just swell.

Today’s Upper: Kudos to the outpouring of support from readers after we posted that a little dog had been left in the parking lot of the Daily Times yesterday. It’s now in the hands of the Delaware County SPCA.

Quote Box: “It was dismantling itself. The front of it completely collapsed in the fall.”

- J. Patrick Killian, Delco Commerce Center director, on move to demolish Deshong Mansion in Chester.

'Please take care of this dog'

After spending 32 years here in the home office in Primos, something happened yesterday that has never happened before. Photographer Julia Wilkinson was heading to her car just after lunch when she was startled by something attached to her car.

It was a little dog.

This ball of fluff dog was tied to the bumper of Wilkinson's car in the Daily Times parking lot with a note from an older woman who said she could no longer take care of it anymore. Here is what the note said: "Please take care of me. I'm a female, 9 years old - 15 pounds. I just moved to a new apartment. I'm 73 years old and I can't keep her because of her barking. Thank you so much. She was well loved. Loves people and children."

I quickly put together an item and a photo of the pup that Wilkinson took and posted it on our Facebook page. As expected, it blew up.

One other thing I've learned in more than three decades in this business is the amazing effect animals have on people. Day in and day out we publish heart-rending stories of people in the worst circumstances imaginable. But put an item about a beloved pet or animal in the paper, and the phone lines will explode.

Wilkinson's mother arrived at the office to care for the dog, and we eventually turned it over to Ron Riggle, the new humane officer for the Delaware County SPCA.

There was one other thought I could not get out of my mind yesterday afternoon.

It was the image of that woman slowly walking out of our parking lot, apparently looking back at her puppy several times. How sad is that?

I'm not really sure what the circumstances were surrounding exactly why she needed to give it up. She indicated in her note that she was in a new apartment and the dog's barking was creating a problem.

Oddly enough, in the couple of hours it was here, it did not bark once.

I hope it finds a great new home.

I'd like to thank all those who reached out to us yesterday with concern for the animal.

Many suggested we keep it as sort of a Daily Times mascot.

They even came up with a name.

"Scoop."

They only confirmed what I've always thought about our readers. They have big hearts, especially when it comes to animals.

Cashing in a grand tradition for Pennsylvania pols

At the heart of the conflagration that has become a sting operation targeting members of the Pennsylvania House is this startling reality.

In Pennsylvania, land of giants, there is nothing illegal about pols accepting cash from lobbyists and others seeking their ear - if not their wallets - in Harrisburg.

That is allegedly what happened during a sting operation set up under now governor and then Attorney General Tom Corbett. His predecessor, Democrat Kathleen Kane, deep-sixed the probe, bringing no charges against any of the pols while maintaining the entire operation was fatally flawed.

Beyond all the unpleasantries of the probe lies the real heart of the problem. So long as the pols report any gifts of more than $250 on their financial disclosure forms, they did absolutely nothing wrong.

Of course, in this case, it is alleged they did not list any of the cash on their financial disclosure forms after being handed envelopes stuffed with cash by an undercover informant.

There is no ban on what they can take and no cap.

All they have to do is report it, and indicate that there was no expectation of any action in exchange for the gifts - the inimitable quid pro quo.

That's it.

Is this any way to run a state?

Some pols are beginning to think twice of this tawdry state of affairs.

Yesterday two Republican senators and one Democrat rolled out plans to place an absolute ban on legislators accepting cash gifts from lobbyists, principals, consultants and others seeking to influence the legislative process. Sen. Lisa Baker, R-20, and Lloyd Smucker, R-13, are behind the push.

Locally, state Sen. Daylin Leach, D-13, who represents parts of Haverford here in Delco, is set to roll out a similar bill.

Sen. Dominic Pileggi, R-9, of Chester, the Senate Majority leader, is on record saying he favors such a total ban. Good for him.

Harrisburg can't ban this plan fast enough.

The state has been a cesspool of this kind of greasing palms and "pay to play" far too long.

The tawdry chapter that has ensnared a phalanx of local pols - as well as the attorney general - only underscores the need for such a ban.

Winter March-es on

You'll be happy to know that the forecast for the Phillies opener - which is now less than a week away - calls for temperatures in the 80s.

Of course, the Fightin's open in Texas against the Rangers.

In the meantime, we'll be fighting the battle of the Unending Winter of 2014.

Batten down the hatches, folks. We're getting more snow. I am not making this up. Yes, the calendar tells us Spring officially arrived last week. On Saturday it actually felt like spring. Today it will not. It is cold out there this morning and snow is on the way.

Flakes are expected to start falling across the region this afternoon. For the most part, this is expected to be a nuisance storm. Yeah, I guess you could call temperatures in the 20s and more snow on March 25 a nuisance.

The interesting part is what is going to happen tonight once the sun goes down and the snow continues. While grassy surfaces are expected to be covered this afternoon, roads for the most part will be just wet. What happens to night is a bit more dicey.

Total snow in this area is expected to be 1-3 inches before it tapers off after midnight.

Hey, it could be worse. Up in New England they are expecting a full-blown blizzard.

If that is supposed to make me feel better, forget it. I give up. Spring remains a rumor. Summer is not coming. I have resigned myself to the fact that I will be shivering until Memorial Day.

Here is the latest forecast from the National Weather Service:

TUESDAY: A slight chance of rain and snow before 2 P.M., then snow likely. Cloudy, with a high near 37. Calm wind becoming southeast 5 to 9 mph in the morning. Chance of precipitation is 60%. Total daytime snow accumulation of less than a half inch possible.

TUESDAY NIGHT: Periods of snow, mainly before 1 a.m. Low around 26. North wind 7 to 10 mph. Chance of precipitation is 80%. New snow accumulation of around an inch possible.

WEDNESDAY: A slight chance of snow showers before 8 a.m., then a chance for flurries before ending. Mostly cloudy through mid morning, then gradual clearing, with a high near 38. Windy, with a northwest wind 17 to 26 mph, with gusts as high as 37 mph.

WEDNESDAY NIGHT: Clear, with a low around 20. Blustery, with a northwest wind 10 to 20 mph.

THURSDAY: Mostly sunny, with a high near 42. West wind 6 to 10 mph becoming southwest in the afternoon.

Monday, March 24, 2014

The Daily Numbers for Monday, March 24

The Daily Numbers: 4,100 dollars allegedly ripped off from docs at Crozer by a janitor who worked for a subcontractor at the Chester facility.

4,700 workers with TWU Local 234, which represents employees with SEPTA’s city division. They could strike the first week of April, the same time the suburban contracts expire, meaning the entire system - aside from regional rails - could be shut down.

37, age of Chester Township man whose body was found near the banks of Chester Creek.

13 homicides in the county so far in 2014.

45, age of Prospect Park woman charged with stealing the life savings of an 84-year-old man.

44,000 dollars fleeced from the elderly man in what authorities are calling a case of a ‘Sweetheart Swindler.’

232,000 dollars ripped off in an elaborate ID theft scam, according to the feds. A Drexel Hill man is charged with targeting several local banks.

1 student at Widener University in Chester diagnosed with viral meningitis.

2 church in Bucks County likely to be closed by the archdiocese.

2015 World Conference on Families, to be held in Philly. Mayor Nutter, Gov. Corbett and others are on a trip to the Vatican this week to convince the pope to come to Philly for the party.

4 people killed in landslide in Washington state.

67-57 win for the Saint Joe’s women over Georgia in NCAA tourney plan.

2 men’s teams, Villanova and Saint Joe’s, both eliminated by UConn.

35-0 record down the drain for Wichita State, which lost to Kentucky.

31, age of Phillies utility man Kevin Frandsen, who was given his release yesterday. He could still wind up with the organization.

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

Clearly there is something else going on with this DeSean Jackson story. I wish I knew what it was.

I Don’t Get It: Yes, there is the chance of snow in the forecast for Tuesday into Wednesday. I don’t get it.

Today’s Upper: Kudos to John MacFarland of Aston, who finally saw the letter he wrote back in 1969 in support of his Nam brother Santiago Erevia result in him getting the Medal of Honor last week.

Quote Box: “This has haunted me for the past 45 years.” - John MacFarland, on waiting to hear about his Army pal’s honor.

The troubling case of Robert Kerns

For the past week I have been consumed with a less-than-pleasant thought that is part of my business.

I have been wondering exactly what it's been like to be Robert Kerns for the past couple of months.

Name doesn't ring a bell? He's not from Delaware County, but that doesn't really matter. His name has been in this newspaper, and our website.

Kerns was the former head of the Montgomery County Republican Party, a longtime lawyer and respected figure in the community.

That was, right up until last November. That's when he was charged with drugging and raping a female colleague in his law firm after a social outing.

Kerns, a 66-year-old grandfather who has been married for 41 years, lost everything, his law practice, his role with the GOP and - most importantly - his reputation.

He was charged with adding Ambien to the woman's drink, then taking advantage of her when she lost consciousness. As you might expect, the case made headlines. There was video of Kerns, wearing a waist belt and handcuffs, being escorted into court to face charges.

There was only one problem with the case. As revealed last week, an employee with the Montco D.A.'s office had misread the report. Instead of noting that the blood sample showed traces of Ambien, it actually indicated there was no trace of Ambien.

A humbled District Attorney Risa Vetri Ferman did the right thing. She called a press conference and announced all charges against Kerns were being dropped.

Rebuilding his reputation won't be nearly as easy.

It's the kind of thing that makes newspaper editors bolt upright in bed at 3 a.m. and wonder why they ever got into this racket.

It's not the first time I've faced this kind of dilemma.

There was the case several years ago of a principal at Chester High who was charged with having an inappropriate relationship with a student. He was charged and his case was splashed all over Page One. Eventually the charges were dropped. He again found himself on Page One. But the damage was done.

I wrote then and thought about it again last week.

I am always reminded of former Labor Secretary Ray Donovan, who served under President Reagan. He was acquitted of all charges after being taken down by a grand jury on larceny and fraud charges in the Bronx.

After the acquittal, Donovan faced the cameras and had a simple request: "Which office do I go to to get my reputation back?"

It's a damn good question. I think I have an answer. It's not a good one, but it's the only one I have.

You don't.

Neither does Robert Kerns.

There's something fundamentally unsettling about that, especially when you do what I do for a living.

Nothing anyone does will be able to give Kerns back his life, which has been dragged through the mud.

I don't know what he was doing with that woman, and frankly I don't care.

What I do know is that the most heinous thought - that he would drug a woman and then take advantage of her when she was incapacitated - did not happen. The tests proved that, even though it was botched by the D.A.'s office.

Robert Kerns, meet Ray Donovan.

I wish I could tell you where you could go to get your reputation back.

The truth is I can't.

Neither can anyone else.

Yes, there is more snow in the forecast

Forget Saturday. That was a mirage. Those 65-degree temperatures? A hoax, which sucked us in and made us believe spring had arrivced.

Winter is back. Actually, I don't think it ever left, it just took a one-day hiatus this weekend.

This morning's thermometer reading was a decidedly un-Springlike 24 degrees.

And there is a pretty good chance we will get hit with some wet snow during the day Tuesday and into Wednesday.

Don't panic, despite what you will hear for the next 24 hours on TV.

The only good thing about snow at this time of the year is that it really doesn't do much to the roads.

That will not make it any easier to stomach.

This has been a winter for the record books.

And it apparently is not done with us just yet. Swell.

I will miss Michael Vick

The Phillies open their season exactly one week from today in Texas vs. the Rangers.

So of course we will talk about the Eagles.

There were two big Eagles developments over the weekend. First, in a move that will no doubt be cheered by many, the team noted the end of the Michael Vick Era. The quarterback signed a deal with the New York Jets and will compete for the starting job against Geno Smith. The Jets released Sanchez.

Vick was not going to get an opportunity to be a starter here, so he decided to move on.

As with just about everything else he did since arriving in Philly, Vick departed with class.

Just as he did every day since leaving a federal prison and re-entering the NFL in Philly after serving two years for running a brutal dog-fighting operation, Vick said and did all the right things.

He released a letter in which he thanked Jeff Lurie and Andy Reid for giving him another chance at an NFL career. And he also thanked the fans.

This has not - and likely will not - be a popular opinion. I was a big Michael Vick fan. Or maybe I should say I was a big fan of the Michael Vick who showed up in Philly.

I could not stand the Michael Vick who played in Atlanta, who once flipped his own fans the Bird as he exited the field after a poor performance.

I abhor what Vick did in connection with those dogs. And I understand why some people divorced themselves from the Eagles for the second they introduced Vick as being part of the team.

But he paid a huge price for his transgressions. He lost two years of his prime in the NFL, which equates to untold millions. He spent two years in prison.

And he clearly was a changed man when he got out, and landed in Philly.

From Day One, he did and said all the right things. He was a leader, and a solid teammate.

I will miss him, and wish him well with the Jets.

Then there is the DeSean Jackson story.

I must be missing something here, or there is something that the rest of us don’t know.

It now appears clear that Chip Kelly and Howie Roseman are not fans of the pint-sized wide receiver.

Jackson did not help his cause when he announced, just hours after the Eagles’ unexpected season was short-circuited by the Saints, that he would be looking for more money.

He’s also prone to disappear for some plays and even some games.

His size leaves him at a disadvantage against the superior teams in the leauge, such as the Seattle Seahawks. Maybe that’s why the Eagles have decided to move on.

But even at that, I’m not sure they would simply release Jackson and not get anything in return.

Like I said, there has to be something else at work here.

I hope at some point we find out what that is.

Friday, March 21, 2014

'Black Dahlia' the latest killer in heroin scourge

The Heroin Scourge that is taking a horrific toll across Delaware County is not going away.

In fact, yesterday it took a clear turn for the worse.

A deadly turn.

District Attorney Jack Whelan is warning the public about a deadly strain of pure fentanyl that has now showed up in the county, and is believed responsible for the OD death of a 30-year-old woman in Marcus Hook.

He's issuing a clear directive about just how powerful this stuff is, and it's just the latest attack in his war again opioid abuse and heroin ills.

You can get all the details on Black Dahlia here.

Stay away from it.

It's a killer.

Line of the day from Tom Wolf gets GOP's attention

Newly minted Democratic front-runner Tom Wolf sat down with the editorial board of our sister paper The York Daily Record. I was on a conference call for the session and was live-tweeting.

Wolf, a York County self-made man and millionaire, has surged to a commanding lead in the crowded Democratic field looking to take on incumbent Republican Gov. Tom Corbett, largely on a huge splash he made with a wave of TV commercials to introduce himself to the state.

That's what happens when you spend $10 million of your own money on the campaign. As they say, money talks. But yesterday it was Wolf the candidate who was talking.

And he said a lot of things I liked. You can see for yourself here.

He defended using his wealth to fund his campaign, at the same time pointing out the need for campaign finance reform. He said voters are looking for a difference, and cited this week's upset win by write-in candidate Scott Wagner in a state Senate race that stunned the local GOP.

He touched on the crucial issue of education funding, which has been the focus of a year-long series of editorials in our newspaper that we are calling The Keystones, Education Funding and Property Taxes. Wolf maintained he favored a push back toward a 50-50 split between local and state funding, while saying he was not yet ready to support elimination of the property tax.

But it was toward the end of the session, he said something that really made my ears perk up.

He was talking about President Obama's Affordable Care Act, and the repercussions here in Pennsylvania since Gov. Corbett decided not to set up exchanges under the program.

"The Affordable Care Act is not perfect, but it's a step in the right direction," the candidate said in response to a question.

A light bulb went off above my head as soon as the words escaped his mouth.

I figured Republicans, who are looking for a way to derail what looks like a Wolf locomotive, would seize on the comment.

It didn't take long for the email to show up in my inbox from the state Republican Party.

"Today, Tom Wolf stated that a law that cost 250,000 Pennsylvanians their health care coverage is “a step in the right direction,” said the directive from Megan Sweeney, communications director of the state Republican Party.

"Perhaps Tom Wolf was too busy calling for new taxes on energy to notice how ObamaCare is hurting small businesses, driving up health care costs for our local governments, and costing families their doctors.

"Tom Wolf’s statement that ObamaCare was a step in the right direction just proves that he would have voted for the law and he would rubberstamp its disastrous effects that would lead to more health care insecurity for Pennsylvanians."

Consider the battle joined.

Of course, Wolf has not even won the Democratic nomination as yet.

But Wolf opened the door and the Republicans wasted no time barging through it.

So much for the 'Holy War'; brace yourself for late night action Saturday

You can forget the Holy War.

Villanova upheld its end of the bargain, posting a solid win over Milwaukee in the NCAA Tournament. But Saint Joseph's faltered in overtime and fell to UConn.

If both teams had won, they would have faced each other on Saturday.

Now, the Wildcats stand alone in representing the region, since Delaware also was rather rudely shown the door, getting blown out by Michigan State.

Terry Toohey has all the details on Villanova moving on, while Bob Grotz has the end of the road for Saint Joe's. So instead of a Holy War, we are looking at a battle of old Big East foes, with 'Nova looking to do what Saint Joe's could not, prevail against the Huskies.

And now on to the really important news. Villanova has drawn the late game again on Saturday night when they battle UConn. Tipoff likely will come sometime around 10 p.m. Someone call the deadline doctors.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

The Daily Numbers for Thursday, March 20

The Daily Numbers: 20, as in March 20, 1st day of spring. Hallelujah!

50s, high temps for today and Friday.

63, expected on Saturday.

3 local teams getting into the March Madness today. Delaware, Saint Joe’s and Villanova all play 1st round games, starting with Delaware at 4:30.

7 for Saint Joe’s tipoff with UConn.

9:30 start for ‘Nova vs. Milwaukee.

10,000 dollars bail for a woman in Chester Township charged with firing a shot at her husband , who was holding her 1-year-old child, in a domestic incident. She told police it was an accident.

3, age of ailing Brayden Chandler of Springfield, who will be focus of a fundraiser all day on Saturday.

160,000 people across Pennsylvania who have signed up for health care plans under the affordable Care Act.

31 of March, the deadline to sign up.

73 mph, how fast a woman was driving when she struck and killed a 52-year-old Chester woman. She’s now on trial for DUI in the fatal crash.

0 tax hikes for 3 years in Millbourne, followed by a 1-mill increase this year, allowing the borough to escape its ‘distressed’ tag. Gov. Tom Corbett will be in town today to make it official.

717,000 dollars in liquid fuels funds allocated by County Council to the 49 municipalities.

16 of June, final day of school for Upper Darby students, for a total of 176 days. That is provided the state goes ahead with the green light for 4 days lost due to snow.

3 former LCB officials who are facing probes tied to taking gifts.

36 percent of U.S. workers who indicate they have less than $1,000 in investments and savings that could be used for retirement.

60 percent of workers who have less than $25,000.

74 precent of smartphone owners who say they will sneak a peek at NCAA scores today during breaks.

12 percent say they will do it during meetings.

1.2 billion dollars to be paid by Toyota for hiding defects that caused sudden acceleration in their cars.

114 point decline for the stock market yesterday.

22 straight losses for the Sixers. 26 would tie the NBA record.

.115 spring batting average for Jimmy Rollins, who went 1-4 yesterday.

5-13-2 mark for the Phillies so far this spring.

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

Forget all the talk about trading Jimmy Rollins. He’s not going anywhere right now. Check back, however, if the Phils are out of it early.

I Don’t Get It: Can’t believe that on the first day of spring, I just heard a weather person mention possibility of snow next week.

Today’s Upper: Kudos to both Gaetano’s and Clank’s, the finalists in our March Madness of Delco Pizza contest. Clank’s won the online voting.

Quote Box: “It’s kind of a big day for us and we appreciate the governor coming.”

- Millbourne Council President Jeannette MacNeille, on expected announcement today that borough no longer is considered ‘distressed.’

A slice of Delco shows up in March Madness of Delco Pizza

Amazing what you can learn about people by engaging with them online.

The news industry is getting used to this idea. For a couple of centuries, we used to talk "at" our readers. Oh, we would run the occasional letter to the editor, but for the most part it was a one-way conversation.

Those days are over.

Now we "engage" readers and ask them to take part in a conversation.

For the past week in Delaware County, the conversation has been about pizza.

And I discovered this - in Delaware County, pizza is serious business.

Everyone has their favorite pie, and they're more than willing to tell you about it, and defend the merits of their favorite.

All of this, of course, comes on the heels of something we called the March Madness of Delco Pizza.

It all started when Pica's - and their iconic rectangular pie with the sauce on top - made an impromptu appearance on the "Tonight Show" with Jimmy Fallon. Upper Darby homegirl Tina Fey was a guest on the show and was treated to some of her favorite pizza. It was quite the coup for Pica's.

Our story and Facebook post on the appearance was burning up cyberspace. That's when we noticed in the comments that people had very strong opinions about their favorite pizza. Pica's soon had a lot of competition.

That's when online editor Vince Carey and features editor Brian Freeman decided to put together our little contest, complete with a bracket patterned after the NCAA tournament. We started with 26 pizza joints. The online voting whittled it down to four. The final twosome - Gaetano's of Clifton Heights, and Clank's of Marcus Hook - came into the office last night for a special showing of our 'Live From the Newsroom' show.

My thanks to Cindy Shenkel, owner of Gaetano's, as well Michael and Dawn Clymer, from Clank's. They could not have been nicer. If you missed the show, you can watch the replay here.

We sampled both of their delicacies. They talked about their family enterprises, their history, and the importance of such small businesses in communities all across Delco. It sort of covered both ends of the county, with Clifton and the Hook both represented. Our friend Lorraine Ranalli joined us and talked about the long tradition of pizza in Delco.

The pies from both were dynamite. I have to admit I'm a thin crust guy, and Gaetano's was out of this world. At the end of the show, we unveiled the online voting that had been held during the day. The vote went heavily to Clank's, but the truth is both are winners.

So was this little community engagement project. Just yesterday alone, more than 1,150 people voted in the championship round on our Facebook page promoting the contest. There were more than 130 comments posted.

In total we garnered more than 9,00 votes and 420,000 page views for the contest.

It was such a success we're thinking of making it a regular part of our online offerings. In May we're thinking about doing the best shore spot to kick off the summer season.

Once again, our deepest thanks to Gaetano's and Clank's for upholding the great tradition of Delco pizza.

When it comes to a slice of Delco, they're tops.

Who is Tom Wolf?

So who is this Tom Wolf guy?

You know, the guy who wants to be the next governor of Pennsylvania, and who went from unknown to the clear leader of the pack in a crowded Democratic field, largely on the power of an avalanche of TV commercials.

Wolf is a millionaire York businessman who is largely funding his own campaign via his own wallet.

The Democratic front-runner will be paying a visit to the editorial board of our sister paper the York Daily Record today.

You can catch the live-stream of the session here. The session is set to start at 1 p.m.

It's your chance to get an up close and personal look at the man who very well may be the Democratic standard-bearer as they try to topple incumbent Republican Gov. Tom Corbett.

We survived the winter of 2013-14

Congratulations, you did it.

At approximately 1 o'clock this afternoon, we will put the Winter of 2013-14 in the rear-view mirror. Never have the words, "Welcome Spring" sounded better.

Along the way, we endured bitter cold, an ice storm that paralyzed the region and left many people in the dark without power for almost a week, 67.6 inches of snow, making it the second snowiest winter on record, and skyrocketing home heating bills.

I almost wish I had printed T-shirts proudly declaring: "I survived the Winter of 2013-14." I think I could sell a million of them.

Today, once we burn off some early-morning fog and remnants of a few showers, we'll hit the mid-50s amid some sunshine. You can find the complete forecast for the first day of spring here.

Last night on the ride home, I got my first taste of spring. Normally, I'm not a big fan of rain.

But as I drove through a downpour last night, I could not resist a smile. I had almost forgot what the soothing sound of a driving rain was like. That and the eternal gratification of knowing it was not once again coating the roads.

Then this morning, I got a reminder that winter has not completely left the scene. I still have a healthy mound of snow piles in my front yard. I wonder if it will survive the weekend. I will not mourn its passing. Now I face the task of raking the thousands of pebbles and cinders dumped on the road that somehow magically managed to make their way onto my front yard.

Today our Winter Weariness is replaced with March Madness. It is the first day of the NCAA men's hoops tournament. From about 4:30 this afternoon, we will have a local rooting interest for approximately the next eight hours. Delaware kicks things off out on the West Coast with a very tough foe in Michigan State. Then at about 7 it will be Saint Joe's clashing with UConn. Finally, Villanova's tilt with Milwaukee will tip off around 9:30.

You can follow our live coverage - and take part in the conversation - as Bob Grotz covers the Hawks and Terry Toohey stays with the Villanova beat. Just use the hashtag #NCAAhoops and you're comments will show up in our live blog. You can follow along here.

And here's one more little side bet to make things interesting. How many times do you think we'll see a shot of Phil Martelli's adorable grandson mimicking 'pop-pop' on TV. I'm setting the line at 20. I'm taking the over. Spring has sprung. Winter is over. Let Spring Fever erupt.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

The Daily Numbers for Wednesday, March 19

The Daily Numbers: 2 winning tickets in last night’s $400 million Mega Millions lottery jackpot. Unfortunately, neither was sold in Pa.

100 million a piece, what they’re worth if they take the lump sum payout.

1 million dollar Powerball ticket sold at a BP market in Broomall.

3 men now in custody after a drug sting went awry in Media. The fleeing suspects almost ran down a federal ATF agent. 19, age of Marcus Hook teen killed when the dirt bike he was riding collided with a car in Chester.

3,000 dollar reward being offered for information in the hit-run crash that took the life of a Collingdale man. Police yesterday released new information on the SUV believed involved in the case.

1 man busted, another being sought in a series of hold-ups targeting pizza delivery men in Upper Darby.

1 meningitis death of a Drexel University student now being tied to an earlier outbreak at Princeton.

24 veterans who received the Medal of Honor

in ceremonies in D.C. yesterday.

20 years being celebrated at Media Theatre.

1 more day of this God-awful winter.

61-55 loss for Chester High as they fall to La Salle in PIAA AAAA semifinal.

3-2 win for Flyers in OT over the Blackhawks.

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

DeSean Jackson and Jimmy Rollins both on the trade blocks? Only in Philly.

I Don’t Get It: Still hard to believe the person responsible for that hit-run death in Collingdale has yet to come forward. Coward.

Today’s Upper: Kudos to the good folks at the BP gas station in Broomall. They sold a winning $1 million Powerball ticket.

Quote Box: “People will come."

- BP gas station owner Venktash Shah of Broomall, of his expectations now that it’s known that his store sold a $1 million winner.

'Live From the Newsroom' crowns the best pizza in Delco

It's sparked debate hotter than jalopenos.

It's caused more angst than your precious NCAA bracket pool.

It's bragging rights to the title of best pizza in Delaware County. And we're going to crown our winner tonight. Our weekly live-stream Internet broadcast, 'Live From the Newsroom,' will play host to the finals of our March Madness of Delco Pizza.

We were inspired by all the comments that showed up on the story and Facebook post after Pica's trademark rectangular pizza with the sauce on top made its way to national TV on the "Tonight Show" with Jimmy Fallon in a surprise for guest and Upper Darby homegirl Tina Fey.

So ferocious were the comments both backing Pica's or endorsing another local pizzeria, online editor Vince Carey came up with the idea of fashioning a contest based on the NCAA basketball tournament. Vince put together the brackets and waited for the votes to roll in via Twitter and Facebook. All the voting was done online.

More than 9,000 votes and 420,000 Facebook page views later, our readers had whittled the field down to the Final Four. Clank's of Marcus Hook, Imperial of Secane, Pica's of Upper Darby and Gaetano's of Clifton Heights were the last pies standing.

Tonight we will have representatives of our two finalists - along with some of their delicious pizza - here in the house in Primos for a very special 'Live From the Newsroom' to crown the king of Delco pizza.

I will be joined by our good friend from Cucina Chatter, Lorraine Ranalli, author of 'Gravy Wars,' features editor Brian Freeman and Vince Carey as we put our two finalists to the test.

And our dynamic duo?

It will be Clank's vs. Gaetano's.

Tune in at 7 and check it out as we settle bragging rights to the best pizza in Delco.

End of road for Chester High; are DeSean, J-Roll really on the block?

A few random sports thoughts to mull over while you fill out your NCAA bracket pool. And as long as you're jumping into the pool, why not play our Road to the Championship Bracket Challenge. You can get all the details here.

In the meantime, Chester High hit a massive pothole on the road to another state title last night. The Clippers fell to La Salle High School in a PIAA AAAA semifinal matchup. Matt DeGeorge and Matt Smith were at Coatesville and have all the game highlights and analysis here.

In the meantime, it sounds suspiciously like two very big names on the pro sports scene could be on the trade block. Reports indicate that Eagles are listening to offers for standout wide receiver DeSean Jackson. That apparently does not mean they are shopping him, only that they are listening.

And the Phillies apparently are growing increasingly disenchanted with veteran shortstop Jimmy Rollins. His comments this year downplaying Grapefruit League games are not exactly the kind of attitude that new skipper Ryne Sandberg was looking to establish with this veteran team. They want Rollins to be more of a leader.

The shortstop is only 60 hits away from becoming the Phillies' all-time hits leader, surpassing slugger Mike Schmidt. What do you think the chances are that he breaks that mark.

If the Phils fall off the pace early, look for the Phillies to move Rollins at the trade deadline, if not sooner.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

The Daily Numbers for Tuesday, March 18

The Daily Numbers: 4.7 inches of snow recorded yesterday at Philadelphia International Airport.

67.6 inches of snow in this God-forsaken winter, making it the 2nd snowiest winter on record.

3 more days until spring, which arrives on Thursday.

2-year-old child found running naked in the street in Upper Darby yesterday.

31, age of mom who now faces 4 counts of endangering the welfare of children

10 percent of $30,000 bail she was unable to post. She’s being held in Delaware County Prison.

1 Neumann University student injured in an off-campus incident.

0 layoffs tied to a restructuring that will affect the financial side of operations at Jefferson Health, along with Main Line Health, which includes Riddle Hospital.

8 state reps who took $20,000 in a probe that will not bring any criminal charges because of its flawed nature, according to Attorney General Kathleen Kane.

13,856 dollars owed the state by former LCB marketing director Patrick Stepleton III.

4.4 magnitude earthquake that shook Los Angeles yesterday.

3 people now dead as a result of man slamming his car into crowed at the South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas.

181 point gain for the Dow Jones yesterday.

0.8 percent increase in factory production in the U.S. in January.

43 states that posted lower jobless rates in January.

21 straight losses for the Sixers, setting a new franchise record for futility.

31 of March, when Cliff Lee will take the hill as the Phillies opening day starter.

1 year deal for safety Nate Allen with the Eagles.

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

Shame on the Sixers. A lot of great players and coaches must be rolling over in their graves.

I Don’t Get It: No doubt the parents of that amorous young couple caught on video in the act on a Newark, Del., street will be proud. I don’t get it.

Today’s Upper: Kudos to Villanova, Saint Joe’s and Delaware, who will carry the banner of hoops mania into the NCAA tourney.

Quote Box: “Relentless is a good word for this winter. - PennDOT maintenance manager Mike Murphy, on our brutal winter.

The indiscretions of youth

I did a lot of dumb things when I was young.

I regret many of them. I could probably start a million columns or blog items with the age-old disclaimer: It seemed like a good idea at the time. Like blurting out an expletive while addressing our class while running for class president in high school.

Or consistently showing up late for English class, the first class after lunch, almost every day, until our teacher finally told us not to bother, and instead sent us directly to the principal's office.

As I have told my kids now for years: Do as I say, not as I did.

One of the things I am eternally grateful for is the fact that I grew up at a time when there was no Internet. In fact, it is usually one of the last things to go through my mind after my head hits the pillow every night, in those seconds before I lapse into my normal coma-like state.

Thankfully, it was a different time. Every stupid thing we did was not recorded for posterity, Tweeted for the world to see or posted on Facebook to be judged by millions.

I am guessing that might be on the mind of a young couple in Newark, Del., these days. They were captured on camera in the most intimate of actions.

Yes, they apparently were captured in full lust behind a store in the college town. I spent a fair amount of time in Newark, Del., in my youth. It's the home of the University of Delaware. Back then, it was home to something else, one of the legendary nightclubs in the region.

I spent many a night in the Stone Balloon. And yes, if you are asking, I drove home to Oxford, Pa., on many an occasion when it probably was not the wisest decision I could have made.

But none of those nights was captured on video and posted online for the world to see.

That is not the case with this young couple, who now face the possibility of being charged with "public lewdness" for their act, which apparently was done in full view of the public.

This happened in broad daylight on Saturday afternoon behind a business on Main Street, a very busy thoroughfare that forms the heart of the college town.

Of course, several folks who witnessed this exposition were not satisfied with gawking. They just had to whip out their ubiquitious smart phone (if ever there was an oxymoron, this one might be it) and record the sexual hijinks for posterity. And of course they just had to share it. Not with their friends. With the world. That's what happens when you go online.

That is the world that we live in. And the one that I work in.

Ain't life grand?

The bottom line on March Madness

March Madness.

Most of the time, that's used to refer to college hoops and the NCAA men's basketball tournament. Of course, these days you could make the argument that the Sixers, who last night lost franchise-record setting 21st game in a row - are perfecting their own version of March Madness. Actually, I've always wondered just how much all that talk of "brackets" costs business in terms of wasted hours in the workplace.

I've always wondered if offices shouldn't just set aside one hour and tell their workers to use that hour - but only that hour - to fill out their brackets.

I've also always wondered just how much money changes hands during the NCAA tourney.

Much like the NFL, it is the reason no one ever talks about when it comes to their popularity. It's the perfect venue for gambling. Not quite as good as football, but it's close. I always joke that on the seventh day, God actually didn't rest. Instead he decided to create the perfect venue for gambling, and thus invented football.

So go ahead, folks, fill out those brackets.

And if you want to up the ante on your Brackets Madness, you can take part in our own Road to the Championship Bracket Challenge. Get all the details here. Fill out a perfect bracket and you could pocket a million bucks.

I'm not going to hold my breath.

Monday, March 17, 2014

The Daily Numbers for Monday, March 17

The Daily Numbers: 1-3 inches of snow hitting the region today as we celebrate St. Patrick’s Day. Those are snowflakes, not shamrocks.

7 inches of snow in South Delaware and South Jersey.

10 inches of snow around Washington, D.C.

2 robbery suspects nabbed by SEPTA police who believe they have been preying on those using mass transit out of 69th Street.

10 years, how long it took for plans by Swarthmore College to build a hotel and inn to take fruition. Still, not everyone in the borough is happy about it.

80,000 barrels of cruide oil that will roll into Eddystone borough by train under a new plan.

125 years of celebrating for Shorter AME Church in Morton.

23, age of Kacie Rumford when she died of a heroin overdose. Her dad brought his advocacy group, Kacie’s Cause, to its first presentation in Delco over the weekend.

4 people hospitalized in 2 separate shooting incidents over the weekend in city of Chester.

40 percent of all animals taken in during 2013 at the Chester County SPCA that were euthanized. The group has lowered those numbers.

3.69 price for gas at the Clifton Heights Wawa. Yep, gas prices are on the rise again.

2 Big 5 teams that both wound up in the East Bracket of the NCAA Tourney. If both Villanova and Saint Joe’s win their opening games, they will face off against one another.

2 wins for the Flyers over the Pens this weekend. That’s a big statement from them.

34 appearances for the Wildcats in the NCAA Tourney.

49-32 mark for Villanova in NCAA Tourney play.

65-61 win for Saint Joe’s as they take the A-10 tourney crown.

8 Phillies batters hit by Pittsburgh pitchers this spring. The Phils have hit Bucs batters 4 times.

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

Villanova and Saint Joe’s are 1 win away each from a showdown in East Bracket in NCAA Tourney.

I Don’t Get It: Snow on St. Patrick’s Day. Guess that’s a new twist on the Shamrock Shake.

Today’s Upper: Kudos to those parents who showed up at the first meeting in Delco of the Kacie’s Cause group, pushing the word about the dangers of heroin.

Quote Box: “Kacie died in my arms because of heroin. I never had a chance to say goodbye.”

- Andy Rumford, who started ‘Kacie’s Cause’ in his daughter’s memory.

It's the March Madness of Delco pizza!

Forget March Madness.

Or at least the hoops version.

You've got the rest of the month to figure that out.

This week we're going to decide the March Madness of Delco pizza.

Ever since Pica's made national headlines with an appearance on the "Tonight Show" with Jimmy Fallon and Upper Darby homegirl Tina Fey, there has been a raging debate over who has the best pizza in Delco.

So we decided to put together our very own pizza bracket.

This week we're down to the Final Four: Gaetano's in Clifton Heights; Imperial in Secane; Clank's in Marcus Hook; and Pica's from Upper Darby.

In voting today we'll narrow it down to our championship duo. Then we'll have them in for a very special 'Live From the Newsroom' Wednesday night when we'll crown the champion pizza of Delco.

Sounds like a slam dunk to me.

Make sure you tune in Wednesday night at 7.

Today, of all days, remember it's Paddy, not Patty!

Today of course is not just any day.

It's St. Patrick's Da, which can only mean one thing. It's time for me to renew my debate with County Councilman and fellow proud Irishman John McBlain over the correct reference.

I think I have won the fight, but I'll let you decide.

Of course I refer to the correct usage in how to refer to the holiday.

In other words, it's Paddy, not Patty.

Unless I am referring to my wife. She's a Patty.

Or a burger. They're patties, too.

But the Irish? They're Paddy.

It's not a slur, as some, including the aforementioned good councilman, insist, a reference to the 'paddy' wagon that used to haul some overly celebrating Irish off to the hoosegow.

It's all in my weekly print column today.

White, not green will be color of this St. Paddy's Day

Forget the shamrocks. Green is not going to be the color of the day on this St. Paddy's Day.

Think white stuff. As in snow.

I know, you don't want to hear. Neither do I.

Unfortunately, we don't have much choice. I just drove through it, and I will give this traffic report.

Pull the covers up over your head. It's going to be miserable out there this morning.

I was lucky because there are very few cars on the road at this hour. That won't be the case later on this morning.

All that talk about how we weren't going to see much of anything in these parts, with most of the snow falling south and east, seem to have shifted.

I just drove on a lot of roads that were snow-covered and slick.

And this on March 17, St. Patrick's Day.

I'll give you an indication of what it's like.

Providence Road from West Chester Pike across to the Route 1 Bypass was kind of hit or miss, with some spots snow-covered and some just wet.

But once I got over to Rose Tree Park, most of the roads were snow-covered. The Bypass had a light coating of snow, then when I made it up to Springfield Road, it had a complete coating all the way down to Bishop Avenue. I take a right there and go up to Baltimore Pike. As I was crusing toward the Pike, I noticed the left arrow turn yellow. I thought I could still make it. When I realized I wasn't going to, I hit the brakes. I had no shot. Luckily, I still had time to skid to the side of the road, instead of blowing right through the intersection.

Baltimore Pike was completely snow-covered.

I'm not sure what it's going to be like in south Delaware and South Jersey, where they are saying they could get as much as 6 inches of snow.

They're still saying 1-3 inches of snow here.

If that's the case it better stop soon, because we probably have close to an inch around here now.

Not exactly my idea of a happy St. Patrick's Day.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

The Daily Numbers for Thursday, March 13

The Daily Numbers: 3 students who allege a teacher at Darby Township Elementary School touched them inappropriately. He’s now facing charges.

10 percent of $100,000 bail posted by Paul Hochschwender after his arrest.

225,000 dollars being put up by Delaware County Council to help towns attack the pothole problem that is ravaging cars.

3.59 percent tax hike looming in the Haverford School District.

12 signs being installed in Chester to note the area’s rich historical roots.

3 members of a family that were routed from their apartment when fire hit the Parkview Apartments in Yeadon.

9 administrative employees being laid off in a cost-cutting move in Chester Upland School District that officials hope will allow them to save $1 million.

2 K-9s joining the police force on patrol in Radnor Township.

30,000 to 100,000 dollars, how much state prosecutors say taxpayers wound up paying for personal things for state Sen. Leanna Washington of Philadelphia.

7 death toll in the blast that leveled 2 buildings in NYC.

2 dead in pileup on snowy Ohio turnpike that involved at least 50 vehicles.

11 point dip for the Dow Jones yesterday.

9 percent gain in Internet gambling for N.J. casinos in February.

15 heroin overdoses reported in Camden, N.J., because of very strong new drug on the street.

24 heroin deaths reported in Chester County last year, according to new report.

230,000 visitors to the Philadelphia Flower Show this year.

79-71 win for the Chester Clippers over Hazleton in 2nd round of PIAA state tourney last night.

18 straight losses for the Sixers after they fell to the Kings last night.

2 more free agents signed by Eagles yesterday to bolster special teams.

20 million dollars guaranteed in the deal the Broncos gave to former Cowboy DE DeMarcus Ware.

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

Henry Sims was the Sixers lead scorer with 20 points. Henry who?

I Don’t Get It: Another teacher charged with sex assault on student. Sad.

Today’s Upper: Kudos to the Chester Clippers, whose dominance in Pa. high school hoops is simply unmatched.

Quote Box: “It’s going to cost us a fortune.”

- Ridley Park Borough Manager Dawn Human, on pothole repairs.

'Live From the Newsroom' talks about the IU and its plans for the Aston campus

There is nothing I like more than when I get to use all this technology I swim in every day for to produce a real, tangible result.

I think that's what we were able to do last night with an issue that has been simmering in Aston Township now for weeks.

We devoted our weekly 'Live From the Newsroom' live-stream Internet broadcast to the controversy surrounding the proposal by the Delaware County Intermediate Unit to expand their Aston campus.

And while I was moderating, I wasn't doing that much of the talking.

I left that to the great panel we had, all of whom are intimately involved in this project.

We were joined by Dr. Lawrence O'Shea, the executive director of the IU, ably assisted by Adriene Irving, the IU's director of communications and legislative services.

O'Shea reviewed the history of the IU's proposal, which would consolidate much of their operations at the Aston site, including relocating the two alternative schools from Collingdale and Middletown to the Aston campus.

The number of students at the site would double, from 400 to 800.

Voicing their concerns were several neighbors, including Paul Hansen, Spring Valley homeowner Brian Matteo,and John Mancinelli, the head of the Spring Valley homeowners association.

Their concerns are real, including worries about traffic, the effect on property values and potential issues with kids from the alternative schools.

O'Shea defended the plans, noting the rights of these kids to an equal education, and pledged to work with residents on changes to the proposal.

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

A couple of things struck me about this issue: One, it's pretty clear that residents knew next to nothing about it until it hit the newspaper in early February.

IU officials likely were taken aback at the reaction they received at a public hearing at which residents blasted the way the whole thing has been handled, and some of the safety issues connected to it.

It's also pretty clear to me that this is very much a work in progress. O'Shea indicated the IU is now in the process of reviewing neighbors' concerns and will make a new presentation to the township commissioners, who will have the final say on whether to give it the green light or not.

My one regret is that no one from the township wanted to join us last night. We made the offer, but we never heard back from them.

If I was going to place a bet, I'd bank on the IU coming up with a plan that does not include moving their alternative school operations to the Aston campus. It's pretty clear that's at the heart of neighbors' concerns on the proposal.

My thanks for our panel for a great discussion.

And my apologies to several readers who were upset that I did not get to all of their questions.

Opportunity - & fear - rides the rails

All that crude oil is bringing something of a business boom to Delco, helping to further solidify the region's refinery industry.

Unfortunately, it's also bringing something else.

Fear.

Fear of an accident or a disaster.

That's why the county and region need a response plan for what some believe is inevitable.

Just thinking about it as those train cars rumble along the tracks through Delco communities is enough to give you chills.

We explain today on our editorial page.