Friday, May 30, 2014

The Daily Numbers for Friday, May 30

The Daily Numbers: 13 Delco parishes that await word on their future this weekend. It is likely that several will be either closed or merged with nearby parishes.

5 Delco parishes that were closed last July.

25 Delco archdiocesan parish elementary schools that have been closed in the last 40 years.

7 month old Hamza Ali, still missing and presumed dead. Ummad Rushdi, face charges in the baby’s murder, is looking to have his confession statement to police suppressed.

40, age of man charged with the brutal baseball attack on another man inside an Upper Darby bar.

0.199 blood alcohol content for Upper Darby woman when she slammed her car into a police car.

1.9 percent tax hike being eyed in Rose Tree Media School District.

2.1 percent tax hike in Wallingford-Swarthmore.

2 families chased from their homes when fire broke out on Ellendale Road in Upper Darby.

288 cases of measles reported in the U.S. this year. That’s the highest since 1994.

65.56 uptick for the stock market yesterday.

200,000 fine for Southwest Airlines for a deceptive ad.

4.12 percent, average interest rate for 30-year-mortgage.

27-6 win for the East team over the West in last night’s Hero Bowl football game.

4-1 win for the Mets as they rolled over the Phils last night.

15 strikeouts for the feeble Phils’ offense.

4 hits all they mustered against Zach Wheeler.

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

On-again, off-again for the Phils’ offense. Last night they were off again.

I Don’t Get It: Once again the Hero Bowl was marred by an incident at the end of the game. I don’t get it.

Today’s Upper: Kudos to Pat Felker who was honored at last night’s Hero Bowl. She lost her husband in the line of duty, sparking the whole idea behind the Hero Bowl.

Quote Box: “Ummad began blurting out he’s sorry for what he did.”

- Upper Darby Det. Ed Silverstein, at hearing for Ummad Rushdi, charged in death of 7-month-old Hamza Ali. Rushdi now is looking to have his statements suppressed.

Decision time for Delco parishes

Saturday is the day parishioners at a handful of Delco Catholic parishes have been dreading for months.

It is expected first word will be delivered at the Saturday evening Masses as to the fate of their beloved parishes. The news is not expected to be good.

The Archdiocese has been undergoing a second wave of reviews leading up to the announcement of more closures and mergers. A spokesman on Thursday confirmed that announcements would be made at all Saturday evening Masses as well as on Sunday. Parishioners also will receive a letter in the mail with information on the changes.

The formal announcement from the archdiocese is not likely to come until Sunday afternoon.

Delaware County parishes currently under study in “Parish Planning Area 310” as part of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia’s Parish Planning Initiative are Holy Spirit in Sharon Hill; Sacred Heart in Clifton Heights; St. Eugene in the Primos section of Upper Darby; and St. Joseph in Collingdale. Those being studied in "Parish Planning Area 300" include St. Margaret Mary Alacoque in Tinicum; St. Gabriel in Norwood; St. Madeline in Ridley Park; St. George in Glenolden; St. Rose of Lima in Eddystone; and Our Lady of Fatima, Our Lady of Peace, Our Lady of Perpetual Help and Notre Dame de Lourdes, all in Ridley Township.

Some parishioners already have learned through their local priests and parish bulletins that it is likely their beloved churches will be closed.

It has been recommended that St. Margaret Mary, the smallest parish, be merged with St. Gabriel parish in Norwood while St. Rose of Lima in Eddystone was recommended to merge with St. Madeline in Ridley Park and Our Lady of Peace in Ridley Township was recommended to merge with Notre Dame de Lourdes parish, also in Ridley Township.

Thirty out of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia’s 266 parishes in its five-county region have closed in the two years since the parish sustainability self-studies began as a result of a 2010 proposal by former Philadelphia Archbishop Cardinal Justin Rigali.

CLICK HERE for the full background on the looming changes.

Closing a local parish is never an easy thing to do, and inevitably results in bruised, sometimes irrevocably broken feelings.

We'll be at the local parishes both Saturday and Sunday to get the full reaction to the news.

Secane to Ukraine?

I was a guest on Dom Giordano's show on The Big Talker 1210-AM yesterday. Dom wanted to talk about the county's new SWAT One vehicle.

He had seen my blog item on it yesterday and wanted to talk about it.

A couple of confessions here. I did something I try not to do, and complain about all the time.

I was riding back to the office from a meeting and so, yes, I was that guy with the phone stuck in his ear while I was driving yesterday.

Second, I have to give Dom credit for a great line I wish I had used in my blog.

Dom is worries about the over-militarization of local police that this type of vehicle represents. He took my reference in the blog to something in Ukraine and came up with this winner: Secane to Ukraine.

Lot that one, Dom.

The true meaning of sports

Looking for the true meaning of sportsmanship?

Forget the on-again, off-again Phillies. They whiffed 15 times last night in losing meekly to the Mets.

The Eagles are in OTAs. Yeah, right, call me when camp opens in August.

The Sterlings are selling the Los Angeles Clippers. And the price? A cool $2 billion.

No, if you want to understand what sports can accomplish, I suggest you read Matt DeGeorge's column this morning from last night's Hero Bowl.

Matt profiles Pat Felker, who knows better than most the true meaning behind this annual game.

And yes, that is despite some extracurricular activities that once again marred the contest.

Felker is a widow who lost her husband, a volunteer firefighter, in the line of duty. That's what the Hero Bowl is all about. And that's what sports should be about, as well.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

A special night at the Delaware County Veterans Monument

It was starting to spit rain. A nasty, chilly wind made the memory of that gorgeous weekend just a memory.

The truth is, it was pretty miserable.

Then I looked at the man seated to my right.

Suddenly, it didn't seem all that bad.

Last night we took our live-stream Internet broadcast, 'Live From the Newsroom,' to the new Delaware County Veterans Memorial, out on West Chester Pike in Newtown Square.

No, the conditions were not ideal.

But the company was.

When Barb Zippi first approached me about the idea of doing our show live at the memorial, I had visions of a brilliant, sunny early summer day.

That's not exactly what we got. It didn't matter.

The people I was with, and where we were sitting, quickly made me forget the chill in the air.

Saying Ralph Galati has seen worse conditions is a bit of an understatement.

The 1966 St. James Grad spent 14 months in the 'Hanoi Hilton' as a 'guest' of the North Vietnamese back in 1972.

The Vietnam Vet will be honored with the Freedom Award in November at the annual gala of the Delaware County Veterans Memorial Association, the driving force behind the memorial.

It was our honor to have Galati on our show. A humble, congenial man, Galati talked about one of his fellow POWs. Maybe you've heard of him. He is now referred to Sen. John McCain, R-Arizona. Galati humbly spoke of the tremendous welcome home that he and other POWS received when they finally left North Vietnam and came home to the states, admitting that was not the experience most other grunts who spent time in Nam received. Places like the Delaware County Veterans Memorial are going a long way to ease those ill feelings. Now celebrating its first year, the memorial, which gleams brightly right on the side of busy Route 3 24 hours a day, really is one of the county's gems.

Much of the credit for that goes to Guy Fizzano, the head of the DCVMA, who joined us last night and updated us on the push to sell memorial bricks at the site. They both allow families to honor their loved ones who served the country so well, but also to offset the cost of upkeep at the memorial.

Linda Houldin, longtime Newtown supervisor, told us about the DCMVA's latest education initiative, giving kids a needed view into the veteran experience.

Springfield Police Chief Joe Daly told us about plans for the groups biggest fundraiser, a November dinner at which Galati and others will be awarded the Freedom Medal.

Galati was ably introduced by Dennis Murphy, another member of the association.

If you missed the show last night, you can catch the replay here. I'm the skinny one who is trying not to shiver.

More importantly, please make some time to visit the memorial. It's open 24 hours a day. It lists the name of every Delaware County serviceman to give his life in defense of our country.

Just a few days after Memorial Day, I can't think of anywhere else I'd rather be.

About that tank

Delaware County is getting serious about crime.

The question is do you think that's a good thing.

I'll admit to having mixed feelings when I first saw the press release about the county's new SWAT One mobile response vehicle.

Firs things first. It's not a tank. Technically. But it sure looks like one.

And that's part of the issue. How all this "looks."

I'm all for the county using every weapon it has to bring crime under control. But there's a part of me that winces just a bit at the look of this thing rolling down county streets.

Is this Delco, or some war-torn battlefield like the Ukraine?

You can read our full story here.

Post a comment on this blog and let me know what you think.

Thumb's up or thumb's down on the county's latest weapon against crime?

Big Piece putting pieces together

Attention Ryan Howard haters.

This might be a good day to keep a low profile around the office water cooler.

The 'Big Piece' just might be putting the pieces together. And that can only mean good things for the Phillies.

Last night Howard hit a 3-run walkoff bomb to lift the Phils to a desperately needed 6-3 9th inning victory over the Rockies.

Howard, who clearly is laboring as he returns from a string of leg injuries, went 5-for-9 against Colorado in the three-game set, knocking in nine in the process.

Dennis Deitch has all the details here.

Howard is a favorite target for the fans' wrath, in no small part because of that massive contract he signed a few years back.

Don't wait for me to join them. It's pretty simple. There is no World Series title, no parade, no end to our championship drought, with Howard in the middle of the Phils' lineup.

I hope he goes off on one of those torrid summer streaks he used to treat us to seemingly each year. As for the haters, the quiet today no doubt will be deafening.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Delco ups the ante on crime

Delaware County is upping the ante on crime.

Meet SWAT One.

It's the future of crime-fighting, and it is arriving here in Delco today. Lord knows we need all the help we can get, especially on some of our most crime-ridden turf.

County officials will roll out their new toy, a state-of-the-art vehicle that they say will help both keep citizens - and law enforcement - safe in dangerous, high-risk situations.

District Attorney Jack Whelan will be joined by several police chiefs during a press conference and demonstration of the new armored response and rescue vehicle this afternoon in Rose Tree Park.

In addition, armed tactical SWAT team officers will provide a demonstration to showcase what this new vehicle can do.

'SWAT One' is actually a 2014 Lenco 'Bearcat' ballistic engineered armored response vehicle that was purchased with Homeland Security funds by Delaware County Council under FEMA's Urban Area Security Initiative Program.

We'll have all the details from the presser later this afternoon.

This thing looks like a criminal's worst nightmare.

'Live From the Newsroom visits the Delco Veterans Memorial

Tonight we have a very special post-Memorial Day edition of our live-stream Internet broadcast, 'Live From the Newsroom.'

We'll be on the road again, paying a visit to one of the best, most meaningful attractions in Delaware County. We'll be out on Route 3 in Newtown Square at the sparkling new Delaware County Veterans Memorial.

I can't think of a better place to be just two days after celebrating Memorial Day.

We'll be joined by several very special guests who will update us on the progress of the memorial just one year after its grand opening.

Among those on hand will be Guy Fizzano, who heads the Delaware County Veterans Memorial Association, the driving force behind the memorial. Fizzano will give us an update on the memorial's first year, and also tell us about a very special appointment to the board, as well as the push to sell 11x12 bricks to help bankroll some of the costs connected to the memorial.

Find out who this special new member of the honorary board will be. Here's a hint. Think former governors.

Linda Houldin, longtime Newtown supervisor, will bring us up to date on a new education initiative the board is putting into place.

Springfield Police Chief Joe Daly will detail the annual gala dinner set for November, which will feature the Freedom Awards.

We also will meet this year’s winner of the Freedom Award recipients. Ralph Galati, a former POW, served 7 years with Sen. John McCain.

The Freedom Award is a very special honor that is part of the annual gala that helps pay for the upkeep of the memorial, which is open and lighted 24 hours a day at its location along West Chester Pike as you head west out of Newtown Square. Please tune in for this very special show tonight at 7 on DelcoTimes.com. If you have a question you'd like to see our panel address, email it to me at editor@delcotimes.com.

Most important, make sure you visit this stunningly beautiful structure. Why not join us at the site for our live show tonight?

See you at 7.

Not even Ben Revere homer can shake up this lifeless squad

Prepare for hell to freeze over.

Ben Revere hit a home run last night - his first as a major leaguer.

And it still didn't spark the lifeless Phillies to a win. Instead, Cole Hamels pitched well into the seventh, when the wheels came off. In the meantime, his teammates looked dead in the water as they fell to the Rockies, 6-2, after a rain delay that lasted about an hour and a half.

Once play resumed, the Phillies still looked all wet.

Dennis Deitch has all the details, and a great look at just how rare that shot off the bat of the Phils' leadoff man was.

It only took Revere 1,566 plate appearances to go yard. It just might take longer for the Phils to climb back into contention.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

The Daily Numbers for Tuesday, May 27

The Daily Numbers: 87 degrees our high on Monday. Nice way to kick off the summer season.

70 years after he was wounded in the Battle of the Bulge, Herman Chikedel of Radnor got his Purple Heart on Monday.

88, how old Chikedel is today, meaning he was 18 at the time. That’s why they call them the Greatest Generation.

0.6 acre site at Darby and Eagles roads in Haverford being proposed for a new Walgreens pharmacy. Not everyone is a fan of the idea.

0.778 mill tax hike in the proposed Upper Darby School budget. There is a public hearing tomorrow.

2 percent tax hike being eyed in the Chichester School District.

7 people hurt in a crash on I-95 in Tinicum over the holiday weekend.

28 of May, 1 year ago that Kip Taviano was killed in a car crash.

17, Kips age when he died.

30 years of service for the Mercy EMS teams noted.

300 kidnapped Nigerian schoolgirls who have now been located. Now it’s a matter of how best to free them.

0 hits for the Phillies on Monday.

12 hits for the Phils on Tuesday.

0 runs for the Phils on Monday.

9 runs for the Phils on Monday, while they in turn shut out the Rockies.

3 hits and 5 runs batted in for Ryan Howard in leading the attack yesterday.

3 days of OTAs for Chip Kelly and the Eagles starting today.

6 times in their last 16 home games the Phillies have been shut out.

22-26 record for the Phillies at this point.

10 straight no decisions for Kyle Kendrick snapped with a win yesterday.

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

These are your 2014 Philadelphia Phillies. No-hit one day, 12 hits and a 9-0 laugher the next.

I Don’t Get It: I don’t get giving this kid who went on that shooting spree in California one bit of publicity. Let’s just forget him.

Today’s Upper: Kudos to all those who took the time to honor our veterans yesterday on Memorial Day.

Quote Box: “I can’t believe I haven’t talked to him in a year, I just want to talk to him ... He always made me laugh.”

- Ellen Taviano, talking about her son Kip, who was killed in a crash a year ago.

Upholding Memorial Day traditions

I did two things Monday that I try to do every Memorial Day.

First, I made sure I attended the Memorial Day Parade in the town where I now live. It's something I've been doing as a kid. I wrote about those childhood Memorial Day celebrations in my Monday print column.

Since it was a beautiful morning, my wife and I combined our morning walk with the parade. We walked all over town, then paid our respects to the true idea of Memorial Day by watching the parade and clapping loudly as the various veteran groups marched by.

I never served in the military, and it's something I'm not especially comfortable talking about.

That usually doesn't stop me, or a lot of people like me. I have this platform, along with the newspaper, and I'm not shy about using it.

But I always think twice about commenting on veterans' issues, because the truth of the matter is I don't have a clue what any of those guys went through. So I defer to people like Media Mayor Bob McMahon and former County Councilman Wally Nunn, men who know first-hand what the sacrifices of Memorial Day are all about.

Memorial Day took on added meaning this year, because there is no shortage of outrage over the continuing news from the Veterans Administration on the mishandling of vets' affairs.

This should not be this difficult. President Obama needs to get this right, or get rid of the people in charge and find some people who can get the job done.

I was reminded of the sacrifice that is at the heart of Memorial Day with the other tradition I upheld yesterday. I drove out to my home town of Oxford and paid a visit to the cemetery. I really only get back out to town a couple of times a year any more, but Memorial Day has always been something of a special day for me, and for the town.

And yesterday was especially glorious. I don't know why, but there always seems to be a stiff breeze blowing through the cemetery in Oxford. Yesterday it meant all the new flags placed on veterans' graves, including that of my dad, were flapping gently. As I gazed out across the cemetery, it made for an impressive sight.

I took a quick tour of the town before I hit the road for home again.

But it's those hundreds of flags I will remember.

Growing up in a small country town is a good thing. Even if you only get back there a few times a year.

And Memorial Day is the perfect day to do it.

Summer beckons

Maybe Mother Nature felt like she owed us one.

After one of the most miserable, cold, snowy, icy winters on record, the weather lords apparently tried to make it up for us all in one glorious weekend.

The weather was just about perfect all weekend, with temperatures soaring into the high 80s.

I actually donned a pair or shorts for the first time this spring. I know, it's not a pretty sight. I tried desperately to avoid my wife, who was chasing me around the yard with the sunscreen, reminding me to put on a hat and slathering cream all over my prodigious beak.

I gave the grill a good workout.

In short,I indulged myself in perhaps my favorite warm-weather activity, doing as little as possible, plopping into a chair in the sun piling up the newspapers and books, and flipping the Phils' game on the radio.

Of course, at least on Sunday, the Phils were not as giving as Mother Nature.

I listened as the Phils flailed away for eight innings.

Not satisfied with ruining my early-summer preview, I of course had to get up and go inside to see if Josh Beckett could seal the deal.

He did. He no-hit the Phillies, in Citizens Bank Park no less. I sighed and returned to my summer solitude.

The original plan for this weekend, as it is on almost all three-day holiday weekends, was to try to get in a round of golf.

I skipped it this weekend. I didn't even make a visit to the driving range. It was just too nice to allow my pursuit of pars and birdies to interfere.

So the Phillies did it for me.

Mother Nature is going to have a tough act to follow after taking the curtain up on summer 2014 in glorious fashion. Welcome to the best 90 days of the year.

On with summer!

Those on-and-off Phillies

What does it say about the Phillies that, the day after they suffered the ignominy of being no-hit on their own field, they erupted for 12 hits in spanking the Rockies.

One day they get shut out by the shut out 6-0 by Josh Beckett of the Dodgers, collecting exactly zero hits along the way, and the next they return the favor by blanking the Rockies, 9-0.

It says the Phillies are what they are, maybe a .500 team at best.

Yesterday Ryan Howard had three hits, including his eighth home run, and drove in five runs. But when he runs he looks like he can barely move.

Right now the Phillies are four games under .500 at 22-26, five games behind the Braves.

Despite the offensive fireworks they put up yesterday, it didn't completely erase the feeble way they went vs. Beckett, and they also got some more bad news when it was revealed that Cliff Lee continues to have pain in that inflamed elbow. That means his say on the disabled list is going to be extended. Don't look for him to return before June.

Ruben Amaro Jr. soon will have a decision to make. Are the Phillies buyers or sellers. Does this lineup have one more run at a playoff spot in it? I don't see it.

That means teams will be inquiring about some of the Phillies' vets, including Jimmy Rollins and Chase Utley. Rollins is a couple of weeks away from becoming the team's all-time leader in hits. That should not stop Amaro from dealing him in the right trade. The same goes for Utley, who is having an All-Star season.

Right now, this Phillies team just isn't good enough.

Friday, May 23, 2014

The Daily Numbers for Friday, May 23

The Daily Numbers: 85.2 winning percentage for Larry Yarbray as Chester High hoops coach.

11 tenants in a home that would have to be demolished to make room for a new super Wawa who registered their complaints at a hearing in Upper Darby last night.

4,670 square foot store proposed by Wawa for the intersection of West Chester Pike, Park Avenue and Windsor Avenue, across the street from St. Laurence church and school.

26 of June, when zoners will rule on the application from Wawa.

24, age of latest murder suspect in Chester.

13 homicides in Chester so far this year.

20 people who took part in the annual bike to work day who arrived on 2 wheels at the Media Courthouse yesterday.

1,600 students who picked up their diplomas from Delaware County Community College yesterday.

30,000 dollars in fines slapped on Harrah’s casino in Chester.

21 percent of elementary student sin Chester Upland who are now reading at grade level.

600 nurses at Crozer-Chester Medical Center who have given their union the OK to call a strike. No work stoppage is planned as yet.

380 percent increase from last October, when only 4.5 percent of students hit the mark.

1, as in the No. 1 beach in New Jersey, and the honor goes to Ocean City.

100 million set to be spent by environmental activists on this year’s fall elections, and 1 of the pols they are targeting is Pa. Gov. Tom Corbett.

10 point spike for the stock market yesterday.

326,000 more people applying for jobless benefits last week.

22-2 win posted by the Carroll girls lacrosse team over Girl High.

4-3 walkoff loss in the 9th inning as the Phils drop 2 of 3 to the Marlins.

2,218 hits for Jimmy Rollins, who surpassed Hall of Famer Richie Ashburn yesterday.

16 hits behind Mike Schmidt for the all-time team record.

.276 batting average for Rollins so far this year.

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

No decision for Cole Hamels yesterday, who gave up 3 runs in 7 innings. Once again the Phils’ bullpen coughed up a game.

I Don’t Get It: Maybe there is something to all this global warming stuff. This weather is just flat-out weird. West Chester yesterday looked like someone had blown grass all over the roads, and the yards were covered with hail. Locusts must be next.

Today’s Upper: Sure the calendar tells us summer does not start until June 21. Don’t believe it Memorial Day weekend is here. I think we survived the winter.

Quote Box: “He is a highly respected member of the community with an impeccable reputation. It’s been very traumatic for him to have to defend himself against false allegations.”

- William Davis Jr., attorney for Chester High hoops coach Larry Yarbray.

When allegations turn out to be not the case

It is the question I'm inevitably asked when we write a story about someone's arrest.

"How come you only told one side of the story?"

That would be the side presented by police and prosecutors. It's true. Those stories are usually heavily weighted toward information presented by police and prosecutors, sometimes at widely publicized press conferences, sometimes from the affidavit, the legal document filed when someone is arrested. We usually make an effort to contact the accused, or their attorney, and get a comment. They usually decline.

It is important to remember that at this point these are only allegations, not facts.

That's what courts and trials are for.

I was reminded of that two more times this week, with the kind of reversals in stories that make editors bolt up from bed at 3 a.m. in a cold sweat.

The first involved a contractor from Radnor who was wrongly accused of stealing money from a Montgomery County church. He had denied wrongdoing.

This week Montgomery County District Attorney Risa Vetri Ferman offered Walter Logan Jr. a written apology. Oh, and something else. A check for $1.6 million.

When she announced the charges, Ferman went on TV and called the situation "particularly despicable" and "really very low."

Logan called it something else, the start of a "five-year nightmare" in his bid to clear his name.

It has not been an especially good month for Ferman, who just a few weeks back admitted her office botched the testing in the high-profile case against former Montco Republican Party Chairman Robert Kerns. She tossed that case, which has since been picked up by the state attorney general's office.

We go to these press conferences and routinely record what prosecutors and police chiefs say as gospel. That's not always the case.

Yesterday I was a bit startled to receive a phone call from a reporter who informed me that all charges that had been filed against Chester High boys basketball coach Larry Yarbray had been dismissed.

Police had charged him with assault after an alleged domestic incident. The alleged victim failed to show up to testify at his preliminary hearing, and the judge dismissed the case.

Yarbray had denied the charges at the time they were filed.

It would have been easy for me to bury the story inside the paper. It also would have been incredibly unfair. I know this may come as a surprise to some readers, but I think long and hard about just these types of situations. When a person is acquitted or otherwise cleared of charges, I inevitably think back to how we handled the story when the charges were filed.

In Yarbray's case, because of the fact that he was the high-profile coach of one of the most successful basketball programs in Pennsylvania, it was our lead on Page One. This morning, Yarbray is back on Page One, this time with a headline noting that the case had been tossed.

We're not going to stop reporting when ch

arges are filed. We will continue to quote district attorneys and police chiefs when they talk about arrests. But we remain cognizant of the fact that these are only allegations, and if circumstances change, it is incumbent upon us to note those changes.

Even when it wakes us at 3 a.m. in a cold sweat.

Schwartz vs. Sestak?

Here's a little morsel of post-Primary Day speculation.

Congresswoman Allyson Schwartz lamented the lack of women in the halls of power in Pennsylvania during her concession speech after she was trounced by Democratic gubernatorial winner Tom Wolf. She said it was her hope that one day a woman would reside in the governor's mansion in Harrisburg, and not just as the spouse of the top pol in the state.

That gap is only going to get bigger now, because Schwartz gave up her seat in Congress to run for governor, and Marjorie Margolies got waxed by state Rep. Brendan Burke in the Dem race to replace her in the 13th District.

Pennsylvania has never had a female governor. Currently both our U.S. Senators are male.

Which brings up an interesting question. Would Schwartz consider challenging incumbent Republican Sen. Pat Toomey in two years.

To do so she likely would have to win a primary against none other than Delco's own Joe Sestak. He has not formally announced he is running, but almost everyone believes he will.

As party leaders can attest, once Sestak makes up his mind, he's unlikely to change it. They tried unsuccessfully to get him to step aside when longtime Republican Sen. Arlen Specter flipped parties. Instead Sestak rebuffed all attempts to get him to step aside, then showed Specter the door in the primary.

Party leaders likely would not want a primary battle between Schwartz and Sestak. For one thing, it would be outrageously expensive, to say nothing of being divisive.

Of course, all this depends on what Schwartz wants to do, and if she wants to take on another bruising campaign.

A toast to go gay couples, but not liquor privatization?

A clearly elated gay couple tied the knot last night on the steps of the Art Museum in Philadelphia.

I am happy for them.

Pennsylvania is finally emerging from the dark ages.

Same-sex couples are expected to be married across the state starting today, since most couples had to wait three days after getting their license to be married.

So here is my question, now that we are so boldly enlightened and entering into this new era.

Do you think there's any chance that I might be able to buy a six-pack of beer and a bottle of wine in the same store? I guess this age of enlightenment only goes so far.

Not exactly the same thing, I will admit. And likely not nearly as important. But it is also something most people in this state have wanted for a long time. Unfortunately, I don't see it happening anytime soon. That's because this issue involves jobs and money, something that makes politicians move at a glacier's pace.

Maybe someday, but for now I will continue to make three stops or more to get my Memorial Day provisions.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

The Daily Numbers for Thursday, May 22

The Daily Numbers: 120,000 square foot expansion plan that could pit Aston Township vs. the Delaware County Intermediate Unit.

400 students currently at the site. That would double to 800.

9 a.m. Wednesday, when the county Register of Wills Office opened and the 1st same-sex couple applied for a marriage license here in Delco.

1 dead, 3 hurt in Chester shootings.

18.6 percent turnout in Delco for Tuesday’s Primary election.

1.65 million dollars being paid to a Radnor contractor by the Montgomery County D.A.’s office because of a bad arrest. He’s also getting an apology from D.A. Risa Vetri Ferman

4 people facing charges after a raid in Upper Darby turned up cocaine and pot.

120 foot tall billboard that continues to raise hackles in Ridley Park. The Zoning Board turned down an appeal by residents fighting the billboards.

40, age of man who faces charges after police say he pulled a knife on a man during an altercation at an Upper Chichester tavern.

2 woman robbed at gunpoint after they answered a Craigslist ad to buy a motorcycle in Upper Chi.

100 jobs that could be on the line as Upper Darby School District mulls privatizing its bus service.

650 unit adult community being proposed for Marple Township.

7, age of student in Philly who died after taking sick in school.

3 men who face charges connected with disturbing the nest of peregrine falcons under the Girard Point Bridge. They were doing a construction project.

10,000 fine against Harrah’s in Chester for allowing a deck of cards that contained a discrepancy to be used at poker tables.

7,500 dollar fine for problems with automatic shuffler.

5,000 fine for failing to prevent access to restricted areas on 2 occasions in 1 day.

10 years, how long police say a 25-year-old woman has escaped after being held captive for 10 years by a man in California.

158 point spike for the Dow yesterday.

80 U.S. troops being used in Chad to push the hunt for kidnapped Nigerian girls.

218,000 subcompact Aveo cars being recalled by GM.

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

Not a good effort by the Phils last night. They got hammered by the Marlins, 14-5. Kyle Kendrick still looking for his 1st win of the season. This is a .500 team at best.

I Don’t Get It: The Eagles are no longer offering paper tickets to their season ticket holders. There goes one of the best mementos in sports - the ticket stub.

Today’s Upper: Kudos to Chester Mayor John Linder, who is looking to install hundreds of video cameras to battle violence in the city.

Quote Box: “Thank you. You listened and you have done something about this. I am so proud of you.

- Aston resident Carol Cannon, to commissioners after last night’s announcement they will have special counsel to deal with the proposed expansion of the county IU tech center in the township.

The most expensive political races in Delco history

Here's what I learned after sitting down with the leaders of Delaware County's two political parties last night: Running for office ain't cheap.

Tom Wolf captured the Democratic nomination for governor after spending $10 million of his own money - including a hefty loan - to bankroll an early wave of TV advertising.

But that's nothing.

GOP Chairman Andy Reilly said the county could see a record-setting amount of money spent on what could be locally the prize of the November election. That would be the 26th District state Senate seat being vacated by retiring Sen. Ted Erickson. Republican County Council Chairman Tom McGarrigle is set to face Democratic union leader John Kane from Ridley.

Both Reilly and Landau said the race could go into uncharted territory in terms of the amount of money raised. It very likely is going to be the most-watched race in Pa. political circles outside the governor's race.

Reilly and Landau joined us last night for our live-stream Internet show, 'Live From the Newsroom.' If you missed the show, you can catch the replay here.

Reilly said that with a Democratic candidate now in tow, Gov. Corbett can zero in on him. He also stressed that Corbett has a good story to tell, and his challenge will be to get out there and tell it. He hinted that we'll be seeing a lot of the governor here in Delaware County.

Landau said the race will be a referendum on Corbett's first term.

It's not just the gubernatorial and Senate races that will be seeing an infusion of big bucks, both party leaders also said to expect a ton of cash to be spent on the hotly contested state House races in both the 163rd and 164th Districts in Upper Darby.

Incumbent Rep. Margo Davidson, D-164, fended off two primary challenges from within the party. She's not an especially happy camper and has been saying so. She now will tangle with Republican Upper Darby businessman Saud Siddiqui.

In the 163rd, for the first time in more than three decades, someone not named Micozzie will represent constituents in Upper Darby and surrounding towns. Democrat Vince Rongione will battle Republican Upper Darby Councilman Jamie Santora in what should be a very close race.

Predictions?

I'm already on record saying the governor gets re-elected. Yeah, I know that's not a particularly popular opinion these days. I'm banking on Pennsylvania's long record of not tossing out incumbent governors. Instead we give one party eight years, then usually flip to the other party for eight years. I'm also thinking the governor can't possibly do a worse job of getting his message out there than he's done to this point.

As for the two state House races? The writing's on the wall. The Demographic in Upper Darby is moving to the Democrats. I believe Margo Davidson will win easily, and Vince Rongione will win a very tight fight with Jamie Santora.

Hey, what happened to summer? Didn't the campaigns wait until after Labor Day? Not anymore.

On to November.

The single greatest moment in Philadelphia sports history

Here's a little trip down memory lane to ease the troubled souls of Philly fans still aching from the sight of the Phils being bludgeoned by the Marlins, 14-5, and then insult being added to injury with news that former Flyer Jeff Carter netted a hat trick last night to lead the L.A. Kings back to a 1-1 tie with the Blackhawks.

I know, it's not easy.

But did you notice this little item tucked away in the sports vault earlier this week?

The Eagles are no longer going to be giving their season ticket holders actual paper tickets.

Which got me to wondering if we are not about to lose one of the great mementos in sports: The ticket stub.

I know that somewhere stashed away in a trunk somewhere I have a ticket stub that remains to this day one of my most prized sports possessions.

It is a ticket stub from the Eagles 1980 NFC championship game at the Vet, a 20-7 win that propelled our beleaguered Birds to their first-ever appearance in the Super Bowl.

The day is memorable for several reasons.

First and foremost, it remains the coldest I have ever been in my life. With temperatures hovering around zero, not even the freezer suit I borrowed from my future father-in-law - used by workers in the coolers at Pepperidge Farms - could ward off the cold.

And I could not have been happier about it.

That day, Jan. 11, 1981, in one man's humble opinion also marks the single greatest moment in Philadelphia sports. Yes, I am well aware that the Phillies and Sixers both have won world championships in the interim, and I will be forever grateful. I was at the Phillies parade in 1980, but it still does not match the sheer exhiliration of one single moment in time.

I can tell you what it was in just four words, and I am sure any green-blooded Eagles fan will know exactly to what I refer:

Wilbert off right tackle.

Maybe it was because I was there. Maybe it was because we were all so damned cold. Maybe it was because it was Dallas. Maybe it was because we had sat through so many lousy years - and teams.

But at that moment we rejoiced in the fact that Dick Vermeil's team was in fact going to be the hated Cowboys. We hugged each other as Vermeil hugged veteran Claude Humphrey and exclaimed, "Do you know where you're going? You're going to the Super Bowl!" And we were all going with him.

That moment when Wilbert burst through the line and saw only frozen green plastic in front of him remains - in my humble opinion - the single greatest moment in Philadelphia sports history.

Now here's the kicker.

About that ticket stub.

Anyone care to guess what the face value of that ducat was?

20 bucks.

Yeah, times have changed. I am no longer an Eagles season ticket holder, but no less a fan. And I will hold that memory forever.

If you happen to disagree, by all means post a comment and we can discuss it.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

The Daily Numbers for Wednesday, May 21

The Daily Numbers: 58 percent of the vote for Dem gubernatorial winner Tom Wolf

18 percent for Allyson Schwartz

17 percent for Rob McCord.

8 percent for Katie McGinty.

16,370 votes for Wolf here in Delco.

8,070 for Schwartz.

5,573 for McCord

2,675 votes for Margo Davidson to win the hotly contested 164th District state House seat.

2,143 votes for Billy Smith.

241 votes for Dafan Zhang.

20 percent of voters who turned out to vote in the 164th District.

12 percent turnout countywide for Republicans.

18 percent for the Democrats.

3 minute acceptance speech offered by Wolf in a baseball stadium in his home town of York.

41 percent of vote for Dem winner Rep. Brendan Boyle in the 13th Congressional primary.

27 percent for Marjorie Margolies.

17 percent for Daylin Leach.

15 percent for Val Arkoosh.

3 and 10, what Sixers will pick in the upcoming NBA Draft.

15-day stint on disabled list for Phils’ ace lefty Cliff Lee.

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

The Phillies won again last night, but learned they must compete the next two weeks without Cliff Lee, who was placed on the 15-day DL with some inflammation in his elbow. Not good.

I Don’t Get It: Those who refuse to recognize the right of same-sex couples to marry. You don’t have to agree with it. But we should be past the time when we realize that is their right under the Constitution.

Today’s Upper: Kudos to U.S. Federal Judge John E. Jones III, who struck down the Pa. ban on same-sex marriage and urged it be consigned to the “ash heap of history.” Well said.

Quote Box: “We are a better people than what that these laws represent, and it is time to discard them into the ash heap of history.”

- Judge Jones in his ruling

Margo Davidson survives the challenge

Primary Day proved to be an interesting day for women in Pennsylvania.

Here in Delaware County, embattled incumbent state Rep. Margo Davidson, D-164, beat back a primary challenge from two foes within her own party.

Davidson had come under fire for her support of school choice and restrictions on abortion clinics. You'd almost get the feeling that she was targeted by her own party for not being 'liberal' enough.

It didn't work. But it wasn't easy.

Davidson, who made history when she succeeded longtime Rep. Mario Civera by being the first woman and first African-American sent to Harrisburg from the 164th, edged attorney Billy Smith and Dafan Zhang in a bit of a nail-biter.

Davidson racked up 2,675 votes to 2,143, according to unofficial results. Zhang trailed with just 241 votes.

For Allyson Schwartz, the news was not nearly as good. She gave up her 13th District seat in Congress to run against what everyone considered to be a very vulnerable Pa. Gov. Tom Corbett. She didn't count on being taken out by a lone Wolf.

York businessman Tom Wolf sank $10 million of his own money into an avalanche of TV ads in the dead of winter and never looked back.

Just before Christmas, Schwartz was the clear front-runner in the race, with the little-known Wolf bringing up the rear. Amazing what $10 million buys these days. After the torrent of TV ads, that picture was flipped, with Wolf holding a commanding lead he never gave up.

In her concession speech, Schwartz lamented that some day a woman will lead Pennsylvania. Not this year.

Back in her old stomping ground, Marjorie Margolies got trounced, despite the backing of the Clinton clan. Her son is married to Chelsea Clinton. And remember it was her crucial vote for then-President Bill Clinton that paved the way for passage of his budget - and her ticket out of Congress.

She fell to the organization of Northeast Philly state Rep. Brendan Boyle. He had 41 precent of the vote, to just 27 percent for Magolies.

State Sen. Daylin Leach, the "liberal lion" of Harrisburg, was a distant third with just 17 percent of the vote.

'Live From the Newsroom' analyzes the Delco vote

Tom Corbett vs. Tom Wolf.

Tom McGarrigle vs. John Kane.

Buckle your seat belts, folks. The primary is over. Now it's time for the main event.

Even though a tiny sliver of those eligible made their way to the polls yesterday, the die is now cast. We know who will be at the top of the ticket come November.

Tom Corbett is generally regarded as one of the most vulnerable governors in the nation. I am guessing they are not happy this morning. I think they would have much rather run against Rep. Allyson Schwartz, who they could easily portray as a Philadelphia liberal, as opposed to York businessman Wolf, who comes across as very much the common man as he tools around in that old jeep.

Here in Delaware County, we will host one of the most hotly contested state Senate races in the Commonwealth, as McGarrigle, the popular chairman of County Council, goes up against labor leader Kane, from Ridley, in a bid for the 26th District seat being vacated by the retiring Sen. Ted Erickson.

Tonight we'll analyze the primary vote in Delco, and also set the table for what should be a grueling fall campaign. Joining me will be the two party heads here in Delaware County, Republican chair Andy Reilly and Dem leader David Landau. Do you have a question you'd like to see asked?

Email it to me at editor@delcotimes.com. Then tune in to DelcoTimes.com tonight at 7 and take part in our live chat. We'll be talking elections tonight at 7. Why not join the conversation!

A new day in Pennsylvania

Slowly but surely, Pennsylvania is emerging from the dark ages.

Gay couples can now legally tie the knot. I can only hope they find what I did more than three decades ago, an incredibly patient, understanding, loving partner. For some reason she has not kicked my sorry behind to the curb, despite spending so much of that time as a 'newspaper widow.'

Gays immediately got the right to marry yesterday when a federal judge - a Republican appointed by former President George W. Bush by the way - struck down the state's ban on gay marriage. U.S. District Judge John E. Jones III did not mince words, saying that 'we are a better people than what these laws represent,' and adding it is time to consign them to the 'ash heap of history.'

We concur. Here is our editorial position on the matter.

That is not to say everyone will agree. I was greeted first thing this morning by an anonymous voice-mail, and a man who decided I was responsible for this ruling.

"I hope you're happy, you piece of s---," he grumbled. "Just wait until you see all the molestations. You got what you want."

Talk about thing that need to be consigned to the dustbin of history.

In Philadelphia, gay couples immediately stormed City Hall to apply for marriage licenses. In Delco, gay couples did not have that opportunity. The courthouse here is traditional closed on election days. But if you are headed there today to get a license, we certainly would be interested in telling your story.

Email me at editor@delcotimes.com, or our courthouse reporter Alex Rose at arose@delcotimes.com if you'd like to be part of our story.

One other thing. While I support this ruling, I still am not especially happy about the way our Attorney General Kathleen Kane failed to do her job in not defending the state's position.

She had argued that the law was 'unconstitutional,' and clearly the judge concurred.

But that was his job, not hers.

In deciding what laws she will choose to enforce as the state's top prosecutor, she lays down a dangerous precedent. For now, it marks a milestone of progress.

Next thing you know, I'm going to be able to buy a six-pack of beer and a bottle of wine in the same store. Nah, that would be too much to ask.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

The Daily Numbers for Tuesday, May 20 (Primary Election Edition)

The Daily Numbers: 4 Democrats battling today for the nomination to oppose Gov. Tom Corbett in the fall. York businessman Tom Wolf is the front-runner.

10 million dollars, how much of his own money Wolf spent on TV ads that separated him from the pack.

1 GOP opponent for Corbett who got bounced off the ballot. The governor is now unopposed.

20 percent, what most experts believe turnout will be, maybe a shade higher for Dems because of the governor’s race.

164th District state House seat, maybe the hottest race in Delco, where 2 Dem challengers are taking on incumbent state Rep. Margo Davidson.

7 of 165 Democratic and GOP candidates for governor in Pa. who have been women.

20 percent of the vote, a level never achieved by one of those female candidates. Allyson Schwartz could eclipse that mark - and still lose.

7 a.m. to 8 p.m., when polls in Pa. are open.

18 seats in the U.S. House of Representatives up for grabs in the state. There are no primary battles in Delco’s 2 districts.

203 House seats, but again very few primary races.

24 seats in the state Senate on the ballot.

5 Dem candidates also running for the lieutenant governor slot on the ticket.

4 way battle in the 13th District U.S. House seat in Philly and Montgomery County.

806,000 registered Democrats in Philadelphia, that’s 1 in 5 Dems in the state.

31 million dollars spent by the 4 Democrats looking to challenge Corbett.

3 Congressional slots in the region that will be filled by new faces come November.

2 contested primary races in state House races in Chester County.

2 Joshes seeking the 74th District nod, Downingtown Mayor Josh Maxwell and Caln Commissioner Josh Young.

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

Guess what, politics is a lot like sports. Money talks. Just ask Tom Wolf, or his 3 fellow Democrats trying to unseat Gov. Tom Corbett

I Don’t Get It: Only about 20 percent of voters will actually make it to the polls today.

Today’s Upper: Kudos to everyone who in fact gets to the polls and exercises their franchise today.

Quote Box: “People will tell you that you never think of losing. Of course you think about losing. This is a very uncertain profession.”

- Former state Rep. Steve Freind, who was often challenged in GOP primaries.

Take part in our live Primary Day coverage

Fifteen minutes until the polls open.

Try to contain yourself.

Better yet, why not take part in our live coverage.

We will be hosting a live chat on the Primary Election all day.

And we want you to take part in our coverage. You can join our coverage simply by using the hashtag #delcovote.

If you are voting today - and we certainly hope you are - let us know how many people have voted at your polling place.

Snap a picture and post it as well.

Sure, there aren't very many contested races here in Delaware County. Most of the headlines are being reserved for the Democrats seeking the nomination to challenge Gov. Tom Corbett in the fall.

That doesn't mean you shouldn't exercise your franchise. And it doesn't mean we're ignoring this important story either. But we are doing things just a little different these days. We want you to be part of our coverage. You can be our eyes and ears in the community.

Tell us what you see. Sound off about how you voted. Take a picture or a video.

Then post your comments on Twitter with the #delcovote hashtag and we'll make it part of our Election Day coverage.

Now it's time to vote - and then blog about it on DelcoTimes.com

Corbett rips Dems on gas tax plans; what about McGarrigle?

Gov. Tom Corbett, meet Tom McGarrigle.

Maybe you've heard of him. Popular head of Delaware County Council. He was there when you were announcing all that money to save the local refineries.

Now he wants to fill the seat being vacated by retiring state Sen. Ted Erickson, R-26. He does not have a primary opponent today, and will face off with Democrat John Kane, a labor leader from Ridley, in the November general election.

Yesterday the governor couldn't resist taking a swing at the cavalcade of Democrats who are seeking to wrest the governor's mansion from him in November.

All of them are backing a new tax on the state's burgeoning natural gas drilling in the Marcellus Shale regions of the state. Corbett is adamantly opposed to such a tax. He instead pushed early in his first term for an "impact fee" instead of a tax.

Dems flogged him for missing a crucial revenue opportunity. He never blinked, saying that new taxes could drive away a huge economic opportunity.

Maybe McGarrigle didn't get the message. He's on record saying he wants a 4 percent levy on gas drillers, with all that money going to education to help ease the perennial problem with funding in that area. Yesterday Corbett was on talk radio in Philly and once again blasted his would-be Democratic challengers for calling for a tax on natural gas.

The governor said it's not right to single out one industry to tax it and accused Democrats of not liking the free enterprise system. He commented that it seems like Democrats want to punish people who are making money and make them pay for everything.

He didn't mention McGarrigle. I'm not surprised.

Yesterday, the Springfield businessman opened his campaign HQ on his home turf in Springfield. The governor just happened to be down in Marcus Hook, talking about his work to save the refineries. I don't think their paths crossed.

I'm not a bit surprised.

I do know this. Come the fall, Corbett is much more likely to need McGarrigle than the other way around. The last time we asked the governor about his differences with the Delco Republican, he admitted that they have different views and that they would have "to have a discussion about it."

I'd love to be a fly on the wall for that discussion.

Welcome to Primary Day 2014

Welcome to Primary Election Day 2014!

Polls open in about an hour. Relax, have that second cup of coffee. For some reason, I don't think you'll be standing in a line to exercise your franchise.

In fact, I doubt most of you will even make it to the polls today.

Republicans here in Delaware County have almost nothing at stake in today's primary vote. Tom Corbett will be their gubernatorial candidate, seeking a second term and battling to shore up his flagging poll numbers.

Another Tom, County Council boss Tom McGarrigle, will be their man in the state Senate 26th District race. He has no primary foe. Neither does his opponent in the fall, Democrat John Kane, a union leader from Ridley. One of them will replace the venerable Sen. Ted Erickson, who is retiring.

It's on the Democratic side that things get a bit interesting. There is a four-way race for the Democratic gubernatorial nomination. York County businessman Tom Wolf is leading the pack, thanks in no small part to the avalanche of TV campaign ads he launched back in the winter that managed to separate him from Congresswoman Allyson Schwartz, state Treasurer Rob McCord and former state DEP boss Katie McGinty.

But even Dems will be hard-pressed to get their voters to the polls.

County leader believe anywhere from 20-30 percent of eligible voters will actually get out and cast ballots today, probably a tad higher on the Dem side because of the governor's race.

I'm not that optimistic. I'll set the line at a 20 percent turnout. And I'm taking the under.

What do you say? Give me a number for turnout in Delco.

Remember, you can follow our live Primary Day coverage all day with our live election blog. And you can take part by using the hashtag #delcovote on Twitter.

Don't just sit there. Vote! Then take part in our live coverage!

Monday, May 19, 2014

The Daily Numbers for Monday, May 19

The Daily Numbers: 20 runs produced by Phils in 2 wins over Reds this weekend.

23 scoreless innings that preceded the outburst.

6 home runs for the Phils in those 2 wins.

25 dingers in the first 39 games of the season.

4 Dems who continue to campaign furiously for the right to go against incumbent Pa. Gov. Tom Corbett in the fall.

3 Democrats who are seeking the nomination in the hotly contested 164th District state House seat.

336 grads who collected their diplomas at Cabrini College yesterday.

40 students and 3 professors who opposed a speaker at Haverford College commencement. He decided to skip the affair. A man who did speak criticized the students and profs for their actions. Good for him.

17.6 million dollar loan being floated by Wallingford-Swarthmore School District to finance their debt.

20 liquor licenses now on operation in Media Borough. Council just approved another one on State Street to be run by the guys who own 320 Market in Swarthmore.

4-4 record for Phils starter Cliff Lee.

3.18 ERA for the lefty.

1, as in the 1st ever team title for Delco Christian at District 1 Track and Field championships.

13-inning heartbreaker of a loss for Widener baseball to end their season.

Call me a Phanatic: A look at the ups and downs of being a Philadelphia sports fan. Looks like the Phillies may have found their bats. Kudos to Ryne Sandberg for not being afraid to make changes in attempts to get things going.

I Don’t Get It: Since when do students get to make the decision about who the speaker is at commencement?

Today’s Upper: Kudos to former Princeton boss William Bowen, who made clear he believed the uproar at Haverford that led to a speaker backing out was a loss for the schools.

Quote Box: “Love people like crazy.”

- Ed Herr, head of Herr’s Potato Chips, to graduates at Immaculata.

Commencing with some advice for grads

I was reminded again this weekend of one of the great laments of my life.

I did not walk with my graduating class at my college commencement.

I graduated in August, at the end of the summer session, after I had finished an internship at The Denver Post. I was done the internship and all my classes, but the summer commencement for the Class of 1978 from the Unviversity of Colorado was more than a week away. That's when I made one of the worse decisions of my life. I put all my earthly belongings in the back of a pickup truck and pointed it east on I-70. I gave the school a forwarding address where they could send my diploma noting that I earned a bachelor's in journalism, while at the same time flunking one of my very first tests of post-college life. I should have stayed and walked. I had the rest of my life in front of me, but for some reason I was incredibly eager to get back to Oxford, Pa. So instead of walking with my fellow grads, I again drove across the U.S., regretting the decision a little more with every miles. There is not a day that goes by that I don't regret that foolish decision. I am of course reminded of it at this time of the year.

Commencements have been in the news lately, in part because so many of them have been embroiled in controversy surrounding their speakers.

Amazingly, Condoleeza Rice decided to bow out of a scheduled appearance at Rutgers after some faculty and students objected.

I still find that a little hard to believe. Not that she demurred, but that the small-minded faculty and students made such a fuss over her appearance.

They objected to her work in the run-up to the Iraq War when she served as President George W. Bush's secretary of state.

My feelings on this are very much the same as they are for the former president. I don't agree with many things that he did. But I think we too often lose respect for the office he held. The man was president, for God's sake. Too many people in their zeal to denigrate Bush also managed to smear the office he held.

Much the same goes for the treatment Rice received from the professors and students at Rutgers. So much for the freedom of speech they are always carping about. I guess those rights are reserved for those who hold the same beliefs as you do.

That's one of the reason I was heartened by what happened yesterday at Haverford College's commencement.

William G. Bowen, a former president of Princeton, took both the school and students to task for the uporoar that led another featured speaker, former Berkeley chancellor Robert J. Birgenau, to step down. Good for him.

But neither of these is my favorite commencement story from the weekend.

That honor is reserved for an old friend.

My kids still don't believe me when I point to the smiling face on those huge billboards and claim Ed Herr among my friends.

That's right, the president of Herr's potato chips was a classmate, Oxford Area High School Class of '73. We played football together. Actually, my kids don't believe I played football either.

But what really sends them reeling is my stories of how Ed used to snag us some hot chips as they came out of the oven in what clearly back then was a much smaller operation at Herr's.

I "love" what Ed had to say to the grads this weekend at Immaculata out in Chester County.

"Love people like crazy," Herr told those collecting diplomas.

Good advice, Ed.

I wish someone would have told the kids at Haverford and Rutgers that.

And this: Life is hard. You don't always get to make the rules. And things don't always go your way.

A lot of things have not gone my way since those days when Ed Herr and I competed for the quarterback position at Oxford High.

Ed's done a little better than me.

He's the face of Herr foods. I'm the face of the Daily Times.

Now maybe people will understand when I say this is a face that was made for the newspaper.

The primary looms

I noticed that Gov. Tom Corbett was in town on Saturday.

He doesn't have an opponent in the primary, now that Bob Guzzardi has been booted off the ballot, but that's not keeping him from pressing the flesh. That's a good strategy, because he's going to need all the breaks he can get.

Corbett finds himself in an unusual spot, an incumbent who is way behind in the polls.

In fact, most polls identify Corbett as the nation's most vulnerable governor.

He'll find out who his running against tomorrow. My money is on Tom Wolf, who used $10 million of his own money - a lot of it gained from a loan - to bankroll an avalanche of TV advertising in the dead of winter that pushed him to what seems like an insourmountable lead over U.S. Rep. Allyson Schwartz, state Treasurer Rob McCord and former state Department of Environmental Protection Secretary Katie McGinley.

Today Schwartz will be in the county, with an appearance the Llanerch Diner at noon.

I used my print column today to talk about an old axiom. It only proves that in politics, some things don't change. Money talks, everything else walks.

Ironically, the governor was in Marcus Hook talking about saving the refineries and the benefits of the state Marcellus Shale boom at the same time that fellow Republican Tom McGarrigle was opening his campaign headquarters in Springfield. McGarrigle will face off with Democrat John Kane for 26th District state Senate seat being vacated by the retiring Sen. Ted Erickson.

Corbett should be standing next to the popular McGarrigle every chance he gets this fall, but first they might need to have a discussion on taxing natural gas drillers in the state. McGarrigle wants a 4 percent levy, using the revenue for education. Corbett adamantly opposes such a tax.

I'll be interested to see how the governor and McGarrigle interact in the fall.

And other thing, just in case you didn't make it to the end of my print column.

I am well aware of Corbett's problems,and his standing in the polls. I also know this state's tendencies. We simply do not turn out incumbent governors after one term. It says here that Corbett wins a nailbiter over Wolf in the fall.

You heard it here first.

My kingdom for some heat & humidity

I'm beginning to think there's something wrong with me.

My longstanding critics - those who insist on blasting us as a 'liberal rag' - likely will not be surprised at this turn of events.

But this doesn't have anything to do with news.

It has to do with temperature.

Specifically, I am always cold.

I wish someone could explain this global warming thing to me, because I'm headed in the opposite direction. Is it just me, or has this been an especially cold, wet spring?

Yesterday morning I started my Sunday where I almost always do, as soon as the sun came up - after a couple of hours of poking around on the website in the early-morning darkness of course - and after my wife and I did our daily walk, I grabbed the paper and headed for the deck to enjoy one of life's great delicacies, the Sunday newspaper.

My wife can go through the paper in about 10 minutes. She's what I call a 'peruser.' She casually glances at the stories and headlines.

Me? I'm more of a carnivore. She gives me the front section of the paper, and she takes the rest, because she knows she will be done with her sprint through the paper before I am even finished with the 'A' section.

We are now in our summer schedule, which includes noon Mass. In other seasons, we try to knock out Mass on Saturday evening, but once it gets nice out, I am usually too preoccupied on the deck and the yard to stop for Mass.

That means my time with the Sunday newspaper is usually bisected by our trip to Mass.

When we got back home, just after 1 o'clock I grabbed what was left of the paper and headed back to the deck.

That's when I first noticed it.

A cloud came overhead, sending the deck and yard into the shade, and I noticed that I was cold.

Now keep in mind that my preference is for hot weather, in fact the hotter, the more humid the better.

I tried to ignore it yesterday, but after a few minutes in the shade, I was shivering. I retreated inside for a hoodie and then headed back to the deck.

It was pretty much the same the rest of the afternoon. When the sun was out, it was passable. But every time the sun ducked behind the clouds, I was cold.

We are now careening into the Memorial Day Weekend. Summer beckons. Is it too much to as for a string of 80-degree days. I'm a shorts and T-shirt kind of guy. And I've yet to put on a pair of shorts so far this spring.

Yes, I know, the world will no doubt survive without the sight of these stick-man legs protruding for all to see.

In the meantime, I'll be shivering and gritting my teeth every time a cloud shows up.

Friday, May 16, 2014

The Daily Numbers for Friday, May 16

The Daily Numbers: 1 man in custody in the carjacking of the wife of Chester Mayor John Linder.

3 others who are still considered ‘persons of interest’ in the case.

250,000 dollars cash bail for Jasper Moy, who is charged in the case.

3 Dem candidates seeking the nomination to run for the 164th state House seat who debated last night. That would include the incumbent, state Rep. Margo Davidson.

1, as in Darby Fire Co. No. 1, which is now back in its home after renovations to the fire house.

7.5 million dollar state grant that will be used to try to lure a hotel to the site of the old Sears store on 69th Street.

200,000 square feet the township would like to see developed.

14 ROTC cadets awarded their stripes at ceremony yesterday at Widener.

167 point dip for the stock market yesterday.

1 percent boost in the sales tax being eyed in Philly.

137 million dollars, what it would raise, with that money targeted for the city’s hurting schools and other city projects.

67, age of Chester County man charged with beating his neighbor’s rooster to death because he was crowing too early in the morning.

17-21 record for the Phillies as they finish up the 1st quarter of the season.

7-6 loss for Ridley boys lacrosse in an OT thriller.

17-6 win for Springfield girls lax over Central Bucks West.

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

So do you think that one-fourth of the way through the season the Phillies can set this ship on a better course? Neither do I.

I Don’t Get It: There’s a headline you don’t see every day. Mayor’s wife carjacked. I don’t get it.

Today’s Upper: Kudos to Jourdeana Linder, the wife of Chester Mayor John Linder. She was all class yesterday morning as she talked about her ordeal.

Quote Box: “No one should have to go through that, someone holding your life in their hands.”

- Jourdeana Linder, on her carjacking ordeal.

Good Mayor John Linder - and his wife

Good for John Linder.

And his lovely wife, Jourdeana.

The two of them never blinked an eye yesterday when the media horde descended on their modest Chester home yesterday. Linder happens to be the mayor of Chester. He's used to being in the spotlight, and being asked less-than-polite questions from media types like me.

A few weeks ago, I asked him a simple question. "Is Chester safe?"

That was before all hell broke loose in the city, a two-week series of shootings that led the mayor to seek outside help, launching Operation City Surge to quell the violence.

This week it hit home.

His wife was parking her car outside their Reaney Street home when a young man stuck a gun in her face. Luckily, she was not injured.

A few hours later, no doubt still reeling from her ordeal, Jourdeana Linder looked composed as she faced the cameras. She never flinched once. I'm not sure I would do the same. And I'm not sure I would react as calmly as John Linder did if the same thing had happened to my wife.

Both of them maintained that this is just another example of the random violence that is gripping the city.

Mrs. Linder maintained her hope that "this is something nobody should have to go through."

If only that were the case.

Make sure you read Rose Quinn's full recap on the carjacking ordeal here.

Chester has more than its share of problems. John Linder - and his wife - and part of the solution.

Oxford, Pa.'s famous connection to the Phillies

All this talk about 'hometown hero' Mike Trout's visit to Citizens Bank Park this week has me thinking about my own hometown.

As it turns out, good old Oxford, Pa., has its own fairly famous connection to the Phillies.

Raise your hand if you've ever heard the name John Ogden. Unless you're Larry Shenk, Chris Wheeler or maybe Bill Campbell I am guessing the answer is no.

John Ogden may not be famous, he never played for the Phillies, but his link to the team - and one of the most famous young men to ever put on those pinstripes - is indelible.

John Ogden played all or parts of five seasons in the big leagues between 1918 and 1932. His brother Curley also played in the bigs. Both went to Chester High school where they are among seven CHS alumni who made the majors. The brothers also went to Swarthmore College.

By the time a young squirt - and future newspaper editor - started hanging around his house, he was a senior scout for the Phillies.

John Ogden lived lived in a modest brick house on Pine Street, right smack in the middle of tiny Oxford, Pa.

And the young man he brought to Philadelphia became one of the most controversial figures in Philadelphia sports history.

Any guesses?

Here's a hint: Wampum, Pa.

That's right, a 66-year-old John Ogden Sr. discovered - and signed - the young man then known as Richie Allen, the "Wampum Walloper." You might know him better as Dick Allen.

I will always remember him for two things - crushing baseballs over the Ballantine scoreboard at old Connie Mack Stadium, and as the quiet, almost shy young man who once sat on Ogden's front porch and talked to a bunch of local kids.

We were all baseball crazy, and played the game the way it was meant to be played, just a bunch of kids in a field. No adults, no uniforms, no umpires, no trophies. We would pick sides and then play until the sun went down.

How have times changed? Ask yourself this question: When was the last time you saw a bunch of boys playing baseball in a field without any adults around?

Once we realized Mr. Ogden's connection to the Phillies, some of us used to actually hang around his house, sometimes sitting his yard, hoping he would come out. It was not unusual for him to do just that. No, he never once did a Clint Eastwood imitation and ordered us to "Get off my lawn." He did, however, from time to time, offer something much more valuable. Bleacher tickets to Connie Mack to see the Phils.

Allen, of course, became the Rookie of the Year in that ill-fated Summer of 1964. Swinging that massive 42-ounce bat, Allen torched the National League, hitting .313, smashing 29 homers and collecting an astounding 201 hits. Sprinkle in 38 doubles, 13 triples and 91 RBIs and you have the makings of a rookie season to remember.

Most of die-hards remember 1964 for something else - the tragic September swoon.

But I will always also remember Allen, still one of the best pure hittters the game has ever produced.

Of course, Allen's stay in Philadelphia soon became stormy. There was the confrontation with Frank Thomas, the mysterious hand injury, and the indelible image of Allen scratching out the word 'Boo' in the dirt around first base with his cleats.

I never booed Allen, in part because I claimed him as my own.

And I have John Ogden to thank for it.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

The Daily Numbers for Thursday May 15

The Daily Numbers: 3 men now in custody in gunpoint carjacking of the wife of Chester Mayor John Linder last night.

6.4 billion dollar price tag on airport expansion program.

7.47 billion dollar revised price, more than $1 billion more than the original cost.

752 dollar landing fee for every big carrier that lands at the airport

73 Delaware County residents who have reached the age of 100 who were feted at a luncheon yesterday.

3 young victims who took stand yesterday to testify against man charged with sexually abusing them.

554,925 dollars being spent by Haverford School District to outfit students with Chromebook computers.

603,275 raked in by GOP state Senate candidate Tom McGarrigle.

105,902 for Democrat John Kane.

74,091 raised by state 163rd House candidate Democrat Vince Rongione.

120 million dollars in debt that led to downgrade for Crozer debt by Moody’s.

31.6 million dollar operating loss for Crozer through March 31.

6 million of that in severance tied to elimination of 200 jobs.

70,622 raised by Republican Jamie Santora.

274 now confirmed dead in Turkish mine disaster. Several hundred are still missing.

9/11 museum set to open with President Barack Obama on hand today in NYC.

101 point dump for the stock market yesterday.

3 straight losses for the Phils.

2 straight in being swept by Mike Trout and the Angels at Citizens Bank Park.

0 runs on just 5 hits for the Phils anemic offense yesterday.

3 runs on 7 hits surrendered by starter A.J. Burnett to the Angels.

8 straight losses by Phils to American League teams.

8 strikeouts for Angels hurler Garrett Richards.

.343 batting average for Chase Utley, who was 3-for-7 in the 2 games vs. Angels.

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

This Phillies team once again looks like it is getting ready to roll over and die. They are in the midst of a long home stand. It’s now or never for this team.

I Don’t Get It: The wife of Chester Mayor John Linder was carjacked at gunpoint last night. I don’t get it.

Today’s Upper: Kudos to the active group of centenarians - those who have reached the 100-year mark - who were feted by the county yesterday.

Quote Box: “At the end of the day, its really about money and the control it has over people.”

- Dave McCann, on some of the fees that no doubt will be going up in connection with airport expansion plan.

Is Chester safe?

The question I posed to Chester Mayor John Linder was three simple words.

It is the question I get asked all the time when it comes to the city.

Linder was my guest on our live-stream Internet broadcast, 'Live From the Newsroom.' He wanted to talk about the State of the City.

When he was done talking about the city's impressive economic turnaround efforts, I decided to ask my question. "Is Chester safe?"

He quickly assured me it was.

Two weeks later, Linder was back on the show, after an especially violent two weeks in the city. Residents had packed a City Council session and were demanding action to stem the street violence and gunshots that so many said were becoming part of their everyday lives in the city, making some of them prisoners inside their homes.

I reminded Linder of the question I had posed two weeks earlier - and the fact that it had not been a very good two weeks.

He agreed and announced a new program - Operation Safe Streets - to increase police presence on the streets of Chester, in particular in areas where gunfire was being reported on a daily basis.

A few days later, he and District Attorney Jack Whelan held a press conference to detail the plan, now being called 'Operation City Surge.'

He and Whelan followed that up with the first in a series of walking tours of parts of the city. And yet the violence persists.

Last night Linder got an ugly reminder of whether or not the city is safe.

His wife was the victim of a carjack incident as she sat in her car on Reaney Street in the city.

Police say three men approached, pointed a gun at her and demanded her car. She got out, they jumped in and fled toward I-95. This morning police say they have three men in custody. Luckily, Mrs. Linder was not injured in the incident. I like John Linder. Just as I liked his predecessor, Mayor Wendell Butler.

Both men know that I have a job to do, and never tried to interfere with the way I do it, including our coverage of the problems the city still faces.

I'm the first to say that Chester too often gets a bad rap, that it does not get credit for the huge strides that it has made.

But the violence problem simply will not go away.

And this morning John Linder knows all too well exactly what so many resident of the city are complaining about. He and his wife will be in my thoughts today. As will the city.

Maybe I should also offer a prayer. The city surely could use it.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

'Live From the Newsroom' tackles airport issues

Last week city, county and Tinicum Township officials announced a deal that would allow for expansion of our 'noisy neighbor,' Philadelphia International Airport, while saving a bunch of township homes and businesses that were targeted for demolition.

Tonight on our weekly live-stream Internet broadcast, 'Live From the Newsroom,' we'll talk about this crucial agreement, what it means for the health of the region's economy, the airport, and most importantly, what it means for residents of Tinicum Township.

I'll be joined by County Councilman John McBlain, and Tinicum resident Dave McCann, who founded the group referred to as RAEAED (Residents Against Airport Expansion in Delco).

We'll find out if township residents are happy with the deal and what happens now.

If you live in Tinicum, or just have an airport question in general, email it to me at editor@delcotimes.com, and I will put it to our panel.

Then tune in to DelcoTimes.com tonight at 7 for our special show on the airport.

The Daily Numbers for Wednesday, May 14

The Daily Numbers: 21, age of Chester woman who is 1st in Delaware County to be charged under tough new law aimed at preventing straw gun purchases.

68, age of Collingdale man who now faces federal charges that he failed to disclose his past as an alleged war criminal in Liberia.

12 Chester residents who have come forward to volunteer as block captains as the city looks to halt street violence. Good for them.

28 fewer units now being proposed for a development on the old Sleighton School property in Middletown.

106 acres in Middletown and 173 acres in Edgmont for the Sleighton property.

225 units set to be built on the Middletown tract.

133 units in the Edgmont part.

31, age of Upper Darby man who now wants to withdraw his guilty plea in the beating death of a neighbor.

9 heroin overdose deaths in Delaware County between May 2 and May 4. In all cases the victim survived.

16, age of girl struck by vehicle in Clifton Heights.

50, age of woman struck and killed by Amtrak train in Marcus Hook.

3 million dollars being offered by Marple to the Broomall Fire Co.

19 point lead for Tom Wolf over his Dem counterparts in the Pa. gubernatorial race.

33 percent of Dem voters backing Wolf, to just 14 percent for Allyson Schwartz, 9 percent for Rob McCord and 5 percent for Katie McGinty.

8 in 10 Dems who say they have seen an ad for the candidates on TV.

29 percent say education is the top issue.

39 percent of voters who are still undecided.

935 to 1,870 years in jail for an 81-year-old suspect in Bucks County convicted of sexually abusing a girl.

10 foot rooster statue stolen in Charleroi, Pa. The rustler is in custody.

19.97 spike for the stock market yesterday, closing at another record high of 16,715.44

1 hit in 5 at-bats for home boy Mike Trout last night.

3 errors for Phillies 3rd baseman Cody Asche.

.226 batting average with 6 errors for Asche this year.

4 unearned runs on 6 hits for Phillies starter Cliff Lee, who deserved better.

4,000 fans from Millville, N.J., who packed Citizens Bank Park for their local hero Trout.

41,959 attendance, still not a sellout for the Phils, who are struggling at the gate this year.

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

A night for Mike Trout to remember, and Cody Asche to try to forget.

I Don’t Get It: They had a foot of snow in some parts of Colorado over the weekend. I don’t get it.

Today’s Upper: Kudos to those who are stepping up and volunteering as block captains as Chester answers call to battle street violence.

Quote Box: “There will be no more excuses for the residents of the city to say, ‘Well, I didn’t know.’”

- Potter Street resident Edward Nelson, at last night’s meeting in Chester to battle violence.